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Is it Really News When Putin “Goes Missing”?

Uncategorized Mar 20, 2015

Yes, it really is actually news, but first let me explain a few things.

wally2-e1426408079418Oh, the fun that was had during the 10 or so days when it was “news” that Mr. Putin had not been seen in public for quite some time.  The memes on Twitter, the images that were photoshopped to mockingly reveal Mr. Putin at an event (some where in the world)…all amusing.  Oh, the fun it was to wonder as to the whereabouts of one of the world’s most powerful men. Let us be clear, at this time in history Russia is a medium power country, in terms of   economic, military, political, and state power.  Right now, Russia is a middle weight country with a heavyweight history.  It is this combo of heavyweight history in conjunction with a “Cold War” past and a media savvy leader that creates “news” when Mr. Putin is out of the spotlight.  That combo AND, also the times we are living in.  It is the times to be sure.  That is why...

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Islamic Scholar, Hamza Yusuf Refutes ISIS Claims

Uncategorized Mar 06, 2015

I find this article, by Hamza Yusuf to be credible.  This author,  an Islamic scholar comports with my stance on ISIS/ISIL.  Too much that is being written is not well researched and promotes dangerous beliefs.  There are those who continue to link ISIS to a version of Islam, but the religion of these terrorist's is actually a perversion.  It may be difficult to disassociate the terrorist's claims that their actions are valid under their religion of Islam, but the more information that you have, but better your chances of developing an objective opinion about this scourge against humanity.  ISIS is a scourge against humanity, no doubt about that. Certainly one aspect of the fight against this global danger is doing a little bit of homework, getting good information, and reducing the tendency to spread inaccurate information.  Bad information spreads like a wild fire and then sparks other fires.  In a transnational world, these fires spread all...

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King Abdullah: Islam & his response to ISIS/ISIL

Uncategorized Mar 04, 2015

In recent days I have been asked to read many opinions about the religion of Islam. Too many commentators are taking a very narrow and limited analysis of the religion and the problem of the terrorist organizations who are justifying their cause as an Islamist cause. There are many factors that have created this time in history when terrorists, who are a scourge on the earth, are dominating the narrative.  Truly they are a scourge. King Abdullah II of Jordan presents a more intelligent and rational view on what is occurring within the Arab states region.  His presentation of is a more balanced view of just how corrupt  the ideology of the terrorists is; they are not religious and it is not the faith of the Prophet Muhammad. They are fanatics and dangerous to Muslims and all other peoples. Tradition holds that King Abudullah descends from a prestigious line within Islam.  The Hashemite lineage claims it can be traced all the way back to the daughter of Muhammad,...

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Why Yemen May Become The Most Powerful Story in the GME

Using a stream of videos showing the horrific murder of Egyptian Christians, once again put ISIS/ISIL in the headlines.  And while the world is watching the atrocities of the ISIS/ISIL propaganda machine, a more powerful story may yet emerge out of the Arabian Peninsula.  In the south, the unfolding developments in Yemen have the potential to become the flashpoint for fractures that transcend  the fight against terrorism, and present instead, a full out war within the entire Greater Middle East.

map_of_yemen

In Yemen a battle for territory is currently taking place in the aftermath of the Houthi overthrow of the Yemeni government.  The Houthi’s are a rebel group  who follow the Shi’a branch of the Islamic religion.  The expression of Shi’a Islam followed by the Houthi’s known as Zadism, is also referred to as  Ansar Allah, meaning “Partisans of God”.  This specific self-identification and tradition alone put the...

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Vladimir Putin-Central Casting for Game of Thrones

After marathon negotiations in Minsk, Belarus the announcement came on Thursday, February 12, 2015 that a cease fire deal had been reached to end the military conflict in the eastern provinces of Ukraine.  Such an announcement should have been met with relief and praise from global leaders.  Instead, there is great trepidation about the future prospects of a durable settlement between Ukraine and the separatists who have enjoyed unlimited support from Moscow.  The deadline for cessation of fighting is set for Friday, February 13, 2015 but far too many details remain murky; not the least of which is an absence of clear command & control over the separatists who may or may not take orders to stand down. Stanching the civilian death toll and suffering is one objective for Western leaders, but the conflict in Ukraine is more representative of a play on a stage where Vladimir Putin is casting himself in the popular television series “Game of Thrones”. ...

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Jordanian Pilot Burned Alive. What Should Happen Now?

World leaders must now consider “next steps” after the release of a video purportedly showing the death of Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh as he struggled for his life, in a cage, while flames took him. Gruesome.  Unimaginable.  Inhumane.  And HARAM, meaning forbidden by Islamic law. This is an offense against all Muslims and even against Allah.  This is not Islam, this is brutal savagery meant to create a climate of fear. It is wanton depravity on a human scale, irrespective of religious ties. In the early hours since the release of the video there is much talk about how the Jordanians will respond.  There is talk about the future of the already fragile coalition.  ISIL/ISIS is attempting to shock and frighten any Arab nations who are aligned with the U.S.-led fight against this profane terrorist group.

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What should happen now?   What should happen now is a new alliance between Arab leaders in order to preserve the future of Islam, the stability...

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2015 State of the Union Address. Framing the narrative

(Because Out of the Box International enjoys readers from around the world, I will provide a bit of context for the State of the Union address in the United States. This post will consider Presentation followed by subsequent posts on the Domestic agenda, and the Foreign policy agenda.) The State of the Union (SOTU) address in the United States allows the sitting president to frame domestic and foreign policy matters from the perspective of the administration's agenda, highlighting the accomplishments and and agenda in the best possible light.  The opportunity for a president to demonstrate that his administration is deserving of the public's confidence in leading the nation and maintaining security for the citizens is covered by all major networks; yet viewership is in decline.  The SOTU address is a reporters treasure trove as every word spoken by the president is analyzed for a range of indicators and signs.   Yet, the essential question for reporters and observers...

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U.S.Domestic Policy Issues from SOTU 2015

When compared to economic recoveries in other nation-states in the world,  there is much to be optimistic about when looking at the U.S. recovery. After 7 years of economic despair, and more importantly financial disorder, the Obama Administration is seizing  the opportunity to take credit for an economic policy that is seeing green shoots.  Without question, Mr. Obama has shouldered the weight of the U.S. led global recession that began in fall of 2008.  From the start of his Presidency, he was handed a portfolio that would have weakened the knees of any man or woman in the White House.  So, the opportunity to stand before the American public and tout the role of his policies at a time when the recovery is expanding, he owned the recovery.  Of course his words left the podium with a bit of swagger.

Ch2_Chart 11_Strengthening US Recovery

And it is the strengthening economy that opened the door for Mr. Obama to introduce his slate of domestic policies. It is true that the current...

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Foreign Policy Issues. SOTU 2015

Mr. Obama pivoted in his 2015 SOTU  speech to some of the most weighty foreign policy matters by stating,

“I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don't let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That's exactly what we're doing right now – and around the globe, it is making a difference.” While it is without question that the combination of military power and strong diplomacy are the top tools with regard to foreign policy, currently there remains a vacuum of U.S. leadership in key regions in the world. The Obama Administration has left key allies and partners confused about when and under what conditions the United States will exercise power: either diplomatic or military.  The "red line" in Syria was the first of many cracks in global perception of U.S. resolve and commitment.  (...

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Power Sharing in Afghanistan-an interesting proposition

Uncategorized Sep 30, 2014

The political climate in Afghanistan is certainly not known for collaboration or  compromise between rivals.  Centuries of tribalism and decades of war make this country one of factionalism; a culture that Afghans know well. But the emergence of two powerful political leaders willing to share the national responsibilities, well it is at a minimum, an interesting proposition. Since before the elections in April 2014, both Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah had been embattled in a fierce public fight for the highest position in the post-Karzai period. Each man was a frontrunner in the general election but with so many candidates, no winner could be identified. A runoff was scheduled for June 2014 to determine which of the two candidates reached the minimum 50% margin to become the president who represented Afghanistan’s democratic transition of power. (Given the history of this country, the mere fact that an election was held to decide the next president gave witness...

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