The Koch Foundation Is Trying to Reshape Foreign Policy. With Liberal Allies. – By BEVERLY GAGE – The New York Times

Photo illustration by Paul Sahre

“Last year, the new Project on Grand Strategy, Security, and Statecraft quietly opened its doors in Cambridge, Mass. A joint venture between Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the program, thus far, has hosted only a modest level of activity, barely noticeable in the thrum of the Boston-area academic scene. Last year, the program supported two visiting scholars. This year, the number is up to four, all with specialties in some aspect of United States foreign relations.

If the program’s current scale may as yet be unremarkable, the ambitions of its founding donor are not. Created with $3.7 million in grants from the Charles Koch Foundation, the program is part of an expansive but little-noticed Koch-sponsored effort to influence American foreign policy by investing in the infrastructure of ideas: scholars, academic centers, Washington think tanks. So-called Koch money — the billions under the control of Charles and his brother David, who died in August — has already transformed countless other areas of American political life, from tax policy to environmental regulation to campaign finance, all in the service of a radically free-market vision that has made the Koch name an epithet among progressives.

When it comes to foreign policy, though, the agenda of the foundation — which supports education and research and constitutes a relatively small part of the Koch network — does not line up quite so neatly with partisan politics. In keeping with Charles Koch’s libertarian shrink-the-state imperative, the foundation has set out to bring an end to America’s age of endless wars and to reduce the nation’s military footprint around the world — a vision shared by many progressives, some of whom count themselves among the Koch grantees.

Since 2015, the foundation has committed more than $25 million to this effort. It has seeded academic programs at universities like Tufts, Notre Dame, the Catholic University of America, Texas A&M and the University of California, San Diego, in addition to Harvard and M.I.T. This summer, it also granted $460,000 — about a quarter of the start-up budget — to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new think tank that intends to challenge the “intellectual lethargy and dysfunction” of the foreign-policy establishment and to argue on behalf of greater military restraint. The left-leaning billionaire George Soros gave money through his foundation to the Quincy Institute as well, a strange-bedfellows arrangement much emphasized during the think tank’s rollout in late June — and a sign of how seriously the Trump presidency has shaken up traditional enmities and alliances.

Within the grand scheme of Koch-affiliated spending, the foundation’s foreign-policy investments are still pocket change; donors like Michael Bloomberg have given far more to similar projects. They are a tiny fraction of the $889 million the Koch network initially pledged for the 2016 election cycle — a sum comparable to that of the two major political parties — or the $400 million it pledged in 2018.”

As Amazon Fires Become Global Crisis, Brazil’s President Reverses Course – The New York Times

By Ernesto LondoñoManuela Andreoni and 

“RIO DE JANEIRO — As an ecological disaster in the Amazon escalated into a global political crisis, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took the rare step on Friday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade.

The sudden reversal, after days of dismissing growing concern over hundreds of fires raging across the Amazon, came as international outrage grew over the rising deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest. European leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal, protesters staged demonstrations outside Brazilian embassies and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products snowballed on social media.

As a chorus of condemnation intensified, Brazil braced for the prospect of punitive measures that could severely damage an economy that is already sputtering after a brutal recession and the country’s far-right populist president faced a withering reckoning.

On Friday, he said that he was planning to send the military to enforce environmental laws and to help contain the fires starting Saturday.”

Opinion | Trump and Xi Sittin’ in a Tree – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“I was glad to see the stock market get a boost from the news that Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators were talking again and that President Trump blinked a bit and pulled some of his planned tariffs.

But don’t be fooled. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China are still locked in a cage match over who is the true big dog in today’s global economy. Both are desperate not only to “win,” but to be seen to win, and not be subjected to the scorn of their rivals or critics on social media.

Precisely because neither leader feels he can afford that fate, both have overplayed their hands. Xi basically believes that nothing has to change — and all can be made to stay the same by the force of his will. Trump basically believes that everything has to change — and all can be made to change by the force of his will.

The rest of us are just along for the ride.

Let’s look at both men’s calculations and miscalculations. Trump was right in arguing that America should not continue to tolerate systemic abusive Chinese trade practices — intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, huge government subsidies and nonreciprocal treatment of U.S. companies in China — now that China is virtually America’s technology equal and a rising middle-income country.”

Opinion | How Trump and Xi Can Make America and China Poor Again – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“If you think that the United States-China trade dispute is going to be easily resolved, you’re not paying attention. It’s so much deeper than you think — and so much more dangerous.

If President Trump and President Xi Jinping don’t find a way to defuse it soon, we’re going to get where we’re going — fracturing the globalization system that has brought the world more peace and prosperity over the last 70 years than at any other time in history. And what we’ll be birthing in its place is a digital Berlin Wall and a two-internet, two-technology world: one dominated by China and the other by the United States.

This will be a much more unstable and less prosperous world. Trump and Xi should drop everything and sit down to resolve this crisis before it becomes a runaway train — fueled by populists and nationalists, and amplified by social media, in both countries.

How did we get here? Two things converged: The character of U.S.-China trade changed — it went “deep,” and both President Xi and President Trump overplayed their hands and freaked each other out.”

Opinion | ‘They’re Doing It as We Sit Here’ – The New York Times Editorial

By 

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

“If you were searching for a metaphor for the withering ideal of American public service — the one that puts country before party, truth before “narrative” or “brand” — it’d be hard to do better than the painful spectacle of Robert Mueller trying, in his halting voice, to sound the alarm on Wednesday about Russian subversion of American democracy.

It’s the same alarm that virtually every member of America’s intelligence and law enforcement communities has been ringing for the last three years: Russia attacked our elections in 2016 and is intensifying its efforts today. “It wasn’t a single attempt,” Mr. Mueller said. “They’re doing it as we sit here.”

Appearing before two congressional committees rife with politicians intent on using him to fill out their own versions of reality, Mr. Mueller seemed frail and at times even confused. But he successfully rebuffed nearly all efforts to draw him beyond the boundaries of evidence established in the report he delivered about Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The exceptions came when representatives actually showed an interest in Russian meddling and Donald Trump’s embrace of it. “I hope this is not the new normal,” Mr. Mueller said at one point, in response to a question about whether American candidates might now feel free to welcome foreign influence, “but I fear it is.”

The “sweeping and systemic” nature of that interference was the most unequivocal finding of Mr. Mueller’s 448-page report, though just as disturbing was the report’s meticulous recounting of the ways the Trump campaign accepted and even encouraged it.”

Flooding Kills Dozens in Nepal as Waters Rise Across Asia – By Bhadra Sharma and Mike Ives – The New York Times

By Bhadra Sharma and Mike Ives

“KATHMANDU, Nepal — The death toll mounted Monday from flooding and landslides caused by torrential weekend rains in India and Nepal, as rescuers carried out desperate searches for survivors and officials in nearby Bangladesh braced for the floodwaters to move downstream.

The hardest-hit country appeared to be Nepal, where the police said on Monday that 67 people had died as a result of the monsoonal rains that began last Thursday night and set off widespread flooding, particularly in the country’s southern plains along the Indian border.

Officials said that at least 68 others had been injured in landslides and flooding and that an additional 30 people were still missing. Photos published by Nepal’s news media showed flood victims wading through murky, thigh-high waters, and teams of rescuers plying streets in inflatable boats.”

 

Heavy rains in Bangladesh.

Opinion | The World’s Malnourished Kids Don’t Need a $295 Burger – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

A child at the Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children, in Antigua, Guatemala.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

“ANTIGUA, Guatemala — Raúl is a happy preschooler, tumbling around among 4- and 5-year-olds, but something is off.

It’s not his behavior, for it’s the same as that of the other little kids. Rather, it’s his face. The baby fat is gone, and although he’s only 3 feet 5 inches tall, the height of an average 5-year-old, an older face seems grafted on.

Sure enough, Raúl turns out to be 9. Malnutrition has left his body and mind badly stunted. He’s one of almost one-quarter of all children worldwide who are stunted from malnutrition.

Here in Guatemala, almost half of children are stunted. In some Mayan villages, it’s 70 percent.

In another world, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the restaurant Serendipity 3 offers a $295 hamburger. Alternatively, it sells a $214 grilled cheese sandwich and a $1,000 sundae.”

 

David Lindsay: Thank you Nicholas Kristoff.

I would like to see more foreign aid that connects food, education and family planning.
Sustainablity studies suggest we need negative population growth for our own survival.

Here is a comment I liked:

cherrylog754
Atlanta,GA

Many years ago, at the supper table, my Dad would remind us kids to only take what we could eat, and don’t leave anything on your plate when finished. And then it was, did you now right now there are millions in the world starving. That was in the 50’s. Mom and Dad were struck by the poverty of Native Americans when traveling out west during their retirement. So every year they made a strong donation to a reservation school for native children. Never stopped. Today our family follows the tradition of giving annually to charity or  other non-profit of our choice. My wife and I choose Doctors Without Borders and the Environmental Defense Fund. Thank you Nick, it’s individuals like you that reminds us of those in need. The sadness of it though is our Government is too busy yelling at one another about petty stuff, while the children suffer.

1 Reply156 Recommended

Buttigieg Outlines Foreign Policy Views, Urging End to ‘Endless War’ – The New York Times

“Pete Buttigieg lashed into President Trump on Tuesday for conducting foreign policy by tantrum and by tweet, as he called for the United States to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, cease the “endless war” in Afghanistan and meet “the clear and present threat” of climate change.

Outlining his foreign policy views as a 2020 Democratic candidate, Mr. Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., repeatedly invoked the America of 2054 — when he would be Mr. Trump’s age, 72 — in a speech that shared his broad campaign message of generational change.

It seemed aimed at quieting any voters’ qualms about whether he had the experience and maturity to serve as commander in chief, or running the show in the Situation Room, in a race featuring candidates with far more foreign policy experience.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. served eight years as vice president. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. And Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has long honed an anti-interventionist message based on his opposition to the Iraq War and to the current war in Yemen.”

Opinion | This Teenager Knows a Secret to Slowing Guatemalan Migration – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“HUEHUETENANGO, Guatemala — When Lesly Cano Gómez was 15, she wrote out her plan to migrate to America.

“My dream is to go to the United States,” she wrote, followed by three discussion sections: “How Am I Going to Pay for It,” “Who’s Going to Take Me” and “Who’s Going to Meet Me When I Get to the United States.”

There were extensive family talks about the trip, which Cano Gómez would have undertaken with her cousin, Enilda, who is four years younger than her.

“There wasn’t anything here,” Cano Gómez explained. “That’s why I wanted to migrate.”

She knew that along the way she could be murdered or trafficked to a brothel, or else die of thirst in the desert. “But I felt I needed to go,” she added. “The people I went to school with had migrated, a ton of them.”

Yet today, four years later, Cano Gómez is still here in her village of Chichalum in the rugged Huehuetenango district. She now has a reason to stay — and therein lies a message for President Trump.”

x

David Lindsay: Bravo Saint Nicholas. Here are two comments I endorsed.

Sun
Houston
Times Pick

Guatemalans actually really like Guatemala. I’m American, born and “white-bread”, but I do too. There is much to admire about the country and the culture. Migration to the US requires deep concerns about the current state of Guatemala and a sincere desire to seek a better life and more opportunities for their children. Trust me, if things were okay in Guatemala, they wouldn’t be hiring coyotes to come here.

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Barb M commented June 9

Barb M
Times Pick

I am part of a group that has provided scholarships to Salvadoran youth to help them stay in school. Ten years ago we were helping them go beyond 6th grade. Now we are helping some of them complete university. This has given the children of this village hope and very few of them have emigrated to the US. Instead they celebrate each graduation and count the number of professionals in the village.

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