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DougMacG
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« Reply #300 on: May 04, 2012, 10:09:23 AM »

Scheuer and Paul are entitled to their view of non-intervention and voters deserve that as an option to current policy.  The competing view is peace through strength and, as suggested with Chinese dissident, help those when we can around the world gain their liberty.

Should the US have intervened in WWII?  In hindsight, yes (MHO).  In hindsight then, when?  Perhaps sooner, at least for European nations like France watching Hitler 'not threatening their national security'.  We lost nearly a half million Americans as it was, 60 million people killed overall.  If that could have been stopped sooner, it should have been. 

Paul: bin Laden and al Qaida attack because we violate their sovereignty with our presence in their lands.

Some truth, and some not.  He operated from Afghanistan.  Our presence there (prior to embassy bombing, USS Cole, 9/11) was to protect their sovereignty.  He is from Saudi.  In 1990 we moved in and protected their sovereignty.  Many other examples of Americans on the side of Arabs and Muslims that OBL rhetoric (and Ron Paul) ignore.  Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo come to mind, along with examples from WWII.  It was Arab Muslims we were trying to free in Iraq.  Not take their oil.  We were blamed for encouraging an uprising previously and leaving them for slaughter.  Saddam is now out; it isn't a 51st state and we pay full price for oil.

They kill because we breathe.  We exist, we are infidels.

They kill because we protect Israel.  To not protect Israel is unthinkable.  MHO.  What other allies do we not stand by?  And how would that increase our security?  Nonsense.  Give them just that one victory/takeover in Israel, wherever and they will stop.  Like Hitler??

Weakness is what Hitler saw in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland.  Strength is what Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev saw in America - in varying degrees over time.  Peace through weakness and non intervention is not as effective as peace through strength.  Just an opinion - backed up in history.

Scheuer: "Nearly alone among Republicans and Democrats, Paul knows... the founders' warning against nonessential intervention in foreigners' affairs would be ruinous for America."

Thomas Jefferson is considered one of the Founders, wrote the Declaration of Independence, served as the first Secretary of State under Washington, second Vice President under Adams and third President of the United States.  Jefferson immediately into his Presidency stood up to the Muslim militants and went to war with them over commercial shipping lanes, analogous to the free flow of oil out of the gulf today, not over genuine U.S. national security interests at our shore as defined by Ron Paul. 

We were wrong to restore Kuwait.  We were wrong to enforce the surrender agreement made by Saddam.  We are wrong to defend Israel and were wrong in Desert Shield to stop Saddam from continuing his march.  Then what?

What struck me about the Libertarians versus conservatives/neocons (and Democrats) during the Iraq war debate was their interest was only in our liberty, not anyone else's.  But a lesson of our liberty is that it was won only with crucial help from overseas.  The founders knew that.

The world is safer with east Europe free and Putin's Russia down to one republic than it would be if Soviet expansionism was allowed to continue.  That was not very long ago and would NOT have been stopped without the credible threat of American interventionism.

Paul says we are attacked by bin Laden because we are in the Middle East, and he says bin Laden attacked us to draw us into the Middle East.  Which is it?  He says the mission was to kill one man.  He does not acknowledge that our mission was the prevention of future attacks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAUzG-mV4p4
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bigdog
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« Reply #301 on: May 04, 2012, 12:12:28 PM »

From Crafty on the Afpakia thread: "Further discussion really needs to address the deeper questions of American foreign policy, but for now for this thread I will say that IMHO Baraq has thrown away the last chance to get it right and that a truly heavy price will be paid much sooner and much more costly than is generally realized.

Pakistan has the world's fourth largest nuke stockpile and it is already a quasi-jihadi state.  With Iran on its trajectory and the Russians threatening to take out our missile defenses in eastern Europe and Iran and Russia cozying up to the Chavez narco state in Venezuela and various accumulating Chinese moves in Latin America and the Carribean, we may be getting to Ron Paul's Fortress America much sooner than anyone realizes or cares for , , ,"

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/03/the_next_war

The conventional wisdom has it wrong. It is, in fact, likely that in the next decade, the United States will once again launch a military intervention, though with a smaller footprint than in years past. The threat from terrorist camps in weak, failed, or rogue states such as Yemen; the danger of civil wars or internecine conflicts that threaten stability in countries such as Sudan and South Sudan, and humanitarian crises that could cost tens of thousands of lives in places such as Syria and Somalia will not allow the option of intervention to be taken off the table.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #302 on: May 10, 2012, 02:01:30 PM »



Henninger: The Great Human-Rights Reversal
The Democratic left has conceded human rights to the conservatives. By DANIEL HENNINGER

It's a question that keeps coming up: Is it just everyone's imagination or has the human-rights agenda been demoted by Barack Obama?

The unflattering word often associated with Mr. Obama and human rights is "ambivalence." When Iranian students took to the streets in 2009, enduring beatings from security men, the president's muted reaction was noted. So too with the Arab Spring and when Libyans revolted against Moammar Gadhafi. Yes, the administration responded in time but, again, with "ambivalence."

Now comes a human-rights advocate from central casting: the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who showed up unannounced on Uncle Sam's Beijing doorstep. The U.S. government appeared displeased with Mr. Chen's ill-timed decision to go over the wall.

Liberals and Democrats who work on human-rights issues won't like to hear this, but with the Obama presidency, human rights has completed its passage away from the political left, across the center and into its home mainly on the right—among neoconservatives and evangelical Christian activists.

Conservatives didn't capture the issue. The left gave it away.

The official formulation of the left's revision of human rights came two months into the Obama presidency, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's widely noted comment in Beijing that the new administration would be going in a different direction: "Our pressing on those issues [human rights] can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."

Human-rights groups went ballistic, perhaps on hearing their cause would compete for the president's time with the "global climate change crisis." Whether Iran, Libya or China, human rights as understood for a generation was on the back burner, with the heat off.

Human rights became an explicit concern of U.S. presidents under Jimmy Carter. Mr. Carter in 1977 was not a man of the left. On foreign policy he was a starry-eyed liberal. He elevated the State Department's human-rights office to assistant-secretary status and gave the job to a fellow stargazer, Pat Derian.

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CloseZuma Press
 
U.S. Embassy officials in transit with Chen Guangcheng (right).
.Most of Mr. Carter's human-rights initiatives fell apart, but the idea didn't die. In varying degrees, his successors all made human rights part of their formal agenda. Worth noting here is that in the late 1990s, Christian evangelical groups (the "religious right") began a successful effort to create an office of religious freedom inside the State Department. Today these Christian groups are the primary human-rights workers on behalf of Chinese and North Korean dissidents and refugees.

The big disruption, the event that drove the Democratic left off the human-rights train, was George W. Bush's "freedom agenda."

More than any previous president, George Bush joined human-rights issues to the support of democracy, including in Iraq. With the Bush presidency, human rights and democracy-promotion were combined into a single issue. That in turn joined two groups working these veins for years—neoconservatives and religious human-rights groups. The left went into opposition.

The standard, almost official explanation for this administration's equivocations on human rights is that the current generation of Democratic foreign-policy intellectuals want the U.S. to pursue its goals inside the "pragmatic" framework of international institutions or alliances, rather than "going it alone." Progressive realpolitik.

Thus Barack Obama supported the Libyan rebels only after public opinion believed France, Britain and such were along for the ride. Under Mr. Obama, the U.S. joined the U.N. Human Rights Council.

There's more to the turn than this.

Barack Obama is not a traditional, internationalist Democrat in the mold of such party elders as John Kerry or Joe Biden. Mr. Obama is a man of the left. His interests are local. The Democratic left can only be understood on any subject if placed inside one, unchanging context: the level of public money available for their domestic policy goals.

It's never enough. And standing between them and Utopia is a five-sided monument to American power across the Potomac.

Whether a U.S. president is arguing on behalf of a single human-rights dissident (Chen Guangcheng), a whole nation's anti-authoritarian aspirations (Syria, Libya, Iraq) or against nuclear-weapons programs (Iran, North Korea), the possibility of exercising U.S. military assets sits inevitably in the background. Across the entire, 60-year postwar period, that reality and the spending necessary to maintain it has been the real source of the left's "ambivalence" toward the projection of American power into the world.

The intellectual arguments on behalf of subsuming U.S. interests inside international agencies and the like is mainly about diluting formerly bipartisan justifications for maintaining postwar spending levels on the American military.

The Obama White House put a bull's-eye on the defense budget from the start. This February, Mr. Obama proposed cutting $487 billion over 10 years, atop the threatened automatic sequester of $500 billion. That's their untapped pot of domestic gold.

Such a strategy implies a drawdown of U.S. capability to lead in the world. For the left and Barack Obama, the trade-off in terms of revenue feedbacks into domestic spending is worth it. As such, the human-rights problem of a Chen Guangcheng in faraway Shandong is a distracting footnote to the new Democratic generation's larger purposes.

Liberals discomfited by this will have to come to terms with the fact that it will take a different kind of Democratic presidency to alter their party's stated equivalence between human-rights aspirants and climate change.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #303 on: May 14, 2012, 01:04:14 PM »

Speaking of redundancy, Jim Webb is now saying congress should authorize the use of federal funds, declare wars, etc.

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/rtd-opinion/2012/may/14/tdopin01-webb-is-right-ar-1912177/

Sen. Jim Webb is wrong on certain issues, but not on this one.
By: Richmond Times-Dispatch Opinion Staff
Published: May 14, 2012

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has introduced legislation requiring the president to obtain congressional say-so before sending American troops abroad for humanitarian interventions where U.S. interests are not directly threatened.

Few people should find any grounds to challenge such a notion. Even Barack Obama has said that "the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

Of course, Obama made those comments as a candidate. Since assuming the presidency he has taken a rather different tack — especially with regard to Libya, where — Webb says — he "failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale" based on U.S. security interests for ordering military intervention.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #304 on: May 14, 2012, 04:02:50 PM »

I find myself wondering if there is conflict here with the inherent nature of the Commander in Chief Power from the C.   There's good reason we don't want the Congress as CinC.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #305 on: May 17, 2012, 10:50:24 AM »

Please see today's entry on the Venezuela thread concerning growing alliance with Iran and the attendant risks to the US.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #306 on: May 18, 2012, 10:31:16 AM »



George W. Bush: The Arab Spring and American Ideals
We do not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. We only get to choose what side we are on
By GEORGE W. BUSH

These are extraordinary times in the history of freedom. In the Arab Spring, we have seen the broadest challenge to authoritarian rule since the collapse of Soviet communism. The idea that Arab peoples are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever.

Yet we have also seen instability, uncertainty and the revenge of brutal rulers. The collapse of an old order can unleash resentments and power struggles that a new order is not yet prepared to handle.

Some in both parties in Washington look at the risks inherent in democratic change—particularly in the Middle East and North Africa—and find the dangers too great. America, they argue, should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability.

But in the long run, this foreign policy approach is not realistic. It is not within the power of America to indefinitely preserve the old order, which is inherently unstable. Oppressive governments distrust the diffusion of choice and power, choking off the best source of national prosperity and success.

This is the inbuilt crisis of tyranny. It fears and fights the very human attributes that make a nation great: creativity, enterprise and responsibility. Dictators can maintain power for a time by feeding resentments toward enemies—internal or external, real or imagined. But eventually, in societies of scarcity and mediocrity, their failure becomes evident.

America does not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. It only gets to choose what side it is on.

The day when a dictator falls or yields to a democratic movement is glorious. The years of transition that follow can be difficult. People forget that this was true in Central Europe, where democratic institutions and attitudes did not spring up overnight. From time to time, there has been corruption, backsliding and nostalgia for the communist past. Essential economic reforms have sometimes proved painful and unpopular.

It takes courage to ignite a freedom revolution. But it also takes courage to secure a freedom revolution through structural reform. And both types of bravery deserve our support.

This is now the challenge in parts of North Africa and the Middle East. After the euphoria, nations must deal with questions of tremendous complexity: What effect will majority rule have on the rights of women and religious minorities? How can militias be incorporated into a national army? What should be the relationship between a central government and regional authorities?

Problems once kept submerged by force must now be resolved by politics and consensus. But political institutions and traditions are often weak.

We know the problems. But there is a source of hope. The people of North Africa and the Middle East now realize that their leaders are not invincible. Citizens of the region have developed habits of dissent and expectations of economic performance. Future rulers who ignore those expectations—who try returning to oppression and blame shifting—may find an accountability of their own.

As Americans, our goal should be to help reformers turn the end of tyranny into durable, accountable civic structures. Emerging democracies need strong constitutions, political parties committed to pluralism, and free elections. Free societies depend upon the rule of law and property rights, and they require hopeful economies, drawn into open world markets.


This work will require patience, creativity and active American leadership. It will involve the strengthening of civil society—with a particular emphasis on the role of women. It will require a consistent defense of religious liberty. It will mean the encouragement of development, education and health, as well as trade and foreign investment. There will certainly be setbacks. But if America does not support the advance of democratic institutions and values, who will?

In promoting freedom, our methods should be flexible. Change comes at different paces in different places. Yet flexibility does not mean ambiguity. The same principles must apply to all nations. As a country embraces freedom, it finds economic and social progress. Only when a government treats its people with dignity does a nation fulfill its greatness. And when a government violates the rights of a citizen, it dishonors an entire nation.

There is nothing easy about the achievement of freedom. In America, we know something about the difficulty of protecting minorities, of building a national army, of defining the relationship between the central government and regional authorities—because we faced all of those challenges on the day of our independence. And they nearly tore us apart. It took many decades of struggle to live up to our own ideals. But we never ceased believing in the power of those ideals—and we should not today.

Mr. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, is the founder of the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. This op-ed is adapted from a speech he delivered May 15 at the Bush Institute's Celebration of Human Freedom.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #307 on: July 19, 2012, 04:51:06 PM »

Significant piece published yesterday in the New Statesman by Hillary Clinton, explaining policy, bragging about her efforts and their record etc.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/politics/2012/07/hillary-clinton-art-smart-power

The art of smart power

As the balance of world power shifts, the US is developing a novel range of diplomatic, social, economic, political and security tools to fix the world’s complex new geopolitical problems.
By Hillary Clinton Published 18 July 2012

I haven't read it all yet.  Will come back and post the text after I have.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #308 on: August 01, 2012, 04:09:54 PM »


Islam, Democracy and the Long View of History
The U.S. had no trouble living with the Arab autocrats. It did so, as George W. Bush once put it in a memorable speech, for six long decades.
By FOUAD AJAMI

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Cairo Tuesday to meet Egypt's new Islamist president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, and the country's top general, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. After the meeting, the secretary told reporters, "It's clear that Egypt, following the revolution, is committed to putting into place a democratic government."

Such patience and reassurance is wise in the wake of an Arab Spring that brought forth democratic elections for the first time in generations. It should be remembered that the U.S. had no trouble living with the Arab autocrats. It did so, as George W. Bush once put it in a memorable speech to the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003, for six long decades—all in the name of stability. The terrible band of jihadists who struck America on 9/11 shattered that compact with the autocrats.

We are now called upon to figure out the terms of a new accommodation, and suddenly many of us are without historical patience. The Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco have stepped forth. They didn't make that Arab Awakening of 2011 but had become its beneficiaries. Their leaders had not been on the Rolodex of Goldman Sachs, they were not clients of Washington lobbying firms. They had no favors to dispense. Suddenly history broke their way.

My generation of Arabs, who came to politics amid the high hopes of secular nationalism in the 1950s and '60s, had no use for religious politics. We didn't know these men, let alone the women in oddly stylish headscarves. For a fleeting moment, in the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution led by Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser in July 1952, the Brotherhood was confident that it would partake of the New Order. It had infiltrated the officer corps, and the men in uniform, they thought, would be their instrument in bringing about the "reign of virtue."

But the Nasserist state, and its tributaries and enthusiasts in other Arab lands, had no room for what we would now call political Islam. The Brotherhood was decimated by the Nasser regime, and in 1966, its inspirational leader, Sayyid Qutb, was sent to the gallows.

It was secular nationalism's heady moment. The modern world beckoned in all domains. There was new literature and art and culture, lively media, the promise of mighty armies and an industrial economy. But the promises of pan-Arabism were to go unfulfilled. The reckoning came in June 1967 with a defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War—days from which two generations of Arabs never quite recovered.

Yet those six days were a boon for Islamists. They didn't quarrel with fate. The deliverance that came their way was a gift of their dreaded enemy—the Jewish state that put the Arab armies to flight, and put on cruel display the fraud of so much of what their leaders had claimed. The return of the Islamists had truly begun. The broad middle classes of the Arab world were in play, their economic and psychological gains shattered. The Arabs, said the Islamists, had forsaken God, and this devastating defeat by Israel had the hand of God in it.

The intervening decades were the time of the despots—charisma quit the world of the Arabs. The rulers now had the whip. They banished politics. Mass terror made its appearance, Syria under Hafez al-Assad and Iraq under Saddam Hussein turned into slaughterhouses. In Algeria a barbarous war was fought between the Islamists and Le Pouvoir, the cabal of ruling generals.

We shall never know for certain the impact of Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003 on the Arab revolutions that toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and soon, one hopes, Syria. The spectacle of Saddam—the knight of Arabism, the self-appointed gendarme of the Persian Gulf—flushed out of his spider hole doubtless was a trauma for rulers and their accomplices, and a vicarious spectacle of liberation for those among the Arabs who yearned to see the demise of their own dictators.

The Islamist leaders with cardigan sweaters and close cropped beards were not exactly the heirs of the old Brotherhood. They had emerged out of the professional syndicates—engineers and physicians figured prominently in their ranks, as did worldly businessmen. There were those who returned from exile in the West, those with modern degrees earned in Western universities. Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisian Islamists, belongs to the first category, while Egypt's Mohammed Morsi, who holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Southern California, belongs to the second.

The skeptics see them as opportunists who hijacked the democratic process. Yet what choice do we have but to accept the democratic claims of these new Islamists? We can't send the mukhabarat (secret police) after them, as past dictators did. We have to grant them time.

At any rate, the Islamists don't have the political world to themselves. In Morocco, for example, some space was created for the Islamists, and one, Abdellah Benkirane, heads the cabinet. But Morocco remains a monarchy with more than three centuries of rule behind it, where the king claims descent from the Prophet and wields religious, political and military authority.

In Tunisia, the Islamist Nahda Party received a plurality of the votes—and cut a deal with two secular parties to divide the power—and the burdens.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has the presidency, but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces emptied that office of much of its power. The "deep state"—the security forces, the vast apparatus of the ministry of interior—has not been dismantled.

In Libya, the Islamists contested a parliamentary election but they lost out to an older force—tribalism. The coalition that prevailed was headed by a technocrat, Mahmoud Jibril, with a doctorate in political science from the University of Pittsburgh, who was carried to power by the allegiance of his tribe and a broad "liberal" coalition.

We are not the only ones watching. Ordinary Arab men and women will be on the lookout for any cracks in the Islamists' edifice. They will look for evidence of corruption, for the possibility of sons and daughters and nephews and in-laws inheriting the new world. It will be hard for the Islamists to hide—their beards and their worry beads and their affirmations of faith shall not acquit them.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the author most recently of "The Syrian Rebellion," just out by Hoover Press.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #309 on: August 01, 2012, 04:14:16 PM »




Endless War by Robert D. Kaplan
August 1, 2012 | 0900 GMT
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Stratfor
By Robert D. Kaplan

Special operations forces have become U.S. President Barack Obama's weapon of choice in dealing with a variety of threats, notably those posed by al Qaeda militants in Yemen and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. They likely also have been active on the Syrian-Turkish frontier. This is not surprising. In fact, it is a natural, organic development that has been ongoing since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The end of the Cold War signaled a decline in mass infantry conflict, as the hundreds of thousands of NATO and Warsaw Pact troops concentrated in Central Europe dissipated rapidly in the early 1990s. Coming to the fore after a century of conventional land engagements in Europe was a kind of warfare that struck journalists as something new but was in fact very old: low-level, endless warfare that is inextricable from political unrest and the everyday workings of diplomacy. It is warfare where the battlefield is vast -- fighting occurs in deserts and in Third World slum cities -- but where the number of armed combatants is small compared to conventional formations. Killing the enemy is easy in this sort of warfare; it is identifying and then finding the enemy that is the challenge. In this kind of warfare, conscript soldiers are much less valuable than highly skilled professional operators, men who look down on draft-era armies and refer to themselves as "warriors," just like the guerrilla insurgents they are fighting. From 2002 to 2006, I was embedded intermittently with these men in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

And I learned what President Obama has learned: The face of postmodern warfare is the avoidance of headlines. The sooner you deploy special operations forces to a place, the easier and the cheaper it is to deal with the problem. You want to deploy there when the country is still on page 11 in the news, before it moves up to page two in the headlines. For by that time there is little you can do without great expense and political risk. That is why special operations forces are currently deployed in dozens of places around the world simultaneously, something they have been doing since Bill Clinton was president in the early post-Cold War era.

Obama also figured out that the public wants protection on the cheap. The public wants protection without large-scale and controversial infantry deployments. It wants things -- killing, actually -- done quietly. The public grasps what the media often does not: that if you want purity, you'll get anarchy. Thus, the combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and special operations forces to efficiently kill people, even as one avoids putting boots on the ground in places like Libya and Syria, is precisely what the public wants, even if it cannot articulate it as I am. That is partly why U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney will have quite a challenge in denigrating Obama's foreign policy.

But the fact that Obama has used special operations forces to great effect does not mean that the special operations community is without its own problems and challenges.

To begin with, the public confuses special operations forces with commandos, which, in turn, connote daring raids, or what the special operations community refers to as "direct action" or "kinetics." This is the special operations forces of Hollywood heroics. However, the truth as I learned it is far more mundane. Much of what special operations forces personnel do is train indigenous forces, or "indigs," as they call them. Training elite units of our Third World allies accomplishes three goals. First, it allows those militaries to solve their own security problems, lessening the load on the United States. Second, it helps professionalize foreign militaries, which is an essential part of stabilizing young democracies. Last, it provides valuable intelligence as to what is going on in these places.

One challenge, though, is linguistics. While Special Operations Command has made great strides over the past decade, special operations forces are not where they need to be in terms of speaking local languages, which facilitates training and bonding with allied indigenous forces. In Southern Command (Latin America), where the foreign language is overwhelmingly Spanish, this is not an issue. But in Pacific Command, where a plethora of languages is spoken throughout the area of responsibility, it is an issue.

Indeed, Southern Command is the model the American military, and especially special operations forces, must follow to further equip the Pentagon to fight in an era of low-level, never-ending conflict. It was the Latin American theater of the Cold War that conceptualized the manner in which the United States must now operate globally in the post-Cold War era.

Because of Latino immigration patterns in the United States, many special operations personnel during and after the Cold War speak Spanish. Moreover, because Spanish is an easy language to learn relative to others such as Arabic and Chinese, this further facilitates communications between special operations forces and indigenous forces in Southern Command. But here is what's really laudable about Southern Command, and why it should be a model for every other area of responsibility: Because Southern Command received little money to fight communism during the Cold War compared to NATO in Europe and Pacific Command in Asia, it was forced to evolve an economy-of-force approach. This approach emphasized intensive intelligence gathering, broad use of special operations personnel and coercive diplomacy -- all replacements for the heavy ground troop concentrations used in Germany, Japan and South Korea. The results were not always pretty. The United States received harsh media criticism throughout the Cold War for propping up Latin American dictators, for example. But the economy-of-force strategy worked to preserve American dominance throughout the Western Hemisphere. And it was not necessarily wrong. For it prevented the emergence of Marxist dictatorships that would have been worse than the regimes that were preserved by a host of tactics.

El Salvador in the 1980s constituted the ultimate economy-of-force exercise. No more than a few dozen special operations trainers were on the ground at any one time teaching the Salvadoran military to slow down a communist insurgency, even as the Salvadorans transformed themselves from a 12,000-man, ill-disciplined constabulary force to a 60,000-man professional army. El Salvador showed that you didn't need many people to help turn the tide of these small wars, but the ones you did have should be the best. That is another lesson of low-level, endless conflict: the need to emphasize quality of manpower over quantity.

The further articulation of special operations forces beyond the Southern Command model could feature such innovations as the introduction of women and the use of humanitarian relief operations to further aid in intelligence gathering. A future 12-man, U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) A-team, for example, could be composed of both men and women who hail from exotic immigrant communities in the United States and thus speak difficult foreign languages. Such a team would be comfortable interacting with charity relief workers and training foreign fighters while occasionally taking part in direct action.

And so Obama, a liberal Democrat, is doing more than his share to evolve a 21st-century economy-of-force model, which owes much to the techniques the U.S. military honed in Cold War Latin America. This is not a president turning away from his liberal values but a president who is merely adapting to a historical phase of conflict, characterized by chronic political instability and low-level violence in the Middle East and other parts of the developing world. America's values cannot be promoted in a vacuum; they must follow from the projection of its power. But the American people are not comfortable with the large-scale use of force. The frequent use of special operations forces follows as a consequence.


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Read more: Endless War by Robert D. Kaplan | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #310 on: August 01, 2012, 05:02:09 PM »

Third post of the day


The Election, the Presidency and Foreign Policy
July 31, 2012 | 0900 GMT
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Stratfor
By George Friedman

The American presidency is designed to disappoint. Each candidate must promise things that are beyond his power to deliver. No candidate could expect to be elected by emphasizing how little power the office actually has and how voters should therefore expect little from him. So candidates promise great, transformative programs. What the winner actually can deliver depends upon what other institutions, nations and reality will allow him. Though the gap between promises and realities destroys immodest candidates, from the founding fathers' point of view, it protects the republic. They distrusted government in general and the office of the president in particular.

Congress, the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve Board all circumscribe the president's power over domestic life. This and the authority of the states greatly limit the president's power, just as the country's founders intended. To achieve anything substantial, the president must create a coalition of political interests to shape decision-making in other branches of the government. Yet at the same time -- and this is the main paradox of American political culture -- the presidency is seen as a decisive institution and the person holding that office is seen as being of overriding importance.

Constraints in the Foreign Policy Arena
The president has somewhat more authority in foreign policy, but only marginally so. He is trapped by public opinion, congressional intrusion, and above all, by the realities of geopolitics. Thus, while during his 2000 presidential campaign George W. Bush argued vehemently against nation-building, once in office, he did just that (with precisely the consequences he had warned of on the campaign trail). And regardless of how he modeled his foreign policy during his first campaign, the 9/11 attacks defined his presidency.

Similarly, Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to redefine America's relationship with both Europe and the Islamic world. Neither happened. It has been widely and properly noted how little Obama's foreign policy in action has differed from George W. Bush's. It was not that Obama didn't intend to have a different foreign policy, but simply that what the president wants and what actually happens are very different things.

The power often ascribed to the U.S. presidency is overblown. But even so, people -- including leaders -- all over the world still take that power very seriously. They want to believe that someone is in control of what is happening. The thought that no one can control something as vast and complex as a country or the world is a frightening thought. Conspiracy theories offer this comfort, too, since they assume that while evil may govern the world, at least the world is governed. There is, of course, an alternative viewpoint, namely that while no one actually is in charge, the world is still predictable as long as you understand the impersonal forces guiding it. This is an uncomfortable and unacceptable notion to those who would make a difference in the world. For such people, the presidential race -- like political disputes the world over -- is of great significance.

Ultimately, the president does not have the power to transform U.S. foreign policy. Instead, American interests, the structure of the world and the limits of power determine foreign policy.

In the broadest sense, current U.S. foreign policy has been in place for about a century. During that period, the United States has sought to balance and rebalance the international system to contain potential threats in the Eastern Hemisphere, which has been torn by wars. The Western Hemisphere in general, and North America in particular, has not. No president could afford to risk allowing conflict to come to North America.

At one level, presidents do count: The strategy they pursue keeping the Western Hemisphere conflict-free matters. During World War I, the United States intervened after the Germans began to threaten Atlantic sea-lanes and just weeks after the fall of the czar. At this point in the war, the European system seemed about to become unbalanced, with the Germans coming to dominate it. In World War II, the United States followed a similar strategy, allowing the system in both Europe and Asia to become unbalanced before intervening. This was called isolationism, but that is a simplistic description of the strategy of relying on the balance of power to correct itself and only intervening as a last resort.

During the Cold War, the United States adopted the reverse strategy of actively maintaining the balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere via a process of continual intervention. It should be remembered that American deaths in the Cold War were just under 100,000 (including Vietnam, Korea and lesser conflicts) versus about 116,000 U.S. deaths in World War I, showing that far from being cold, the Cold War was a violent struggle.

The decision to maintain active balancing was a response to a perceived policy failure in World War II. The argument was that prior intervention would have prevented the collapse of the European balance, perhaps blocked Japanese adventurism, and ultimately resulted in fewer deaths than the 400,000 the United States suffered in that conflict. A consensus emerged from World War II that an "internationalist" stance of active balancing was superior to allowing nature to take its course in the hope that the system would balance itself. The Cold War was fought on this strategy.

The Cold War Consensus Breaks
Between 1948 and the Vietnam War, the consensus held. During the Vietnam era, however, a viewpoint emerged in the Democratic Party that the strategy of active balancing actually destabilized the Eastern Hemisphere, causing unnecessary conflict and thereby alienating other countries. This viewpoint maintained that active balancing increased the likelihood of conflict, caused anti-American coalitions to form, and most important, overstated the risk of an unbalanced system and the consequences of imbalance. Vietnam was held up as an example of excessive balancing.

The counterargument was that while active balancing might generate some conflicts, World War I and World War II showed the consequences of allowing the balance of power to take its course. This viewpoint maintained that failing to engage in active and even violent balancing with the Soviet Union would increase the possibility of conflict on the worst terms possible for the United States. Thus, even in the case of Vietnam, active balancing prevented worse outcomes. The argument between those who want the international system to balance itself and the argument of those who want the United States to actively manage the balance has raged ever since George McGovern ran against Richard Nixon in 1972.

If we carefully examine Obama's statements during the 2008 campaign and his efforts once in office, we see that he has tried to move U.S. foreign policy away from active balancing in favor of allowing regional balances of power to maintain themselves. He did not move suddenly into this policy, as many of his supporters expected he would. Instead, he eased into it, simultaneously increasing U.S. efforts in Afghanistan while disengaging in other areas to the extent that the U.S. political system and global processes would allow.

Obama's efforts to transition away from active balancing of the system have been seen in Europe, where he has made little attempt to stabilize the economic situation, and in the Far East, where apart from limited military repositioning there have been few changes. Syria also highlights his movement toward the strategy of relying on regional balances. The survival of Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime would unbalance the region, creating a significant Iranian sphere of influence. Obama's strategy has been not to intervene beyond providing limited covert support to the opposition, but rather to allow the regional balance to deal with the problem. Obama has expected the Saudis and Turks to block the Iranians by undermining al Assad, not because the United States asks them to do so but because it is in their interest to do so.

Obama's perspective draws on that of the critics of the Cold War strategy of active balancing, who maintained that without a major Eurasian power threatening hemispheric hegemony, U.S. intervention is more likely to generate anti-American coalitions and precisely the kind of threat the United States feared when it decided to actively balance. In other words, Obama does not believe that the lessons learned from World War I and World War II apply to the current global system, and that as in Syria, the global power should leave managing the regional balance to local powers.

Romney and Active Balancing
Romney takes the view that active balancing is necessary. In the case of Syria, Romney would argue that by letting the system address the problem, Obama has permitted Iran to probe and retreat without consequences and failed to offer a genuine solution to the core issue. That core issue is that the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq left a vacuum that Iran -- or chaos -- has filled, and that in due course the situation will become so threatening or unstable that the United States will have to intervene. To remedy this, Romney called during his visit to Israel for a decisive solution to the Iran problem, not just for Iran's containment.

Romney also disagrees with Obama's view that there is no significant Eurasian hegemon to worry about. Romney has cited the re-emergence of Russia as a potential threat to American interests that requires U.S. action on a substantial scale. He would also argue that should the United States determine that China represented a threat, the current degree of force being used to balance it would be insufficient. For Romney, the lessons of World Wars I and II and the Cold War mesh. Allowing the balance of power to take its own course only delays American intervention and raises the ultimate price. To him, the Cold War ended as it did because of active balancing by the United States, including war when necessary. Without active balancing, Romney would argue, the Cold War's outcome might have been different and the price for the United States certainly would have been higher.

I also get the sense that Romney is less sensitive to global opinion than Obama. Romney would note that Obama has failed to sway global opinion in any decisive way despite great expectations around the world for an Obama presidency. In Romney's view, this is because satisfying the wishes of the world would be impossible, since they are contradictory. For example, prior to World War II, world opinion outside the Axis powers resented the United States for not intervening. But during the Cold War and the jihadist wars, world opinion resented the United States for intervening. For Romney, global resentment cannot be a guide for U.S. foreign policy. Where Obama would argue that anti-American sentiment fuels terrorism and anti-American coalitions, Romney would argue that ideology and interest, not sentiment, cause any given country to object to the leading world power. Attempting to appease sentiment would thus divert U.S. policy from a realistic course.

Campaign Rhetoric vs. Reality
I have tried to flesh out the kinds of argument each would make if they were not caught in a political campaign, where their goal is not setting out a coherent foreign policy but simply embarrassing the other and winning votes. While nothing suggests this is an ineffective course for a presidential candidate, it forces us to look for actions and hints to determine their actual positions. Based on such actions and hints, I would argue that their disagreement on foreign policy boils down to relying on regional balances versus active balancing.

But I would not necessarily say that this is the choice the country faces. As I have argued from the outset, the American presidency is institutionally weak despite its enormous prestige. It is limited constitutionally, politically and ultimately by the actions of others. Had Japan not attacked the United States, it is unclear that Franklin Roosevelt would have had the freedom to do what he did. Had al Qaeda not attacked on 9/11, I suspect that George W. Bush's presidency would have been dramatically different.

The world shapes U.S. foreign policy. The more active the world, the fewer choices presidents have and the smaller those choices are. Obama has sought to create a space where the United States can disengage from active balancing. Doing so falls within his constitutional powers, and thus far has been politically possible, too. But whether the international system would allow him to continue along this path should he be re-elected is open to question. Jimmy Carter had a similar vision, but the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan wrecked it. George W. Bush saw his opposition to nation-building wrecked by 9/11 and had his presidency crushed under the weight of the main thing he wanted to avoid.

Presidents make history, but not on their own terms. They are constrained and harried on all sides by reality. In selecting a president, it is important to remember that candidates will say what they need to say to be elected, but even when they say what they mean, they will not necessarily be able to pursue their goals. The choice to do so simply isn't up to them. There are two fairly clear foreign policy outlooks in this election. The degree to which the winner matters, however, is unclear, though knowing the inclinations of presidential candidates regardless of their ability to pursue them has some value.

In the end, though, the U.S. presidency was designed to limit the president's ability to rule. He can at most guide, and frequently he cannot even do that. Putting the presidency in perspective allows us to keep our debates in perspective as well.


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Read more: The Election, the Presidency and Foreign Policy | Stratfor
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DougMacG
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« Reply #311 on: August 02, 2012, 10:49:21 AM »

Interesting Strat as usual.  Missing it seems in the summary of the Obama record was the decision to cancel missile defense installations in Eastern Europe where it appeared that appeasement of the Russians trumped the commitments made to Czech, Poland, Belarus and our own security.  Isn't that active regional unbalancing?

We were left to wonder what we received back for this major turnaround in strategy.  The answer it appears was nothing.  Just that he will have more flexibility to make even deeper disarmament concessions after the election.
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bigdog
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« Reply #312 on: August 25, 2012, 06:40:48 AM »

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/24/the_50_most_powerful_republicans_on_foreign_policy?page=full

Interesting list.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 08:06:01 AM by bigdog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #313 on: September 12, 2012, 07:05:29 PM »

Cheney: Cairo, Benghazi and Obama Foreign Policy
In too many parts of the world, America is no longer viewed as a reliable ally or an enemy to be feared. .

By Liz Cheney
It has certainly been a terrible 48 hours. In Libya, violent extremists killed American diplomats. In Cairo, mobs breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy, ripped down the American flag and replaced it with the al Qaeda flag.

In response to the attack in Cairo, diplomats there condemned not the attackers but those who "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." The president appeared in the Rose Garden less than 24 hours later to condemn the Libya assault and failed even to mention the attack in Egypt. The message sent to radicals throughout the region: If you assault an American embassy but don't kill anyone, the U.S. president won't complain.

Though the administration's performance in the crisis was appalling, it wasn't surprising—it is the logical outcome of three-and-a-half years of Obama foreign policy.

In March 2009, at an Americas summit meeting in Mexico City, President Obama listened as Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega delivered a venomous diatribe against America. Mr. Obama stood to speak and accepted Mr. Ortega's version of history. "I'm very grateful," Mr. Obama said, "that President Ortega didn't blame me for things that happened when I was three months old."

In April 2009, in France, Mr. Obama proclaimed that America must make deep cuts in its nuclear arsenal because only then would the country have "the moral authority to say to Iran, don't develop a nuclear weapon, to say to North Korea, don't proliferate nuclear weapons." Embracing the leftist fallacy that the key to world peace is for the U.S. to pre-emptively disarm, the president has reportedly begun reviewing options to take our nuclear stockpile to levels not seen since 1950. These are steps you take only if you believe that America—not her enemies—is the threat.

In June 2009, Mr. Obama went to Cairo and said, "The fear and anger" after 9/11 "led us to act contrary to our ideals." But the men and women who led this nation then, and the military and intelligence professionals who interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, did not act contrary to our ideals. They kept this nation safe.

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Reuters
 
Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Sept. 11.
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Mr. Obama didn't thank them. He slandered them on foreign soil, and he revealed to al Qaeda the techniques we used to interrogate terrorists—techniques that generated intelligence that saved lives and prevented further attacks on the nation. And he failed to put any alternative interrogation program in place. When Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the "underwear bomber") was captured on Mr. Obama's watch, he was read the Miranda rights.

The president wrapped up his 2009 world tour with a speech at the United Nations, where he explained: "No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed." He has worked hard these past three years to ensure that the U.S. is not "elevated" above others, and he has succeeded.

In too many parts of the world, America is no longer viewed as a reliable ally or an enemy to be feared. Don't take my word for it. Ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Even as his country faces an existential threat from Iran, he can't get a meeting with President Obama. Ask the Poles and Czechs, two allies we abandoned when we canceled missile-defense systems that the president feared would offend the Russians. Ask the Iranian people who took to the streets to fight for their freedom, only to find Mr. Obama standing silently with the mullahs.

Nor do our adversaries any longer fear us. Ask the mobs in Cairo who attacked our embassy, or the Libyan mobs who killed our diplomats at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Ask the Iranians, who make unhindered daily progress toward obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to stop the Iranians. The one apparently successful cyberwarfare effort against Iran was leaked to the New York Times—leaked, according to the Times journalist, by "members of the president's national security team who were in the room" for the key deliberations. Did members of the president's inner circle really walk out of the White House situation room and brief a journalist on one of our most highly classified programs? No one has been held to account, and the American people still don't know if Mr. Obama approved this leak.

If you really want to know whether our adversaries fear us, ask the Russians, whose thuggish President Putin essentially endorsed Mr. Obama recently. Perhaps Mr. Putin is banking on the missile defense "flexibility" Mr. Obama promised he would have after the election.

The president says he "ended the war in Iraq" and is "ending the war in Afghanistan." If only wishing made it so. A better description of what Mr. Obama is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is rushing for the exits. On his watch, we walked away from years of battle and sacrifice in Iraq, leaving no stay-behind force and an Iraq mired in violence under the heavy influence of Iran. In Afghanistan, the president gave hope to our enemies by announcing a date certain for withdrawal. He has ignored many of the most important recommendations of his commanders on the ground. He is so busy retreating that we are likely to leave in a our wake a failed state where the Taliban and terrorist organizations like al Qaeda can once again operate.

While the threats to America grow, the president prepares to make devastating cuts to America's military. Cuts that would be "a disaster," in the words of the president's own secretary of defense. The president has said he would veto any attempt to stop these cuts.

Apologizing for America, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies and slashing our military are the hallmarks of Mr. Obama's foreign policy. The Obama economy, with its high unemployment, massive debt and out-of-control spending, has rightly demanded our attention. As we head to the polls in November, we cannot ignore what is an even more dismal national-security record. An America already weakened by four years of an Obama presidency will be unrecognizable after eight.
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« Reply #314 on: September 22, 2012, 08:20:59 AM »

The death of a dictator and the death of an ambassador
George Friedman | 19 September 2012

 

Last week, four American diplomats were killed when armed men attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attackers' apparent motivation was that someone, apparently American but with an uncertain identity, posted a video on YouTube several months ago that deliberately defamed the Prophet Mohammed. The attack in Benghazi was portrayed as retribution for the defamation, with the attackers holding all Americans equally guilty for the video, though it was likely a pretext for deeper grievances. The riots spread to other countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, although no American casualties were reported in the other riots. The unrest appears to have subsided over the weekend.
 
Benghazi and the Fall of Gadhafi
 
In beginning to make sense of these attacks, one must observe that they took place in Benghazi, the city that had been most opposed to Moammar Gadhafi. Indeed, Gadhafi had promised to slaughter his opponents in Benghazi, and it was that threat that triggered the NATO intervention in Libya. Many conspiracy theories have been devised to explain the intervention, but, like Haiti and Kosovo before it, none of the theories holds up. The intervention occurred because it was believed that Gadhafi would carry out his threats in Benghazi and because it was assumed that he would quickly capitulate in the face of NATO air power, opening the door to democracy.
 
That Gadhafi was capable of mass murder was certainly correct. The idea that Gadhafi would quickly fall proved incorrect. That a democracy would emerge as a result of the intervention proved the most dubious assumption of them all. What emerged in Libya is what you would expect when a foreign power overthrows an existing government, however thuggish, and does not impose its own imperial state: ongoing instability and chaos.
 
The Libyan opposition was a chaotic collection of tribes, factions and ideologies sharing little beyond their opposition to Gadhafi. A handful of people wanted to create a Western-style democracy, but they were leaders only in the eyes of those who wanted to intervene. The rest of the opposition was composed of traditionalists, militarists in the Gadhafi tradition and Islamists. Gadhafi had held Libya together by simultaneously forming coalitions with various factions and brutally crushing any opposition.
 
Opponents of tyranny assume that deposing a tyrant will improve the lives of his victims. This is sometimes true, but only occasionally. The czar of Russia was clearly a tyrant, but it is difficult to argue that the Leninist-Stalinist regime that ultimately replaced him was an improvement. Similarly, the Shah of Iran was repressive and brutal. It is difficult to argue that the regime that replaced him was an improvement.
 
There is no assurance that opponents of a tyrant will not abuse human rights just like the tyrant did. There is even less assurance that an opposition too weak and divided to overthrow a tyrant will coalesce into a government when an outside power destroys the tyrant. The outcome is more likely to be chaos, and the winner will likely be the most organized and well-armed faction with the most ruthless clarity about the future. There is no promise that it will constitute a majority or that it will be gentle with its critics.
 
The intervention in Libya, which I discussed in The Immaculate Intervention, was built around an assumption that has little to do with reality -- namely, that the elimination of tyranny will lead to liberty. It certainly can do so, but there is no assurance that it will. There are many reasons for this assumption, but the most important one is that Western advocates of human rights believe that, when freed from tyranny, any reasonable person would want to found a political order based on Western values. They might, but there is no obvious reason to believe they would.
 
The alternative to one thug may simply be another thug. This is a matter of power and will, not of political philosophy. Utter chaos, an ongoing struggle that leads nowhere but to misery, also could ensue. But the most important reason Western human rights activists might see their hopes dashed is due to a principled rejection of Western liberal democracy on the part of the newly liberated. To be more precise, the opposition might embrace the doctrine of national self-determination, and even of democracy, but go on to select a regime that is in principle seriously opposed to Western notions of individual rights and freedom.
 
While some tyrants simply seek power, other regimes that appear to Westerners to be tyrannies actually are rather carefully considered moral systems that see themselves as superior ways of life. There is a paradox in the principle of respect for foreign cultures followed by demands that foreigners adhere to basic Western principles. It is necessary to pick one approach or the other. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that someone can have very distinct moral principles, be respected, and yet be an enemy of liberal democracy. Respecting another moral system does not mean simply abdicating your own interests. The Japanese had a complex moral system that was very different from Western principles. The two did not have to be enemies, but circumstances caused them to collide.
 
The NATO approach to Libya assumed that the removal of a tyrant would somehow inevitably lead to a liberal democracy. Indeed, this was the assumption about the Arab Spring in the West, where it was thought that that corrupt and tyrannical regimes would fall and that regimes that embraced Western principles would sprout up in their place. Implicit in this was a profound lack of understanding of the strength of the regimes, of the diversity of the opposition and of the likely forces that would emerge from it.
 
In Libya, NATO simply didn't understand or care about the whirlwind that it was unleashing. What took Gadhafi's place was ongoing warfare between clans, tribes and ideologies. From this chaos, Libyan Islamists of various stripes have emerged to exploit the power vacuum. Various Islamist groups have not become strong enough to simply impose their will, but they are engaged in actions that have resonated across the region.
 
The desire to overthrow Gadhafi came from two impulses. The first was to rid the world of a tyrant, and the second was to give the Libyans the right to national self-determination. Not carefully considered were two other issues: whether simply overthrowing Gadhafi would yield the conditions for determining the national will, and whether the national will actually would mirror NATO's values and, one should add, interests.
 
Unintended Consequences
 
The events of last week represent unintended and indirect consequences of the removal of Gadhafi. Gadhafi was ruthless in suppressing radical Islamism, as he was in other matters. In the absence of his suppression, the radical Islamist faction appears to have carefully planned the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The attack was timed for when the U.S. ambassador would be present. The mob was armed with a variety of weapons. The public justification was a little-known video on YouTube that sparked anti-American unrest throughout the Arab world.
 
For the Libyan jihadists, tapping into anger over the video was a brilliant stroke. Having been in decline, they reasserted themselves well beyond the boundaries of Libya. In Libya itself, they showed themselves as a force to be reckoned with -- at least to the extent that they could organize a successful attack on the Americans. The four Americans who were killed might have been killed in other circumstances, but they died in this one: Gadhafi was eliminated, no coherent regime took his place, no one suppressed the radical Islamists, and the Islamists could therefore act. How far their power will grow is not known, but certainly they acted effectively to achieve their ends. It is not clear what force there is to suppress them. It is also not clear what momentum this has created for jihadists in the region, but it will put NATO, and more precisely the United States, in the position either of engaging in another war in the Arab world at a time and place not of its choosing, or allowing the process to go forward and hoping for the best.
 
As I have written, a distinction is frequently drawn between the idealist and realist position. Libya is a case in which the incoherence of the distinction can be seen. If the idealist position is concerned with outcomes that are moral from its point of view, then simply advocating the death of a tyrant is insufficient. To guarantee the outcome requires that the country be occupied and pacified, as was Germany or Japan. But the idealist would regard this act of imperialism as impermissible, violating the doctrine of national sovereignty. More to the point, the United States is not militarily in a position to occupy or pacify Libya, nor would this be a national priority justifying war. The unwillingness of the idealist to draw the logical conclusion from their position, which is that simply removing the tyrant is not the end but only the beginning, is compounded by the realist's willingness to undertake military action insufficient for the political end. Moral ends and military means must mesh.
 
Removing Gadhafi was morally defensible but not by itself. Having removed him, NATO had now adopted a responsibility that it shifted to a Libyan public unequipped to manage it. But more to the point, no allowance had been made for the possibility that what might emerge as the national will of Libya would be a movement that represented a threat to the principles and interests of the NATO members. The problem of Libya was not that it did not understand Western values, but that a significant part of its population rejected those values on moral grounds and a segment of the population with battle-hardened fighters regarded them as inferior to its own Islamic values. Somewhere between hatred of tyranny and national self-determination, NATO's commitment to liberty as it understood it became lost.
 
This is not a matter simply confined to Libya. In many ways it played out throughout the Arab world as Western powers sought to come to terms with what was happening. There is a more immediate case: Syria. The assumption there is that the removal of another tyrant, in this case Bashar al Assad, will lead to an evolution that will transform Syria. It is said that the West must intervene to protect the Syrian opposition from the butchery of the al Assad regime. A case can be made for this, but not the simplistic case that absent al Assad, Syria would become democratic. For that to happen, much more must occur than the elimination of al Assad.
 
Wishful Thinking vs. Managing the Consequences
 
In 1958, a book called The Ugly American was published about a Southeast Asian country that had a brutal, pro-American dictator and a brutal, communist revolution. The novel had a character who was a nationalist in the true sense of the word and was committed to human rights. As a leader, he was not going to be simply an American tool, but he was the best hope the United States had. An actual case of such an ideal regime replacement was seen in 1963 in Vietnam, when Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam was killed in a coup. He had been a brutal pro-American dictator. The hope after his death was that a decent, nationalist liberal would replace him. There was a long search for such a figure; he never was found.
 
Getting rid of a tyrant when you are as powerful as the United States and NATO are, by contrast, is the easy part. Saddam Hussein is as dead as Gadhafi. The problem is what comes next. Having a liberal democratic nationalist simply appear to take the helm may happen, but it is not the most likely outcome unless you are prepared for an occupation. And if you are prepared to occupy, you had better be prepared to fight against a nation that doesn't want you determining its future, no matter what your intentions are.
 
I don't know what will come of Libya's jihadist movement, which has showed itself to be motivated and capable and whose actions resonated in the Arab world. I do know that Gadhafi was an evil brute who is better off dead. But it is simply not clear to me that removing a dictator automatically improves matters. What is clear to me is that if you wage war for moral ends, you are morally bound to manage the consequences.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #315 on: October 08, 2012, 11:47:57 AM »



http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/10/08/text-of-romney-speech-on-foreign-policy-at-vmi/

My initial impression of the speech is good.
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bigdog
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« Reply #316 on: October 09, 2012, 05:54:13 AM »


Some commentary:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/08/The_Battle_for_Mitt_Romneys_Soul?page=full
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« Reply #317 on: October 09, 2012, 07:31:54 AM »

The key point is that our current foreign policy is in shambles and the threats are growing.



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #318 on: October 10, 2012, 11:01:36 AM »

It’s Not Just About Us
 
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
 
Published: October 9, 2012 157 Comments
 
Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama. If this speech is any indication of the quality of Romney’s thinking on foreign policy, then we should worry. It was not sophisticated in describing the complex aspirations of the people of the Middle East. It was not accurate in describing what Obama has done or honest about the prior positions Romney has articulated. And it was not compelling or imaginative in terms of the strategic alternatives it offered. The worst message we can send right now to Middle Easterners is that their future is all bound up in what we do. It is not. The Arab-Muslim world has rarely been more complicated and more in need of radical new approaches by us — and them.

Ever since the onset of the Arab awakening, the U.S. has been looking for ways to connect with the Arab youths who spearheaded the revolutions; 60 percent of the Arab world is under age 25. If it were up to me, I’d put Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, in charge of American policy in the Arab-Muslim world. Because we need to phase out of the cold war business of selling arms there to keep “strongmen” on our side and in power, and we need to get into the business of sponsoring a “Race to the Top” in the Arab-Muslim world that, instead, can help empower institutions and strong people, who would voluntarily want to be on our side.

Look at the real trends in the region. In Iraq and Afghanistan, sadly, autocracy has not been replaced with democracy, but with “elective kleptocracy.” Elective kleptocracy is what you get when you replace an autocracy with an elected government before there are accountable institutions and transparency, while huge piles of money beckon — in Iraq thanks to oil exports, and in Afghanistan thanks to foreign aid.

Meanwhile, in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, we have also seen the collapse of the “Mukhabarat states” — Mukhabarat is Arabic for internal security services — but not yet the rise of effective democracies, with their own security organs governed by the rule of law. As we saw in Libya, this gap is creating openings for jihadists. As the former C.I.A. analyst Bruce Riedel put it in a recent essay in The Daily Beast, “The old police states, called mukhabarat states in Arabic, were authoritarian dictatorships that ruled their people arbitrarily and poorly. But they were good at fighting terror. ... These new governments are trying to do something the Arab world has never done before — create structures where the rule of law applies and the secret police are held accountable to elected officials. That is a tall order, especially when terrorists are trying to create chaos.”

At the same time, the civil war between Sunni Muslims, led by the Saudis, and Shiite Muslims, led by Iran, is blazing as hot as ever and lies at the heart of the civil war in Syria. In addition, we also have a struggle within Sunni Islam between puritanical Salafists and more traditional Muslim Brotherhood activists. And then there is the struggle between all of these Islamist parties — who argue that “Islam is the answer” for development — and the more secular mainstream forces, who may constitute the majority in most Mideast societies but are disorganized and divided.

How does the U.S. impact a region with so many cross-cutting conflicts and agendas? We start by making clear that the new Arab governments are free to choose any path they desire, but we will only support those who agree that the countries that thrive today: 1) educate their people up to the most modern standards; 2) empower their women; 3) embrace religious pluralism; 4) have multiple parties, regular elections and a free press; 5) maintain their treaty commitments; and 6) control their violent extremists with security forces governed by the rule of law. That’s what we think is “the answer,” and our race to the top will fund schools and programs that advance those principles. (To their credit, Romney wants to move in this direction and Obama’s Agency for International Development is already doing so.)

But when we’re talking to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the new government in Libya, we cannot let them come to us and say: “We need money, but right now our politics is not right for us to do certain things. Give us a pass.” We bought that line for 50 years from their dictators. It didn’t end well. We need to stick to our principles.

This is going to be a long struggle on many fronts. And it requires a big shift in thinking in the Arab-Muslim world, argues Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., from “us versus them to us versus our own problems.” And from “we are weak and poor because we were colonized” to “we were colonized because we were weak and poor.” Voices can be heard now making those points, says Haqqani, and I think we best encourage them by being very clear about what we stand for. The Middle East only puts a smile on your face when change starts with them, not us. Only then is it self-sustaining, and only then can our help truly amplify it.
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« Reply #319 on: October 11, 2012, 01:31:29 PM »

It’s Not Just About Us
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: October 9, 2012 157 Comments
"Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama...

What a bunch of BS. I don't agree with Friedman and ripping Romney as a takeoff point did nothing to advance Friedman's own ideas for the Middle East, none of which Romney would likely dispute.  The opening rip just serves to please his bosses and keep him published over at NY Pravda IMO.

The Romney speech laid out guiding principles for foreign policy and made clear distinctions between that approach and the current administration, as he has been called on to do.  I wonder if Friedman saw the speech and I wonder how quickly the terrorists would be to drop their jihad and "embrace religious pluralism" and his education proposals if only they could read his column.

Gov. Romney has been upfront calling terrorism what it is and believes America can best deal with whatever is coming next from a position of strength.  Building ships and submarines that we hope we will never need to use are good examples. Pres. Obama has been in denial that people out there want to destroy us, deceitful when they do, and he wishes to dismantle our unique superpower strength. 

Will the principles laid out by Romney instantly fix Egypt or Syria? Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan?  No.  And neither did the apologize and blame America, surrender and disarm agenda of the opponent, but it does leave us in greater danger.

News flash to Thomas Friedman from the old neighborhood, we are in the heat of a Presidential campaign and it is Gov. Romney's job to spell out his similarities and differences with the incumbent.  The first 100 days may not include peace on earth or Muslim countries "educating their people up to the most modern standards" and "empowering their women" but it will include a clear policy shift.  Like it or not.

Had Romney centered his speech on Friedman's lofty wish list, he would have been ripped even worse, more likely laughed off the stage. 

Running for leader of the free world is not as easy as it looks.
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« Reply #320 on: October 11, 2012, 04:00:58 PM »

This is not one of those times.

It’s Not Just About Us
 
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
 
Published: October 9, 2012 157 Comments
 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #321 on: October 12, 2012, 11:13:04 AM »



The Emerging Doctrine of the United States
 

October 9, 2012 | 0900 GMT








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Stratfor
 
By George Friedman
 
Over the past weekend, rumors began to emerge that the Syrian opposition would allow elements of the al Assad regime to remain in Syria and participate in the new government. Rumors have become Syria's prime export, and as such they should not be taken too seriously. Nevertheless, what is happening in Syria is significant for a new foreign doctrine emerging in the United States -- a doctrine in which the United States does not take primary responsibility for events, but which allows regional crises to play out until a new regional balance is reached. Whether a good or bad policy -- and that is partly what the U.S. presidential race is about -- it is real, and it flows from lessons learned.
 
Threats against the United States are many and complex, but Washington's main priority is ensuring that none of those threats challenge its fundamental interests. Somewhat simplistically, this boils down to mitigating threats against U.S. control of the seas by preventing the emergence of a Eurasian power able to marshal resources toward that end. It also includes preventing the development of a substantial intercontinental nuclear capability that could threaten the United States if a country is undeterred by U.S. military power for whatever reason. There are obviously other interests, but certainly these interests are fundamental.
 
Therefore, U.S. interest in what is happening in the Western Pacific is understandable. But even there, the United States is, at least for now, allowing regional forces to engage each other in a struggle that has not yet affected the area's balance of power. U.S. allies and proxies, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan, have been playing chess in the region's seas without a direct imposition of U.S. naval power -- even though such a prospect appears possible.
 
Lessons Learned
 
The roots of this policy lie in Iraq. Iran and Iraq are historical rivals; they fought an extended war in the 1980s with massive casualties. A balance of power existed between the two that neither was comfortable with but that neither could overcome. They contained each other with minimal external involvement.
 
The U.S. intervention in Iraq had many causes but one overwhelming consequence: In destroying Saddam Hussein's regime, a regime that was at least as monstrous as Moammar Gadhafi's or Bashar al Assad's, the United States destroyed the regional balance of power with Iran. The United States also miscalculated the consequences of the invasion and faced substantial resistance. When the United States calculated that withdrawal was the most prudent course -- a decision made during the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration -- Iran consequently gained power and a greater sense of security. Perhaps such outcomes should have been expected, but since a forced withdrawal was unexpected, the consequences didn't clearly follow and warnings went unheeded.
 
If Iraq was the major and critical lesson on the consequences of intervention, Libya was the smaller and less significant lesson that drove it home. The United States did not want to get involved in Libya. Following the logic of the new policy, Libya did not represent a threat to U.S. interests. It was the Europeans, particularly the French, who argued that the human rights threats posed by the Gadhafi regime had to be countered and that those threats could quickly and efficiently be countered from the air. Initially, the U.S. position was that France and its allies were free to involve themselves, but the United States did not wish to intervene.
 
This rapidly shifted as the Europeans mounted an air campaign. They found that the Gadhafi regime did not collapse merely because French aircraft entered Libyan airspace. They also found that the campaign was going to be longer and more difficult than they anticipated. At this point committed to maintaining its coalition with the Europeans, the United States found itself in the position of either breaking with its coalition or participating in the air campaign. It chose the latter, seeing the commitment as minimal and supporting the alliance as a prior consideration.
 
Libya and Iraq taught us two lessons. The first was that campaigns designed to topple brutal dictators do not necessarily yield better regimes. Instead of the brutality of tyrants, the brutality of chaos and smaller tyrants emerged. The second lesson, well learned in Iraq, is that the world does not necessarily admire interventions for the sake of human rights. The United States also learned that the world's position can shift with startling rapidity from demanding U.S. action to condemning U.S. action. Moreover, Washington discovered that intervention can unleash virulently anti-American forces that will kill U.S. diplomats. Once the United States enters the campaign, however reluctantly and in however marginal a role, it will be the United States that will be held accountable by much of the world -- certainly by the inhabitants of the country experiencing the intervention. As in Iraq, on a vastly smaller scale, intervention carries with it unexpected consequences.
 
These lessons have informed U.S. policy toward Syria, which affects only some U.S. interests. However, any U.S. intervention in Syria would constitute both an effort and a risk disproportionate to those interests. Particularly after Libya, the French and other Europeans realized that their own ability to intervene in Syria was insufficient without the Americans, so they declined to intervene. Of course, this predated the killing of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, but it did not predate the fact that the intervention in Libya surprised planners by its length and by the difficulty of creating a successor regime less brutal than the one it replaced. The United States was not prepared to intervene with conventional military force.
 
That is not to say the United States did not have an interest in Syria. Specifically, Washington did not want Syria to become an Iranian puppet that would allow Tehran's influence to stretch through Iraq to the Mediterranean. The United States had been content with the Syrian regime while it was simply a partner of Iran rather than Iran's subordinate. However, the United States foresaw Syria as a subordinate of Iran if the al Assad regime survived. The United States wanted Iran blocked, and that meant the displacement of the al Assad regime. It did not mean Washington wanted to intervene militarily, except possibly through aid and training potentially delivered by U.S. special operations forces -- a lighter intervention than others advocated.
 
Essential Interests
 
The U.S. solution is instructive of the emerging doctrine. First, the United States accepted that al Assad, like Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi, was a tyrant. But it did not accept the idea that al Assad's fall would create a morally superior regime. In any event, it expected the internal forces in Syria to deal with al Assad and was prepared to allow this to play out. Second, the United States expected regional powers to address the Syrian question if they wished. This meant primarily Turkey and to a lesser degree Saudi Arabia. From the American point of view, the Turks and Saudis had an even greater interest in circumscribing an Iranian sphere of influence, and they had far greater levers to determine the outcome in Syria. Israel is, of course, a regional power, but it was in no position to intervene: The Israelis lacked the power to impose a solution, they could not occupy Syria, and Israeli support for any Syrian faction would delegitimize that faction immediately. Any intervention would have to be regional and driven by each participant's national interests.
 
The Turks realized that their own national interest, while certainly affected by Syria, did not require a major military intervention, which would have been difficult to execute and which would have had an unknown outcome. The Saudis and Qataris, never prepared to intervene directly, did what they could covertly, using money, arms and religiously motivated fighters to influence events. But no country was prepared to risk too much to shape events in Syria. They were prepared to use indirect power rather than conventional military force. As a result, the conflict remains unresolved.
 
This has forced both the Syrian regime and the rebels to recognize the unlikelihood of outright military victory. Iran's support for the regime and the various sources of support for the Syrian opposition have proved indecisive. Rumors of political compromise are emerging accordingly.
 
We see this doctrine at work in Iran as well. Tehran is developing nuclear weapons, which may threaten Israel. At the same time, the United States is not prepared to engage in a war with Iran, nor is it prepared to underwrite the Israeli attack with added military support. It is using an inefficient means of pressure -- sanctions -- which appears to have had some effect with the rapid depreciation of the Iranian currency. But the United States is not looking to resolve the Iranian issue, nor is it prepared to take primary responsibility for it unless Iran becomes a threat to fundamental U.S. interests. It is content to let events unfold and act only when there is no other choice.
 
Under the emerging doctrine, the absence of an overwhelming American interest means that the fate of a country like Syria is in the hands of the Syrian people or neighboring countries. The United States is unwilling to take on the cost and calumny of trying to solve the problem. It is less a form of isolationism than a recognition of the limits of power and interest. Not everything that happens in the world requires or justifies American intervention.
 
If maintained, this doctrine will force the world to reconsider many things. On a recent trip in Europe and the Caucasus, I was constantly asked what the United States would do on various issues. I responded by saying it would do remarkably little and that it was up to them to act. This caused interesting consternation. Many who condemn U.S. hegemony also seem to demand it. There is a shift under way that they have not yet noticed -- except for an absence that they regard as an American failure. My attempt to explain it as the new normal did not always work.
 
Given that there is a U.S. presidential election under way, this doctrine, which has quietly emerged under Obama, appears to conflict with the views of Mitt Romney, a point I made in a previous article. My core argument on foreign policy is that reality, not presidents or policy papers, makes foreign policy. The United States has entered a period in which it must move from military domination to more subtle manipulation, and more important, allow events to take their course. This is a maturation of U.S. foreign policy, not a degradation. Most important, it is happening out of impersonal forces that will shape whoever wins the U.S. presidential election and whatever he might want. Whether he wishes to increase U.S. assertiveness out of national interest, or to protect human rights, the United States is changing the model by which it operates. Overextended, it is redesigning its operating system to focus on the essentials and accept that much of the world, unessential to the United States, will be free to evolve as it will.
 
This does not mean that the United States will disengage from world affairs. It controls the world's oceans and generates almost a quarter of the world's gross domestic product. While disengagement is impossible, controlled engagement, based on a realistic understanding of the national interest, is possible.
 
This will upset the international system, especially U.S. allies. It will also create stress in the United States both from the political left, which wants a humanitarian foreign policy, and the political right, which defines the national interest broadly. But the constraints of the past decade weigh heavily on the United States and therefore will change the way the world works.
 
The important point is that no one decided this new doctrine. It is emerging from the reality the United States faces. That is how powerful doctrines emerge. They manifest themselves first and are announced when everyone realizes that that is how things work.
.

Read more: The Emerging Doctrine of the United States | Stratfor
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G M
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« Reply #322 on: October 12, 2012, 04:39:10 PM »

Freidman is a smart guy, perhaps too smart in that he can always weave a cohent theme out of chaos. I call B.S.

There isn't a coherent foreing policy doctrine from Obama/Clinton. It's a mishmash of leftist though, campaign slogans and incompitance.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #323 on: October 13, 2012, 06:58:48 AM »

I couldn't agree more with G M here.  Friedman is grasping for straws and creating a coherent "doctrine" out of thin air.  Even if one were to assume that there is a coherent theme driving the present administration's foreign policy (and I for the record do not), it's much more plausible that it is simply - as Dinesh D'Souza posits in his excellent film "2016" - anti-colonialism and a desire to see the U.S. diminished in stature on the world stage.
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« Reply #324 on: October 13, 2012, 03:32:27 PM »

WW2 left the US in a unique position.  Not only were we the victor, alone of the major economies of the world we were undiminished.  Thanks not only to the role of the US economy and the US dollar but also due to the influence of the English empire, English became the lengua franca of the world.  With expansionist communist empires on the march, our military friendship was highly valued.  As Henry Kissinger noted in the 1970s, we lived in a bi-polar world militarily and a multi-polar world economically.  With the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the early 90s for a time there was a uni-polar world, both militarily and ecnomically.

For reasons we can discuss at length, this is no longer the case and IMHO not likely to return.

IMHO some of us here are still thinking that uni-polar is an option.   Romney sometimes sounds like this and may well get badly dinged in the upcoming debate as Rayn was IMHO when Biden said "We are leaving" and Ryan hedged.   Don't think Team Obama hasn't noticed this and is not preparing His glibness to drive hard on this point!

IMHO the American people are war weary and understandably unimpressed with Washington's efforts at uni-polarism.   According to Michael Yon, whom I have honored with threads of his own (for Iraq IIRC and for Afpakia) we were badly losing the war in Afpakia by the end of the Bush presidency. IMHO Bush's strategy there was incoherent AND he did not pay attention. I did not envy the hand Obama was dealt in Afpakia.  However, having promised to win it as an essential war of national self-defense Baraq's half-assed "Surge Light" was and is a ticket to failure.  The incoherence continues.  We are being run out of town, and across the political spectrum everyone is ready to come home.  No one wants to stay any longer.  No one sees success as an option.

Iraq is a more complex story.  As is well supported on these pages I thought going into Iraq a good idea.  Still do-- the problem was that a) Bush and Rumbo did a poor job of leading the war and b) America was badly stabbed in the back by the American left.  Still, the Surge pulled things out, but Baraq has managed to throw that away.  I thought Ryan quite on target with his repeated observation in his debate about how Biden blew closing the deal with Iraq to stay with 30,000 troops.  Baraq's offer of 3,000 was a deliberate joke intended to communicate a lack of seriousness and naturally the Iraqis got the memo.   Now, Iran flies supplies to Assad in Syria through Iraqi air space and we have de minimis land based military options to go after Iran's nukes; indeed we cannot even deliver Iraqi air space to the Isrealis (as we sabotage Israel's deal with Azerbaijian, but I digress).

Romney-Ryan are quite right about weakness inviting trouble, but IMHO they currently run the risk of sounding like a return to Bush Doctrine.  Politically this is a loser.  Romney had best get this in time for the debate.

« Last Edit: October 13, 2012, 03:45:44 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #325 on: October 13, 2012, 04:51:33 PM »

Just because the American public is tired of the global jihad doesn't mean it's going away.
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« Reply #326 on: October 13, 2012, 05:52:47 PM »

A fair point and a POV which we share.

So, in twenty five words or less, what is the US strategy and how do we articulate it in a way that gets Romney into the White House?
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G M
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« Reply #327 on: October 13, 2012, 05:59:39 PM »

Romney will fight the global jihad rather than empower it.

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« Reply #328 on: October 13, 2012, 06:51:36 PM »

This is a critical point that ought to be made (G M's), but as neither Romney nor Ryan appear to have a solid grasp of the global jihadist objective or how it is steadily being advanced, I seriously doubt either of them will put it in those terms, as spot-on as that statement is.  David Horowitz made this point brilliantly in his book a few years back titled "The Art of Political War," in which he argued that the Left is quite adept at coming up with simple catch-phrases such as "tax cuts for the rich" that the bumbling, inept Republicans never seem to be able to match.  Kudos to G M for coming up with such an excellent, succinct way of framing the issue.

Frankly, however - I'm not nearly as concerned about this issue in the upcoming debate as Crafty seems to be, since despite the mainstream media's efforts to cover for him, Obama's failure on foreign policy appears to be becoming more obvious and more dangerous by the day.  I don't think this will be lost on the voters who watch the second and third debates (historically many fewer than the first one.)
« Last Edit: October 13, 2012, 06:53:53 PM by objectivist1 » Logged

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« Reply #329 on: October 13, 2012, 06:53:56 PM »

GM:

Ummm , , , my doggy nose tells me that is not a winner for a population that on the whole does not get global jihad.  When someone says to you "We freed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and look at the thanks we got.  I say it's time to come home"  what do you say?

Obj:

Check out what Biden did with Iraq "We/I've seen this before.  "They" will let us do there fighting for them and the time comes to tell them "We're going home by date X so you need to start getting your excrement together now because whether you do or not, we're leaving by date X." 

Contrast that with Ryan's "Well we'd confer with our generals" from which most people will infer there is NOT a date X.  In that the huge majority of the American people have correctly concluded that there is no prospect of Afpakia being an endless clusterfcuk wherein our troops are killed by those wearing the uniforms of those whom we help, politically this is a losing proposition and Baraq and the Pravdas will readily use this to distract e.g. from the surprisingly strong attention that is starting to be given to Baraq's lies about the AQ kill of our ambassador to Libya.

What does GM's formulation tell us specifically about what a Romney administration would do?
« Last Edit: October 13, 2012, 07:02:09 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #330 on: October 14, 2012, 10:33:43 AM »

"what is the US strategy and how do we articulate it in a way that gets Romney into the White House?"

"Romney will fight the global jihad rather than empower it."

"What does GM's formulation tell us specifically about what a Romney administration would do?"
---------

I don't expect big new specifics at this point and Crafty is right that people are war weary.  

Romney is articulating clear differences in the principles he will use to guide him in the job.

1) Romney will rebuild America's economic strength and Obama won't.  America in decline economically erodes the influence of our foreign policy around the world and takes from our ability to shape events that affect our security.

2)  Romney believes in peace through strength, including military strength.  He was very clear in his belief that we want to build and maintain military capability to prevent war, not to prosecute it.  Obama believes the opposite, that our strength provokes countries like Iran to build weapons and threaten neighbors.  The President sent his 'off-mic' message to Putin that he will disarm dramatically in his imagined second term.  Weakness invites trouble; how many times do we need to learn this lesson?!

3) Romney recognizes enemies and terrorists for what they are.  Obama has believed that terrorists and jihadists hate only a George Bush led America, not an apologetic, surrendering America.  

4)  Romney recognizes allies including Israel.  Obama sees the parties in the Middle East as morally equivalent while one side promises to destroy the other.

5) Romney will not surrender foreign policy to world government.  See Dick Morris' new book on what powers the Obama administration would surrender to the UN if it could win Senate ratification, including many, many global taxes, taking money from America and moving our foreign aid decisions to the world body of unelected, corrupt globalcrats.

6) Romney will want daily intelligences briefings, face to face, including serious follow up discussions.  Obama is too smart to need them.

7)  Romney represents a break from the dishonesty the American people received over the Fast and Furious scandal and the cover up of the deadly security void in Benghazi.

8 ) Romney's advisers are more likely to read the forum and learn of the YA-Crafty plan for splitting up Afghanipakistan.
 
The above does not immediately solve the Syrian crisis, move the new Egyptian government to religious tolerance or cause terrorists anywhere to lay down their arms.  From the campaign point of view, Romney needs to demonstrate he is as ready as anyone can be to take on the role of Commander in Chief in an unstable and dangerous world.  
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 10:36:28 AM by DougMacG » Logged
bigdog
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« Reply #331 on: October 14, 2012, 02:38:57 PM »

Questions/points:

1) "America in decline economically erodes the influence of our foreign policy around the world and takes from our ability to shape events that affect our security." Is this true in absolute or relative terms? As in, if the rest of the world also is in an economic decline, and the US is too, to what extent is this statement fact?

2) "Obama has believed that terrorists and jihadists hate only a George Bush led America, not an apologetic, surrendering America." In my mind, this is a curious overstatement given his use of drones against terrorists, and well beyond the war zones fought during the Bush presidency. (Note, not "wrong" just overstatement.)

3) "Romney's advisers are more likely to read the forum and learn of the YA-Crafty plan for splitting up Afghanipakistan." I would love presidential advisors to read the forum!
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G M
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« Reply #332 on: October 14, 2012, 04:27:08 PM »

GM:

Ummm , , , my doggy nose tells me that is not a winner for a population that on the whole does not get global jihad.  When someone says to you "We freed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and look at the thanks we got.  I say it's time to come home"  what do you say?

Until next time? Fighting the global jihad isn't an elective war and we will continue to be retaught that lesson until it sinks in. The future holds things that will make 9/11 look like a fresh spring morning. Complacency kills.
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« Reply #333 on: October 14, 2012, 04:34:13 PM »

At this moment in time what you/we are going to hear back is "Well, if we weren't in their countries, there would not be a problem.  Besides, who cares if Syria, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon et al have a big war?  Let Allah sort it out, it has nothing to do with us."
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G M
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« Reply #334 on: October 14, 2012, 04:38:40 PM »

Questions/points:

1) "America in decline economically erodes the influence of our foreign policy around the world and takes from our ability to shape events that affect our security." Is this true in absolute or relative terms? As in, if the rest of the world also is in an economic decline, and the US is too, to what extent is this statement fact?

Because we fight far away from our shores and with very expensive force multipliers. We value our troops and try to preserve every one while a potential opponent like China wouldn't blink at losing 100,000 troops to inflict 10,000 casulaties on us. They can fight on the "cheap" while we cannot.

2) "Obama has believed that terrorists and jihadists hate only a George Bush led America, not an apologetic, surrendering America." In my mind, this is a curious overstatement given his use of drones against terrorists, and well beyond the war zones fought during the Bush presidency. (Note, not "wrong" just overstatement.)

He painted himself into a corner as far as using drones because he can't have SOCOM grabbing prisoners, so it's his "Look strong" headfake while he quietly loses the war.


3) "Romney's advisers are more likely to read the forum and learn of the YA-Crafty plan for splitting up Afghanipakistan." I would love presidential advisors to read the forum!
That would help them a great deal.
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G M
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« Reply #335 on: October 14, 2012, 04:41:21 PM »

At this moment in time what you/we are going to hear back is "Well, if we weren't in their countries, there would not be a problem.  Besides, who cares if Syria, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon et al have a big war?  Let Allah sort it out, it has nothing to do with us."

What countries were we in in 1993 when the WTC was attacked the first time? What countries were we in on 9/11? What countries were we in when the Barbary Pirates were kidnapping Americans for their slave trade and President Jefferson had to send the Marines to the "shores of Tripoli"?

We aren't in the middle east because we like falafel.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 05:01:55 PM by G M » Logged
objectivist1
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« Reply #336 on: October 14, 2012, 05:11:03 PM »

G M's points are well-taken.  Crafty - I certainly understand what you are saying - but as G M points out - this is NOT an elective war.  We abdicate our responsibility here at the virtually certain cost of thousands - if not tens of thousands - of innocent American lives.  The horror of 9-11 is nothing compared to what the jihadists would REALLY like to pull off - an EMP, dirty bomb, or suitcase nuke detonated in one of our cities.  Make no mistake - they are working towards all of these objectives.  American war-weariness is no excuse for suicidal behavior.

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« Reply #337 on: October 14, 2012, 05:16:40 PM »

I'm afraid my point is partially misunderstood.    We are in agreement on the essentials.  My point is focused on presenting it persuasively to regular voters.
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G M
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« Reply #338 on: October 14, 2012, 05:27:43 PM »

I'm afraid my point is partially misunderstood.    We are in agreement on the essentials.  My point is focused on presenting it persuasively to regular voters.

The "Honey Boo-boo/Kardashian" fans that support the weight loss industry to the tune of 60 billion a year while responding to marketing like "Lose ugly fat without dieting or exercise" are not going to be moved by any presentation we might devise. Unfortunately, a large percentage of our population is as attached to reality as Timothy Leary at a Hunter S. Thompson barbeque and equipped with the survival potential of a teacup poodle on an prescription of immunosupressant medication.
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« Reply #339 on: October 14, 2012, 06:24:05 PM »

Agreed that a goodly percentage of the American population is quite deserving of all the condescension that you dish out.  OTOH, there are a lot of regular, sincere, patriotic Americans who understandably might wonder WTF you are talking about with regard to Afpakia.   After a strong beginning Bush made a clusterfcuk of our strategy and Baraq added his unique brand of cognitive disssonance to said clusterfcuk.  There is NOTHING coherent on the bell curve horizon of American politics with regard to Afpakia and quite understandably there is near zero confidence in the competence of our government-- Republican or Democrat led as the case may be.  As for the YA-Crafty Doctrine, anyone who were to try running on it would not even get out of the starting blocks at this point.
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« Reply #340 on: October 14, 2012, 09:16:15 PM »

Bigdog: "Is this true [America in decline economically erodes the influence...and takes from our ability to shape events] in absolute or relative terms? As in, if the rest of the world also is in an economic decline, and the US is too, to what extent is this statement fact?"

Good question.  I say both relative and absolute terms.  The relative position mostly but other nations in decline does not help us build ships.  My point is that in the campaign, the candidate who can produce economic growth is in a stronger position to build military capability and deterrence.  Only one really wants economic growth and only one wants a stronger military.  The other enjoys some of the perks of a strong military, use of Air Force One, the best drones in the world, the Navy Seal Six team at your proposal for political purposes etc.


"this is a curious overstatement [Obama believed terrorists and jihadists hate only a George Bush led America, not an apologetic, surrendering America] given his use of drones against terrorists, and well beyond the war zones fought during the Bush presidency."

Yes!  My unwritten thought is that the Obama administration foreign policy is bipolar.  What I posted was half the story; what you point out is the opposing half.  He also got tougher on terrorists and enemies when he kept Guantanamo open, when they moved a trial out of civilian court in NYC, when he kept the fighting going in Iraq before giving up the gains, when he kept the fighting going in Afghanistan even though our withdrawal/surrender is on an announced date-certain, the drones and of course the bin Laden kill.  (Can you imagine the outrage from Dems and media if Dick Cheney was the President ordering the drone strikes or OBL kill of the last 4 years.)   But then our President mentions a screwed up pretend filmmaker 6 times in his UN speech presumably as the cause of the deadly consulate attack.  Mentioning the film 5 times would not have made the point, his advisers believed.  The film provoked otherwise reasonable folks a day off of work playing with the rocket propelled grenades, he imagines aloud to the world.


GM: using drones...his "Look strong" headfake while he quietly loses the war.

There is no real need to know what he is thinking, just that he must go.  I would guess drone strikes are not his strategy but people who know more than him say high value target and he doesn't dare say no, like the OBL hit.  These conflicting strategies oppose each other.  He knew not to spike the football on killing bin Laden, then for political reasons he spiked it and spiked it and spiked it.  Same for losing the war.  It isn't a loss if he was never trying to win.  We were doing time in Afghanistan, a part of his job he despised and gave almost no attention - like growing the economy.  He mostly works out war policy with people like Valerie Jarret and Axelrod IMHO as his commanders on the ground in the crucial hold-on-to-power game.

Likewise is partly true for Romney.  He doesn't need a foreign policy until January.  He doesn't need one at all if he doesn't get elected.

I think Barack Obama would be far more comfortable and effective criticizing reckless drone hits of Mitt Romney than approving and defending them himself.

Soon hopefully he can do that.


Crafty:  "As for the YA-Crafty Doctrine, anyone who were to try running on it would not even get out of the starting blocks at this point."

Better that you say that than one of us.  wink
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 08:07:04 AM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #341 on: October 18, 2012, 09:56:20 PM »

I suppose I could post this the the 2012 Presidential thread, but I post it here because the question presented deserves a less transitory thread than this one.

Most of us are agreed on many points criticizing BO's foreign policy, but we need to offer the American people an articulation of what we would do different.  Would we have kept Mubarak in?  Would we, a la Sen. McCain,  have gone into Libya and would we arm Syrian rebels?  Would we attack Iran?  Would we stay or go in Afg?  etc etc.
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« Reply #342 on: October 27, 2012, 07:57:17 AM »

The Islamist Threat Isn't Going Away
America's foreign policy hasn't improved its image in the Arab world..
By MICHAEL J. TOTTEN

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wrapped up their trilogy of presidential debates on Monday this week and spent most of the evening arguing foreign policy. Each demonstrated a reasonable grasp of how the world works and only sharply disagreed with his opponent on the margins and in the details. But they both seem to think, 11 years after 9/11, that calibrating just the right policy recipe will reduce Islamist extremism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East. They're wrong.

Mr. Romney said it first, early in the debate: "We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam . . . reject this violent extremism." Later Mr. Obama spoke as though this objective is already on its way to being accomplished: "When Tunisians began to protest," he said, "this nation, me, my administration, stood with them earlier than just about any other country. In Egypt, we stood on the side of democracy. In Libya, we stood on the side of the people. And as a consequence, there is no doubt that attitudes about Americans have changed."

The Middle East desperately needs economic development, better education, the rule of law and gender equality, as Mr. Romney says. And Mr. Obama was right to take the side of citizens against dictators—especially in Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi ran one of the most thoroughly repressive police states in the world, and in Syria, where Bashar Assad has turned the country he inherited into a prison spattered with blood. But both presidential candidates are kidding themselves if they think anti-Americanism and the appeal of radical Islam will vanish any time soon.

First, it's simply not true that attitudes toward Americans have changed in the region. I've spent a lot of time in Tunisia and Egypt, both before and after the revolutions, and have yet to meet or interview a single person whose opinion of Americans has changed an iota.

Second, pace Mr. Romney, promoting better education, the rule of law and gender equality won't reduce the appeal of radical Islam. Egyptians voted for Islamist parties by a two-to-one margin. Two-thirds of those votes went to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the other third went to the totalitarian Salafists, the ideological brethren of Osama bin Laden. These people are not even remotely interested in the rule of law, better education or gender equality. They want Islamic law, Islamic education and gender apartheid. They will resist Mr. Romney's pressure for a more liberal alternative and denounce him as a meddling imperialist just for bringing it up.

Anti-Americanism has been a default political position in the Arab world for decades. Radical Islam is the principal vehicle through which it's expressed at the moment, but anti-Americanism specifically, and anti-Western "imperialism" generally, likewise lie at the molten core of secular Arab nationalism of every variety. The Islamists hate the U.S. because it's liberal and decadent. (The riots in September over a ludicrous Internet video ought to make that abundantly clear.) And both Islamists and secularists hate the U.S. because it's a superpower.

Everything the United States does is viewed with suspicion across the political spectrum. Gamal Abdel Gawad Soltan, the director of Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, admitted as much to me in Cairo last summer when I asked him about NATO's war against Gadhafi in Libya. "There is a general sympathy with the Libyan people," he said, "but also concern about the NATO intervention. The fact that the rebels in Libya are supported by NATO is why many people here are somewhat restrained from voicing support for the rebels." When I asked him what Egyptians would think if the U.S. sat the war out, he said, "They would criticize NATO for not helping. It's a lose-lose situation for you."

So we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. And not just on Libya. An enormous swath of the Arab world supported the Iraqi insurgency after an American-led coalition overthrew Saddam Hussein. Thousands of non-Iraqi Arabs even showed up to fight. Yet today the U.S. is roundly criticized all over the region for not taking Assad out in Syria.

The U.S. has decent relations with Tunisia's elected coalition government, yet nearly every liberal Tunisian I interviewed a few months ago looks at that and sees a big conspiracy between Americans and Islamists. The Islamists, of course, see U.S. plots against them. We can't win.

We can't even win when we stand against Israel. President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried that during the Suez Crisis in 1956. He backed Egypt, not Israel, and not Britain or France. How did Egypt and its ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser pay back the U.S.? By forging an alliance with Moscow and making Egypt a Soviet client state for two decades.

Libyans are the big exception. They're more pro-American than their neighbors, and they're less prone to extremism. American flags are a common sight there—absolutely unheard of everywhere else in the Arab world. The Islamists lost the post-Gadhafi elections. The only demonstrations there recently were against the terrorist cell that assassinated U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others at the American consulate in Benghazi. Just a few weeks later, another group of demonstrators forced an Islamist militia to flee town by overrunning their headquarters.

Here Mr. Obama deserves credit. After all, he helped get rid of Gadhafi. But Libyans were already something of an exception. They were force-fed anti-American propaganda daily for decades, but it came from a lunatic and malevolent tyrant they hated. Libyans and Americans were quietly on the same side longer than most people there have been alive. Libya has at least that much in common with Eastern Europe during the communist period. Unfortunately, that just isn't true of anywhere else.

When he was elected president in 2008, Mr. Obama thought he could improve America's relations with the Arab world by not being George W. Bush, by creating some distance between himself and Israel, and by delivering a friendly speech in Cairo. He was naïve. He should know better by now, especially after the unpleasantness last month in the countries where he thinks we're popular.

It's not his fault that the Middle East is immature and unhinged politically. Nobody can change that right now. This should be equally obvious to Mr. Romney even though he isn't president. No American president since Eisenhower could change it, nor can Mr. Romney. We may be able to help out here and there, and I wholeheartedly agree with him that we should. But Arab countries will mostly have to work this out on their own.

It will take a long time.

Mr. Totten is a contributing editor at World Affairs and City Journal, and is the prize-winning author of "Where the West Ends" (Belmont Estate, 2012) and "The Road to Fatima Gate" (Encounter, 2011).
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« Reply #343 on: October 31, 2012, 01:23:07 AM »

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_triumph_of_failure_mSz3uMSEdFkmN1We9hm0WM
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« Reply #344 on: November 12, 2012, 11:28:41 AM »

By a warrior scholar.

http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ff1206s.pdf
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« Reply #345 on: November 12, 2012, 02:03:25 PM »

Some great points in there and some with which I differ.  Iraq war total will be $6 trillion is quite an assertion.  Raising a tax rate is not synonymous with raising revenue.  Some parts of the title American Decline I think he doesn't address, economic decline to me is central to why our influence is on a path of decline.  I would confront it economically.

He doesn't claim to have any easy answer, but makes a good series of points that we know how to fight, not how to win or how to end wars.  He makes a strong argument for less intervention.  It is not clear to me what we should have done instead.

I should add, glad that you posted it.  BD has a reading list wider than some of the rest of us!

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« Reply #346 on: November 14, 2012, 12:54:38 AM »

I have high regard for GF, but have always doubted his grasp of economics- in which he is frequently banally Keynesian.  That said, as always, he is a worthy of serious consideration.

The point about the central role of energy in particular strikes me as sound.  The US has been blessed by our free market with a turn of events of profound implications-- indeed I can imagine the middle east becoming profoundly less relevant with the profound exception of the nuke issue.  This change in our energy hand also bodes poorly for Russia, which faces deep demographic challenges.  Like GF I too have doubted the solidity of the Chinese economic model. 

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

By George Friedman

President Barack Obama has won re-election. However, in addition to all of the constraints on him that I discussed last week, he won the election with almost half the people voting against him. His win in the Electoral College was substantial -- and that's the win that really matters -- but the popular vote determines how he governs, and he will govern with one more constraint added to the others. The question is whether this weakens him or provides an opportunity. That is not determined by his policies but by the strategic situation, which, in my view, gives the United States some much-needed breathing room.

The Structure of the International System

At the moment, the international system is built on three pillars: the United States, Europe and China. Europe, if it were united, would be very roughly the same size as the United States in terms of economy, population and potential military power. China is about a third the size of the other two economically, but it has been the growth engine of the world, making it more significant than size would indicate.

The fundamental problem facing the world is that two of these three pillars are facing existential crises, while the third, the United States, is robust only by comparison. Europe is in recession and, faced with a banking and sovereign debt crisis, is trying to reconcile the divergent national interests that were supposed to merge into a united Europe. China, dependent on exports to maintain its economy, is confronting the fact that many of its products are no longer competitive in the international market because of rising costs of labor and land. The result is increasing tension within the ruling Communist Party over the direction it should take.

The United States has a modestly growing economy and, rhetoric aside, does not face existential political problems. Where the European Union's survival is in serious question and the ability of China to resume its rate of growth is in doubt, the United States does not face a political crisis on the same order as the other two. The fiscal cliff is certainly there, but given American political culture, all crises signify the apocalypse. It is much easier to imagine a solution to the United States' immediate political problems than it is to imagine how Europe or China would solve their challenges.

We have written extensively on why we think the European and Chinese crises are insoluble, and I won't repeat that here. What I am saying is not that Europe or China will disappear into a black hole but that each will change its behavior substantially. Europe will not become a united entity but will return to the pursuit of the interests of individual nations, though still in a wealthy continent. China will continue to be a major economic power, but its term as the leading growth engine in the world will end, causing institutional crises. Again, these powers will not fall off the map, but they will radically change their behaviors and expectations.

Since power is relative, this leaves the United States with no significant challenger for international primacy, not because the United States is particularly successful but because others are even less so. The United States has a decision to make right now. As the leading power, should it attempt to preserve the political order that has existed for the past 20 years or allow it to pass into history? Perhaps a better question to ask is whether the United States has the power to preserve a united Europe and a high-growth China, and if so, is the current configuration of the world worth preserving from the U.S. point of view?

The United States has done nothing to stabilize either Europe or China. Even given U.S. resources, it is not clear that there is anything it could do. Europe's financial requirements outstrip its political ability to act in a united manner. Europe does not need U.S. leadership and the United States does not need to shoulder the European burden. The only solution for the European crisis is that a third party underwrites debtors' economic needs and thereby preserves creditors' interests. Even given the possible impact on the United States, adopting Europe is neither possible nor desirable.

The same is true with China. China has twisted its economy into an irrational form out of a desire to avoid unemployment. The Chinese Communist Party is afraid of instability, which would certainly follow unemployment. The irrationality of the Chinese economy, a combination of inefficient businesses kept operating by loans that are unlikely to be paid and exports that are barely profitable, is not an economic phenomenon but a political one. The United States would not underwrite China's excesses even if it could. Nor will Beijing withdraw money from U.S. government bonds because it has nowhere else to put it -- Europe is becoming less reliable, and it cannot invest it in China. That is China's core problem -- its economy can't absorb more money, and that is a profoundly unhealthy situation.

When we consider the core architecture of the international system, it becomes readily apparent that the United States can do nothing to preserve it. The strategy of allowing nature to take its course is not so much an option chosen as it is a reality imposed. What will evolve from this will evolve on its own. Europe will return to the order that existed prior to World War II: sovereign nation states pursuing their own interests, collaborating and competing. China will remain an inward-looking country, trying to preserve its institutions in a new epoch. The United States will observe.

Iran's Regional Influence

A similar situation has emerged with Iran. From 2003 onward, when the United States destroyed the balance of power between Iraq and Iran, Iran has been an ascendant power. With the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Iran became the most influential foreign power there. But Iran has overreached and is itself in crisis.
The overreach took place in Syria. As the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad came under attack, the Iranians threw their resources and prestige behind the effort to save it. That effort has failed in the sense that while al Assad retains a great deal of power in Syria, it is as a warlord, not the government. He no longer governs but uses his forces to compete with other forces. Syria has started to look like Lebanon, with a weak and sometimes invisible government and armed, competing factions.
Iran simply didn't have the resources to stabilize the al Assad regime. For the United States, an Iranian success in Syria would have created a sphere of influence stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean. The Iranian failure, undoubtedly aided by U.S. and others' covert assistance to al Assad's enemies, ended this threat. Had the sphere of influence materialized, it would have brought pressure to the northern border of Saudi Arabia. The United States, whose primary interest was the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf as part of the global economic system, would have faced the decision of intervening to protect the Saudis, something the United States did not want to do, or accepting Iran as the dominant regional power.

The United States might have had to negotiate a radical reversal of policy as it did with China in the 1970s. Indeed, I suspect that attempts to reach out to Iran were made. But Iran committed the gravest of mistakes. It failed to recognize how shallow its power was and how vulnerable it was to countermeasures. The collapse of its position in Syria has opened the door to pressure in Iraq. Add to this that the financial sanctions on Iran finally had some impact, sending the economy into a tailspin, and we have seen a historic reversal since the summer; Iran has gone from a regional power with a nuclear program to a country with declining influence, domestic economic problems and a nuclear program. Given that it is more threatening to have one or two operational nuclear weapons openly deployed than to have a perpetual threat of a nuclear weapon, Iran is not in a powerful position.

Russia and Energy

Russia, of course, remains a robust power, but like the others it suffers from an underlying disease. In Georgia, Russia saw the election of a prime minister deeply opposed to the presidency of Mikhail Saakashvili, whom the Russians see as an enemy. Russian influence, particularly via its intelligence service, is not trivial. But Russia has a deep problem. Its national power rests on a single, massive base: energy exports. These have been of enormous value financially and in terms of influencing the politics of its neighbors. Indeed, Russia's interest in Georgia had as much to do with pipelines as with governments; Georgia is Azerbaijan's route for energy exports to Europe.
But it is not clear how long Russia's energy power will last. It is built on the absence of significant energy in the rest of Europe. However, new technologies have made it likely that Europe will find energy resources that don't depend on Russia or third-party pipelines. If that happens, Russia's political and financial positions will weaken dramatically. Russia has a weakening hand, and it can't control the thing that weakens it: new technologies.

The U.S. energy situation also will improve dramatically under most scenarios, and it can be expected to be able to supply most of its energy needs from Western Hemispheric sources within a few years. A decline in dependence on energy resources drawn from the Eastern Hemisphere reduces the need of the United States to intervene there and particularly reduces the need to concern itself with the Persian Gulf. That will be a sea change in how the global system works.

I will examine each of these issues in detail in the coming weeks, but the United States, not necessarily through any action of its own, is in fact facing a world with two characteristics: All competing powers have problems more severe than the United States, and shifts in energy technology -- and energy has been the essence of geopolitics since the industrial revolution -- favor the United States dramatically. A world with declining threats and decreasing dependence gives the United States breathing room. This isn't to say that the threat of Islamist terrorism has disappeared -- and I doubt that that threat will dissipate -- but it will remain a permanent danger, able to harm many but not able to pose an existential threat to the United States.

It is the breathing space that is most important. The United States needs to regroup. It needs to put the "war on terror" into perspective and rethink domestic security. It needs to rethink its strategy for dealing with the world from its unique position and align its economy and military capabilities with a new definition of its interests, and it needs to heal its own economy.

The logic of what it must do -- selective engagement where the national interest is involved, with the least use of military force possible -- is obvious. How this emerges and is defined depends on the environment. Dispassionate thought was not possible between 9/11 and today, nor would it be possible if we saw the pillars of the international system increasing their unity and power. But that is not what is happening. What is happening is a general decline in power, greater than the decline of the United States. And that provides room. This will frame Obama's foreign policy choices.
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« Reply #347 on: December 22, 2012, 09:48:20 AM »



A Flock of Doves
With Kerry at State, Hagel at Defense would be dangerous. .

President Obama began to unveil his second-term national security team on Friday, choosing John Kerry as the next Secretary of State. The Massachusetts Senator shares the President's view of diminished American power and influence, which should only compound skepticism about the mooted selection of Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon.

Mr. Obama has found his mirror-image in Mr. Kerry, who for 30 years has been one of the Democratic Party's leading doves. The Senator's antiwar activism after Vietnam is well known and may have cost him the Presidency in 2004. But that shouldn't bar him from State, where his job will be diplomacy at the behest of the President.

The bigger question is how much fortitude Mr. Kerry will show in pursuing U.S. interests. His instincts have typically been to oppose the use of American force abroad and to engage adversaries as if they share our own peaceful goals. Like Joe Biden, he resisted Ronald Reagan's policies that ended the Cold War, opposed the Gulf War in 1990, supported the Iraq war but then changed his mind, and opposed the 2007 surge that salvaged Iraq.

In his remarks Friday, Mr. Obama said Mr. Kerry's "entire life has prepared him for this role," which is true, if not always reassuring. He has traveled widely and knows many world leaders personally. In the 1990s, he helped open diplomatic relations with Hanoi and more recently has worked difficult portfolios in Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.

But the case of Syria reveals the limitations of his worldview. In 2008 when anti-Bush antipathy was at its height, he called for "engagement" with dictator Bashar Assad. A year later he and his wife dined out in Damascus with the Assads. In April 2010, he called Syria "an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region." He has since changed his mind and denounced Mr. Assad, but he'll have to be tougher-minded to succeed at State.

***
Which brings us to Mr. Hagel, whom the White House has leaked as a possible Defense Secretary. The idea seems to be that the former GOP Senator from Nebraska would bring a bipartisan note to foreign policy, but that logic usually applies when the choice shares the other party's views. Though he fought admirably in Vietnam (and has two Purple Hearts), Mr. Hagel's security views have more closely resembled a George McGovern strain of Republicanism.

In the Senate, Mr. Hagel steered more to foreign policy than defense issues, and on those he steered left. "Politically, who among us is going to stand up and defend Iran or Libya?" he told the Senate in June 2001. He proceeded to defend both, calling sanctions against the Tehran and Gadhafi regimes "an absolute charade," "ill-considered" and "breaching the spirit of multilateralism so necessary to achieve success."

The biggest question for the next Defense chief may be what to do about Iran, but Mr. Hagel has never worried much about its nuclear ambitions. In a 2008 speech, he said the U.S. needs to offer Iran "some kind of security guarantee" to get its help in striking an Israel-Palestinian peace deal. His ideas for "some easy to do breakthroughs" with Tehran included opening a diplomatic post or restoring commercial flights—without preconditions. He opposed sanctions on Tehran in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

These views might be acceptable in a Secretary of State, but they are troubling at the Pentagon in an Administration that lacks hawkish voices in general. In the first term, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and David Petraeus provided a counterweight to Mr. Obama's natural instincts to avoid U.S. leadership. Mr. Hagel is to the left of Mr. Kerry.

In the months after 9/11, he warned of "a dangerous arrogance and a sort of 'Pax Americana' vision, which holds that we are more powerful, richer, and smarter than the rest of the world."

His neo-isolationism became more urgent in the last decade, noting that the U.S. could do little good in Egypt or the Middle East in general. "I think we've got to be very wise and careful on this and continue to work with the multilateral institutions in the lead in Syria," he told Foreign Policy in May. He wanted the U.S. to engage Mr. Assad in 2008, but not to intervene to stop the Syrian dictator from killing his own people.

On military issues, the former Senator has been a notable critic of missile defenses and he wanted to halt their development as long as Russia is opposed. This is no small matter because Vladimir Putin wants to use arms-control talks to curtail U.S. missile defenses in the next four years.

Mr. Hagel supported the decision to oust Saddam Hussein but later became a critic and in 2007 he opposed the troop surge that saved the U.S. from defeat. Mr. Hagel called the surge proposal "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." The surge stopped the sectarian bloodletting and enabled the U.S. drawdown.

By far the biggest risk is the role Mr. Hagel might play on military spending. Gutting the Pentagon has been a liberal goal since the 1960s, and Mr. Obama will have a new opening given the budget crisis. Mr. Gates and current Pentagon chief Leon Panetta have followed the President's orders but have resisted when the White House wanted to go too far. Mr. Gates made a special point of warning Americans not to repeat our frequent mistake of winding down the military when wars end. We regret it as new threats emerge.

Now is an especially dangerous moment, after a decade of wearing out ships and planes built as part of the Reagan buildup. A legitimate fear is that Mr. Obama wants Mr. Hagel, with his military record and GOP pedigree, to provide the political cover to shrink the Pentagon so he can finance ObamaCare and other entitlements.

Mr. Obama can do better than Mr. Hagel—for example, by choosing former Defense Under Secretary Michele Flournoy, or perhaps Colin Powell. If he does nominate Mr. Hagel, the Senate will have to prevent the Administration's senior security ranks from being dominated by a flock of doves who think the world is better off with a militarily weaker America.
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« Reply #348 on: December 22, 2012, 04:19:01 PM »

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #349 on: December 22, 2012, 05:08:06 PM »

Hey! That would be fair only if Gigolo John earned it!
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