Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More on foreign policy for grown-ups...

I think Obama's response so far to Bush's "appeaser" comment has been right on. He's used a few keywords that I've been dying to hear from the so-called "opposition party" the past few years, blasting such comments as "dishonest" and pointing out that the Bushies turn to fallacies like this because "they can't win a debate on the merits." This stands in contrast to rhetoric used by your Pelosis and Reids and Kerrys and Clintons, which feigns indignation but adopts the other side's terms of the debate (e.g. "I love freedom and hate terror almost as much as you, but I have to disagree on a few points..."). Obama has done a little bit of this, but not to such objectionable levels...

Bush's comments show explicitly just how much disdain he holds for intellectual argumentation. He believes that power and deference are birthrights for someone like him, and that they should be simply handed over (or, on a geopolitical stage, taken by force). Perhaps, if we were simply a bunch of monkeys fighting over a banana, he would be right... the monkey who can look the biggest or screech the loudest will win. But fully-evolved human beings know that in a grown-up world today, and particularly in a nuclear world, argument is everything.

Obama has said that comments like this are the reason why he's running... which I also love to hear, because it's also why I do what I do.

Some snippets for this week's 'toon:
  • Juan Cole (my new Facebook buddy):
    Senator John McCain, who seeks endorsements from haters of Roman Catholics, is alleging that Hamas has "endorsed" Barack Obama. He darkly suggests that this means something. It is a despicable, dirty campaign trick. Who do you think the Ku Klux Klan will be endorsing? And if the Grand Dragons plump for McCain, does that tell us anything about McCain except that he is pasty faced? You can't logically read off anything at all from an unsolicited endorsement.

  • Jonathan Schell, on the new nuclear world:
    That's part of the universalization that was written into the bomb's genetic code. Once a terrorist group has such a weapon, deterrence -- a relic of the Cold War -- is no longer operable. So this supposed solution, which seemed to work, after a fashion, for more than four decades, is now essentially out the window and we're in the market for another solution, which must be geared to this matured form of danger in which the weaponry can pop up anywhere.


    What follows, of course, is that a growing list of countries -- at present probably around 50 -- are able to have nuclear weapons if they so decide. What, in turn, follows is that, if those countries are not going to have the bomb, it will only be because they have made a political decision not to have it.
    And what follows no less surely is that this global issue cannot be solved by any means but the political. More specifically, it can't be solved by military force.


    I would say that the surefire way of ensuring that Iran will go for the bomb is to attack them. If, the day before, they were ready to stop short of having the bomb, the day after, they'll go for it and they'll get it, too. So, just as people say, there are no good options -- but that's only within the framework of the Bush Doctrine.

  • Scott Ritter on Israel's bombing of Syria last September:
    ...the Israeli decision to bomb Syria not only allowed the Syrian effort to be defined as weapons-related (an unproven and unlikely allegation), but by extension reinforced the Israeli (and American) contention that the nuclear activity in Iran was weapons-related as well.
    The international debate that has taken place about the Syrian facility shows how successful the Israeli gambit, in fact, was, since there is virtually no discussion about the fact that Israel violated international law in attacking, without provocation, a sovereign state whose status as a member of the United Nations ostensibly affords it protection from such assault. The American embrace of the Israeli action, and the decision to produce intelligence information about the nature of the bombed facility at this late stage in the game, only reinforces the reality that the United States has turned its back on international law in the form of arms control and non-proliferation agreements.
  • Excellent post by Chris Floyd:
    As with Iraq, the reality doesn't matter. The truth doesn't matter. The horrifying, murderous consequences don't matter. What matters is the militarist, elitist agenda of global domination -- in a word, empire -- that has driven America's "bipartisan foreign policy establishment" for decades. Iraq was not an aberration; it was an embodiment of this agenda. And the attack on Iran will be the same.

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