Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Alliances


Dozens dead after attacker drives into Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France with truck

Horror has come to another city:

A truck ploughed into a crowd in the French resort of Nice Thursday, leaving at least 60 dead and scores injured in an “attack” after a Bastille Day fireworks display, prosecutors said.

Local government official Sebastien Humbert told BFMTV that the driver of the truck was shot dead after barrelling down the palm-lined Promenade des Anglais in what he called “a major criminal attack”.

We extend our sympathies to all affected by this terrible event.

France24 is offering live coverage.

“On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved ones of those killed, and we wish a full recovery for the many wounded,” said President Barack Obama in a statement released a little bit ago.

“I have directed my team to be in touch with French officials, and we have offered any assistance that they may need to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice. We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack. On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world, and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.”


Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong. The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share. And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.

— President Barack Obama, responding to today’s terrorist attacks in Paris.


Only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.

— Russia’s Vladimir Putin, declaring that the United States, Canada, and the European Union have no need to fear his country.


Republicans want to distance themselves from [Iraq] without divorcing themselves from it… This was a Republican president, and it never serves the party well to say that everything the last Republican president did was wrong. And for Jeb, it is even trickier because he is talking about his brother.

— Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University (The Hill: Questioned on Iraq, Bush misfires).

Recommended Link

Is NATO losing its edge on defense?

The BBC talks to several former military leaders and security analysts who worry that the United States and NATO are wasting money on hideously expensive high-tech weapons and equipment that don’t last very long.


Dear Judy,

No one is crediting you with starting the Iraq war. We know you were not actually on the team that took us into the biggest, most tragic US foreign policy debacle ever. You were just cheering from the sidelines. Your attempt to re-write history is both pathetic and self-serving.


Valerie Plame

Former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame Wilson, responding to this column by disgraced New York Times reporter Judith Miller.


Too many times President Putin has promised peace, and delivered tanks, troops, and weapons. So we will continue to provide Ukraine with security assistance, not to encourage war but to allow Ukraine to defend itself.

— Excerpt from Vice Preisdent Joe Biden’s remarks at the Munich Security Conference at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany.


The statement that there is a NATO legion in Ukraine is nonsense… There is no NATO legion, the foreign forces in Ukraine are Russian.

— NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, responding to Vladimir Putin’s ridiculous statement that the Ukranian Army is operating like a “foreign legion” for the twenty-eight nation alliance.

Recommended Link

France backs off sending Mistral warship to Russia in $1.7 billion deal

The government of France announced today that it has decided to withhold delivery of an amphibious assault ship manufactured for the Russian Navy. The contract had been criticized by the United States and other members of NATO, but until today, France had consistently said it was going ahead with its plans to deliver the first of four ships of Russia. Now it is altering course.

Recommended Link

Canadians like Barack Obama more than they like Stephen Harper

Public opinion research firm Angus Reid Global spoke with more than 1,500 Canadians and asked them to pick six words to describe world leaders. The results showed that they prefer the President of the United States to their own prime minister. A majority of Canadians described Stephen Harper with words like “secretive”, “dishonest”, “arrogant”, “boring”, “liar”, and “uncaring”. Barack Obama was described as “influential”, “compassionate”, “charismatic”, “credible”, “inspiring”, and “strong”.


If you compare the mood here today (Sunday) to the last few days, the atmosphere has grown a lot calmer. Shopping malls and restaurants are full of people again and there are a lot of weddings taking place. People are cheering every time there’s news of another US air strike.

— Jiyar Gol, reporting for BBC News in Irbil, in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. Kurdish leaders are asking for American-made weapons to fight IS.

Chat Transcript

Anderson Cooper speaks to NSC’s Douglas Ollivant about the crisis in Iraq

ANDERSON COOPER: Douglas, have you been surprised by some of the set backs that the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have faced just in recent days and weeks? Because obviously they have a much mounted (ph) fighting, you know, fighting force over many years. Is it simply that they are outgunned right now?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT [Director for Iraq at the National Security Council]: It’s hard to say what the truth is in the north as I attended, you know, facts North of Baghdad are in short supply and it’s often hard to know exactly what the situation is. But there is a distinct possibility that the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga aren’t quite as good as they were when most of us encountered them for the first time in 2003 and 2004. On the other hand …

ANDERSON COOPER: Is that because a lot of the leadership is now, you know, who are commanding, you know, battlefield commanders they’ve now have gone to politics, they have gone into business in Erbil?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: For all kinds of reasons certainly, you know, when you’re being threatened in 1991 becoming a Peshmerga is a great thing. Now, if you’re a young, ambitious Kurd you want to go into business and make money in the oil industry and not become a Peshmerga. So, it’s not what it once was.

But it could also be about the lack of arms or ammunition and no small parties because ISIL is extremely capable, has a lot of weapons, some of which they’ve brought from Syria, some of which they captured in Iraq. So, this could multi causal. It could be any one or all three of those.

(Transcript courtesy of CNN)


As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

— Excerpt from President Barack Obama’s statement on the crisis in Iraq, televised earlier this evening from the White House’s State Dining Room.


I lift my glass to the great British people, ally and friend of the French people.

— French President Francois Hollande, offering a toast at a dinner in Paris to the friendship of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island and the Republic of France. Queen Elizabeth II and her family were among Hollande’s guests at the dinner, which honored those who gave their lives to the Allied cause in WWII.


Recommended Link

NATO general says he sees potent Russian threat

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top military commander, General Philip Breedlove, assesses Russia’s intentions and capabilities in the wake of its military buildup on the Ukranian border. Breedlove is concerned that if the Russians made a move into eastern Ukraine, they would be hard to stop.


It’s good to be in NATO right now.

— Kadri Liik, an Estonian analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, commenting on Russia’s takeover of Crimea for the New York Times.