Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘foreign policy

Thursday Night Links

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* I just about lost my mind over this George Packer endorsement of Obama’s foreign policy on Twitter this morning.

Foreign policy exactly suits Obama’s strong points as a leader, which turn out not to be giving the masses a clear sense of direction and hope, but instead exercising good judgment on a case-by-case basis while thinking many steps ahead of the present moment. Often, foreign policy—which by definition is largely out of American control—is simply a matter of not doing the wrong thing, the unwise thing. On that count, I trust Obama more than any politician in my lifetime.

I mean really.

* Then I just about lost my mind over this article in the afternoon: No money for forced sterilization victims in NC. 1974? That was ages ago! We have to look forward, not backward, etc, etc…

In the official view of the Obama administration, it’s totally possible that the drone that killed Anwar al-Awlaki was owned and operated by the Yemen government.

* Romney to Republican governors: Don’t mention the recovery. Josh Marshall and TPM try to game this out. I like Ed Kilgore’s take: Scott’s taking credit for a trend he’s had almost nothing to do with, and Romney wants him to shut up about the trend itself. It’s an attempted lie chasing the tail of an actual lie.

* [Christie] looks at me like I’m from France. “No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!” he screams over the noise of the crowd, and then screams it again, to make sure I understand: “No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!”

Why NASA Should Nab an Asteroid.

* Sad White Babies With Mean Feminist Mommies.

* Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment 64 Leads 46% to 42%.

* Viral marketing for 2312? Mickey Mouse on Mercury.

* Scientists are hard at work trying to figure out some way to make football remotely safe.

* And because it’s summertime: Bricking Bad, A Breaking Bad LEGO Meth Lab.

Daschlementum

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News that Tom Daschle will head HHS has encouraged advocates of health care reform. Meanwhile, John Kerry collects his SecState consolation prize: he’s likely to succeed Biden as chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 20, 2008 at 12:16 am

¡Zapatero!

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“¿Deaf, senile, or insane?” is the subtext of a huge number of posts in Left Blogopolis today after John McCain inscrutably declared that he wouldn’t meet with Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as president during an interview yesterday. Credit is due to Josh Marshall for forcing the American media to pay attention to this: it’s since appeared all over, even making Drudge.

For its part, the McCain camp has chosen to go with “insane” as its official explanation for the gaffe:

McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Sheunemann said McCain’s answer was intentional.

“The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain’s willingness to meet Zapatero (and id’d him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview,” he said in an e-mail.

Spain, of course, is a long-time American ally, a fellow member of NATO, and a charter alumnae of the Coalition of the Willing™ (2002-2004).

It’s clear to see why they went with “insane” over anything that might signify “old,” but this is genuinely nuts. Benen and Hilzoy each have good posts explaining why. Here’s Benen:

Let’s also not lose sight of the broader pattern. McCain thinks the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was “the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.” He thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. He believes Czechoslovakia is still a country. He’s been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia. He’s been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both. He’s been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq. He’s been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq. He’s been confused about Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda. He’s been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi’ia. McCain, following a recent trip to Germany, even referred to “President Putin of Germany.” All of this incoherence on his signature issue.

McCain’s actually lucky if people will stick to talking about his cluelessness on economics today.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Palin’s Second Gaffe

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Looks like it’s time for Palin’s second gaffe. This from ABC News:

EXCLUSIVE: GOV. SARAH PALIN WARNS WAR MAY BE NECESSARY IF RUSSIA INVADES ANOTHER COUNTRY

Buckle your seat belts.

UPDATE: ABC News now has the full exchange.

GIBSON: Would you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine in NATO?

PALIN: Ukraine, definitely, yes. Yes, and Georgia.

GIBSON: Because Putin has said he would not tolerate NATO incursion into the Caucasus.

PALIN: Well, you know, the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, those actions have showed us that those democratic nations, I believe, deserve to be in NATO.

Putin thinks otherwise. Obviously, he thinks otherwise, but…

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.

But NATO, I think, should include Ukraine, definitely, at this point and I think that we need to — especially with new leadership coming in on January 20, being sworn on, on either ticket, we have got to make sure that we strengthen our allies, our ties with each one of those NATO members.

We have got to make sure that that is the group that can be counted upon to defend one another in a very dangerous world today.

GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.

PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries.

And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.

It doesn’t have to lead to war and it doesn’t have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries.

His mission, if it is to control energy supplies, also, coming from and through Russia, that’s a dangerous position for our world to be in, if we were to allow that to happen.

UPDATE 2: Matt Yglesias and HuffPo (and HuffPo) take on other aspects of the interview.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2008 at 9:35 pm

‘Empire of Consumption’

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The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part of through the distribution of largesse here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad.

Retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich talks to Bill Moyers about the consumerist origins of American foreign policy, what Charles Maier called the ’empire of consumption.’ Of course, once again Carter comes up::

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I would be one of the first to confess that – I think that we have misunderstood and underestimated President Carter. He was the one President of our time who recognized, I think, the challenges awaiting us if we refused to get our house in order. 

BILL MOYERS: You’re the only author I have read, since I read Jimmy Carter, who gives so much time to the President’s speech on July 15th, 1979. Why does that speech speak to you so strongly?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is the so-called Malaise Speech, even though he never used the word “malaise” in the text to the address. It’s a very powerful speech, I think, because President Carter says in that speech, oil, our dependence on oil, poses a looming threat to the country. If we act now, we may be able to fix this problem. If we don’t act now, we’re headed down a path in which not only will we become increasingly dependent upon foreign oil, but we will have opted for a false model of freedom. A freedom of materialism, a freedom of self-indulgence, a freedom of collective recklessness. And what the President was saying at the time was, we need to think about what we mean by freedom. We need to choose a definition of freedom which is anchored in truth, and the way to manifest that choice, is by addressing our energy problem.

He had a profound understanding of the dilemma facing the country in the post Vietnam period. And of course, he was completely hooted, derided, disregarded.

More immediately important, though, is this about Obama, McCain, and general election 2008:

BILL MOYERS: …Do you expect either John McCain or Barack Obama to rein in the “imperial presidency?” 

ANDREW BACEVICH: No. I mean, people run for the presidency in order to become imperial presidents. The people who are advising these candidates, the people who aspire to be the next national security advisor, the next secretary of defense, these are people who yearn to exercise those kind of great powers.

They’re not running to see if they can make the Pentagon smaller. They’re not. So when I – as a distant observer of politics – one of the things that both puzzles me and I think troubles me is the 24/7 coverage of the campaign.

Parsing every word, every phrase, that either Senator Obama or Senator McCain utters, as if what they say is going to reveal some profound and important change that was going to come about if they happened to be elected. It’s not going to happen.

BILL MOYERS: It’s not going to happen because?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Not going to happen – it’s not going to happen because the elements of continuity outweigh the elements of change. And it’s not going to happen because, ultimately, we the American people, refuse to look in that mirror. And to see the extent to which the problems that we face really lie within.

We refuse to live within our means. We continue to think that the problems that beset the country are out there beyond our borders. And that if we deploy sufficient amount of American power we can fix those problems, and therefore things back here will continue as they have for decades.

It’s a truly exceptional interview. Read the whole thing. Via MeFi.