Where's Obama? Questioning v Reinforcing [Foreign Policy] CW #3 (Political Duality of Rep v Dem 6c)

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 19:38


This diary combines two streams of thought.  One comes from Chris's diary yesterday, "The Mutual Distrust Of Insider and Outside Rebellions", dealing with Obama's support among the foreign policy rank and file, the other comes from my ongoing series, "The Political Duality of Rep v. Dem" and its current sub-series "Questioning vs. Reinforcing Conventional Wisdom." I've already posted a diary ("The Elite/DFH Progressive Foreign Policy Split") more directly oriented to following up on Chris's discussion.  This one seeks to draw on both streams.

I'm in basic agreement with Chris's view:

for the rank and file of professional, progressive foreign policy types who were opposed to the Iraq war from the start, the Obama campaign is the equivalent of the 2002 Nancy Pelosi leadership, 2003 Howard Dean presidential, and 2006 Ned Lamont Senate campaigns were for much of the activist rank and file. However, while this rebellion is analogous to those earlier rebellions of an anti-war rank and file against a pro-leadership, the cultural gap between wonks and hacks, between insiders and outsiders, and between professionals and the grassroots have prevented it from gaining the same traction as those earlier campaigns.

There is, however, something more that's missing.  Quite simply, Obama is missing a counter-hegemonic position that challenges the "war on terror" narrative.  He is not the leader here.  Edwards was the leader in challenging the narrative frame, and Richardson was the leader in making a decisive commitment to withdraw from Iraq.  This is not a minor matter.  While the "war on terror" is a disastrous policy, one that does much more to help our enemies than ourselves, Democrats cannot run successfully against it without have an alternative vision-which they do not yet have.  They have alternative strategies, but this is not the same thing.

On the flip, I go through a rapid-fire review of some examples in recent history of missed opportunities for challenging foreign policy hegemony at the level of vision, in order to give a better sense of what the missing elements might look like, and thus, what is needed.

Paul Rosenberg :: Where's Obama? Questioning v Reinforcing [Foreign Policy] CW #3 (Political Duality of Rep v Dem 6c)
Pre-9/11: Breaking New Ground On Four Fronts

In this section, I want to address four challenges to foreign policy orthodoxy as it existed in the 1990s.  This is not an exhaustive list by any means, merely an illustrative one.

Jihad vs. McWorld--Benjamin Barber's Challenge to Neoliberalism's Impoverished Vision

In the afternath of the Cold War, the ideology of neoliberalism-basically a return to pre-Depression laissez-faire on a global scale-became virtually unchallenged in official circles.  Both Clinton in America and Blair in Britain cut off their parties' populist left wings, and marketed themselves as better than their rightwing opponents at running the world for business interests.  While the blinder sort of true believers no longer saw any alternatives left on the playing field (The End of History), the more perceptive sorts did see an opposition to neoliberalism, in the form of religious and ethinc/nationalist tribalism seeking to reclaim and rebuild lost identitites.  In 1995, political philosopher Benjamin Barber wrote a highly insightful critique, Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World, [1992 Atlantic article of the same name here] in which he argued that neoliberal globalization (McWorld) and its tribal ethno-religious opponents (Jihad) are actually mutually reinforcing in many respects, and both are hostile to democracy generally, and, more specifically, the regulatory/social democratic tradition that saved the West in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II.  Barber's analysis was a classic example of Shawn Rosenberg's systematic thinking (analogous with Kegan's Level 4) with multiple causes and effects, including circular causation.

Misreading The Public--PIPA's Challenge To The Myth of A New Isolationism

In 1999, I. M. Destler and Steven Kull's book, Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism challenged the conventional wisdom that a new isolationism had arisen in the American public with the end of the Cold War.  The publisher's website blurb explains:

Do American policymakers really know what the American public wants in U.S. foreign policy? Through extensive interviews with members of the policy community, the authors reveal a pervasive belief--especially in Congress--that, in the wake of the cold war, the public is showing a new isolationism: opposition to foreign aid, hostility to the United Nations, and aversion to contributing U.S. troops to peacekeeping operations. This view of the public has in turn had a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy.

However, through a comprehensive review of polling data, as well as focus groups, the authors show that all these beliefs about the public are myths. The public does complain that the United States is playing the role of dominant world leader more than it should, but this does not lead to a desire to withdraw. Instead people prefer to share responsibility with other nations, particularly through the UN.

The authors offer explanations of how such a misperception can occur and suggest ways to improve communication between the public and policymakers, including better presentation of polling data and more attention by practitioners to a wider public.

Kull has continued the work begun in this book as head of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA's website is unaccountably down at the time of my writing this. Google's latest cache was Nov. 3.), which has also done detailed polling on the nature of widespread misconceptions-such as beliefs that Iraq had WMDs, and that it was involved in 9/11-and how these relate to other factors (partisanship and media sources in the case of Iraq War myths).  PIPA's work remains incredibly valuable as a reality-based counter to the conventional wisdom about what the American people want, as well as helping to identify how support for some policies is based on myths.  PIPA has expanded its work into international polling as well.

The Frameworks Initiative

The Framework Institute describes itself thus:

The mission of the FrameWorks Institute is to advance the nonprofit sector's communications capacity by identifying, translating and modeling relevant scholarly research for framing the public discourse about social problems.

FrameWorks designs, commissions, manages and publishes communications research to prepare nonprofit organizations to expand their constituency base, to build public will, and to further public understanding of specific social issues. In addition to working closely with social policy experts familiar with the specific issue, its work is informed by a team of communications scholars and practitioners who are convened to discuss the research problem, and to work together in outlining potential strategies for advancing remedial policies.

FrameWorks also critiques, designs, conducts and evaluates communications campaigns on social issues. Its work is based on an approach called "strategic frame analysis," which has been developed in partnership with UCLA's Center for Communications and Community.

Susan Nall Bales established the FrameWorks Institute in 1999 and serves as its president. Funders of the Institute include: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Advocacy Institute, Aspen Institute, W. T. Grant Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Benton Foundation, National Funding Collaborative on Violence Prevention, Center for Communications and Community at UCLA, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, Caroline and Sigmund Schott Foundation, Washington Dental Service, and the National Institutes of Health.

The fact that you probably never heard of the Frameworks Institute is yet another indication of the fragmented nature of progressives as opposed to conservatives in the ongoing hegemonic war of position.

In 1999/2000, the Frameworks Institute did impressive work on its  Global Interdependence Initiative (GII). In her Message Memo [PDF], Bales explained:

This memo reports on communications research conducted by a team of scholars and communications practitioners under the direction of the FrameWorks Institute for the Global Interdependence Initiative, a project of the Aspen Institute. Originally drafted in July 2000, it has been updated to include more recent research results.

The purpose of this  Message Memo is to demonstrate ways to apply the research results to the overall task of reframing American attitudes about international engagement. Written from the perspective of a communication practitioner, its intent is to complement, not replace, the actual research reports. It is designed to answer the following questions:

  • How can the FrameWorks research help communications and policy staff better understand what they are up against in attempting to win public support for policies that recognize global interdependence?
  • How can this research help individual organizations become more strategic as they attempt to win support for specific positions?
  • How can it help foster collaborations across organizations, recognizing how cross-issue work enhances each organization?
  • How can this research help direct organizational energies to the most important issues and audiences?
  • How should this research inform our day-to-day communications about global issues?

I discussed two of the papers that came out of this initiative in my previous diary.  Here, I want to focus primarily on the one that played a secondary role in that diary, George Lakoff's The Mind and The World: Changing the Very Idea of American Foreign Policy [PDF]

Lakoff begins his paper thus:

This study has a grand purpose: to begin a change in American foreign policy - not just in particular existing policies, but in the very idea of what foreign policy is. New realities have emerged since the end of the Cold War. But they have largely been ignored in American foreign policy. The Global Interdependence Initiative was designed to address those vital concerns. They are:
  • the environment,
  • human rights,
  • women's rights,
  • children's issues,
  • global public health and the spread of disease,
  • poverty and the powerlessness of the impoverished,
  • fair labor practices,
  • violent ethnic conflicts,
  • the rights of indigenous people to preserve their traditional ways of life, and crucially
  • an economics of sustainability that promotes quality of life rather than an unsustainable economic growth.
When one looks more closely, further details come into focus: the immense danger of global warming, the freedom of women to get an education and engage in public life, the connections between women's education and world population growth, AIDS in Africa, the spread of tuberculosis, the enslavement of children and child labor, and so on. These concerns might sound to some like a laundry list of unrelated topics. As we shall see, they are anything but that. They are a natural category of concerns - a category that has never been adequately described or named. Our job is to forge a general approach to foreign policy where each item on this list is a natural special case, a natural and obvious concern for American foreign policy conceptualized in a new way.

Lakoff goes on to say, "Our job is to change ideas, to imagine and implement a new way of thinking." He then describes two contrasting frameworks for thinking about foreign policy: Self-Interest Versus Moral Norms, and formulates the central argument:

The use of international moral norms as a basis for foreign policy is based on the following central idea:
    It is better to live in a world governed by international moral norms than by the pursuit of self-interest and the potential for conflict that comes with self interest.
In ordinary communities, security comes not just from police power. Real security comes only when the community members follow moral norms. The US is the only superpower -- it has superior air power, enough bombs to destroy the world, and is wealthier than any other nation. But that does not make the US really secure. Its wealth and military security are threatened by the possibility of the collapse of markets elsewhere, and by events internal to other countries:
    a. "rogue nations" harboring and supporting terrorists,
    b. the sale of nuclear weapons and missiles to such nations,
    c. large flows of immigrants fleeing oppression,
    d. global warming and other dangers to the world ecology, and
    e. looking bad in the "court of world opinion" (which could effect trade and hence wealth and military treaties).

It's important to realize that Lakoff is not simply repackaging the old distinction between foreign policy idealism and realism.  He is saying that there is a very realistic and pragmatic reason to adopt a moral norms perspective-and conversely, that there is something wildly utopian in the notion that going it alone on the basis of narrow self-interest could ever produce the sort of future we desire.

It's an extremely enlightening paper, the main body of which is bookended by a look at the 2000 Bush/Gore foreign policy debate.  Lakoff uses that debate as a high-profile example of how the failure to grasp the basic nature of the moral norms framework undermines the articulation of a coherent alternative to even the most cretinous forms of self-interest arguments.  As Lakoff explains it, there was much more going on in this debate than other analysts-even very good ones-have previously suppossed.  He is particularly astute in explaining how Gore became essentially tounge-tied in debating an opponent with virtually zero foreign policy understanding, but a firm grounding in the self-contained logic of his own position.

There's a lot more of great value in the papers produced for this initiative.  But Lakoff's paper, together with the Aubrun/Grady paper ("10 Differences Between Public and Expert Understandings of International Affairs" [PDF]) I discussed in my previous diary, should be sufficient to drive home my two main point here: first, that ideas about how to break out of the foreign policy conventional wisdom were being actively pursued, with intelligence and creativity, and second, that this involved, in part, a challenge to elite narratives.  Yet, those ideas were virtually unknown-and remain so today-among the larger progressive activist community, much less among the American people at large.  The very people who were potentially the most receptive to these ideas remained unaware of their existence.

The other reserch papers generated for the Global Interdependence Initiative include:

  • "Framing Studies and Global Interdependence: An Introduction to the Research" by Susan Nall Bales
  • "The Myopic Neighbor: Local and National Network Television Coverage of the World' by Daniel R. Amundson, Linda S. Lichter and S. Robert Lichter
  • "Four Habits of International News Reporting" by Susan Moeller
  • "A Window on the Storm: How TV Global News Promotes a Cognitive 'Refuge Stance'" by Axel Aubrun, Ph.D. and Joseph Grady, Ph.D.
These and all the other research papers generated can be downloaded from the Global Interdependence Initiative (GII) webpage.

The Hart-Rudman Commission

The last pre-9/11 example I want to consider is the Hart-Rudman Commission  (The United States Commission on National Security/21st Century).  It was established by the Secretary of Defense in 1998 with a charter that explicitly called for it to:

1) conduct a comprehensive review of the early 21st Century global security environment, including likely trends and potential "wild cards"; 2) develop a national security strategy appropriate to that environment and the nation's character; and 3) recommend concomitant changes to the national security apparatus as necessary.  This review should be advanced in the form of  practical recommendations that the President of the United States, with the support of the Congress, could begin to implement in the Fiscal Year 2002 budget, if desired.

The Commission issued three reports, one for each of it's assigned tasks. The reports represented a bipartisan consensus of elite, insider experts.  While their "expert" side leads them, in some respects, to an illuminating critical perspective, their "insider" side limits their ability to agree on ideas that are truly "outside the box." 

The Hart-Rudman Commission issued three reports, reflecting a three-stage process, first looking at expectations of future changes, then developing a strategy in response, and finally recommending specific changes in organization and commitment of resources to implement the strategy "or, indeed, any strategy that would depart from the embedded routines of the last half-century," as explained in the last report. 

It was not a namby-pamby report.  Nor was it inherently obscure. As Harold Evans wrote in The Guardian, less than a month after 9/11:

They and their staffs went to great lengths to acquaint the press in advance with the gravity of their findings. "Hell," says Rudman, "it was the first comprehensive rethinking of national security since Harry Truman in 1947."

The conclusions were startling. "States, terrorists and other disaffected groups will acquire weapons of mass destruction, and some will use them. Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers."

Hart told me: "We got a terrific sense of the resentment building against the US as a bully which alarmed us." The report was a devastating in dictment of the "fragmented and inadequate" structures and strategies to prevent and then respond to the attacks the commissioners predicted on US cities. Hart specifically mentioned the lack of readiness to respond to "a weapon of mass destruction in a highrise building".

Yet, for all that the Commission failed to do one very fundamental thing: it failed to look back at the era before it, and assess the successes and failures that preceeded it, particularly the rethinking of national security under Truman that Rudman referred to, and the tragic failure of Vietnam, that was obviously-if not exactly clearly-connected to the framework developed under Truman.  I would argue that the failure to look back critically at the era before was both an symptom and a cause of the Commission's essential timidity, despite its apparent boldness compared to the brain-dead thinking that has followed since.

The report offered recommendations for organizational change in five key areas:

  • ensuring the security of the American homeland;
  • recapitalizing America's strengths in science and education;
  • redesigning key institutions of the Executive Branch;
  • overhauling the U.S. government personnel system; and
  • reorganizing Congress's role in national security affairs.

    Included under the first topic, the report stated:

    The combination of unconventional weapons proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack. A direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter century. The risk is not only death and destruction but also a demoralization that could undermine U.S. global leadership. In the face of this threat, our nation has no coherent or integrated governmental structures.

    We therefore recommend the creation of a new independent National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) with responsibility for planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. government activities involved in homeland security.

    Unlike the Bush-created Daprtment of Homeland Security, Hart-Rudman's vision was both carefully-tailored and constitutionally conceived:

    NHSA would be built upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the three organizations currently on the front line of border security-the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and the Border Patrol-transferred to it. NHSA would not only protect American lives, but also assume responsibility for overseeing the protection of the nation's critical infrastructure, including information technology."

    .... The legal foundation for the National Homeland Security Agency would rest firmly within the array of Constitutional guarantees for civil liberties....

    The potentially catastrophic nature of homeland attacks necessitates our being prepared to use the tremendous resources of the Department of Defense (DoD). Therefore, the department needs to pay far more attention to this mission in the future. We recommend that a new office of Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security be created to oversee the various DoD activities and ensure that the necessary resources are made available.

    New priorities also need to be set for the U.S. armed forces in light of the threat to the homeland. We urge, in particular, that the National Guard be given homeland security as a primary mission, as the U.S. Constitution itself ordains. The National Guard should be reorganized, trained, and equipped to undertake that mission."

    Yet, for all this clear-sighted thinking and more-including recommendations for revitalizing science and technology education, and "doubling the federal research and development budget by 2010"-the report never pulled back to look at America from a world historical perspective like that of Paul Kennedy in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 to 2000.  It never evaluated America as part of a world system, never abandoned the elite version of the assumptions of American exceptionalism, and never looked back to see what sorts of mistakes we had made the last time such a sweeping analysis had taken place.

    Which is, precisely, what I want to do right now.

    The Two Cold Wars: Kenan's and Nitze's

    In a remarkable paper, "Kennan's Long Telegram and NSC-68: A Comparative Analysis," East European Quarterly, Vol. 31, no. 4, January 1998, Efstathios T. Fakiolas analyzed two key documents from the formative days of the Cold War.  Kennan's Long Telegram, which first formulated a comprehensive picture of the Soviet threat, and laid the foundations for the doctrine of containment, and NSC-68, the national security directive primarily authored by Paul Nitze, which formed the blueprint for how the US fought the Cold War throughout most of its duration.

    Fakiolas used the framework of foreign policy realism for his analysis, but he determined that the two documents employed significantly different models within that tradition.  Although they seemed to many people to be kindred documents, Fakiolas uncovers striking differences.  I'm going to do a separate diary delving deeper into his argument, but the bottom line for us now is this:  Kennan's Long Telegram and Nitze's NSC-68 appear similar, they depend on different models of international relations within the same realist tradition. 

    Kennan relied on the "tectonic plates" model, in which there many other non-state actors, the world is not "zero-sum," and there is often opportunity for mutual cooperation.  Nitze relied on the billiard ball model, which sees the international system as "composed solely of egoistic sovereign states interested in maximizing their relative power capabilities at the expense of others," and sees "world politics is a 'zero-sum' game in which national security conceived of in military and territorial terms is the one and only states' national objective."

    As a result, Kennan favored a strategy of containment that emphasized strengthening the West socially, economically and culturally, addressing its flaws which the Soviets exposed.  In contrast, Nitze ignored issues of the Wests internal flaws, and focused almost exclusively on military force to combat the Soviet Union.

    It's my own observation, based on this analysis, that we fought Nitze's Cold War, but we won Kennan's.  It was not, in the end, our military strength that defeated the Soviet Union, it was the appeal of our culture of openness and freedom.  The history of Eastern European resistance movements, especially in Checkoslavakia and Poland, makes this abundantly clear.  Through their influence on dissident culture, Frank Zappa and Lou Reed did more to win the Cold War than any division of tanks ever did-or even a wing of nuclear armed B-52 bombers.

    Post 9/11: The "War On Terror" Response, And It's Invisible Alternative

    9/11 was a terrible crime, but it was not an act of war.  Simply put, al Qaeda was incapable of waging war against the US.  But Bush and Cheney were simply too frightened-not to mention perversely inclined-to realize this.  And so they gave al Qaeda exactly what it wanted-a dramatic over-reaction that made America seem exactly like al Qaeda's cartoonish propaganda said we were.

    Within days of 9/11, Gallup International conducted a poll 35 countries on 5 continents. It gave people a choice between supporting military action or a legal response-extraditing the terrorists and putting them on trial. 

    Given this choice, only 54% of the American people supported military action, 30% supported extradition and trial, while 16% were undecided.  (The US was one of just 3 countries where more people favored a military response-India and Isreal were the other two, both with spectacular records of failure based on doing exactly what they recommended we do.)  During the same time, elite opinion was far more bloodthirsty and monolithic.

    In the first three weeks after the attack, the New York Times and the Washington Post ran 46 op-eds that dealt with the issue of how to respond; they were overwhelmingly in favor of war, by a margin of 44 to 2 (32-2 in the Post, 11-0 in the Times) according to a analysis done by the media watch group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).  The two columns supporting non-military responses were both by guest writers.  Thus, neither the Times nor the Post, both long assailed by conservatives as bastions of the "liberal media" had a single staff writer representing 46% of the population-much less the overwhelming majority of people around the world, except for Israel and India.

    More than 6 years later, the failure of the war option is undeniable, and yet there is barely any discussion of a truly, fundamentally different approach-one that might actually have a chance of success.  And this, quite realistically, is what we might reasonably expect from a candidate like Barack Obama, who tells us that our politics is broken, that we have to transcend outmoded ways of thinking, and that promises us "The Audacity of Hope."  Looking back at the examples I've sited in this diary, we might expect a vision that

    (1) Recognizes--ala Jihad Vs. McWorld-- that globalization without democratic regulation feeds terrorism, and talks about the need to create a more humane world order, in which people have the means to collectively control their own destinies.

    (2)  Appreciates==ala Misreading The Public-- the American people's desire to engage the world multilaterally, takes responsibility to inform them accurately, and takes seriously what they have to say about foreign policy, rather than relying on myths.

    (3) Embraces and enthusiastically articulates the moral norms approach to foreign policy, and lays out a thematically unified approach that places the struggle against global terrorism in a larger context together with addressing other vital concerns including:

    • the environment,
    • human rights,
    • women's rights,
    • children's issues,
    • global public health and the spread of disease,
    • poverty and the powerlessness of the impoverished,
    • fair labor practices,
    • violent ethnic conflicts,
    • the rights of indigenous people to preserve their traditional ways of life, and crucially
    • an economics of sustainability that promotes quality of life rather than an unsustainable economic growth.

    (4)  Has the courage to re-examine the Cold War, and learn from our mistakes last time to avoid repeating them this time.

    (5) Recognizes that while our enemy is far too weak to defeat us militarily, it can illuminate flaws in our own system, and that the best way to combat it is to do our best to eliminate those flaws, and strengthen the political, cultural and social virtues that are our greatest strength.

    In short, what we want in the way of an alternative progressive foreign policy vision is one that expresses America's core values, and continues the struggle to overcome her flaws, instead of one that contradicts the very core of our being as a nation.


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    obama is a hawk (0.00 / 0)
    i understand the temptation to believe obama's rhetoric.  i really wanted to believe for about a week, but my skepticism was validated when he endorsed the US backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia.  looking deeper it became obvious that this was not the only instance of a hawkish neo liberal stance.  his call to end the war in iraq contrasted harshly with his willingness to approve funding, and his plan to keep permanent bases for "counter terrorist operations."  he wants to increase the military budget and ground forces.  his iran bill is a meaningless piece of legslation simpl re-stating what is already in the constitution.  my guess is its a political cover up for his shamefull absence on the vote to declare iran's army a terrorist organization.  yes upon greater scrutiny the only difference between him and bush is his assurance that he would be the wiser weilder of a bigger stick.

    dennis kucinich's foreign policy is what you (we) are looking for: returning responsibility to the UN, and his policy stament addresses every one of the vital concerns that you have listed.  it is downloadable here http://denniskucinic...
    its called DKISSUESBOOK062107


    Question this (0.00 / 0)
    I don't think Obama is a hawk.  I think he is playing things safer than he ought, but by any reasonable definition of a hawk, he isn't.  If he's a hawk, Giuliani and his advisors are batshit loony, along with the rest of the GOP field.  (Well, maybe . . . .)

    The real attraction for me of Obama is that he isn't a Boomer, as Andrew Sullivan points out.  Someone new is going to be President in 2009 (hopefully), and Sullivan sets out some good reasons why Obama would make a real difference. 

    John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


    [ Parent ]
    He's Certainly No Dove (0.00 / 0)
    If he's a hawk, Giuliani and his advisors are batshit loony

    Well, Giuliani and his advisors are batshit loony, as has been pretty well documented over the last month or so.  So mabye you're using an accurate benchmark.  Obama is certainly not a knee-jerk hawk, but his most prominent foreign policy advisor early on, Samantha Power, certainly falls into the category of "liberal hawk."

    That's a somewhat broad term that also includes it's own loonies, like Pollack, and I don't mean to suggest that Power is anything like him.  Her work on the history of genocide certainly deeply informs her views, and if there's one deeply compelling justification for the liberal hawk position, then genocide is surely it. But Obama goes considerably farther than advocating intervention to prevent genocide, and one can make a credible case that he's much closer to Pollack overall than he is to the roots of Power's liberal hawk position.

    Personally, I don't understand why not being a Boomer is any sort of plus, much less a big one.  The notion that this will somehow allow him to magically escape from the rightwing culture war (in the Gramscian, war-of-position sense) is downright delusional--a delusion born of that very culture war.


    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    Barak Obama, October 26th, 2002 (0.00 / 0)

    I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

    What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

    That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

    Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

    He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

    But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

    Doesn't sound like a hawk to me.


    [ Parent ]
    Thanks for this analysis - Look at Richardson (4.00 / 1)
    I agree that Obama is trying to play it safe on foreign policy and Iraq - all to his detriment and America's.  Obama could have united progressive voters behind him but has blown it by being on of the more hawkish Dems running for President.

    I think you'll find this analysis earlier in the year by William M. Arkin of the Washington Post who writes on National and Homeland Security.  Arkin looks at Clinton, Obama and Richardson (whom I'm supporting) on foreign affairs and national security issues:

    The Council for a Livable World, a Washington-based arms-control group, submitted seven questions about national security to the presidential candidates, garnering some interesting insights from the front-runners. (The questions and responses can be found here; oddly enough, only Democrats responded.)

    Clinton made it clear once again that she is a realist and a Washington fixture, demurring on the question of a "world free of nuclear weapons," a notable departure from the other candidates. Clinton supports a "global effort to reduce the terrible dangers of nuclear weapons," but she stops short of rhetorically committing herself to disarmament, preferring "sensible near-term steps."

    Obama also stays in character -- he really separates himself from the pack by appearing more hawkish than the others. Obama surrounds himself with a set of liberal advisors who are notable for their support of the military in humanitarian interventions and of more robust and focused counterterrorism efforts.

    Obama did not say he's against building a new nuclear warhead; he almost seems to want to prove that he "supports" military and nuclear weapons programs to allay the deadly "dove" label. Intellectually, though, I can't see how one can support a new generation of American nuclear warheads and also be in favor of nuclear disarmament. One has to start the long and difficult process somewhere.

    Now read how Bill Richardson handled the question of new nuclear warheads: "We do not need a new generation of nuclear weapons," he says, speaking as a former Energy secretary. "Under my administration, we will lead the world toward the reduction of nuclear arsenals, not their augmentation," he writes.

    And then he tied it together with other objectives to make it real: "The Non-Proliferation Treaty commits non-nuclear states to forego nuclear weapons, and it also commits the nuclear weapons states to the goal of nuclear disarmament. Too often, this aspect of the Treaty is forgotten. In order to get others to take the NPT seriously, we need to take it seriously ourselves. We should re-affirm our commitment to the long-term goal of global nuclear disarmament, and we should invite the Russians to join us in a moratorium on all new nuclear weapons. And we should negotiate further staged reductions in our arsenals, beyond what has already been agreed, over the next decade."

    Richardson also excels at answers on Russia, Iran and North Korea, on Pakistan, and on actual moves he might take to reduce the chance the nuclear weapons or nuclear materials would make their way into the hands of terrorists. "Negotiations to reduce our arsenal also represent our diplomatic ace-in-the-hole," Richardson writes. "We can leverage our own proposed reductions to get the other nuclear powers to do the same -- and simultaneously get the non-nuclear powers to forego both weapons and nuclear fuel enrichment, and to agree to rigorous global safeguards and verification procedures."

    It is on Iraq though, that Richardson really shines. "I believe that we need to withdraw all of our troops within six months," he writes. "Other than the customary Marine contingent at the embassy, I would not leave anyone behind. And if the embassy isn't safe, they're coming home too. No airbases. No troops in the Green Zone. No embedded soldiers training Iraqi forces, because we know what that means. It means our troops would still be out on patrol -- with targets on their backs."

    We are spending $10 billion a month on Iraq, Richardson says. "Of the many ways in which Mr. Bush's ill-conceived war has distracted us from our real national security needs, this is the most dangerous," he concludes. "There is not a single sign that Iraq is improving. To the contrary, every indication is that it's getting worse, and a smaller force will do nothing to change that."

    And so Bill Richardson says something that the other candidates evidently can't or won't: "A regional crisis is worthy of military intervention. A true threat to our country's security is worthy of war. But a struggle between a country's warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life.

    Source:  http://blog.washingt...


    Arkin Is One Of The Best At Keeping His Eye On The Ball (0.00 / 0)
    Heck, there were times when he was just about the only sane foreign policy voice on a mainstream website.

    So it's not surprising that he not only focused on this very important set of questions, but clearly explained the significance of the answers.  It's notable that Richardson really is a realist every bit as much as Clinton is.  But he's much more a Kennan-styled realist, while Clinton is a more a Nitze-styled one.  And Obama, well.  He looks more and more like someone running from his own shadow.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    Remarks of Senator Obama: The War We Need to Win (0.00 / 0)

    Washington, DC | August 01, 2007

    ...Thanks to the 9/11 Commission, we know that six years ago this week President Bush received a briefing with the headline: "Bin Ladin determined to strike in U.S."

    It came during what the Commission called the "summer of threat," when the "system was blinking red" about an impending attack. But despite the briefing, many felt the danger was overseas, a threat to embassies and military installations. The extremism, the resentment, the terrorist training camps, and the killers were in the dark corners of the world, far away from the American homeland.

    Then, one bright and beautiful Tuesday morning, they were here.

    I was driving to a state legislative hearing in downtown Chicago when I heard the news on my car radio: a plane had hit the World Trade Center. By the time I got to my meeting, the second plane had hit, and we were told to evacuate.

    People gathered in the streets and looked up at the sky and the Sears Tower, transformed from a workplace to a target. We feared for our families and our country. We mourned the terrible loss suffered by our fellow citizens. Back at my law office, I watched the images from New York: a plane vanishing into glass and steel; men and women clinging to windowsills, then letting go; tall towers crumbling to dust. It seemed all of the misery and all of the evil in the world were in that rolling black cloud, blocking out the September sun.

    What we saw that morning forced us to recognize that in a new world of threats, we are no longer protected by our own power. And what we saw that morning was a challenge to a new generation.

    The history of America is one of tragedy turned into triumph. And so a war over secession became an opportunity to set the captives free. An attack on Pearl Harbor led to a wave of freedom rolling across the Atlantic and Pacific. An Iron Curtain was punctured by democratic values, new institutions at home, and strong international partnerships abroad.

    After 9/11, our calling was to write a new chapter in the American story. To devise new strategies and build new alliances, to secure our homeland and safeguard our values, and to serve a just cause abroad. We were ready. Americans were united. Friends around the world stood shoulder to shoulder with us. We had the might and moral-suasion that was the legacy of generations of Americans. The tide of history seemed poised to turn, once again, toward hope.

    But then everything changed.

    We did not finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We did not develop new capabilities to defeat a new enemy, or launch a comprehensive strategy to dry up the terrorists' base of support. We did not reaffirm our basic values, or secure our homeland.

    Instead, we got a color-coded politics of fear. Patriotism as the possession of one political party. The diplomacy of refusing to talk to other countries. A rigid 20th century ideology that insisted that the 21st century's stateless terrorism could be defeated through the invasion and occupation of a state. A deliberate strategy to misrepresent 9/11 to sell a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

    And so, a little more than a year after that bright September day, I was in the streets of Chicago again, this time speaking at a rally in opposition to war in Iraq. I did not oppose all wars, I said. I was a strong supporter of the war in Afghanistan. But I said I could not support "a dumb war, a rash war" in Iraq. I worried about a " U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences" in the heart of the Muslim world. I pleaded that we "finish the fight with bin Ladin and al Qaeda."

    The political winds were blowing in a different direction. The President was determined to go to war. There was just one obstacle: the U.S. Congress. Nine days after I spoke, that obstacle was removed. Congress rubber-stamped the rush to war, giving the President the broad and open-ended authority he uses to this day. With that vote, Congress became co-author of a catastrophic war. And we went off to fight on the wrong battlefield, with no appreciation of how many enemies we would create, and no plan for how to get out.

    Because of a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged, we are now less safe than we were before 9/11.

    According to the National Intelligence Estimate, the threat to our homeland from al Qaeda is "persistent and evolving." Iraq is a training ground for terror, torn apart by civil war. Afghanistan is more violent than it has been since 2001. Al Qaeda has a sanctuary in Pakistan. Israel is besieged by emboldened enemies, talking openly of its destruction. Iran is now presenting the broadest strategic challenge to the United States in the Middle East in a generation. Groups affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda operate worldwide. Six years after 9/11, we are again in the midst of a "summer of threat," with bin Ladin and many more terrorists determined to strike in the United States.

    What's more, in the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantanamo, we have compromised our most precious values. What could have been a call to a generation has become an excuse for unchecked presidential power. A tragedy that united us was turned into a political wedge issue used to divide us.

    It is time to turn the page. It is time to write a new chapter in our response to 9/11.

    Just because the President misrepresents our enemies does not mean we do not have them. The terrorists are at war with us. The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, but the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

    The President would have us believe that every bomb in Baghdad is part of al Qaeda's war against us, not an Iraqi civil war. He elevates al Qaeda in Iraq -- which didn't exist before our invasion -- and overlooks the people who hit us on 9/11, who are training new recruits in Pakistan. He lumps together groups with very different goals: al Qaeda and Iran, Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. He confuses our mission.

    And worse -- he is fighting the war the terrorists want us to fight. Bin Ladin and his allies know they cannot defeat us on the field of battle or in a genuine battle of ideas. But they can provoke the reaction we've seen in Iraq: a misguided invasion of a Muslim country that sparks new insurgencies, ties down our military, busts our budgets, increases the pool of terrorist recruits, alienates America, gives democracy a bad name, and prompts the American people to question our engagement in the world.

    By refusing to end the war in Iraq, President Bush is giving the terrorists what they really want, and what the Congress voted to give them in 2002: a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

    It is time to turn the page. When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland.

    The first step must be getting off the wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    I introduced a plan in January that would have already started bringing our troops out of Iraq, with a goal of removing all combat brigades by March 31, 2008. If the President continues to veto this plan, then ending this war will be my first priority when I take office.

    There is no military solution in Iraq. Only Iraq's leaders can settle the grievances at the heart of Iraq's civil war. We must apply pressure on them to act, and our best leverage is reducing our troop presence. And we must also do the hard and sustained diplomatic work in the region on behalf of peace and stability.

    In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it. That is why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al Qaeda within Iraq. But we must recognize that al Qaeda is not the primary source of violence in Iraq, and has little support -- not from Shia and Kurds who al Qaeda has targeted, or Sunni tribes hostile to foreigners. On the contrary, al Qaeda's appeal within Iraq is enhanced by our troop presence.

    Ending the war will help isolate al Qaeda and give Iraqis the incentive and opportunity to take them out. It will also allow us to direct badly needed resources to Afghanistan. Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they needâ€"and deserve. As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs, and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country.

    As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban. As we step up our commitment, our European friends must do the same, and without the burdensome restrictions that have hampered NATO's efforts. We must also put more of an Afghan face on security by improving the training and equipping of the Afghan Army and Police, and including Afghan soldiers in U.S. and NATO operations.

    We must not, however, repeat the mistakes of Iraq. The solution in Afghanistan is not just military -- it is political and economic. As President, I would increase our non-military aid by $1 billion. These resources should fund projects at the local level to impact ordinary Afghans, including the development of alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers. And we must seek better performance from the Afghan government, and support that performance through tough anti-corruption safeguards on aid, and increased international support to develop the rule of law across the country.

    Above all, I will send a clear message: we will not repeat the mistake of the past, when we turned our back on Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal. As 9/11 showed us, the security of Afghanistan and America is shared. And today, that security is most threatened by the al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary in the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

    Al Qaeda terrorists train, travel, and maintain global communications in this safe-haven. The Taliban pursues a hit and run strategy, striking in Afghanistan, then skulking across the border to safety.

    This is the wild frontier of our globalized world. There are wind-swept deserts and cave-dotted mountains. There are tribes that see borders as nothing more than lines on a map, and governments as forces that come and go. There are blood ties deeper than alliances of convenience, and pockets of extremism that follow religion to violence. It's a tough place.

    But that is no excuse. There must be no safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. We cannot fail to act because action is hard.

    As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

    I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.

    And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair -- our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally.

    Beyond Pakistan, there is a core of terrorists -- probably in the tens of thousands -- who have made their choice to attack America. So the second step in my strategy will be to build our capacity and our partnerships to track down, capture or kill terrorists around the world, and to deny them the world's most dangerous weapons.

    I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America. This requires a broader set of capabilities, as outlined in the Army and Marine Corps's new counter-insurgency manual. I will ensure that our military becomes more stealth, agile, and lethal in its ability to capture or kill terrorists. We need to recruit, train, and equip our armed forces to better target terrorists, and to help foreign militaries to do the same. This must include a program to bolster our ability to speak different languages, understand different cultures, and coordinate complex missions with our civilian agencies.

    To succeed, we must improve our civilian capacity. The finest military in the world is adapting to the challenges of the 21st century. But it cannot counter insurgent and terrorist threats without civilian counterparts who can carry out economic and political reconstruction missions -- sometimes in dangerous places. As President, I will strengthen these civilian capacities, recruiting our best and brightest to take on this challenge. I will increase both the numbers and capabilities of our diplomats, development experts, and other civilians who can work alongside our military. We can't just say there is no military solution to these problems. We need to integrate all aspects of American might.

    One component of this integrated approach will be new Mobile Development Teams that bring together personnel from the State Department, the Pentagon, and USAID. These teams will work with civil society and local governments to make an immediate impact in peoples' lives, and to turn the tide against extremism. Where people are most vulnerable, where the light of hope has grown dark, and where we are in a position to make a real difference in advancing security and opportunity -- that is where these teams will go.

    I will also strengthen our intelligence. This is about more than an organizational chart. We need leadership that forces our agencies to share information, and leadership that never -- ever -- twists the facts to support bad policies. But we must also build our capacity to better collect and analyze information, and to carry out operations to disrupt terrorist plots and break up terrorist networks.

    This cannot just be an American mission. Al Qaeda and its allies operate in nearly 100 countries. The United States cannot steal every secret, penetrate every cell, act on every tip, or track down every terrorist -- nor should we have to do this alone. This is not just about our security. It is about the common security of all the world.

    As President, I will create a Shared Security Partnership Program to forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks from the remote islands of Indonesia, to the sprawling cities of Africa. This program will provide $5 billion over three years for counter-terrorism cooperation with countries around the world, including information sharing, funding for training, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and targeting terrorist financing. And this effort will focus on helping our partners succeed without repressive tactics, because brutality breeds terror, it does not defeat it.

    We must also do more to safeguard the world's most dangerous weapons. We know al Qaeda seeks a nuclear weapon. We know they would not hesitate to use one. Yet there is still about 50 tons of highly enriched uranium, some of it poorly secured, at civilian nuclear facilities in over forty countries. There are still about 15,000 to 16,00 nuclear weapons and stockpiles of uranium and plutonium scattered across 11 time zones in the former Soviet Union.

    That is why I worked in the Senate with Dick Lugar to pass a law that would help the United States and our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction. That is why I am introducing a bill with Chuck Hagel that seeks to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons. And that is why, as President, I will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years. While we work to secure existing stockpiles, we should also negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material.

    And I won't hesitate to use the power of American diplomacy to stop countries from obtaining these weapons or sponsoring terror. The lesson of the Bush years is that not talking does not work. Go down the list of countries we've ignored and see how successful that strategy has been. We haven't talked to Iran, and they continue to build their nuclear program. We haven't talked to Syria, and they continue support for terror. We tried not talking to North Korea, and they now have enough material for 6 to 8 more nuclear weapons.

    It's time to turn the page on the diplomacy of tough talk and no action. It's time to turn the page on Washington's conventional wisdom that agreement must be reached before you meet, that talking to other countries is some kind of reward, and that Presidents can only meet with people who will tell them what they want to hear.

    President Kennedy said it best: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate." Only by knowing your adversary can you defeat them or drive wedges between them. As President, I will work with our friend and allies, but I won't outsource our diplomacy in Tehran to the Europeans, or our diplomacy in Pyongyang to the Chinese. I will do the careful preparation needed, and let these countries know where America stands. They will no longer have the excuse of American intransigence. They will have our terms: no support for terror and no nuclear weapons.

    But America must be about more than taking out terrorists and locking up weapons, or else new terrorists will rise up to take the place of every one we capture or kill. That is why the third step in my strategy will be drying up the rising well of support for extremism.

    When you travel to the world's trouble spots as a United States Senator, much of what you see is from a helicopter. So you look out, with the buzz of the rotor in your ear, maybe a door gunner nearby, and you see the refugee camp in Darfur, the flood near Djibouti, the bombed out block in Baghdad. You see thousands of desperate faces.

    Al Qaeda's new recruits come from Africa and Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Many come from disaffected communities and disconnected corners of our interconnected world. And it makes you stop and wonder: when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?

    We know where extremists thrive. In conflict zones that are incubators of resentment and anarchy. In weak states that cannot control their borders or territory, or meet the basic needs of their people. From Africa to central Asia to the Pacific Rim -- nearly 60 countries stand on the brink of conflict or collapse. The extremists encourage the exploitation of these hopeless places on their hate-filled websites.

    And we know what the extremists say about us. America is just an occupying Army in Muslim lands, the shadow of a shrouded figure standing on a box at Abu Ghraib, the power behind the throne of a repressive leader. They say we are at war with Islam. That is the whispered line of the extremist who has nothing to offer in this battle of ideas but blame -- blame America, blame progress, blame Jews. And often he offers something along with the hate. A sense of empowerment. Maybe an education at a madrasa, some charity for your family, some basic services in the neighborhood. And then: a mission and a gun.

    We know we are not who they say we are. America is at war with terrorists who killed on our soil. We are not at war with Islam. America is a compassionate nation that wants a better future for all people. The vast majority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims have no use for bin Ladin or his bankrupt ideas. But too often since 9/11, the extremists have defined us, not the other way around.

    When I am President, that will change. We will author our own story.

    We do need to stand for democracy. And I will. But democracy is about more than a ballot box. America must show -- through deeds as well as words -- that we stand with those who seek a better life. That child looking up at the helicopter must see America and feel hope.

    As President, I will make it a focus of my foreign policy to roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate. Freedom must mean freedom from fear, not the freedom of anarchy. I will never shrug my shoulders and say -- as Secretary Rumsfeld did -- "Freedom is untidy." I will focus our support on helping nations build independent judicial systems, honest police forces, and financial systems that are transparent and accountable. Freedom must also mean freedom from want, not freedom lost to an empty stomach. So I will make poverty reduction a key part of helping other nations reduce anarchy.

    I will double our annual investments to meet these challenges to $50 billion by 2012. And I will support a $2 billion Global Education Fund to counter the radical madrasas -- often funded by money from within Saudi Arabia -- that have filled young minds with messages of hate. We must work for a world where every child, everywhere, is taught to build and not to destroy. And as we lead we will ask for more from our friends in Europe and Asia as well -- more support for our diplomacy, more support for multilateral peacekeeping, and more support to rebuild societies ravaged by conflict.

    I will also launch a program of public diplomacy that is a coordinated effort across my Administration, not a small group of political officials at the State Department explaining a misguided war. We will open "America Houses" in cities across the Islamic world, with Internet, libraries, English lessons, stories of America's Muslims and the strength they add to our country, and vocational programs. Through a new " America's Voice Corps" we will recruit, train, and send out into the field talented young Americans who can speak with -- and listen to -- the people who today hear about us only from our enemies.

    As President, I will lead this effort. In the first 100 days of my Administration, I will travel to a major Islamic forum and deliver an address to redefine our struggle. I will make clear that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the prophets of hate and violence. I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: "You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now."

    This brings me to the fourth step in my strategy: I will make clear that the days of compromising our values are over.

    Major General Paul Eaton had a long and distinguished career serving this country. It included training the Iraqi Army. After Abu Ghraib, his senior Iraqi advisor came into his office and said: "You have no idea how this will play out on the streets of Baghdad and the rest of the Arab world. How can this be?" This was not the America he had looked up to.

    As the counter-insurgency manual reminds us, we cannot win a war unless we maintain the high ground and keep the people on our side. But because the Administration decided to take the low road, our troops have more enemies. Because the Administration cast aside international norms that reflect American values, we are less able to promote our values. When I am President, America will reject torture without exception. America is the country that stood against that kind of behavior, and we will do so again.

    I also will reject a legal framework that does not work. There has been only one conviction at Guantanamo. It was for a guilty plea on material support for terrorism. The sentence was 9 months. There has not been one conviction of a terrorist act. I have faith in America's courts, and I have faith in our JAGs. As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.

    This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

    That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

    This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America, and that is why the fifth part of my strategy is doing the hard and patient work to secure a more resilient homeland.

    Too often this Administration's approach to homeland security has been to scatter money around and avoid hard choices, or to scare Americans without telling them what to be scared of, or what to do. A Department set up to make Americans feel safer didn't even show up when bodies drifted through the streets in New Orleans. That's not acceptable.

    My Administration will take an approach to homeland security guided by risk. I will establish a Quadrennial Review at the Department of Homeland Security -- just like at the Pentagon -- to undertake a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our ability to confront them. And I will develop a comprehensive National Infrastructure Protection Plan that draws on both local know-how and national priorities.

    We have to put resources where our infrastructure is most vulnerable. That means tough and permanent standards for securing our chemical plants. Improving our capability to screen cargo and investing in safeguards that will prevent the disruption of our ports. And making sure our energy sector -- our refineries and pipelines and power grids -- is protected so that terrorists cannot cripple our economy.

    We also have to get past a top-down approach. Folks across America are the ones on the front lines. On 9/11, it was citizens -- empowered by their knowledge of the World Trade Center attacks -- who protected our government by heroically taking action on Flight 93 to keep it from reaching our nation's capital. When I have information that can empower Americans, I will share it with them.

    Information sharing with state and local governments must be a two-way street, because we never know where the two pieces of the puzzle are that might fit together -- the tip from Afghanistan, and the cop who sees something suspicious on Michigan Avenue. I will increase funding to help train police to gather information and connect it to the intelligence they receive from the federal government. I will address the problem in our prisons, where the most disaffected and disconnected Americans are being explicitly targeted for conversion by al Qaeda and its ideological allies.

    And my Administration will not permit more lives to be lost because emergency responders are not outfitted with the communications capability and protective equipment their job requires, or because the federal government is too slow to respond when disaster strikes. We've been through that on 9/11. We've been through it during Katrina. I will ensure that we have the resources and competent federal leadership we need to support our communities when American lives are at stake.

    But this effort can't just be about what we ask of our men and women in uniform. It can't just be about how we spend our time or our money.

    It's about the kind of country we are.

    We are in the early stages of a long struggle. Yet since 9/11, we've heard a lot about what America can't do or shouldn't do or won't even try. We can't vote against a misguided war in Iraq because that would make us look weak, or talk to other countries because that would be a reward. We can't reach out to the hundreds of millions of Muslims who reject terror because we worry they hate us. We can't protect the homeland because there are too many targets, or secure our people while staying true to our values. We can't get past the America of Red and Blue, the politics of who's up and who's down.

    That is not the America that I know.

    The America I know is the last, best hope for that child looking up at a helicopter. It's the country that put a man on the moon; that defeated fascism and helped rebuild Europe. It's a country whose strength abroad is measured not just by armies, but rather by the power of our ideals, and by our purpose to forge an ever more perfect union at home.

    That's the America I know. We just have to act like it again to write that next chapter in the American story. If we do, we can keep America safe while extending security and opportunity around the world. We can hold true to our values, and in doing so advance those values abroad. And we can be what that child looking up at a helicopter needs us to be: the relentless opponent of terror and tyranny, and the light of hope to the world.

    To make this story reality, it's going to take Americans coming together and changing the fundamental direction of this country. It's going to take the service of a new generation of young people. It's going to take facing tragedy head-on and turning it into the next generation's triumph. That is a challenge that I welcome. Because when we do make that change, we'll do more than win a war -- we'll live up to that calling to make America, and the world, safer, freer, and more hopeful than we found it.



    So? (0.00 / 0)
    What's your point?

    Obama knows how to give a speech that sounds sorta, kinda good compared to some other Versailles suit?

    Well, okay.

    But the whole point of this post is that that's nowhere good enough.  Not from Obama or from anyone else.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    The central problem Obama faces is.... (4.00 / 1)
    Why he doesn't do what he says he wants to do:

    When I am President, that will change. We will author our own story.

    Well, Senator...I'm listening.

    What's the story you want to tell?

    Go ahead....Tell us! You are right. To motivate our society our leaders must tell us a story. That's absolutely correct. But merely asserting that that's what needs to be done falls far, far short of leadership. Without an actual story to tell Senator Obama is just another guy running for office not a leader. The ReichWing understands this very well and it's candidates are ready with their stories, vile though they may be, but apart from Edwards no Democrat is currently telling us their story. A story which we can then evaluate on it's ability to take us to the future.

    Simply put Hillary, Obama and Richardson have no story only a desire to be elected.

    That's not enough.

    Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


    They Have Stories (0.00 / 0)
    The question is--how relevant are they?

    That's one of the messages of this diary--that there are big problems out there that require thinking really big thoughts.  Personal stories are nice, but they have to connect to a much larger framework.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    The failure of orthodoxy (4.00 / 2)
    It is a truism that the orthodoxy and/or the opinion of experts is most reliable in predicting a situation that is stable and within the parameters of "normal".  Of course, 9/11 and its aftermath are specifically not "normal".  In areas where there is a great change, mass opinion is actually far more accurate.  This is true in predicting a wide range of things: economic conditions, technological change, political change.

    Two American Presidents publicly challenged foreign policy orthodoxy in precisely the way that Paul is suggesting.  The first was Woodrow Wilson.  Wilson believed and acted on a foreign policy that was based on moral norms rather than US advantage or some version of international power politics.  Ironically, Wilson was proposing this change at an incredibly opportune moment.  The US had reached a position as the greatest economic power in the world, had flipped from being a debtor nation to being a creditor nation, and faced a Europe overwhelmed by the problems of WWI and its aftermath.

    Wilson's first formula change involved Mexico.  He proposed that recognition of a foreign government meant approval rather than merely the recognition of who held power.  Recognition of a series of Mexican governments that tried to follow the corrupt dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz with a similar dictatorship was denied.  For much of Wilson's administration, Mexico (or at the least its central government) was in chaos.  US troops invaded Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa who had raided Columbus, New Mexico.  Villa was more than a bandit but less than what he claimed.

    Wilson, of course, tried to reorganize diplomacy on a grand scale following the conclusion of WWI by proposing a League of Nations to mediate (and possibly solve) international quarrels.  Wilson sold the Europeans but faced a huge road block in the form of isolationist Republicans in the US Senate.  Wilson fell sick on his sales tour and returned to DC where he suffered a massive stroke.  The League never received US approval and stumbled for a while before being brought down by Mussolini and Hitler.

    Jimmy Carter attemted a similar course, in the late 1970s.  In his case, the stroke that brought the policy down was the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran by islamic fundamentalists allied with at least a strong portion of the Iranian government.

    Other than that, US foreign policy has generally swung between a number of pretty bad options. 

    "Adventurism on the Cheap"  Eisenhower used the CIA to overthrow "pro-communist" or "anti-business" regimes around the globe.  This included Mosasdegh in Iran, Arbenz in Nicaragua, and some initial venturing with Diem in Vietnam.  It also included others that don't come to mind.  While this did not immediately risk US troops, it did sow the seeds for future anti-Americanism (big time in Iran).  Ronald Reagan of course, used a lot of the same ideas in Afghanistan and Nicaragua and wherever else he could.  George W. Bush originally outsourced the downfall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the capture of Bin Laden.  It failed.  You gotta figure that no more than 5,000 Marines with air support on the ground at Tora Bora would have taken out Al Quaida and Bin Laden in one fell swoop.

    The reason for the failure is obvious.  We can buy temporary allegiance but it will not supplanth the very real needs of the individuals we "rent" nor will it tend to "rent" people who are both competent and not sleaze bags.  We get the talkers and dreamers and the sleaze bags, too.

    Straigt Up Power Politics  This includes the willingness to back up our politics with the US military.  Think LBJ, Nixon, Kennedy, Truman, mostly FDR.  At its best, Truman provided aid to recovering Europe (the Marshall Plan) and FDR allowed for the nationalization of Mexican oil and continued good relations with the reformist government of Lazaro Cardenas.  At its worst, we just sent in the Marines.

    International coalition building.  Oddly, we did this most succesfully under George H.W. Bush in the Gulf War where other countries paid for the war, casualties were light, and goals were limited and achievable.  Bill Clinton did the same thing in Bosnia but ran into a buzz saw of Republican opposition both there and in his opposition to Osama Bin Laden led by the Bushies before Bush II (that crowd again with the Reagan era resumes).

    It sure seems we were on the verge of doing good things.  We need to make sure that Iraq doesn't drown out a new, hopeful course.  That certainly means cutting out the most influential of the old heads and cutting out the most juvenile and feel good responses.  Bring it on?  I don't want a "wrestling style" diplomacy with shifting villains du jour, snarling threats, and good TV ratings.  We deserve more.


    Gosh, David, Your Last Paragraph Really Has Me Thinking (4.00 / 1)
    We've always heard that the job Bush really wanted was as the head of major league baseball.  Now I'm thinking we've got him all wrong.  It's WWE that he wants to run!

    On a more serious note, it's important to realize that there was a substantial international grassroots movement for peace and international dispute resolution well before Wilson became President.  It got obliterated by World War I, but the underlying sentiments were still there, and Wilson was building on them.  So the things that folks like us do really do matter in preparing the way, even when it seems like they're not having much effect.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    Edwards denounces preemptive war doctrine in IA today (0.00 / 0)
    This seems apt in light of this post, Paul.  John Edwards is giving a major policy speech re Iran today and in it he rejects the notion of preemptive war.

    John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance



    That's Nice, But (0.00 / 0)
    it really is the least he can do.

    Bush's pre-emptive war doctrine is a radical departure from what came before.  Coming out against it is simply a conservative position to maintain long-standing tradition.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    After 7 years of neocons (0.00 / 0)
    radicalizing the debate, isn't returning to tradition a necessary first step to get to a place where things can change for the better?  If the public is so far removed from the foreign policy elite, it seems like the first step is to clearly articulate getting back on the right road, even if the eventual goal is to progress far down it.

    John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance



    [ Parent ]
    It's Not Bad (0.00 / 0)
    But it's not what I'm calling for.  Why should we settle for just returning to where we were before?

    Instead of thinking of it as a first step, it should be thought of as the first point in a multi-point platform.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    I agree - its the least (0.00 / 0)
    Edwards, or any other Democratic candidate for President can do - the question is: Why didn't all of them do this a long time ago?

    I, for one, very much appreciate these comments by Edwards (which I haven't seen, or heard as of yet).  I only hope he makes the case in general, not in narrow reference to Iran.  The Bush Doctrine of Preemption must be fully and completely renounced and publically refuted.  If Edwards is the only Democrat to do this - he'll get my vote in the primary.  (Kind of useless, as I live in Minnesota and the nominees will likely be decided well before I get to vote).

    Now, let's go for broke - how about a full condemnation of the  Bush/Cheney efforts to expand the powers of the executive?  Any Democratic candidate care to promise a roll-back of the unitary executive, or sign a pledge to help the US Congress fulfill their constitutional duties and seek an official declaration of war, should any such event become necessary during their administration?  Why would anyone hesitate on this issue?  I mean, all they are really doing is underscoring the divisions of power expressed in the constitution, right?


    "It sounds wrong...
         ...but its right."


    [ Parent ]
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