Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 20, 2014, 09:09:12 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
79172 Posts in 2226 Topics by 1037 Members
Latest Member: DCoutinho
* Home Help Search Login Register
+  Dog Brothers Public Forum
|-+  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities
| |-+  Politics & Religion
| | |-+  US Foreign Policy
« previous next »
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 10 Print
Author Topic: US Foreign Policy  (Read 40219 times)
captainccs
Power User
***
Posts: 676


« Reply #50 on: January 05, 2010, 12:44:07 PM »

Don't underestimate the value and worth of leaders and the ability of keen politicians to sense strength and weakness. The Iranians played Carter for a sucker but did not dare do the same with Reagan. When the North Vietnamese tried to play cute at the negotiation tables, Nixon brought then back with carpet bombing. Would Obama dare that?

The attitude of the American Left is to pander to the "weak" as a way to buy their votes. In international politics this translates in preferring Hamas (the weak) over Israel (the strong), for example. They might be weak but not dumb so they milk the American Left to the last drop.

Did you guys by any chance see this idiotic piece of news?

Iran accepts Clinton non-deadline on nuclear talks

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer – Tue Jan 5, 7:41 am ET

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Tuesday it welcomes Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's comments that there is no hard-and-fast deadline for starting nuclear dialogue.

On Monday, Clinton said the Obama administration remained open to negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, though it will move toward tougher sanctions if Iran does not respond positively. She stressed there was no hard-and-fast deadline for Iran.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100105/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_us

What kind of BS is that? We'll start talking right after we nuke Israel! With amateurs like Clinton running America, America's enemies are having a field day.

If you guys don't regain your country, there won't be much left to save after eight years of Obama.

Not that it's entirely related but let me tell you some Venezuelan news. We are having a shortage of rainfall and the Lake Guri, which feeds our main hydroelectric power plants is rather low. Guess what the solution is. They are shutting down the steel and aluminum plants in Guayana, they are cutting electricity to shopping malls at 9 PM to save water. Who the hell cares about unemployment? Who the hell cares about all the disruption? It's a bunch of rank amateurs running the country. I recall perfectly some of the campaign issues back in 1997. Some right of center candidates were stressing the importance of improving the public administrations. The left wing candidates -- the ones that won -- said that elections were about politics, not about administration. Now we have the results, no water, no electricity, no movies after 9 PM, no steel, no aluminum. My country is going to hell in a hand-basket of left wing politics. Yours will too if you let the Left keep on ruining it.

Denny Schlesinger
 




Logged

--
Denny Schlesinger
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #51 on: January 05, 2010, 12:51:46 PM »

Obama is a one term president. Still, the US and the world will pay dearly for his 4 years of destruction. Israel may well not exist by the end of his term, as an example.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2010, 01:08:03 PM »

From 7/10/2009

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/10/obama-gives-iran-deadline-nuclear-program/

Obama gives Iran deadline on nuclear program

L'AQUILA, Italy -- President Obama said Friday that Iran faces a September deadline to show good-faith efforts to halt its nuclear weapons program, and said the statement issued by the world's leading industrial nations meeting here this week means the international community is ready to act.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/01/iran_deadline_passes_without_n.html

January 02, 2010
Iran deadline passes without notice
Ethel C. Fenig

It is now January 2, 2010 in Teheran, Washington DC and Hawaii. In other words it is past the absolutely, positively final deadline that President Barack Obama (D) offered to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to come clean by halting Iran's nuclear weapons program before Obama gets really, really angry and does something drastic like not be so engaging.

Ok, Ahmadinejad may be busy, what with countering the riots against him with deadly, bloody suppression, but not too busy to negotiate the purchase of still yet more uranium from Kazakhstan for Iran's uranium enrichment facilities.

Oh sure, the UN Security Council demanded a halt to this work but this is the UN Security Council and Iran so this edict can--and will--be ignored without any consequences.

But what about Obama's deadline? Will this too be ignored without consequences?
Logged
captainccs
Power User
***
Posts: 676


« Reply #53 on: January 05, 2010, 02:26:22 PM »

Obama is a one term president.


So we all hope. But remember, if the Right vote is divided between Republicans and the Tea Party, the Left wins.

Beware another Bull Moose Party.

Logged

--
Denny Schlesinger
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #54 on: January 05, 2010, 02:29:28 PM »

Hopefully no one is stupid enough to try to make the tea party movement into a formal political party.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #55 on: January 05, 2010, 04:28:02 PM »

Wrong thread for this discussion.  Please use "The Way Forward for the American Creed"-- where I will be glad to entertain the notion of a Tea Party.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #56 on: January 09, 2010, 10:14:33 AM »

The Obama Administration has with good reason taken flak for its approach to terrorism since the Christmas Day near-bombing over Detroit. So permit us to laud an antiterror success in the Commander in Chief's first year in office.

Though you won't hear him brag about it, President Obama has embraced and ramped up the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. As tactic and as a technology, drones are one of the main U.S. advantages that have emerged from this long war. (IEDs are one of the enemy's.) Yet their use isn't without controversy, and it took nerve for the White House to approve some 50 strikes last year, exceeding the total in the last three years of the Bush Administration.

From Pakistan to Yemen, Islamic terrorists now fear the Predator and its cousin, the better-armed Reaper. So do critics on the left in the academy, media and United Nations; they're calling drones an unaccountable tool of "targeted assassination" that inflames anti-American passions and kills civilians. At some point, the President may have to defend the drone campaign on military and legal grounds.

The case is easy. Not even the critics deny its success against terrorists. Able to go where American soldiers can't, the Predator and Reaper have since 9/11 killed more than half of the 20 most wanted al Qaeda suspects, the Uzbek, Yemeni and Pakistani heads of allied groups and hundreds of militants. Most of those hits were in the last four years.

"Very frankly, it's the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership," CIA Director Leon Panetta noted last May. The agency's own troubles with gathering human intelligence were exposed by last week's deadly bombing attack on the CIA station near Khost, Afghanistan.

Critics such as counterinsurgency writers David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum allege that drones have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. The U.N. Human Rights Council's investigator on extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, has warned the Administration that the attacks could fall afoul of "international humanitarian law principles."

Civilian casualties are hard to verify, since independent observers often can't access the bombing sites, and estimates vary widely. But Pakistani government as well as independent studies have shown the Taliban claims are wild exaggerations. The civilian toll is relatively low, especially if compared with previous conflicts.

Never before in the history of air warfare have we been able to distinguish as well between combatants and civilians as we can with drones. Even if al Qaeda doesn't issue uniforms, the remote pilots can carefully identify targets, and then use Hellfire missiles that cause far less damage than older bombs or missiles. Smarter weapons like the Predator make for a more moral campaign.

As for Mr. Alston's concerns, the legal case for drones is instructive. President Bush approved their use under his Constitutional authority as Commander in Chief, buttressed by Congress's Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda and its affiliates after 9/11. Gerald Ford's executive order that forbids American intelligence from assassinating anyone doesn't apply to enemies in wartime.

International law also allows states to kill their enemies in a conflict, and to operate in "neutral" countries if the hosts allow bombing on their territory. Pakistan and Yemen have both given their permission to the U.S., albeit quietly. Even if they hadn't, the U.S. would be justified in attacking enemy sanctuaries there as a matter of self-defense.

Who gets on the drone approved "kill lists" is decided by a complex interagency process involving the CIA, Pentagon and White House. We hear the U.S. could have taken out the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after his contacts with Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan came to light in November, missing the chance by not authorizing the strike. Perhaps al-Awlaki's U.S. citizenship gave U.S. officials pause, but after he joined the jihad he became an enemy and his passport irrelevant.

Tellingly, after the attempted bombing over Detroit, the Administration rushed to leak that Yemenis, with unspecified American help, might have killed al-Awlaki in mid-December in a strike on al Qaeda forces. Al-Awlaki, who also was also in contact with the Nigerian bomber on Northwest Flight 253, may have survived.

While this aggressive aerial bombing is commendable against a dangerous enemy, it also reveals the paradox of President Obama's antiterror strategy. On the one hand, he's willing to kill terrorists in the field, but he's unwilling to hold these same terrorists under the rules of war at Guantanamo if we capture them in the field. We can kill them as war fighters, but if they're captured they become common criminals.

Our own view is that either "we are at war," as Mr. Obama said on Thursday, or we're not.
Logged
captainccs
Power User
***
Posts: 676


« Reply #57 on: January 09, 2010, 10:43:04 AM »

Decimating the enemy sounds like a good idea! Making him feel unsafe even at home is just perfect. Al Qaeda: there is no sanctuary!

Denny Schlesinger

Logged

--
Denny Schlesinger
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #58 on: January 09, 2010, 11:33:52 AM »

Kill the enemy and disrupt their networks and you make it much harder for them to carry out large scale attacks against you.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #59 on: January 10, 2010, 11:27:35 PM »

By ELIOT A. COHEN
If the first year of President Barack Obama's foreign policy were a law firm in Charles Dickens's London, it would have a name like Bumble, Stumble and Skid.

It began with apologies to the Muslim world that went nowhere, a doomed attempt to beat Israel into line, utopian pleas to abolish nuclear weapons, unreciprocated concessions to Russia, and a curt note to the British to take back the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office. It continued with principled offers of serious negotiation to an Iranian regime too busy torturing, raping and killing demonstrators, and building new underground nuclear facilities, to take them up. Subsequently Beijing smothered domestic coverage of a presidential visit but did give the world the spectacle of the American commander in chief getting a talking-to about fiscal responsibility from a Communist chieftain.

The lovely town of Copenhagen staged not one, but two humiliations: the first when the Olympic Committee delivered the bad news that the president's effort to play hometown booster had failed utterly, before he even landed back in the U.S.; the second when the Chinese once again poked the U.S. in the eye by sending minor officials to meet with Mr. Obama, as they, the Indians and Brazilians tried to shoulder him out of cozy meetings aimed at sabotaging his environmental policy. Even smitten foreign admirers—in the case of the Nobel Prize, some addled Norwegian notables—managed to make him look bad.

It was nonetheless a year of international displays of presidential ego, sometimes disguised as cosmic modesty ("I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war"), but mainly of one slip after another. The decision to reinforce our military in Afghanistan came after an excruciating dither that undermined the confidence of our allies. Mr. Obama's loose talk of withdrawal beginning in 18 months then undid much of the good in his decision to send troops.

Some of these follies stemmed from the inevitable glitches of a new administration settling in—the foreign-policy equivalent of the White House social secretary failing to keep party crashers out. Some of them resulted from sheer naivete, much from the puerile vendetta Mr. Obama waged against the previous administration's record, a bad rhetorical habit that fogged the brains of people who should know better. One hopes that his advisers, and the president himself, recognize the weight of the query reportedly posed last April by the most formidable contemporary leader of a free country, Nicolas Sarkozy: "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?). If a year from now world leaders think the answer is "yes," the U.S. will be in deep trouble.

In at least one way, Mr. Obama resembles his predecessor: He has enormous self-confidence. But where George W. Bush's certainty stemmed from moral conviction, Mr. Obama's arises from a sense of intellectual superiority. Given the centrality of his intelligence to his own self-perception, how might he use it to redeem a record of, at the moment, fairly unrelieved failure?

Much of foreign policy consists of a rough and ready game of adaptation to unforeseen, occasionally awful events. Indeed, Mr. Obama has been fortunate that his first year in office did not witness a real foreign-policy crisis. We have yet to see how he will meet that test. But there are large questions that require some high intellectual effort that he might consider tackling.

The first is explaining to the American people, and indeed to the world, what kind of war we are waging against Islamist movements. Neither Mr. Obama nor the predecessor he still complains of have been able to get beyond the trope of "extremists who have perverted a great religion." J. K. Rowling has given her readers a more thorough understanding of Lord Voldemort than the West's leaders have given their populations of whom we fight, what really animates them, and what the challenges that lie ahead will be. In particular, Mr. Obama has not articulated an effective policy of dealing with enemies who are neither criminals nor soldiers. Instead, he has tried to walk down both sides of a street at once, trying some in courts and keeping others in Guantanamo (or, in the future, a Gitmo North in Illinois) for handling by military tribunals.

The second problem is Iraq, the war that the president opposed, but the success of which is a matter of cardinal importance. The U.S. must have a broad policy for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Such a policy should—must—work Iraq into a broader pattern of relationships. The emergence of a free Iraq offers great opportunities. A relatively stable, representative and secular Iraq would help counterbalance Iran, support moderate regimes such as Jordan, and fuel a world economy that, however climate conscious, will need oil. Simply to talk about "responsibly leaving Iraq to its people" is, in fact, irresponsible. Iraq will need care and attention to stay on its current fragile trajectory to success, but it is also an opportunity not to be neglected.

Part of un-Bushism as foreign policy has been a self-inflicted muteness by this most articulate of politicians on the topic of democracy, freedom and human rights. American foreign policy has always been a long and difficult dialogue between realpolitik and our values, our pursuit of our own interests, and our deliberate efforts to spread freedom abroad. Saying that the U.S. will "bear witness" to abuses and brutality around the world is, in effect, to say that we will send flowers to funerals. Mr. Obama needs to say something considerably more serious. In the case of Iran, for example, he could make it altogether unambiguous that we stand with those risking their lives to confront and, if fortune favors them, overthrow a dangerous, indeed evil regime.

Finally, all the globalist talk of this past year has obscured the importance of our alliances, which are evolving, but above all, need tending. New and rising allies—as different as the United Arab Emirates and Colombia—need to be identified and described as such. But more importantly, they, as well as old allies, need to hear from the U.S. president the importance we attribute to them and a conceptual description of how they fit into our policy.

It's a large agenda, but then, Mr. Obama likes to give speeches. And it still leaves plenty—articulating the need for and meaning of American primacy, for example—for 2011.

Mr. Cohen was counselor of the Department of State from 2007 to 2009. He teaches at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #60 on: January 14, 2010, 07:07:26 AM »

A nice scholarly interview on the major themes in American foreign policy

http://www.pjtv.com/v/2941
Logged
captainccs
Power User
***
Posts: 676


« Reply #61 on: January 14, 2010, 08:05:13 AM »

A nice scholarly interview on the major themes in American foreign policy

http://www.pjtv.com/v/2941


Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Wilsonian and Jacksonian are the four idealized foreign policy drivers but then reality gets in the way: "Backyardian."

Eisenhower let the Russian invade Hungary in 1956 but Kennedy did not let them set up missiles in Cuba. Eastern Europe is Russia's back yard while the Caribbean is America's back yard. Those are hard facts on the ground.

Russia let America invade Grenada but did not let America set up missiles in Poland. Just the mirror image of the above Eisenhower/Kennedy policies. Backyardianism at work.

Denny Schlesinger
 
Logged

--
Denny Schlesinger
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #62 on: February 26, 2010, 11:27:05 PM »

Friday, February 26, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 
stratfor

The Iranian Saga Continues
THURSDAY WITNESSED A SERIES OF NEW WRINKLES in the ongoing Iran saga. For those readers who have been in a coma for the last three months, here is the abbreviated background.

Israel is a state so small that it could not likely survive a nuclear strike. It feels that Iran’s civilian nuclear power program is simply a mask for a more nefarious weapons project and wants it stopped by severe sanctions if possible, and military force if necessary. As Israel lacks the muscle to achieve this itself, it is attempting to pressure the Americans to handle the issue. Israel is reasonably confident it can so pressure Washington, simply because while Israel lacks the punch to certifiably end the Iranian program, it most certainly has the ability to start a war. Since Iran’s best means of retaliating would be to interrupt oil shipments in the Persian Gulf, the United States would have no choice but to get involved, regardless of its independent desires.

Ergo it was with significant interest that we watched the State Department’s daily press briefing, where State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters the following: “It is not our intent to have crippling sanctions that have a significant impact on the Iranian people. Our actual intent is actually to find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people.” The same day, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was in Washington reiterating Israeli policy in support of the very same so-called “crippling sanctions.” While it may seem little more than semantics, the terminology here matters, especially to Israel — reports from Israel indicate that the Israeli Prime Minister’s office intends to follow up on the issue to ensure that the rejection of crippling sanctions does not constitute a policy shift.

Our first thought was not far from the Israelis’ — that the Americans were taking a step back from sanctions. But when we re-evaluated, we noted that in recent weeks many of the other players that would be required to make sanctions work — Germany, Russia and China most notably — have been acting a bit peculiar. We are hardly to the point where we think that the various players are getting down to the brass tacks of sanctions details, but there is little doubt that the Americans have been making incremental progress in that direction. Still, they are far from achieving sanctions that would meet Israel’s definition of “crippling.”

“If there is a single state that must be on board for sanctions to work, it is Russia.”
Which made us even more interested to see sanctions-busting rhetoric out of none other than Brazil. Brazil and Iran are literally about as far as two states can be from each other on this planet, but Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is on a bit of an Iran kick. Iran is hoping that when Lula travels to Iran for a formal state visit in May he will go beyond the rhetoric and invite Iranian banks to operate in Brazil, an action that allows them to partially circumvent whatever financial sanctions are already in place.

STRATFOR is admittedly puzzled by this preoccupation with Iran, as it does not seem to grant Brazil (or Lula) any benefit. Lula is not a rabid leftist, but instead a relatively moderate statesman. Brazil and Iran hold minimal bilateral trade or investment interests. Brazilian energy powerhouse Petroleos Brasilieros (Petrobras) recently left projects in Iran, ostensibly because of lack of opportunity (though the threat of U.S. retaliation hovered in the air). And any possible political gains are questionable at least. While we acknowledge that twisting the American tail can earn major kudos in international fora, getting in the way of what is becoming a core American foreign policy initiative can be a dangerous place to be. Additionally, Lula is on his way out of the presidency and does not need to curry favor with an already enthusiastic Brazilian public. In fact, some groups in Brazil have openly challenged his Iranian policy. U.S. State Department senior personnel, including Under Secretary of State William J. Burns as well as his boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have already blocked out time to convince Lula to walk away from this fight.

Yet even if the United States can convince states such as Brazil — not to mention China — that tough words on Iran must give way to tough action, it is not as if Iran lacks its own means of reshaping the equation. Most notably, Iranian influence would be felt in Iraq.

On Thursday, Washington leaked that the man in charge of implementing military strategy in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, had asked for additional American forces to remain in Iraq beyond U.S. President Barack Obama’s August withdrawal deadline. Specifically, Odierno fears — with a substantial number of reasons — that the northern city of Kirkuk could explode into violence if U.S. forces leave too soon.

The Kurds have been the sectarian group in Iraq that has proven most helpful to the Americans, and they hope that in time Kirkuk will serve not only as Iraq’s northern oil capital, but as the Kurdish regional capital as well. If the U.S. commander in charge of the withdrawal has already petitioned the president for more troops in the part of the country that is most secure, one can only imagine what the situation is like in the south where Iran’s influence is palpable.

Finally, let us end with a point on those as yet unrealized sanctions. If there is a single state that must be on board for them to work, it is Russia. Russia has sufficient financial access to the Western world to sink any banking sanctions, plus sufficient spare refining capacity and access to transport infrastructure to make any gasoline sanctions a politically expensive exercise in futility.

But Russia does not work for free, and Thursday Moscow clarified just how important it thinks it has become. Thursday Russia explicitly extended its nuclear umbrella to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, the five other states in its Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). While CSTO is a pale, pale shadow of its NATO counterpart, the Kremlin’s announcement was a not-so-subtle reminder that Russia not only has nuclear weapons — as opposed to any, at present, purely theoretical Iranian nuclear weapons — but that (at least on paper) it is willing to use such weapons to protect what the Kremlin sees as its turf.

Ultimately the Russians are willing to toss the Iranians aside, but only if the price is right. Thursday they gave a pretty clear idea of just what that price is: full American acquiescence to their desired sphere of influence. And with Russian influence continuing to rise in the former Soviet Union — earlier this week Ukrainian authorities certified the election of a pro-Moscow president, fully overturning the Orange Revolution of five years ago — it is a price that is likely to only increase in the months ahead.

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #63 on: February 28, 2010, 03:49:14 PM »

------------
....................
The trouble is that Israel's strategic problem is usually presented in reductive terms: Iran (in the standard view) represents an existential threat to Israel in that it might get nuclear weapons; this would give it the capacity to destroy Israel, and therefore Israel must nip the existential threat in the bud. In this narrow framework, pushing back Iran's nuclear development by six to 18 months hardly seems worth the cost.

Iran's perceived attempt to acquire nuclear weapons, though, is not Israel's problem as such; the problem is that Israel is the ally of a superpower that does not want to be a superpower, headed by a president with a profound emotional attachment to a nostalgic image of the Third World. If America were in fact acting like a superpower, the problem would not have arisen in the first place, for the United States would use its considerably greater resources to destroy Iran's nuclear program.

Rather than focus on the second-order effect - the consequences of Iran's possible acquisition of nuclear weapons - Israeli analysts should consider the primary issue, namely the strategic zimzum [2] of the United States. The correct questions are: 1) can Israel act as a regional superpower independently of the United States, and 2) what would Israel do to establish its regional superpower status?

The answer to the first question obviously depends on the second. To act as a regional superpower, Israel would have to take actions that shift the configuration of forces in its favor. No outside analyst has sufficient information to judge the issue - with the best of information a great deal of uncertainty is inevitable - but there are several reasons to believe that an Israeli attack on Iran would establish the Jewish state as an independent superpower and compel the United States to adjust its policy to Israel's strategic requirements.

First, the Sunni Arab states have a stronger interest than Israel's to stop Iran from possibly going nuclear. Israel, after all, possesses perhaps two hundred deliverable nuclear devices, including some very big thermonuclear ones, and is in position to wipe Iran off the map. But none of Iran's Arab rivals is in such a position. The Saudis have done everything but take out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to encourage the Obama administration to attack Iran. Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, warned on February 15 that sanctions were a long-term measure while the world faces a short-term threat from Iran. Egypt reportedly has allowed Israeli missile ships to pass through the Suez Canal en route to the Persian Gulf.

Secondly, Russia well might prefer to deal with Israel as an independent regional power than as an ally of the United States. A stronger Israeli presence in the region also might contribute to Russia's market share in missiles and eventually fighter aircraft. Russian-Israeli cooperation in a number of military fields has improved markedly during the past year, including the first-ever sale of Israeli weapons to Russia (drones) and Israeli help for the Russian-Indian "fifth generation" fighter project.

Third, the United States would have to respond to a new strategic situation in the Middle East were Israel to inflict even moderate damage on Iran's nuclear program. The consequences would include, among other things:


Aggressive retaliation by Iran against American targets in Iraq. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have opposed bombing of Iran for years in part because they fear that Iran could inflict significant casualties on American forces.

Stronger Iranian support for the Taliban. Washington's plan for Afghanistan depends in part on the fanciful notion that Iran will be persuaded to support the Shi'ite Hazara minority against the Pashtun Taliban. Iran has always played both sides and in the event of an Israeli strike would shift resources towards whatever America liked the least.

Greater tensions between Pakistan and Iran. Iran's credibility in the region depends on its perception of being the protector of Pakistan's 35 million Shi'ites, the second-largest concentration outside of the 70 million people of Iran.

To the extent Washington has a Middle East policy, it seems to involve playing balance-of-power games on the scale of the Mad Hatter's tea party, as I wrote at year-end (The life and premature death of the Pax Obamicana Asia Times Online, December 24, 2009). Whatever Washington thought it was doing would come unstuck in the wake of an Israeli strike against Iran. Rather than attempt to lead events - in no particular direction - Washington would have no choice except to follow until it arrived at its own foreign policy at some unspecified future date. Although Washington would scream like a scalded pig, Israel's influence is more likely to rise than to fall in the aftermath.

There are numerous variables I cannot possibly estimate, of which the most important have to do with the technical feasibility of a long-distance strike. The political variables are too fuzzy to pin down. The strategic framework in which a unilateral Israel strike on Tehran makes sense is one in which all depends on Israel's capacity to improvise and dominate the situation through a combination of force and unpredictability.

Once again, the words of my favorite character in American literature - Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op - come to mind: "Plans are all right sometimes ... And sometimes just stirring things up is all right - if you're tough enough to survive, and keep your eyes open so you'll see what you want when it comes to the top."
Full text:
 
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LB18Ak01.html
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #64 on: March 01, 2010, 03:16:06 PM »

   
Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal
March 1, 2010


By George Friedman

The United States apparently has reached the point where it must either accept that Iran will develop nuclear weapons at some point if it wishes, or take military action to prevent this. There is a third strategy, however: Washington can seek to redefine the Iranian question.

As we have no idea what leaders on either side are thinking, exploring this represents an exercise in geopolitical theory. Let’s begin with the two apparent stark choices.

Diplomacy vs. the Military Option
The diplomatic approach consists of creating a broad coalition prepared to impose what have been called crippling sanctions on Iran. Effective sanctions must be so painful that they compel the target to change its behavior. In Tehran’s case, this could only consist of blocking Iran’s imports of gasoline. Iran imports 35 percent of the gasoline it consumes. It is not clear that a gasoline embargo would be crippling, but it is the only embargo that might work. All other forms of sanctions against Iran would be mere gestures designed to give the impression that something is being done.

The Chinese will not participate in any gasoline embargo. Beijing gets 11 percent of its oil from Iran, and it has made it clear it will continue to deliver gasoline to Iran. Moscow’s position is that Russia might consider sanctions down the road, but it hasn’t specified when, and it hasn’t specified what. The Russians are more than content seeing the U.S. bogged down in the Middle East and so are not inclined to solve American problems in the region. With the Chinese and Russians unlikely to embargo gasoline, these sanctions won’t create significant pain for Iran. Since all other sanctions are gestures, the diplomatic approach is therefore unlikely to work.

The military option has its own risks. First, its success depends on the quality of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities and on the degree of hardening of those targets. Second, it requires successful air attacks. Third, it requires battle damage assessments that tell the attacker whether the strike succeeded. Fourth, it requires follow-on raids to destroy facilities that remain functional. And fifth, attacks must do more than simply set back Iran’s program a few months or even years: If the risk of a nuclear Iran is great enough to justify the risks of war, the outcome must be decisive.

Each point in this process is a potential failure point. Given the multiplicity of these points — which includes others not mentioned — failure may not be an option, but it is certainly possible.

But even if the attacks succeed, the question of what would happen the day after the attacks remains. Iran has its own counters. It has a superbly effective terrorist organization, Hezbollah, at its disposal. It has sufficient influence in Iraq to destabilize that country and force the United States to keep forces in Iraq badly needed elsewhere. And it has the ability to use mines and missiles to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf shipping lanes for some period — driving global oil prices through the roof while the global economy is struggling to stabilize itself. Iran’s position on its nuclear program is rooted in the awareness that while it might not have assured options in the event of a military strike, it has counters that create complex and unacceptable risks. Iran therefore does not believe the United States will strike or permit Israel to strike, as the consequences would be unacceptable.

To recap, the United States either can accept a nuclear Iran or risk an attack that might fail outright, impose only a minor delay on Iran’s nuclear program or trigger extremely painful responses even if it succeeds. When neither choice is acceptable, it is necessary to find a third choice.

Redefining the Iranian Problem
As long as the problem of Iran is defined in terms of its nuclear program, the United States is in an impossible place. Therefore, the Iranian problem must be redefined. One attempt at redefinition involves hope for an uprising against the current regime. We will not repeat our views on this in depth, but in short, we do not regard these demonstrations to be a serious threat to the regime. Tehran has handily crushed them, and even if they did succeed, we do not believe they would produce a regime any more accommodating toward the United States. The idea of waiting for a revolution is more useful as a justification for inaction — and accepting a nuclear Iran — than it is as a strategic alternative.

At this moment, Iran is the most powerful regional military force in the Persian Gulf. Unless the United States permanently stations substantial military forces in the region, there is no military force able to block Iran. Turkey is more powerful than Iran, but it is far from the Persian Gulf and focused on other matters at the moment, and it doesn’t want to take on Iran militarily — at least not for a very long time. At the very least, this means the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq. Baghdad is too weak to block Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Iraqi government has elements friendly toward Iran.

Historically, regional stability depended on the Iraqi-Iranian balance of power. When it tottered in 1990, the result was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The United States did not push into Iraq in 1991 because it did not want to upset the regional balance of power by creating a vacuum in Iraq. Rather, U.S. strategy was to re-establish the Iranian-Iraqi balance of power to the greatest extent possible, as the alternative was basing large numbers of U.S. troops in the region.

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 assumed that once the Baathist regime was destroyed the United States would rapidly create a strong Iraqi government that would balance Iran. The core mistake in this thinking lay in failing to recognize that the new Iraqi government would be filled with Shiites, many of whom regarded Iran as a friendly power. Rather than balancing Iran, Iraq could well become an Iranian satellite. The Iranians strongly encouraged the American invasion precisely because they wanted to create a situation where Iraq moved toward Iran’s orbit. When this in fact began happening, the Americans had no choice but an extended occupation of Iraq, a trap both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought to escape.

It is difficult to define Iran’s influence in Iraq at this point. But at a minimum, while Iran may not be able to impose a pro-Iranian state on Iraq, it has sufficient influence to block the creation of any strong Iraqi government either through direct influence in the government or by creating destabilizing violence in Iraq. In other words, Iran can prevent Iraq from emerging as a counterweight to Iran, and Iran has every reason to do this. Indeed, it is doing just this.

The Fundamental U.S.-Iranian Issue
Iraq, not nuclear weapons, is the fundamental issue between Iran and the United States. Iran wants to see a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq so Iran can assume its place as the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf. The United States wants to withdraw from Iraq because it faces challenges in Afghanistan — where it will also need Iranian cooperation — and elsewhere. Committing forces to Iraq for an extended period of time while fighting in Afghanistan leaves the United States exposed globally. Events involving China or Russia — such as the 2008 war in Georgia — would see the United States without a counter. The alternative would be a withdrawal from Afghanistan or a massive increase in U.S. armed forces. The former is not going to happen any time soon, and the latter is an economic impossibility.

Therefore, the United States must find a way to counterbalance Iran without an open-ended deployment in Iraq and without expecting the re-emergence of Iraqi power, because Iran is not going to allow the latter to happen. The nuclear issue is simply an element of this broader geopolitical problem, as it adds another element to the Iranian tool kit. It is not a stand-alone issue.

The United States has an interesting strategy in redefining problems that involves creating extraordinarily alliances with mortal ideological and geopolitical enemies to achieve strategic U.S. goals. First consider Franklin Roosevelt’s alliance with Stalinist Russia to block Nazi Germany. He pursued this alliance despite massive political outrage not only from isolationists but also from institutions like the Roman Catholic Church that regarded the Soviets as the epitome of evil.

Now consider Richard Nixon’s decision to align with China at a time when the Chinese were supplying weapons to North Vietnam that were killing American troops. Moreover, Mao — who had said he did not fear nuclear war as China could absorb a few hundred million deaths — was considered, with reason, quite mad. Nevertheless, Nixon, as anti-Communist and anti-Chinese a figure as existed in American politics, understood that an alliance (and despite the lack of a formal treaty, alliance it was) with China was essential to counterbalance the Soviet Union at a time when American power was still being sapped in Vietnam.

Roosevelt and Nixon both faced impossible strategic situations unless they were prepared to redefine the strategic equation dramatically and accept the need for alliance with countries that had previously been regarded as strategic and moral threats. American history is filled with opportunistic alliances designed to solve impossible strategic dilemmas. The Stalin and Mao cases represent stunning alliances with prior enemies designed to block a third power seen as more dangerous.

It is said that Ahmadinejad is crazy. It was also said that Mao and Stalin were crazy, in both cases with much justification. Ahmadinejad has said many strange things and issued numerous threats. But when Roosevelt ignored what Stalin said and Nixon ignored what Mao said, they each discovered that Stalin’s and Mao’s actions were far more rational and predictable than their rhetoric. Similarly, what the Iranians say and what they do are quite different.

U.S. vs. Iranian Interests
Consider the American interest. First, it must maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. The United States cannot tolerate interruptions, and that limits the risks it can take. Second, it must try to keep any one power from controlling all of the oil in the Persian Gulf, as that would give such a country too much long-term power within the global system. Third, while the United States is involved in a war with elements of the Sunni Muslim world, it must reduce the forces devoted to that war. Fourth, it must deal with the Iranian problem directly. Europe will go as far as sanctions but no further, while the Russians and Chinese won’t even go that far yet. Fifth, it must prevent an Israeli strike on Iran for the same reasons it must avoid a strike itself, as the day after any Israeli strike will be left to the United States to manage.

Now consider the Iranian interest. First, it must guarantee regime survival. It sees the United States as dangerous and unpredictable. In less than 10 years, it has found itself with American troops on both its eastern and western borders. Second, it must guarantee that Iraq will never again be a threat to Iran. Third, it must increase its authority within the Muslim world against Sunni Muslims, whom it regards as rivals and sometimes as threats.

Now consider the overlaps. The United States is in a war against some (not all) Sunnis. These are Iran’s enemies, too. Iran does not want U.S. troops along its eastern and western borders. In point of fact, the United States does not want this either. The United States does not want any interruption of oil flow through Hormuz. Iran much prefers profiting from those flows to interrupting them. Finally, the Iranians understand that it is the United States alone that is Iran’s existential threat. If Iran can solve the American problem its regime survival is assured. The United States understands, or should, that resurrecting the Iraqi counterweight to Iran is not an option: It is either U.S. forces in Iraq or accepting Iran’s unconstrained role.

Therefore, as an exercise in geopolitical theory, consider the following. Washington’s current options are unacceptable. By redefining the issue in terms of dealing with the consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there are three areas of mutual interest. First, both powers have serious quarrels with Sunni Islam. Second, both powers want to see a reduction in U.S. forces in the region. Third, both countries have an interest in assuring the flow of oil, one to use the oil, the other to profit from it to increase its regional power.

The strategic problem is, of course, Iranian power in the Persian Gulf. The Chinese model is worth considering here. China issued bellicose rhetoric before and after Nixon’s and Kissinger’s visits. But whatever it did internally, it was not a major risk-taker in its foreign policy. China’s relationship with the United States was of critical importance to China. Beijing fully understood the value of this relationship, and while it might continue to rail about imperialism, it was exceedingly careful not to undermine this core interest.

The major risk of the third strategy is that Iran will overstep its bounds and seek to occupy the oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf. Certainly, this would be tempting, but it would bring a rapid American intervention. The United States would not block indirect Iranian influence, however, from financial participation in regional projects to more significant roles for the Shia in Arabian states. Washington’s limits for Iranian power are readily defined and enforced when exceeded.

The great losers in the third strategy, of course, would be the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula. But Iraq aside, they are incapable of defending themselves, and the United States has no long-term interest in their economic and political relations. So long as the oil flows, and no single power directly controls the entire region, the United States does not have a stake in this issue.

Israel would also be enraged. It sees ongoing American-Iranian hostility as a given. And it wants the United States to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. But eliminating this threat is not an option given the risks, so the choice is a nuclear Iran outside some structured relationship with the United States or within it. The choice that Israel might want, a U.S.-Iranian conflict, is unlikely. Israel can no more drive American strategy than can Saudi Arabia.

From the American standpoint, an understanding with Iran would have the advantage of solving an increasingly knotty problem. In the long run, it would also have the advantage of being a self-containing relationship. Turkey is much more powerful than Iran and is emerging from its century-long shell. Its relations with the United States are delicate. The United States would infuriate the Turks by doing this deal, forcing them to become more active faster. They would thus emerge in Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran. But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests. The Iranian position in Iraq would be temporary, and the United States would not have to break its word as Turkey eventually would eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq.

Ultimately, the greatest shock of such a maneuver on both sides would be political. The U.S.-Soviet agreement shocked Americans deeply, the Soviets less so because Stalin’s pact with Hitler had already stunned them. The Nixon-Mao entente shocked all sides. It was utterly unthinkable at the time, but once people on both sides thought about it, it was manageable.

Such a maneuver would be particularly difficult for U.S. President Barack Obama, as it would be widely interpreted as another example of weakness rather than as a ruthless and cunning move. A military strike would enhance his political standing, while an apparently cynical deal would undermine it. Ahmadinejad could sell such a deal domestically much more easily. In any event, the choices now are a nuclear Iran, extended airstrikes with all their attendant consequences, or something else. This is what something else might look like and how it would fit in with American strategic tradition.

 
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #65 on: March 01, 2010, 07:29:18 PM »

Second post of the day-- the post is by BBG, but I think it better belongs in this thread:

The real Arab stuff-What are realistic, moderate Arabic-speaking rulers thinking? [about Obama]
Jerusalem Post ^ | 3-1-10 | BARRY RUBIN

Hussain Abdul Hussain gets it. He’s one of the most interesting Arab journalists who also write in English. In his latest article “Lonely Obama vs. popular Iran”, published in the Huffington Post, he points out what the most realistic people and more moderate rulers in the Arabic-speaking world are thinking.

Theme one: Popularity isn’t so important in the Middle East. “A common perception is that under President Barack Obama, America’s image has improved, and perhaps its friends have increased. But such claims are unfounded, as the opposite proves to be true. International relations, however, are about interests, not sweet talk. As [George W.] Bush went out recruiting allies, and making enemies, Obama lost America’s friends while failing to win over enemies.”

Theme two: What is important is that allies believe you will support and protect them. Obama isn’t doing that. Example A, Iraq. “After losing more than 4,300 troops in battle and spending [a huge amount of money] since 2003, America today cannot find a single politician or group that would express gratitude to Americans for ridding Iraq of its ruthless tyrant Saddam Hussein, and allowing these politicians to speak out freely. On the contrary, shy of making their excellent backdoor ties with Washington known since they fear Obama will depart Iraq and never look back, Iraqi politicians started expressing dissatisfaction with the United States in public.”

Example B, Lebanon. Before Obama took office, more than one-third of the entire population – most of them Sunni Muslims – demonstrated against Hizbullah and Syrian occupation. And the Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said on televisionthat he was proud to be part of America’s plan to spread democracy in the Middle East. But “by the time Obama had made it to the White House, support of America’s allies in Lebanon waned since Obama was determined to appease their foes in Syria and Iran. [Said] Hariri [leader of the moderate forces] and Jumblatt [his former close ally] were forced to abandon their fight for Lebanon’s democracy and freedom” and seek to make a deal with Syria and Hizbullah instead.

Example C, Iran. The people revolted against the autocratic regime and staged mass demonstrations, “but Obama’s Washington was busy sending one letter of appeasement after another to Iran’s tyrants, and accordingly failed to side with the Green Revolution for democracy and freedom. When Obama did show support for the Green movement, it was too little and too late.”

AMONG THOSE worried about a similar lack of US support are Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the small Gulf states, the three North African states, most of Lebanon and those Turks who don’t want to live under an Islamist regime.

Theme three: Iran helps its allies. Hence, Iran has more allies, while the US has fewer. Iran is going up; the US is going down. “Now compare America’s friends around the Middle East to Iran’s cronies, and you can immediately understand why Washington is in trouble, both diplomatically and on a popular level, while Iran is confident as it marches toward producing a nuclear weapon and expanding its influence across the Middle East.”

Iranian ally A, Hizbullah: “Since 1981, Iran has been funding its Lebanese ally Hizbullah, never defaulting on any of its pledged payments. Hizbullah went from an embryonic group into a state within a state, boasting a membership of several thousands and maintaining a private army, schools, hospitals, orphanages, satellite TV and a number of other facilities that have won it the hearts of Lebanon’s Shi’ites, and have given Hizbullah an absolute command over them.”

Iranian ally B, Syria: “Iran has maintained a flow of cash and political support toward Syria for a similar amount of time. Obama has been begging Syria to switch sides and abandon Iran. Judging by the mishaps that always seem to befall America’s friends with time, Syria does not seem likely to change, but is rather playing an Obama administration desperate for whatever it can claim as success in its foreign policy.”

As if to prove the point, immediately after a big American delegation visited Damascus to restore full relations and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that US policy is seeking to detach Syria from its alliance with Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Syria and the two leaders made strong anti-American statements while pledging eternal partnership.

Here’s the headline in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat: “Syria and Iran defy Clinton in show of unity.”

And in the Syrian government’s newspaper Tishrin a column explained that if the US wanted a deal with Iran and Syria to achieve peace in the region that would have to include Israel’s elimination.

Iranian ally C, Iraqi insurgents: “In Iraq, Iran does not only fund and train militias and violent groups, but it also funds electoral campaigns of Iraqi politicians, loyal media groups and political parties, thus expanding its influence over Iraq exponentially. Spending billions more than Iran in Iraq, America has seen its money spent to no or little effect.”

And here’s the bottom line: “The comparison between Iran and Obama’s America is simple. While Teheran never let down an ally, offering them consistent financial and political support, Washington’s support of its allies around the world has always been intermittent, due to changes with administrations and an ever swinging mood among American voters, pundits and analysts.

“So while Iran has created a mini-Islamic republic in Lebanon, and is on its way to doing the same in Iraq, America has failed in keeping friends or maintaining influence both in Lebanon and in Iraq.

“And while Teheran brutally suppressed a growing peaceful revolution for change inside Iran, Washington’s pacifism did not win any favors with the Iranian regime, or with its opponents in the Green Revolution.

“While Iran knows how to make friends, Obama’s America has become an expert in losing them.”

Yes! That’s what it’s all about. You know, it’s an interesting point. Obama and company says we should listen to Muslim and Arab voices.

Okay, but which ones? Not, as they are doing, to the apologists for radicalism and the purveyors of conventional nonsense (all that matters is the Arab-Israeli conflict, America should just make concessions, you need to understand how Islamism isn’t a threat, etc.). If you want to know what a dozen Arab governments think and fear – and Israelis, too – this is the real stuff.

The writer is Director at the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA) (http://www.gloria-center.org) and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal (MERIA). He blogs at The Rubin Report (http://rubinreports.blogspot.com)

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=169867
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #66 on: April 09, 2010, 10:20:34 AM »

By FOUAD AJAMI
President Obama's "war of necessity" in Afghanistan increasingly has to it the mark of a military campaign disconnected from a bigger political strategy.

Yes, it is true, he "inherited" this war. But in his fashion he embraced it and held it up as a rebuke to the Iraq war. The spectacle of Afghan President Hamid Karzai going rogue on the American and NATO allies who prop up his regime is of a piece with other runaway clients in far-off lands learning that great, distant powers can be defied and manipulated with impunity. After all, Mr. Karzai has been told again and again that his country, the safe harbor from which al Qaeda planned and carried out 9/11, is essential to winning the war on terror.

Some months ago, our envoy to Kabul, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, saw into the heart of the matter in a memo to his superiors. Mr. Eikenberry was without illusions about President Karzai. He dismissed him as a leader who continues to shun "responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development. He and his circle don't want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers."

View Full Image

David Klein
 .The Eikenberry memorandum lays to rest once and for all the legend of Afghanistan as a "graveyard of empires." Rather than seeking an end to the foreign military presence, the Afghans and their leader seek to perpetuate it. It spares them the hard choice of building a nation-state, knitting together feuding ethnicities and provinces, and it brings them enormous foreign treasure.

Mr. Karzai may be unusually brazen and vainglorious in his self-regard. He may have been acting out of a need to conciliate the Pashtun community from which he hails and which continues to see him as the front man for a regime that gives the Tajiks disproportionate power and influence. But his conduct is at one with the ways of Afghan warlords and chieftains.

Still, this recent dust-up with Mr. Karzai—his outburst against the West, his melodramatic statement that he, too, could yet join the Taliban in a campaign of "national resistance," his indecent warning that those American and NATO forces soldiering to give his country a chance are on the verge of becoming foreign occupiers—is a statement about the authority of the Obama administration and its standing in Afghanistan and the region.

Forgive Mr. Karzai as he tilts with the wind and courts the Iranian theocrats next door. We can't chastise him for seeking an accommodation with Iranian power when Washington itself gives every indication that it would like nothing more than a grand bargain with Iran's rulers.

In Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East, populations long in the path, and in the shadow, of great foreign powers have a good feel for the will and staying power of those who venture into their world. If Iran's bid for nuclear weapons and a larger role in the region goes unchecked, and if Iran is now a power of the Mediterranean (through Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Beirut), the leaders in Kabul, whoever they are, are sure to do their best to secure for themselves an Iranian insurance policy.

From the very beginning of Mr. Obama's stewardship of the Afghan war, there was an odd, unsettling disjunction between the centrality given this war and the reluctance to own it in full, to stay and fight until victory (a word this administration shuns) is ours.

Consider the very announcement of the Obama war strategy last November in Mr. Obama's West Point address. The speech was at once the declaration of a "surge" and the announcement of an exit strategy. Additional troops would be sent, but their withdrawal would begin in the summer of 2011.

The Afghans, and their interested neighbors, were invited to do their own calculations. Some could arrive at a judgment that the war and its frustrations would mock such plans, that military campaigns such as the one in Afghanistan are far easier to launch than to bring to a decent conclusion, that American pride and credibility are destined to leave America entangled in Afghan troubles for many years to come. (By all indications, Mr. Karzai seems to subscribe to this view.)

Others could bet on our war weariness, for Americans have never shown an appetite for the tribal and ethnic wars of South Asia and the Middle East. The shadow of our power lies across that big region, it is true. But we blow in and out of these engagements, generally not staying long enough to assure our friends and frighten our enemies.

Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator who recast Pakistani politics away from that country's secular beginnings and plunged into the jihad and its exertions, once memorably observed that being an ally of the United States was like sitting on the bank of a great river where the ground is lush and fertile, but that every four to eight years the river changes course and the unsuspecting friend of American power finds himself in a barren desert. Mr. Obama has not given the protagonists in the Afghan war the certainty that he is in it for the long haul.

In word and deed, Mr. Obama has given a sense of his priorities. The passion with which he pursued health-care reform could be seen at home and abroad as the drive of a man determined to remake the American social contract. He aims to tilt the balance away from liberty toward equality. The very ambition of his domestic agenda in health care and state intervention in the economy conveys the causes that stir him.

Granted, Mullah Omar and his men in the Quetta Shura may not be seasoned observers of Washington's ways. But they (and Mr. Karzai) can discern if America is marking time, giving it one last try before casting Afghanistan adrift. It is an inescapable fact that Mr. Obama hasn't succeeded in selling this Afghan venture—or even the bigger war on terror itself—to his supporters on the left. He fights the war with Republican support, but his constituency remains isolationist at heart.

The president has in his command a great fighting force and gifted commanders. He clearly hopes they will succeed. But there is always the hint that this Afghan campaign became the good, worthwhile war by default, a cause with which to bludgeon his predecessor's foray into Iraq.

All this plays out under the gaze of an Islamic world that is coming to a consensus that a discernible American retreat in the region is in the works. America's enemies are increasingly brazen, its friends unnerved. Witness the hapless Lebanese, once wards of U.S. power, now making pilgrimages, one leader at a time, to Damascus. They, too, can read the wind: If Washington is out to "engage" that terrible lot in Syria, they better scurry there to secure reasonable terms of surrender.

The shadow of American power is receding; the rogues are emboldened. The world has a way of calling the bluff of leaders and nations summoned to difficult endeavors. Would that our biggest source of worry in that arc of trouble was the intemperate outburst of our ally in Kabul.

Mr. Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift" (Free Press, 2007).
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #67 on: April 09, 2010, 01:26:17 PM »

Obama's Working Dinner in Prague
AS THE WORLD WATCHES KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENT Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s rule go up in flames, an important meeting scheduled for Thursday is receiving surprisingly little media attention. U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with 11 Central and Eastern European leaders in Prague on that day. Obama will have what the U.S. administration is calling a “working dinner” with the leaders at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, just a few hours after the ceremony to sign the replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at Prague Castle.

The working dinner is not receiving much media attention in the United States or Central Europe, mainly due to the coverage that the START ceremonies are garnering. Other domestic issues in Central Europe, especially upcoming elections in four of the 11 countries, are also getting a fair amount of recognition. Nonetheless, the dinner is a notable event, and the first time a U.S. president is exclusively meeting with 11 leaders from Central Europe in a forum not related to either NATO or the European Union.

The main goal of the “working dinner” is to give Central European leaders an opportunity for some face time with the U.S. president. It is not going to result in any specific joint communique or policy conclusion, but rather provide a stage for Central European leaders to voice some of their concerns. According to STRATFOR sources in the region, topics for debate will range from joint efforts in Afghanistan and upcoming revisions to the NATO Strategic Concept, to relations with Russia and regional security issues in Central Asia and the Balkans.

From the U.S. perspective, the purpose of the meeting is to reassure Central Europe’s leadership of the U.S. commitment without having to actually make a substantive effort to involve the United States in the region when Washington is still embroiled in Afghanistan and is in the process of extracting itself from Iraq. Poland and Romania are asking for the Ballistic Missile Defense systems that come with American boots on the ground, the Baltic States want a more substantive NATO military presence to counter increasing Russian pressures in the Baltic Sea and all want to see some sort of a response from Washington to the reversal of pro-Western forces in neighboring Ukraine. If Obama can reassure Central Europe by hosting a dinner at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, then he has accomplished his task at a low cost.

The symbolism of the dinner will not be lost on Central Europe’s neighbors, particularly Western Europe and Russia. Obama irritated Western Europe earlier this year when he decided not to attend the upcoming U.S.-EU summit because, as was semi-officially explained by the White House, he had better things to do. That he now has time for Central Europeans exclusively is definitely going to send a message to Berlin and Paris. The fact that the meeting comes on the heels of the Greek financial crisis and during a period of marked European disunity over how to handle it will also not be lost on Germany and France. Central Europeans are increasingly becoming frustrated at the closeness between Berlin, Paris and Moscow, and are beginning to have their economic interests (EU membership) diverge from their security interests (alliance with the United States via NATO). Obama’s meeting with the Central European leadership can be interpreted as the United States further driving a wedge — whether willingly or not — between those two interests.

“The symbolism of the dinner will not be lost on Central Europe’s neighbors, particularly Western Europe and Russia. “
Russia will not be pleased either. It has enjoyed a relatively free hand in Central and Eastern Europe while Washington has been embroiled in its Middle East adventures, and does not want to see the United States commit more attention to the region. But it will also not appreciate Obama so clearly giving Central Europe’s leaders — many of whom the Kremlin would openly describe as Russophobes — his attention on the same day that was supposed to have all the world’s media tuned to the pomp and circumstance of the START signing.

That is why we find the timing of the crisis in Kyrgyzstan…curious.

Kyrgyzstan was not really entrenched in the pro-United States or pro-Russian influence, but has essentially been available to the highest bidder. This has left Moscow irritated with Bishkek — especially with the now outgoing President Bakiyev — but it has never forced Russia to target Kyrgyzstan outright. Moscow has always felt that it would have to do little to influence the impoverished, landlocked country whose only significant export — hydroelectric power generated from rivers flowing down its mountains — is literally drying up.

That said, we are noticing traces of Russian influence in the Kyrgyz opposition movements now assuming power. Also, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already come out to essentially praise the removal of “nepotistic” Bakiyev who had “fallen in the same trap” as his predecessor.

When it comes to protesters and government-topplers, the Russian media has traditionally been less than charitable, typically calling them “hooligans” or “criminals.” However, during the current Kyrgyz crisis, the Russian media has altered its language by referring to the protesters as “human rights activists” who are part of “NGO” groups. This is reminiscent of the language that the Western media has used to describe protesters of color revolutions it has supported in the past. It is also similar to the language that Russia typically reserves for pro-Kremlin groups operating on the other side of the NATO borders, particularly the Baltic States. This is not the first time Russia has used Western norms and language to describe events that are to its benefit. For example, Russia referred to its August 2008 Georgian intervention as “humanitarian,” mirroring the “responsibility to protect” doctrine espoused by NATO during its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

It is also notable that the outgoing Kyrgyz government started blaming the Russian media for its coverage of Kyrgyzstan’s unrest and problems with corruption weeks before the crisis developed. This tells us that, at a minimum, Russia most likely knew what was about to occur. There is the possibility that they took an active roll in the events in Kyrgyzstan, but it is not yet clear whether the current unrest has been at all instigated by Moscow, or whether the Kremlin is simply moving to capitalize on an otherwise indigenously sparked unrest.

The fact that we have witnessed the reversals of two ostensibly pro-Western color revolutions — the Orange (in Ukraine) and Tulip (in Kyrgyzstan) — within three months of each other this year will not be lost on the dinner coterie in Prague.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #68 on: April 14, 2010, 01:01:02 PM »

I often find Thomas Friedman to be rather fatuous, and so hesitate to post this, but WTH, this seemed interesting to me:

Attention: Baby on Board Recommend
Twitter
comments
 (124)
               
E-Mail
 
Send To Phone
Print
 
Share
Close
LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: April 13, 2010
There are many differences between Iraq and Afghanistan, but they do resemble each other in one critical way. In both countries, the “bad guys,” the violent jihadists, are losing. And in both countries, it still is not clear if the “good guys” will really turn out to be good.

Skip to next paragraph
 
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman

Go to Columnist Page »
Related
Times Topics: Iraq | AfghanistanReaders' Comments
Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Read All Comments (124) »
And the big question the Obama team is facing in both countries is: Should we care? Should we care if these countries are run by decent leaders or by drug-dealing, oil-stealing extras from “The Sopranos” — as long as we can just get out? At this stage, alas, we have to care — and here’s why.

I’ve read a lot of analyses lately criticizing President Obama and Vice President Biden for coming down so hard on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s corruption. Karzai’s the best we’ve got, goes the argument. He’s helped us in our primary objective of degrading Al Qaeda and done good things, like opening schools for girls. Sure, he stole his election, but he is still more popular than anyone else in Afghanistan and would have won anyway. (Then why did he have to steal it? Never mind.)

This line echoes the realist arguments during the cold war as to why we had to support various tyrants. What mattered inside their countries was not important, the argument went. What mattered is where they lined up outside in our great struggle against Soviet Communism.

The Bush team took this kind of “neo-realist” approach to Afghanistan. It had no desire to do state-building there. Once Karzai was installed, President Bush ignored the corruption of Karzai and his cronies. All the Bush team wanted was for Karzai to hold the country together so the U.S. could use it as a base to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Frankly, this low-key approach made a lot of sense to me because I never thought Afghanistan was that important. But, unfortunately, the Karzai government became so rotten and incapable of delivering services that many Afghans turned back to the Taliban.

So the Obama team came with a new strategy: We have to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan if we are going to keep Al Qaeda in check there and in Pakistan — and the only way to do that is by clearing them out of the towns and installing decent Afghan police, judges and bureaucrats — i.e., good governance — in the Taliban’s wake. Obama’s view is that, to some degree, idealism is the new realism in Afghanistan: To protect our hard-core interests, to achieve even our limited goals of quashing Al Qaeda and its allies, we have to do something that looks very idealistic — deliver better governance for Afghans.

I still wish we had opted for a less intrusive alternative; I’m still skeptical about the whole thing. But I understand the logic of the Obama strategy and, given that logic, he was right to chastise Karzai — even publicly. If decent governance is the key to our strategy, it is important that Afghans see and hear where we stand on these issues. Otherwise, where will they find the courage to stand up for better governance? We need to bring along the whole society. Never forget, the Karzai regime’s misgovernance is the reason we’re having to surge anew in Afghanistan. Karzai is both the cause and the beneficiary of the surge. I’m sure the surge will beat the bad guys, but if the “good guys” are no better, it will all be for naught.

In the cold war all that mattered was whether a country was allied with us. What matters in Obama’s war in Afghanistan is whether the Afghan people are allied with their own government and each other. Only then can we get out and leave behind something stable, decent and self-sustaining.

Unlike Afghanistan, the war in Iraq was, at its core, always driven more by idealism than realism. It was sold as being about W.M.D. But, in truth, it was really a rare exercise in the revolutionary deployment of U.S. power. The immediate target was to topple Saddam’s genocidal dictatorship. But the bigger objective was to help Iraqis midwife a democratic model that could inspire reform across the Arab-Muslim world and give the youth there a chance at a better future. Again, the Iraq story is far from over, but one does have to take heart at the recent elections there and the degree to which Iraqi voters favored multiethnic, modernizing parties.

So, while Obama came to office looking at both Iraq and Afghanistan as places where we need to be focused more on protecting our interests than promoting our ideals, he’s finding himself, now in office, having to promote a more idealist approach to both. The world will be a better place if it works, but it will require constant vigilance. When Karzai tries to gut an independent election commission, that matters. When the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, refuses to accept a vote count certified by the U.N. that puts him in second place, that matters.

As I have said before, friends don’t let friends drive drunk — especially when we’re still in the back seat alongside an infant named Democracy.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #69 on: April 17, 2010, 08:38:10 AM »

A Question of Stability
THE IRAQI MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TOOK CONTROL of the military facility inside the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad known as Camp Phoenix (where American Gen. David Petraeus’ office once was) on Thursday. It is the latest in a series of developments — like the relatively peaceful elections last month — that both Washington and Baghdad would characterize as cause for cautious optimism as the United States inches toward withdrawing nearly half the troops it has remaining in the country before the end of August.

The U.S. drawdown is predicated upon the idea that the Iraqis will have a sufficiently competent security system (whether formal military or not) to hold itself in some semblance of order. Despite an almost astonishingly stable security environment by 2007 standards, the near-term fate of Iraq is far from certain. In theory, in less than five months, the exact composition of the Iraqi government will have taken shape and the United States will have only around 50,000 troops in the country (there are already far fewer American troops in Iraq than any time since the invasion in 2003). On the surface, this is plausible enough. There are certainly promising signs for Iraq: Sunnis participated in this election en masse; Iyad Allawi — whose non-sectarian al-Iraqiyah list won the most seats, and who is maneuvering to try and become the prime minister — speaks for many of them; and the politicking for a ruling parliamentary coalition has thus far proceeded without much violence.

But beneath the surface there are a series of more fundamental – and inherently interrelated – issues that have implications not only for Iraq, but the wider region. The first issue is perhaps the most obvious one: Can this political maneuvering and negotiation yield a government that is capable of governing the country? That is certainly a possibility, but the conclusion is far from certain. If there is such a government, will it be able to wield the country’s security forces effectively? And are these forces capable enough and committed enough to impose Baghdad’s will as the United States continues to draw down its troop levels? There have been promising signs here, too. But the security environment in the country recently has been quite permissive (compared to more intense sectarian violence in years past) and the United States has continued to bolster its efforts.

“The foundation of the American strategy in the Middle East for decades has been to use Iraq and Iran to counterbalance each other.”
How these questions are answered depends a great deal upon the durability of Iraq’s current stability, and the delicate balance of power that has characterized the country recently. A relatively stable Iraq does not challenge the ruling coalition in Baghdad or the country’s security forces nearly as much as a resurgence of ethno-sectarian violence.

Iran is at the center of the stability question. Tehran continues to exercise decisive influence in the country, and it retains the ability to reignite significant ethno-sectarian violence if it finds cause to do so. But many Shia are more or less comfortable with expanding Persian influence in the country. Indeed, some members of Iraq’s political parties are actually in Iran jockeying for position in potential Iraqi governing coalitions. So Tehran may get what it wants – a government in Baghdad amenable to Persian interests – without violence.

Whether Iraq again flirts with ethno-sectarian chaos or not, the foundation of the American strategy in the Middle East for decades has been to use Iraq and Iran to counterbalance each other. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, it destroyed that balance of power and was never able to rebuild Iraq to the point where it could again serve as a counterweight to Iran. Even if the United States ultimately finds itself with a stable Iraq, and is able to execute a smooth drawdown of all American combat forces, the fate of the balance of power in the region remains in question. It has only been the immense American military presence in Iraq that allowed Washington to counterbalance Tehran’s influence there in recent years. The ultimate question is: What becomes of the region if Persian power in Mesopotamia again becomes relatively unchecked, potentially making U.S.-Iranian relations the pivot of the entire region?
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #70 on: April 26, 2010, 10:50:01 PM »

There are several substantive points in the following piece with which I disagree, but the piece presents its points in a fair and reasoned way.

These are themes worthy of our consideration.  Lets discuss:

==========================




Bankrupt Empire
by Doug Bandow
The United States government is effectively bankrupt. Washington no longer can afford to micromanage the world. International social engineering is a dubious venture under the best of circumstances. It is folly to attempt while drowning in red ink.

Traditional military threats against America have largely disappeared. There’s no more Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, Maoist China is distant history and Washington is allied with virtually every industrialized state. As Colin Powell famously put it while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: “I’m running out of enemies. . . . I’m down to Kim Il-Sung and Castro.” However, the United States continues to act as the globe’s 911 number.

Unfortunately, a hyperactive foreign policy requires a big military. America accounts for roughly half of global military outlays. In real terms Washington spends more on “defense” today than it during the Cold War, Korean War and Vietnam War.

U.S. military expenditures are extraordinary by any measure. My Cato Institute colleagues Chris Preble and Charles Zakaib recently compared American and European military outlays. U.S. expenditures have been trending upward and now approach five percent of GDP. In contrast, European outlays have consistently fallen as a percentage of GDP, to an average of less than two percent.

The difference is even starker when comparing per capita GDP military expenditures. The U.S. is around $2,200. Most European states fall well below $1,000. Adding in non-Pentagon defense spending—Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Energy (nuclear weapons)—yields American military outlays of $835.1 billion in 2008, which represented 5.9 percent of GDP and $2,700 per capita.

Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations worries that the increased financial obligations (forget unrealistic estimates about cutting the deficit) resulting from health-care legislation will preclude maintaining such oversize expenditures in the future, thereby threatening America’s “global standing.” He asks: Who will "police the sea lanes, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combat terrorism, respond to genocide and other unconscionable human rights violations, and deter rogue states from aggression?"

Of course, nobody is threatening to close the sea lanes these days. Washington has found it hard to stop nuclear proliferation without initiating war, yet promiscuous U.S. military intervention creates a powerful incentive for nations to seek nuclear weapons. Armored divisions and carrier groups aren’t useful in confronting terrorists. Iraq demonstrates how the brutality of war often is more inhumane than the depredations of dictators. And there are lots of other nations capable of deterring rogue states.

The United States should not attempt to do everything even if it could afford to do so. But it can’t. When it comes to the federal Treasury, there’s nothing there. If Uncle Sam was a real person, he would declare bankruptcy.

The current national debt is $12.7 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office figures that current policy—unrealistically assuming no new spending increases—will run up $10 trillion in deficits over the coming decade. But more spending—a lot more spending—is on the way.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain as active as ever, underwriting $5.4 trillion worth of mortgages while running up additional losses. The Federal Housing Administration’s portfolio of insured mortgages continues to rise along with defaults. Exposure for Ginnie Mae, which issues guaranteed mortgage-backed securities, also is jumping skyward. The FDIC shut down a record 140 banks last year and is running low on cash. Last year the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation figured its fund was running a $34 billion deficit. Federal pensions are underfunded by $1 trillion. State and local retirement funds are short about $3 trillion.

Outlays for the Iraq war will persist decades after the troops return as the government cares for seriously injured military personnel; total expenditures will hit $2 trillion or more. Extending and expanding the war in Afghanistan will further bloat federal outlays.

Worst of all, last year the combined Social Security/Medicare unfunded liability was estimated to be $107 trillion. Social Security, originally expected to go negative in 2016, will spend more than it collects this year, and the “trust fund” is an accounting fiction. Medicaid, a joint federal-state program, also is breaking budgets. At their current growth rate, CBO says that by 2050 these three programs alone will consume virtually the entire federal budget.

Uncle Sam’s current net liabilities exceed Americans’ net worth. Yet the debt-to-GDP ratio will continue rising and could eventually hit World War II levels. Net interest is expected to more than quadruple to $840 billion annually by 2020.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says: “It’s not something that is ten years away. It affects the markets currently.” In March, Treasury notes commanded a yield of 3.5 basis points higher than those for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Moody’s recently threatened to downgrade federal debt: “Although AAA governments benefit from an unusual degree of balance sheet flexibility, that flexibility is not infinite.” In 2008, Tom Lemmon of Moody’s warned: “The underlying credit rating of the U.S. government faces the risk of downgrading in the next ten years if solutions are not found to our growing Medicare and Social Security unfunded obligations.”

This is all without counting a dollar of increased federal spending due to federalizing American medicine.

The United States faces a fiscal crisis. If America’s survival was at stake, extraordinary military expenditures would still be justified. But not to protect other nations, especially prosperous and populous states well able to defend themselves. Boot warns: “it will be increasingly hard to be globocop and nanny state at the same time.” America should be neither.

The issue is not just money. The Constitution envisions a limited government focused on defending Americans, not transforming the rest of the world. Moreover, if Washington continues to act as globocop, America’s friends and allies will never have an incentive to do more.

The United States will be a world power for decades. But it can no afford to act as if it is the only power. America must begin the process of becoming a normal nation with a normal foreign policy.
Logged
Rarick
Guest
« Reply #71 on: April 27, 2010, 04:21:32 AM »

I have always been opposed to using the military as police force.  I served my time there, and I always hated seeing the "feed the masses" type missions.  The mission of the military is to kill the people preventing the masses from feeding themselves.  The MIC is also enamored of the BIG Hardware, and LARGE program type contracts required by the cold war era.  The fact is we can now do a whole lot more, for cheaper, and without big programs.  A lot of the soldiers field gear has been getting overhaulled in this manner.  A lot of troops started bringing their own gear instead of the GI stuff and it caused some to finally notice.  The landwarrior program is way more of a starwars type technology developer than an actual develop for deployment program now.  I see our best direction for the military being ongoing r&d where we design things like the stealth fighter and build a squadron or 2 for training and proof we can do it.  The main part of the budget however should go to things like the CMP where the citizens are trained to shoot, and to troop training where our vetrans have the best possible trainingby the time they get out.  An trained and armed populace is probably the best defense against any terrorist attack we would ever have.

A hardcore cadre of professionals like we had before WW2 would be on hand for jobs like Grenada and Panama actions that were in and out in a month or so.  There simply would not be the resources or troops to get mired in mission creep situations like Somalia and Iraq.  It is about taking out the bad guy not about nation building, let the locals sort it out.  The army cadre would include stuff like THAAD and the Ground based lasers, which would be there for threats like an enemy VLS system equipped ship pulling up and volleying its magazine (our Aegis destroyers carry 60 missiles).  The airborne laser would be able to deal with stuff further out, like ballistic missiles, and be an airforce cadre job.

As far as budget........where to start.........I would go for a full revamp of the taxation system.  Make a straight percentage of earnings from top to bottom.  People and corporations use the exact same accounting method to finf their earnings.  The tax form would include a list of what congress want to spend money on.  Everyone would make check marks on what they wanted to fund.  If a program ends up unfunded, congress has just been vetoed by the people, end of program.  The various programs will simply have to do the best they can given their funding. Make the various bureaucrats earn their tax money, that would keep thing fairly lean.  I would see no problem with various departments "Infomercialing" about what they are doing, and why their project is important.  THAT would open up the process considerably wouldn't it?

The deficit.......suffer thru paying it off, and never allow it again by instituting the above rework.
Logged
ccp
Power User
***
Posts: 3791


« Reply #72 on: May 21, 2010, 09:40:39 AM »


By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 21, 2010

It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program.

It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further.

But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.


 They've watched America acquiesce to Russia's re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama "reset" policy).

They've watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran's agent in the Arab Levant -- sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the United States and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. "engagement."

They've observed the administration's gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez organizes his anti-American "Bolivarian" coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chávez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.

This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.

Nor is this retreat by inadvertence. This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It's the perfect fulfillment of Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)

Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #73 on: May 24, 2010, 12:20:59 AM »

WEST POINT, N.Y. — President Obama previewed a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he essentially repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war.


President Obama and West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck stood for the national anthem before Mr. Obama addressed graduates of the United States Military Academy on Saturday. More Photos »


Eight years after President George W. Bush came to the United States Military Academy to set a new security doctrine after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Obama used the same setting to offer a revised vision vowing no retreat against enemies while seeking “national renewal and global leadership.”

“Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system,” the president told graduating cadets. “But America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation. We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice, so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and face consequences when they don’t.”

Mr. Obama said the United States would “be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well,” while also trying to “build new partnerships and shape stronger international standards and institutions.” He added: “This engagement is not an end in itself. The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times.”

The president’s address was aimed not just at 1,000 young men and women in gray and white uniforms in Michie Stadium who could soon face the perils of Afghanistan or Iraq as Army lieutenants, but also at an international audience that in some quarters grew alienated during the Bush era.

While the president never mentioned his predecessor’s name, the contrast between Mr. Bush’s address in 2002 and Mr. Obama’s in 2010 underscored the ways a wartime America has changed — and the ways it has not. This was the ninth West Point class to graduate since hijackers smashed planes into New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Most of those commissioned on Saturday were 12 at the time.

When Mr. Bush addressed their predecessors, he had toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan and was turning attention to Iraq. “If we wait for threats to fully materialize,” he said then, “we will have waited too long.” As Mr. Obama took the stage on a mild, overcast day, the American war in Iraq was winding down, but Afghanistan had flared out of control and terrorists were making a fresh effort to strike inside the United States.

“This war has changed over the last nine years, but it’s no less important than it was in those days after 9/11,” Mr. Obama said. Recalling his decision announced here six months ago to send 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said difficult days were ahead, but added, “I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Obama all but declared victory in Iraq, praising the military, but not Mr. Bush, for turning it around. “A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken,” he said. “But the American military is more resilient than that.”

At home, Mr. Obama attributed the failure of efforts to blow up an airplane over Detroit and a car packed with explosives in Times Square to the intense American pursuit of radical groups abroad. “These failed attacks show that pressure on networks like Al Qaeda is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train,” he said.

And he defended his revised counterterrorism policies that critics say have weakened America’s defenses. “We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them,” he said. “We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart.”

The speech offered a glimpse of his first official national security strategy, to be released this week, including four principles: to build strength abroad by building strength at home through education, clean energy and innovation; to promote “the renewed engagement of our diplomats” and support international development; to rebuild alliances; and to promote human rights and democracy abroad.

But even as he tried to distinguish his strategy from Mr. Bush’s, Mr. Obama faced the same daunting realization and expressed it with a line Mr. Bush used repeatedly: “This is a different kind of war,” he said. “There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey’s end, no armistice or banner headline.”
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #74 on: June 06, 2010, 06:38:14 PM »

As Sarkozy asked in a spontaneous moment, “C’est debile?” Oui, oui, monsieur il est debile.

Here’s how things stack up for me at the moment:

Our policy in Afghanistan is utterly incoherent. BO (President Obama) says we are there because it is a vital war of national self-defense. This is why we will leave it up to Karzai and the central government as we begin to leave in a year. The Wackostans will return to their wicked ways in full measure. The ISI will act accordingly. Pakistan’s nuke program, if it has not already slipped its leash, will do so once again. BO has thrown away everything in Iraq. Iran will dominate via the Shias. Turkey, will work with Iran to screw the Kurds. This may be part of why Turkey just assisted and enabled Iran’s fraudulent pretense at meeting objections to its enrichment program. Iran will go nuke. Russia, having given up nothing in return for our pulling the rug from under Poland and the Czechs, will finish re-establishing its dominance over East Europe, and central Asia. Its action in and against Georgia has ensured that no pipelines will be built through Georgia. Thus central Asian gas will not be able to get to Europe outside of Russian control. Central Europe, especially Germany, will increasingly be subject to Russian whims. With Iran going nuke, and BO and the US’s proven track record of being an unreliable umbrella, the Arab mid-east will seek to go nuke as well. Turkey will seek to re-assert its historical regional dominance and influence. The farce it just pulled off at Israel’s expense is the sign that a very large and very important decision has been made. If Israel’s blockade against arms in Gaza is broken, Iran will have Israel surrounded: via Hezbollah, thanks to Israel’s bellicus interruptus of a few years ago, it how has some 50,000 rockets which reach most of Israel. In Gaza it will be able to reach what it cannot from Lebanon. It certainly will be able to reach Israel’s nuke reactor. The US presence in Iraq will soon be meaningless. Israel’s extermination is likely to be attempted. In the meantime, back in the USA the laws of gravity and of supply and demand will assert themselves and our final economic bubble will burst. We will all be Californians. In search of purchasing the Latino vote, BO and Congress will grant amnesty to 10-20 million illegals, plus visas to some 20-50 million more family members. They will vote Democratic, and the Republican Party will become as dead a letter for the entire nation as it already is for New England and the Atlantic States.

Have a nice day.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #75 on: June 07, 2010, 08:01:12 AM »

Gee, who could have seen this coming?  rolleyes
Logged
DougMacG
Power User
***
Posts: 5527


« Reply #76 on: October 14, 2010, 12:08:25 PM »

Speaking of someone who could hold his own in a debate with The One, meet Prof. Hanson.  Please set aside 37 minutes and watch/listen to this interview. Good questions with great answers on issues that that include Islam in Europe, defending Europe, the lack of a future for the E.U., Asia, Thomas Friedman's comments on China, the situation inside Mexico, California, the border, Russia, Iran, the possibility of taking out Iran's nuclear capability, etc.

Well informed, very clear thinking, logical, common sense answers and observations to wide ranging questions and issues today from around the globe.

Townhall has parts of this in segments.  This link has the interview in its entirety.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/10/027451.php
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #77 on: November 04, 2010, 10:18:28 AM »

The World Looks at Obama After the U.S. Midterm Election
November 4, 2010


By George Friedman

The 2010 U.S. midterm elections were held, and the results were as expected: The Republicans took the House but did not take the Senate. The Democrats have such a small margin in the Senate, however, that they cannot impose cloture, which means the Republicans can block Obama administration initiatives in both houses of Congress. At the same time, the Republicans cannot override presidential vetoes alone, so they cannot legislate, either. The possible legislative outcomes are thus gridlock or significant compromises.

U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that the Republicans prove rigidly ideological. In 1994, after the Republicans won a similar victory over Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich attempted to use the speakership to craft national policy. Clinton ran for re-election in 1996 against Gingrich rather than the actual Republican candidate, Bob Dole; Clinton made Gingrich the issue, and he won. Obama hopes for the same opportunity to recoup. The new speaker, John Boehner, already has indicated that he does not intend to play Gingrich but rather is prepared to find compromises. Since Tea Party members are not close to forming a majority of the Republican Party in the House, Boehner is likely to get his way.

Another way to look at this is that the United States remains a predominantly right-of-center country. Obama won a substantial victory in 2008, but he did not change the architecture of American politics. Almost 48 percent of voters voted against him. Though he won a larger percentage than anyone since Ronald Reagan, he was not even close to the magnitude of Reagan’s victory. Reagan transformed the way American politics worked. Obama did not. In spite of his supporters’ excitement, his election did not signify a permanent national shift to the left. His attempt to govern from the left accordingly brought a predictable result: The public took away his ability to legislate on domestic affairs. Instead, they moved the country to a position where no one can legislate anything beyond the most carefully negotiated and neutral legislation.


Foreign Policy and Obama’s Campaign Position

That leaves foreign policy. Last week, I speculated on what Obama might do in foreign affairs, exploring his options with regard to Iran. This week, I’d like to consider the opposite side of the coin, namely, how foreign governments view Obama after this defeat. Let’s begin by considering how he positioned himself during his campaign.

The most important thing about his campaign was the difference between what he said he would do and what his supporters heard him saying he would do. There were several major elements to his foreign policy. First, he campaigned intensely against the Bush policy in Iraq, arguing that it was the wrong war in the wrong place. Second, he argued that the important war was in Afghanistan, where he pledged to switch his attention to face the real challenge of al Qaeda. Third, he argued against Bush administration policy on detention, military tribunals and torture, in his view symbolized by the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

In a fourth element, he argued that Bush had alienated the world by his unilateralism, by which he meant lack of consultation with allies — in particular the European allies who had been so important during the Cold War. Obama argued that global hostility toward the Bush administration arose from the Iraq war and the manner in which Bush waged the war on terror. He also made clear that the United States under Bush had an indifference to world opinion that cost it moral force. Obama wanted to change global perceptions of the United States as a unilateral global power to one that would participate as an equal partner with the rest of the world.

The Europeans were particularly jubilant at his election. They had in fact seen Bush as unwilling to take their counsel, and more to the point, as demanding that they participate in U.S. wars that they had no interest in participating in. The European view — or more precisely, the French and German view — was that allies should have a significant degree of control over what Americans do. Thus, the United States should not merely have consulted the Europeans, but should have shaped its policy with their wishes in mind. The Europeans saw Bush as bullying, unsophisticated and dangerous. Bush in turn saw allies’ unwillingness to share the burdens of a war as meaning they were not in fact allies. He considered so-called “Old Europe” as uncooperative and unwilling to repay past debts.


The European Misunderstanding of Obama

The Europeans’ pleasure in Obama’s election, however, represented a massive misunderstanding. Though they thought Obama would allow them a greater say in U.S. policy — and, above all, ask them for less — Obama in fact argued that the Europeans would be more likely to provide assistance to the United States if Washington was more collaborative with the Europeans.

Thus, in spite of the Nobel Peace Prize in the early days of the romance, the bloom wore off as the Europeans discovered that Obama was simply another U.S. president. More precisely, they learned that instead of being able to act according to his or her own wishes, circumstances constrain occupants of the U.S. presidency into acting like any other president would.

Campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, Obama’s position on Iraq consisted of slightly changing Bush’s withdrawal timetable. In Afghanistan, his strategy was to increase troop levels beyond what Bush would consider. Toward Iran, his policy has been the same as Bush’s: sanctions with a hint of something later.

The Europeans quickly became disappointed in Obama, especially when he escalated the Afghan war and asked them to increase forces when they wanted to withdraw. Perhaps most telling was his speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, where he tried to reach out to, and create a new relationship with, Muslims. The problem with this approach was that that in the speech, Obama warned that the United States would not abandon Israel — the same stance other U.S. presidents had adopted. It is hard to know what Obama was thinking. Perhaps he thought that by having reached out to the Muslim world, they should in turn understand the American commitment to Israel. Instead, Muslims understood the speech as saying that while Obama was prepared to adopt a different tone with Muslims, the basic structure of American policy in the region would not be different.


Why Obama Believed in a Reset Button

In both the European and Muslim case, the same question must be asked: Why did Obama believe that he was changing relations when in fact his policies were not significantly different from Bush’s policies? The answer is that Obama seemed to believe the essential U.S. problem with the world was rhetorical. The United States had not carefully explained itself, and in not explaining itself, the United States appeared arrogant.

Obama seemed to believe that the policies did not matter as much as the sensibility that surrounded the policies. It was not so much that he believed he could be charming — although he seemed to believe that with reason — but rather that foreign policy is personal, built around trust and familiarity rather than around interests. The idea that nations weren’t designed to trust or like one another, but rather pursued their interests with impersonal force, was alien to him. And so he thought he could explain the United States to the Muslims without changing U.S. policy and win the day.

U.S. policies in the Middle East remain intact, Guantanamo is still open, and most of the policies Obama opposed in his campaign are still there, offending the world much as they did under Bush. Moreover, the U.S. relationship with China has worsened, and while the U.S. relationship with Russia has appeared to improve, this is mostly atmospherics. This is not to criticize Obama, as these are reasonable policies for an American to pursue. Still, the substantial change in America’s place in the world that Europeans and his supporters entertained has not materialized. That it couldn’t may be true, but the gulf between what Obama said and what has happened is so deep that it shapes global perceptions.


Global Expectations and Obama’s Challenge

Having traveled a great deal in the last year and met a number of leaders and individuals with insight into the predominant thinking in their country, I can say with some confidence that the global perception of Obama today is as a leader given to rhetoric that doesn’t live up to its promise. It is not that anyone expected his rhetoric to live up to its promise, since no politician can pull that off, but that they see Obama as someone who thought rhetoric would change things. In that sense, he is seen as naive and, worse, as indecisive and unimaginative.

No one expected him to turn rhetoric into reality. But they did expect some significant shifts in foreign policy and a forceful presence in the world. Whatever the criticisms leveled against the United States, the expectation remains that the United States will remain at the center of events, acting decisively. This may be a contradiction in the global view of things, but it is the reality.

A foreign minister of a small — but not insignificant — country put it this way to me: Obama doesn’t seem to be there. By that he meant that Obama does not seem to occupy the American presidency and that the United States he governs does not seem like a force to be reckoned with. Decisions that other leaders wait for the United States to make don’t get made, the authority of U.S. emissaries is uncertain, the U.S. defense and state departments say different things, and serious issues are left unaddressed.

While it may seem an odd thing to say, it is true: The American president also presides over the world. U.S. power is such that there is an expectation that the president will attend to matters around the globe not out of charity, but because of American interest. The questions I have heard most often on many different issues are simple: What is the American position, what is the American interest, what will the Americans do? (As an American, I frequently find my hosts appointing me to be the representative of the United States.)

I have answered that the United States is off balance trying to place the U.S.-jihadist war in context, that it must be understood that the president is preoccupied but will attend to their region shortly. That is not a bad answer, since it is true. But the issue now is simple: Obama has spent two years on the trajectory in place when he was elected, having made few if any significant shifts. Inertia is not a bad thing in policy, as change for its own sake is dangerous. Yet a range of issues must be attended to, including China, Russia and the countries that border each of them.

Obama comes out of this election severely weakened domestically. If he continues his trajectory, the rest of the world will perceive him as a crippled president, something he needn’t be in foreign policy matters. Obama can no longer control Congress, but he still controls foreign policy. He could emerge from this defeat as a powerful foreign policy president, acting decisively in Afghanistan and beyond. It’s not a question of what he should do, but whether he will choose to act in a significant way at all.

This is Obama’s great test. Reagan accelerated his presence in the world after his defeat in 1982. It is an option, and the most important question is whether he takes it. We will know in a few months. If he doesn’t, global events will begin unfolding without recourse to the United States, and issues held in check will no longer remain quiet.

Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #78 on: November 04, 2010, 10:29:36 AM »

Issues aren't in check and they are only quiet as the US MSM hasn't really covered them. China and Russia have already long concluded that the US is no longer willing to stop them. Hillary's 3 party talks invitation to resolve the disputed islands claimed by Japan and China was rejected with obvious contempt by China.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #79 on: November 04, 2010, 10:38:03 AM »

As was noted in the China thread, China's claims to the islands in question appear to have genuine legitimacy.  As I see it, the true point was not the posturing of hosting three party talks, the true point/question was whether the US would consider itself treaty bound to defend Japan if these islands were attacked.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #80 on: November 11, 2010, 11:56:02 PM »

The G-20 Summit and the Importance of East Asia

The G-20 summit convenes Nov. 11 in Seoul, South Korea, where the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies will gather to discuss the most pressing global economic issues of the day. While there is no shortage of topics to discuss, there are two dominant themes that directly involve two major players, the United States and China. The first is the U.S.-led call for countries that have trade surpluses, most notably China and Japan, to export less and build up their domestic consumption. The second is currency devaluation, highlighted by the U.S. decision to engage in quantitative easing (essentially the digital equivalent of printing money) to the tune of $600 billion.

These themes affect each country represented at the G-20 — and to a certain extent nearly every country in the world. Moreover, due to the fundamental structural and performance differences of the G-20 countries — more specifically, trade surplus countries are opposed to U.S. demands — these topics are certain to be intensely debated.

But currency devaluation and trade are not the only reasons that Seoul, and the Asia Pacific region as a whole, is an important place to watch to gauge the temperature of some of the world’s major players. This region, not coincidentally, has drawn the attention of two countries for reasons that are only partially related to the rapid economic growth and dynamism that has come to mark East Asia over the past few decades, reasons that are more geopolitical in nature.

“There are many dynamics that will shape, and limit, the form of engagement that Russia and the United States will have with East Asia.”
One of these countries is the United States. Over the past decade, much of the United States’ attention and resources have been focused on the Middle East and South Asia. But as the United States extricates itself from Iraq (however tentatively) and is in the process of beginning a similar withdrawal from Afghanistan starting in 2011, there are other potential threats and challengers emerging in Eurasia that await Washington. One of these is China, which has become increasingly assertive in its Southeast Asian periphery and further abroad as Beijing seeks to secure the resources it needs to keep its economy churning. China’s economic policies, such as maintaining a weak yuan, and its strengthening position on the global stage have led to growing friction with the United States.

In the meantime, the United States has begun to slowly re-engage with, and strengthen new partnerships and alliances in, East Asia — a region that China would rather the United States stay out of. Indeed, it is not an accident that U.S. President Barack Obama’s Asia tour, which includes trips to India and Indonesia, comes at the same time as the G-20 summit. Obama will follow the summit by attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Japan, in effect forming an arch around China that notably excludes China itself.

The other country whose attention has returned to the region is Russia. East Asia was a region of tremendous importance for Russia throughout the Cold War, but the Soviet Union’s collapse saw much of Russia’s political, economic and military ties to this region shrivel. The aftermath of the Cold War left Russia focusing first on rebuilding itself and then on rebuilding its influence in Europe, its western theater. And now there have been many signs of an eastward gaze from Moscow — Russia has been increasing its oil and natural gas exports to the region, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that East Asia could soon match the European market for Russian energy, which for all its extensive, financial and technical limitations shows how enthusiastically Russia views prospects in the region.

But Moscow’s return to the region has not entirely been benevolent. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was recently the first Russian president to visit the southern Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan, a source of strained relations with Tokyo. Russia also is in the process of building up its military in the region, from nuclear submarines to missile systems, increasing Japanese fears further. This antagonism with Japan is one of many issues that has actually driven Russia closer to the Chinese, though the two still have fundamental differences.

There are many dynamics that will shape, and limit, the form of engagement that Russia and the United States will have with East Asia. But it is clear that East Asia has become the center of a strategic and geopolitical focus for many reasons, and it is no coincidence that U.S. attention, Russian re-engagement, and the G-20 — both the site and the issues that it will see discussed — all coalesce around the same location.

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #81 on: November 29, 2010, 10:56:55 AM »

By STEPHEN PETER ROSEN
Enough is enough. Every day, the events of the real world reveal that the American foreign policy establishment is wearing nothing but the emperor's new clothes—policies that make proper people murmur "how Nobel-worthy" while looking around to see if anyone else notices something odd.

Respectable wise men, in and out of government, talk of the importance of arms control and a nuclear-free world, when the reality is that Iran, North Korea and other countries have made the acquisition of nuclear weapons their highest priority. The government of Russia has committed itself to a military posture in which tactical nuclear weapons play a larger role in war fighting and war termination.

The bitter truth is that a world with fewer nuclear weapons really is in the interest of the United States. That is why it won't happen: Too many countries believe that a nuclear-free world will leave the conventional military superiority of the U.S. unchallengeable.

View Full Image

David Gothard
 .The wise men call on China to help us restrain the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, while the Chinese official press praises North Korea for its toughness after its artillery attacks. American officials piously intone that we will not reward bad behavior. They point to the deployment of carrier forces that everyone knows are determined not to fire one round in anger. Meanwhile, the U.S. government prepares the ground for new rounds of talks in which rewards for North Korea will be carefully discussed.

The relative decline and overextension of American military power makes the prospect of using military power against U.S. allies increasingly a matter of "It just might work," rather than "Don't even think about it." American allies must, as reasonable men and women, consider whether to strike out on their own, either by increasing their own military power or by seeking accommodations with those who oppose the U.S.

So what is to be done? We have no good options, we are told, with the subtext being "Get used to North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons." But we do have options.

In the near term, we must allow our allies to acquire the weapons they need for their own defense. The U.S. government should reverse its decision not to sell F-22s to Japan. It should aid the expansion of the Japanese submarine force by transferring relevant military technologies, and it also should encourage Japanese production of anti-missile interceptors for foreign sale.

If we deploy American military power, we must do it like we mean it. If North Korea and Iran want nuclear weapons, and China does nothing to stop them, we can reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons onto American aircraft carriers and attack submarines in the Pacific. We should put on round-the-clock shifts the production lines of weapons that would be needed in the event of war with Iran or North Korea (such as the long-range version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile).

The U.S. can also ask the United Nations for a resolution authorizing air strikes against North Korea in the event of any future attack on the people or territory of South Korea or Japan. China will then stand up and be counted on one side or the other.

Such measures would provide some immediate reassurance to our allies that we will fight if we must, if they are attacked again. Of course, they won't make the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs go away. To deal with those, we must have a longer-term program.

The U.S. will need offensive as well as defensive forces that can thwart foreign aggression, even though aggressors have nuclear weapons. This is neither impossible nor paradoxical. Countries have defeated the U.S. since we developed nuclear weapons. Israel has been attacked repeatedly even though it has had nuclear weapons since 1967. What is very hard, and may be impossible, is to get other countries to allow the U.S. military to use bases on their territory when their enemies have nuclear weapons and they do not.

Over the next 10 years, the U.S. needs to increase its ability to conduct non-nuclear war from undersea, from ships out of range of missile attack, and from bases on American soil by means of long-range missiles and aircraft, manned or unmanned. The U.S. must be able to use cyber warfare and other unconventional means, and to defend itself from retaliatory attacks in kind. The U.S. military must also be prepared to operate in an environment in which other countries have used nuclear weapons. This means having not only missile defenses, but also protection against the electromagnetic pulses generated by nuclear weapons, which can paralyze modern electronics.

This will not be cheap, but it will be less expensive if we help our democratic allies arm themselves—by transferring technologies to them, by working with them, and by encouraging them to help each other.

This isn't a recipe for World War III with China or anybody else. It is a realistic response to a world in which countries are developing nuclear weapons not to fight other countries but to coerce them. Our goal should be a world in which countries can live peacefully without fear of being coerced militarily. It is an old-school response that doesn't seek war, but that also doesn't aspire to utopian goals.

Mr. Rosen is professor of national security and military affairs at Harvard.

Logged
ccp
Power User
***
Posts: 3791


« Reply #82 on: November 29, 2010, 02:25:08 PM »

Good article above.

I was thinking over the weekend that our response to aggression has become predictable.  And that allows us to be manipulated.

Without fail we speak of dealing with threats in predictable ways:

Start with the public announcement of "concern", "top priority", "outrage", "will discuss with allies", etc.
Then the UN security coucil route. 
Then threat of sanctions.
Then bribery attempts.
Then some mild sanctions.
Then stronger sanctions.
Then more strong sanctions.
Then getting "allies" to go along with more sanctions.

Being predictable is a huge weakness.

Suppose we just shut the hell up.  Give a stern and resolute warning or two.  If that doesn't work show we mean what we say.

And out of no where we bomb the living daylights out of one of our enemies.

Make 'em into a parking garage.  (Think of Reagan bombing Qhadafis compound in what '86?)

Sure they will hate us and there will be eternal pacts of revenge.  (Think of Lockerbie)

But we will be respected.  Not feared.  Just respected.  (Qhaddafi surely changed after he saw video of Saddam being dragged out of hole didn't he?)



Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #83 on: December 09, 2010, 05:38:29 AM »



Who Fears the Russian Bear?

The global focus on Tuesday returned to the North European Plain, specifically east of the Oder and north of the Pripyat Marshes, where Russia, Poland, Belarus and the three Baltic states continue to share what is the geopolitical version of an awkward Soviet-era communal apartment. Russian envoy to NATO Dmitri Rogozin, referring to the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables revealing NATO plans to defend the three Baltic states from Russia, asked that the plans be formally withdrawn at the next NATO-Russia meeting. Rogozin pointed out that the recently penned NATO 2010 Strategic Concept speaks of a “true strategic partnership” — a direct quote from the mission statement — between the alliance and Russia and that the supposed “anti-Russian” military plan to defend the Baltics is incompatible with the document. Referring to the plan, Rogozin rhetorically asked, “Against who else could such a defense be intended? Against Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, against polar bears, or against the Russian bear?”

Rogozin was being sardonic for dramatic effect — Moscow is not actually surprised that NATO has an active war plan against it. Russia completed joint exercises — called “Zapad” (meaning west in Russian) — with Belarus at the end of 2009 that placed 13,000 troops on the borders of the Baltic states and had as its supposed aim the simulation of the liberation of Kaliningrad from NATO forces. Russian defense establishment sources referred to the exercise as a “drill,” as in something that the Russian military routinely prepares for. Russia purposefully allowed the simulation scenario of Zapad to leak, emphasizing to the Baltic states and Poland that it is very much the bear to be feared in the region.

” Polish officials do not have the luxury of dismissing American horse-trading with the Russians over Polish security as a “one-off” affair.”
STRATFOR therefore highly doubts that Rogozin was astonished by the revelation of the defense plans, particularly as the Russian SVR — the foreign intelligence service — does not need WikiLeaks to collect intelligence from the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Moscow is using the recently adopted Strategic Concept as a way to emphasize to the Balts and the rest of Central Europe that the NATO alliance is inconsistent with its security needs — particularly that any security guarantees offered by the alliance are undermined by the very Strategic Concept of that alliance just penned in Lisbon. And ultimately, Western European — and specifically German — lobbying for inclusion of Russia as a “strategic partner” should be the writing on the wall for the region: Its fate was to either adopt a neutral posture and accept Russian security hegemony or keep being pressured by Moscow.

The countries of the region, Poland and the Balts specifically, are therefore — politically as well as geographically — stuck between a Russia that threatens them and a Germany that refuses to offer security guarantees. Berlin instead prefers to develop its own relations with Moscow and dismiss Baltic and Polish insecurities as paranoia, arguing that Russia is best countered with investments, integration into the European economy and offers of security dialogue. Warsaw and the Baltics are therefore left to look expectantly toward the United States for bilateral security guarantees.

The problem, however, is that the United States is distracted, by both its domestic politics and the management of its Middle East entanglements. Furthermore, Poland feels spurned, especially by Washington’s decision first to pull out on the initial ballistic missile defense (BMD) plans in September 2009 and then, on a rotational basis, to deploy an unarmed Patriot missile battery to the country with a minimal contingent of 20-30 personnel, when Warsaw hoped for an armed deployment with a more robust — and more importantly, permanent — U.S. military presence.

In this context, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk— symbolically returning from a Monday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin —referred to the WikiLeaks controversy as a “problem” for Poland because the various dispatches referring to Polish-American relations reveal “illusions over the character of relations between different states.” If we understand Tusk correctly, he essentially hints that the current public Polish-American relationship is an “illusion” and that, in reality, the U.S. security guarantees are insufficient.

It is difficult to disagree with Tusk if we place ourselves in the shoes of Polish policymakers. The United States ultimately decided to back away from the initial BMD version and supposedly also the armed Patriots because it needed Russian help on a number of issues in the Middle East, particularly pressuring Tehran with U.N. sanctions and making sure that Russia does not sell the S-300 air defense system to Iran. To Warsaw, the American decision illustrates that it placed its own interests — in a tangential region of no concern to Central Europe — above the security relationship with Poland. And what is worse, Washington trades Polish security for concessions with Russia in the Middle East.

To Americans, Poland looks like a country with no options. Sure, it feels spurned, but where will the Poles turn? As it did prior to WWII, Germany is making deals with Russia, and French and British security guarantees are unreliable. The United States, remembering its history of fighting wars to defend small allies for the sake of its credibility, would say that the Poles should know better than to doubt American guarantees. An alliance with Poland is therefore not one that needs to be micromanaged. In fact, the guarantees provided by Washington should be seen as sufficient, if not generous. Poland will get over the American spurn and go about pursuing its only option of being a solid American ally. That pretty much sums up Washington’s view on the matter.

That may sound harsh, but there is much truth in that statement. Poland is not going to cease being an American ally — not considering its current geopolitical circumstances. But Polish officials also do not have the luxury of dismissing American horse-trading with the Russians over Polish security. For Poles, it isn’t a “one-off” affair easily reassured with: “But, we’ll be there when it matters.” No nation can make that sort of a bet, not with its security and not when it has a history of seeing Western powers fail to live up to their security guarantees that far east on the North European Plain.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski will travel to the United States on Wednesday, a day after he spent two days with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and half of the Russian Cabinet, inaugurating the supposed new era in Polish-Russian relations. But when Komorowski travels to Washington, he will expect the Americans to have an answer to Warsaw’s burning question of the moment — what exactly is Washington’s global security strategy and where does Poland fit? Because, as Rogozin so aptly stated, Poland is not looking for assurances against Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland or against polar bears…but very much so against the Russian bear.

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #84 on: December 09, 2010, 05:41:49 AM »

Second post of the morning.  It presents similar deep conceptual questions:

Iran to place missiles in Venezuela according to an article in Die Welt.

http://www.hudson-ny.org/1714/iran-missiles-in-venezuela#_ftn1

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #85 on: December 16, 2010, 08:39:44 AM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thu, December 16, 2010 -- 6:00 AM ET
-----

Afghan Report Sees Troop Withdrawal on Schedule for July
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
======================================

So, the bug out is on schedule.  As promised to the Muslim world by Ahmadinjad (too cranky to look up proper spelling) the US essentially is being run out of the mid-east.  The Dems chorus of defeatist chorus against The Surge in Iraq persuaded all there that we were leaving and so they aligned themselves accordingly and now our CiC, elected to fight "the right war" in Afg, after having sabotaged any chance of success by telling the enemy we were leaving, begins our departure.  China challenges throughout SE Asia.  Even our long time ally the Philippines (along with many, many other countries) bows its head in submission by not going to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies this year.  The time is coming when we will be run out of Taiwan.  In addition to the peace at any price elements of our political spectrum, the isolationist/libertarian spirit of our polity-animated the results of a a decade of piss-poor leadership and results as well as a genuine spending crisis, calls for cuts in military spending even as the Chinese challenge our Navy in the western Pacific and the Russians put missiles in Venezuela and our 2,000 mile border with Mexico is a narco war zone.   Europe's currency (hence economic union?) teeters and we may well be only a economic step or two behind. cry cry cry

The Adventure continues, , ,
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #86 on: February 17, 2011, 06:30:34 AM »

This Pravda on the Hudson piece I find quite interesting and hope it will excite some comment here.  Combined with some things on Glenn Beck's fascinating show last night, it begins to appear that Baraq & Company have a hand or three in what is going on.

==========

Secret Report Ordered by Obama Identified Potential Uprisings
By MARK LANDLER
Published: February 16, 2011
 
WASHINGTON — President Obama ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, these officials said.
The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

Administration officials did not say how the report related to intelligence analysis of the Middle East, which the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, acknowledged in testimony before Congress, needed to better identify “triggers” for uprisings in countries like Egypt.

Officials said Mr. Obama’s support for the crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo, even if it followed some mixed signals by his administration, reflected his belief that there was a greater risk in not pushing for changes because Arab leaders would have to resort to ever more brutal methods to keep the lid on dissent.

“There’s no question Egypt was very much on the mind of the president,” said a senior official who helped draft the report and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss its findings. “You had all the unknowns created by Egypt’s succession picture — and Egypt is the anchor of the region.”

At the time, officials said, President Hosni Mubarak appeared to be either digging in or grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him. Parliamentary elections scheduled for November were widely expected to be a sham. Egyptian police were jailing bloggers, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had returned home to lead a nascent opposition movement.

In Yemen, too, officials said Mr. Obama worried that the administration’s intense focus on counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda was ignoring a budding political crisis, as angry young people rebelled against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an autocratic leader of the same vintage as Mr. Mubarak.

“Whether it was Yemen or other countries in the region, you saw a set of trends” — a big youth population, threadbare education systems, stagnant economies and new social network technologies like Facebook and Twitter — that was a “real prescription for trouble,” another official said.

The White House held weekly meetings with experts from the State Department, the C.I.A. and other agencies. The process was led by Dennis B. Ross, the president’s senior adviser on the Middle East; Samantha Power, a senior director at the National Security Council who handles human rights issues; and Gayle Smith, a senior director responsible for global development.

The administration kept the project secret, officials said, because it worried that if word leaked out, Arab allies would pressure the White House, something that happened in the days after protests convulsed Cairo.

Indeed, except for Egypt, the officials refused to discuss countries in detail. The report singles out four for close scrutiny, which an official said ran the gamut: one that is trying to move toward change, another that has resisted any change and two with deep strategic ties to the United States as well as religious tensions. Those characteristics would suggest Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.

By issuing a directive, Mr. Obama was also pulling the topic of political change out of regular meetings on diplomatic, commercial or military relations with Arab states. In those meetings, one official said, the strategic interests loom so large that it is almost impossible to discuss reform efforts.

The study has helped shape other messages, like a speech Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave in Qatar in January, in which she criticized Arab leaders for resisting change.

“We really pushed the question of who was taking the lead in reform,” said an official. “Would pushing reform harm relations with the Egyptian military? Doesn’t the military have an interest in reform?”

Mr. Obama also pressed his advisers to study popular uprisings in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia to determine which ones worked and which did not. He is drawn to Indonesia, where he spent several years as a child, which ousted its longtime leader, Suharto, in 1998.

While the report is guiding the administration’s response to events in the Arab world, it has not yet been formally submitted — and given the pace of events in the region, an official said, it is still a work in progress.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #87 on: February 17, 2011, 07:03:58 AM »

Good thing Obama wore a kippa at AIPAC, otherwise I'd think that he was pro-muslim and anti-Israel.  rolleyes


Gee, some of us saw this coming.....
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #88 on: February 17, 2011, 07:19:37 AM »

Indeed!

That said, there is the stubborn, dilema of this:

"a greater risk in not pushing for changes because Arab leaders would have to resort to ever more brutal methods to keep the lid on dissent."

How do you address this question?

Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #89 on: February 17, 2011, 07:36:00 AM »

Well, let's figure out the path that will lead to a lesser loss of life and human suffering. Arab nations seized by jihadists that then wage an apocalyptic war against Israel, or some forcefully put down demonstrations/riots?

The Shah wasn't great on human rights, but when the mullahs seized Iran, the violation of human rights, like mass executions was much worse. Oh, and that nuclear crisis thing....
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #90 on: February 17, 2011, 07:41:45 AM »

I get that BUT

a) does that not lead to situations where ultimately such a strategy blows up amidst revolution and/or chaos?
b) does that not lead to a diminishment of our moral power in the world?  (Do you believe in moral power at all?)
c) does that not lead to weak support from the American people?
d) does it bother your sleep at all?

Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #91 on: February 17, 2011, 07:56:46 AM »

I get that BUT

a) does that not lead to situations where ultimately such a strategy blows up amidst revolution and/or chaos?

**No. How long has N. Korea starved and brutalized it's people? Oppression is the default state of human government. What western civilization did was an abberation from the norms of human history.

b) does that not lead to a diminishment of our moral power in the world?  (Do you believe in moral power at all?)

**Like the fierce moral urgency for change that put Obama into office? Bwahahahaha!


c) does that not lead to weak support from the American people?

**How many bother to look up from their reality shows to bother to figure out the difference between Iraq and Iran?


d) does it bother your sleep at all?


**What bothers my sleep is the things I see coming.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #92 on: February 17, 2011, 08:47:07 AM »

"Hey, what possible harm could occur from wading into this mob? They're protesting for democracy! They're muslims, and we all know islam is a religion of peace and women are treated with reverence!"

MARC: Is this fair?  How do you know that she thinks like this?


« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 02:35:21 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #93 on: February 17, 2011, 02:26:26 PM »

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4029879,00.html

US clueless about Egypt?

Senate hearing turns into farce as American ignorance on Egypt situation revealed; specific agenda of Muslim Brotherhood unclear, top official says, has trouble responding to question on group’s attitude to peace with Israel
Logged
ccp
Power User
***
Posts: 3791


« Reply #94 on: March 04, 2011, 02:40:55 PM »

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 4, 2011

Voices around the world, from Europe to America to Libya, are calling for U.S. intervention to help bring down Moammar Gaddafi. Yet for bringing down Saddam Hussein, the United States has been denounced variously for aggression, deception, arrogance and imperialism.

From Baghdad to Benghazi
Iran might not be the big winner of Mideast uprisings
A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."

Moreover, that systemized brutality made Hussein immovable in a way that Gaddafi is not. Barely armed Libyans have already seized half the country on their own. Yet in Iraq, there was no chance of putting an end to the regime without the terrible swift sword (it took all of three weeks) of the United States.

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy - the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds - money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy - by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street - to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."

Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.

Iraq, of course, required a sustained U.S. military engagement to push back totalitarian forces trying to extinguish the new Iraq. But is this not what we are being asked to do with a no-fly zone over Libya? In conditions of active civil war, taking command of Libyan airspace requires a sustained military engagement.

Now, it can be argued that the price in blood and treasure that America paid to establish Iraq's democracy was too high. But whatever side you take on that question, what's unmistakable is that to the Middle Easterner, Iraq today is the only functioning Arab democracy, with multiparty elections and the freest press. Its democracy is fragile and imperfect - last week, security forces cracked down on demonstrators demanding better services - but were Egypt to be as politically developed in, say, a year as is Iraq today, we would think it a great success.

For Libyans, the effect of the Iraq war is even more concrete. However much bloodshed they face, they have been spared the threat of genocide. Gaddafi was so terrified by what we did to Saddam & Sons that he plea-bargained away his weapons of mass destruction. For a rebel in Benghazi, that is no small matter.

Yet we have been told incessantly how Iraq poisoned the Arab mind against America. Really? Where is the rampant anti-Americanism in any of these revolutions? In fact, notes Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, the United States has been "conspicuously absent from the sloganeering."

It's Yemen's president and the delusional Gaddafi who are railing against American conspiracies to rule and enslave. The demonstrators in the streets of Egypt, Iran and Libya have been straining their eyes for America to help. They are not chanting the antiwar slogans - remember "No blood for oil"? - of the American left. Why would they? America is leaving Iraq having taken no oil, having established no permanent bases, having left behind not a puppet regime but a functioning democracy. This, after Iraq's purple-fingered exercises in free elections seen on television everywhere set an example for the entire region.

Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom. But the Bush Doctrine set the premise.

Logged
ccp
Power User
***
Posts: 3791


« Reply #95 on: March 04, 2011, 02:44:50 PM »

W's policy of spreading Democracy is somehow not complimented by the Soros.  I agree with Charles in previous post that Saddam was far worse than Ghaddafi:

***Billionaire George Soros told Fareed Zakaria that if President Bush and Dick Cheney were in charge now, the Egyptian revolution would have been much more violent. But instead, Obama has been successful because he sees the revolution in terms of people asserting their right to freedom and continues to refuse to “instigate” the coming regime change.***

All of a sudden all of the libs (and McCain) are calling for the US to jump into Libya???
They can't seem to get their heads on straight.

Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #96 on: March 04, 2011, 03:51:28 PM »

Well, I think we should kill Ka-daffy. No as far as nation-building though.
Logged
DougMacG
Power User
***
Posts: 5527


« Reply #97 on: March 06, 2011, 11:09:03 AM »

On a recent cross country drive I had a nice 3 hour opportunity to be lectured on the radio by Prof. Walter E. Williams of George Mason University who made the point that nearly everything good about the American system has to do with preventing rule by democracy i.e. the majority.  We are a constitutional Republic and all the little intricacies of our Republic like the electoral college, different branches of government, the bill of rights, independent judiciary, the bicameral legislature, the limits on congressional powers, individual rights, states rights, due process, etc. etc are all intended to be protections against rule by democracy.  The word democracy is not found in our constitution where the key provisions start with the phrase "Congress shall make no law..."

Bush never could articulate the value of tax cuts, but world peace rests on ability of someone to start articulating the difference between mob rule 'spreading democracy across the Middle East' and advancing liberty with true consent of the governed.  Case in point, if majorities emerge in Egypt to authorize the burning of Coptic churches, is that consent of the governed - for the Coptic Christians??

This looks like Libertarian Issues, but he is talking directly how what we have learned here applies to our American foreign policy toward change in the Middle East.  We keep saying it wrong and then hope they get it right.  Instead we lead falsely by example.  Obama opposes limits on government at every turn, for example by forcing health care change on everyone because 50.1% want that (really about 44%).
------

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles/11/DemocracyVersusLiberty

                          Democracy Versus Liberty  

              BY WALTER WILLIAMS, FEBRUARY 23, 2011

            It is truly disgusting for me to hear politicians, national and international talking heads and pseudo-academics praising the Middle East stirrings as democracy movements. We also hear democracy as the description of our own political system. Like the founders of our nation, I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.

            You say, "Whoa, Williams, you really have to explain yourself this time!"

            I'll begin by quoting our founders on democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, said that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph said, "... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Alexander Hamilton said, "We are now forming a Republican form of government. Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship."

            The word “democracy” appears nowhere in the two most fundamental documents of our nation -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." If you don't want to bother reading our founding documents, just ask yourself: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or to "the Republic for which it stands"? Or, did Julia Ward Howe make a mistake in titling her Civil War song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"? Should she have titled it "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy"?

            What's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." That means Congress does not grant us rights; their (Marc: sic) job is to protect our natural or God-given rights.

            For example, the Constitution's First Amendment doesn't say Congress shall grant us freedom of speech, the press and religion. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."

            Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. Webster defines a democracy as "government by the people; especially: rule of the majority." In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent force. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

            To highlight the offensiveness to liberty that democracy and majority rule is, just ask yourself how many decisions in your life would you like to be made democratically. How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement? Both for ourselves, and our fellow man around the globe, we should be advocating liberty, not the democracy that we've become where a roguish Congress does anything upon which they can muster a majority vote.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 02:22:40 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 29615


« Reply #98 on: March 06, 2011, 02:38:55 PM »

That is a very good piece there Doug, well-prefaced by your comments. 

Question raised:  Given the Natural Rights basis for our Consitution, how do we articulate that in a way that can fly on the international stage, especially viz the Muslim world?
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 11491


« Reply #99 on: March 06, 2011, 03:12:04 PM »

The concept of natural rights is utterly incompatible with islamic theology.
Logged
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 10 Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!