29 January 2017   Leave a comment


There are times when people in government find it impossible to reconcile their personal views with the policies of government.  In such circumstances, many choose to resign their positions, at great personal and professional cost.  I have been fortunate to know two such individuals:  Anthony Lake and Jon Western, who both resigned from the State Department over disagreements over policies in Vietnam in the case of Lake and policies in Bosnia in the case of Western.  Both also served as the Five College Professor in International Relations.  Tony is now the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Western is the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Mount Holyoke College.  A number of State Department officials have resigned after the inauguration of Donald Trump, but they have not made the reasons for their resignations public.  Peter Maas has written an essay on the factors that come into play in such decisions.

The US has reorganized the National Security Council, a body that was created in 1947 in the Truman Administration.  It was created to give the President of the United States advice on foreign policy from military, diplomatic, and economic experts.  Historically it has always been populated by people with deep experience in international affairs and diplomatic relations.  The reorganization announced yesterday removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence as permanent members (although they can be invited to participate).  But more worrisome is the appointment of a political strategist, Stephen Bannon, who has virtually no background in international relations and is primarily a political hack.

The French Socialist Party has selected a rather hard-line lefty, Benoît Hamon, to represent the Party in the spring elections.  Hamon defeated the center-left candidate, Manuel Valls, by a rather convincing vote of the party members.  The vote represents a repudiation of the current President, Hollande, and suggests a sharply contested election if the hard-right National Front candidate, Marine Le Pen, chooses to run.  But the left is splintered and it is unclear whether it can hold its own as the French electorate seems to have shifted to the right wing.

Benoît Hamon

Image result for Benoît Hamon

Posted January 30, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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