aliaslanTurkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a tall order for his first trip to Washington: To instill an image that he is a respected world leader despite his authoritarianism; to foster a personal relationship with the new US President Donald Trump, and hopefully, garner a few concessions on several contentious issues which have been straining bilateral relations. Those issues include the US decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria for anti-ISIL Raqqa operation, obstacles in the extradition request for prominent Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen, and Erdogan’s keen interest in shutting down the U.S. government’s Iran sanctions violation case against Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab. Turkey’s strongman can be happy with the warm welcome by President Trump at the White House, but so far there has been no indications of any concrete accomplishments on these priority issues. 

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michaelmosettig.newIn a sea of academic gowns on Harvard Lawn, he stood out, erect of military bearing, in a civilian gray suit. 

George C. Marshall was one of four illustrious honorary degree recipients on June 5, 1947.  He had been the military and logistics architect of the allied victories in World War II and was now serving as Secretary of State for President Harry S Truman. The others were Robert Oppenheimer, creator of the atomic bomb; General Omar Bradley and poet T.S. Eliot. But it would be Marshall’s brief speech at an alumni lunch following the commencement ceremonies that would make history. 

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aliaslanTurkey’s autocratic president Recep Tayyip Erdogan added another critical, albeit controversial electoral win to his column last Sunday. A referendum officially changing the regime from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential system with little or no checks and balances passed with a narrow margin (51-49 percent).

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paul horneOnce again, the euro survived a crucial electoral test and strengthened in financial markets clearly relieved that the world’s second reserve currency will carry on despite populist politicians pandering to voters blaming economic stagnation and high unemployment on the European Union and the euro. The euro’s bounce against the dollar came just hours after the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday, April 23, resulted in Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European centrist; and Marine Le Pen, head of the hard right and anti-European Front National, winning through to the run-off vote on May 7.

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michaelwhite

Conscientious Americans, eager to be distracted from President Trump’s latest diplomatic salvo, his threat to “solve North Korea” unilaterally if China doesn’t sort it out, may take comfort from a Ruritanian version of sabre rattling diplomacy which vied for European headlines as the week began. Another Falklands war!  Another Spanish Armada!  Like much else, the Gibraltar question would be funny if it wasn’t serious.

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