Archive for foreign policy

It’s Tough to Argue with Results

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by rottenart

For the past 20 years, one of the most effective attacks Republicans have used against Democrats is the ‘Soft on Defense’ barb. In actuality, one could make the case that Democrats have far more experience (and success) with military conflict but since when has reality had anything to do with politics? It’s been a pretty devastating tactic and one which Democrats have always had a problem defending against, even when it should have been easy.

That era, however, might be coming to an end.

Three distinguished former military members, former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, and retired Major General Paul Eaton, tore into the GOP field and strongly defended President Obama’s foreign policy after Tuesday’s debate. The attacks are pretty brutal, though entirely factual:

“While President Obama has kept his promises across the globe, the leading Republicans have been all over the map, offering sound-bite critiques and shifting positions with every change in the headlines as they seek partisan advantage,” Clark said.

“If you took any six of those candidates, you might find sixteen positions on any issue,” said Danzig. “If you added Governor Romney you’d probably find forty six positions.”


Of course, it has the added benefit of being true. Even leaving aside the end of the Iraq war, the steady dismantling of Al Qaeda, the overthrow of Qaddafi and the unwinding of the war in Afghanistan, Obama still has an ace in the hole that the right will have a hard time attacking: Osama Bin Laden. After ten years, it was this administration that killed him. That alone should be enough to neutralize the ‘Soft on Defense’ sop.

If the Republicans want to attack Obama’s foreign policy credentials, I’m sure it’s a debate the administration would heartily welcome.



Mubarak Is Out; Viva Democracy!

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by rottenart


Mubarak is Out!!!

The Top Tweet from Egypt today

I usually try to steer clear from foreign policy, mostly because it’s not one of the areas that I typically feel informed enough to know what’s happening. However, given the wall-to-wall coverage of the struggle in Egypt over the past few weeks, it’s been tough not getting a sense of the situation (unless you’re a regular Glenn Beck watcher, that is). By every measure, the news that Hosni Mubarak, the 30 year autocratic ruler, is finally stepping down is a bright day for democracy and the people of Egypt.

And, in related news, it turns out Swiss banks are freezing Mubarak’s assets until such time as their provenance and rightful stewards can be determined. When a man who is worth an estimated $70 billion rules over a country where many don’t make more than $2 a day, something smells very fishy. One would hope that at least some of that cash can be used to help the Egyptian people make a smooth transition to popular rule.

Obviously, the next weeks and months will be crucial and there are no guarantees that the worst is not still to come. There’s still the issue of what a post-Mubarak government will look like, how the military will figure into the transition, what role Omar Suleiman and Mohamed ElBaradei will play, if any, etc., etc. For the moment, though, it would seem that the people-powered non-violence has prevailed in Egypt. By all accounts, the streets are absolutely electric at the news.

And with good reason. This is only the latest in a series of democracy movements roiling the region, from Tunisia to Syria. If the end of Mubarak’s reign means a burgeoning growth of true democracy in the Arab world, then that is not only a good thing for the people of that land but for the people of the entire globe.

Is It Or Isn’t It?

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by rottenart

President Obama decided to do a little fence-mending yesterday, strolling across Lafayette Park and speaking before the US Chamber of Commerce. It’s no surprise that his speech was peppered with cautious defiance but loaded with subdued subservience, pointing out the positives of new legislation like Health Reform and Financial Regulation on one hand while begging Big Business to use some of their historically unmatched profits to actually hire some people. I’m sure it was a nice luncheon but I don’t expect Tom Dono­hue and the Chamber will take the rhetorical flourishes seriously. After all, they’ve spent the last two years trying to defeat the president at every turn, funding political operation explicitly and otherwise and it won them a new, reactionary congress and a ‘grassroots’ movement that fights on business’ behalf while remaining angrily unaware. Not to mention fighting against American business (despite its expressed purpose) and enriched its members handily. Why compromise now?

But the big news of the day wasn’t the presidents pleading. Rather it was the surprising news that the CoC sent a letter to Iran, expressing its opposition to sanctions and trade embargoes against that country. It was a curious report, seemingly implicating the Chamber in direct action against official US foreign policy. In many circles, this is defined as treason.

Today, via TPM and Greg Sargent, the Chamber issued a denial of the report, saying that it sent the letter to the White House, not Iran. However, in clarifying the communication, the Chamber did not refute the substance of the report, namely that it was opposed to “unilateral” sanctions, only that it relayed the letter to Iran. The letter itself, as quoted by Greg Sargent, seems to support the notion that the CoC didn’t favor the approach to sanctions that would hinder its ability to trade with allies and makes the determination that such sanctions would not help advance the goal of a nuclear-free Iran.

So the question is this: if the Chamber contradicts US foreign policy publicly, in such a way as to make its communication ripe for seemingly propagandistic purposes by Iran, despite the lack of a clear and direct collusion with said regime, is it still treason? Perhaps we should take a look at all those foreign donations and see if there might be a clearer link.