I have suspended writing new posts for this blog. I watch the Republican presidential debates and listen to the debate about bombing Iran and am speechless. There is hardly anything left to say.
Obama has no interest in bombing Iran. And although he caved into Bibi’s settlement expansion, he won’t green-light Israel to attack Iran. 2012 is not a year Americans will rally to support a president in a time of war. Americans believe they are overstretched with a dormant economy and believe Obama overstretched the federal budget through bail-out, stimulus and health care. An attack on Iran would make Romney a shoe-in. Even Obama wouldn’t let Netanyahu walk over him in this.
The majority of Americans don’t care about the Israel-Iran conflict. The Republicans are going wild on Iran to show that Obama is weak on national security, but Obama’s commander-in-chief narrative gets better with every Quaeda or Taliban leader offed, every drone that hits its target, those 2500 marines to be based in northwest Australia and on-going naval exercise near the South China Sea.
The Israeli leadership has been talking out of all sides of the mouth. Barak says Israel isn’t near a decision to bomb Iran one day. And the very next day, Israeli intelligence states that the aftermath of such an attack wouldn’t be as bad as many experts predict. Israeli officials have even back-tracked on whether Iran will ultimately go ahead and construct a bomb.
All of this occurs against the possibility Netanyahu will call for early elections this year and party elections that took place this week. Prepare for another round of hairsplitting debate tomorrow: this one on what the IEAE meant by its talks with Iran Monday and Tuesday were ‘good.’
Once again, blogs are on fire. This week, Andrew Sullivan, the maestro of the blogsphere, endorsed Ron Paul for the GOP nomination. (He still supports Obama for the general elections.) Others, including other media, criticized Fox News for their condescending and unfair coverage of Paul’s campaign, and Fox ended up giving Paul an unusual amount of time in this week’s debate to explain his ideas.
Jonathan Chait is astounded that many left-of-center politicos or pundits so appreciate a man whom he chronicles as promoting some serious racist views. Frum blames everything sectarian about today’s GOP on the libertarian trend that Paul represents.
Wow! The ‘intellectuals’ -both right and left – seem obsessed with Paul. Why? After all, Paul had an intense and vocal following in 2008 which got him into the GOP debates as a sid-show.
This year is different. He may even win Iowa and has shown stamina in other states leading up to the primaries. More importantly, at a time when it’s downright embarrassing to listen to what comes out of the mouths of each GOP candidate for the presidential nomination, Paul is at least consistent, humble and genuine. This in itself is attracking attention.
But Paul’s real contribution to American politics in 2011 is his uncompromising anti-interventionist foreign policy framework.
In 2008, Obama held out the promise of the new path for US foreign policy. He was against the Iraq war and pledged to ‘talk to’ enemies like Iran and to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Obama instead has proved a ‘realist’ without the scope and vision that once defined realism nor does he offer an integral, unique vision arising from his own views.
Here comes Paul. The Iraq war was a huge waste of money. So are all the other costs of America policing of the world. Iran isn’t a threat; it doesn’t even have the flying ability to reach the US. In fact, Iran reacts to what it sees as American military moves all around it, primarily American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this summer NATO actions in Libya, with threats against its ally, Syria. Iraq is in defensive, not offensive, mode.
Israel is more a problem than an asset for the United States. Why should the US stay involved in the ‘peace process’? Let them figure it out on their own.
Paul is the only politician within the Democrats or Republicans who can and does consistently advocate a new way of looking at the US role in the world. His world view counters establishment ‘realism’, ‘neoconservatism’ , ‘liberal imperialism’, an ill-define and muffled ‘Obama’ doctrine and other theories so in vogue in America since it became a Great Power after WW2 – a phenomenal rise for a country not yet 200 years old!
Paul appealed to strong sentiments within the American electorate in last night’s GOP debate. Why are we trying to change the world: we have too many problems here. All the money going into war would be better spent here.
Paul ignores ‘popular’ intellectual discussions about, say, Iran. He offers up a completely different world view. It’s no longer ‘should we have given more support to the Green movement’ or ‘how close are the Mullahs to possessing a nuclear bomb’?
It’s ‘why are we in this conflict with Iran in the first place’? Maybe Iran is reacting to the Anglo-American coup against their democratically-elected government in 1953; the forced installation of a brutal Shah; support for Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war; the rejection of Iran’s olive branch to the US after 9/11?
I voted for Obama because I thought he would put American foreign policy on a new track. I thought he might actually do something with Iran on the same level that Nixon did with China. But that takes skill, patience and sometimes years of preparation, not to mention a clear understanding on both sides of what each gets out of it. It didn’t happen.
I thought Obama would actually work behind the scenes for a regional solution to Iraq and Afghanistan. Deals with Assad. Deals with Saudi Arabia. That did not take off.
Paul dismisses all that. As a candidate he asks: could America help build an international order based on trade that could move beyond the balance of power politics that has been the foundation of international relations for several centuries.
I may be reading too much into Paul’s views as well as Obama’s. But the world went from a regional balance of power framework for understanding foreign policy relations, into a two superpowers framework, and now into something variously described as a’unipolar’ model, a ‘multi-polar’ world or a ‘hyper power’ framework. If not these, then the foundation is ‘American decline’ and paralysis among everyone else.
This is too much, too fast. Someone who can get the stage has to advocate for a competing world view. That wasn’t Obama. At least for a moment, it’s Paul
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, is reporting that Germany Chancellor Merkel insisted that Israel release $100 Million of Palestinian funds it was holding before Germany would approve a submarine sale to Israel.
Israel’s decision to release frozen public funds to the Palestinians last week came after Germany insisted it did so as a condition for the completion of the sale of a submarine, a German newspaper reported Sunday.
The Welt am Sonntag quoted sources as saying Germany had told Israel it could not go ahead with the purchase of the submarine unless it made political concessions.
And here we have President Obama adding more funds to the Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ project and getting nothing back from Israel for all-out American support for Israel at the UN. In contrast, the Palestinians’ money was returned the same day Merkel spoke.
calling it quits on the white working class. Alec MacGillis reports on how the rumor thrived for a few days in The New Republic.
What has prompted this conclusion? Another overheard musing by Obama about “bitter” working class voters? A secret memo from Jim Messina in Chicago? No. A demographic analysis of the 2012 electorate from the Center for American Progress. Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin did not realize it, but their dense 69-page report analyzing the electorate — which notes, above all, that the electorate’s share of racial minorities and Gen-Y voters continues to grow — was so convincing that it has now been adopted as the official governing document of the Obama campaign. Leave aside that the analysis, as discussed in this space last week, makes clear that Obama is in trouble if he loses too many working class white voters below his 2008 share
Advice: distrust everything you hear between now and November, 2012. Rule of thumb: wait three days after any ‘shocking news’ to hear the other side, then decide which sounds more credible. Extra step: download the entire speech/interview/press conference to make sure the (object, victim, candidate) was quoted in context.
Over the weekend, the Obama Administration issued a reasonably tough call on the Egyptian military to move immediately to elections and civilian rule:
The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately. We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation. Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.
Although violence in Tahrir Square subsided over the last two days, the immediate path forward will be determined by how well parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin tomorrow, November 28, are carried out.
The last week brought reports on the first national Romney commercial of his Presidential campaign. In it, Romney quoted President Obama saying “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” In fact, Obama was quoting a McCain aide who used this line. Those were McCain’s, not Obama’s words. Attributing McCain’s words to Obama is more than beyond deceitful. It’s aggressive lying.
Tonight on PBS, David Brooks admitted that the lie was intentional. The Romney campaign intentionally did a bait and switch on the McCain quote to cause an uproar from Democrats and the Administration so Romney could appear tough on Democrats and unafraid of taking on Obama to conservative Republican primary voters.
So this is what we can expect for the 2012 campaign. The 2008 contest focused on personality, out-of-context quotes and events and name-calling. Next year will be worse.
Sec. Clinton has been talking out of both sides of her mouth. Two weeks ago, she said the SCAF’s delay for Presidential elections until 2013 was ‘appropriate.’ This past wee, she has been verbally scolding SCAF. But look, every US president who served the last 40 years scolded Mubarak but never left his side.
The Obama Administration is overly concerned about security and Egypt’s treaty with Israel. Repression by SCAF isn’t going to ensure either. Stability will come with elections to Parliament, the Presidential election date set for next Spring and overturning the emergency law.
SCAF itself is the provocateur for chaos. It has sewn dissent between Copts and Muslims. It has reneged on promises. It continues to give mixed signals in a volatile situation. SCAF is either setting the stage for more repression or incredibly clumsy and stupid.
Obama needs to move on this immediately.
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