Blogs

The Return of the Native

Thoughts on The Return of the Native A British immigrant reluctantly decides to escape the tumult of Trump’s America By Rebecca Mead The New Yorker, August 20, 2018...

read more

Opinion Pieces at the News International Pakistan

American Leadership – Published on June 23, 2021

Last week, Joe Biden concluded his first overseas trip since becoming president. He chose to travel to Europe where he met with leaders of the European Union and heads of key Nato allies.

There was much relationship rebuilding that was needed after four years of the previous administration. According to one prominent magazine, “for four years the US engaged in kicking sand into the eyes of key allies.” Biden recognizes the value of important alliances as the US tries to deal with rising threats from Russia and China. Read more…

Reckoning with History – published on June 9, 2021

Last week, US President Joe Biden visited Tulsa, Oklahoma to publicly acknowledge the 100th anniversary of one of the worst massacres of Americans of African descent in US history.

On May 31st a century ago, a white mob descended on the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, one of the most prosperous areas in the country inhabited by the Black community. At the end of two days, the entire neighborhood was burned to ashes, 300 or so Black people killed, and thousands moved into internment camps. More than 30 city blocks were razed to the ground. What exactly happened on that day was erased from collective memory. No public discussion or debate ensued, and no one was ever prosecuted. Read more…

On Israel and Palestine – Published on May 26, 2021

Joe Biden came into office wanting to focus on key US foreign policy priorities – checking China’s rise, and mending fences with Western allies.

Getting involved in the Middle East, and particularly the Israeli-Palestinian issue, was not on his agenda. Yet when hostilities between Israel and Hamas broke out, he was forced to get involved. It became clear to Biden that the standard US presidential talking point – ‘we support Israel’s right to defend itself’ – would not suffice.

The whole world was watching the lopsided balance of power, and death and damage to innocent civilians in Gaza. Rockets fired by Hamas into Israel were mostly intercepted by the US taxpayer-funded ‘Iron Dome’. A few got through, killing 12 people. Read more…

Six Months – Published on May 12, 2021

The six months since November 2020 US elections have been among the most eventful, and not always in a positive way.For the first time in American history, the losing candidate refuses to accept the results, continuing to propagate the lie that he actually won. This is the kind of behavior often seen in immature, third world democracies – not expected from the self-proclaimed oldest democracy

An even bigger surprise has been the cult of supporters that has formed around the persona of the corrupt and lying former president. Anyone from within his Republican Party who has called out the lie has been shown the door. A very high percentage of the 74 million who voted for him continue to buy into his lies. Court after court has rejected claims of voter fraud and yet the big lie continues, amplified by the right-wing echo chamber. Read more…

 

Justice for Black Americans – Published April 28, 2021

On April 20, a 12-person jury in Minneapolis gave its verdict in the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin. The jury rendered a guilty verdict on all three counts in the murder of George FloydAlmost a year ago, the entire world had witnessed the harrowing video of the killing of Floyd by officer Chauvin when he pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.

The reason this killing came to light was because a teenage girl who happened to be passing by, stopped and recorded the entire spectacle.With this guilty verdict the country felt a sigh of relief. There was fear that the killing of yet another unarmed Black man would go unpunished. Such an outcome would have caused a violent uprising across America. Read more…

 

Democracy in Peril – published on April 14, 2021

The last twelve months have seen unprecedented assaults on American democracy, starting with a sitting president claiming the only way he could lose was if there was major rigging of the presidential election.

Throughout the months leading up to the November 2020 elections, Trump continued to sow doubt about the elections, even before a single vote was cast. And when the election was over, he refused to accept the results. Aided by a chorus of rightwing media, he has managed to create an alternate universe for his supporters.

Now almost three months after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th American president, Donald Trump and his supporters refuse to go away, continuing their assault on key pillars of the democratic system. More than 60 cases filed by the Trump campaign were rejected by courts across the country. This would have been enough for any reasonable people. But these are not reasonable people. More than half of all Republicans continue to believe that Trump won the election, and that it was stolen from him. This is a party that has mastered the art of creating alternate facts. This process of undermining trust in the truth didn’t start with Trump but he has turbocharged it. Read more…

Shifting Geopolitics – Published on March 31, 2021

Last week, Iran and China signed a massive economic pact. Under this agreement, China will invest $400 billion in several sectors in Iran over the next 25 years.

In exchange Iran will provide oil to China on favorable terms. This brings to fruition the approach initiated by Chinese President Xi towards Iran in 2016. At that time, having just completed an agreement with global powers which were supposed to open Iran to Western investment, Iran was reluctant to engage with China.

Now that the previous US administration has blown up the so-called Iran nuclear deal, Iran felt free, even eager, to respond positively to Chinese outreach. The new Biden Administration has shown eagerness to revive the 2015 deal with Iran, but it may be too late to revive it as originally agreed. One can hardly blame Iran for being suspicious of any new agreement it may sign with the US. After all, it only takes one US election cycle for any agreement to be trashed by a new administration. Read more…

Role of Government – Published on March 17, 2021

Last week, the US Congress approved the $1.9 trillion American Relief Plan (ARP) proposed by President Biden to pull the country out of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. It includes funds for low-income individuals, and for vaccinations, as well as for public schools and state and local governments that have been struggling to provide services.

ARP was approved by the slimmest of margins in both houses of Congress, passing solely with Democratic votes. Not a single Republican voted for this bill, finding many things to criticize – “it is too costly”, “has too much money for things not affected by the pandemic”, etc. Having ignored $8 trillion added to the national debt by the Trump administration over four years, the Republicans have suddenly discovered fiscal responsibility. It appears fiscal responsibility becomes important to them only when Democrats are in power. Read more…

America and the Middle East – published on March 2, 2021

Americans often fret at the never-ending US entanglements in the Middle East. The region is considered “beyond repair”, with little regard to the US role in the dysfunction. There appear to be several seemingly disconnected episodes in the Middle East that keep drawing the US into its vortex.

On February 25, the Biden Administration launched an air attack on an Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria, killing 22 and destroying infrastructure. This in response to recent rocket attacks by these militias against American contractors at the Erbil airport in Iraq which killed and injured several contract employees. These attacks and the American response take place against the backdrop of delicate posturing about the Iran nuclear deal. Read more…

 

US in Afghanistan – Published on February 16, 2021

Very soon after taking office in 2009, President Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This ‘Af-Pak’ setup showed a lack of understanding of how Pakistan-India tensions factor into any resolution of the Afghanistan crisis. US policy in Pakistan’s neighborhood is again starting to take shape as key players in the new administration are settling into their roles. Many of them are carry-overs from the Obama Administration. Read more…