Posts Tagged ‘Obama’
After Robert Gibbs initially called it a local issue, the President finally speaks (REVERSE, REVERSE) and basically echos everything that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already said. With 54 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of independents against building the mosque (citation found), both the President and Mayor sure are heading into a political shit storm while knowing full well which way the wind is blowing. It’s tough to see how they come out of this smelling like roses. Maybe Nebraska native Ted Sorensen can ghostwrite an updated edition of Profiles in Courage to include this legendary test of constitutional rights, the honoring of private property, and keeping separate church and state in America’s history. Did the HD mention there might be a Muslim gay Allahu AkBAR close by? There’s also global petitions to build the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Gaza, the Daniel Pearl School of Journalism in Islamabad, and the Comfort Women Memorial in Tokyo! What a GREAT idea!
Matt Drudge weighs in.
It’s important to note that both President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg relied on religious history throughout their speeches. Mayor Bloomberg mentioned Jews being denied the right to build a synagogue in the mid-1650s, Quakers being thrown in jail in 1657, and Catholics getting arrested in the 1700s. The HD’s question is this: why should the Muslims get a free pass? If “this is America” as the President so eloquently stated in his speech, then surely Americans should be allowed to haze new religious minorities before accepting them into the great big American fraternity! THAT is the American way!
All seriousness aside, the real controversy is that, nine years later, Ground Zero is still a smoldering crater. It would be refreshing to see the Americans who are so devoted to stopping the mosque from being built work just as hard to see something (anything!) get built at Ground Zero.
The Obama administration has been beefing up its ranks of officials focused on democratization and rule of law issues, democracy hands note. Sarah Mendelson, a human rights and post-conflict specialist most recently with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has recently joined USAID as the deputy assistant administrator overseeing its democracy center. Tamara Wittes, formerly of the Brookings Institution, who has written extensively on democracy and the Middle East, joined the State Department’s Near East Affairs bureau to head the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) late last year. And former Georgetown and University of Virginia law school professor and Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks, who early on joined Michele Flournoy’s policy shop, had her role elevated and formalized as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law and Humanitarian Affairs in May. (Obama nominated Mercy Corps’s Nancy Lindborg to be assistant administrator for USAID’s democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance bureau this week.)
“We really do have a critical mass of democracy folks here now, across the interagency,” one official said.
On January 12, Freedom House released its findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, 2009 marked the fourth consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline—the longest consecutive period of setbacks for freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report. These declines were most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa, although they also occurred in most other regions of the world. Furthermore, the erosion in freedom took place during a year marked by intensified repression against human rights defenders and democracy activists by many of the world’s most powerful authoritarian regimes, including Russia and China.
Maybe that explains why Thomas Melia is joining the State Department to become deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy issues. Reverse the trend.
However, it is tougher to show overt successes in diplomacy whereas military success is easier to see.
From the current failures in Zimbabwe, Burma, Sudan and “other godforsaken places”, one could add North Korea and Iran to the mix.
Krauthammer argues for successes in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, but Afghanistan now leaves much to be determined.
Could the Middle East become a nuclear-free zone? “If major countries wish to address Iran’s nuclear dossier, they can do that by bringing Israel and Iran to the negotiating table.” -Egyptian Ambassador to the UN Maged Abdel Aziz
Article VI of the TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS (Signed at Washington, London, and Moscow July 1, 1968): “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
And watch this amazing mash up by the Daily Show between President Reagan’s and Obama’s statements on nuclear weapons.
And the Doctor of Diplomacy himself, Henry Kissinger, on the effort to be “Toward a Nuclear-Free World”.
As President Obama has set a deadline (I like deadlines; I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by) to withdraw troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011, analysts are beginning to examine the power vacuum that might exist in the region. Foreign Affairs magazine looks at the emerging Afghan-Chinese relationship HERE.
Astute readers will also recall Robert Kaplan’s piece regarding China-US interest convergence in Afghanistan back in October HERE.
Select Kaplan quote:
“Everyone keeps saying that America is not an empire, but our military finds itself in the sort of situation that was mighty familiar to empires like that of ancient Rome and 19th-century Britain: struggling in a far-off corner of the world to exact revenge, to put down the fires of rebellion, and to restore civilized order. Meanwhile, other rising and resurgent powers wait patiently in the wings, free-riding on the public good we offer. This is exactly how an empire declines, by allowing others to take advantage of its own exertions.
Of course, one could make an excellent case that an ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan is precisely what would lead to our decline, by demoralizing our military, signaling to our friends worldwide that we cannot be counted on and demonstrating that our enemies have greater resolve than we do. That is why we have no choice in Afghanistan but to add troops and continue to fight.
But as much as we hone our counterinsurgency skills and develop assets for the “long war,” history would suggest that over time we can more easily preserve our standing in the world by using naval and air power from a distance when intervening abroad. Afghanistan should be the very last place where we are a land-based meddler, caught up in internal Islamic conflict, helping the strategic ambitions of the Chinese and others.”