Foreign Affairs

State Department Officials Sign Memo Calling for Tougher U.S. Posture Toward Assad

CNN: “More than 50 State Department officials signed an internal memo protesting U.S. policy in Syria, calling for targeted U.S. military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and urging regime change as the only way to defeat ISIS.”

“The internal memo was sent throughout the ‘dissent channel,’ a mechanism for State Department officials to offer alternative views on foreign policy without freedom from retaliation or retaliation.”

“President Barack Obama has resisted wading deeper into the Syria conflict, but officials familiar with the memo said the State Department officials could be trying to force a policy debate in the upcoming elections. Hillary Clinton has promised a tougher policy toward Assad, while Donald Trump has promised to get tough on ISIS but would work with Russia.”

“America First” and Increased Defense Spending Popularity Signal Public Opinion Shift

Pew Research Center released a report on May 5 investigating the American public’s view on the U.S.’s role in the world.

Among the findings were a sharp uptick in support for increased defense spending.

“Most of the increase has come among Republicans. Fully 61% of Republicans favor higher defense spending, up 24 percentage points from 2013. Support for more defense spending has increased much more modestly among other partisan groups. And the gap in support for higher military spending between Republicans and Democrats, which was 25 percentage points three years ago, now stands at 41 points.”

“Still, 57% of Americans want the U.S. to deal with its own problems, while letting other countries get along as best they can. Just 37% say the U.S. should help other countries deal with their problems. And more Americans say the U.S. does too much (41%), rather than too little (27%), to solve world problems, with 28% saying it is doing about the right amount.”

The logical contradiction of growing public support for increased defense spending and a growing desire for subdued international activity may be explained by threat recognition: Americans are far more likely to see non-state actors as a threat than Eastern rivals.

Chart of the Day

Politico: “Afghanistan and Iraq loom large for both parties, but larger for Democrats.  Iran, Russia, Syria, North Korea, and Libya, on the other hand, are all mentioned far more by Republicans. Our data can’t answer the question of why certain countries came up, but it’s possible to guess a rule of thumb: Mention a country if it was involved in crises during the other party’s Presidency.”

Could Major League Baseball Have a Team in Cuba?

At a dinner in one of Fidel Castro’s palaces in 1999, the Cuban leader told Major League Baseball executives about the great possibilities for the game of baseball if the United States and Cuba normalized diplomatic and economic ties, the New York Times reports.

“Fifteen years after that dinner, the vision of an active relationship between Cuba and Major League Baseball became a little more real Wednesday after President Obama’s announcement that he planned to restore full diplomatic relations with the island nation.”

“When Castro took power in 1959, Cuba’s pool of talented baseball players — one of the largest outside the United States — became off limits to major league teams, except for the stream of players who escaped the island and defected. The 19 Cuban-born players who were major leaguers in all or part of the 2014 season — like Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig — made up the highest number since 1967, when there were 30. But scouts and general managers have said it would be far higher if teams could send representatives to Cuba and sign players, and then develop them.”

“Significant foreign policy announcements from Washington do not usually prompt the baseball commissioner’s office or the players union to respond. But in the hours after Obama addressed the nation Wednesday, both released terse statements saying that they were monitoring the situation.”