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Tilting at Windmills

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February 26, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA'S TAKE ON TERROR....On Sunday Barack Obama spoke to a small Jewish group in Cleveland, and most of the Q&A revolved around issues related to Israel and a Palestinian state. But at the very end he switched gears a bit and did a nice job summing up his attitude toward the war on terror:

I am not naïve. There is a hard core of jihadist fundamentalists who we can't negotiate with. We have to hunt them down and knock them out. Incapacitate them....And that is where military action and intelligence has to be directed. So all the things I've talked about in the past — improving our intelligence capacity, improving our alliances, rolling up financial support, improving our homeland security, making sure that we have strike forces that are effective — that's all the military, intelligence, police work that's required.

The question then is what do we do with the 1.3 billion Muslims, who are along a spectrum of belief. Some extraordinarily moderate, some very pious but not violent. How do we reach out to them? And it is my strong belief that that is the battlefield that we have to worry about, and that is where we have been losing badly over the last 7 years. That is where Iraq has been a disaster. That is where the lack of effective public diplomacy has been a disaster. That is where our failure to challenge seriously human rights violations by countries like Saudi Arabia that are our allies has been a disaster.

And so what we have to do is to speak to that broader Muslim world in a way that says we will consistently support human rights, women's rights. We will consistently invest in the kinds of educational opportunities for children in these communities, so that madrasas are not their only source of learning. We will consistently operate in ways that lead by example, so that we have no tolerance for a Guantanamo or renditions or torture. Those all contribute to people at least being open to our values and our ideas and a recognition that we are not the enemy and that the Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable.

Nicely put.

Kevin Drum 7:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (54)

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Comments

Amen, brother.

Posted by: mmy on February 26, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Agree. Nicely put. What's eerie about it is that he makes pronouncements like these look easy--and they're not. They come out of deep reading and thinking and a conviction that we must refrain from foreign policy cant.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 26, 2008 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

With comments like this I think it clearly shows that Obama may not have the "35 years of experience" that Hillary Clinton claims to have but he has a sophisticated, mature and nuanced view of the world which is head and shoulders over that of the current President and substantially above that of his current rival for the nomination.

Posted by: Franker41 on February 26, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

That's a damned good speech, not only in terms of its content but rhetoric as well as the audience to which it is directed.

Posted by: Lilybelle on February 26, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Are people aware that the word "madrasa" is Arabic for school?

Posted by: Mo on February 26, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Mo. Still, I knew what he meant and figure his audience caught his meaning too.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 26, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my. Anyone who thinks and examines this deeply and profoundly gets my vote -- Republican or Democrat. Funny thing is, are the only ones who talk and think like this Democrats?

Posted by: Howard on February 26, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

"That's a damned good speech"

Kevin says it was a Q&A. But of course Clinton is a much better debater and policy wonk.

He's still going to have to down the word count by half for the general, but he's got the beginnings of a strong argument there.

Posted by: enozinho on February 26, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am not naïve.

Funny how the rest of his quote demonstrates that this first statement is wrong.

Posted by: John Hansen on February 26, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

That said, good speech.

Posted by: Mo on February 26, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Deep and profound? Excuse me?
"And so what we have to do is to speak to that broader Muslim world in a way that says we will consistently support human rights, women's rights."
Hello, people, this line is for us nice white liberal college-educated readers of this blog. The real Muslim world knows that we say "human rights - women's rights" only to bash the Muslim world. (Ask any Palestinian about the "corruption" of the PA.)

The issue of "women's rights" in particular is a right-wing talking point that is raised just to justify our occupation of Afghanistan, for example, and it never applies in Iraq.

This is my problem with Obama in a nutshell: he's a right-winger's version of a liberal. And when push comes to shove -- when our right-wing media make him president for four years so that a democrat and a black man can preside over the coming recession and the "loss" of Iraq, Karl Rove's party is going to make him out as a "worse president than Jimmy Carter" which is going to be his fate as president.

And, unlike Carter, he's going to deserve it. Because he makes stupid remarks like this.

Posted by: Diana on February 26, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief! How naive!

Why can't we have REAL men for leaders who walk tall and beat up everyone? I want the next candidate for President to kick the stuffing out of some madrassa student, and film it for a campaign ad!

Posted by: anonymous on February 26, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should click the link and read the entire transcript. Anyone who has any sense of the history of this conflict will be, I believe, impressed by Obama's grasp of this issue -- as well as many others. Disagree with what he says and vote for anyone you like, but people who parrot the line that Obama just gives pretty speeches and somehow lacks substance are either lazy, idiotic or mendacious.

Posted by: Scott Farris on February 26, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

So Diana, tell us what he should have said.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 26, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Very good points, but what's galling and astonishing to me in equal measure is the knowledge that saying what are really quite ordinary and commonsensical statements is, in the current US political climate, considered almost bizarre. McCain, Romney, Bush et al can deliver the most fatuous, evil, insane and incoherent nonsense and the media pundits will sagely stroke their chins and nod along, while Osama can say the most sober and level-headed things and the media will treat this as if he's just proposed signing a unilateral surrender and imposing sharia law.

Posted by: Stefan on February 26, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

He should have said that he supports the rights of national self-determination.
I hope I don't need to explain what I mean by that...

Posted by: Diana on February 26, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

In some countries, national self-determinism manifests as a repressive dictatorship. The dictator has self-determined that he likes having ultimate power. The people may have self-determined that they'd prefer something else.

So, whose idea of national self-determinism do we support, Diana?

Posted by: Jennifer on February 26, 2008 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

He should have said that he supports the rights of national self-determination.

And let me tell you: if you don't have your code words and phrases down, then no one will understand you!

Posted by: JM on February 26, 2008 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan - "while Osama can say the most sober and level-headed things..."

Heh. I think you meant Obama...

Posted by: Typo on February 26, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

*brazening it out* No, no, I meant Osama.

[curse these clumsy fingers!]

Posted by: Stefan on February 26, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is just as out of touch with reality as Bush is. Well maybe not that much, but if he expects to secularize, modernize, Westernize, or feminize the Middle East he is dead wrong. The answer lies not in killing terrorists while reforming the Middle East, as both Bush and Obama want to do, but in killing terrorists while extricating the U.S. from the Middle East. No matter how well-intentioned the U.S.'s presence in the Muslim world is, no matter how much good we hope to do for them, our presence there will always be hated because it is a foreign presence to them.

Imagine that the U.S. and the Muslim world are both men with guns. We must back away slowly with our gun pointed at the other.

Reforming the Middle East will never work, no matter if a Republican or Democrat is in charge. What we have to do is kill the terrorists and get the hell out of there.

Posted by: independent on February 26, 2008 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

The first part of that passage could have been lifted from Kerry's rhetoric -- the police work part got John Kerry mocked, even if he was spot on right (please note I'm NOT saying Obama 'stole' the speech, I'm saying that this policy framework isn't new.)

The second paragraph, at least in terms of "The question then is what do we do with the 1.3 billion Muslims, who are along a spectrum of belief. Some extraordinarily moderate, some very pious but not violent" is something that Bush used to touch upon, at the beginning (not so much now).

The final half of that passage is straight from the liberal p.o.v. Liberal human rights and women's organizations have been saying this shit FOR YEARS. The right only uses them as talking points when necessary, then dumps them.

What's particularly amazing about it isn't its uniqueness, but its clarity. It's a version of a worldview that makes more sense than "bomb 'em", as if that addresses any kind of problem at all. It has a core of humanity. It's not epic or even something you don't read on various well-written blogs from time to time, but it's recognizable as a belief system.

Which, in this awful day and age, seems positively revolutionary.

Posted by: Jay B. on February 26, 2008 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

...and that the Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable.

Nicely put, indeed.

Posted by: Bob M on February 26, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

That was well put.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 26, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with "foreign policy experience" is that the establishment foreign policy culture is so badly broken. To advance, you've got to believe so many things that are not true that it is crippling.

Now, genuine experience of the kind that involves overseas service that puts you directly in contact with non-elite non-Americans on a consistent basis is one thing. But if your experience is that you were a high muckity-muck in the Clinton administration and you wrote articles that appeared in the Washington wonk journals, chances are that your perspective is limited, and while you know some useful things, much of what you "know" is wrong.

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 26, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

That's all nice, but he's dancing around the fact that our problems with the Saudis go much deeper than just their human rights record:

www.asecondlookatthesaudis.com

And while there are plenty of oppressed and persecuted minorities in the Kingdom, that's not where the terrorists are coming from. They have always come from the mainstream, educated Wahhabi middle class. They represent not a persecuted class, but the INDOCTRINATED class.

Posted by: Bill in Chicago on February 26, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Automatic spelling correctors replace Obama with Osama. Try it in Outlook!

Lotta people will be making that "mistake", even though they spell it right.

Posted by: anonymous on February 26, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

independent at 8:34 PM :
Reforming the Middle East will never work,

No shit, Sherlock. Look what happened when Pres. Dimwit thought he could do it. But I don't see Obama saying we can "reform the Middle East," but that we can move people whom Bushco is trying like hell to make see us as enemies, and toward "at least being open to our values and our ideas." And I don't think he said it was going to be easy, much less a cakewalk.

Like others have posted above, it's rational, it's commonsense, and thus in the American political dialog sort of freakish.

Posted by: thersites on February 26, 2008 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

The clash is inevitable as long as we send money to whatever despotic entity controls the oil. Unless Obama informed the audience how the United States will no longer require the uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf into world energy markets in a less than multidecade time period, or how the population of the Persian Gulf will achieve self government in a less than multi decade period, thus making it possible for that population to voluntarily sell the oil into world markets, then he hasn't said anything which indicates how the clash may be avoided. The notion of the world largest oil consumer "getting out" of the region with the world's greatest reserves is simply laughable, as is the notion that the world's largest oil consumer won't be drawn into the conflicts of the region. Also, unfortunately, despots with access to giant oil reserves are pretty much immune to outside pressure to reform.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 26, 2008 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah--what Barack Obama has to say is profound and he will overcome John The War-Mongerer McCain's ill fated imperialism-- as Matt Taibbi writes in the latest Rolling Stone, "...(McCain)-- he's survived because Onward to Victory is the last great illusion the Republican Party has left to sell in this country, even to its own followers. They can't sell fiscal responsiblity, they can't sell 'values,' they can't sell competence, they can't sell small government, they can't even sell the economy.
All they have to offer is this sad, dwindling, knee-jerk patriotism, a promise to keep selling world politics as a McHale's Navy rerun to a Middle America that wants nothing to do with realizing the world has changed since 1946."
Also well said.

Posted by: consider wisely always on February 26, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I am not na夫e.

John Hanson: Funny how the rest of his quote demonstrates that this first statement is wrong.

Sadly predictable that John Hanson's response shows Mr. Hanson to know sweet fuck all of that on which he prates.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 26, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't really sound like Obama wants to reform the Middle East. It really sounds like he wants to engage it, which is a good thing. What he's saying is refreshing, but in a weird way. He's not saying anything new or brilliant; what he's saying is just plain sensible. But sensibility is exactly what's been lacking in our foreign policy, so it seems bold and new to us. How did we get to this point? McCain says some nonsense like we'll be in Iraq for 100 years and the media thinks that's a reasonable statement. How did surreal approaches to foreign policy become the norm?

Posted by: fostert on February 26, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Weird that a fucking moron who was willing to commit genocide on the Iraqis because the region was too unstable to sustain the status quo of 2003 thinks he has something to contribute.

You already contributed you racist fuck. You helped ensure that tens of thousands of Iraqis would die in a pointless war. Even if you are right that the only question is oil, that makes you an even bigger asshole than those whose purpose in Iraq was simple murder. You want to be there for both murder and theft.

If we want oil we should attain it the way any other good or service is obtained. We pay market prices for it. If the price is too dear then we should do without. Apparently being above tribalism means you don't have to respect human life above your right to have someone else's resources.

Jebus fucking Christo

Posted by: the on February 26, 2008 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

One of the things that gets me is that the vast majority of this 1.3 billion muslims is just like the vast majority of the billion or so Christians--people pretty much unacquainted with the details of the religion, who only attend the major holiday celebrations (which are more cultural than religious) and who don't adhere to the social restrictions (drinking, smoking, having sex inappropriately).

The idea (and this is personal experience speaking; I've walked hand in hand down the streets of Khartoum with smoking, drinking (but not pork-eating) Muslims). Religion simply doesn't play that prominent a role in the vast majority of people's lives. That's true of all denominations, in my experience.

Posted by: jayackroyd on February 26, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

The contents are nothing remarkable, any intelligent well meaning intellectual would come up with it. I did like the clarity, and humanity with which flows from it. I coulda put the contents together, but I never woulda come up with the rhetoric! The real shame, is why no other candidates, or highly visable personages haven't been able to explain this sortof policy. We seem to be stuck with "I am tough on bad guys".

Will, is half right. We will buy the oil at market price (actually oil is fungible, the oil will go to various world market oil importers). But we have created the conditions where virtually all of the talented people of Iraq have been killed, or are in exile. Our multinationals will be needed to replace all the expertise that has been chased out of Iraq. So the IOCs (International Oil Companies), have been beneficiaries of the Iraq misadventure. Similarly international engineering companies (like Halliburton) will be needed for the indefinite future. We aren't stealing the oil, and other Iraqi goods, but we have "stolen" the business of extracting the oil, and rebuilding the infrastructure (most of which we broke)! Of course the Iraqi revenue for all these overpriced services will come from the oil! And of course future US taxpayers (like our kids) will be paying for this war with interest for their whole lives.

Posted by: bigTom on February 26, 2008 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

the, market prices are being paid for the oil extracted from Iraq. Just how dumb are you? Also, if the United States was committing genocide in Iraq, everybody in Iraq would be dead by now. Are you too stupid to know what words mean?

Posted by: Will Allen on February 26, 2008 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, my first response to the was deleted, for what reason I cannot fathom, given the way he chose to address me.

bigTom, Iraqi expertise prior to the Baathists being removed was such that the fields were in a shambles. That doesn't justify the invasion, of course, but one shouldn't portray Iraqi technical expertise prior to the invasion as being in good shape.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 26, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Will you are a tool.

Ok Will, tell us what % of US imports comes from the ME and then tell us what % of oil the US imports, multiply the two numbers and then tell us what % of oil used in this country comes from the mid east.

I know all that number stuff is a little abstract for you, but once you get done you will see that currently, and for the history of our country, the mid east has not supplied a great deal of oil directly to the US. You probably already knew that, as you are, at your core, a disingenuous ass. The Americas supply over half of our imported petroleum products. Haven't seen many wars over here, though.

The correct answer, which we all know, is that meddling with the ME doesn't affect direct imports to the US, rather it affects the market, and in particular, the market price, which is what everybody who is heavily invested in oil stocks is really interested in. Anybody we know that is heavily invested in oil? Sounds like Will is.

While you are at it, Will, why don't you list all the other countries that we import goods from, or other countries that are involved in businesses that produce goods that we heavily import, that we feel a need to bully militarily. I'm having a little trouble coming up with any. Actually, I can't come up with any reason at all that we would have to use the military for any economic issue. In today's world, where all 1st world countries are connected at the hip economically, it would be extremely stupid for the wealthy, who drive all economic policies, to damage the world's economy by doing something stupid like dragging the military all over the earth, in places that aren't second/third world.

Of course, you can put your concern troll hat back on and pretend that you don't understand any of this, that the world is just full of a bunch of really bad people that are going to attack us for our freedoms, but we all know that is just a load of crap. Whenever things start dipping into the wallets of the ruling class, they will be fixed.

Posted by: so what on February 26, 2008 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

I have some stuff on my blog about terrorism in addition to a couple of other new posts here tonight.

Posted by: Swan on February 27, 2008 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Diana seemed to be making the Stephen Douglas case for popular sovereignty pretty well. The problem turned out to be that the people voted in a way that the established order did not like. And they tried to put the will of the people back in the box, but could not.

Obama is a fine man, and this speech is first rate. He does remind me of Lincoln in some ways (cue cult references by, ironically, sock puppets)--especially when attacked for the radicals who ostensibly support him. Lincoln was taken to task on John Brown by reporters in Leavenworth on the day of John Brown's execution, and he refused to be painted into the no-prisoner radical corner, preferring to instead point out ways for sensible accommodation that did not involve accepting slavery forever. Lincoln knew that, while Brown had been desperate and murderous, the course he had taken was measured against the evil that was human slavery.

The issue today is how to best confront another generalized evil radicalism without reinforcing the talking points of the extremists and creating more terrorists. We have done a poor job thus far.

Posted by: Sparko on February 27, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Will Allen on February 26, 2008 at 10:45 PM:

Also, if the United States was committing genocide in Iraq, everybody in Iraq would be dead by now. Are you too stupid to know what words mean?

Well, Will Allen, according to the legal definition of 'genocide' found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

Article 2...defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

So, the meaning of the word 'genocide' does not exclusively mean killing 'everybody in Iraq' as you've stated, unless you are creating your own definitions for words. Again.

Oh, and Will Allen? I've just handed your ass to you. Again...Really, you are an embarassment. However, I am sure that you will keep digging the hole you are in deeper and deeper. You can't help it, can you?

Posted by: grape_crush on February 27, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

so what, due to the fungibility of oil, it matters not a whit whether the oil product at your local Chevron station orginated in Venezuela, Canada, or Saudi Arabia, unless you are advocating that we invade our neighbors to the north, to pump out the oil without paying market value for it. That this concept still needs to be explained at this late date is astonishing proof of rampant weapons-grade stupidity in the likes of you.

grape, even if we accept the U.N. as the arbiter of the meaning of words, which is not required, only an idiot such as yourself would claim that U.S. actions in Iraq amounts to genocide. Now go back and figure out what the words "in some circumstances" logically entails.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 27, 2008 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Will Allen on February 27, 2008 at 12:43 AM:

..even if we accept the U.N. as the arbiter of the meaning of words..

Oh, Will Allen, I'm not. Unlike you, if I don't know the meaning of a word, I look it up. I don't create my own vague personal definitions that fit whatever it is I'm talking about.

..only an idiot such as yourself would claim that U.S. actions in Iraq amounts to genocide.

According to your 'logic' stated above, only idiots claim that 'U.S. actions in Iraq amount to genocide'...Except that I did not claim that, Will Allen. By your own very special logic, you're wrong or a liar. Again.

Now go back and figure out what the words "in some circumstances" logically entails.

Gee, Will Allen, I did...Apparently it didn't match the super-secret definition you created but failed to define. Not my fault that you made a vaguely-worded, easy-to-dismiss argument. Again.

Keep digging, Will Allen.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 27, 2008 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Read through the entire interview. Obama makes it very clear that with regard to US/Israel policy there will be no change. He will not negotiate with Hamas. Its been clear for years now that there will not be peace between Israel and the Palestinians without pressure on Israel from the US and Obama seems to be ruling that out already.

Obama cannot reach out to the muslim world with one hand while his other hand is firmly on Israel's shoulder. He would quickly have little more credibility than Bush. What would he do if support for human rights in Egypt gets Mubarak replaced with a rabidly anti-Israeli government? How does he choose between Israel's interests and real democracy in Lebanon that would bring Hezbollah to power? How is he going to get any non-Hamas negotiating partner in Palestine if the Saudi's won't help him because he is always criticising their human rights record? Obama's policy seems to assume that the only source of contention between the muslim world and America is Iraq, and that with a new face and a withdrawal muslims will forget the contradictions between America's ideals and its positions in support of Israel. That's simply wrong. It seems that America's problems with the Muslim world are deeper than just George Bush.

Posted by: swio on February 27, 2008 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Grape, I said only an idiot such as you would claim that U.S. actions in Iraq amounted to genocide. That isn't the same thing as saying that you had claimed that U.S. actions in Iraq amounted to genocide. You are an idiot, but not necessarily an idiot who has made very possible idiotic assertion, for that may be a feat even beyond your considerable capacity. Learn to read.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 27, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

...improving our homeland security

Right, by giving amnesty to millions of illegal infiltrators to encourage tens of millions more to pour across the border from all over the world. He a jive-ass.

And so what we have to do is to speak to that broader Muslim world in a way that says we will consistently support human rights, women's rights.

In other words show utter contempt for their culture and try to impose ours on them, just like Bush.

Obama, Bush, Carter...so good they're good for nothing.

Posted by: Luther on February 27, 2008 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Wonderful.
Encouraging.

Posted by: jessica on February 27, 2008 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

Also, if the United States was committing genocide in Iraq, everybody [emphasis mine] in Iraq would be dead by now. Are you too stupid to know what words mean?

So there was no genocide in WWII because not all of the European Jews survived? No genocide in Rwanda because the Hutus didn't kill all of the Tutsis? No genocide in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge because there are still Cambodians?

Posted by: Stefan on February 27, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

so what, due to the fungibility of oil, it matters not a whit whether the oil product at your local Chevron station orginated in Venezuela, Canada, or Saudi Arabia, unless you are advocating that we invade our neighbors to the north, to pump out the oil without paying market value for it.

The point (among others) of invading Iraq wasn't to be able to buy the oil. The point was to make the profits off of selling it.

Posted by: Stefan on February 27, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Smart, smart man. I'm betting he's smart enough to stay humble enough, and true enough, if he makes it to the Oval Office. It'll be a tightrope walk as he's mobbed by wealthy, powerful flatterers from around the world. He'll have to make some compromises to keep them from pulling him down, but I have the feeling he might have what it takes to stay on balance.

Posted by: ferd on February 27, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

kudos to swio, he put the problem with Obama better than I ever could.

Posted by: Diana on February 27, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is an interesting letter. Some food for thought for Obama.

http://www.aina.org/news/2008029154843.htm

Posted by: sjrsm on February 27, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Obama isn't stupid, but he doesn't always hit the ball squarely. Edwards almost always did.

I won't say Obama is entirely naive, but the fact that he sometimes hits foul balls just makes him appear to not be ready for the bigs. I say he's green as a shorthand for that.

Still, the electorate likes his hope, optimism and youthful walk, so he'll get a shot at it and hopefully his advisors will keep him on a sound footing.

Posted by: MarkH on February 27, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"...our failure to challenge seriously human rights violations by countries like Saudi Arabia that are our allies has been a disaster."

"...we are not the enemy and that the Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable."
______________________

Challenging human rights violations is always a good thing. Our first ideological statement, the Declaration of Independence, made the point that all people have been endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, not just Americans. The hard part is deciding what advantages we are willing to give up whilst challenging those violations. In some cases, doing so can turn lukewarm friends into real enemies. If that is in the best interests of the United States, then so be it. We hire politicians to make those decisions.

It's also a certainty that large numbers of people will always consider us their mortal enemy no matter how conciliatory we become.


Posted by: on February 27, 2008 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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