Getting the Trump-Putin story right


President Trump And President Putin Hold A Joint Press Conference After Summit

The mystery.

But the core of the matter now is what leads a former director of the CIA not only to call the president of the United States “treasonous” and ‘imbecilic” but to say he “rises to and exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’” Whenever asked a straight question about his relationship to Putin and Putin’s cronies, Trump has ducked, scammed, and systematically obscured the findings of God knows how many professional investigators and investigative reporters. Is it not time that when faced with these facts, journalists stop asking fatuous questions? Should they not adopt, as a working hypothesis going in, the assumption that his lies and evasions are clear hints of what drives him?

The complete article

Todd Gitlin — Columbia Journalism Review.

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The Historical Case for Optimism, Pessimism, and Caution


History is messy. Neither proponents nor opponents of the Trump-Kim summit should feel confident that history is on their side. History reveals reasons for pessimism, optimism, and caution. Attempting to critically engage the history of these nuclear negotiations can help the United States narrow uncertainty, prepare for a long diplomatic process should one transpire, and perhaps learn some tactical lessons. Given the paucity of concrete data on Kim Jong Un and his decision-making, humility in analysis is warranted. Confident statements about what the North Korean leader seeks before he tells us are misplaced. North Korea’s nuclear program has advanced significantly since the last nuclear deals, but the two sides seem to be getting closer to a formula for a possible deal. Any deal — if one is indeed possible — is likely to involve difficult trade-offs for both sides. Experts can help illuminate public debate on the merits of these trade-offs, but elected leaders will ultimately need wisdom for the hard decisions ahead.

The complete article

Patrick McEachern — TNSR

Rebuilding the Working Class


Trump isn’t an aberration but a consequence. He is a harrowing mix of monster and buffoon and rallying those who are outraged will be an important part of winning in 2018. But two generations of a falling standard of living and quality of life for most working people have led them to believe that politicians just aren’t that into them. These voters are dropping out of the political process or swinging erratically between the parties in elections as they try to find someone who will “shake things up.” Democrats who are giddy at the prospect of a wave election will be disappointed if they fail to understand what happened in 2016 and the need to do things differently this year.

The complete article

Karen Nussbaum — Dissent

Politics in India—Not Business as Usual


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View from the US.

Worsening matters, the media has struggled to play an impartial role in the face of religious polarization. India ranked 138th of 200 countries in the annual World Press Freedom Index 2018 rankings. A sting operation against large media houses by a small media group, Cobrapost, exposed some potentially alarming findings in its latest release on May 26th. Code-named “Operation 136” (so-named after India’s rank in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index), the sting operation appeared to show that the business operations of several of the country’s largest media houses were ready to accept funding for advertising religion-based political ideologies of groups. In some cases, these media houses seemed even open to influencing their reporters into incorporating such polarization into editorial content. Needless to say, both activities, if proven true, run afoul of Indian law.

The complete article

Rafiq Dossani — RAND

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A Letter From Mosul


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Angelina Jolie from Mosul.

In Mosul, I felt I was standing at a ground zero of foreign policy failures over the last decade. But also in a place that represents the human capacity for survival and renewal, and the stubborn endurance of universal values in individual hearts.

I think of a father I met, and his joy that his two young daughters are now able to go to school again. Penniless and without a roof over his family’s heads, he spoke as if he had no more treasured possession than their report cards. There would be no more profound symbol of victory than every girl in Mosul being able to go back to school and excel.

A Syrian refugee family’s search for home


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The struggle to find a home.

For a while, Poole made an effort to engage with her critics. She spoke at social clubs and Lutheran churches and eventually alongside a man from an anti-refugee group called Sons of Odin. She reached out online, offering to meet her critics for beers. (A local historian said approvingly of Soft Landing, “They don’t scare.”) One man, a Navy veteran and former private investigator, met Poole for coffee and continued a dialogue online. “One wolf isn’t bad,” he said, referring to Muslims coming to Montana. Ten wolves, though, was a different matter. But he liked Poole, because she seemed genuinely interested in hearing him out, and began to feel differently about refugees after one of the Congolese families moved in next door to him. “The truth is not what you think,” he liked to say. “It’s what you discover.” What he discovered was that the family next door made great neighbors.

The complete article

Abe Streep — Harper’s Magazine

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How oppressed are Muslims in India?


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View from the other side.

Additionally, India is still officially a secular state where the rights of religious minorities are enshrined in the constitution, despite Modi government’s best efforts to the contrary. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Pakistan where the Objectives Resolution solidified a second-class constitutional status for non-Muslim Pakistanis and where the definition of ‘Muslim’ itself is continuously shrinking. Rightly or wrongly, for many secular-minded Indians who are concerned about the deteriorating situation of religious minorities in their country, Pakistan stands as a warning of what might be in store for them in the not-too-distant future if they fail to quickly correct their path.

The complete article

Nida Kirmani — Herald

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