Thursday, May 31, 2007

Barack Obama on Foreign Policy

For those who fear he has no substance.

Renewing American Leadership

He writes of ending the Iraq war, revitalizing the military, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, combating terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, rebuilding our international partnerships, encouraging democracies, and restoring America's trust.

My impression is that he's a serious realist who will neither engage in unnecessary wars nor turn a blind eye to threats we might face. He recognizes that unnecessary wars, torture, and secret prisons do us more harm than good and that we need to focus on the actual threats -- nuclear weapons (especially with regard to Russia's stockpile) and al-Qaida.

There are no naive, untested theories about remaking the middle east in Paul Wolfowitz's image nor illusions that democracy can be imposed by a foreign power.

There's also no shying away from the fact that there are bad guys out there and that war is sometimes necessary.

I'm really pulling for Obama at this point -- I think he's America's best chance of not only righting the wrongs the Bush administration has done, but of returning America to the path of becoming a beacon of freedom and democracy, not senseless warmongering, torture, and secret prisons. All of the other Dems and probably all the Repubs except Giuliani will have better foreign policies than Bush's, but as far as I can tell, Obama's the only one who can really turn around our image. (Gore has a shot, too, if he gets in and isn't emasculated by the right.)

(HT: Andrew Sullivan, who focuses on how the antiwar Democratic "netroots" are worried that Obama is too hawkish.)


Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

combating terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Why is combating terrorism in those locations so much more importantthan combating it in Iraq?

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: " but of returning America to the path of becoming a beacon of freedom and democracy, not senseless warmongering, torture, and secret prisons."

Many americans seem to be confused and sometimes angry with the responses they have received from people outside of the US.

I WANT to be able to see America as a "beacon of freedom and democracy." Much is expected of america from those outside of its shores.

I think that one reason that people seem "too willing" to criticize the actions of the US is because of these high expectations that many of us have.

My expectations of the countries in the Middle East are not so high. When they fall below expectations, it is of no surprise or disappointment to me. Most of us hold the US to a higher standard. Perhaps this "higher standard" is unfair? I don't know.

Laura said...

"Why is combating terrorism in those locations so much more importantthan combating it in Iraq?"

Well, now it's not. Now that we've opened Iraq up to Al-Qaeda we'll have to deal with it there too. But that doesn't mean we have to have our troops actively engaged in combat to do it. There's no easy solution there. But being actively involved in what has become a civil war is not in our best interests.

I really like Obama too. I've joined a local group in Chicago and I'm planning to get off my butt and volunteer for his campaign. Rumor has it he's opening a giant volunteer center in Chicago. I'm sure there's active groups where you're at too.

Ezzie said...

I've just started reading, and I'm thinking "Wow, this is the most short-sighted and/or obviously wrong analysis I've read in a while." The first page is just bluster. The second page (Iraq) is so far, to put it bluntly, stupid. "A diplomatic initiative"?! Yes, that's worked wonderfully in the past, in... err... um... yeah.

I could fisk each line in this piece, but it would take too long. Hillary is going to shred him in debates.

He basically talks about how "I will be that leader" - as if it will magically fall into place by pulling troops out and starting this diplomatic initiative. Brilliant. [/sarcasm]

Then he talks about what he'd do, which is basically "be President".

Finally, he mentions a lot of spending with no way of showing where the money is coming from; he doesn't mention almost anything domestic; and aside from a good line about the UN "Human Rights" Council, doesn't say much of value.

So yes, still little substance, and what substance he has is just... dumb.

Grey Swan said...

I think that when most people vote for a president, they vote based ont here views, and based on a 'gut feeling' of whether they will accomplish them. However, more important than WHAT overal goals a person plans to accomplish (I didn't like Bush in '00, but what he claimed he would do did not sound terrible), but how they plan to accompish them. It's easy to say you want to 'save the world' but without concrete plans, how do we know if you will succeed? Saying things like 'halting the spread of nuclear weapons' is great, but everyone wants to do that.

Unfortuanetly, it is difficult to truly see how competant a person is until they have been tested in office. One thing we should look at? Past experience. Lets consider Bush in Texas. He was probably a better governor than a president, but he was not great. His most touted educational reform - no child left behind - was a sham. Consider that before it was implemented approximately 50 percent of blacks and 85 percent of whites achieved some level of profiency. After he left, those numbers were about 85 and 95 respectively. No Z score change, but lots of touting. All that happens was the test got easier (by 1 sigma).

So before we get so hyped about Obama, we need to examine his record and how well he has accomplished, almost more so than what he has done. A competant leader who you disagree with is almost certainly better than an incompetant leader who agrees with you.

Grey Swan

Robert Synnott said...

beepbeepitsme: Here, we would generally have held America to the same standard we hold ourselves, that of a democratic developed nation. This isn't an unreasonably high standard to expect, I think, but recently, America has been falling far short of it.