Once upon a time, not too long ago, American presidents were able to impact the direction of the economy with a strike of their pen. They could deal with Congress when “compromise” was not considered a dirty word. In the past, the president and congress could come to an understanding on the initiation of full-size programs requiring either massive spending or substantial budget cuts. They could implement programs affecting particular segments of the economy, general employment and unemployment levels, inflation levels and more.
Not any longer.
In the past two years of the Obama administration, following the Republican takeover of Congress, the president was unable to implement any fiscal policy that included significant programs to help improve the ailing US economy. President Obama’s chief blunder, subsequent to his swearing in, was not his inability to turn the economy around in the second half of his first term; it was not making the most of the opportunity to further stimulate the economy when the Democrats were in command of Congress during his first two years in office.
Following the Republican congressional victory in 2010, and their avowal to unseat the president at all costs, Republicans were able to stop any economic program that had a chance to pull the economy out of the deep ditch it had fallen into in 2008. The GOP's number one objective has been – and still is – unseating Obama. The Republicans knew that a damaged economy would turn the public against an incumbent; therefore, they have made sure the US economy stays in the gutter. Consequently, President Obama had no muscle to prop up the moribund economic conditions. Obama may have had the right ideas, but was unable to execute under the hostile atmosphere in Washington; his hands were tied behind his back.
This is why we should not hold Obama responsible for the slow recovery; likewise, we should not bid him too much credit if unemployment takes a sudden dive. It is simple: for the past two years the president has NOT been in control of the economy. The only governmental agency able to shape economic conditions in the US has been the non-political Federal Reserve (the Fed). Unfortunately, the Fed has run out of its heavy artillery shells. The few bullets still in its possession may not be sufficient for winning the war.
In the present environment, regardless of who the next president is, it seems unlikely that he will be able to reshape the economy. If Romney wins and the Democrats gain control of Congress or retain over 40 senators in the upper house, they are certain to take revenge and block Republican legislation proposals affecting the economy. If Obama is reelected and Congress continues to dwell under a Republican control, the president’s economic initiatives will continue to be dead on arrival.
The only areas where the next president may be able to effectively put his agenda into practice are foreign policy and homeland security. Independent voters should consider foreign policy philosophy the chief factor in determining who the best candidate is.
The next US president will not have an impact on the economy. He will, however, be able to reshape foreign policy; it’s the war on terror; it’s whether or not Iran will become a nuclear power; it’s whether or not the US will promote an Egypt ruled by Sharia hungry Islamists seeking to modify the peace treaty with Israel; it’s about whether or not the US will be able to convince Russia and China to cease their support of evil regimes.
This time, it’s NOT about the economy. It’s only about the future of the rest of world.
From the Jerusalem Post:
The writer is currently a talk show host at Paltalk News Network (PNN). He served as an intelligence expert for the Israeli government and was a professor at Northwestern University. He was a VP at NMS Communications, a Bell Laboratories distinguished staff member and manager, and a delegate of the US and Lucent Technologies to UN International Standards body. He is the author of Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks, and more recently, 72 Virgins. For more information, visit www.aviperry.org.
With the evident breakdown of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over its nuclear program and the onset of the EU embargo on Iranian oil export, the Ayatollah’s regime has been pushed into a very narrow corner. Consequently, like a cornered predator, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has desperately tried to salvage its vanity by flaunting its razor-sharp teeth.
Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi has said that Tehran has plans for closing the Strait of Hormuz – where more than a third of the world's seaborne oil exports pass. He added that these plans include other military designs for various situations.
Beginning on July 2, Iran has conducted three days of military exercises aimed at highlighting its strength in the face of increasing western pressure to halt its nuclear program. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard said that the maneuvers would demonstrate Iran’s ability to launch a "crushing" response to any potential foreign attacks.
To reinforce that point, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force declared that the IRGC has prepared comprehensive contingency plans to strike 35 US military bases in the region “within minutes” of an American military strike on his country.
In a recent twist, Iran's spy chief has accused German and French intelligence agencies of involvement in the killings of its nuclear scientists. Iran has previously accused Israel, the US, and Britain of the slayings in order to hold up its nuclear program. Apparently, this finger-pointing is designed to signify Iranian opposition to any nuclear deal with the EU.
Nevertheless, there has been a quiet buildup of US military forces in the Persian Gulf.
According to the New York Times, the US Navy “has doubled the number of minesweepers assigned to the region to eight vessels,” while the Air Force has, since late spring, deployed “stealthy F-22 and older F-15C warplanes” at US bases in the region. These warplanes are in addition to “combat jets already in the region and the carrier strike groups that are on constant tours of the area.”
It has also been reported that the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport and docking ship that has been converted into an “Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB),” has entered the Persian Gulf. This ship supports a helicopter landing deck and could be used as a floating staging area for attacks on Iran.
Although, according to the Times, |America's official message to Iran is “Don’t even think about retaliating by either closing the Strait of Hormuz or harassing commercial shipping in the Gulf,” the unofficial intent is ‘Go ahead, make my day...’
Unfortunately, the breakdown in negotiations with Iran over their quest for nuclear weapons leaves only a military option on the table.
At the same time, with the American public in no mood for another war and the Obama administration’s reluctance to initiate one just months before the November elections, voters are unlikely to approve of a US preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
On the other hand, should Iran initiate such an attack, the American public may view it as an incident equivalent to 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. An Iranian attack on an American military vessel will serve as justification for a retaliatory move by the US military with the full support of the American public.
But retaliation may not be confined to the vicinity of the Iranian attack. The US military must counter the IRGC’s widespread threat. The US will have to retaliate by attacking Iran’s navy, military installations, missile silos and airfields. The US has no choice but to target Iran’s ability to retaliate against its bases. The US must scrap Iran’s designs for closing down the Strait of Hormuz as well.
However, the IRGC’s threat raises an important question: why would Iran initiate a confrontation leading to its own destruction?
The answer is a product of Middle Eastern Islamic culture. The Iranian regime is suffering from macho syndrome.
This syndrome clouds their rational reasoning; it prevents the Mullahs from ending their quest for nuclear weapons even in the face of severe sanctions and possible military action.
The Mullah’s bold rhetoric must have convinced some Iranian military officers that they can defeat America. The recurring Iranian threats and frequent boasting of their military might have persuaded some hot-headed Iranian officers that US President Barack Obama will never commit to an all-out war out of fear for Iranian retaliation.
It will not take much for one trigger-happy Iranian to light the match in that combustible, oil-filled theatre.
One little Iranian match — that’s all it would take to spark a raging fire.
With the narrow election victory of Mohammed Mursy, Egypt is entering a new era of civil unrest.
When Mursy and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters signed up for the race for President of Egypt they presumed that victory would assume Mubarak-like presidential powers. Yet victory bore a beautiful trophy, save for little clout. The military generals, the top dog behind the scene, behind the glory, would linger on and would keep on controlling the unfolding events.
Mursy will have no control over the budget and no decisive role in foreign policy, defense or national-security matters. Nor will he have the symbolic status of Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The military generals would keep all those functions for themselves, as well as claiming de facto control over the constitution-writing process. Mursy’s authority will be largely restricted to domestic matters, such as economic, education and social policies.
Mursy’s conciliatory language during his inauguration, calling for unity among all Egyptians, defining himself as an inclusionary—he would be president of ALL Egyptians, even those who voted against him—have been preached from a point of weakness. As long as the Egyptian president maintains no real power, his heart-to-heart about foreign policy, foreign relations and treaties, Israel and the Palestinians, is merely empty rhetoric designed to gain popular support.
I do not trust him! If Mursy ever gains a Mubarak-like presidential power he would strive to emulate a Khomeini-like ascent to absolute theocracy while benefiting from the popular support of the naïve masses. These include the sizeable secular segment of the Egyptian society, the ones buying into his present conciliatory, deceptive words, spoken from a point of weakness. Bit by bit, Just like Khomeini in post-revolution Iran, he would amputate power and authority from secular executives in his government and transfer influence and clout to the religious leaders until absolute theocracy is in place.
But at the present, Mursy has little authority, yet it is embedded in a full-size ambition. His rhetoric, focusing on foreign relations where he has no say at the moment, clearly points to where he sees himself operating. He does not accept the status-quo, and he would, without doubt, put out a fight to arrest power and divert it away from the military.
Accomplishing this feat would require popular support greater than the 26% he acquired on elections day (He gained 25% of the vote in round 1 and 52% of (only) 50% of eligible voters in round 2—that makes it south of 26% altogether).
In devising a strategy for arresting power Mursy would instigate a gradual escalating crescendo of civil unrest. He would be conciliatory at first; His words would be calming; he would speak in the name of true democracy; he would motivate the masses into demonstrating, into protesting against the military’s undemocratic excess of power. He would enlist the powerful, naive democratic leaders of the west including President Obama to his “democratic” cause. And Obama—like Jimmy Carter during the initial days of the Iranian revolution—would be on the side of democracy; he would assist Mursy in his quest for absolute power.
Mursy has a tough journey ahead of him. Most of the Egyptian public does not support him. Although he has won the elections, many of those voting for him, did so unenthusiastically. Their vote was a protest vote against the old regime rather than an expression of undivided backing for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.
Chances are that many of those Egyptians who have casted their votes for Mursy would become disillusioned with him over time, as domestic matters continue to deteriorate. Millions of Egyptians would still endure living conditions well below any civilized norms of poverty levels. Tourism—one of the major sources of foreign income—would keep on contracting due to the Islamic sway sweeping the country and its continuous, unrelenting assault on secular institutions including the military rule.
There is no question. Egyptians will look to blame the failed leadership for their misfortunes.
Some will blame the military while others will blame the president. Chances are high for the blame game to become increasingly passionate, intense, and even violent.
The country is divided in the middle, between the seculars who brought about the fall of the dictator, and the religious opportunists who enjoyed a free ride on the back of the illiterates and those who wanted to see Mubarak and his cronies ousted without considering the alternative. Egypt is divided between the ones looking for a transformation, taking the country from a dictatorship to a Jeffersonian democracy and the ones seeking an Islamic theocracy.
Consequently, Egypt is facing an outlook of mounting civil unrest—a quest for power by two dichotomously opposing sides—the ultra-religious and the secular camps. Despite of their symbolic victory, the ultra-religious are the current underdog in this struggle, yet they are the more aggressive; they are the ones raising the flag of true democracy, the mantra of the revolution. They claim to have justice on their side. The seculars are happy to see the military in charge, but, in general, they are less vocal and less aggressive.
This point has been proven in the week following the elections and preceding the publication of the outcome. The Muslim Brotherhood and their secular supporters were gearing up for violent protest had the winner been Ahmed Shafik. The seculars accepted the results with heartbreak devoid of any noteworthy protest.
The Israeli-Egyptian border may not see a serious escalation of violence in the near future. The Egyptian military will try to maintain the peace in the Sinai while Mursy will try to blame Israel for any violent incident involving Palestinian terrorists. But rhetoric cannot match actions, and the Egyptian military will keep on calling the shots on that front for the time being. Still, the current status-quo may not last forever.
We can only hope that the looming civil unrest would not bring about an absolute victory to the Islamists. We can only hope that most Egyptians, after realizing the consequences of their recent actions, will wake up and substitute euphoria with reality when they go inside the booth during their next presidential elections.
We can only hope…