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The Huffington Post

VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 21

									The Huffington Post
        Amitai Etzioni| BIO | I'M A FAN OF THIS
        BLOGGER

Obama's Vacuous Foreign Policy
Posted July 6, 2007 | 09:50 PM (EST)


Read More: Breaking Politics News, Barack Obama, U.S. Democratic Party, Jeffrey
Sachs, United States National Guard

Barack Obama was given an opportunity to spell out his foreign policy in the pages of the
most recent (July/August) issue of Foreign Affairs. It is a highly respected publication,
read world-wide as a sort of voice of the American foreign policy establishment, leading
Democrats included. Because the publication has allotted space for other presidential
candidates to map out their foreign policies in upcoming issues, it is unlikely that Obama
will have another chance to engage this particular forum before the election. So, what
does the Senator have to offer?

Obama's favorite term, repeated ad nauseum, ad infinitum, is vision. What we need, the
Senator writes, is "vision." We need a "visionary leadership" and "a new vision of
leadership." This is, of course, all too true but also tells us very little as to which vision of
foreign policy this new leader would ask us to follow. Obama, like most political
candidates without a clear agenda, still manages to be quite clear as to what we are not to
do. We should not retreat into Fortress America. We should not get out of Iraq in an
"irresponsible" way. And we cannot stop fighting terrorism. So far so good. So far so
little.

Before I continue I should note that I am not a Trojan Horse for some other candidate;
my aim is not to promote any other candidate via my criticism of Obama. Indeed, if
elections were held tomorrow I might vote for Senator Obama. I still hold that he would
do best to unfurl a richer fabric of foreign policy than what he has revealed so far.

Much of the rest of Obama's Foreign Affairs piece deals with the tools of foreign policy,
and not with the substance. We should work with our partners, restore trust in America,
be true to our values, deepen our knowledge of the Muslim world, and so on. These are
all sound points, but the Senator leaves it quite unclear as to what purpose we are to apply
these tools.

The Neo-Cons had a substantive foreign policy vision. They argued that the post Cold
War world is democratizing; that the US should use its force to accelerate and expand
this trend by imposing regime changes; and that such democratization will ensure peace
for us all as democracies do not fight one another. I am not saying that this thesis was the
reason Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. I am saying that the Neo-Cons, whatever their
true motives, had a picture one could flesh out and relate to-or in my case, oppose. The
point is that Neo-Cons' picture had a content one could employ to assess specific foreign
policy measures.

The liberals also had a substantive foreign policy vision. They professed the notion that if
we helped the people of the world to grow economically, improved public health,
improved the education of their children and provided them with a good life, then they
would cease hating us and, therefore, would cease attacking us. This is the sort of world
Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz still pursue.

Now read Obama. He calls for the United States to provide "global leadership grounded
in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity."
These lines are about as vacuous as they come. Such far-from-inspirational prose
("grounded leadership," "share a common security") does not set Obama aside from most
if not all other candidates. They lack a substantive vision that one can get one's hands
around and draw on to guide a foreign policy.

People who will turn to the article in July-August issue of Foreign Affairs will find,
among all these oratory lines, a considerable number of specific points about what is to
be done to the National Guard, Russia, the NPT, Nigeria, the UN and many others. This
is exactly the kind of random shopping list approach to foreign policy platforms that
Democrats are so proficient at cobbling together. There are a lot of good thoughts, but
they are not connected to make a picture. Taken together, these specific points fall short
of providing exactly what Obama calls for: a new vision. Such a vision need not consist
of lofty goals or wonkish specs, but must provide a worldview as to how we are going to
enhance our security and that of others, for all of us.

For our vision see Security First: For A Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy.


Comments (112)
  NoMoFearNoMoHate (See profile | I'm a fan of
NoMoFearNoMoHate)
Hi Amitai,

I was just wondering, have you tried to find out more about Obama's foreign policy than
what is offered by the profit driven media? (I haven't, just wondering if you have)

Maybe the fact that he is a centrist with democratic leanings (seeing as he represents a
heavily democratic district) should speak for itself.
Personally, if I wanted to know more I would do my best to ask him rather than rely on
the small windows of opportunity where he is speaking to many people of many
backgrounds and trying to give them more of a feeling of his policies and saving
substantiative information for those who would query him directly. From what I've seen
and heard, he could probably talk very informatively and at some length about almost
every substantiative issue that may come in front of a sitting President. If you asked him
something that he was not totally aware of I'm sure he would be in full command of it in
short order.

Have you ever seen his interview on Iraq in Oct. 2002? He wasn't even a Senator (well,
he was a State Senator - but how many of them knew as much as he did about the issue?)
then!
| posted 10:24 pm on 07/06/2007

     researcher (See profile | I'm a fan of researcher)
This is a good point you make about that speech in 2002. He summed up the Iraq
situation better than anyone in congress that I have read. Stated another way if we would
have listened to him where would we be today.

We keep harping on experience maybe we need potential. Cheney had loads of
experience and that worked for the good of the country. Not!

I doubt if bush even knew where Iraq was on the map.

I don’t agree with everything he says and he is slow to make a point but he appears to be
the brightest of the demo bunch and it goes without saying he is brighter than the neocon
warmongering, greed is good bunch. With Paul maybe the exception.

Did anyone see on tucker today where he called obama a pot head because he used the
term “empathy deficient” with a mediation group in Iowa. I think we Americans have to
realize someday that we live in a very backward and ignorant country.
| Parent | posted 03:38 am on 07/07/2007

     lentinelia (See profile | I'm a fan of lentinelia)
From today's Washington Post re: proposals in congress dealing with the war in Iraq.

"Clinton, teaming up with Sen. Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.), is lobbying other senators to
support a measure that would essentially revoke the authority Congress gave Bush in
2002 to wage the war.

Obama is drafting amendments to improve mental health services for veterans and to beef
up oversight of military contractors."
No comment.
| Parent | posted 10:21 am on 07/07/2007

     CaseyBabes (See profile | I'm a fan of CaseyBabes)
Revoke the authority Congress gave Bush in 2002 to wage the war.......is that her vote she
says now she thought was to have the WMD inspectors continue the search in Iraq for
WMD? So she says now it was a war vote....how Clintonian. Anybody figure out who's
on first? Exactly. Who? That's right. WHO?? Exactly. I give up, let's impeach Bush. Oh,
he's on third!
| Parent | posted 05:06 pm on 07/07/2007

     psgoodguy (See profile | I'm a fan of psgoodguy)
so, um, when are you going to get one on one face time with obama to discuss in-depth
foreign policy issues? or me. or the woman next door? obama has to use these "small
windows of opportunity" as you call them to express very serious and important ideology.
why would he save his "substantiative information for those who would query him
directly'? and who would that be, um, the profit driven media?

yes, he could probably 'talk very informatively and at some length' about a lot of things.
that's what forums like the Foreign Affairs are for. he had a chance and he took the safe
route. not what i'm looking for, personally.

i'd like to see obama do well. but he's just way too milquetoast and squishy for me to
jump on the bandwagon.

whoever our next president is is going to walk into a huge pile of stinking s#*t on her/his
first day of office. i want to know BEFORE that day what their plan is. obama missed an
important opportunity with Foreign Affairs to inform us.
| Parent | posted 10:46 pm on 07/07/2007

     kasa5400 (See profile | I'm a fan of kasa5400)
"the Senator writes, is "vision." We need a "visionary leadership" and "a new vision of
leadership." .....'"global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a
common security and a common humanity."

Why so surprised? That is University of Chicago speak - he did teach there.

Lots of high flown rhetoric, grandiose generalizations - and utterly not detailed substance
behind it.

Old U of C joke (and keep in mind that Milton Friedman was a tenured U of C prof and
Scalia was on the law school faculty like Obama.)

How many University of Chicago economists does it take to change a light blub?

None, the forces of the free market economy will effect the appropriate changes without
our interference.

Seriously, at the U of C law is taught in the framework of the 'free market' demagougery.

U of C people do NOT give details, they do NOT worry about details, they do NOT
create substantive frameworks for implementation.

U of C people toss of vague undefined and non-specific concepts - they do NOT do detail
or even plans.
| posted 10:42 pm on 07/06/2007

     researcher (See profile | I'm a fan of researcher)
I was teaching visionary leadership in the 80's maybe he attended one of my seminars. It
is an old term and been around for a while.

Right now I would settle for sane leadership as opposed to what we have sociopath
leadership.

Our decline in the world had to happen in a country based on materialism, capitalism,
egotism, commercialism, individualism, and militaristic. This country’s problems in the
world and at home are a perfect example of karma in action or as ron paul likes to say
"blowback".
| Parent | posted 03:50 am on 07/07/2007

     CVilleDem (See profile | I'm a fan of CVilleDem)
Talk about "grandiose generalizations!" How about your last line?

"U of C people toss of vague undefined and non-specific concepts - they do NOT do
detail or even plans."

How many people have attended or taught - or are in any way affiliated with U of C? Hi,
Pot. Meet Kettle.
| Parent | posted 11:34 am on 07/07/2007

     kasa5400 (See profile | I'm a fan of kasa5400)
So when does the Illinois wonder boy EVER say anything beyond the "vision" nonsense?
Vision of WHAT??!! Angels dancing on the head of a pin? Roman legions marching?
Kom-bay-yah or whatever that song was?

I know the U of C law school folks all too well - married one, practiced law with several
and dealt with Federal judges who went or taught there. That approach is indoctrinated
into them and those who teach there sign onto the program. You don't get hired to teach
at one of the top 3 law schools in the US unless you go with the program - and at the U of
C, it is "grand concepts" and not details.

Another joke about the U of C Law School told by its alums starts with a client comes to
a lawyer and saying "I want out of this contract." The responses go through the different
variationsdepending upon what law school in Chicago the lawyer attended starting with
the least prestigious:

Marshall - how do we beat this contract?

Kent - what evidence is needed to beat this contract?

Depaul - what issues can be identified to beat this contract?

Loyola - what theory underlying the formation of this contract which if negated would
render it ineffective?

Northwestern - are the social and political forces which lead to the formation of this
contract such as would permit its voidation?

University of Chicago - what is a contract? We will need to examining the ideological
concept including circumstances as may be created or arise through the history of the
common law, the statutory developments and the free market; and what influences affect
the validity of such a thing and, of course, attempt to distinguish the economic
effects.....blah blah blah.....
(Client mutters "oh shit, I'm outta here. That guy is never going to get to the point and he
is BILLING me for listening to this stuff....)
| Parent | posted 11:36 pm on 07/07/2007

     MrLion (See profile | I'm a fan of MrLion)
Lord deliver us from a "muscular" foreign policy. The English translation of that phrase
is: "Hey Democrats: let's bomb foreigners and invade their countries so voters won't think
we're wimps."
| posted 10:45 pm on 07/06/2007

     sarge (See profile | I'm a fan of sarge)
Amen, MrLion. If all I knew about Obama's foreign policy was gleaned from this hit
piece, I would know now that he has a vision of a more humble foreign policy (that Bush
actually promised us, what a joke!)that would cooperate with other countries and re-
elevate our standing among nations, that we would get out of Iraq responsibly, and
continue to fight terrorism, presumably in the ways that are proven to be productive
rather than full scale conventional war, and I would know that in addition to his vision of
a US that was true to its values (read Constitution, respect for human rights and human
dignity, the principle of habeas corpus, and respect for international treaties and the rule
of law), that he was also armed with "a considerable number of specific points about
what is to be done to the National Guard, Russia, the NPT, Nigeria, the UN and many
others."

Sorry, doesn't sound very vacuous to me. Thanks, Amitai, for pointing out how much
substance there actually is to Obama's foreign policy.
| Parent | posted 02:08 am on 07/07/2007

     Markson (See profile | I'm a fan of Markson)
I believe the phrase should not be "muscular" but "steroid," as the latter injects so much
testosterone that it becomes counterproductive: shrinking balls (Chickenhawks, anyone?).
| Parent | posted 10:38 am on 07/07/2007

     naschkatze (See profile | I'm a fan of naschkatze)
MrLion, I've been looking for your name on the threads for a long time. I have often
repeated your remark about the Clintons being a fish bone stuck in the throat of the
Democratic Party. Given you credit, of course.
| Parent | posted 06:19 pm on 07/07/2007

     carol (See profile | I'm a fan of carol)
I'm a big Obama fan but I have to admit you have a point here. I keep hoping he'll pull it
off regardless. I want a leader who can craft an inspiring narrative and deliver it in
educated English, has the right values and broad worldview, can heal our damaged global
image, is unequivocally against the damned Iraq war, can assemble and lead a dynamic,
competent team, isn't a DC insider, and is a lot smarter than I am (more than I can say for
the current WH resident). You gotta admit Obama has potential.
| posted 10:56 pm on 07/06/2007

     researcher (See profile | I'm a fan of researcher)
Amen to what you said carol.

I don’t know how old you are but I lived thru the Vietnam war and I have heard all of this
before.

This is Vietnam all over again same excuses.

The difference being the draft. If we had a draft there would be students in the streets.
Even then it took years of protests to end that war.

Maybe the Internet will take the place of protests but I doubt it.

During the Vietnam War I was spit on, called a traitor, and told love it or leave.

The industrial military complex controls congress and the white house and has heavily
influenced the culture of this country.

Wars are good for business. Check out Wall Street and see how much they love this war.
They have received record bonuses since this war begun.

How did they treat the sociopath warmonger when he visited them recently?
| Parent | posted 04:01 am on 07/07/2007

     jones (See profile | I'm a fan of jones)
Good points (re:Military ind. complex). After the loyal Bushies are gone, I am going to
be real curious to read the books, essays and columns on the neo-con version of
American democracy and how they envisioned America's role in the world today. It
should be interesting reading. I wonder alot now if the democratic govt that was inacted
after the American Revolution failed us after the 9/11 attacks. It seems as if the Bush
admin was the fruition of many years of lead-up by the neocons to control Congress and
the Senate. The Bush admin. had unprecedented control and free rein by the president's
and v president's cronies in the Judicial system and a republican controlled house and
senate that gave them carte blanche to do almost anything they wanted.
Thank you for your column. It made for good reading. Please report more on the Neo-
Cons. Its good to unveil them for what they stand for and hopefully learn from what
happened during the Bush years.
| Parent | posted 12:13 pm on 07/07/2007

     rwe (See profile | I'm a fan of rwe)
He might have potential but most people have forgotton that Barak Obama would not be
the media made superstar if it were not for Peter Fitzgerald not seeking a second term as
Illinois senator. So in reality Barak can thank the Republican party of Illinois for his
meteoric rise and not any of his lack of policy. As a citizen of Illinois I can assure you he
has not done anything since taking office which is really what we need more of from our
politicians.
| Parent | posted 12:27 pm on 07/07/2007
     Nedsdag (See profile | I'm a fan of Nedsdag)
If I remember correctly, Fitzgerald's poll numbers were in the toilet and he decided to
forego re-election. Illinois is practically a Democratic state and Fitzgerald was an
anomaly to be honest. If Carol Mosley Braun wasn't so tainted she probably would've
beaten Fitzgerald in 1998.
That being said, if Obama loses in 2008, who's going to challenge him for re-election in
2010? I don't see any up and coming Republicans in the GOP ranks to take him on.
| Parent | posted 04:24 pm on 07/07/2007

     LizM (See profile | I'm a fan of LizM)
What...you have no comment on the companion Romney piece?! Just kidding!!!
| posted 11:04 pm on 07/06/2007

   JoshuaGeneration (See profile | I'm a fan of
JoshuaGeneration)
Let me get this straight..you were some kind of sub cabinet level policy advisor in the
Carter Administration and you want us to take you seriously about foreign policy? You
must be kidding me..
| posted 11:12 pm on 07/06/2007

     ystasino (See profile | I'm a fan of ystasino)
Obama has repeatedly laid out out a foreign policy strategy. I'm surprised the author has
missed it. Obama has repeatedly argued against wars of choice back since 2002. He has
repeatedly favored substantial diplomatic engagement in the middle east conflict and
aggressive use of force for humanitarian causes. He has argued for increased military
involvement for purposes such as foreign aid. He has argued that the position of the
leader of the free world has been empty for 6 years. And that he will occupy it by
working with allies. He has argued that a democracy that brings Hamas or Sadr to power
may not be all that great.

The world is such that each region faces its own problems. There's no single answer for
every problem. The average Iranian likes America, the average Pakistani hates America.

The world is a very different place from the time JFK gave his inaugural speech, the last
foreign policy vision a democrat has offered. I see the same elements in Obama's foreign
policy. Really, what was the foreign policy concrete strategy you refer to that JFK had 18
months before the election? Was it articulated that succinctly? I doubt it.
| posted 11:24 pm on 07/06/2007
     Spyce (See profile | I'm a fan of Spyce)
I agree. Don't remember who wrote it, but a similar observation was made in the
Financial Times.BTW, FT provides the best coverage on Obama so far. Like the BBC, I
trust their objectivity.
| Parent | posted 11:15 am on 07/07/2007

     bowiegeek (See profile | I'm a fan of bowiegeek)
I'm glad you proved that you too can keep falling for the same generality-as-specific-idea
problem that he mentioned.

Saying what you were against in 2002 is not a specific foreign policy plan or suggestion.

Calling for "substantial" diplomatic engagement in the Middle East is not a specific
foreign policy plan or suggestion. Define substantial. It pretty much means "more" in this
context, which is delightfully vague and unhelpful.

Increased foreign aid and having allies is also not anything specific.

If that's his foreign policy agenda, I can't wait to see his economic plan: "Substantially
increase growth."
| Parent | posted 01:10 pm on 07/07/2007

     SCG (See profile | I'm a fan of SCG)
My take on Obama is, he's revealing himself slowly and deliberately. On his own time
table.
| posted 11:46 pm on 07/06/2007

     lentinelia (See profile | I'm a fan of lentinelia)
-
Obama' slow "revealing" of himself must be comforting to the soldiers on the ground in
Iraq.
| Parent | posted 10:24 am on 07/07/2007

     SCG (See profile | I'm a fan of SCG)
^ As a oppose to whom? Hillary? She's been out front for years on this war, sadly it's
been the finger to the wind judgement.
| Parent | posted 05:40 pm on 07/07/2007
     lentinelia (See profile | I'm a fan of lentinelia)
As opposed to Kucinich, for example.
| Parent | posted 10:45 pm on 07/07/2007

     Herrington (See profile | I'm a fan of Herrington)
If Obama declines to extol any specifics at this early date, a possibility exists that he
understands his opponents. Politics being what it is, other candidates, from the same or a
different party, can and will usurp ideas that show promise with the electorate. By the
time the election rolls around, determining who thought of what might require binding
arbitration.

You will hear his ideas when the time is right if they are any good. Until then, you will
hear allusions. His job is to keep you on the edge of your seat with the prospect that he
has answers. If by the time candidates are being eliminated, you have not heard a single
idea of merit, you may then conclude that he has been all hype. I suspect that this is not
the case.

| posted 12:18 am on 07/07/2007

     Citizen823 (See profile | I'm a fan of Citizen823)
I had the same reaction! Contrast that with the FA Roundtable on Iraq from last summer -
http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060701faresponse85412/larry-diamond-james-dobbins-
chaim-kaufmann-leslie-h-gelb-stephen-biddle/what-to-do-in-iraq-a-roundtable.html

Mr. Obama just dropped a couple points in my book. Now is the time for advocating a
solution, not just spreading political rhetoric.
| posted 12:26 am on 07/07/2007

     jbjc (See profile | I'm a fan of jbjc)
Mr. Etzioni,

You have been around much longer than myself so I am surprised that you are surprised
that a politician talks in more than generalities or platitudes.

The stakes are so high that most never say anything that might prove troublesome,
instead relying on their highly controlled talking points.

This is simply the sad state of affairs that has been made inevitable by a public that when
they aren't apathetic refuses to hear bad news or any talk of sacrifice. So Mr. Obama as
much as he talks about vision is in no position to actually spell out that vision as it might
mean higher taxes, a lower standard of living, much higher energy costs or smaller cars....

Also I am guessing you are Jewish so I must say I find your use of the term 'NeoCon'
more than a little troubling. If you bother to read as an example the posts NeoCons is
nothing more than a code word for Jews and the secret Jewish Kabal that controls the US
gov't. So it is all the more surreal when you have Jewish writers validating this
conspiracy by using the term even when they are using it to mean something completely
different.

I believe you were referring to the Americans for a New Century and most if not all these
people are lifelong right wing republicans. Dick Cheney is a page right out of the
Imperial notions the Nixon presidency, no accident he was a member of the Nixon team.
I have no doubt that to this day he doesn't understand the wrongdoings of that
administration, and sees himself carrying on a glorious tradition.

For consideration
JC


| posted 12:42 am on 07/07/2007

     nypoet22 (See profile | I'm a fan of nypoet22)
what?! in what universe is "neocon" synonymous with being Jewish? It certainly isn't this
one. Neo-con is a political ideology, an insane one which most American Jews are
against. Only a few hardcore right-wing orthodox groups could be categorized as neo-con,
but certainly not the entirety of judaism! i would bet good money that a higher percentage
of Jews marched against the war than the percentages from most other religious
denominations.
| Parent | posted 04:41 am on 07/07/2007

     dsbsh (See profile | I'm a fan of dsbsh)
It's a "secret Kabal" of Jews... so secret that not even the Jews know about it.
| Parent | posted 09:39 am on 07/07/2007

     jbjc (See profile | I'm a fan of jbjc)
It is very much this universe. If you look at the many posts here or any number of
websites you will see that both far left wing and far right wing ideologues routinely use
'Neocon' as a synonym for Jews. More specifically operating in Jewish\Israeli interests as
opposed to real American interests, the dual loyalty canard.

Again it isn't what Jews really subscribe to or don't. It's a conspiracy theory of sorts
whereby Jews in the present administration are actually in control and are operating in
behalf of Israel at the expense of America. They, Pat Buchanan as an example will point
to Pearle or Wolfowitz et al to prove their point. It doesn't matter that even tho they
are\were in senior positions they are\were still subordinate roles. These people will argue
that it is the Jews who are really in control.

As for the war many of these same voices will 'accuse' people of being Jewish but who
aren't like Paul Bremmer, Negroponte, Bolton or General Tommy Franks to further prove
their point.
| Parent | posted 10:28 am on 07/07/2007

     kempis (See profile | I'm a fan of kempis)
Excellent (and very true) point. Railing against the "Jewish" neocons is not only
inaccurate (since hardly are all neocons Jews nor all Jews neocons) but it also plays right
into the hands of the neoconservatives, who often claim that because *some* of the key
figures in their movement are Jewish then all criticisms of neoconservatism flow from
anti-semitism. It's rather like Farrakhan complaining that criticisms of his loony, hate-
filled ideology stem from racism.

Setting aside the inaccuracy of these "Israeli lobby" conspiracy theories, it's foolish to
offer the neocons this out.

| Parent | posted 10:31 am on 07/07/2007

   straightshooter (See profile | I'm a fan of
straightshooter)
Mr. Etzioni

Setting aside the irrefutable fact that the invasion/occupation of Iraq was illegal, immoral
and doomed to be a complete debacle/failure/lobster trap, please spare us the nonsense
that it was motivated by the desire of Bush and the neo-cons to establish democracy there
and elsewhere in the Middle East. At this juncture, any reasonalby well informed person
realizes that their objective was to install a puppet government and milk Iraq of its oil
resources and revenues. As for Obama, like all other presidential candidates, he is
encumbered by the still overwhelming pressure of the pro-Israel lobby which prevents
him from advocating a foreign policy in the Middle East that in order to serve the
interests of the US and the world, requires that the US stand for hard-won human rights
and not an expansionist, oppressive Israel that for the past 40 years has refused to comply
with international humanitarian law and its previous pledges and withdraw from all
Palestinian and other Arab lands it invaded in June, 1967 and has illegally and brutally
occupied since. Our unquestioning financial aid (approaching $20 million per day) and
diplomatic support of Israel is a millstone around our neck. In short, it is destroying us.
The rest of the world knows this and is bewildered by our stupidity.
| posted 12:50 am on 07/07/2007
  CaptnEdwardGraham (See profile | I'm a fan of
CaptnEdwardGraham)
Straightshooter,

Your obsessive compulsive posts on one subject and one subject only -Israel, would be
laughable if they weren't so indicative of a deeply disturbed personality. I'm genuinely
sorry for you. Get help and get better.
| Parent | posted 03:12 am on 07/07/2007

   straightshooter (See profile | I'm a fan of
straightshooter)
Captn
Get your head out of the sand. The hammerlock that the pro-Israel lobby has on our
politicians and the resulting pursuit of an unquestioning pro-Israel foreign policy is the
most crucial issue facing us today. Its consequences are disastrous from 9/11 (as declared
by the Senate 9/11 Report and the Pentagon) to the horrors we have brought to Iraq. I
remind you that it is this same lobby that is doing all it can to get us to attack Iran. If the
media provided us with informed comment on the subject I would not feel compelled to
emphasize it. For whatever reasons, you and others choose to live in ignorance. I and and
ever increasing number of Americans, however, understand that if we do not solve the
Israel/Palestinian-Arab conflict based on justice and international law, we will regret it
immensely and pay an incalcuable price.
| Parent | posted 12:02 pm on 07/07/2007

     researcher (See profile | I'm a fan of researcher)
Amen I doubt if there are 100 Americans that could understand what you just stated.

The AMA, the Zionist, the military industrial complex, and the media control the culture
of this country.

We are like sheep: we respond to their every call and beckoning. We call the demo’s
spineless but we need to look within.
| Parent | posted 04:11 am on 07/07/2007

     racetoinfinity (See profile | I'm a fan of racetoinfinity)
Gutsy and good comment!
| Parent | posted 06:02 am on 07/07/2007

     WildBlue (See profile | I'm a fan of WildBlue)
Yet another person buying into the myth that Israeli oppression is the root of all evil in
the Middle East. Do you know that the PLO, who claims to fight Israeli oppression as its
main cause, was founded years before there was any Israeli occupation in Gaza and the
west bank? Do you know that Islamic threats to wipe out Israel also started well before
any Israeli occupation? Do you have any evidence that this was a war for oil, other than
just liberal hyperbole? I sure haven't seen any Iraqi oil resources and revenues flowing
into this country. I also love your other "irrefutable" facts. No, they are your opinions, not
irrefutable facts. Was the US-led invasion to oust Serbian forces in Europe also illegal?
After all, the US was not being threatened. There was not even the slightest hint of a
threat against the US from Serbian forces. You may justifiably be against the Iraq war but
the constant use of terms like "illegal" and "war for oil" are just rhetoric and not helpful.
| Parent | posted 11:27 am on 07/07/2007

   straightshooter (See profile | I'm a fan of
straightshooter)
Wildblue
The PLO was founded in 1964, 16 years after 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from
their homeland (over 300,000 driven out by Jewish forces prior to the declaration of the
state of Israel), 550 of their towns and villages destroyed as a a consequence of Israel
invading and occupying 78% of Palestine.
Just prior to its 1956 invasion of Egypt, Israel expelled another 30,000 Palestinians. The
foundation of the PLO was entirely justified in law and morality. In the early 1980s,
under the leadership of Arafat, the PLO agreed to recognize Israel within its pre-1967
borders. Israel rebuffed this peacde overture as it has several others from the PLO and the
Arab League. Furthermore, at the 1949 Luausanne Conference, the Arab League and the
Palestinians agreed to pursue a peaceful solution based on Res. 181 and Res. 194. In
order to gain UN admittance Israel agreed, but then reneged. As for the
invasion/occupation of Iraq it lacks UN approval and was decalared "illegal" by the
previous Secretary General. Even Australia's foreign mininster, Bush's staunchest ally
just declared that it is a war for oil. It would seem you are not aware of the oil bill the
Bushites are attempting to shove down the throat of Iraq. It is being resisted at all costs
by the Sunni MPs and the Shia MPs under al Sadr. Please, do some research.
| Parent | posted 01:59 pm on 07/07/2007

     jinjinpinti (See profile | I'm a fan of jinjinpinti)
Ah. Thanks for that dose of reality.
| Parent | posted 02:53 pm on 07/07/2007

     MarkLuth (See profile | I'm a fan of MarkLuth)
Your comments would seem to dovetail with the general notion that Obama isn't ready
for prime time. Ironically though, his undergraduate degree was in international relations.
One would expect that he had spent some time thinking about foreign policy. That may
not be the case.

In fairness to him though, he may not be alone among the 2008 field of candidates for
both parties' nominations.

Like you, I think that Obama is an intriguing figure. But his 'Foreign Affairs' article does
hoist a few red flags.

Mark Daniels
http://markdaniels.blogspot.com
| posted 12:53 am on 07/07/2007

     Juno912 (See profile | I'm a fan of Juno912)
It's encouraging to read others voicing concern over Obama's vacuous, nothing campaign.
| posted 01:05 am on 07/07/2007

     tcagle (See profile | I'm a fan of tcagle)
The Seinfeld campaign.
| Parent | posted 02:45 am on 07/07/2007

     freespeach (See profile | I'm a fan of freespeach)
I like all of the intangibles when it comes to Obama. What I don't like is the apparent
influence on him by the same party insiders that told Kerry to play nice in 04, and who
are always tacking to the middle.


Talking in code has become a part of the American political landscape, so let me see if I
can get this right.....

Oil PSA deals are code for "raping and pillaging Iraq and stealing hundreds of $billions
of their oil"

Hydrocarbon law is code for "oil PSA deals"

Tough new Benchmarks is code for the "hydrocarbon law" supported by Democrats.

Now I'm confused because I think that from your post Obama's words....... "We should
not get out of Iraq in an "irresponsible" way." ....is the new code for hydrocarbon law.
But I'm not sure, because codes are so tricky, ya know.

But it looks to me like we talk peace and love and VISION.....but we don't take our eyes
off the prize for a minute.


OIL OIL OIL OIL. I think I understand....oil still means oil, right?

| posted 01:13 am on 07/07/2007

     HotDay (See profile | I'm a fan of HotDay)
freespeach: "Now I'm confused because I think that from your post Obama's words.......
"We should not get out of Iraq in an "irresponsible" way." ....is the new code for
hydrocarbon law. But I'm not sure, because codes are so tricky, ya know."

Obama's foreign policy is very much like HRC's. Being the "anti-war" candidate and
making the military-industrial complex happy. Obama has said he did not support the
Iraq war from the beginning, but that is only because he was not even a senetor in 2003.
Which I believe is the root of the "vacuous" policy. He does not have much government
experience. Most of what he says is coming from advisers/campaign strategists, not from
himself. Which makes me ask: Is everyone votin for Obama based on his promises?

There are a few candidates who do want to take the U.S.'s foreign policy at a 180 degree
turn. Gravel, Paul, Kucinich and even Richardson. The MSM calls them "zainy" and
wannabe bloggers repeat the lies.
| Parent | posted 02:02 am on 07/07/2007

     lentinelia (See profile | I'm a fan of lentinelia)

Nobody seems interested in the peculiar fact that as recently as 2006 Obama was in
Connecticut stumping for Lieberman.
| Parent | posted 10:49 pm on 07/07/2007

     cvskep (See profile | I'm a fan of cvskep)
Mr Etzioni,

I cannot argue with what you say. I would only respond that I will choose Obama's
vacuous foreign policy over Bush's detrimental foreign policy any day.
| posted 01:25 am on 07/07/2007

     MrJaxon (See profile | I'm a fan of MrJaxon)
Original poster.
The Foreign Affairs article referenced wasn't written by the for profit media, but by Mr.
Obama himself. Seems like a reliable source to spell out what his Foreign policy is...
| posted 01:57 am on 07/07/2007

     SaintN (See profile | I'm a fan of SaintN)
Barak Obama (like Hilliary,Guiliani,Thompson etc.) doesn't need to know "anything"
about foreign policy or really anything else! All they have to know is to dutifully play
along with the Big Business Fascists who own them and who fund their campaigns!
| posted 01:59 am on 07/07/2007

  GenericBlogger (See profile | I'm a fan of
GenericBlogger)
Amitai,

I agree about Obama's foreign policy being more vacuous than substantial. "Vision"
indicates ideology. We need real and practical solutions. If he needs crash courses on
foreign policy before the primaries then I don't feel comfortable with him as the next
president.

However charismatic he seems and sensible he sounds, these traits are not enough to
compensate for his inexperience.

He should play it safe, strive for the vice presidency to get more experience before trying
for the Oval Office.
| posted 02:28 am on 07/07/2007

     altohone (See profile | I'm a fan of altohone)
Vacuous in comparison to what?

The absence of context makes your denial of being a Trojan Horse hard to completely
swallow.

Were you expecting him to coin a new term for his ideas? Solidify a new approach and
way of thinking into a catch phrase or soundbite, media ready and full of meaning easily
deciphered by the academics and masses?

The hopeful non-neocon, non-New Democrat, non-liberal, non-imperial, non-isolationist,
non-protectionist, non-monarchist...

I'm open to suggestions. Everything I can come up with carries connotation that could be
used against him by his political opposition, the punditocracy and late night comedians.
As soon as you define a movement you place limitations on it, creating barriers that
exclude portions of the population. The lack of a name leaves him open to your vacuous
assertion, but also open to grow, evolve and become what is desperately needed in this
country.

I am content knowing what he isn't.
| posted 02:48 am on 07/07/2007

     certainot (See profile | I'm a fan of certainot)
right---

once a serious contender gets specific the GOP can really start the swiftboating on their
talk radio monopoly. without a chance to contest the distortions and lies that get pounded
into tens of millions of ears all over the country anyone who gets too specific too early
doesn't have a chance.

the talking points are then adopted by the the lazy MSM who would rather jump on the
giant bandwagon created by talk radio than do their own work. whether it is some
childish one liner regarding a slip of the tongue, $400 dollar haircut, or some distorted
policy point taken out of context, the regular MSM talking heads will be able to use it
with a straight face and with certainty, knowing tens of millions have already heard it,
over and over and over again.

this couldn't happen without the talk radio monopoly- the rest of the media still have
some levels of accountability/contestability.

before the last elections the Dems seemed to understand this and resisted the right wing
frenzy of calls for specificity. maybe Obama will, too.
| Parent | posted 11:51 am on 07/07/2007

     dobberdoss (See profile | I'm a fan of dobberdoss)
Does it matter what he says?, I more interested in what he will do!

The words of a politician are worthless!
| posted 03:21 am on 07/07/2007

     massimo1 (See profile | I'm a fan of massimo1)
An inexperienced man such as Obama or Hillary might make a reasonably good veep, but
not a president. At this time, we need experience and (gasp) credentials. It takes someone
like Bill Richardson.
| posted 03:27 am on 07/07/2007
     jb1125 (See profile | I'm a fan of jb1125)
This article covers his foreign policy advisor Samantha Power. It gives you an excellent
idea of how he will lead.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0704.hirsh.html
| posted 03:36 am on 07/07/2007

     Californian (See profile | I'm a fan of Californian)
An interesting article, jb1125. The final paragraph sums up the reason I became an
Obama supporter:

"For all his openness to rethinking first principles, there’s reason to believe that this is
something Obama understands better than any other leading candidate. “I don’t oppose
all wars,” he declared in 2002, while Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were
triangulating their way toward authorizing the Iraq invasion. “What I am opposed to is a
dumb war.” Perhaps, ultimately, this is his real value right now. Not as the perfect vessel
for a shining new world order. Though, of course, he is just that: Who could better
reassure a jittery and suspicious world that America is ready to resume global leadership
than a new young president who is the son of a black African father and a white Kansan
mother, with a Muslim middle name who grew up in Asia? Rather, Obama’s value is as
someone with the courage, independence, and basic common sense to declare, without
equivocation, that America’s loss of global leadership is a result not of the inevitable
breakdown of the existing structure, but of the Bush administration’s radical and
disastrous policy decisions. And that, with the right mix of patience, wisdom, and
common sense, we’re not as far from reclaiming that leadership as it might appear."

I think that because of three things--the accident of his background, the soaring
intelligence of the man, and his ability to inspire (read: lead)--Obama is the best
candidate now running to heal the damage Bush has done to our standing in the world
and thus to "win the war on terror," or whatever jargon you want to use to describe the
terrorist threat.

If Obama becomes president, the rest of the world will be dancing in the streets. America
will be loved again, and thus have a chance to lead again.
| Parent | posted 10:36 am on 07/07/2007

     ebbtide (See profile | I'm a fan of ebbtide)
Not for or against Obama--as opposed to HRC. I agree, he speaks in generous platitudes
and uses broad reaching lqnguage.

Thus, after reading the comments, it is so easy to see how this type of language appeals to
the "magical thinking" amongst us. Without a firm language, we resort to such whimsical
"wishes" so to speak, such as, he is doing this because it is a part of his campaign strategy.
May or may not be. People--this is the highest office in the land with enormous power.
Obama chose to enter this race early. He has what is called "CHARISMA" a gift--but I
fail to get his message, so far.
| posted 06:55 am on 07/07/2007

     knerd (See profile | I'm a fan of knerd)
Vision is articulated in action and action is in response to real world events.

Who knows what events will come up in the next decade and which response to them will
best honor our vision?
| posted 07:24 am on 07/07/2007
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