9 September 2014   Leave a comment

US President Obama is going to speak on television on Wednesday evening (9 pm) to outline his strategy on dealing with the threat posed by the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.  The speech will be a critically important one as intervening in yet another Middle East conflict is clearly not consistent with his own personal inclination nor with the current mood of the American people.   We should all listen carefully to the speech since the threat of terrorism has in the past been used to justify interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq which did not necessarily advance US foreign policy objectives.   How he characterizes the threat to the US is going to be the point on which we all focus.  The pressure Obama is getting from conservatives in the US–including members of the George W. Bush Administration–is intense.

Fawaz A Gerges is a scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science who has followed the growth of the Islamic State.  He has written a piece for the BBC that asks the question, “why is the Islamic State so violent?”  Gerges traces the roots of the movement and positions the Islamic State in a line of opposition movements within the Muslim world that makes the organization more comprehensible.  His overview is worth reading.  Michael Ignatieff offers a comparative view of the Islamic State in the context of the array of Muslim opposition groups in Spiegel which gives the organization a valuable baseline for analysis.

Some Socialist Parliamentarians in France are threatening to abstain in a vote of no-confidence in President Hollande.  It’s unclear how many Ministers may abstain from the vote, but the Socialists currently have only a one vote majority in Parliament.  If the no-confidence vote does pass, then the French government may collapse next week, and it’s anyone’s guess how a new government will be constituted.  The National Front, a right-wing Party under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, has been making steady inroads into the French electorate, but probably not enough to secure a majority.  The last thing France needs right now is a broken government.  With economic growth slowing dramatically, the government needs to be viewed as strong and capable.   Additionally, the Scottish referendum is due to be held on 18 September, two days after the no-confidence vote in France.  So Europe as a whole may be severely jolted next week.


Posted September 9, 2014 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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