Russia and Iran: Remaking the Middle East

Sep 3rd, 2016 | By

The civil war in Syria has been raging for over four years and, until Russia intervened last year, it looked as if the Assad regime would fall. Russia under Vladimir Putin has intentionally linked itself with Iran to preserve the Assad regime. The costs of this civil war are absolutely horrific: Nearly 500,000 have been killed in Syria and somewhere close to 2.5 million+ refugees have fled the slaughter. The nation state of Syria really no longer exists. The nation of Syria is now a devastated landmass of competing militias and terrorist groups that are bent on destroying the nation for their own ideological ends.

The Global Economy and the Reorientation of Politics

Aug 20th, 2016 | By

For the advanced nations within this global economy, economic growth has been weaker for longer than it has been in the lifetime of most people alive today. Although the American economy is growing at a faster pace than others, it is still lagging and taking much longer to recover from the 2008 Great Recession than many anticipated. . . These new realities are hitting the citizens of western civilization particularly hard and creating a degree of tension and dissatisfaction not seen for decades. To a degree, these new realities are behind the Trump (and Sanders) phenomenon in America, the Brexit vote in Europe, and the growth of nationalist parties in other nations of Western Europe. Is there a reorientation of politics occurring in western civilization?

Vladimir Putin: A New ?Cold War??

Aug 13th, 2016 | By

An interesting dimension of the current US presidential campaign is Vladimir Putin. The nation he leads is in economic and financial freefall. In many ways it is a third-world nation, with deep problems including significant corruption, pervasive bureaucratic inefficiencies and inept financial managers. Yet, it is an intensely nationalistic nation, with a resurgent Russian Orthodox Church and a determination to be recognized as a world power. Despite its shortcomings, it remains a nuclear power, with a capable military evidencing cutting edge military technology.

First Amendment Freedoms under Stress

Jul 30th, 2016 | By

Perhaps the most important rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights (the Constitution?s first Ten Amendments) are two of the four listed in the First Amendment?the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion (?the free exercise? of religious beliefs and conscience). Both of these precious freedoms are under significant stress today and in fact are threatened by the realities of this Postmodern, post-Christian era in which we live. Both need rigorous defense and protection, and, according to the Constitution, it is the state that is to offer the foremost protection of these two rights. Let?s examine the nature of this stress.

The Strategy of the Pro-Life Movement

Jul 23rd, 2016 | By

This June, the US Supreme Court ended its year with a series of important decisions. Perhaps most important was the Whole Women?s Health v. Hellerstedt decision (handed down on 27 June 2016) which tested the state of Texas?s attempt to further regulate abortion clinic requirements. The Court ruled 5-3 that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking an abortion. The Texas law required abortion providers to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and to upgrade their building, safety, parking, and staffing to meet the standards of a hospital room. The Court?s decision deemed these requirements unnecessary and expensive as well as an attempt to limit abortion access rather than provide safety to women.

A World in Crisis and World Leadership in Crisis

Jul 16th, 2016 | By

As mentioned in a previous Issues (2 July 2016), the world order set in place after World War II is coming apart. In the Middle East, nation states are disappearing, replaced by ancient tribalism and clan loyalties rooted deep in the region?s history. The benefits of open borders with lower tariffs and growing international trade are being challenged by a narrow nationalism, a dangerous isolationism and a short-sighted introversion. Islamic terrorism is fostering bloody rivalries between Sunnis and Shiites, rendering the nation states created after World War I irrelevant and dangerous. All aspects of the old order. . .are under siege with little or no public trust in that order.

Israel, ?Progressive? Politics and Growing Anti-Semitism

Jul 9th, 2016 | By

As I have reported in past editions of Issues, Israel faces the ongoing absurdity of the BDS movement?the efforts by western governments and individual citizens to ?boycott, divest and sanction? (BDS) Israel. At the end of 2015, the European Union (EU) adopted rules that wine coming from Israel, some of which is produced in the West Bank, must be labeled ?Product of the West Bank (Israeli settlement).? This effort to boycott or sanction Israel for its policies in the West Bank has been growing in the EU, which exports heavily from Israel.

The Demise of the Postwar Order

Jul 2nd, 2016 | By

At the end of World War II, the United States and its victorious allies constructed an entire new world order based on military and financial treaties and alliances that were to promote the goals of global peace, security and economic prosperity. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank were the institutions created to foster these postwar goals. Intense nationalism and high protective tariffs (taxes on imported goods) were seen as the enemies of this new order and these institutions were designed to balance nationalism with globalization and tariffs with a penchant for free trade.

The Frightening Nuclear Ambitions of North Korea

Jun 26th, 2016 | By

President Barack Obama had a dream when he became president; a dream of a nuclear-free world, or at least one of a significantly reduced nuclear threat. He has made progress on nuclear-arms reduction and non-proliferation. In 2010, he signed a strategic-arms control treaty (a new START treaty) with Russia. He sponsored or hosted a series of nuclear-security summits intended to stop fissile material getting into the wrong hands. Finally, of course, is his infamous deal with Iran to restrict for the next 10-15 years (not end) Iran?s nuclear weapons program. But there is one nation that represents an abject failure of President Obama?s vision?North Korea.

Transgenderism and Public Bathrooms: The New Civil Right

Jun 11th, 2016 | By

As a result of the Supreme Court ruling last June legalizing same-sex marriage, the social battleground has shifted to transgenderism. Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have added a pop-culture dimension to transgender issues, and President Obama has made it an issue of rights protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Michael Scherer of Time magazine writes that ?with the power of federal purse strings, the Obama Administration has declared that all students must be treated equally regardless of gender identity, defining innate feelings of male and female identity as legally protected rights.?