Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Category: International Relations

Trussiagate is a Neo-McCarthyite Distraction

During President Trump’s first few months in office, media coverage has tended to vacillate between covering Trump’s substantive political agenda–his Supreme Court nominee, his healthcare reform, his budget, etc.–and the alleged connection between members of the Trump administration and the Russian government. Trump opponents had a politically great news cycle last week about the Republican healthcare bill. Jimmy Kimmel offered some brilliant pathos about ensuring that all families have access to healthcare, and House Republicans made it clear that they don’t share his priority by passing a healthcare bill which has been projected by the CBO to deny coverage to 24 million Americans, many of whom are poor and working people who voted for Trump. This is a moment of profound contrast in moral and political values and it’s a brilliant opportunity to expose the con that was Trump’s promise of universal healthcare, a con underlined by the subsequent praise he offered to the Australian healthcare system when that system looks nothing like the bill he’s championed in the House. But instead of staying with this issue, the press and the commentariat have quickly jumped back over to the Trump/Russia scandal (let’s call it “Trussiagate”) in response to the firing of FBI Director James Comey. A lot of people get excited about this scandal’s political potential because they’d like to use it to someday impeach Trump. But it’s not nearly as politically useful as it appears to be, and it’s dumbing down our foreign policy debate.

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We Don’t Need to Increase Military Spending By $54 Billion

It’s been announced that President Trump will seek to increase military spending by $54 billion, taking this money out of the budgets of other federal departments (the specific programs these departments would cut has not yet been decided). This is a significant amount of money–it’s enough to build the Trump wall twice over, and it’s nearly three times the size of the NASA budget. It’s nearly enough to pay for tuition-free college, which costs $70 billion. The cuts are still in the proposal stage–congress must pass a budget which incorporates these changes before they would become law. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a moment to emphasize just how unnecessary and wasteful this is.

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Trump and May are like Teenagers Playing Chicken in the Parking Lot

A few days ago, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May got together for a pow wow. It went so well, they even held hands. Some people saw this as an occasion to contrast the gruff, emotional style of Trump with the more polished style of May. But I see something else–these two leaders have a lot more in common with each other substantively than their personal styles let on.

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John Kerry and the UN are Right about Israeli Settlements

The UN Security Council has passed Resolution 2334 by a vote of 14 to zero, with the United States choosing to abstain rather than exercise its veto. The resolution condemns Israel’s construction of settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories. The language is uncharacteristically blunt:

the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace

The 14 member states who voted in favor of the resolution include the remaining permanent members (Britain, France, Russia, and China) and all of the current non-permanent members (Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the resolution is “skewed against Israel” and Donald Trump agreed, tweeting:

But both Trump and Netanyahu are mistaken–not only is Resolution 2334 not skewed against Israel, it is in Israel’s interest to abide by the resolution and abandon its settlements. Here’s why.

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Russian “Influence” On the US Election is Not Important or Interesting

It has become increasingly popular for Hillary Clinton supporters and even the wider media to blame Russia for the result of the US presidential election and to suggest that Donald Trump’s desire to repair relations with Russia must be motivated by some sort of sinister conspiracy. This position is deeply flawed on many levels. Here are just a few of the best ways to undermine this argument.

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