Thursday, June 13, 2013

FRANCE24 DEBATE ON NSA LEAKS AND THE SECURITY/PRIVACY CONTINUUM

Earlier this week, I joined Dr. Charles Cogan, Philippe Aigrain and Elle Wasylina on France24's Le Débat to discuss the recent NSA leaks and the question of which new measures to take in a changing security climate.

Watch the debate after the jump.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"A NEW AMERICA?" - MEASURING POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF SOCIAL SHIFTS (POLITIQUE INTERNATIONALE)

Head over to the website of revue Politique Internationale to read my article appearing in the Winter 2012 volume.

The article (in French) analyzes the nature and depth of ongoing social shifts and the consequences on the major parties' messages and strategies; the political and ideological preferences of this "New America" (composed of strategic demographic and electoral blocs); and how these preferences will impact both America's domestic and foreign politics.

Visit Politique Internationale to read the full article in French.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A LOOK AT CHUCK HAGEL AND JOHN BRENNAN : OBAMA'S PENTAGON AND CIA NOMINEES


Chuck Hagel: Nominee, Secretary of Defense

Having Chuck Hagel (age: 66), an Obama confidante, at the head of the Pentagon is intended largely to provide political cover to end combat operations in Afghanistan and to begin to implement deep Pentagon budget cuts.

Hagel is chair of the Atlantic Council and member of Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board. He was formerly a Republican senator from Nebraska (1997-2009) and head of an investment banking firm. A two-time Purple Heart recipient, he would be the first Vietnam veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense. Hagel is known – and disparaged by many Republicans – for his independence vis-à-vis party orthodoxy on foreign policy issues and for holding views considered to be views outside of the conservative mainstream (ex. opposition to Iraq troop surge). Indeed, the vivid battle over his nomination has already begun among prominent Republicans, neoconservatives, Democrats, and pro-Israeli groups.

Opposition to Hagel is tri-fold. He has encountered major criticism for past statements about the pro-Israel lobby”: “[It] intimidates a lot of people around here. I havealways argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don't thinkit's [...] smart for Israel.” He has refused to add his signature to letters circulated around DC by AIPAC. Although Hagel has considerably better relations with other arms of said lobby (J-Street, Israel Policy Forum), and the support of heavyweights like Zbigniew BrzezinskiBrent Scowcroft, and most former US ambassadors to Israel, hardliners believe he will antagonize Israel. And to the contrary of the president, Hagel opposes sanctions against Iran, favors negotiations with Hamas and Iran, and has criticized the largesse of America’s defense spending.

Democratic opposition to Hagel centers mainly around a negative remark made about a gay colleague a decade ago. He has since apologized for the comment and has publicly stated his support for openly gay military service.

That Hagel personally knows war and has shown no reserve in expressing his reluctance to go to war may well have an impact abroad (US approach to Iran, willingness to align with Israel’s policies) as well as “at home” (increased attention to returned soldiers).

It is thought that Democrats will ultimately support the President’s choice and that Republicans will find it difficult to confront the potential backlash of opposing a decorated Vietnam War hero. But if Hagel wins a bitter nomination fight, Republicans may consider him weak and show less flexibility in cutting a deal to prevent the sequester from taking effect in late February.



John Brennan: Nominee, Director of CIA

Current Deputy NSA for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and close confidante of Obama, John Brennan (age: 57) is a career CIA agent who has been party to nearly every national security question issue in the Obama administration (including the raid on Bin Laden). Brennan was considered for the job of CIA director in 2008, but withdrew his name for consideration after facing accusations over past public support for “enhanced interrogation techniques” and sending prisoners to countries where torture might occur. Detractors insist that as a high-ranking official inBush’ CIA, Brennan condoned tactics like waterboarding that are considered torturous. In 2009, he condemned such practices.

A primary question elicited by this pick is whether the CIA will maintain, reinforce even, its current place at the heart of counter-terror operations, or if Brennan will usher it back to its traditional espionage capacities.

During his 25 years at the CIA, Brennan exercised a wide variety of functions, including the post of station chief in Saudi Arabia. Following his time in government, Brennan was head of a security consultancy, The Analysis Corporation, as well as chair of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Brennan speaks fluent Arabic.

Related Reading
Obama’s Nominations of Hagel and Brennan Signal Course Adjustments at Pentagon and CIA (WaPo)
Brennan Pick Revives Leaks Dispute (Politico)

photo credits: Associated Press

Monday, December 31, 2012

HOW THE SEQUESTER WILL IMPACT THE DEFENSE SECTOR

As 2012 winds to a close, so too does the time remaining for Congressional leaders and the President to reach a bargain on the fiscal cliff.

One of the major concerns is the prospect of $500 billion in automatic cuts to defense spending set to go into effect as part of the sequestration.

After the jump is a batch of links detailing how the sequestration will likely impact the larger defense community (Pentagon-both civil and military, defense industry, and defense lobbyists).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

AMERICA'S DEMOGRAPHIC AND IDEOLOGICAL SHAKE-UP (FRANCE INFO)

I had the pleasure of sitting for an interview with France Info's Bernard Thomasson during his show "Le 12 14." We decrypt Obama's reelection and the increasing importance in American politics of the young multicultural Millennial generation - a coalition largely responsible for twice delivering Obama to victory.

Click here to listen to our discussion, originally aired on France Info on November 7 (around 3')

On a similar note, here is an article I published in March 2012 on the excellent site DIPLOWEB on how the emergence of two generational poles, the Millennials and the Baby Boomers, is shaping up to change US domestic politics and its foreign policy horizons.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

COMMUNICATION IN THE 2012 RACE

Last night, NYU in Paris hosted a wide-ranging debate about the communications and messaging of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during this 2012 campaign.

Here is a brief recap of a few of the points I raised:

-Where once Obama was characterized by his opponents as "European," "not like us," or even "unAmerican," he has turned that discourse against his Republican rival - in the context of having contributed to outsourcing jobs, opposing the auto bailout (argument made notably in Ohio), and being too rich to identify with the average American's primary preoccupations (argument that his policies favor the elite class because Romney doesn't know anything else).

-The president is also using the metaphor of color to characterize the competition, which not only draws a racial distinction in the minds of some voters, but uses an evocative image to cast Barack Obama as the politician for America's future and Romney as a proponent of a by-gone era with its dated narrative and divisions. For example, Obama has accused Romney of being the candidate of "black and white" whereas the president is the "technicolor candidate."

-The 2012 campaign has been largely driven by a negative tone compared to 2008, the unifying and grandiose themes replaced by a competition which has been framed as a choice between visions for social, cultural, and economic justice in America.

-Hurricane Sandy could pose a problem in the communications operations in this last week. This could be disproportionately difficult for Romney. Without being insensitive about the real suffering and damage caused by the storm, it offers President Obama the occasion to once again assert the full authority of his office (free television airtime, reminding voters that he has immediate and privileged access to the most important lawmakers to coordinate the response). Power outages could negatively affect voters' abilities to view ads aired in these next days, the storm's path changes the candidates' stump schedules, and damages could prove an obstacle to voters wanting to turn out on Election Day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

GUANTANAMO, ABSENT IN THE ELECTORAL DEBATE (LIBÉRATION)

Wikileaks recently published new documents giving further detail about the American presence at Guantanamo, but the topic has remained outside of the central electoral debate in the US.

Libération takes a look at why the prison at Guantanamo has not been closed (despite Obama's promise), the reasons it does not figure among the American public's top priorities, and why both Obama and Romney are reluctant to make it an electoral message.

I am pleased to figure among the specialists interviewed in the article.

Read: Guantanamo, la grande absente du débat américain (Libération)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

ROLE OF MEDIA, MONEY, AND MESSAGE IN 2012 CAMPAIGN (TV5)

Along with France 2's Etienne Leenhardt, I was a guest on this week's installment of Médias Le Magazine on TV5, hosted by Thomas Hugues and featuring editorial panelists Thomas Isle, Jean-Louis Missika, and Anthony Bellanger.

We talked about the role of Super PAC spending, partisan TV networks like Fox and MSNBC, negative ads, social networks and humor in the winning voters in this year's American presidential election. 

Head over to Médias Le Magazine to watch the full episode (the segment on US elections begins at 8'50).


Saturday, October 27, 2012

OBAMA V. ROMNEY : WHO IS THE BEST ON SOCIAL NETWORKS? (PUBLIC SENAT)

La Politique C'est Net, hosted by Caroline Deschamps, is a terrific program found on Public Sénat.

In this episode, in addition to Deschamps we are three panelists to discuss the web campaigns of Obama and Romney, the impact of the two online voter targeting strategies, and whose team more fully embraced the online possibilities of this race.

Also on the panel, were Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet (Yes They Can!) and Marjorie Paillon (ilovepolitics). Don't miss Aude Baron's chronicle at the end of the episode.

Video after the jump.

Friday, October 26, 2012

LA CHRONIQUE DE AMY GREENE -THE STATE OF THE RACE TWO WEEKS FROM ELECTION DAY? (AFRICA 1)

On last night's Chronique, Francis Laloupo and I discussed the state of the race less than two weeks from Election Day, including the fluctuating poll results, what are the candidates' closing arguments and strategies, and who has the momentum on the ground.

As always, la Chronique de Amy Greene airs on Radio Africa 1's Le Grand Débat, which begins at 6pm (Paris).

Listen after the jump.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TWO WEEKS FROM ELECTION DAY: DEBATING THE LAST WEEKS OF A VERY TIGHT RACE (FRANCE 24)

Last night on France 24's Le Débat, hosted by Vanessa Burggraf, we were a panel of four to discuss the result of the final debate, the state of the race heading into the final two weeks including the keys to victory, and the contrasting foreign policy visions of the two candidates (including Obama's first term foreign policy).

Also on the panel were Philip Golub, Stuart Haugen and Anne Kraatz.

Video (in French) after the jump.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

LA CHRONIQUE DE AMY GREENE - SECOND DEBATE SEES A RESURGENT OBAMA (AFRICA 1)

On the October 18 edition of La Chronique de Amy Greene, aired during Africa 1's Le Grand Débat with Francis Laloupo, our discussion centered on Obama's surging performance at the second presidential debate.

The town-hall style debate format saw candidate Obama come out strong to establish a narrative for Romney, to emphasize his opposition to the Republican's policies namely on issues dear to swing voters - including women - and the Democratic base (such as growth and well-being of the middle class, the auto bailout, male-female workplace equality, and immigration).

The conclusion: while Obama won the second face-to-face with Romney, placing him in a strong position leading into the final debate on foreign policy, the fundamental closeness and volatility of this race remained unchanged.

The Chronique airs every Thursday around 6:45pm Paris.

October 18 audio after the jump.

OBAMA MAINTAINS FOREIGN POLICY ADVANTAGE, BUT ROMNEY ISN'T OUT YET (LE MONDE)

Over at Le Monde, I contributed an op-ed this morning with a rundown of last night's final debate between Obama and Romney, largely hailed by voters as a victory for the president.

In a debate remarkable in the virulence of the attacks leveraged, the scope of topics was surprisingly narrow, and most of the candidates' arguments were retread from various campaign speeches and events.

The big question of the night was leadership. The president accused his Republican rival of poor judgment, a man dangerously subscribing to the values and frameworks of a by-gone era. For his part, Romney condemned the president's weak global leadership, an "apology tour" that has seen the US' enemies empowered (Iran) and its allies cast aside (Israel). For all of their differences in world vision, Romney did agree with Obama on a number of issues (use of drones), in some cases making only minor distinctions (would have asked Mubarak to step down, but earlier). Perhaps a smart tactical move for a candidate hoping to pick up centrist and undecided voters...

Romney did not disqualify himself from the commander-in-chief test. The president was aggressive, and while supporters may celebrate the bite in his repeated attacks against Romney, it is unclear if voters will agree - or rather see it as unbecoming and evidence of a struggling candidate. Likewise, will voters sign on for Mitt Romney's calls for more defense spending and a more robust US presence in the world in a time of budgetary constraint and reduced ambition in American public opinion?

Foreign policy remains a secondary issue in the 2012 elections. Will Obama transform last night's performance into a second wind of electoral momentum? Or will Romney's cool showing be enough to convince voters to make a change?

Click here to read the full text (in French) via Le Monde


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

REINVIGORATED OBAMA COMES OUT FIGHTING FOR REELECTION (LE MONDE)

Head over to Le Monde where I signed an op-ed published today detailing the candidates' showings at last night's second presidential debate.

Obama emerged the winner. He quickly established a narrative for Romney (out-of-touch rich elitist) from which Romney did not escape; situated his critiques of Romney within this framework; and hammered home on concerns of both his base and undecided voters (47% video, immigration, auto bailout, health insurance). Disappointly, Obama focused more on attacking his opponent than on developing a real vision for a second term.

Despite Romney's at-times poignant attacks on Obama's economic record, he ended the night on an unfortunate blunder on foreign policy. This is an important misstep for a candidate who has recently expanded his criticism of Obama to include foreign policy, an area where voters and Obama himself have clear confidence in the president. Heading into the next weeks of campaigning and into the last debate (on foreign policy), Romney has opened the door for Obama to boast his national security achievements, remind voters of Romney's recent foreign policy gaffes, exploit the gaps and inconsistencies in Romney's foreign policy positions, and cast doubt on the Republican's ability to act as commander-in-chief.

Click here to read the op-ed in French (via Le Monde)

CAPITAL BRIEF - HOW DID V.P. CANDIDATES MEASURE UP TO EXPECTATIONS?

Here is the last issue of Capital Brief, from October 12, that takes a look at how the vice presidential candidates measured up to expectations in their face-off.

Click below to read the Brief.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR OBAMA TO BREAK AWAY FROM ROMNEY (L'EXPRESS)

On the day of the second debate and the last push toward Election Day, stop by L'Express to read an op-ed I wrote outlining five strategies for Obama to pull ahead of Romney.

-Nail the final two debates
-Maintain a lazer-like focus on the economy
-Focus on the big picture electoral issues
-Take the high road and let the surrogates do the rest
-Keep a strong push to turn out the Democratic base

Click here to read the article via L'Express (French)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

PORTRAIT OF A NEW AMERICA (NOUVELLE REVUE GEOPOLITIQUE)

In the most recent issue of Nouvelle Revue Géopolitique, I contributed an article, "Portrait d'une Nouvelle Amérique."

The text focuses first on how Americans view the role of the US in the world, their evolving foreign policy preferences, and the impact of the economic crisis on public perception of America's responsibility and ability to pursue its foreign ambitions.

It goes on to decrypt Obama's and Romney's foreign policy visions, how they correspond to public opinion concerning external action (China, Iran, Israel, interventionism, among others), and the global leadership framework into which they most closely fit.

Finally, the article looks at how the emerging Millennial/Boomer generational divide reproduces itself within American public opinion on foreign and defense policy orientations; as well as how the arrival of the Millennials - accompanied by the profound sociological and intellectual shift they represent - will compel new political responses from US leaders due to the very different foreign policy ambitions and approaches they espouse.

Stop by a newsstand to pick up this Special Elections issue!