March 24, 2008

APPARENTLY, THIS ISN'T A PARODY:

The Obama Doctrine: Barack Obama is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades. But will voters buy it? (Spencer Ackerman, March 24, 2008, American Prospect)

[O]bama's advisers argue, national security depends in large part on dignity promotion. Without it, the U.S. will never be able to destroy al-Qaeda. Extremists will forever be able to demagogue conditions of misery, making continued U.S. involvement in asymmetric warfare an increasingly counterproductive exercise -- because killing one terrorist creates five more in his place. "It's about attacking pools of potential terrorism around the globe," Gration says. "Look at Africa, with 900 million people, half of whom are under 18. I'm concerned that unless you start creating jobs and livelihoods we will have real big problems on our hands in ten to fifteen years."

Obama sees this as more than a global charity program; it is the anvil against which he can bring down the hammer on al-Qaeda. "He took many of the [counterinsurgency] principles -- the paradoxes, like how sometimes you're less secure the more force is used -- and looked at it from a more strategic perspective," Sewall says. "His policies deal with root causes but do not misconstrue root causes as a simple fix. He recognizes that you need to pursue a parallel anti-terrorism [course] in its traditional form along with this transformed approach to foreign policy." Not for nothing has Obama received private advice or public support from experts like former Clinton and Bush counterterrorism advisers Richard Clarke and Rand Beers, and John Brennan, the first chief of the National Counterterrorism Center. [...]

In his focus on the importance of dignity in our policy toward the developing world, Obama sounds quite a bit like John F. Kennedy, who knitted together an argument for engagement with the "non-aligned" world and began the tradition of development assistance as a foreign-policy goal. However, Kennedy's basic foreign policy continued along the Cold War lines that had been laid down during the Truman administration.

Democratic presidential candidates since Kennedy have either downplayed foreign policy or simply argued for more competence in its execution, with two major exceptions: George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976. In the popular imagination, based on the "Come home, America" line from his nomination acceptance speech, McGovern pivoted from a striking critique of the immorality of the Vietnam War to an indictment of U.S. involvement abroad. But McGovern purposefully left this broad criticism out of most of his campaign. "I concentrated on Vietnam," McGovern says in a phone interview, "because I thought it would be difficult to sell a comprehensive rewriting of American foreign policy." Carter is a more ambiguous case. In the wake of Watergate, he made a full-spectrum argument against the Washington establishment. Rethinking foreign policy was a part of that, and his aide Hamilton Jordan remarked, "If, after the inauguration, you find Cy Vance as secretary of state and Zbigniew Brzezinski as head of national security, then I would say we failed." Both men, of course, received precisely those posts.

Obama is doing something braver with foreign policy than McGovern or Carter. Much, of course, could go wrong.


Sorry, I'd have liked to have excerpted the part that explains exactly how the proto-pabulumatic term "dignity" would be turned into actual policies in an Obama administration, but this essay is as content free as the candidate's campaign. At most we're left with the comparison to JFK, who may have had the worst foreign policy record of any president, nearly all of his blunders a function of his inexperience and callowness.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2008 7:39 PM
Comments

"Look at Africa, with 900 million people, half of whom are under 18. I'm concerned that unless you start creating jobs and livelihoods we will have real big problems on our hands in ten to fifteen years."

WHO'S "YOU" AND WHO'S "WE?"

"THERE AINT NOBODY HERE BUT US CHICKENS. THERE AINT NOBODY HERE AT ALL."

Posted by: Genecis at March 24, 2008 11:14 PM

Here's an eye opener ... for me:
"Yet Naidoo -- a fourth-generation South African whose organization was recently highlighted by the Clinton Global Initiative -- acknowledged that despite the investment rush, the image of the continent still lags. To dramatize that problem, he showed the audience a standard classroom map of the world and then an actual satellite image, proving that Africa is actually much larger than commonly depicted in the West. In reality, the United States, continental Europe and China could fit inside the African land mass, with some room to spare."

[...]Naidoo, president and CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America, noted that with the world pushing for alternative sources of energy such as windmills or geothermal power, it will be easier to develop and implement these new technologies from scratch in Africa than to impose them on the entrenched power grid in the West. "The key about disruptive technology is that it really has a chance to innovate at the base of the pyramid,"[...] --- The Street.Com

They [the upper echelon] see themselves as the continent of opportunity for investment. What they need is responsible political leadership to provide stability. They're rich in natural resources.

Posted by: Genecis at March 25, 2008 10:16 AM

Here's an eye opener:
"Yet Naidoo -- a fourth-generation South African whose organization was recently highlighted by the Clinton Global Initiative -- acknowledged that despite the investment rush, the image of the continent still lags. To dramatize that problem, he showed the audience a standard classroom map of the world and then an actual satellite image, proving that Africa is actually much larger than commonly depicted in the West. In reality, the United States, continental Europe and China could fit inside the African land mass, with some room to spare."

And here's an interesting view:
[...]Naidoo, president and CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America, noted that with the world pushing for alternative sources of energy such as windmills or geothermal power, it will be easier to develop and implement these new technologies from scratch in Africa than to impose them on the entrenched power grid in the West. "The key about disruptive technology is that it really has a chance to innovate at the base of the pyramid,"[...] Both attributed to: The Street.Com

They [the upper echelon] see themselves as the continent of opportunity for investment. What they need is responsible political leadership to provide the stability required to encourage investment. They're rich in natural resources ... and "there's the rub."

Posted by: Genecis at March 25, 2008 10:25 AM
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