Friday, November 28, 2008

Obama the Realist

It should come as no surprise that someone who has an affinity for Abraham Lincoln and Reinhold Niebuhr is a realist and not an idealist. I know that many Obama supporters believed that his opposition to the Iraq War meant that he was a pacifist. But if you think this, you've not paid attention to what he's said. Diplomacy comes first, but if necessary there is always a military option.

E.J. Dionne writes in today's Washington Post a column entitled "Obama's Bush Doctrine" about the parallels between Obama's perspective and that of an earlier Bush President -- Papa Bush. The choice of Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates -- a protege of Brent Scowcroft -- offers important clues. One could also say that Obama's outreach to Colin Powell is another example. As Dionne points out Obama has been in conversation with Scowcroft and others in that circle -- a circle that Jr. Bush seems to have eschewed to his own downfall.

Dionne notes as well that Scowcroft came out in opposition to an impending invasion, even before Obama, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

Scowcroft warned that an invasion of Iraq "very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation." Going to Iraq, Scowcroft said, would "divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism," and it could "destabilize Arab regimes in the region," "stifle any cooperation on terrorism" and "even swell the ranks of the terrorists."

Clinton and Gates fit in this realist orbit and can provide the leadership needed for Obama to withdraw US forces from Iraq without being accused of turning tail and running.

Who would have thought GHW Bush would be closer in ideology to Barack Obama than his own son and the son's VP -- who served Papa Bush as Sec. of Defense?

Dionne makes clear something everyone needs to hear as we enter this next phase of US History:

Obama's national security choices are already causing grumbling from parts of the antiwar left, even if Obama made clear six years ago that while he was with them on Iraq, he was not one of them.


Anonymous said...

Not to beat a dead horse.. but the great brilliance or potentially great error of Obama's campaign was he ran on "hope". Of course your definition of hope, is different than mine, is different for someone else. But you keep pumping the word and peoples heads fill with great thoughts. Now we are seeing the after effects of running this type of campaign.. pleads for patience, it will take time, tempering of expectations, chipping away at certain timelines or ideas. He has yet to even take the oath and suddenly.. the rich won't have taxes raised for at least 2 years, we won't immediately pull out of Iraq, etc. These are hallmark Bush ideals that he campaigned against and now he is capitulating to them. (part of me wonders if these briefings are exposing a machine he had no idea about and can not possibly control)

The irony of course is these ideals are why I voted for McCain. Not b/c he was some great guy.. but I didn't believe jacking up rates on rich people helps you in a recession. Pulling out of Iraq after all this time and money is invested.. add to that a surge that has worked, violence to troops is down to nil, why pull out now? You are almost done. I do worry a little about Obama's base and further left liberals that will be bitterly disappointed.. again.

Its funny.. b/c while my "team" lost, I feel I won b/c its the ideals and not the person that have lived on. Will be a fun ride to watch.


steph said...

I agree with your post. I've always liked Obama's talk on diplomacy but I've never felt he perceived it as a truly "realistic" option. He seems far to ready to take the aggressive route. I don't believe this aggressive route is being "realistic". I just think it reflects the historical American presumption.

From an idealistic perspective, I wonder what would happen if all Americane and other westerners - troops, travellers, government officials - present in the Middle East, left and went home.

Might not putting more money in the pockets of poorer people help in a recession? And what do you mean by time and money "invested"? From this end of the world we don't perceive the invading "surge" to have "worked" and we receive daily reports of violence continuing. What has been "done", is the creation of chaos.

Sadly, we in the colonies and the motherland have always known that American Democrats are never liberal, socialist or left wing. They're just not as radically right wing as Republicans.

I anticapate no "fun ride" ahead at all but continue to live in fear of what America might do next.

I have been noting a continuing tone of hostility in foreign media towards America despite - or even because of, Obama's election. Americans, they say, appear to be smug and even arrogant, because they have voted for a black president, thinking that that will appease the world and force them to look up to them once again.

Anonymous said...

Steph.. I will try to clarify for you. First, gas prices are down by over 50%, which is essentially a HUGE windwall for poor people. (this is also no thanks to politicians -drill baby drill and the great green movement had no impact on this) You do need the rich to buy or start companies that employ the poor.

The problem now in the US is a lack of demand. The housing boom created thousands of "mini" projects - building houses- that helped employ people and create product demand. Now that is gone.. so the government plans "major" projects to fill the void. My fear is its a temporary fix. As to demand.. we have cars piling up, we all have a flat screen tv, computer, so all this stuff from China isn't selling.

As for the war, it barely makes the news now. Ironic due to the agreements we have made, solider deaths in Nov were 16, so the place is getting safer. But you never hear the good, only the bad. Its a sad statement of American media.


Mberenis said...

Did you hear the good news? Obama is making it better for us already! Most people don't realize how much money there is out there. During economic times like this, there is more money to be had than ever. Because of the bailouts and economy, lenders are bending over backwards to bail you out too. Believe it or not, there is people getting tons of cheap money nowdays to start businesses, buy homes, pay off debt, and more. Bailout is for YOU

steph said...

Nope sorry - I can't see how tax increases for the rich are going to make a huge difference. I presume you mean 'windfall'. The price of petrol goes up and down. It's not going to make a huge difference to poor people. Not all people have cars, and not all people need to travel. Gosh I wish petrol went up and people looked to alternative. The problem is that so much of America still haven't accepted climate change let alone that it has a human cause. As for the war, news and American media, it appears that the American media is very selective and frugal on it's war reporting. Foreign news media don't hold back on bad news and we hear of Iraq (and the consequences) every day.

steph said...

Mberenis: I never click on the links of sarcastic comments just in case...