Salient to Investors:

Fareed Zakaria said:

  • The Department of Defense cost overruns on one weapons system are more than the total defense budget of Britain and France put together.
  • The US spends more on defense than the next 8 nations put together including China and Russia.  Since 9/11 America has been too fearful, too reactive, too tactical in its foreign policy.
  • Ash Carter has already been a reformer and John McCain will soon be the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, but the problem is so immense that it is probably too much to hope for more than small victories – the Military Industrial Congressional Complex lives on.
  • Robert Gates wrote that the Pentagon is a gargantuan labyrinth of democracy, with 40% of its spending going to overhead.
  • If rebels don’t really want to fight unless you support them, it means they are not going to fight.
  • Obama fundamentally sees the Middle East as a hell hole that will suck America dry and so will never embrace a very ambitious strategy.
  • Northern Europe, South Korea and Singapore draw their teachers from the top third of the graduating college class versus the bottom third in the US.

Chrystia Freeland said:

  • The economic crisis in Russia will worsen, partly by sanctions, partly by the oil price fall and the tremendous capital flight and brain drain outside of Russia.
  • Russian businessmen are incredibly unhappy as real businesses and fortunes are dissolving.
  • The Syria war is descending into warlordism.
  • Western leaders have forgotten how to deal with complexity and really long-term situations, and with situations where there are no good guys.

David Rothkopf at FP Group said:

  • Putin’s budget ignores economic reality in that it anticipates the price of oil being $100 and ignores the $85 billion in capital flight in the past year.
  • Human nature, national interests and all of history tells us that the US’s tacit alliance with Iran in fighting ISIS must be linked to the nuclear negotiations.
  • This is really an Iraq/Syria war, which is even more complicated than the Syria war.

Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations said:

  • The real sanction against Russia is nothing that the US and Europeans have done but is oil prices around $60.
  • Russia has enormous reserves so Putin does not have to do things to trigger more sanctions or give up his goals of a greater Russia.
  • You cannot want peace more than the negotiators want to make peace or make war more than the locals want to make war, so do not  expect a wonderful moderate Syrian opposition any time soon.
  • US bombing alone is inadequate because we need to a ground partner to take and control the ground.
  • The powerful trends in the world include the diffusion of power in many forms to many types of actors, the decentralization of decision-making partly because American reliability is not what it was due to globalization, and a Middle East that is unraveling.
  • The post-WW I order won’t be put back together.
  • China has many internal challenges so we are seeing some progress in the region.

Robin Wright at the Wilson Center said:

  • In the past year we have achieved a level of dialogue with Iran that is unprecedented since the 1979 Revolution.
  • The danger in the Middle East is always that diplomacy is overtaken by events on the ground.
  • ISIS is the most complicated war in the Middle East since the modern borders established after WWI.
  • Aleppo is the New York of Syria and on the verge of being lost.
  • ISIS and the Assad government are not fighting very much against each other.
  • The rebels are the weakest of the three forces, so the prospect of building them up is tremendously hard.

The Wall Street Journal found 45% more police killings than reported in official FBI statistics.

ProPublica found that young black men were 21 times more likely than white men to be shot dead by cops between 2010 and 2012. Blacks are 3 times as likely to be arrested for drug offences than whites even though data shows that they do not use drugs at anything like 3 times the rate as whites.

Sentencing Project found:

  • Racial minorities are more likely than white Americans to be arrested and then more likely to be convicted and more likely to face stiff sentences.
  • African-American males are 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than white males and 2.5 times more likely than Hispanic males.
  • At current trends, 1 of every 3 black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime versus 1 out of every 6 Latino males and 1 out of every 17 white males.
  • The American justice system is not racist by design but is split between justice for the rich and justice for the poor.

Joel Klein said:

  • US education is in really bad shape – while 35% graduate from high school ready for college some 20% do not graduate and will exacerbate the massive inequality.
  • The US teaching model is failing – half of teachers quit in the first 5 years – so we need more demanding requirements to get into the profession. Successful countries educate their teachers much more in content knowledge and classroom practice than the US and have a much more professional view of their role.
  • We need to give every schoolchild choices.
  • The technological revolution impacted the whole world but missed education.
  • In education, America will do the right thing in the end after trying everything else.

Watch the video at or read the full transcript