Sunday Headlines

Next President Faces Choice In Middle East: Sit Out Or Go In?
Particularly in the 20th Century, there are two statements which can be made about the Middle East that remain true to today — instability is a persistent state of being and that despite the wishes of many, the nations of the region show no signs of being able to independently solve their own problems.

“Absent external involvement, the region’s leaders consistently opt for strategies that exacerbate conflict and feed perpetual instability. Civil wars are particularly stubborn problems, and without decisive outside intervention, they usually last decades,” asserts Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution.

Pollack contends that intervention in the ongoing civil wars in the Middle East need not be a disastrous course akin to the war in Iraq. In fact, he notes that in about 20 percent of the cases since 1945, and roughly 40 percent of the cases since 1995, some third-party nation or coalition has played a critical role.

If not intervention, then the next president should adopt a policy of fully drawing back, but that could make the situation worse, not better.

“Under a policy of real disengagement, the United States would abstain from involvement in the civil wars altogether. It would instead try to contain their spillover, difficult as that is, and if that were to fail, it would fall back on defending only core U.S. interests in the Middle East,” cautions Pollack.

Former Prime Minister Of Thailand: Elections Are A Sham
hailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has sent a warning signal that the present ruling junta is jeopardizing the country’s struggling economy by pushing a new constitution that would potentially preserve the influence of the generals who participated in the effort to depose him.

Violence Rising In Venezuela Under Maduro
In the years after Nicolas Maduro succeeded Hugo Chavez, known for his penchant for human rights violations and murder of opposition foes, political violence and government oppression has not abated as was anticipated.

According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), there were a record number of violent deaths in 2015, positioning the Latin American nation among one of the most violent in the region.

According to the OVV, the homicide rate is comparable only to that of El Salvador, and averages out to 76 violent deaths every day, or three people every hour.

The collapse of oil prices has only exacerbated a weakened economy that has been built on socialism and dependence on oil. That means there is potential for a further breakout of violence and that has implications for the United States, says Patrick Duddy of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“There is little the United States can do on its own to affect change within Venezuela, but protracted political and economic crises would be damaging to long-term U.S. interests in protecting human rights, promoting representative democracy and sustainable economic growth in the Western Hemisphere, and curbing illicit financial flows from Venezuelan corruption. It would also make drug trafficking through Venezuela more difficult to track,” he writes.

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