Guantanamo Bay’s Place in U.S. Strategy

By Sim Tack Last week, the Cuban government declared that for the United States and Cuba to normalize relations, the United States would have to return the territory occupied by a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Washington clearly responded that returning the base is not on the table right now. This response makes sense, since … Continue reading Guantanamo Bay’s Place in U.S. Strategy

The Biggest Money Player In Politics Is The Fed

By Ralph Benko Washington finally shows signs of coming to grips with the importance of money to politics. This is not about mere campaign finance. Recently there was a breakthrough in bringing the money policy issue out of the shadows and to center stage … where it belongs. The real issue of money in politics … Continue reading The Biggest Money Player In Politics Is The Fed

The Unsung X-Factor That Could Upend The Next Presidential Election

By Ralph Benko One, and only one, candidate, Barack Obama, caught the X-factor and improbably got himself nominated and elected, and re-elected, president.  Another improbable candidate could catch it again. What is that X-factor?  How does it upend things? Peace and personal security continued to flourish in 2014 and are likely to continue into 2015 … Continue reading The Unsung X-Factor That Could Upend The Next Presidential Election

George Friedman’s Top Five Events in 2014

By George Friedman 'Tis the season to make lists, and a list shall be made. We tend to see each year as extraordinary, and in some senses, each year is. But in a broader sense, 2014 was merely another year in a long chain of human triumph and misery. Wars have been waged, marvelous things … Continue reading George Friedman’s Top Five Events in 2014

The Geopolitics of U.S.-Cuba Relations

By George Friedman Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to an exchange of prisoners being held on espionage charges. In addition, Washington and Havana agreed to hold discussions with the goal of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. No agreement was reached on ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba, … Continue reading The Geopolitics of U.S.-Cuba Relations

Viewing Russia from the inside

By George Friedman Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn't rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year — the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the … Continue reading Viewing Russia from the inside

The Gold Standard Did Not Cause The Great Depression, Part 1

by Ralph Benko AEI’s James Pethokoukis and National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru — among many others — appear to have fallen victim to what I have called “the Eichengreen Fallacy,” the demonstrably incorrect proposition that the gold standard caused the Great Depression.  This fallacy is at the root of much confusion in the discourse. Both these … Continue reading The Gold Standard Did Not Cause The Great Depression, Part 1

Principle, Rigor and Execution Matter in U.S. Foreign Policy

By George Friedman U.S. President Barack Obama has come under intense criticism for his foreign policy, along with many other things. This is not unprecedented. Former President George W. Bush was similarly attacked. Stratfor has always maintained that the behavior of nations has much to do with the impersonal forces driving it, and little to … Continue reading Principle, Rigor and Execution Matter in U.S. Foreign Policy

Janet Yellen, Politicizing the Fed?

By Ralph Benko Janet Yellen gave a widely noted speech, Perspectives on Inequality and Opportunity from the Survey of Consumer Finances, at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality held  by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on October 17th. The speech presented as a if ghostwritten for her by Quincy Magoo, that beloved cartoon character described … Continue reading Janet Yellen, Politicizing the Fed?

End the Fed’s War on Paychecks

By Ralph Benko The Democratic Party has made “income inequality” a signature issue for the 2014 (and, presumably, 2016) election cycle.  Democrats, en masse, shout “J’accuse!” at Republicans. There is a very different story to tell. “Income inequality” is a crude, and twisted, heuristic for stagnant median family income.   “Income inequality” does not really resonate … Continue reading End the Fed’s War on Paychecks

Global growth continuing at a moderate pace

A moderate expansion is underway in most major advanced and emerging economies, but growth remains weak in the euro area, which runs the risk of prolonged stagnation if further steps are not taken to boost demand, according to the OECD’s latest Interim Economic Assessment. While the global recovery continues at a moderate rate, the outlook … Continue reading Global growth continuing at a moderate pace

A Money Revolt is needed: Fix The Dollar With Gold

By Ralph Benko The Tax Revolt has run its course. A Money Revolt is needed. Steve Forbes, with Elizabeth Ames, in Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy—and What We Can Do About It has thought the issues through. So has, among others, Lewis E. Lehrman (founder and chairman of the Lehrman Institute, … Continue reading A Money Revolt is needed: Fix The Dollar With Gold

The Virtue of Subtlety: A U.S. Strategy Against the Islamic State

By George Friedman U.S. President Barack Obama said recently that he had no strategy as yet toward the Islamic State but that he would present a plan on Wednesday. It is important for a president to know when he has no strategy. It is not necessarily wise to announce it, as friends will be frightened … Continue reading The Virtue of Subtlety: A U.S. Strategy Against the Islamic State

Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy

By George Friedman The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the … Continue reading Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy

Who is Rand Paul?

by Ralph Benko For starters, Rand is short for Randal, not an allusion to Ayn Rand, after whom Sen. Paul was not named by his libertarian (not Objectivist) father Ron Paul. Reportedly, growing up he was called Randy … until his wife shortened the diminutive to Rand. Washington, ordinarily, is committed to maintaining the status … Continue reading Who is Rand Paul?

Europe’s Malaise: The New Normal?

By George FriedmanRussia and Ukraine continue to confront each other along their border. Iraq has splintered, leading to unabated internal warfare. And the situation in Gaza remains dire. These events should be enough to constitute the sum total of our global crises, but they're not. On top of everything, the German economy contracted by 0.2 percent … Continue reading Europe’s Malaise: The New Normal?

Turkey’s Geographical Ambition

By Robert D. Kaplan and Reva Bhalla At a time when Europe and other parts of the world are governed by forgettable mediocrities, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister for a decade now, seethes with ambition. Perhaps the only other leader of a major world nation who emanates such a dynamic force field around him … Continue reading Turkey’s Geographical Ambition

Signs Of The Fed’s Era Of Secrecy Coming To An End

By Ralph Benko The Federal Reserve increasingly is attracting scrutiny across the board.  Now add to that a roller coaster of a thriller, using a miracle of a rare device, shining a light into the operations of the Fed — that contemporary riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: Matthew Quirk’s latest novel, The Directive. “If I’ve … Continue reading Signs Of The Fed’s Era Of Secrecy Coming To An End

Obama checkmate?

By Ralph Benko House Speaker John Boehner’s proposed lawsuit against Barack Obama is causing a great deal of chatter in Washington.  Political stunt, as Obama has called it?  Or, maybe, checkmate, Obama? There is a quiet gap in the U.S. Constitution.  There is no explicit mechanism to discipline a president who fails to carry out his … Continue reading Obama checkmate?

Is Paul Krugman Leaving Princeton In Quiet Disgrace?

By Ralph Benko Professor Paul Krugman is leaving Princeton.  Is he leaving in disgrace? Not long, as these things go, before his departure was announced Krugman thoroughly was indicted and publicly eviscerated for intellectual dishonesty by Harvard’s Niall Ferguson in a hard-hitting three-part series in the Huffington Post, beginning here, and with a coda in … Continue reading Is Paul Krugman Leaving Princeton In Quiet Disgrace?

The Middle Class Squeeze: Can The Populist Elizabeth Warren Champion The Little Guy With Big Government?

Who will prove the champion of the little guy and gal?  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — on deck for her party’s presidential nomination should Hillary Rodham Clinton bow out — has become the political leader of choice for those who advocate Big Government as that champion. This columnist is skeptical about Big Government improving the … Continue reading The Middle Class Squeeze: Can The Populist Elizabeth Warren Champion The Little Guy With Big Government?

Is James Rickards Right About A Coming Monetary Apocalypse?

By Ralph Benko Is a monetary apocalypse imminent? James Rickards, bestselling author of Currency Wars, has a new New York Times bestseller out, about the possible imminent collapse of the dollar: The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System  (Portfolio/Penguin). More interestingly, he writes about what could come next: a golden … Continue reading Is James Rickards Right About A Coming Monetary Apocalypse?

The U.S. Opts for Ineffective Sanctions on Russia

By George Friedman The United States announced new sanctions on seven Russian government officials April 28. A long-used tactic, sanctions can yield unpredictable effects or have no effect at all, depending upon how they are crafted. It is commonly assumed that sanctions are applied when a target country's actions are deemed unacceptable. The sanctioning nation … Continue reading The U.S. Opts for Ineffective Sanctions on Russia

In the “War on Youth” the youth strike back for liberty

By Ralph Benko Politics is no country for old men. The left likes to lampoon the GOP as a party of grumpy old men. Wrong. A new generation is rising. The most striking display at the recent CPAC was a barrage balloon emblazoned with the words War On Youth. It was lofted over one of the most popular … Continue reading In the “War on Youth” the youth strike back for liberty

Not a New Cold War, but Great Game II

By Mark Galeotti Are Russia and the West about to revisit the ritualized competition of the Cold War? Not according to Mark Galeotti. A more useful analogy is the Great Game, that freewheeling 19th century struggle between Great Britain and Russia over Central Asia. Suddenly the talk is of a new Cold War between Russia and the … Continue reading Not a New Cold War, but Great Game II

Why Only Mark Zuckerberg Can Transform Immigration Policy

By Ralph Benko Problems caused by America’s broken immigration system are causing misery to America’s immigrant community (both legal residents and undocumented), and, for good measure, to the president, the GOP and American society. There may be only one person with both the intentionality and the resources to resolve America’s immigration predicament: Mark Zuckerberg, founder … Continue reading Why Only Mark Zuckerberg Can Transform Immigration Policy

London Mayor Boris Johnson For President? Welcome to the UKSA!

By Ralph Benko This columnist’s admiration for Senator Rand Paul is driven, in part, by Sen. Paul’s consistent and honorable stand against the “warfare/welfare state.” Rising-star national talk radio host, and columnist, Steve Deace astutely observes in a recent Washington Times op-ed, “he’s the only candidate running that is attempting to introduce an entirely new … Continue reading London Mayor Boris Johnson For President? Welcome to the UKSA!

Six reasons why US capital expenditure is on the rise

In the United States, capital expenditure is lagging the economy as a whole. Some think this is the ‘new normal’. But Robeco’s strategist Peter van der Welle believes there is a strong case for a rebound in investments later this year.  Capital expenditure has been disappointing in recent years. Corporates drastically reduced investments to cut … Continue reading Six reasons why US capital expenditure is on the rise

U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair

By George Friedman Ever since the end of the Cold War, there has been an assumption that conventional warfare between reasonably developed nation-states had been abolished. During the 1990s, it was expected that the primary purpose of the military would be operations other than war, such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and the change of oppressive … Continue reading U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair

A Modest Proposal: Should Puerto Rico Consider Joining The Russian Federation?

by Ralph Benko Should Puerto Rico explore following Crimea into the Russian Federation? Puerto Rico’s biggest problem in dealing with Washington is of the same nature as that increasingly shared by too many Americans. Puerto Rico’s biggest problem in dealing with Washington is of the same nature as that increasingly shared by too many Americans. … Continue reading A Modest Proposal: Should Puerto Rico Consider Joining The Russian Federation?

Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine

By George Friedman During the Cold War, U.S. secretaries of state and Soviet foreign ministers routinely negotiated the outcome of crises and the fate of countries. It has been a long time since such talks have occurred, but last week a feeling of deja vu overcame me. Americans and Russians negotiated over everyone's head to … Continue reading Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine

U.S. Unemployment Will Remain High So Long As The Dollar Remains Wobbly

by Ralph Benko The Republican National Committee recently passed a resolution, by the unanimous vote of its National Committeepeople, calling for the creation of a national Monetary Commission.  This legislation is prime sponsored in the House of Representatives by Joint Economic Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tx) and in the US Senate by Republican whip John … Continue reading U.S. Unemployment Will Remain High So Long As The Dollar Remains Wobbly

Chuck Hagel Propels Barack Obama Into History

By Ralph Benko With his thoughtful restructuring of America’s military, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel — a Republican — has cemented Obama’s signature  legacy: restoring America to a peacetime footing. Obama’s bringing  American troops home from two wars, and, now, reducing the military to a strong, but proportionate, peacetime footing, was not easy. Doing so … Continue reading Chuck Hagel Propels Barack Obama Into History

Heritage Drafts Steve Moore, Supply Side Visionary, To Fight Team Obama

By Ralph Benko Will America start prospering again — as it has not prospered for over a decade? Likely yes. But not without a fight.  Now that Jim DeMint has raided Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal that card might be Heritage Foundation vs. the White House. Could be big. John Holdren, now Obama’s … Continue reading Heritage Drafts Steve Moore, Supply Side Visionary, To Fight Team Obama

The American Public’s Indifference to Foreign Affairs

By George Friedman Last week, several events took place that were important to their respective regions and potentially to the world. Russian government officials suggested turning Ukraine into a federation, following weeks of renewed demonstrations in Kiev. The Venezuelan government was confronted with violent and deadly protests. Kazakhstan experienced a financial crisis that could have destabilized … Continue reading The American Public’s Indifference to Foreign Affairs

Rand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton: A Radically Transformational Presidential Election Fighting Over Peace and Prosperity?

By Ralph Benko Rand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton? In a context of emerging peace, prosperity, and human rights? This would be big.  Transformational, even.Peter Bein art, in the Atlantic Monthly (among many, many other political observers), has concluded that “Rand Paul is the 2016 Republican Frontrunner.”  And two of the Washington Post’s top political observers, … Continue reading Rand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton: A Radically Transformational Presidential Election Fighting Over Peace and Prosperity?

China is the real threat to emerging markets

It has been a rough time for emerging market equities, but only China has the real power to upset the apple cart for investors this year, says Robeco’s chief economist. Rate hikes in countries such as India and Turkey to try to prop up their currencies and cut capital flows have sent stock prices plummeting. … Continue reading China is the real threat to emerging markets

New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia

By George Friedman The struggle for some of the most strategic territory in the world took an interesting twist this week. Last week we discussed what appeared to be a significant shift in German national strategy in which Berlin seemed to declare a new doctrine of increased assertiveness in the world -- a shift that followed intense German interest in … Continue reading New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia

Memo To Janet Yellen’s Vice Chair Nominee Stanley Fischer: That Was Then. This Is Now.

By Ralph Benko Dr. Janet Yellen now has taken over the chair of the Fed. And President Obama, to great acclaim, recently nominated Prof. Stanley Fischer as Vice Chairman. Prof. Fischer may be the most distinguished and beloved central banker at work within the world financial system today. It is not often that central bankers … Continue reading Memo To Janet Yellen’s Vice Chair Nominee Stanley Fischer: That Was Then. This Is Now.

The Secret Hillary Rodham Clinton, Part II

By Ralph Benko As recounted in the previous column, the record is clear that Saul Alinsky, about whom the young Hillary Rodham wrote her Wellesley honor’s thesis, was neither communist nor  conventional Big Government liberal. Hillary Rodham turned down a job  offer from Alinsky.  She turned aside from the path of  anti-establishment populist. Hillary Rodham took the … Continue reading The Secret Hillary Rodham Clinton, Part II