Opinion | How to Defeat Trump and Catch a Frisbee – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“As the country embarks on only the third impeachment trial of a president in its history, there are many unique features about this moment, but one stands out for me: Never before have we had to confront a president who lies as he breathes and is backed by a political party and an entire cable TV-led ecosystem able and enthusiastic to create an alternative cognitive universe that propagates those lies on an unlimited scale.

It is disheartening, disorienting and debilitating.

How can the truth — that Donald Trump used taxpayer funds to try to force the president of Ukraine to sully the reputation of Joe Biden, a political rival — possibly break through this unique trifecta of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, reinforced by a network without integrity?

There is only one way: Keep it simple.

Democrats need to just keep repeating over and over one question: “Why would an innocent man, and a jury interested in the truth, not want all the evidence out and all the witnesses to testify? Wouldn’t you if you were innocent?”

Indeed, at moments like these I always fall back on what I consider to be one of the most useful essays in political science. It was a 2012 speech by Andrew G. Haldane, a top economist at the Bank of England, at an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. It was titled “The Dog and the Frisbee” and was all about how central bankers and regulators should think about regulation after the 2008 financial crisis.”

Opinion | Trump’s Code of Dishonor – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

“Iran’s Qassim Suleimani was an engine of mayhem in the Middle East. His business model was to go to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq and recruit Arab Shiites to kill Arab Sunnis (and Americans and Israelis) and to create pro-Iranian statelets inside Iran’s Arab neighbors to weaken them from the inside. I followed this man closely. No one should mourn his passing.

So why do I still question the wisdom of his assassination? Because it was done without a clear strategic or moral framework. And the biggest lesson I learned from covering the U.S. interventions in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan is: When administrations are not constantly forced to answer hard questions from the outside about what they’re thinking strategically and morally — when questioners are dismissed as unpatriotic — that administrations’ inside thinking gets sloppy, their intelligence gets manipulated and trouble follows.

Never assume that people who are in charge know what they are doing just because they are in charge.

What is President Trump’s strategic framework? One day, without any consultation with allies or our commanders, he ordered U.S. troops out of Syria, where they were serving as a critical block on Iran’s ability to build a land bridge to Lebanon and were a key source of intelligence. In the process, he abandoned our most important allies in fighting ISIS: the Syrian Kurds, who were also creating an island of decency in their region, where islands of decency are the most we can hope for.

And then, a few weeks later, Trump ordered the killing of Suleimani, an action that required him to shift more troops into the region and tell Iraqis that we’re not leaving their territory, even though their Parliament voted to evict us. It also prompted Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program, which could well necessitate U.S. military action.”

Opinion | Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

A portrait of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani carried during a demonstration in Baghdad in 2015.
Credit…Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

“One day they may name a street after President Trump in Tehran. Why? Because Trump just ordered the assassination of possibly the dumbest man in Iran and the most overrated strategist in the Middle East: Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Think of the miscalculations this guy made. In 2015, the United States and the major European powers agreed to lift virtually all their sanctions on Iran, many dating back to 1979, in return for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program for a mere 15 years, but still maintaining the right to have a peaceful nuclear program. It was a great deal for Iran. Its economy grew by over 12 percent the next year. And what did Suleimani do with that windfall?

He and Iran’s supreme leader launched an aggressive regional imperial project that made Iran and its proxies the de facto controlling power in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana. This freaked out U.S. allies in the Sunni Arab world and Israel — and they pressed the Trump administration to respond. Trump himself was eager to tear up any treaty forged by President Obama, so he exited the nuclear deal and imposed oil sanctions on Iran that have now shrunk the Iranian economy by almost 10 percent and sent unemployment over 16 percent.”

David Lindsay:

Ouch. I want to support this assassination, because that would be easy. But if Suleimani was so dumb, and so bad for Iran, why did we turn him into a gigantic martyr?  Why didn’t the Israelis, who had penetrated his organization, take him out?  The awful probable truth, is that Trump is in trouble and he needs a war. The Ayatollah of Iran is in trouble, and he needs a war. Why, with so many issues and questions, did the Pentagon go along with the orange orangutan who is president, and who continually serves the interests of Putin and the Russians? Did any of you reading this, see the exposé in the NYT the other day, about how the Russians and Syrian air force are bombing hospitals and schools in northern Syria? They are bombing our allies, whom we fought with and for. Perhaps the best question, is, why did Putin want this to happen? It will probably go very badly for the United States.

Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“SINGAPORE — One of the most negative byproducts of the Trump presidency is that all we talk about now is Donald Trump. Don’t get me wrong: How can we not be fixated on a president who daily undermines the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust?

But there are some tectonic changes underway behind the Trump noise machine that demand a serious national discussion, like the future of U.S.-China relations. Yet it’s not happening — because all we talk about is Donald Trump.

Consider this: On Nov. 9, European leaders gathered in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was an anniversary worth celebrating. But no one seemed to notice that almost exactly 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, a new wall — a digital Berlin Wall — had begun to be erected between China and America. And the only thing left to be determined, a Chinese business executive remarked to me, “is how high this wall will be,” and which countries will choose to be on which side.

This new wall, separating a U.S.-led technology and trade zone from a Chinese-led one, will have implications as vast as the wall bisecting Berlin did. Because the peace, prosperity and accelerations in technology and globalization that have so benefited the world over the past 40 years were due, in part, to the interweaving of the U.S. and Chinese economies.”

Opinion | Why I Like Mike – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

 

“I have a pet theory about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — that it is to wider trends in world affairs what Off Broadway is to Broadway. A lot of stuff seems to get perfected there in miniature — from airline hijackings to suicide bombings, from building walls to keep others out to lone wolf terrorism — and then moves to Broadway, to bigger stages.

So, I ask, what’s playing off Broadway these days? It’s a political drama that may offer a distant mirror on our own presidential politics.

Israel has held two national elections since April, but the country is so perfectly divided that it still hasn’t been able to produce a governing coalition. There are three trends worth noting, though, after these two Israeli elections — especially if you’re President Trump.

First, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu deployed openly racist tropes against Israeli Arabs to motivate his own hard-right base to get out and vote. Israeli Arabs finally had enough and basically said to Bibi: “You talking to us?’’ And in the second election in September they voted in huge numbers and created the third-largest party in Israel, weakening Netanyahu’s ability to form a new government. You never know whom you’re arousing when you start using dog whistles. Just sayin’, Mr. Trump.”

“. . .It was “billionaire’’ Bloomberg who funded the most radical and progressive green agenda of this era.

“Bloomberg’s Beyond Coal partnership with the Sierra Club broke the mold for environmental philanthropy,’’ notes Carl Pope, former head of the Sierra Club and now a partner with Bloomberg on Beyond Coal. “In 2010, 500 coal plants provided half of America’s power, at the price of more than 10,000 lives, staggering volumes of water pollution, and one third of total carbon dioxide emissions. The Sierra Club pitched Bloomberg that they could shut down a third of those plants with a three-year campaign, using grass roots community mobilization and aggressive regulatory interventions.”

Attracted by the combination of lives saved and climate impact, Pope added, “Bloomberg ponied up. Now, nine years and several renewals later, coal provides only a quarter of U.S. power, and retirements of more than half those coal plants have been secured. These retirements are largely responsible for U.S. climate progress over the last decade.’’ The steady fall in the price of gas and renewables was critical in undermining coal, “but Bloomberg’s $500 million for climate mitigation projects was also critical — as was his insistence that the green group, while using its own tool kit, measure its results rigorously.’’

Opinion | Al-Baghdadi Is Dead. The Story Doesn’t End Here. – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“The killing of the founder and leader of the Islamic State by United States commandos operating in Syria should certainly further weaken the most vile and deadly Islamist movement to emerge in the Middle East in the modern era.

The world is certainly a better place with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead and a measure of justice meted out on behalf of all the women ISIS raped, all the journalists ISIS beheaded and the tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis it abused. Good for President Trump for ordering it, for the intelligence agents who set it up, for the allies who aided in it and for the Special Forces who executed it.

But this story is far from over, and it could have many unexpected implications. Let’s start at home.

President Trump was effusive in his praise for the U.S. intelligence agencies who found and tracked al-Baghdadi to the lair in Syria where he blew himself up to avoid being captured. In his news conference, Trump went on and on about just how good the men and women in our intelligence agencies are.

Well, Mr. President, those are the same intelligence agencies who told you that Russia intervened in our last election in an effort to tip the vote to you and against Hillary Clinton (and are still intervening). When our intel agencies exposed that reality, you impugned their integrity and quality.

And the same intelligence agencies who tracked down al-Baghdadi are the same ones who produced two whistle-blowers high up in your White House — who complained that you, Mr. Trump, abused the power of your office to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, touching off this impeachment inquiry.

And those same intelligence agencies whom you hailed as heroes for tracking down al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump, are the same “deep state,” the same agencies and whistle-blowers whom your White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, just smeared as “radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.’’

So thank you, Mr. Trump, for clearing up this confusion. We now know that the same intelligence services who have been heroic in protecting us from those who want to attack our constitutional democracy from abroad are the same heroes who have stepped up to protect our constitutional democracy from within. Unlike you, Mr. Trump, they took seriously their oath to do both.”

Opinion | Trump’s Syria Trifecta: A Win for Putin, a Loss for the Kurds and Lots of Uncertainty for Our Allies – The New York Times

“In taking responsibility with the Kurds for defeating ISIS in Syria, we relieved Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and al-Assad of a huge burden, enabling them to crush the regime’s domestic rivals. And what’s really crazy is that — we did it for free! We didn’t even demand autonomy for our Syrian Kurdish allies or power-sharing with moderate Sunni Syrian rebels.

I feel terrible for the Kurds, but at least America might get the last laugh on Putin. Trump let Putin win Syria — and the indefinite task of propping up al-Assad’s genocidal regime and managing Iran’s attempts to use Syria as a platform to attack Israel. What’s second prize?

But even if you argue that walking away from the Kurds in Syria was the right coldblooded, strategic thing to do, how a president does things matters. By just pulling out of Syria without advance planning or coordination with our allies — and dumping the Syrian Kurds after they sacrificed 11,000 men and women in the fight against ISIS — we sent a message to every U.S. ally: “You’d better start making plans to take care of yourselves, because if Russia, China or Iran decides to come after you or bully you, America does not have your back — unless you’ve paid cash in advance.”

Watch out. Over time, that will not make for a more stable world or a cheaper U.S. foreign policy.”

Opinion | How to Impeach Trump, Do Justice and Win an Election – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“There is still a civic pulse in this country. Some Americans still support President Trump, but far, far more are exhausted and disgusted by him. And that is why his latest outrage is so dangerous to him. He knows that we know that many Republicans know that he committed an impeachable offense. And it’s all out there now: a whistle-blower complaint filed by a C.I.A. officer detailing how Trump dangled military assistance in front of the president of Ukraine if he would do Trump a “favor” and investigate bogus corruption charges against Joe Biden.

I believe that this not only could warrant Trump’s impeachment but that it could be done without plunging the country into “civil war” or guaranteeing Trump’s re-election — provided Democrats keep stressing four things.

First, this charge against Trump began with an independent whistle-blower — an intelligence officer, aided by other insiders. Sure, it could turn out that he was a Hillary Clinton fan, which Trump would use to rile up his base, claiming that Democrats were trying to steal his election mandate. But if this turns out to be what it appears — a nonpolitical C.I.A. analyst and other civil servants motivated by their oath to uphold the Constitution in the face of a president who was violating his oath — then Trump and the Republicans will have a problem.

Democrats in Congress need to make sure they say and do nothing that gets in the middle of this framing of the story, which, for now, appears to be accurate: nonpolitical civil servants inside the government acting on conscience against a law-breaking president acting on political greed and excess.

That so many G.O.P. senators have kept quiet up to now — save for uber-sycophants like Lindsey Graham — suggests that they fear that this framing is accurate and it stinks to them.”

“. . . .Democrats should pursue impeachment in the House as if there were no election in 2020. And they should pursue the 2020 election as if there were no impeachment.

And they should do it by letting the nonpolitical whistle-blower and the other civil servants take the lead. These humble patriots started this, and it will go only as far as their credibility sustains it. And it’s their credibility that will influence the swing voters that brought Democrats the House in 2018 — those independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women — a few of whom, I suspect, were at the Kennedy Center last Saturday night, giving a standing ovation to Justice Ginsburg.”

Opinion | It’s the Environment- Stupid – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

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Opinion Columnist

“I don’t know who sold progressive Democrats on the idea that the way to beat Donald Trump is to abolish the private health insurance of 160 million Americans and offer instead “Medicare for all” (and Mexico will pay for it), but it’s a political loser and an easy target for Trump to feast on. A much better campaign theme is hiding in plain sight. I call it “the Earth Race.”

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy energized the country behind a “space race”: to make America the first nation to put a man on the moon. Democrats need to run against Trump on the Earth Race: to make America the leader in all policies and technologies that help men and women everywhere live sustainably here on Earth?

Yes, I know, mitigating climate change and saving the environment never poll well. But times change, and it depends how you frame the issue. Mother Nature is forcing herself onto the ballot, and Trump’s efforts to roll back more than 80 rules and standards protecting clean air, water, climate, parks and wilderness make him uniquely vulnerable. He can’t pivot away from what he’s doing. He owns it, and it’s villainous. This time is different.

In this era when so much activism is online, when was the last time you saw a bottom-up, mass movement of young people in America and across the world — some four million in all — take to the streets on every continent as they did last week to demand action to stop the heating of our planet? These young people are telling us, and their voting parents, that this issue is a political winner — theirs is a movement in search of courageous political leaders.

I am not saying that the Earth Race is the only issue to run on. I’m all for strengthening Obamacare and even adding a public health insurance option. But if I were running for president against Trump, I’d be leading with the Earth Race as an economic opportunity, a national security necessity, a health emergency, an environmental urgency and a moral obligation. No other issue can combine those five.

I’d pound Trump every day with this message: “Trump says he cares about you. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about the water you drink. He just revoked a rule that prohibited coal mining debris from being dumped into local streams — among other actions to weaken the Clean Water Act — so that pro-Trump coal companies can make more money while they make you sick. What kind of president does that?”

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.”