Thursday, April 03, 2008

Obama and the New US Foreign Policy

Former TalkingPointsMemo writer Spencer Ackerman wrote an article called "The Obama Doctrine" for "The American Spectator" magazine. In that piece, Ackerman interviews some of Obama's foreign policy advisors like Samantha Power, (she of the "Hillary is a monster" comment), and Anthony Lake, (Clinton's old national security advisor), to get a sense of how an Obama administration would approach international relations. In plain language these advisors explain how an Obama presidency could truly mark a new beginning in how we deal with the rest of the world.

"What's typically neglected in these arguments [about the efficacy of Bush's stated policy of "spreading democracy" to the exclusion of all other concerns] is the simple insight that democracy does not fill stomachs, alleviate malaria, or protect neighborhoods from marauding bands of militiamen. Democracy, in other words, is valuable to people insofar as it allows them first to meet their basic needs. It is much harder to provide that sense of dignity than to hold an election in Baghdad or Gaza and declare oneself shocked when illiberal forces triumph. "Look at why the baddies win these elections," Power says. "It's because [populations are] living in climates of fear." U.S. policy, she continues, should be "about meeting people where they're at. Their fears of going hungry, or of the thug on the street. That's the swamp that needs draining. If we're to compete with extremism, we have to be able to provide these things that we're not [providing]."

This is why, Obama'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.""

It's a totally different way of looking at things. I think if Obama's elected President, we'll have seen the last of the market-tested sloganeering that passed for foreign policy debate these last 7 and a half years.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Obama is the best the United States can do right now.

Look, an Obama administration does not represent my beliefs in the slightest - he is way too Neo-Liberal for my tastes and still unabashedly support the free market.

However, I have decided if he obtains the nomination - to vote for him - but not without intense reservations that he will be effective in doing anything in the vain of Social Democracy.

I am deciding to vote for him because EVEN to return to soft power will allow us to save face in the world - to rebuild alliances and to possibly move this country back into the right pro-worker direction that it needs to go to balance our nation's ills.

Now - I really don't want to analyze his foreign policy stance because it is moot. He is not a dove, not a leftist, not a socialist. He is a centrist Democrat whose perspective is usually of detente with antagonistic foreign powers, multi-lateral relationships of power sharing, adhering to institutional frameworks (like the UN, ICC, etc) - and a return to possible Humanitarian Interventions (Clinton) - that I am steadfastly against.

His election might re-install some much needed regulations - although I doubt that any of his policies will redistribute wealth back into the pockets of the working class - the US has too many serious problems for that.

Obama's foreign policy will mirror that of George Bush Sr (bleeding countries dry through loans and austerity programs through IMF and WORLD BANK) - which isn't saying much - but is a far cry from the unilateral, fascistic militarism of the Neo-Cons. World's apart.

And I fear Hillary is almost identical to Bush in that respect.

So, a vote to Obama is a return to some common sense - less ideology but is not 'the answer' nor does he stand for change. Obama will return the US to business as usual.

But do I still like any of the candidate - absolutely not. They are all imperialists masking the downfall of American power with naked aggression.

- PAPA

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