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Author Topic: US Foreign Policy  (Read 47649 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #550 on: July 23, 2014, 08:49:57 AM »

Most of us here have tended to a strong US foreign policy, but at the polls in 2016 this may prove a very losing proposition.   For several years now I have been underlining here that rudderless nature of US foreign policy.   This article addresses this theme:

The Big 2016 Foreign Policy Debates
Rand Paul will fight the GOP hawks, and Joe Biden could run to the left of Hillary Clinton.
By William A. Galston
July 22, 2014 7:19 p.m. ET

These are tough times for internationalists, liberal and conservative alike. George W. Bush's overreach in Iraq undermined public support for the use of American power overseas, and Barack Obama has done nothing to rebuild it. Large majorities of Americans believe that our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan was a mistake. A July 21 Politico survey of likely voters in battleground states found that only 39% think that we have a responsibility to do something about the mess we left behind in Mesopotamia.

The survey also found that by a margin of 3 to 1, Americans reject the sweeping vision Mr. Bush enunciated in his second inaugural address and would instead confine the use of American military power to direct threats to our national security. In the same poll, completed before the downing of the Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU -2.17% passenger plane, only 17% thought we should get more involved in the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

The desire for some nation-building here at home is palpable and understandable. Nevertheless, the forthcoming presidential campaign is likely to feature an unusually spirited debate—within as well as between the parties—about America's role in the world.

The outline of this debate among Republicans is easy to foresee. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has articulated a coherent message of government restraint abroad as well as at home and has proved adept at making a libertarian-leaning agenda more broadly acceptable to conservatives. The young adults who flocked to his father's rallies seem especially receptive to his critique of military intervention and NSA surveillance. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose political instincts seem to have improved since 2012, has publicly challenged Mr. Paul for his alleged isolationism, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has positioned himself as his generation's torchbearer for a muscular internationalism based on American leadership.
Enlarge Image

Sen. Rand Paul Associated Press

Most Republican contenders are likely to side with their party's national-defense orthodoxy of recent decades. Still, Mr. Paul's self-confidence and political skills could carry him far in a divided field and might even gain him the nomination. That would be an earthquake within the Republican Party and present a tough choice for staunch hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Mr. McCain has publicly said as much.

Although it may not occur, the Democrats are poised for a similar debate. The only significant difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 was her vote for the Iraq war, which probably cost her the presidential nomination. Little has changed. During her tenure as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton was among the administration's toughest voices during internal debates. She supported the use of American air power in Libya, and the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. (Both Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed it.)

Strong legal support from Mrs. Clinton's State Department for President Obama's expansive use of drones surprised many observers. She was an advocate for the 2009 surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and favored maintaining a residual American force in Iraq after the end of our combat missions. While not opposed to nuclear negotiations with Iran, she has expressed mistrust about Iranian intentions and has opposed a policy of "containing" a nuclear-armed Tehran if diplomacy fails. As president, it seems reasonable to conclude, Mrs. Clinton would make decisions about using American power based on prudential considerations, not instinctive aversion.

For the record: Even though I opposed the Iraq war from the start, I believe that Hillary Clinton's judgment on defense and foreign policy issues has been right far more often than it was wrong and that she would serve our country well as commander in chief.

But rank-and-file Democrats are no less dovish today than they were in 2008. Although attention has focused recently on the clash between "populist" and "Wall Street" Democrats, the potential for an intraparty debate on foreign policy seems just as real. While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has consistently denied her intention to run if Mrs. Clinton enters the race, Vice President Biden has made no such pledge. Estes Kefauver, the 1956 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, once remarked that the only known cure for persistent presidential ambition was "embalming fluid."

Mr. Biden is well-positioned to wage a left-leaning campaign on foreign policy as well as economic issues. Although he voted for the Iraq-war authorization in 2002, he argued vehemently against the Bush administration's surge in 2007, proposing instead the quasi-partition of Iraq into autonomous Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite zones. As vice president, he argued just as hard against Gen. David Petraeus's proposal (backed by then-Secretary of State Clinton) for a massive military surge and nation-building policy in Afghanistan. And he has taken U.S. military action against Iran off the table, declaring that "war with Iran is not just a bad option. It would be a disaster."

These issues matter, not just for the U.S., but for the world. During the Cold War, American retreat usually meant Soviet advance. Now it most often means anarchy. The question is whether the American people can be persuaded that they should care.
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bigdog
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« Reply #551 on: July 30, 2014, 11:26:13 AM »

Great article. My guess is that despite it being in The Atlantic, most of you will find it compelling: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/08/yes-it-could-happen-again/373465/

From the article:

Pacifist tendencies in western Europe coexist with views of power held in Moscow and Beijing that Bismarck or Clausewitz would recognize instantly. After the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, the UN General Assembly ratified the concept that governments have a “responsibility to protect” their citizens from atrocities. But in the face of Syria’s bloody dismemberment and Ukraine’s cynical dismantlement, idealism of that kind looks fluffy or simply irrelevant. The Baltic countries are front-line states once again. The fleeting post–Cold War dream of a zone of unity and peace stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok has died. As John Mearsheimer observes in his seminal The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, “Unbalanced multipolar systems feature the most dangerous distribution of power, mainly because potential hegemons are likely to get into wars with all of the other great powers in the system.”

In this context, nothing is more dangerous than American weakness. It is understandable that the United States is looking inward after more than a decade of post-9/11 war. But it is also worrying, because the credibility of American power remains the anchor of global security.
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G M
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« Reply #552 on: July 30, 2014, 03:54:51 PM »

Hey, elections have consequences. Who knew electing Bill Ayers' and Rev. Wright's most famous follower would turn out this badly?

Well, some of us did...
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #553 on: July 30, 2014, 05:44:29 PM »

Woof BD:

Not sure why you would think the piece would not be well-received in these quarters. indeed we might even joke it reads as if by a reader of these forums.  wink
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #554 on: July 31, 2014, 10:38:18 AM »

Winds of War, Again
One wishes Barack Obama and John Kerry more luck in Ukraine and the Middle East than Neville Chamberlain had in Munich.
By Daniel Henninger

July 30, 2014 6:56 p.m. ET

If it's true that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, then maybe we're in luck. Many people in this unhappy year are reading histories of World War I, such as Margaret MacMillan's "The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914." That long-ago catastrophe began 100 years ago this week. The revisiting of this dark history may be why so many people today are asking if our own world—tense or aflame in so many places—resembles 1914, or 1938.

Whatever the answer, it is the remembering of past mistakes that matters, if the point is to avoid the high price of re-making those mistakes. A less hopeful view, in an era whose history comes and goes like pixels, would be that Santayana understated the problem. Even remembering the past may not be enough to protect a world poorly led. To understate: Leading from behind has never ended well.

In a recent essay for the Journal, Margaret MacMillan summarized the after-effects of World War I. Two resonate now. Political extremism gained traction, because so many people lost confidence in the existing political order or in the abilities of its leadership. That bred the isolationism of the 1920s and '30s. Isolationism was a refusal to see the whole world clearly. Self-interest, then and now, has its limits.

Which brings our new readings into the learning curves of history up to 1938. But not quite. First a revealing stop in the years just before Munich, when in 1935 Benito Mussolini's Italy invaded Ethiopia.

A woman in the Sudetenland, as Germany's troops arrive, 1939. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Before the invasion, Ethiopia's emperor, Haile Selassie, did what the civilized world expected one to do in the post-World War I world: He appealed for help to the League of Nations. The League imposed on Italy limited sanctions, which were ineffectual.

One might say this was one of history's earlier "red lines." Mussolini blew by it, invading Ethiopia and using mustard gas on its army, as Bashar Assad has done to Syria's rebel population. Mussolini merged Ethiopia with Italy's colonies in east Africa. The League condemned Italy—and dropped its sanctions.

In defeat, Haile Selassie delivered a famous speech to the League in Geneva. He knew they wouldn't help. As he stepped from the podium, he remarked: "It is us today. Tomorrow it will be you."

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, not unlike John Kerry today, shuttled tirelessly between London and wherever Adolf Hitler consented to meet him to discuss a nonviolent solution to Hitler's intention to annex the Sudetenland, the part of Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans. Hitler earlier in the year had annexed Austria, with nary a peep from the world "community." Many said the forced absorption of Austria was perfectly understandable.

One may hope Mr. Kerry and President Obama have more success with their stop-the-violence missions to Vladimir Putin, Kiev, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Tehran, Afghanistan and the South China Sea than Neville Chamberlain had with Hitler, who pocketed eastern Ukraine—excuse me, the Sudetenland—and then swallowed the rest of Czechoslovakia, which ceased to exist.

But here's the forgotten part. After signing the Munich Agreement on Sept. 29, 1938—an event now reduced to one vile word, appeasement—Chamberlain returned to England in triumph. Many, recalling 1914-18, feared war. Londoners lined the streets to cheer Chamberlain's deal with Hitler. He was feted by King George VI. At 10 Downing Street, Chamberlain said the words for which history remembers him: "I believe it is peace for our time."

Winston Churchill, in a speech to the House of Commons, dissented: "This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup." Hitler, as sometimes happens in history, had negotiated in total bad faith, with no interest in anyone's desire for peace. When World War II ended in 1945, it had consumed more than 50 million people.

The U.S.'s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though fought by a dedicated professional military, are said to have turned America in on itself, as two big wars did to Europe. The idea is that Americans are tired of their world role now. But tireless men like Hitler always finds advantage in other nations' fatigue.

Some note the current paradox of the public's low approval for Mr. Obama's handling of everything from Iraq to Ukraine to Gaza, while the same polls show a reluctance to involve the country in those problems.

But there is no contradiction. The U.S. public's resistance reflects coldblooded logic: Why get involved if the available evidence makes clear that America's president won't stay the course, no matter how worthy the cause?

After returning from Munich, Neville Chamberlain told the British to "go home, and sleep quietly in your beds." After 1914 and 1938, one wishes it could be so now. Wars, in their causes and timing, are unpredictable. What is not impossible is recognizing the winds of war. Doing less than enough, we should have learned, allows these destructive winds to gain strength.

Write to henninger@wsj.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #555 on: August 03, 2014, 11:32:01 AM »

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/384163/cost-american-indifference-victor-davis-hanson

PS:  Readers here will recognize that I take a harder line than VDH in my criticism with regard to the SOFA failure in Iraq.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #556 on: August 13, 2014, 07:38:03 AM »

The Message From That Hillary Interview
She would be the best-prepared president on foreign policy since George H.W. Bush.
By William A. Galston


Aug. 12, 2014 6:57 p.m. ET

Jeffrey Goldberg's interview in the Atlantic magazine with Hillary Clinton has made headlines, with good reason. Her critique of President Obama's Syria policy was pointed and persuasive, as was her assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood's missteps in Egypt.

But what lay beneath the headlines is far more important. The interview revealed a public servant instructed but not chastened by experience, with a clear view of America's role in the world and of the means needed to play that role successfully. If she entered the race and won, she would be better prepared to deal with foreign policy and national defense than any president since George H.W. Bush, whose judgment and experience helped end the Cold War and reunify Germany without a shot being fired.

Although Mrs. Clinton's tart remark that " 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle" has evoked reams of commentary, the words that preceded it are far more important: "Great nations need organizing principles." The former secretary of state expressed enthusiasm for the role the U.S. played in defeating communism and fascism. The question since 1991 has been, what now?

During Bill Clinton's administration, the answer seemed clear enough: Build prosperity by incorporating the workers of Asia, Central Europe and the former Soviet Union into the global economy. The rising tide would create an expanding middle class, which would bolster new democracies and move authoritarian governments toward democracy. So the U.S. should take the lead in promoting open trade and peacefully advocating open government. The winds of history were in our sails.

Mrs. Clinton has thought hard about this, and here is what she told Mr. Goldberg: "The big mistake was thinking" that "the end of history has come upon us, after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was never true, history never stops and nationalisms were going to assert themselves, and then other variations on ideologies were going to claim their space." She cites jihadi Islamism and Vladimir Putin's vision of restored Russian greatness as prime examples. She might well have added China's distinctive combination of political authoritarianism and pell-mell economic growth ("market-Leninism"), which is seen elsewhere as an orderly alternative to democratic messiness.

The rise of violently aggressive anti-democratic ideologies was one rebuttal of the end-of-history theory. Another was the global economic crisis, discrediting the so-called Washington consensus that had dominated world affairs since the early 1990s. Central bankers, it turned out, were not wise enough to eliminate financial panics. Although too much regulation could stifle growth, too little could open the door to reckless risk-taking.

George W. Bush's response to jihadi Islam—global democracy-building backed by American might—came to grief in the sands of Iraq. But a policy built on avoiding that failure, says Mrs. Clinton in the Atlantic, runs risks of its own: "Part of the challenge is that our government too often has a tendency to swing between these extremes" of intervention and non-intervention. She adds: "When you're down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you're not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward." If Mr. Bush's porridge was too hot, Mr. Obama's is too cold.

But moderation is a means to ends, not an end in itself. So what would be the ends, the animating purposes of Mrs. Clinton's foreign policy? Her interview suggests, first, that we must take the fight to jihadi Islamism, which is inherently expansionist. In that connection, she says, she is thinking a lot about "containment, deterrence, and defeat." When unarmed diplomacy cannot succeed, she adds, we should not be afraid to back "the hard men with guns."

Second, we should drive a tough deal with Iran, or none at all. "I've always been in the camp," Mrs. Clinton says, "that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich."

Third, we should distinguish clearly between groups we can work with and those we can't. For example, Mrs. Clinton would exclude Hamas on the grounds that it is virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to Israel's destruction. She does not believe that Hamas "should in any way be treated as a legitimate interlocutor." Her commitment to Israel's defense is unswerving, including a willingness to call the rise of European anti-Semitism by its rightful name.

Fourth, the U.S. should vigorously advance the cause of women's rights around the world, not only because justice demands it, but also because the empowerment of women promotes economic growth and social progress.

And finally, because many American values "also happen to be universal values," we should take pride in ourselves and make our case to the world. Today, Mrs. Clinton says, "we don't even tell our story very well." As president, clearly, she would do her best to change that.
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G M
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« Reply #557 on: Today at 06:48:05 AM »

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-meltdown/
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ccp
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« Reply #558 on: Today at 07:17:44 AM »

 wink

OTOH from one of my favorite "opinion" thinkers  wink

Fareed Zakaria: Obama’s disciplined leadership is right for today

By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer May 29  

“Because of his unsure and indecisive leadership in the field of foreign policy, questions are being raised on all sides,” the writer declared, adding that the administration was “plagued by a Hamlet-like psychosis which seems to paralyze it every time decisive action is required.” Is the writer one of the many recent critics of Barack Obama’s foreign policy? Actually, it’s Richard Nixon, writing in 1961 about President John F. Kennedy. Criticizing presidents for weakness is a standard practice in Washington because the world is a messy place and, when bad things happen, Washington can be blamed for them. But to determine what the United States — and Obama — should be doing, we have to first understand the nature of the world and the dangers within it.

From 1947 until 1990, the United States faced a mortal threat, an enemy that was strategic, political, military and ideological. Washington had to keep together an alliance that faced up to the foe and persuaded countries in the middle not to give in. This meant that concerns about resolve and credibility were paramount. In this context, presidents had to continually reassure allies. This is why Dean Acheson is said to have remarked in exasperation about Europe’s persistent doubts about America’s resolve, “NATO is an alliance, not a psychiatrist’s couch!”

But the world today looks very different — far more peaceful and stable than at any point in decades and, by some measures, centuries. The United States faces no enemy anywhere on the scale of Soviet Russia. Its military spending is about that of the next 14 countries combined, most of which are treaty allies of Washington. The number of democracies around the world has grown by more than 50 percent in the past quarter-century. The countries that recently have been aggressive or acted as Washington’s adversaries are getting significant pushback. Russia has alienated Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Western Europe with its recent aggression, for which the short-term costs have grown and the long-term costs — energy diversification in Europe — have only begun to build. China has scared and angered almost all of its maritime neighbors, with each clamoring for greater U.S. involvement in Asia. Even a regional foe such as Iran has found that the costs of its aggressive foreign policy have mounted. In 2006, Iran’s favorability rating in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia was in the 75 percent to 85 percent range, according to Zogby Research. By 2012, it had fallen to about 30 percent.

In this context, what is needed from Washington is not a heroic exertion of American military power but rather a sustained effort to engage with allies, isolate enemies, support free markets and democratic values and push these positive trends forward. The Obama administration is, in fact, deeply internationalist — building on alliances in Europe and Asia, working with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, isolating adversaries and strengthening the global order that has proved so beneficial to the United States and the world since 1945.

The administration has fought al-Qaeda and its allies ferociously. But it has been disciplined about the use of force, and understandably so. An America that exaggerates threats, overreacts to problems and intervenes unilaterally would produce the very damage to its credibility that people are worried about. After all, just six years ago, the United States’ closest allies were distancing themselves from Washington because it was seen as aggressive, expansionist and militaristic. Iran was popular in the Middle East in 2006 because it was seen as standing up to an imperialist America that had invaded and occupied an Arab country. And nothing damaged U.S. credibility in the Cold War more than Vietnam
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ccp
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« Reply #559 on: Today at 07:23:14 AM »

From Krauthammer who for reasons unclear to me gives Hillary credit for being right and admits only her motives may be questioned  rolleyes   

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-on-obamas-foreign-policy-clinton-got-it-right/2014/08/14/e67278b4-23e3-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html
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G M
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« Reply #560 on: Today at 07:25:38 AM »

Dr. K is a good guy, but sometimes I  wonder what he's thinking...
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #561 on: Today at 09:09:01 AM »

On the point in question, her interview is not without merit.

The interview was posted here; if we don't watch out any and all of our candidates will not be able to handle her on this issue.

In a related vein, how would Cruz, or Paul, or ?  handle the following?

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/19/is_barack_obama_more_of_a_realist_than_i_am_stephen_m_walt_iraq_russia_gaza?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Flashpoints&utm_campaign=2014_FlashPoints%20%28Manual%29

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