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: Diplomacy & Conflict

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As neocon John Bolton tries to instigate a conflict with Iran, here’s a reminder that MADtv saw this move coming back in 2007. Watch and laugh… if you can.

This sketch is from the sixteenth episode of MADtv’s twelfth season.

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Cambodians who fled to Seattle ‘shocked’ as details emerge of Republican Doug Ericksen’s $500K deal with regime

Donald Trump booster and Tim Eyman pal Doug Ericksen has teamed up with disgraced former State Representative Jay Rodne to promote the interests of Cambodia’s authoritarian Hun Sen regime in the United States. The pair have a deal with the regime worth half a million dollars.


[A]s much as they loathe one another, they are also codependent: Hamas uses its defiance of Israel to portray itself as the true voice of Palestinian resistance, and Israel’s right-wing government exploits Gaza’s unruliness to argue that it lacks a partner for peace talks.

—   David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner: As Gaza fighting intensifies, Israelis and Palestinians bury their dead (The New York Times)


Qatar’s citizens, today numbering 300,000, have become very rich, very fast. Their average income of $125,000 is the highest in the world, over twice that of the United States or Saudi Arabia. The state cocoons them with free land, cushy jobs and American universities. Gleaming supercars and limousines cruise along Doha’s palm-lined corniche. Poor Qataris are hard to find.

— The New York Times: Tiny, wealthy Qatar goes its own way, and pays for it

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Businessman paints a terrifying and complex picture of Vladimir Putin’s Russia

Required reading from NPR.

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Mexico: We will not pay for Trump border wall

Mexico’s political leaders have wisely chosen defiance instead of capitulation. In a nationally televised address, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto declared that his country does not believe in walls and will not finance the border barrier that Trump has vowed to build. If the last few days have taught us anything, it’s that by uniting together against Donald’s bigotry, we can stop neofascism in its tracks.


Netanyahu doesn’t want anyone interfering as he destroys diplomatic relations with the countries, some friendly to Israel, that “dared” to vote for the resolution declaring the settlements illegal. The burial of the Foreign Ministry and the abandonment of diplomacy turns out to be part of a broad and dangerous plan to disengage from international law and stop playing by its rules.

— The UN settlements vote: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dragging Israel into the abyss (Haaretz editorial)

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Canadians want Prime Minister Trudeau to stand up to Trump, poll finds

“Most Canadians want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stand up to Donald Trump as a champion of progressive values and the international order, even if it strains Canada-U.S. relations, according to a new poll from Nanos Research Group,” The Globe and Mail reports.

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Chilcot report: Tony Blair’s Iraq War case not justified

From the BBC: “Tony Blair overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle and had ‘wholly inadequate’ plans for the aftermath, the UK’s Iraq War inquiry has said.”


On this Fourth of July, while American violence continues to rain down on Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, as we continue to support violent regimes in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere by buying oil that we then burn and dump into the atmosphere, precipitously heating the planet, and amid a crucial presidential election, we should ask ourselves what we’re really celebrating with our bottle rockets and sparklers.

— Roy Scranton: ‘Star Wars’ and the fantasy of American violence

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At around 11:05 PM Pacific Time (Sunday, May 22nd on the Left Coast; Monday, May 23rd in Asia), President Barack Obama is scheduled to hold a press conference with President Quang of Vietnam at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam. The press conference will be livestreamed and may be watched using the player above.


Must-see TV: Cubans marvel at rare questioning of Raul Castro

Yesterday, in a historic first, President Barack Obama held a joint news conference in Havana with Cuba’s Raul Castro, where they not only delivered statements to the press, but took questions — something Castro is not used to doing.

It made for a media event that was awkward and testy at times.

Reporting on the news conference, the Associated Press focused on the reaction of the Cuban people, beginning its writeup with these words: “Cubans were glued to their televisions on Monday, many watching in a state of shock as President Raul Castro faced tough questions from American journalists who challenged him to defend Cuba’s record on human rights and political prisoners.”

Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, meanwhile, offered a more thorough recounting of what happened at the news conference, adding useful context.

PBS has posted the video of the news conference for on-demand viewing.

Lastly, The Huffington Post has a roundup of how the state-controlled Cuban mass media is covering President Obama’s visit to Cuba.

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Saudi Arabia breaks off ties with Iran after al-Nimr execution

Relations between Saudia Arabia and Iran deteriorated rapidly this weekend after Saudia Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric, and angry Iranians stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in retaliation. Saudia Arabia said it was severing ties with Iran and expelling all Iranian diplomats from its territory.


Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes… It’s all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path. There are wars today everywhere, and hate. We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognise the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war, and have the cynicism to deny it.

— Pope Francis: Christmas festivities ‘a charade’ with world at war


For instance, if there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way… It doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion.

The fearmongering continues: Ben Carson likens some refugees to ‘mad dogs’ (via The Washington Post).


We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers because some politician doesn’t like their religion… and we are not a nation that backs down out of fear.

— Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, delivering a stinging critique of efforts to reject Syrian refugees (via The Huffington Post).

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UN and Red Cross scold world leaders over ‘conflict paralysis’

“The heads of the UN and Red Cross have issued a rare joint rebuke to world leaders, accusing them of ‘disturbing paralysis’ in the face of conflict,” the BBC reports.


The questions are increasingly badgering, I would even say increasingly vicious… It seems to me that really, the majority simply wish to wear you down. It is clear that they are trying to attack you personally.

— U.S. Representative Adam Smith, of Washington’s 9th District (The Washington Post: GOP lands no clear punches while sparring with Clinton over Benghazi).


White House: President Obama has phoned Justin Trudeau to offer his congratulations

President Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau today to congratulate him on his astonishing victory in the 2015 Canadian federal elections, the White House has announced, providing the following readout:

Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister-Designate Justin Trudeau of Canada

The President spoke by phone today with Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau of Canada to congratulate him on the Liberal Party’s victory in the October 19 elections. The two leaders agreed on the importance of deepening the already strong United States-Canada relationship and committed to strengthening the countries’ joint efforts to promote trade, combat terrorism, and mitigate climate change. In particular, they noted the successful conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the need to move forward with implementing the high standards of the agreement, which promises to boost economic growth and support good-paying jobs on both sides of the border. They committed to work together to achieve an ambitious and durable global climate agreement in Paris in December. The President wished the Prime Minister-Designate well and noted that he looks forward to meeting with him in the near future.

Trudeau’s victory is a cause for celebration for the Obama administration, which has had a cool relationship with Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Obama will now assuredly have a new and better partner north of the border for his final year and a quarter in office — and someone at the head of a majority in Parliament to boot. Trudeau supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but has vowed not to allow U.S.-Canadian relations to sour based on differences over that project.

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China’s Xi can’t compete with ‘rock star’ pope in U.S. trip

Writing for Bloomberg News, Andrew Davis and John Follain explain why Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States has been overshadowed by that of Pope Francis. Each man is a world leader with over a billion constituents.


While it seems almost everyone is in thrall to the visiting pontiff, many in the Republican base dislike much of what he has to say: climate change and poverty deniers reject his encyclical on degrading the planet or his call to help the poor; hawks can’t abide papal advice to make love, not war; immigration hardliners find him too soft, the list goes on.

— Political columnist Margaret Carlson: Republicans will tune out half of what Pope Francis says (via Bloomberg View).