Category: U.S. Politics

American Foreign Policy Must Take Into Account Dueling Irans

July 3, 2012

As the world grapples with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, discussions abound in think tanks and capitals around the world concerning a key question: what makes Iran tick? The real question should be: which Iran?

The Iran of the government of the Islamic Republic, a serial human rights abuser that executes more people per capita than anywhere else in the world, undermines Iran’s enormous economic potential with corruption, mismanagement, and needless diplomatic spats, and sends money and weapons to Hezbollah, Hamas, and Bashar al-Assad’s goons killing the Syrian opposition?

Or the Iran of a young, dynamic populace hungry for democracy, dignity, and jobs, a population that, as Nicholas Kristof has reported recently in the New York Times, harbors little antipathy toward the United States and wants the same freedoms we all want, who are heirs to one of the world’s greatest civilizations that has produced some of the finest thinkers, artists, scientists – and even political leaders — the world has known? Continue reading “American Foreign Policy Must Take Into Account Dueling Irans” »

Capitalism With a Conscience

November 18, 2011

During the past few weeks Americans have witnessed increasing crowds gathered at Wall Street — the symbol of American capitalism — to protest the excesses of capitalism. It appears that whether in Athens, London, Madrid or New York, two fundamentally difference camps are fighting an ideological battle between savage capitalism and capitalism with a conscience. In the former only a few get ahead and prosper but in the latter we are all given an opportunity to prosper.

Those who are critical of capitalism — I call it “savage capitalism” — point out that many people in the middle class and lower middle class are left behind with little to no chance to increase their standard of living. They point to ridiculously large bonuses paid to Wall Street bankers and corruption in the American political system where money buys access and that access leads to special favors via the U.S. tax code. The end result of savage capitalism is an economic system where only the few and well-connected get rich. Continue reading “Capitalism With a Conscience” »

From Baku to Baltimore: An Investment in Education

October 20, 2011

Beyond the first two letters in their names Baltimore and Baku appear to have very little in common. Baku is the capital of energy-rich Azerbaijan, a republic of the former Soviet Union the size of Maryland with a population of eight million. With an oil fund in excess of $32 billion and projected revenues of $200 billion by 2024, Azerbaijan is fast becoming the Kuwait of the former Soviet Union. But it is not oil wealth that distinguishes this secular Muslim country sandwiched between a resurgent Russia and a fundamentalist Iran.

Religious freedom and tolerance is its bedrock. For example, Azerbaijan is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world and in celebration of this fact last year the Chief Rabbi of Israel visited Azerbaijan to inaugurate Baku’s largest synagogue. Even members of the Bahai faith, who are persecuted and tortured in neighboring Iran, are free to practice their religion in Azerbaijan. Not surprisingly, the regime in Iran has tried to undermine Azerbaijan’s secular system on numerous occasions as to decouple Baku from ties with the U.S. and Israel. Continue reading “From Baku to Baltimore: An Investment in Education” »

U.S.-Bahrain Relations: A Lesson From History

October 6, 2011

One of the greatest geopolitical and strategic setbacks for the U.S. occurred with the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979. Not only was the genie of Islamic fundamentalism allowed to rear its anti-American and anti-Semitic head out of the bottle, but America lost one of its most staunch and reliable allies in the region. Today the Kingdom of Bahrain is facing similar pressures to those faced by the Shah over thirty-two years ago and the fundamental challenge for Washington is how to craft a policy towards Bahrain that keeps King Hamad in charge but addresses the legitimate and deep-seated grievances of the majority Shia population. Thirty years ago Washington abandoned its ally in favor of what some called “a saint” and the Ayatollah Khomeini turned Iran into an Islamic Republic and in the process transformed Iran into a state-sponsor of terrorism. Continue reading “U.S.-Bahrain Relations: A Lesson From History” »

U.S. Debt Crisis and Leadership

July 26, 2011

Leadership is when you plant a tree but do not live long enough to sit under its shadows. President Obama is young enough to plant the tree of economic growth and live under its shadows if he shows leadership on the national debt crisis. President Obama can show statesmanship, courage, and vision by immediately announcing that he will not spend time campaigning for re-election and will instead spend his remaining time in office to put America back onto the path of solvency and economic growth. Continue reading “U.S. Debt Crisis and Leadership” »

The U.S. Debt Crisis: From Sclerosis to Solution

July 19, 2011

The parties that got America into its current financial mess are still bickering over whether to cut spending or raise taxes to fix the problem. Missing from this debate is a third factor that is key to keeping America strong; namely, growing the economic pie through the private sector by implementing major tax reform and democratizing innovation. First we must cut overall spending. No program should be immune from cuts. The target should be to bring the overall Federal spending to the 2001 level (before 9/11). Second, we must institute a national sales tax (retail and wholsesale) for a three year period. This national sales tax would fluctuate after a three year phase in to whatever level is required to balance the budget for each year (i.e. a true pay as you go system). Finally, we must simplify our tax code to reward savings and allow U.S. companies to invest in America instead of keeping their cash overseas. If we fail Uncle Sam will end up being the real child abuser because we will have failed our children.

Rob Sobhani on the SPR Release

June 29, 2011

What’s behind the timing of President Obama’s release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Energy Now! anchor Thalia Assuras talks with Rob Sobhani, president of Caspian Energy Consulting, to ask why policymakers released oil from the SPR now, instead of when prices were higher, and if Middle East turmoil is enough to justify it.

To watch the video, visit Energy Now!