The last two decades made obvious a life's-not-fair fact: Big countries can get away with bad economic policy. Size matters to investors, global corporations, and entrepreneurs because a winning payout is large and can justify the costs of bureaucracy, compliance, and corruption.
Facing a complex and difficult task in negotiating an agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue, the Obama administration is beginning to leak what many observers have long understood -- that it sees no point in trying to obtain Congressional approval for any nuclear deal with Iran.
The Hong Kong protests have kept us guessing as to their intensity and longevity. Last week it appeared that they just might fade into oblivion. Then ham-handed police were caught on video brutally beating a bound protestor and that brought out thousands again. At this writing, the Occupy Central movement, having revived itself and gotten the authorities to talk with them formally, seems to be a long term effort. They have had continuing support among many frustrated sectors of society, not just students, even if some Hong Kong citizens oppose them as disruptors of the economy. Politicians, office workers, religious, young, old, students (and some parents), and professionals: the protests were started by students but they cut across Hong Kong's demographics.
In our three previous installments we discussed how President Obama's six year experiment in retrenching American power has failed. It has created more global disorder, magnified threats to American security, and has shifted America's strategic posture in damaging ways that diminish our ability to shape the international environment. We also took stock of America's resources across the full spectrum of national power, and identified areas needing bolstering as well as areas of strength.
Are we winning or losing Operation Inherent Resolve, the name given the new war against the Islamic State? This is not a gotcha question designed to embarrass the Obama administration, though it is a very difficult one to answer, as this awkward exchange with Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby makes clear. Reasonable people can disagree -- check out the optimist's case and the pessimist's case. And while I lean in the direction of the pessimists, I think the Obama administration is absolutely correct to say that it is too early to tell for certain and that even a war that is ultimately going to be won might experience tactical setbacks along the way.