Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Paul Waldman: The dishonest smearing of Ilhan Omar

In what is surely the most shameful decision of her current term as speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has decided that the time has come for the House to rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for things she didn’t actually say, and ideas she didn’t actually express. In the process, Pelosi and other Democrats are helping propagate a series of misconceptions about anti-Semitism, Israel, and U.S. political debate.

I’m going to try to bring some clarity to this issue, understanding how difficult it can be whenever we discuss anything that touches on Israel.

To be clear, I do this as someone who was raised in an intensely Zionist family with a long history of devotion and sacrifice for Israel, but who also — like many American Jews — has become increasingly dismayed not only by developments in Israel but by how we talk about it here in the United States.

Tom Udall and Richard J. Durban: Trump is barreling toward war with Iran. Congress must act to stop him.

Sixteen years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we are again barreling toward another unnecessary conflict in the Middle East based on faulty and misleading logic.

The Trump administration’s Iran policy, built on the ashes of the failed Iraq strategy, is pushing us to take military action aimed at regime change in Tehran. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past, and Congress must act urgently to ensure that.

Similar to the George W. Bush administration’s justification for the war in Iraq, the Trump administration has presented the false narratives that Iran is not meeting its obligations under the nuclear deal, and that it is somehow partially responsible for the rise of the Islamic State in Syria. It’s true that the leaders of Iran are deeply problematic. But if this were enough to justify war, other regimes in the region would also be in the United States’ crosshairs, instead of being recipients of U.S. military aid.

Katrina vanden Heuval: Progressives are starting to define a new realism for our national security strategy

Although presidential campaigns generally home in on kitchen table concerns, 2020 is likely to feature a long-overdue debate on U.S. foreign and national security strategy. The failures of the national security establishment — endless wars without victory, the global financial collapse, neglect of emerging existential threats such as catastrophic climate change — make a reassessment inevitable. Now progressives in Congress and on the campaign trail are beginning to define a new realism that contrasts sharply with both the keepers of old orthodoxy and President Trump’s posturing.

Trump’s fulminations against failed military interventions, perverse trade policies and growing tensions with Russia surely helped him in the 2016 campaign. But “America First” turned out to be a bumper sticker, not a strategy. Knee-jerk opposition to all things Barack Obama — torpedoing U.S. involvement in the Paris climate accord, the Iranian nuclear agreement and the opening to Cuba — isn’t a recipe for making America great again. “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump noted in his recent State of the Union address, but thus far he remains engaged in a fight to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Syria, while doubling down in Yemen and inflating Iran to an existential threat. Launching trade conflicts while giving multinational companies new tax incentives to ship jobs abroad has also generated more noise than change.

John Podesta and Kristina Costa: The World Bank must reject Trump’s nominee to lead it

As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has delighted in undermining tradition in damaging ways, from refusing to release his tax returns to lambasting America’s NATO allies. But there’s one tradition that deserves to be destroyed in the Trump era: The long-standing gentlemen’s agreement that the United States should choose the president of the World Bank, one of the most vital global institutions in the fight against extreme poverty. [..]

In 2012, for the first time, countries other than the United States put forward strong candidates to lead the World Bank, including Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an eminent Nigerian economist and dedicated public servant. The non-U.S. nominations were a long-overdue recognition that regions that are often recipients of aid need not be subservient to traditional donor nations. But the United States put forward a well-qualified candidate, Jim Yong Kim, with a demonstrated commitment to global development, and the World Bank’s directors selected him.

They should feel no such obligation this time around. President Trump’s candidate to run the World Bank, David Malpass, is unfit for the post.

Robert Reich: Donald Trump tells a fake American story. We must tell the real one

Donald Trump has perfected the art of telling a fake story about America. The only way to counter that is to tell the real story of America.

Trump’s story is by now familiar: he alone will rescue average Americans from powerful alien forces – immigrants, foreign traders, foreign politicians and their international agreements – that have undermined the wellbeing of Americans.

These forces have been successful largely because Democrats, liberals, cultural elites, the Washington establishment, the media and “deep state” bureaucrats have helped them, in order to enrich themselves and boost their power. Not surprisingly, according to Trump, these forces seek to remove him from office.

What makes Trump’s story powerful to some Americans despite its utter phoniness is that it echoes the four tales Americans have been telling ourselves since before the founding of the Republic.

To combat Trump’s fake story, we need a true story based on facts, logic and history. But in order for that true story to resonate with Americans, it must also echo the same four tales.