2/5/09

After the War on Terror

As all of my friends at Lucianne.com know by now, modern Republican political and economic philosophy, in ascendence for the last decade or so, has produced more problems than it has solved.

Republicans, who essentially do not believe in government, essentially placed the American government in the hands of the village idiots as a cynical political statement.
The results are now there to see by all. Yes, there are some 15-20 percent dead-enders that cling doggishly to backward anti-government platitudes from the Reagan era or the mouthings of Rush Limbaugh on his radio show. However this does not conceal the blatant incompetence and ineffectiveness of their reign in all matters foreign and domestic.

No, that great flushing sound was as much flushing the Republican Party down the toilet, as it was greeting the fine new political talent found in the person of Barack Obama.

The Republican Party will not be the same in 2012..... they are busy remaking themselves as we speak.

One of the areas that have been totally wrecked by Republican majority is the American Foreign Policy. It will take some doing for the Obama administration to undo the damage done by Dubya and his merry pranksters.

Roger Cohen has written a very nice OPED in the New York Times that discusses the first winds of change coming to American Foreign Policy....

It is indeed refreshing..... so refreshing not to have to listen to the village idiots anymore.....

After the War on Terror

By ROGER COHEN
Published: January 29, 2009

New York Times

In his first White House televised interview, with the Al Arabiya news network based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, President Obama buried the lead: The war on terror is over.

Yes, the with-us-or-against-us global struggle — the so-called Long War — in which a freedom-loving West confronts the undifferentiated forces of darkness comprising everything from Al Qaeda to elements of the Palestinian national struggle under the banner of “Islamofascism” has been terminated.

What’s left is what matters: defeating terrorist organizations. That’s not a war. It’s a strategic challenge.

The new president’s abandonment of post-9/11 Bush doctrine is a critical breakthrough. It resolves nothing but opens the way for a rapprochement with a Muslim world long cast into the “against-us” camp. Nothing good in Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan or Iran could happen with that Manichean chasm.

Obama said, “The language we use matters.” It does. He said he would be “very clear in distinguishing between organizations like Al Qaeda — that espouse violence, espouse terror and act on it — and people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop. We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful.”

Bush liked to distinguish between terrorists and the moderate, freedom-loving Muslims of his imagination. Obama makes a much more important distinction here: between those bent on the violent destruction of America and those who merely dislike, differ from or have been disappointed by America.

These days the great majority of the world’s Muslims fall into the latter category. Obama is right to take his case to them through the Arabic-language Al Arabiya network.
His tone represented a startling departure. He was subtle, respectful, self-critical and balanced where the Bush administration had been blunt, offensive, bombastic and one-sided in its embrace of an Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy.


Speaking as his Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, began an eight-day visit to the region, Obama described the mission as one of listening “because all too often the United States starts by dictating.”

Obama went further. Citing Muslim members of his own family and his experience of life in a Muslim country (Indonesia), he repositioned the national interest and his own role.
He defined his task as convincing Muslims that “Americans are not your enemy” and persuading Americans that respect for a Muslim world is essential. His objective, he said, was to promote not only American interests but those of ordinary people — read Muslims — suffering from “poverty and a lack of opportunity.”


That’s a significant ideological leap for an American leader, from the post-cold-war doctrine of supremacy to a new doctrine of inclusiveness dictated by globalization — from “the decider” to something close to “mediator-in-chief.” I applaud this shift because it is based in realism; a changed world is susceptible to American persuasion, not to American diktat.

Still, words do not alter the fact that the post-Gaza challenge facing Obama is immense. Here in Iran, where anti-American rhetoric is too significant a pillar of the 30-year-old Islamic Revolution to be lightly sacrificed, the response to the president’s interview was cool. It came as the government, citing the Israeli assault on Gaza, approved a bill to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes anywhere in the world.

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said change under Obama was good but would only be credible if America apologized to Iran for its role in the 1953 coup, among other things. The hard-line daily Kayhan said: “Obama follows Bush’s footsteps.”

In fact, Obama said he would pursue dialogue with Iran and praised the greatness of Persian civilization even as he deplored Iranian threats against Israel, its nuclear program and “support of terrorist organizations in the past.”


Any U.S.-Iranian dialogue will have to be rooted in a word Obama favors: respect. The United States has underestimated Iranian pride and the fierce attachment to its independence of a nation that has known its share of Western meddling.

Carrots and sticks will lead nowhere. Nor will an exclusive focus on the nuclear issue that fails to examine the whole range of American and Iranian interests, some shared, some hotly contested.
What is certain, with Iran as with the rest of the Middle East, is that there will be setbacks. Terrorists will attack. Obama will be denounced. But as Mitchell knows from his experience of bringing peace to Northern Ireland, the critical thing is perseverance.


Tony Blair, now also a Middle East envoy and Mitchell’s partner in Belfast, once put it to me this way: “The only reason we got the breakthrough in Northern Ireland was we did in the end focus on it with such intensity over such a period that every little thing that went wrong — and everything that could go wrong did at some point — was all the time being managed and rectified.” He described the approach as: “Any time we can’t solve it, we have to manage it, until we can start to solve it again.”

Bush had the ideological framework wrong. Obama has righted it by ending the war on terror. Now comes the hard Middle Eastern slog of solve-manage-solve. It will need the president’s unswerving focus.

14 comments:

christopher said...

A voice of reason indeed. What I know about these things is the judo point, the point at which largely powerless people actually have a way to influence the trajectory of events, that point keeps shifting around. It is very difficult to actually be competent to make the push AND also be in the position where the push is possible. The rest is patience and taking on the posture of readiness, maintaining it in hopes. The rhetoric that goes along with that seems to be happening or is closer to happening.

The opposition needs time too, however, and in some near future will prove more effective than it is now. Then we will be much closer to business as usual.

Mary Ellen said...

President Obama buried the lead: The war on terror is over.

[snip]

What’s left is what matters: defeating terrorist organizations. That’s not a war. It’s a strategic challenge.


If this is true,then why is Obama sending more than 170,000 more troops into Afghanistan? True, the Taliban are thugs who are a despicable group, but they are not a terrorist group who are sending people to attack the US or any other country...they are only concerned with taking over their own people, which by definition is not a terrorist who threatens the US or any other country.

The new president’s abandonment of post-9/11 Bush doctrine is a critical breakthrough.

If this is true, then why is Obama continuing with the practice of rendition? If he doesn't believe in using torture in order to get information,then why is he allowing the kidnapping of suspects and having them shipped off to another country which happens to use torture in order to get information? Why not have them interrogated in the US by CIA under the guidelines of proper interrogation methods? For the life of me, I can't see any other reason to continue with the practice of renditions.

there will be setbacks. Terrorists will attack. Obama will be denounced.

I am constantly hearing that the US will be attacked and that if we are, we can't blame Obama. Why not? If Bush was blamed, and rightly so, for the attacks of 9/11, shouldn't Obama also be held accountable if we are attacked under his administration? If Obama wants to keep us safe, why is there money from the new stimulus package going to build frisbee golf courses in three different states and not being spent on better and more inspections at our borders and ports?

Obama has righted it by ending the war on terror.

No, Obama didn't end any war on terror because there was no war on terror to begin with. Obama is just changing the rhetoric.

Ghost Dansing said...

oh, i think this is a major change in approach Mary Ellen.... i think you are correct in saying that "it was never a war", however the way the Republican administration approached it set all the rules as it it were, including making the Executive Branch all but a dictatorship when it came to anything having to do with foreign affairs or national security.

Also, there are a lot of actions involving the military that are far short of war..... or we could have a war against particular Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, and that is different than saying we can go anywhere any time and preemptively blow the sh*t out of anything in the name of WOT.

unfortunately, Afghanistan is a tricky issue. the taliban are indeed an insurgency that is trying to take over the entire nation.

the last time that happened, they harbored al qaeda as their guests and essentially gave them a sovereign nation to work from

pushing taliban and al qaeda out of Afghanistan is one of the only things we did that had any legitimacy and it was a major setback for al qaeda which was the group responsible for 9/11.

the problem is Dubya and Dick made Iraq the central front in the WOT and actually distracted energy away from the true object of our attack, al qaeda.

the Republicans will blame the Obama adminstration if there is another attack.

they will say it is his fault because he didn't do it "their" way, which is essentially taking a totally fascist approach to the situation..... becoming fascists.

i say we beat al qaeda and continue to be the "good guys", the Americans that the world used to admire.

there is a catch..... we had the upper hand in Afghanistan when we pushed the taliban and al qaeda out the first time..... but we didn't do it with a massive amount of western troops.

now, thanks to Republican bungling, we are back on the defense and the conventional wisdom is to send troops..... we'll see. but i think breaking the taliban's grip on Afghanistan and areas of Pakistan is going to take cleverness...... not brute force.

i understand the disappointement of our Pacifist wing in the Democratic Party. however war and military actions will continue.

what Cohen was referring to was indeed the rhetoric (and the implications of that rhetoric) for the war on terror.... that change is significant and has many implications.

by the way, i read Obama has blocked renditions.

Mary Ellen said...

No, Obama has not blocked renditions. They will continue.

He also did another one of his backtracks on his campaign promise to allow the media to photograph flag draped coffins that are coming home from war. He said the military will "revue" it, along with the military's "revue" of whether to dump Don't Ask Don't Tell. This seems to be a regular thing with Obama...not holding to what he said he would do. I'm not surprised, but I have to wonder when his supporters will finally get the idea that the guy lied his way into their hearts.

and that is different than saying we can go anywhere any time and preemptively blow the sh*t out of anything in the name of WOT.

Isn't that what Obama did when he sent in those unmanned planes into Pakistan to drop a few bombs? I know we're not at war with Pakistan so I presume that would be considered preemptive in the name of WOT, no?

Misty's Creations said...

This is true, I don't smoke But I burn incense and bar-b-que! Hey your pet bit me...has he had his shots?
Misty

Ghost Dansing said...

hi Mary Ellen.... i thought i read that he blocked renditions now i see that the press is making a big deal that he didn't block renditions only the secret prisons and torture. so i guess renditions are ok, but i wouldn't want to be the rendition specialist waiting around for the next time a rendition gets approved..... when pigs learn to fly..... hell freezes over, etc.

then there is Pakistan.... i kinda figured he'd still go after al qaeda in Pakistan whether they liked it or not.

so i guess he hasn't changed that...... you're right.....

hi Misty,

it was probably just a love bite and will only cause uncontrollable giggling at inopportune times....

thanks for dropping by you two...

Mary Ellen said...

ghostdancing-

If Bush had pulled this with when he had a Republican majority in the House and Senate...don't you think there would be more outrage from the media and from the Democrats (especially the Progressive wing of the party)?

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hj111-5

The elimination of term limits for President. A change of the Constitution done in the dead of night and hidden in a Stimulus package.

Is this the "transparency" that Obama was talking about? Are you also aware that the Senate is complaining because they have not been issued copies of the bill and are expected to vote on it today? However, a group of lobbyists received copies...go figure.

Honestly, I think the Democrats who are still supporting Obama need to take off those rose colored glasses and start seeing this man for who he is.

Ghost Dansing said...

wow.... this guy's really spookn' 'ya Mary Ellen. i don't think the Constitution is going to slip by in a stimulus package.... or slip by at all.

i don't have rose colored glasses regarding Obama. i mainly know what Republicanism is all about, and watched a proto-fascist regime in power for eight years.

i'm willing to give Obama eight....

Mustafa Şenalp said...

Çok güzel site. :)

Mary Ellen said...

ghost-

No, Obama doesn't spook me at all. What spooks me are his supporters who are so willing to allow Obama tell one lie after another and get away with it. As you site so often, this is the same behavior of those who supported Bush. They allowed him eight years to do the damage he's done to the United States and it seems that you are willing to do the same thing. Already you say you are willing to give him eight years, not knowing what kind of President he will be. That, IMHO, is very dangerous and pardon me for saying it...idiotic.

I think what most Americans need to do...but are unwilling to do, is to quit "cheering for the team" that has the correct letter next to it.

The majority of blogs that supported Obama sent anyone who did not agree with them packing. Now, as I read them, they are making one excuse after another for Obama's backtracking on his campaign promises...such as the one when he said he would eliminate the "States Secrets". Remember that? Remember the flowery speeches about "transparency" and upholding the Constitution? Remember when he said he would abolish renditions...sending people who are kidnapped off the streets and shipping them off to countries that torture? He said that we, America, were better than that. Then he went ahead and said that now he thinks it's ok after all.

Remember when he gave one of those speeches when he said he would filibuster the FISA bill if it contained telecom immunity? Do you remember when he marched in and voted for that bill and walked out instead of sticking around to vote on the amendments that would forbid telecom immunity?

If you are willing to state openly that no matter what, you will give Obama eight years, how does that make you any different than the Bush whackos? It seems the so-called "Progressives" have just turned into the mirror image of the Bush right wingers.

General George Patton said, "When everyone agrees--someon is not thinking." I think it's time to stop agreeing with everything you read on the DailyKos or on MSNBC and start thinking for yourself, don't you?

Daisy said...

Hi Ghost! Just stopping in for a good read. Interesting and well done as usual. Enjoy your day! :)

Ghost Dansing said...

hi Mustafa Şenalp. thanks for the site reference.

Mary Ellen... i think he is getting a lot of criticism, and you are welcome to criticize Obama here all you want.

he is pretty much what i expected, and he is heaps better than anything the Republican Party could supply.

hi Daisy.... nice seeing you again.... i'll drop by soon.

Utah Savage said...

Great post Ghost. We are slogging through the shit the Bushies left behind. But at least Obama knows it's shit and has a plan to clean it up, not market it as chocolate ice cream as the Republicans would.

S E E Quine said...

I was just thinking of eating some chocolate ice cream... you have ruined my thoughts. :D

Not you, Ghost. Well, I hope no other crazy people try to mail Obama a terminal illness because one of them might actually succeed.