Sunday, September 15, 2019


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GEOPOLITICS 101
The United States is blaming Iran for drone attacks that inflicted serious damage to a pair of major Saudi Arabian oil facilities. 

In the absence of a national security adviser, President Trump seems to be letting Secretary of State Pompeo take the lead in responding.

It is an otherwise relatively slow news Sunday. 

Gleaned from news sources around the world, here’s my take on the downsides and unknowns of the attacks and their complicated aftermath.

Downsides:

Likely means more conflict, bloodshed, and refugee suffering in the region.

Energy prices could rise.

Could embolden both Iran and the Houthis to engage in more attacks.

Could hurt the U.S. economy directly or indirectly (with energy importers like China and Japan suffering first).

There are few obvious options to respond to Iran.

It forces the U.S. to emphasize its alliance with Saudi Arabia, at a time when the relationship is being questioned and rethought.

.
Unknowns:

How quickly can the facilities be repaired?

How much of the disruption in world energy markets can be mitigated by Saudi actions?

Does this event meet the definition of an attack on American interests, necessitating a response against Iran?

What other facilities in Saudi Arabia and around the world are vulnerable to such strikes?

How much will this embolden other Iranian allies to engage in such attacks?

Will the rest of the world join the U.S. in blaming Iran?

Will the attacks convince European allies to agree to Donald Trump’s approach on dealing with Iran, centered around tougher sanctions?

What does this do to the prospect of U.S.-Iranian talks?

Will Saudi Arabia escalate its war with Yemen, or pull back?

What will this do to the Saudi-UAE relationship?

—-

In other news:

**Maureen Dowd laments what some see as a weak Democratic presidential field, and wonders “Will the most beatable candidate in American history win twice?,” teeing up my reminder for you to pre-order my new book, “How toBeat Trump,” which answers Dowd’s existential, non-rhetorical question.

My take: Even if the Democrats had a consensus candidate who seemed to both inspire the base and be the best bet to win a general election, there would be concerns about beating the incumbent. It now appears most likely that the party will go into the new year without any broad agreement about whom to nominate and some accumulating baggage that could further weaken the field overall and, by implication, the eventual nominee.

**Wall Street Journal headline: “Resilient U.S. Growth Propels Stocks as Trade Fears Ease”

My take: Democratic presidential candidates are starting to realize that cheering for a downturn is unseemly and that their nominee needs to be prepared to win a general election even if the economy is humming along.

**Ahead of Tuesday’s Israeli elections, Trump muses about U.S.-Israel defense treaty to boost Bibi.

My take: Netanyahu is counting on an image of strength, stability, and closeness to Trump to pull out a victory.  Trump is doing everything he can to enhance his friend’s prospects.  Another milestone of the upcoming week that could roil world markets.

—-
Top sports story: College football Power Rankings for Week 3
ESPN

Top business story: Federal Reserve to Return to Stimulus Pump
Bloomberg

Top entertainment story: Emmys: Norman Lear Becomes Oldest Winner Ever at 97
Hollywood Reporter


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