From a humanitarian perspective, this should be an easy decision

“What the Post fails to mention—indeed, what most American reporting on this subject has neglected to make clear—is that other countries are simply asking for the right to manufacture vaccine doses of their own, as opposed to drawing from existing supply in the U.S. for their own larders. …

“Since last year, 57 countries, along with organizations like Oxfam and Amnesty International, have been begging the WTO to temporarily waive patent protection for the vaccines, so that countries such as India and South Africa might be able to produce their own Covid-19 vaccines and other treatments, which could be more affordable and available to the developing world. And since last year, rich countries, led by the U.S. the U.K., and the European Union, have been blocking that demand. The latest attempt to get them to reconsider failed just last week. …

“Vaccine distribution is being spoken and written about as a zero-sum game because of the conditions of artificial scarcity that our government has created and is presently enforcing. If more Americans actually knew the substance of the requests being made by other nations, they’d have no reason to worry about losing any of “our” vaccine doses. Instead, they would understand that the only thing at risk—and only temporarily at that—are some potential future profits of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and the like. It’s hard to believe many of them would side with our government’s position on the matter. The lack of interest by the American media means we’ll never get to find out.”

Nations across the world are demanding the right to manufacture their own Covid-19 vaccines. Why is the U.S. saying no?

Putin as obnoxious ex

“Putin trusts the stuff that comes up from the ground more than the stuff that might come out of his people’s heads. So, he has built a petro-autocracy that is fueled by natural resources, not human resources. He then uses the cash to lubricate an engine of corruption that keeps him and his cronies in power, while denying his youth the tools and freedoms to truly realize their full potential.”

Because the Republicans welcome foreign help?

The Senate will incorporate the annual intelligence policy legislation into the National Defense Authorization Act -- but only after stripping language from the intelligence bill that would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help.

Biden’s going to have a big to-do list

Foreign Policy: “The sorest financial cankers of the Trump era are all emanations of this contemporary world political economy: the oligarch, the tax-avoiding supercorporation, the offshore-owned luxury properties used to launder money, and the untraceable dark money circulating at home and from authoritarian states. This makes the world safe for kleptocracy and authoritarianism and harms U.S. national interests by facilitating the corruption of business and political elites at home. It is not just the place where global unfettered capitalism directly impacts the country’s national politics and security but where Democrats need to rise to the challenge. …

“The crisis of the Trump presidency has shown that the boundaries between home and abroad are no longer firm. Undermining the international financial system that empowered kleptocracy, and with it autocrats like Vladimir Putin, requires tracing dirty money through not just the Caymans and Kyiv, Ukraine, but Wilmington, Delaware, and Las Vegas. The most vital step Washington can take to fight kleptocracy is banning anonymous shell companies within the United States itself. …

“Fighting kleptocracy is at the heart of an internationalist foreign policy that recognizes that the modern world is deeply interconnected and thus national security depends on understanding and managing these gaps. A Biden administration would have the opportunity to reorient the U.S. alliance system toward these 21st-century challenges by tying U.S. domestic reform with a common set of anti-kleptocratic standards shared with the European Union and the United Kingdom. …

“The battle against kleptocracy is more than a contest over corruption or development in faraway countries. It is a vital front in the war to make the world more habitable for the global middle class, which includes America’s own long-suffering workers. A focus on kleptocracy is a first step to reconciling U.S. domestic and foreign policies and making the world more just, and safer, for Americans and others.”

A new administration can make the changes needed to break a rotten global system.

Trump’s Syrian trifecta: Putin wins, Kurds lose, allies uncertain

Thomas Friedman in the NYT: “The job of the president, though, is to balance the understandable desire of Americans to no longer bear every burden and oppose any foe to ensure the survival of freedom with the fact that U.S. interests and values still require us to remain engaged around the world in a sustainable way.

“But sustainable engagement requires us to do at least three things: make fine distinctions, leverage allies and amplify islands of decency. Alas, Trump violated all these principles in Syria. …

“In taking responsibility with the Kurds for defeating ISIS in Syria, we relieved Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and al-Assad of a huge burden, enabling them to crush the regime’s domestic rivals. And what’s really crazy is that — we did it for free! We didn’t even demand autonomy for our Syrian Kurdish allies or power-sharing with moderate Sunni Syrian rebels. …

“For instance, Iraqi Kurdistan and the Syrian Kurdish regions, while they have plenty of corruption and tribalism, are nevertheless islands of decency where women tend to be more empowered, Islam is practiced in more moderate forms and Western liberal education is promoted in American-style universities. In just walking away from the Syrian Kurds, Trump has weakened their island of decency, rather than amplified it.

“America is better than that, even if our current president is not.”

Have no fear, Rudy is here!

“If America can be said to have a foreign policy at this debased stage of the Trump administration, it mostly consists of sucking up to strongmen while betraying everyone who ever believed in America’s putative ideals. Trump has given Turkey his blessing to assault the Syrian Kurds, America’s crucial allies against ISIS. In June, he reportedly promised China that he wouldn’t speak out in favor of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, some of whom have been carrying American flags, as long as trade talks progressed.

“Here in Ukraine, a country locked in a proxy war with Russia, coping with a deluge of disinformation and propaganda and struggling to transcend a history of corruption, reformers are trying to figure out what it means when the American president sides against them.”

Who’s paying Rudy?

“Giuliani appears to have spearheaded Trump’s efforts to convince the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into Trump’s political rivals. Text messages released by Congress also show he was steering U.S. policy in Ukraine in a direction that alarmed career State Department officials, who thought it harmed U.S. interests there. …

“Despite playing such an important role in U.S. foreign policy, Giuliani — who is named in the whistleblower complaint that touched off an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives — claims not to be bound by ethics rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest and provide transparency into the financial interests that might influence public officials.”

A loophole in ethics laws lets Trump’s personal lawyer sidestep disclosure.

Crossing the line on Greenland

Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution writes in The Atlantic: “It is one thing to float a cockamamie idea that no one believes is serious or will go anywhere. “Let’s buy Greenland!” Yes, very funny. A good distraction from the economy, the failure to deal with white supremacy, White House staff problems, or whatever is the news of the day. It is quite another to use leverage and impose costs on Denmark in pursuit of that goal—and make no mistake, canceling a presidential visit is using leverage and imposing costs. …

“This is the kind of thing the Russians and the Chinese do. It is territorial revisionism—the use of national power to acquire territory against the desire of its sovereign government and its people. The use of leverage would also call into question the U.S. commitment to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which is the cornerstone of stability in Europe. …

“One uncomfortable truth is already inescapable. Free societies and autocracies are at odds with each other—over human rights, the rule of law, technology, freedom of the press, the free flow of information, and territorial expansion. At this particular moment, it is not sufficient to say that the free world is without a leader. He has actually defected to the other side.”

The president crossed an important line when he canceled a meeting with the Danish prime minister.