# Foreign Policy



We have proven leadership in Admiral Franken

Anesa Kajtazovic: Admiral Mike Franken has decades of experience, which we need at this critical moment in history.

As a child war survivor, I never imagined I would see what’s happening in Europe today: countries going through old tunnels to prepare “just in case,” military exercises, and food shortage concerns. NATO soldiers are walking on the streets of my native country of Bosnia as fears of another conflict emerge. The people haven’t seen soldiers on the ground since the last war in the 1990s.

Many people have asked me: “I’m praying for Ukraine, what else can we do to help?” 

My response: Vote! Vote for candidates who will support NATO and America’s leadership in the world.  

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Russia sanctions Iowa members of Congress

All four Iowans serving in the U.S. House of Representatives were among 398 members of Congress the Russian Federation sanctioned on April 13. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the move as a reaction to the Biden administration’s sanctions against hundreds of Russian parliamentarians.

U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Cindy Axne (IA-03), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) have all voted for military assistance to Ukraine in recent weeks. And it’s unlikely any are bothered by the prospect of being denied entry to Russia.

In fact, Hinson tweeted that the sanctions were a “badge of honor,” adding,

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A contrast of presidents

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.

“Today in History” compiled by the Associated Press is my favorite daily newspaper column. The cogent lessons allow me to recall – with surprise – many historical events but usually I learn new facts.

The posting on March 20, recalling 2014 and 2018 events plus a March 20, 2022 article speaks volumes:

-March 20, 2014: “President Barack Obama ordered economic sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and a major bank that provided them support, raising the stakes in an East-West showdown over Ukraine.”

-March 20, 2018: “In a phone call to Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump offered congratulations on Putin’s re-election victory; a senior official said Trump had been warned in briefing materials that he should not congratulate Putin.”

-March 20, 2022: “President Biden has called Mr. Putin a war criminal. . . . (Biden) must declare that the sanctions crippling Russia will remain in full force, with no exit ramps, as long as Mr. Putin remains in power” (Wall Street Journal).

What a contrast of presidents!

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Needed at Purim: another act of courage

Ira Lacher: Jews have not, can not, and must not support people whose mission is to undermine everything that has made the United States of America a haven for Jews.

The following is a copy of an email I sent to someone I know at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This organization, which calls itself a “bipartisan American organization that advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” recently has become anything but.

“AIPAC slammed for endorsing Republicans who refused to certify Biden’s election,” reported The Times of Israel.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency headlined: “AIPAC’s PAC endorses dozens of Republicans who refused to certify Joe Biden as president.”

And the fiercely pro-Israel Jerusalem Post, owned by the right-wing Murdoch clan that owns Fox News, noted: “AIPAC’s PAC endorses dozens of Republicans who refused to certify Joe Biden as president.” The article, which reported that the group endorsed 59 Democrats and 61 Republicans, included “Jim Jordan of Ohio, was prominent in the events surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

I know a young man who has a prominent position in AIPAC. I was honored to be present at his bar mitzvah, I remain good friends with his family, and, as such, I had to write him personally about this. What follows is the text of my email to him. I have deleted his name and position because I know that, in this stupid age, people mistakenly believe they have the right to harass someone they disagree with.

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Reynolds, Ernst blame Biden for Russian invasion of Ukraine

Once upon a time, American politicians shied away from criticizing the president during a foreign policy crisis. But Republicans have given President Joe Biden little credit in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Reacting to Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, both Governor Kim Reynolds and Senator Joni Ernst suggested that Biden was to blame for the tragic turn of events.

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Iowa reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Like many, I’ve been consumed this week by the horrifying news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although Vladimir Putin and his hostility to democracy occupied a lot of my head space in my “past life” covering Russian politics, I never imagined all those years ago that he would go so far as to annex Crimea, let alone launch a full-scale assault on Ukraine.

Foreign policy and military strategy are not my areas of expertise, so I have no insight on how Putin imagines he could benefit from this invasion. Even if he manages to install a puppet government in Kyiv, how will Russian forces maintain control of Ukraine, and how will the Russian economy weather the crushing sanctions? What’s his endgame?

I reported extensively on Putin’s rise to power in late 1999. Russian President Boris Yeltsin had appointed the virtually unknown security official as prime minister that August. But Putin didn’t become popular until a few months later, through a military campaign in the breakaway Republic of Chechnya. The Russian people broadly supported that war, in part due to slanted media coverage, and also because of apartment bombings (that may have been instigated by Russian security forces) and widespread racist attitudes toward Chechens.

Perhaps Putin hopes to replicate that formula for his political benefit. But I find it hard to believe that any significant share of the Russian population support all-out war against Ukraine. Who really believes that a country with a democratically-elected Jewish president needs to be “denazified” by force?

It’s been more than 30 years since I visited Ukraine’s beautiful capital city and the Black Sea resort town of Sochi. For that matter, I haven’t visited Russia in more than two decades. Even so, I’m heartbroken to see the avoidable loss of life on both sides. Please spare a thought for the citizens of Ukraine—whether they are Ukrainian- or Russian-speaking—because I don’t think anyone outside the Kremlin wants this war.

Most of Iowa’s leading politicians reacted to the invasion on February 24. I’ve compiled their comments after the jump.

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