Mark Mardell, North America editor

Mark Mardell North America editor

Come here for America in all its glory - my take on the twist and turns of the presidency, electoral races and life beyond Washington

Is Obama right over Iraq?

US President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, 28 May 2014
Not going it alone: Obama's recent foreign policy speeches have stressed regional partnerships

The Obama doctrine, set out at West Point, appears to be in tatters as Iraq falls apart. The critics have been quick to point to what's happening there as another sign of the weakness of his foreign policy.

But there is another way of looking at it. That he's right.

Here's the case for the prosecution. That in his haste to proclaim the war over, he pulled US troops before the Iraqi government was ready to go it alone.

He failed to reach a meaningful military deal with the country. He's taken his eye off the ball, done little to encourage civil society and a more balanced political solution. He has not led the world in identifying a looming crisis and crafting a coherent response.

The Obama doctrine says the US will only go to war if its vital interests or those of its allies are threatened.

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Mark Mardell: 'Illegals' and the Grapes of Wrath

A farm worker appeared near Gonzales, California, on 4 April 2013

The Fruit Tramps belt out their eponymous anthem to the delight of the line dancers stepping out, back kicking, hip wriggling, at the Crystal Palace music hall.

"They call us fruit tramps! Okies! White trash! Get off a my land!"

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Mark Mardell: Virginia Tea Party victory a harbinger

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor appeared in Richmond, Virginia, on 10 June 2014
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by Tea Party challenger David Brat

What Mark Twain really said was, "It has been reported that I was seriously ill - it was another man; dying - it was another man; dead - the other man again."

So, as I have been saying for many months, the death of the Tea Party has been exaggerated by those who rather hoped it was staggering towards extinction.

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A modern-day Grapes of Wrath

Family in Oklahoma in 1935
Many farming families were forced to migrate after a series of severe droughts

Seventy-five years after John Steinbeck wrote his searing portrait of the Joad family's journey west, what is life like now in Sallisaw, Oklahoma?

The horses splash around in a circle, linked to a central post, churning up the muddy water.

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Taliban tout Sgt Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap 'victory'

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl (right) waits before being released at the Afghan border
US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl (right) was released at the Afghan border

In the most striking moments of the long, triumphant Taliban video, Sgt Bowe Bergdahl blinks rapidly, looking rather dazed.

Perhaps he's unused to sunlight, perhaps he's close to tears.

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Obama in Europe shows the limits of US power

Obama and Donald Tusk, Polish PM
Obama, shown with Polish PM Donald Tusk, will warn Putin to curb his territorial ambitions, but is unlikely to give a rousing speech

Whether he likes it or not, President Barack Obama's trip to Europe will be about Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and American power.

He may not stoop to pick up the geopolitical gauntlet thrown down by the Russian leader. He probably will set out new red lines - warning Mr Putin not to mess with Nato.

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CO2 emissions: Obama's war of choice

Carbon emissions from coal fuelled power plant, Page, Arizona on 3 April 2014

There are, they say, wars of choice and wars of necessity. President Obama has embarked on a war of choice - one that will delight some Democrats but could cost others dearly.

Republicans claim it is a "war on coal", a toxic mix of executive overreach and dogma.

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Is US foreign policy 'vacuous, vapid and weak'?

President Obama with US Marines in Washington DC (April 2014)
President Obama is proud of ending America's foreign wars, but there is a growing chorus of criticism of his foreign policy

Under the blazing South Carolina sun on Parris Island, young men and women march in smart formation to the distinct rat-a-tat of the drums and the ump-pah of trombones of a military band.

These are the Marine Corps' newest graduates, the freshest faces in the most powerful fighting force the world has ever known, the United States military.

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Mark Mardell: Tea Party loses battle, if not the war

Mitch McConnell
McConnell, shown on Tuesday night with wife Elaine Chao, easily despatched a well-funded opponent backed by the tea party

The Republican establishment in Washington is letting out a long sigh of relief - its standard bearers survived a concerted assault by the Tea Party.

Last night's primary elections will be taken as a significant turning point, the day the establishment fought back and won against conservative radicals.

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Chinese hacking: US calls out '21st Century burglary'

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) press materials are displayed on a table of the Justice Department in Washington, 19 May 2014
No-one expects the five officers to see their day in US court

"Enough is enough," said Attorney General Eric Holder.

The US government is baring its teeth, showing a new aggression towards Chinese hackers and what the authorities here call "21st Century burglary".

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About Mark

Covered British politics from the fall of Thatcher to Blair's last election victory as political correspondent, Newsnight Political editor, BBC Chief Political Correspondent and diarist for This Week.

The BBC's first Europe editor covering the impact of EU laws on people in and beyond the European Union's 27 countries, from illegal immigration to Poland to environmental change in Spain.

Grew up in Surrey, educated at Kent University in Canterbury, worked in commercial radio on Teesside Leeds and London before joining the BBC.

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