Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy Mag on Obama's 10 Worst Ideas

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I think they are wrong to bash him on number 4, I'm agnostic for the moment about number 10 (leaning toward thinking it doesn't make much real difference either way), but otherwise, Foreign Policy has a nice summation of 10 boneheaded notions of our conceivably maybe possibly probably next president, Barack Obama. Stresses mistakes on trade, war-waging, and general giveaway boondoggles to (or targeted attacks on) various special interests.

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  1. “I think they are wrong to bash him on number 4”

    Tell us why.

  2. This is the kind of reasoned policy critique that has no place in modern American politics.

  3. I’m on the fence about 4. I find the Khruschev example commonly cited by critics of the proposal exceptionally compelling, but my commonsense tells me that it’s never a good idea to ostracize an entire nation because of its leaders.

  4. A-mad won’t even be President of Iran by the time Obama gets settled in, so the point is kinda moot.

  5. Now, we SHOULD have sat down with A-mad’s predecessor since he was moderate, pro western and willing to engage especially after 9/11 given how much they hated the Taliban. But Bush screwed the pooch on that with the “axis of evil”.

  6. Seeing as how the “crisis” with Iran is largely of our own making, if we’d just back down I don’t see why there would be a need for more threats OR direct negotiations. The US has neither moral nor legal authority to intervene in Iranian internal affairs, and US pressure is a major *incentive* for them to try to build nuclear weapons. Look at North Korea- their little fire cracker pretty much put an end to talk about a possible US-NK war, did it not?

  7. I’ve heard that Ahmadinejad is about the 10th most powerful person in Iran, so I don’t understand all this talk about meeting with him. It’s like debating if our president would be willing to meet with the minority leader in Indonesia’s legislature. It seems embarrassing that they wouldn’t consider trying to meet with the actual leaders.

  8. “A-mad won’t even be President of Iran by the time Obama gets settled in, so the point is kinda moot.”

    True or not (I don’t follow Iranian politics so I don’t know), I’d like the benefit of Brian Doherty’s perspective given that he brought it up and was willing to elaborate somewhat on why he disagrees with #10.

  9. The US has neither moral nor legal authority to intervene in Iranian internal affairs

    Moral authority is debatable.
    The United States have legal authority if they say they do.

  10. Regardless, try not to just toss out debatable notions as bald fact.

  11. At least be fair and link to FP’s list of McCain’s 10 worst ideas:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/files/story4465.php

  12. Having read both of the criticisms from FP, I have to ask: is there any intellectual or philosophical consistency from that magazine? They seem to either criticize the candidates on the candidates own beliefs (hypocrisy) or on FP’s nebulous and indeterminate ones.

  13. “The United States have legal authority if they say they do”

    Then the flip side of that is that Iranians, or any other foreign governments, have the legal authority to interfere in our internal affairs if they say they do.

  14. Andy – you need to know what legal authority means first.

    Yes, I suppose if Iran passes a law or whatever it is they do over there that says “we have the right and duty to interfere in the affairs of the United States”, then yes, they have Iranian legal authority to do so.

    I’d like to see them back it up.

    you seem to be appealing to some kind of universal legal authority which doesn’t exist.

  15. So, there’s no such thing as international law?

  16. “”The United States have legal authority if they say they do”

    Then the flip side of that is that Iranians, or any other foreign governments, have the legal authority to interfere in our internal affairs if they say they do.”

    Geez, senseless bicker much?

    They both have the right to try, but then the other has the right to blow their asses off the planet if able. I’d like someone who’ll make sure the U.S. is able.

  17. So, there’s no such thing as international law?

    International law exists only to the extent that nations internalize treaties into their own law.

    Without a law enforcement agent, how can there be international law? There’s no punishment for breach!

  18. “There’s no punishment for breach!”

    Exactly. There’s no accountability.

  19. I don’t get what the fuss is about diplomatic relations with Ahmadinejad. I’d far prefer a president who would engage other states on their own terms and try to wedge a dialogue with them than one who refuses to talk because they aren’t responding to our sanctions/bombing.

  20. Anyone else get the “Adventure Quest” ad on the side with the beastie wearing a wizardy cap and sporting a skull-headed erection?

    Oh, and the Fed’s just either took over AIG or loaned it a buttload of money

  21. TAO,

    According to US law, all treaties we sign and ratify become US law.

  22. Mo – I know! I’m just saying that the only reason that is so is because the United States says it to be so.

    There exists no such thing as “international law”. There are treaties that the United States signs and, by its own assent, internalizes into its *national* law.

    If tomorrow we took that proviso out of the Constitution, there would be no physical repercussions for doing so from an “International Enforcement Agency” or some such.

  23. “I’ve heard that Ahmadinejad is about the 10th most powerful person in Iran, so I don’t understand all this talk about meeting with him. It’s like debating if our president would be willing to meet with the minority leader in Indonesia’s legislature.”

    Obama said he would.

    If Ahmadinejad is only about the 10th most powerful person in Iran, then doesn’t that call Obama’s international affairs judgement into question?

  24. “Oh, and the Fed’s just either took over AIG or loaned it a buttload of money”

    $85 Billion. Your butt must be infinitely bigger than mine.

  25. I would say the example of Cuba shows how isolating a country is completely ineffective. What reason would we have not to sit down and talk with Ahmadinejad?

  26. “So, there’s no such thing as international law?”

    That argument was crapped out here days ago.

  27. There would be no immediate repercussions, but if you go around not honoring treaties, you’ll either get attacked (militarily or economically) and no one will deal with you.

  28. None of those issues bother me all that much; his other schemes and his mindset and background are much, much, much more worrisome.

    As for the first two, gosh I’m surprised that Reason – the “libertarian” magazine – would side with a DavidRockefeller-linked publication in support of “free” trade. Why, it’s almost like Reason isn’t really libertarian at all but is something else.

    And, of course, the idea the BHO would do anything about those first two is ludicrous. He’s completely in the bag on that score.

    Reason: the opposition to the crooks in the Beltway!

  29. “I would say the example of Cuba shows how isolating a country is completely ineffective. What reason would we have not to sit down and talk with Ahmadinejad?”

    Made it ma! Top of the world!!!

  30. There would be no immediate repercussions, but if you go around not honoring treaties, you’ll either get attacked (militarily or economically) and no one will deal with you.

    Oh, I certainly agree. It’s just a question of whether there is law.

    It’s certainly a good idea not to cheat on your wife and honor your promises. There generally aren’t (nor should there be, unless the promises manifest themselves as contracts) laws against those things, though.

  31. “Foreign Policy Mag on Obama’s 10 Worst Ideas”

    They left off running for President.

  32. Regarding #4, I really wish we would just stop flaming Iran and instead focus on establishing a strong trade relationship with them. When goods and services cross borders, armies seldom do.

  33. Why it’s a bad idea: Engaging in military strikes in Pakistan happens to be established policy. But, as none other than Joe Biden pointed out last August, “It’s not something you talk about. ? The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty.”

    Telegraph? That guy must be older than McCain.

  34. How come establishing a new combination Aztec-Habsburg Constitution based on the tennets of Marx didn’t make it? I understand it took his entire foreign policy staff to craft it. State was empty for weeks while they labored on it.

  35. I’m surprised H&R hasn’t linked to the story announcing that the Pakistani army is fed up with U.S. military incursions and will now blow our asses away (or die trying!) if US troops cross the border again.

    Those Pakistanis are some hard core m_____f_____s!

    I don’t think the stated agenda of either candidate matters so much, whoever wins will spend the first year or two of his presidency trying to put out fires that Bush and Rice started.

  36. I’m surprised H&R hasn’t linked to the story announcing that the Pakistani army is fed up with U.S. military incursions and will now blow our asses away (or die trying!) if US troops cross the border again.

    You mean this story, from this morning?:

    https://reason.com/blog/show/128807.html

  37. “Only two things can rehabilitate Ahmadinejad politically: bombing Iran or major efforts to engage.”

    This is the only argument brought forth against the idea of meeting with A-Jad. I’m not seeing a good argument there.

    To my knowledge, “without precondition” has never been properly defined, and so everyone who opposes Obama just defines it in the worst way possible. Myself, I just thought that Obama was merely saying that he was not going to require that Iran do what we want before talking with them (like the Bush administration demanded at the time); after all, the point of any such talks is to convince them to do X–if we demand that they do X before we agree to meet, we are effectively saying we don’t want to meet. There may be arguments against THAT idea, but the arguments against Obama’s “without condition” idea seem to be arguments against something else entirely.

  38. “[Ethanol] ultimately helps our national security, because right now we’re sending billions of dollars to some of the most hostile nations on earth.”

    Canada and Mexico?

  39. What reason would we have not to sit down and talk with Ahmadinejad?

    Wrong question. Better questions are:

    What would such a meeting accomplish, that couldn’t be accomplished in other ways? What were our goals be? What would we be prepared to offer to accomplish those goals?

    Talking, in and of itself, is useless at best in international affairs. The talking has to be in pursuit of the national interest. What deal is Obama going to try to cut with Iran? Until we know this, talking is pointless.

  40. Wrong question. Better questions are: What would such a meeting accomplish, that couldn’t be accomplished in other ways?

    Well, we are currently trying just about everything other than (1) meeting, (2)sanctions and (3) invading. What makes your form of the question dangerous is that it makes (2) and (3) seem better than (1).

    What were our goals be?

    I think Bush has asked this very question.

    What would we be prepared to offer to accomplish those goals?

    Yeah, I bet no one who is advocating open diplomacy has thought of having goals or realized that we might have to give something up.

    Talking, in and of itself, is useless at best in international affairs.

    Who’s advocating only talking?

    The talking has to be in pursuit of the national interest.

    Everyone knows this. That’s why Obama doesn’t consider talking with the Swiss a crucial priority right now.

    What deal is Obama going to try to cut with Iran? Until we know this, talking is pointless.

    Until we know what his terms are to be, his talking is pointless? I don’t know, I would think that he would want to play things a little closer to the vest than that.

  41. I think they are wrong to bash him on number 4

    Brian,
    Aren’t you one who “wishes Milton Friedman had maintained some distance from Pinochet”? How do you reconcile these positions?

    I am just the reverse. I completely agree with Milton that he was an economist advising a world leader on how to combat inflation. And that saving people from the destruction of wealth cause by inflation was no more than a doctor saving people from the spread of disease. OTOH, while the US should be in communication with all players on the world stage. It would be a massive mistake for the POTUS to sit down for a photo op with any tin-horn asswhipe with his finger on the trigger.

  42. some hard core m_____f_____s!

    You censored mother? What the fuck?

  43. I’ve heard that Ahmadinejad is about the 10th most powerful person in Iran, so I don’t understand all this talk about meeting with him. It’s like debating if our president would be willing to meet with the minority leader in Indonesia’s legislature. It seems embarrassing that they wouldn’t consider trying to meet with the actual leaders.

    Exactly. He does not command the armed forces, or the Revolutionary Guard, or the nuclear program, or the Quds forces that were arming Shiites in Iraq. He’s a powerless figurehead.

  44. I have no problem with no. 4. I think we should engage other countries in dialogue. Without communication nothing will get accomplished without people losing their lives. By opening dialogue you can discuss things beyond foreign policy such as trade or other areas where we can gain some benefit. You will also find out better where they stand and we can tell them where we stand in a non-confrontational manner. If this doesn’t work then you can give them the cold shoulder treatment.

    I also don’t see why McCain or someone else just doesn’t rip Obama on the windfall profit tax. That one is very easy to have a come back. First you start talking about the US already having the second highest corporate tax in the industial world, eclipsing 40% with the state tax. Then you add in the double taxation of the dividend tax and we are already effectively taxing all oil company profits by 50% or higher in some cases. Most other countries in the world are lowering their corporate taxes not increasing them. We would be at even bigger disadvantage compared with the rest of the world then we are right now. You talk about you would rather have the oil companies using those profits for building infrastucture and finding new sources of energy which in turn will lower the price of energy, paying profits out to the stockholders (you and me), and raising wages. By raising the tax you will decrease the incentives to do the previous things. Lastly, do you really think that the gov’t will spend the extra tax income, if it materializes, better than the oil company, the stockholder (you and me), the consumer since prices will likely come down with more exploration (again you and me), or the employee with his higher wages if we don’t raise taxes. If this works you could posssibly even get into why lowering taxes would help even more. If that doesn’t suffice you come back with what happened when it was tried by Carter, such as higher prices and long lines at the gas station if they ahve any gas. If that doesn’t work, then nothing will because you are talking to an economically illiterate person or someone who wants money to go to “alternative” energy sources and they know the money won’t reach them unless the gov’t gives it to them because it makes extremely poor economic sense and only the gov’t is that economically illiterate with their money.

  45. Windfall profits tax.

    Isn’t that what veep candidate Palin used to rape BIGOIL to give Alaskans a phat check every year?

  46. Oh, and to those that respond to my generally lame-ass comments. I haven’t been ignoring ya’ll, my connection has been real sketchy the last coupla weeks.

    apologies

  47. meh,

    This is the kind of reasoned policy critique that has no place in modern American politics.

    I was disappointed in the article.
    It was basically

    Obama thinks this…
    We disagree.

    Not much of an analysis.

  48. I have no problem with no. 4. I think we should engage other countries in dialogue.

    Dialogue fine. But dialogue isn’t showing up on his front step with a bouquet of flowers, and sipping tea in his sitting room in front of the cameras. That is the total bone headed WTF were you thinking aspect of #4

  49. Why agnostic on #10? It fucks with market pricing for the sole reason to fuck with market supply. He’s either saying the reserve is too big (and I doubt it is,in a dire emergency governments would likely get it all anyway) or it’d have to be replenished which means he eventually fucks with demand. Seems hypocritical to rip on speculators at the same time as becoming a speculator.

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