Obama the Hawk?

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Aug 01, 2007 at 10:04


Update: I want to note that yes, Obama never uses the exact phrase "war on terror" in the speech.  However, the framing seems so close that it is a very fine distinction. I guess that is an improvement from the days when Democrats happily went along with the phrase themselves, but I still don't think that this is much of a break with the framing, or a particularly progressive foreign policy--Chris

Considering a speech he gave this morning, it appears Obama wants to look "tougher" and more "serious" on foreign policy:

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.

Invoking the image of the collapsing towers to argue that 9/11 changed everything. Declaring that the struggle against terrorism is the great fight of our times, equal to past generational struggles such as ending slavery, defeating fascism, and winning the cold war. And yes, this is coming from Barack Obama.  This is a speech where he contextualizes his policy on fighting terrorism in virtually exactly the same manner that Republicans have for some time. Granted, as the speech goes on, he decries the policies and tactics the Bush administration has used to fight terrorism, even as he reaffirms the premise that the "War on terror" is the central struggle facing our nation (emphasis mine):

Chris Bowers :: Obama the Hawk?
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.(..)

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.(…)

Just because the President misrepresents our enemies does not mean we do not have them. The terrorists are at war with us.

It isn't so much that Bush, conservatives and Republicans are wrong about the war on terror being the great challenge of our generation, it is just that they are implementing the wrong policies to wage that war.  It terms of those policies ineffectively combating terrorist organizations and making America less safe, you will get no argument from me.  However, Obama is going beyond simply reaffirming that combating terrorism should be the main focus of our foreign policy.  In this speech, he is moving to position himself as a "tough" and "serious" hawk on terrorism, by specifically emphasizing the most aggressive aspects of his foreign policy.  Apparently, these include increasing the number of American troops in Afghanistan, and conducting military strikes against terrorist groups within the borders of other countries (emphasis mine).

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.(…)

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.(…)

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.

No candidate known for opposing the Iraq war from the beginning gives a speech like this unless s/he is trying to change his image on military matters and foreign policy.  No Democrat running for President tells the country that he will deploy more troops to Afghanistan and conduct military strikes in Pakistan without Pakistan's approval in order to appeal to the primary electorate.  I think what Obama is trying to do instead, and what the media coverage of this speech so far is helping him accomplish, is bust up an image of him as "soft" or "inexperienced" on military matters.  As we have all learned from the example of Bush and Republicans over the years, the media and foreign policy establishment doesn't care if you are "inexperienced" on foreign policy as long as you threaten to bomb people, in which case you look "tough" and "serious."  Obama is trying to win the approval of that establishment, and change the way he is portrayed by it.

Now, some people will defend what Obama is doing here in terms of policy.  Others will argue that Obama has to portray himself this way in order to avoid looking left-wing, or something.  However, keep in mind that no Democrat, no matter how hawkish s/he appears, has ever received the right-wing stamp of approval and thus avoided some variation of the "soft on defense" narrative.  Further, keep in mind that in 2004, voters who cited "terrorism" as their prime concern voted for Bush at an 86%-14% clip. Republican win when the terrorism frame is foregrounded, and Democrats are not able to vaccinate themselves against attacks by appearing hawkish themselves.  Terrorism voters are not, ultimately, policy-based voters. They are, instead, conservative, identity based, "values voters" in a different energy state.

I don't think this speech will help Obama much, but I guess we will have to see.  I certainly do not think it will help Democrats and progressives much to reinforce the "War on terror" as the central focus of our foreign policy.  Certainly, Democrats will go on winning elections for some time, simply because America now knows what it is like to live under unchecked, truly conservative governance.  However, if we do not start attacking the framing, ideas, and infrastructure they used to gain power and push their policies in the first place, our looming realignment will not have any ideological component to it.  It will, instead, simply be a shift in partisan control, where the basic framework for right-wing re-emergence remains in waiting over the next four, six, or ten years.  We cannot just defeat Republicans in elections-we must defeat the roots of their power, including the ideas, frames, and infrastructure the conservative movement used to create the 2002-2006 conservative Republican trifecta in D.C.  As long as we re-affirm some of the central frames from the conservative movement, like the war on terror, we simply are not doing that.


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Obama the Hawk? | 80 comments
Nope, not progress (4.00 / 4)
This is the exact tactic that has bothered me about Obama for awhile now. He argues the GOP line, with just a slight twist.

He did this on faith in politics, too, suggesting that Democrats need to be "friendlier" to religion. Who says Democrats are unfriendly to religion? Well, that would be the Republicans who say that.

And here we go again. Tough on terror. Woohoo.

I'm so completely unimpressed.


I'm a Democrat... (0.00 / 0)
... and I'm unfriendly to religion. And so are almost all of my peers. As are the majority of readers on here, I suspect.

What's the Point?

[ Parent ]
The point is... (4.00 / 1)
that the Democratic Party is not hostile toward religion.

You may be. I may be. Your friends may be.

But Obama has reiterated the GOP meme of the Democratic Party itself being hostile to religion.


[ Parent ]
The Democratic Party is not unfriendly to religion (4.00 / 2)
but has held that separation of church and state is an important and fundamental element of what makes this country different and, up til now, successful.  It was the right-wing fundamentalists that portrayed Democrats as "unfriendly" to religion. From my perspective, Obama took that cudgel, wrapped it in cotton wool, and used it to criticize Democrats.

[ Parent ]
I'm An Atheist, But I'm Not Unfriendly To Religion (4.00 / 1)
(I even smiled and nodded politely to a missionary yesterday.)

I'm also straight, but I've had gay friends most of my life.

There's an awful lot of fuzzy thinking going on, and Obama's adding to it, not cutting through it.

"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 ]
This is gonna (4.00 / 2)
cost Obama dearly.

All along he's been strangely fixated on his prospects in a general election rather than proving he's the progressive champion (that some people insist he is, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.) As a result of this hawkish war-mongering, progressive voters and institutions are going to coalesce behind Edwards--a process that's already quietly been happening.

But then I could be wrong. So far I've read some actual praise of his speech by decent progressives like Yglesias and Ezra Klein, so maybe 9-11 has warped the progressive psyche more than I'd thought. It seems that some progressives actually believe the beligerent nonsense Dems say because they want to win. Judging by the opposition that has thusfar failed to develop (except here and on My DD), it seems many progressives actually believe the myth that if we just attack the right people in the right way, we'll be safer.

I'm waiting for a statment from Edwards; if he says nothing, I'll be pissed off.


[ Parent ]
Daily Kos is strangely silent on (4.00 / 1)
this also.  Perhaps the front pagers are all at Yearly Kos.

[ Parent ]
As John Edwards has said... (0.00 / 0)
"There is no question we must confront terrorists with the full force of our military might. As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to do everything in my power to protect Americans and our allies, to root out terrorist cells, and to strike swiftly and strongly against those who would do us harm. And we must stay on the offensive against both terrorism and its root causes."

What's the Point?

[ Parent ]
Read the whole speech. (4.00 / 1)
Right after the first excerpt, Obama says, "But then everything changed."  He doesn't mean 9/11 changed everything; he means that Bush's stupid responses to 9/11 changed the situation so we went from new strategies and alliances and hope to a politics of fear and one-party monopoly of patriotism.

His 5-point program includes ending the war in iraq, develop alliances to fight both terror and nuclear proliferation, increased use of soft power to combat extremism restoring our values and making America more resilient. 

He promises to stop fighting bin Laden's war and stop playing into his hands and doing his recruiting for him.  But we can't pretend that America has no enemies--we just have to counter the right ones the right way.

I see this speech as very realistic.  Turning our back on Afghansitan now would be as stupid as it was in 1990. And I don;t think he says that terror is the generational struggle of ourt time--he says it is a real problem that has to be met with real, sophisticated and multidimensional solutions.

Read above all his engagement with Islam--his understanding of its multifaceted nature, his promise to counter the notion that we are at war with Islam, his vow to engage Muslims with ideas and aid rather than shore up dictators with arms.  It is here that you can see what a difference his background gives him.

It is a very good speech, and Chris' excerpts don't do it justice, not by a long shot. 

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


[ Parent ]
Obama is not a Hawk (4.00 / 7)
Portraying Obama as a hawk is disingenuous.  All of the democratic candidates and much of the population agrees with the notion that the Republican war with Iraq has taken our focus off of fighting terror.  This speech reaffirms that notion and carries particular weight because he outlines just what we should have been doing all along.  We should have finished the job in Afghanistan and we should have acted in Pakistan when we had the chance.  Far from being "hawkish" this stance is in line with the majority of the American people broadly and overwhelmingly so among democrats. 

This is classic saber-rattling (4.00 / 2)
It may be what many people want to hear, but that makes it no less hawkish. For a presidential candidate to announce that he would authorize a unilateral strike inside an ally's borders sounds tough and forceful, and may even be appropriate under the right circumstances, but it is an openly hawkish stance.

When Bush made his pronouncement of a unilateral pre-emptive attack policy, he was saying out loud that he was adopting as accepted policy what every president has had available.  The difference was in making it a Presidential statement of policy.

So to with Obama's speech today. I doubt any leading candidate on any side, if elected president, would not authorize a unilateral strike IF there was the right intelligence AND Musharaff refused to cooperate.  The difference is the pronouncement -- it plays to American anger and fears, it signals an acceptance of American might regardless of the consequences, it ends international dialogue, and it accepts the current go-it-alone style.

Is he running in the general election right now, or for the Democratic Party nomination?


[ Parent ]
Obama and Gordon Brown (4.00 / 6)
Obama is giving the same message that UK PM Gordon Brown is giving - terrorism must be defeated primarily by the example set by free societies.

Obama: "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."

I remember being so upset when Bush refused NATO's invocation of Article V after 9/11. Up until that point I saw the 9/11 attacks as an attack on open Western societies, not on the US alone. I think that's what Obama is talking about it - the opportunity in fighting terrorism is to make the EXAMPLE of US democracy the chief tool, not our military. Obama said he would support NATO with two brigades, not the other way around. That's new.

Brown: "Al Qaeda's message - it's single narrative - aims to have global resonance - from Afghanistan to the streets of Britain, from the huts and slums of Africa and Asia to every one of the richest cities in every industrial country - a narrative that purports the West is waging a war on your religion, seeks to murder your people, steal your resources and corrupt your culture; that it is your duty and noble cause to defend your people against this attack.

This single narrative must be met by a clear headed and unified response.

We must expose the hatred that drives the extremist ideology; expose that this is not a clash of civilisations nor of cultures; expose that on the one side stands all civilised societies founded on the dignity of all people of all faiths and on the other an extremist violent ideology where murderers take innocent lives for notoriety."

There are two parts to Obama's speech. 1) Holding the perpetrators of 9/11 to account is still an unfished job (the Pakistan part) and 2) "The history of America is one of tragedy turned into triumph". He's right in sync with Gordon Brown as they move to distance the US/UK alliance from fighting some nonsensical islamofascism concern and back to fighting the equivalent of a small well-armed criminal conspiracy that is seeking popular support. Deny Al-Qaeda popular support as Brown and Obama are both saying and Al-Qaeda becomes another version of the mob, not a global security threat.

I'm not seeing how this is a continuation of the 'War on Terror' rhetoric - a phrase that appears in your post but not in Obama's speech as far as I can tell.

John McCain


Agree. He is saying lead by example. (4.00 / 1)
Read the part on restoring our values.  We have to abjure torture and detention and the whole Bush nonsense of the security state.  Lead by example.  The past parts of the speech are the most powerful and, apparently, the least read.

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

[ Parent ]
Last parts of the speech. (0.00 / 0)
Are the best.

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

[ Parent ]
Agree (4.00 / 2)
I'm disappointed in the progressives who won't use their critical thinking skills, but swoon instead for a candidate. This Kennedy liberal hawk type speech was common in the Vietnam era, but I had hoped we had learned its lessons. Obama's speech that justifies invading another country for whatever aim disqualifies him as a progressive in my mind. Yesterday he tacked left to John Edwards' populism, and I cheered along with the David Sirota article on populism, but today Obama tacks to the hawk right, and washes out the trust and hope for a progressive populist future. As in SICKO, one where Americans, like the French, are not afraid of their government. One where our government is afraid of us.

Obama moved into the fear frame, hence his 9/11 imagery opening, which tells me that his advisors will be an exchange of neolib  insiders for neocon insiders, and nothing fundamentally changes. It's disappointing that there are progressives who didn't come to the table with a list of requirements, instead were served the popular candidates and then picked the most delicious among those offered. It's no way to make change or to demand that our progressive needs be met. it's way too passive for my taste.

Here's my cross-post from MY DD:
The lesson of Vietnam was - no empire building, no invading countries on whatever pretext, no selling fear to make war. Return to international law, our treaties, our agreements with allies and foes. Work with Interpol to catch criminals and terrorists.

Close our hundreds of bases around the world in over a hundred countries. Stop building empire, stop being the bully of the world and the soft touch for dictators, stop supplying the world with weapons, and start building diplomatic relations. Start representing the people here as if this is a democracy. Stop peddling fear here and around the world. Stop threatening countries with invasion with forces large or small. Respect borders and governments.

Read the Constitution which says that our signed treaties are as law, then obey the law and honor our treaties. Return to the Constitution that gives war powers only to congress.

Vow each day to defend the Constitution.


Not the lesson of Vietnam. (0.00 / 0)
The lesson was not don't invade any ocuntry for any reason.  It was don't invade to remake a country or shore up a faction that lacks popular support because you end up occupying the country and losing too many lives. 

What about limited sending of troops to prevent genocide? 

And he isn't saying "invade" Pakistan in the sense of incvading Iraq.  Taking the position that we till never strike at another country no matter the circumstances is too inflexible and absolutist. 

And Obama does say restore alliances, use diplomacy and other forms of soft power, cooperate with others to track criminals and combat proliferation.

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


[ Parent ]
Drawing Distinctions (4.00 / 5)
Chris - I agree with much of what you said, but would counter that Sen. Obama is running for Democratic nomination for president, not the leader of the progressive movement. (much to the consternation of some)

I believe Sen. Obama is baiting Sen. Clinton to say that it is reckless to say such things about Pakistan, thus Obama is for getting the terrorists, and Clinton is for "more of the same", outsourcing security to tribal factions, the same strategy that let OBL get away at Tora Bora. I think he is baiting Edwards into calling him out for using the GWOT frame, thus Obama is for fighting the terrorists and Edwards must differentiate between GWOT and what he would do. (Which is very difficult to do with the lazy MSM) In addition, Sen. Obama is attacking the Republican candidates on their 'perceived' strength - tough on terrorism.

As for the GWOT frame, the time to attack it was 4 years ago. I applaud Edwards for his stand, but at this point, with the frame so entrenched, I think it could be advantageous for Sen. Obama to take the frame and redefine it - We are in a war on terror, and the Republicans are losing it. If Obama can chip away at that 86% from 2004 into the swing voter camp, I think that could dramatically change the dynamic.

I think Sen. Obama finds himself in a little bit of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. When his foreign policy approach was attacked as naive by Sen. Clinton, the other Democrats, especially those on his left, seemed to be comfortable letting an isolated Obama hang in the wind.  Now he is using that incident as a transition, explaining his approach to terrorism beyond simply opposing the war in Iraq.


An Excuse For Failure Is An Excuse For Failure (4.00 / 1)
Chris - I agree with much of what you said, but would counter that Sen. Obama is running for Democratic nomination for president, not the leader of the progressive movement. (much to the consternation of some)

A perfect rationale for Faust's bargain with the Devil.

The assumption is that progressive values can't win and progressive ideas can't work.

Yeah, because neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism and neo-colonialism have all worked out so well!

Sorry, dude.  But what Obama's showing us.... That's gamesmanship, not leadership.  And the rest of your post is proof.

"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 ]
Clinton has already agreed with him (0.00 / 0)
On NPR this afternoon she said she would take out Al Qaeda in Pakistan if there was actionable intel.


[ Parent ]
Frames cannot be redefined... (0.00 / 0)
Obama's propensity to accept conservative frames and "wiggle around in them" a bit is, to my mind, the most troubling thing about his candidacy. Frames CAN be changed, but not adopting them. Defeating the right wings frames is more important that trying to come up with a better way of living within them.

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

[ Parent ]
Nothing... (0.00 / 0)
... in this speech differs from what Obama has said previously.

Not really different than the platform Kerry/Edwards ran on, either.

Why is it that so many feel like it's OK to provide critique's on Obama without fully educating themselves on his positions?

What's the Point?


No, its not different from Kerry / Edwards (4.00 / 2)
I was going to mention that in the post, but it didn't end up in the final version.  It is different from Kerry / Edwards '04 in that it calls for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, and argues that war was faulty from the get-go.

As far as people being educated on his positions, I'm not sure I see your point.  This isn't a problem because it is a surprise--it is a problem because it seems like questionable policy. Are you saying that if we had properly known about this all along, we wouldn't be criticiizng him now, or that it is wrong to only be criticizing him about this now because it is a position he has held for a while? that doesn't make much sense to me, and comes across as arrogant.

[ Parent ]
Broader point, I think (4.00 / 1)
But what is questionable about the policy? If that were being discussed, or if that is what Obama was being critiqued on, then it's fair game. I think your post disputes the framing more than the actual substance (the Al Qaeda threat is still very real, and Pakistan must be called to account for harboring terrorists). I think your post is opinionated, but more than fair because it is based on merit, not distortions of his position. 

I think the commenter was noting the amount of comments which seem to make assertions on lack of "insert policy here" without making any effort to find out what his stance is. Because he is new to the scene, many who do not support his candidacy simply choose to write him off as naive and inexperienced, or as "not one of us" because he doesn't march in lockstep to conventional progressive orthodoxy.
 


[ Parent ]
Sanity, Not Orthodoxy Is The Issue (4.00 / 2)
This has to be one of Obama's top five memes, framing his betrayal of progressive values as standing up to "progressive orthodoxy":

Because he is new to the scene, many who do not support his candidacy simply choose to write him off as naive and inexperienced, or as "not one of us" because he doesn't march in lockstep to conventional progressive orthodoxy.

It's slick.  But it doesn't add up.

The problem isn't Obama's lack of orthodoxy.  Indeed, quite the opposite, I think that the real problem is there isn't any such thing as "conventional progressive orthodoxy" on the subject.

Progressives have had their hands full simply trying to fight against the prevailing insanity.  Developing a shared positive framework of what we believe in common--that really hasn't come up, at least for the great mass of progressive voters.  We may have the general felt outlines of things we believe, but nothing close to the sharp clarity of what we know to be foolish and wrong.

All of which is to say that Obama could have played an invaluable role in helping to define what progressive orthodoxy is--and then turning that into American orthodoxy.

In short, it's Obama's reflexive anti-progressive ("orthodoxy") that stands as the greatest hindrance to him exercising real leadership.

No one who spends that much time and energy running from his own shadow can ever be a great leaders.

Just look at G.W. Bush.

Vastly different men, and vastly different shadows, to be sure.  But....

"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 ]
Is an arrogant posture... (0.00 / 0)
... all of a sudden a deal-breaker in the blogosphere?

I didn't get that memo.

My point is not that you can't disagree with his position. My point -- and one that probably isn't worth making -- is that I find the typical breathless "surprise" that often accompanies Obama critiques (not necessarily your posts by any means) seems to be designed to make the critique more weight.

As in "I can't believe Obama thinks we should get Al Qaeda!"

Cuz, for the most part, when you take out the "surprise" angle, the drama of much of these critiques falls away pretty quickly.

What's the Point?


[ Parent ]
just for the record, I am neither surprised nor (4.00 / 1)
do I accept this as wise policy. I believe Obama is being entirely consistent with past positions. I disagreed with him then as well.

[ Parent ]
This part of your post... (4.00 / 2)
No candidate known for opposing the Iraq war from the beginning gives a speech like this unless s/he is trying to change his image on military matters and foreign policy.  No Democrat running for President tells the country that he will deploy more troops to Afghanistan and conduct military strikes in Pakistan without Pakistan's approval in order to appeal to the primary electorate.  I think what Obama is trying to do instead, and what the media coverage of this speech so far is helping him accomplish, is bust up an image of him as "soft" or "inexperienced" on military matters.  As we have all learned from the example of Bush and Republicans over the years, the media and foreign policy establishment doesn't care if you are "inexperienced" on foreign policy as long as you threaten to bomb people, in which case you look "tough" and "serious."  Obama is trying to win the approval of that establishment, and change the way he is portrayed by it.

This part of your post is kind of what I'm talking about.

Couldn't another reasonable interpretation of Obama's remarks is:

"He made these remarks because that is what his position is."

Why the need to assign some timely motive to the speech? If not to make it seem like it is some new attitude from Obama?  Especially, when it's not a new attitude?

What's the Point?


[ Parent ]
It Betrays His Whole Schtick (4.00 / 1)
It betrays his "anit-war" posturing, and it betrays his "fresh face/new ideas" posturing as well.

Look at who introduced him--and whom he thanked: Lee fucking Hamilton.  One of the worst exmaples of Democratic muddle-headedness on foreign policy the world has ever known.  And about as fresh as 1970s elevator music.

"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 ]
How is this stance different from Dean? (4.00 / 2)
I think Howard Dean would agree with every single word of this speech. And by the way, I just read through the entire thing, and while it is long, it is really worth doing. Dean is held up as an icon of the newly energized progressive movement, and he was always a hawk who opposed the Iraq War because the Iraq War was stupid. How can he be progressive and against Iraq and hawkish? It's the essence of "hard smart" foreign policy. Paul is right that the movement hasn't settled on foreign policy ideas, but the best we have right now is the idea of "hard smart." Obama is making the case for "hard smart" more eloquently than I have ever seen anyone do it. I cried reading his speech.

I don't think it's correct, Chris, to say that no Democratic candidate who opposed the war from the beginning would give a speech like this. It reminds me of a lot of Dean's rhetoric and I think Dean would have absolutely given a speech like this, had he been in Obama's position.

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.


[ Parent ]
I Was Never A Deaniac (Beyond "Hard Smart") (0.00 / 0)
So that's not a good standard for arguing with me.  Nor would I say that Dean is a substantive progressive (he's progressive on some things, not on others).  He is a procedural progressive, which makes me very happy that he is where he is today.

As for the so-called "hard smart" option, it's both narratively and substantively wrong.

What 9/11 called for was not a targetted military response.  It called for two-pronged justice response: Criminal justice to arrest and try those responsible and social justice to address the grievances that terrorists exploit.  Putting terrorists on trial for killing innocents is the best way imaginable to discredit them utterly, so that their very names become objects of shame.

If we had gone after, arrested, and tried Osama bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, in a globally-televised trial, and if we had done it right--complete with testimony from families of the victims of different faiths from different countries all around the world--there would have been no child named "Osama" born on the face of the Earth for at least two generations.

That's how you fight terrorism.

"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 with you (4.00 / 1)
about the arresting and trying people back when 9-11 happened. I guess I'm worried it's too late for that now. Like it's been too long; Bush lost the opportunity, and the Congress that voted for the war in Iraq helped us lose that opportunity. Maybe you disagree, and that if we actually found Osama tomorrow the American public would tolerate a trial, and a trial would actually improve our situation. It seems tough to tell.

But that still means we have to find him, and others like him, so I'm curious where you disagree with Obama on how to go about that?

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.


[ Parent ]
Yes, We Missed Our Golden Opportunity (0.00 / 0)
But a new, Democratic Pesident would have the closest shot at a second chance you ever get in history--at least within the first month or so.

That's one reason I think it would be so important to talk about this prominently in advance.  No Democrat is going to get a honeymoon period, whoever they are.  So if any candidate wants to hit the ground running--especially with a major change of direction on foreign policy--they need to make sure they have a mandate they can point to--and not just a 5-4 mandate, either.

What should we do with that second chance?  I don't have nearly as neat an answer compared to what we should have done.  But I can sketch out an idea about how to get started.

First, we need some dramatic gestures to fully repudiate aspects of the Bush regime that are indefensible under international law.  This is both morally and pragmatically essential.  It means closing Guantanamo, of course. But also a total overhaul of the entire Bush Administration apparatus for dealing with terrorist suspects.  This should include substantial reparations for people who were falsely imprisoned.  I know it take some doing to get this done right.  But I'm sure the folks at the Center for Constitutional Rights could come up with some good ideas about how to do this.

Second, along with the full withdrawl of US troops from Iraq, there should be some sort of "truth and reconciliation" process.  I'm not sure how this could work, since we're trying to get out, and true reconciliation requires presence.  But we need to think about some way of at least starting a version of this.  And to show good faith in it, we should establish an independent international body to oversee it, headed by folks with direct experience--most notably, from South Africa.

Third, we need to renounce any US coporate intersts in Iraq. No ifs ands or buts.  I know this can be complicated legally, but tough.  It has to be done.  We have no credibility if we don't do it, and we don't deserve any credibility if we don't do it.

Fourth, we need to aggressively embrace the Arab League initiative for peace with Israel.  This was the initiative first presented in the Spring of 2002, which Bush buried on his way to drumming up war with Iraq.

Fifth, we need to launch a major, institionally-based initiative for worldwide inter-faith mediation.  This should have the purpose of putting real muscle into ideal of cooperation between different faith traditions, not just sporadically, but in a continuous, ongoing fashion.

Sixth, we need a major initiative to increase our commitment to meeting the Millenium Development Goals

We need to begin with a package of initiatives like this, none of which are directly aimed at benefitting ourselves.  The above list is just off the top of my head, but it indicates the kind of elements that need to be brought together.

This is what we need to lead with.  The very last element should be an initiative to arrest and try those responsible for international terrorism.  This should not be limited to 9/11, though, of course, 9/11 is certianly the most urgent outstanding incident to be dealt with.

The proper form for this is something that needs further consideration, but I think it's obvious that it needs to be more of an international insitution, given how deeply Bush has alienated the rest of the world, and how little trusted we are.

The point here is that we want to set up a mechanism that cannot be construed as a kangaroo court by those who might otherwise be pulled into supporting or protecting terrorists.  It needs to be crystal clear that the only reason one would object to this process is if one actually sympathized with the terrorists themselves, and the acts they committed.

If all the above looks nothing like a plan for "fighting terrorism," then great!  Because what Bush has been doing since 9/11 bears no relationship whatever to fighting terrorism, and we need something that's completely differently.

Of course there are other things to be done--like allocating several billion dollars annually for rapid development of a cadre of Mideast experts--from intellegence agents to cultural anthropologists--who speak a minimum of two languages native to the region.

But the most immediate need is to dramatically reorient how we approach the problem, and how we are seen to approach it.  The measures I presented are all ones that say, "We have a way of dealing with this by honoring our values and taking responsibility for past mistakes."  That, to me, has to be the foundation for how we begin anew.  And nothing else can possibly succeed unless we begin anew.

"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 ]
Against the war from the beginning... (0.00 / 0)
As mentioned previously, when Lamont came out of nowhere to challenge Leiberman for the democratic nomination - specifically on the war in Iraq - Obama came charging on his horse to Connecticut to support Lieberman.

Doesn't this tell you something about Obama?

Do we have to keep waiting around for the next shoe to drop?


[ Parent ]
shocking (4.00 / 1)
Personally, I am surprised that anyone is against trying to kill Osama bin Laden, since generally most people wish Bill Clinton has succeeded in his airstrike into Afghanistan.  This is no different.

 

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


[ Parent ]
Entitlement (4.00 / 2)
I think many that support Clinton believed she was the inevitable candidate until Sen. Obama entered the race and shattered that perception, and they are upset this upstart is taking attention away from their candidate. I think many that support Edwards saw him as the "anti Hillary" who would lead and inspire the progressive movement and create a ground swell of grassroots activists. Sen. Obama entered and suddenly Edwards finds himself having to battle for attention.

Now, every candidate (and their supporters) want to win, so it doesn't surprise me that Obama gets a good amount of critique from those who aren't looking to be won over. However, I think trying to play gotcha with Obama on "gaffes", defined as saying anything contrary to conventional wisdom, and portraying him as naive is a horrible strategy for both the Edwards and Clinton camp, especially when the policy differences are not nearly as stark as the rhetoric. And as we saw in 2000 (and I think 1980), Democrats scoffed at the under experienced Republican opponent at their own peril.


[ Parent ]
Niether Chris Nor I Has A Candidate (4.00 / 1)
And we're both critical of Obama for the same reasons.  Reasons that you turn yourself into pretzel in order to ignore.

"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 ]
Mmmmm.... Pretzel.... (0.00 / 0)
Paul - I find your (and Chris's) commentary and opinion to be some of the best on the site. I think you both have solid reasons and back ups for your criticisms, and my comment was not directed at you in the least. My comment was regarding some who do have a dog in the race who make their case for a candidate in ways other than promoting their candidate's vision. Your well thought out arguments are persuasive and have merit.

[ Parent ]
Sorry I Misread You! (0.00 / 0)
Your point is certainly valid with respect to those who do that.

"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 gotta disagree (4.00 / 4)
Of course, I didn't support Clinton before Obama entered the race. I actually don't remember who threw whose hat in the ring first. I am only recently leaning toward Edwards.

But I don't see Obama as an "upstart." Not a bit. Whoever wants to run ought to run. Hell, I didn't see Nader as an upstart or illegitimate candidate back in 2000. Nobody is entitled to be the nominee.

I am also not looking for "gotcha" gaffes. I want a candidate who offers a serious alternative to the crap we've been getting for the last six years. And in the case of some crap, the last few decades.

I'm sick of war-mongering talk. I'm sick of politicians citing 9/11 as a reason to wet our pants. I'm sick of hearing candidates talk about how tough they are and whose ass they are ready to kick.

It's got nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with "entitlement." I want a damn change. I'm sick of this movie.


[ Parent ]
This Comment Is Why We Need 11s At Open Left! (4.00 / 1)
Seriously, dudes.

Have you learned nothing from Spinal Tap?

"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 ]
Exactly right, lisa. (4.00 / 1)
9/11 has been used to justify so many bad things.  Obama is breathing new life into the frame. 

His speech today is so at odds with his speech in 2002.


[ Parent ]
On frames and euphemisms (0.00 / 0)
Invasion or take them out
Occupation or war
War or police action
Arrest or capture
Detainees or prisoners
Terrorists or invaders
Terrorists or occupiers
Terrorists or criminals
Terrorists or gang members
Revolutionary war or insurrection
Border dispute or war
War on terror or war on drugs, war on gangs, war on crime
Defense of borders or defense by invasion
Offense by attacking terrorist camps or offense by invasion, occupation
Defense spending or offense spending
Terrorist threat or our fear of terrorists



Its all about the votes. Its all about comparisson. (4.00 / 2)
First, the inclusion of, "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."

This is EXACTLY the stance that Obama is taking against Hillary, its great that you included it.  Multilateralism and diplomacy are the answer.  We simply can't go it alone and in a multi-polar world with asymetric threats like terrorism, the military is not the solution to all our woes a per Hillary and the right.

How can you conflate anti-terrorism rhetoric with being pro-war.  Its because Kerry wasn't able to fundamentally disconnect the notion that you have to be "pro war to be anti-terrorism" that he lost in 2004.  I'm not sure why you would make the same logical mistake.  I fail to see how his anti-terrorism rhetoric from six years ago has anything to do with his relative war stance, especially given the gradual death spiral the war has become.

My understanding is that this is a) an issue of votes that Hillary can't disentangle herself from b) the debates and the post-debate media cover drew a clear line in the sand between the respective ideologies of both camps.

This is a good discussion and enjoyed your article...


I'm of two minds about this. (4.00 / 5)
I absolutely agree with you that nothing will help Obama win over 'terrorism' voters, or avoid the soft on defense label - although I think it's worth wondering whether he didn't just say what he actually thinks rather than trying to pander to 'serious' people. It's not incommensurate to both oppose the Iraq war and to want to go after Bin Laden wherever he is. Even in that initial Iraq-War speech it was pretty clear he wasn't a pacifist.

I agree with you about the speech on a larger level - we need to de-emphasize the war on terror, not emphasize it more. Plus, I never want to hear the word homeland again.

But I actually think his reframing of 9-11 is kind of brilliant. He starts with 9-11, places it as one in a long line of tragedies that America has overcome, argues that we were poised to do just that, and then says that everything changed because we broke with our values and principles. So he moves the moment where everything changed from when the towers fell to when Bush abandoned the best of American traditions and values. Restructuring that time line changes the whole meaning of what happened and gives progressives the moral high ground. He also hits the Republicans on the politics of fear, which to me is the ultimate conservative frame, and what's at the heart of a lot of conservative politics.

I think, in a way, this is the heart of the Obama-netroots controversy. Some people see him turning conservative frames and narratives on their heads, and some people see him just plain old using conservative frames.


According to the Politico... (4.00 / 1)
 
Obama's speech: No mention of "war on terror"

  Barack Obama was among those raising his hands in a recent debate to indicate that he believes there is a "war on terror," but his speech today -- and read the whole thing -- marks a really sharp departure from policies past, and seems to challenge Hillary either to come along or be pushed toward the White House.

  One note: The phrase "war on terror" appears nowhere in the speech.

  The closest he comes: "America is at war with terrorists who killed on our soil. We are not at war with Islam."

  Also absent from the speech is any reference to "Islamic terrorism," "Islamism," or "Islamofacism" -- the buzzwords of those who see a global conflict between the West and a specifically Muslim insurgency.

  UPDATE: Another relevant passage: "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."



What's the Point?

[ Parent ]
Sure, he doesn't use the words (4.00 / 1)
but the speech as a whole frames our foreign policy in terms of the war of terror.

I'm counting it as a necessary evil, but I think reasonable people can disagree about whether that's true. For me, if the foreign policy outlined in that speech were implemented, it would represent both change and progress over where we are today. Incremental change, maybe, but I don't really see anyone else (maybe Kucinich - okay, anyone else electable) offering radical change so I'm not too up in arms about it.


[ Parent ]
I'd Like To Know What You Think (4.00 / 2)
about what I say below about framinig--how Obama started off with the possibility of progressive framinig, but failed to follow through--and what progressive framing could look like.

I'm particularly interested because I'm quite close to sharing your view stated above--his reframing of 9/11 could have been brilliant, if only he had grounded in things he has already articulated elsewhere, but somehow doesn't seem to fully believe himself.

"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 ]
Obama on framing (4.00 / 2)
Here's Obama on framing in a different context (faith in politics). Via Street Prophets in an interview with Pastordan:

"This idea that somehow - that any time that Democrats or progressives engage in self-reflection we are adopting a Republican frame - the popularity of this George Lakoff critique of everything we do, I think hampers us from being able to improve our game.

You know, I love Lakoff. I think he's an insightful guy. But the fact is that I am not a propagandist. That's not my job. My job and my intent in delivering a speech like this is I'm trying to speak truthfully as I can about what I see out there. If I'm restricted or prescribed in my statements because the media or Republicans - or Democrats - are going to interpret what I say through the Republican frame, I'm not going to spend a lot of time saying very much."

http://www.streetpro...

John McCain


[ Parent ]
Excellent... (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for posting this quote.

What's the Point?

[ Parent ]
In Other Words, You've Got Nothin' (0.00 / 0)
In which case, it always pays to change the subject.

Unless it doesn't.

"This idea that somehow - that any time that Democrats or progressives engage in self-reflection we are adopting a Republican frame - the popularity of this George Lakoff critique of everything we do, I think hampers us from being able to improve our game.

Yet, somehow, Martin Luther King was capable of intense self-reflection without coming anywhere near abopting a Republican frame.

I guess he had it easy, huh?

"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 ]
Me? (0.00 / 0)
People (including you) were talking about framing in this thread. I know you are interested in framing and thought I would share Obama's own words on the topic. I didn't add ANY of my thoughts on the matter in the post above, only Obama's words. If you're not interested, so be it. Other people found the context of Obama's words to be helpful.

John McCain

[ Parent ]
It Had No Logical Relationship To What Was Being Discussed (0.00 / 0)
I guess my problem was expecting a logical relationship.

My bad.

"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 ]
No logical relationship to your comment? (0.00 / 0)
My 'Obama on framing' quote was to your comment above..

I'd Like To Know What You Think  (4.00 / 2)
about what I say below about framinig--how Obama started off with the possibility of progressive framinig, but failed to follow through--and what progressive framing could look like.

I'll let the record speak for itself.

John McCain


[ Parent ]
I Guess I'm Not Expressing Myself Clearly (0.00 / 0)
What I'm trying to say is that I don't see any logical relationship between what I was saying and the quote from Obama.  Just because the same topic is being discussed, that doesn't establish a relationship.

I am often frustrated by Obama supporters giving me links or quotes, as if all I have to do is listen to Obama, and I will become enlightened!  It comes across as cult-like.

Now, I'm not saying that that's what you had in mind, and I may be totally misinterpreting what you're trying to do, but the only way to clear it up is to actually explain the connection as you understand it.

And that's what seems to be missing here.

As a Buffy fan, I've got nothing against cults, necessarily.  But if you want me to explain something Buffy I can talk your ears off, know what I mean?  (Star Tek not so much, except for Deep Space Nine.)

"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 ]
No worries, I'm writing (0.00 / 0)
about it. I just thought it was a interesting question that deserved a thoughtful response, so I decided to turn into a post rather than a comment.

[ Parent ]
A Tragic Missed Opportunity (4.00 / 2)
This is precisely why I have such deep reservations about Obama.  For all his superior awareness about narrative and how to frame things, when push comes to shove he repeatedly chooses to reinforce or adopt rightwing frames.

And what could be a more fundamental example than this?

Part of me really wanted to defend him.  I could see the sense of trying to wrestle 9-11 back into a different, more progressive frame. This passage, for example, held real promise, and could have gone either way:

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.

Unfortunately, the rest of the speech goes where it goes.  But that paragraph by itself could have lead in a very different direction. It could have lead to talk about (a) a law-enforcement approach, rather a war-fighting one, and (b) an attack on the roots of hopelessness, powerlessness and despair that terrorists feed on and exploit, and without which they cannot live.

That's not just what a true progressive would say.  If Sun Tzu were alive today, it's dollars to donuts that's what he'd say, too.

The Art of War, Chapter 3, Verse 2:

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Now, if Obama wants to appear tough, why doesn't he just quote Sun Tzu and shut up?

The Real Challenge

There is a real challenge, one that Obama's abject failure should not distract us from--and that is the need to actually talk about the issue of terrorism, as opposed to simply getting out of Iraq.  Chris is absolutely right to argue--Terrorism voters are not, ultimately, policy-based voters. They are, instead, conservative, identity based, "values voters" in a different energy state.

But that doesn't mean we can't address the problem of terrorism.  We just have to do it from a very different starting point, as part of a very different narrative.

In a comment I made to the diary where Chris made that argument, I pointed to a paper George Lakoff wrote back in 2001--before 9/11: "The Mind and The World: Changing the Very Idea Of American Foreign Policy [PDF]

This is how Lakoff starts:

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.

I cannot think of any candidate better positioned to take up the task of redefinition that Lakoff talks about than Barak Obama.  Which is why it's such a waste to see him engaging in such mindless hawkishness.

The irony is that elsewhere Obama has already hit on what's necessary to make this transformation.  While Lakoff talks about "Self-Interest Versus Moral Norms," I think it can be even more simply stated--global security is shared security--something Obama has talked about elsewhere.  Every single item on Lakoff's list above can be seen as a particular form of security, and the connecting link is that we make ourselves more secure by ensuring that others are secure as well.

This is how we should talk about "terrorism"--by framing it in terms of security--one form of security that we can enhance by enhancing all these other forms of security as well.  It seems clear to me that Obama himself must have come quite close to making these connections himself.  But for whatever reason--probably connected to his overall rightward shift since being elected to the Senate--he has chickened out, and taken the safe path instead of the courageous one.

And that's tragic.  Not just for him. But for all of us.

"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


But Hillary is MORE of a Hawk AND said just 7 days ago that she was--not 4 years (4.00 / 2)
>>Just because the President misrepresents our enemies does >>not mean we do not have them. The terrorists are at war with >>us.

So are you saying that Hillary has never used the rhetoric of the "war on terror" or "we need to defeat the terrorists?"  This hardly seems a tenable position.

Or can you say that she has ever been anything less than a hawk on Afghanistan?

Third, And we all agree (even her) that she's a hawk in Iraq.  That's beyond dispute

Also, the greater majority of everyone agrees that Hillary is more of a hawk than Obama.
http://www.motherjon...

Your need for frame-purity is an ideological fallacy which creates the same lines of white vs. black and good vs. evil that the Bush administration used.  (so who has a toxic frame now? )  I would personally like to vote for someone based on what they DO and how they VOTED.  Not on the rhetoric they used about a totally different conflict a number of years ago.  The international landscape certainly looked radically different then.

Perhaps he's learned the error of his ways and (surprise, surprise) tilted the ideological arch of his frame toward peace and justice?  I'm sure Hillary has done the same thing on her health care policy over the last 15 years.

Finally, the What's the Point post above is largely correct...this is the same platform Kerry and Edwards ran on.


Nobody's Praising Hillary, Or Rudy Guiliani, For That Matter (0.00 / 0)
So what's with the red herrings?

Your need for frame-purity is an ideological fallacy which creates the same lines of white vs. black and good vs. evil that the Bush administration used.

That's a really great use of framing.  Did Karl send that to you?

That didn't feel good, did it?  Well, that's the same thing you were doing.

We're trying to have a discussion about framing as part of the most fundamental of political process.  What you're trying to do--wittingly or not--is prevent that discussion from even getting started.

Yes, when you talk about two starkly contrasting frames it is like white vs. black, particularly when one frame has conservative roots and the other have progressive ones.  But that doesn't mean the purpose is to demonize.  The purpose is to criticize, and the purpose of criticism is to correct.

What you're arguing, in effect, is that we should just shut up and eat what's served.  Not very empowering, that.

"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 ]
Of Metaphors & Frames & Assumptions (0.00 / 0)
Ground zero for making Bower's argument complete is answering this:
If frames are so important, why is Hillary so wrapped in the right's frame on the Iraq debate right now?????  And can she say she hasn't used militaristic or hawkish frames on Afganistan and Iraq??????  Period.
Although this is a problem for everyone on the issue the militaristic framing of solutions Darfur....even if its wrapped in humanitarian garb.

I think Mr. Rosenberg artfully moves the discussion to a more fruitful direction.  He said it a couple of years ago, so now what? 

I do disagree about this fundamental assumption:
Terrorism voters are not, ultimately, policy-based voters. They are, instead, conservative, identity based, "values voters" in a different energy state.

I'm not sure at all why this assertion has to be the case.  I think there are plenty of folks who are just manipulated by fear & the religious right's monopoly on the language of faith and morality.  Although, the dems are beginning to wake up to this.

I think there are four frames that have to be addressed for the democrats to win:
• "Freedom" Lackoff has an entire book about this.
• "Moral Values"  A vast widening of that discussion.
• "Security"  Security is multi-dimensional & holistic. And pushing it a less militaristic direction.
• And addressing the "Fear" based from the right. 

Obama so far has done the best job of this, via his overwhelming message of Hope.  Obama is also the most authenic on issues of faith and moral values.


Please READ Chris's Diary On Terrorism Voters (0.00 / 0)
I do disagree about this fundamental assumption:
Terrorism voters are not, ultimately, policy-based voters. They are, instead, conservative, identity based, "values voters" in a different energy state.

I'm not sure at all why this assertion has to be the case.

It's not an assumption, it's a conclusion.  The diary with the argument is here.

I know that Obama makes you feel good.  But there's a logic to how framing works that good intentions or good feelings cannot make disappear.

We pay attention to the logic now so as not to get bit by it down the road, when we won't being feeling so good anymore.

"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 ]
Obama is Confused (0.00 / 0)
He wants to make enemies of our friends and friends of our enemies.  I think this is what he is saying. 

The hawkish trend (4.00 / 2)
with Barack Obama bothers me greatly.

It is beginning to seem like 2002 again with the Democrats.  Hillary Clinton moved to the left of Obama on Pakistan, but she is too hawkish for me.

John Edwards, who was wrong in 2002, seems to be the one who learned the most.  He rejects the GWOT frame that Obama embraces.

After 4 years of the Iraq occupation, I think Americans have learned also.

Excellent analysis, Chris.

What happened to the Obama of the speech of 2002?  Did he ever really exist?  The anti-war veneer of the Obama campaign has faded away to reveal a man to the right of Hillary Clinton on issues of war and peace. 


What happened to the Obama of the speech of 2002? Did he ever really exist? (4.00 / 1)
When Obama said these words in 2006 - I knew there was a phoney afoot.

"I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf.."  (OUR behalf!!!)

If Obama had any depth of feeling about the war in Iraq, his conscience would have not let him sell out so shamefully.


[ Parent ]
Chris, There You Go Again . . . (4.00 / 2)
invoking a Right Wing Frame. You wrote --

It isn't so much that Bush, conservatives and Republicans are wrong about the war on terror being the great challenge of our generation, it is just that they are implementing the wrong policies to wage that war.

NOT SO -- The Bush GOP is wrong about the WOT, and wrong about the threat. They have used it cynically, and made our real problems worse at every step.

John Edwards got it right -- the "War on Terror" is a right wing marketing gimmick, and anytime anyone invokes it, they lend support to the GOP.

Is Radical Islamic Jihadism a problem? Yes. Do Radical Islamic Jihadists use terror as a weapon? Yes. That said, the "War on Terror" is no more real than the "War on Bad Breath", or the "War on Bad Hair". It is designed to invoke fear, and that fear is designed to build support for Right Wing Republican Authoritarians.

Is Radical Islamic Jihadism a problem? Yes -- but it is not the biggest problem we face, and may not even crack the top five. In fact, were it not for the threat of a rogue group aquiring a nuclear weapon, Radical Islamic Jihadism might not crack the top ten.

What is worse, the "War on Terror" as rhetorical construct that influences American Foreign Policy is as counter productive as it could possibly be -- by focusing on the means instead of the causes, it strenghens the Jihadists, rather than defusing the resentments that led the Islamic world to embrace the Jihadists.

As for the REAL problems we face, I submit that the following are far greater than the "War on Terror":

* Global Warming -- this is the greatest threat EVER to Human Civilization, and a direct result of it.

* Dependence on Cheap Oil -- part of the global warming problem, and part of the solution.

* Rising Economic Inequality --

* Global Poverty --

* Media Consolidation --

* NeoImperialism of the USA -- which fuels the rise of Radical Islamic Jihadism.

I submit that ANY use of ANY permutation of the "War on Terror" construct serves the interests of the Radical Jihadists (including the Bush GOP and the Talibangelical Dobsonites) and undermines the interests of the USA and the World at large.

[This has been a meta-narrative rant, but serious reframing requires keeping our eyes on the meta-narrative ball. Our challenge is to flip the perception, and make voters realize that the Bush GOP focus on the WOT makes us LESS safe, and undermines our long term security. Ridicule is our friend, because it undercuts authoritarianism.]


This is rather outlandish.... (4.00 / 1)
Why isn't there a more consistent chorus of people speaking out against the pourous assertions in the article?  Paul Rosenberg is on-point that in his suggestion that this is the past and I stand behind that its an issue of ACTION and RHETORIC NOW.  And the debate was crystal clear on that issue....

Further, while frames are imporant, the article focuses on rhetorical "gotchas" to the expense of public policy change. (they all said the word "us military"....less not vote for any of them)  Action by far is 100% times more imporant.  Is it more important that someone say they repay you a million dollars or actually DO it.

This makes about as much sense as drug addict with pipe in hand criticizing a recovered drug addict for drugs they did during the 70s.  Its smacks of pot and kettle vicious circles.  But none-the-less debates that Obama is consistently on the right side of.

Second, the response of John Edwards like Hillary has to pass the same two tests.  Has he (or Hillary) used the war on terrorism frame on a regular basis?
Did Edwards (or Hillary) oppose the war in Afghanistan?  As pointed out earlier, Edward is knee deep in the rhetoric of terror and afganistan during the 2004 campaign season.  Until you can answer these two question...this inquiry is a 100% non-starter for you--or worse two solid reasons Obama should win in 2008.

Action over rhetoric is the heart of politics, and on that account and the issue of taking a stand NOW Barack Obama is far, far ahead of Hillary.


Speaking Of Frames... How This Site Is Framed (4.00 / 1)
This site is not primarily--or even largely--concerned with the 2008 presidential horserace. It is about building a movement.

The discussion of presidential candidates is not meant to be considered in  who's-better-than-who perspective, except insofar as that helps illuminate a larger point--about what sort of stances progressives (not just candidates) ought to be taking and why.

The fact is, I think that Obama is a lot more conscious of framing and narrative, and for that reason alone he invites more careful scrutiny, particularly when he makes high-profile pronouncements.  If this were a site devoted to debating who our candidate should be in 2008, that might be an unfair atttiude.  But that is not the purpose of this site.

The purpose is to helpd build a better, smarter, stronger progressive movement.  And it is a truth universally acknowledged that you learn the most by analyzing and criticizing those who are doing something well.

There's far less to be learned by studying Clinton's framing, that's why we're not talking about her.  Not because we don't have a problem with her.

"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 ]
Obama Steals Biden's Al Qaeda Pakistan/Afganistan Plan (0.00 / 0)
The Biden for President Campaign today congratulated Sen. Barack Obama for arriving at a number of Sen. Biden's long-held views on combating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of what Senator Obama has proposed Senator Biden has already initiated or accomplished.

As part of the 9/11 bill that passed Congress last week, Senator Biden and Representative Lantos wrote the law that conditions aid to Pakistan on its cooperation with the United States in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Before writing the law, Biden wrote to President Musharraf and Secretary Rice making clear his intent to do so.

Starting in January, Senator Biden has repeatedly called for surging more forces out of Iraq and into Afghanistan.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 30th, 2007, Sen. Biden discussed the need for a surge in Afghanistan at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing.

At this same hearing, Sen. Obama asked two questions - he did not address Afghanistan or Al Qaeda or Taliban. The first was on the topic of Iran; the second was on an issue that he admitted "seems somewhat parochial, but I think, as you'll see, is of concern across the world." Obama discussed the "stunning level of mercury in fish" and asked about a proposal for the U.S. adopt a ban on mercury sales abroad?

http://www.joebiden....


Justice is all about equity and fairness... (0.00 / 0)
I think Paul Rosenberg makes a great point about to RE-FOCUS our discussion toward PRODUCTIVITY:

This site is not primarily--or even largely--concerned with the 2008 presidential horserace. It is about building a movement.
The discussion of presidential candidates is not meant to be considered in  who's-better-than-who perspective, except insofar as that helps illuminate a larger point--about what sort of stances progressives (not just candidates) ought to be taking and why.

In that vein, its VITALLY imporant for diarists to pre-empt discussions from wandering into my candidate is better than your candidate discussions.  Articles can be framed in terms of "military frames are bad"....this is the example of x, y, and z.  The frame of the article encouraged a downward trend.

Alternatively I firmly disagree with Rosenberg on one key point.  He says:

The fact is, I think that Obama is a lot more conscious of framing and narrative, and for that reason alone he invites more careful scrutiny, particularly when he makes high-profile pronouncements.

It terms of justice and fairness to the candidates I'm not sure why.  You and others may be more interested in Obama for those reasons.  And I don't think Hillary is any less concious of the ideographs, frames, or normative language she's using (or at least her speech writers probably aren't).  Like you, I find this recent shift by Obama troubling.  However, as I said before, I find the same frame on Darfur equally troubling.

Finally, while I think I made some constructive observations earlier, I need to apologize about some of the details of my post as I read the original post far too quickly.


We progressives love our rules (0.00 / 0)
so we love the constitution and can wrangle over it like evangelicals argue fine points of religious text.

What bugs me most about this discussion is that it isn't referring often enough to the rules that guide international disputes.

I have no takers when I notice that Obama's statement about sending troops inside Pakistan without permission would violate international law.

This is why our country is seen as a bully and is feared as much as any other country. Our government doesn't respect its own laws, including international treaties and conventions that have been ratified here. Obama knows as a constitutional scholar and teacher that belligerence in the form of threats to send troops across borders is unlawful.

Don't progressives love the law? Isn't our beef with the Bushies that they scorn the law?


You're kidding right? (0.00 / 0)
Those religious fanatic hillbillies in North Waziristan aid, abet and protect foreigners who killed a bunch of Americans on 9/11 and are still trying to kill Americans in Afghanistan and resubjugate it. In the meantime Musharraf takes $12 billion dollars annually in US aide for his military (and only his military) and looks the other way. That's ok by you? You think that doesn't violate international law?

 


[ Parent ]
We're Better Scum Than They Are! (0.00 / 0)
We're Better Scum Than They Are!
We're Better Scum Than They Are!

"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 ]
Paul Rosenberg sent me! (0.00 / 0)
Our scum is better scum!

[ Parent ]
Case in point why the netroots is irrelevant (4.00 / 3)
The netroots remind me of that hot chick in the class whom nobody seriously tries to chase because, even though she might be a 9, she considers herself closer to a 20. You are simply impossible to please.

The netroots has hit Obama over the head five times for hallucinated "buying into right-wing frames" for every time that they applaud him. And the netroots _still_ generally are not rooting for him, preferring instead to root for John "Bomb, bomb Iran" Edwards, whose entire campaign now consists of pretending he can slingshot into the lead on Super Tuesday by turning out his 25% of Iowa Democrats more than others.

What Obama said was no different from what Edwards, Gordon Brown, Howard Dean, or any number of other leftists have advocated. The netroots always says, "Duh, we also don't oppose all wars just dumb ones," but every time any Democrat to Hillary's left finds an example of a "smarter" war (such as an incursion into Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, where bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are almost certainly hiding, with tacit protection from certain subunits of the Pakistani security apparatus), the netroots always feigns shock!!!!! that "so and so is just buying into right-wing frames," "advocating a continuation of Bush-Cheney policies," and so on and so forth.

Unless, of course, that candidate's name is John Edwards. Then the netroots can bask in all the fawning attention a candidate is giving them, even if nobody beyond the netroots takes him seriously anymore.


This post says more about Bowers than it does Obama (4.00 / 1)
This was a great speech. Chris you are already read way too much into what candidates say in an effort to parse meaning and meta BS that isn't there. Not everything is positioning. Obama is simply laying out his defense policy and it's a damn good one. He's exactly right, just because Bush trots out the specter of al Qaeda as boogeymen to justify every wrong move he makes doesn't mean al Qaeda isn't a threat that ought to be dealt with once and for all. Damn near all of America agrees with that. Anybody who doesn't has spent too much time sitting in the Kucinich booth at Drinking Liberally and is out of touch.

An act of war (0.00 / 0)
Sending troops into a sovereign nation because they won't do what we want is an act of war, and probably violates international law.

So, I'm just not seeing what's so radically different about Obama's thinking. If there's some nuance I've missed by failing to parse his words correctly, it's probably because the hidden message was buried behind the 14 mentions of Pakistan. What I'm getting from this is yet another presidential administration that's fine with calling out countries by name and threatening them if they won't bend to our will.

In reality, I doubt he would actually invade Pakistan, and I doubt anyone else thinks he would either. Which is what makes this "talking tough" sound so dishonest. What's next, a deer hunting photo op?


The full passage on Afghanistan (0.00 / 0)
Here's the full text of the Afghanistan, not just the one paragraph Chris took out of context:


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.



I am not running for president (0.00 / 0)
However, everything Obama said in the speech,  I have been thinking of it.

I agree with everything.  Why----Common sense.

Osama attack us in 911 and still continues to make trouble in Afghanistan,  Pakistan, etc

So yes I agree w/ Obama that whether Musharaff agrees or not if there is an opportunity to take them out in the Pakistan hinterlads, US shd do so.

If you dont do it now they would grow stronger and more difficult to fight.  In fact if Bush finish them off 4 years ago,  then they will not be significant anymore.  Osama has access to funding--being a billionaire Saudi w/ connections.  Funding, money  w/ extremist views is very very dangerous.

Taliban is gaining ground in Afghanistan -- so yes I agree that bolsstering the troop presence to fight the taliban as well as win the hearts and minds of people is in order.

It is not about appearing to be strong---it is just plain common sense.


Great speech. (0.00 / 0)
Those commenting about how Obama is simply trying to appear "serious" miss the point, and apparently misunderstand the Atrios critique of Washington-style foreign policy.

He's advocating a smart, effective, and measured strategy against al-Qaeda style terrorism. He is not saying we should "bomb people" - he's talking about precision attacks against terrorists hiding in uninhabited areas.

It's a platform that will win the support of a large majority of the country. It's a platform that will bolster the drive to bring the Iraq fiasco to an overdue end. And it's a platform that will help us get back to a national conversation where domestic issues are front and center.

There's a huge difference between what Obama's talking about and the kind of thinking that led so many Democrats to vote in favor of AUMF. How unfortunate it is that Bowers and many of his readers are too busy huffing and puffing about Lakoff to make the distinction.


framing (0.00 / 0)
No candidate known for opposing the Iraq war from the beginning gives a speech like this unless s/he is trying to change his image on military matters and foreign policy.  No Democrat running for President tells the country that he will deploy more troops to Afghanistan and conduct military strikes in Pakistan without Pakistan's approval in order to appeal to the primary electorate

Perhaps Obama is trying to dispel the frame of thinking of every position as merely a tool to get him greater advantage in the current election going on?  Certainly if that frame was dispelled for democrats it would help democrats.

Because people tend to believe that right wingers are saying what they believe.  They just disagree with it.  With democrats people tend to believe that it is all just positioning to win.

I think that ties within the larger theme of cynicism being Obama's biggest problem to overcome in the electorate.


Obama the Hawk? | 80 comments
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