Peter Scoblic is the executive editor of The New Republic and the author of U.S. vs. Them, which is now out in paperback. Like my colleagues, I am rapt by the sight of the Iranian protests. In fact, listening to NPR's coverage from Tehran this morning, I found myself rapt by the sound of the protests, the kind of roar that only a stadium-sized group of people can produce. It's an inspiring moment in Iranian politics.
I may have more to say later on John Bolton's op-ed in today's New York Times, but the first sentence does not bode well for the piece's credibility: President Obama has called for a world without nuclear weapons, not as a distant goal, but as something imminently achievable. In fact, this is what Obama said in his speech on nuclear weapons last month: So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I'm not naive.
For a while there, it was looking like we were going to spend the next four years arguing whether Barack Obama’s foreign policy was actually different than George W. Bush’s. As I noted the other day, Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign, has been arguing that “the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand.” A few former Bush officials have made similar points.
In light of the new Foreign Policy Initiative that Mike blogged about yesterday, it's somewhat ironic that many conservatives have actually been arguing Obama's foreign policy is shaping up to be little different from Bush's.
I cannot even imagine the logistical skill and dedication required to pull off an event of today's magnitude. And, given the million-plus emotional people I just watched on the Mall via my DVR, much of the inaugural planning was clearly successful.
Dennis Ross is a highly capable diplomat (and frequent TNR contributor), so I was pleased to see that he'll be joining Obama's foreign policy team. But the scope of his brief gives me some pause. Ross has been given the title of ambassador at large, with a portfolio that apparently includes everything from Israel to Iran.
This morning on NPR, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham provided a bizarre analysis of John McCain's worldview, and then dove headfirst down the rabbit hole in arguing that it's quite similar to Barack Obama's. Meacham argued that, as fans of Reinhold Niebuhr, both McCain and Obama are "moral realists"--men who understand that good cannot always triumph over evil, that the world is stubbornly tragic, and, because we must live in that world, we must learn to compromise.
From USA Today: "The military has to be careful to strike a balance in fighting the drag trade." --Peter Scoblic
It may be John McCain's birthday, but it seems like he's the one giving out gifts today. The selection of Palin doesn't simply, as others have pointed out, undermine the notion that Obama is too inexperienced to be president; it gives Obama the chance to actually take the edge on national security while making John McCain's age a central issue of the campaign. Whatever the political calculations involved in picking a veep, the most important qualification for the vice presidency is the ability to assume the presidency in a crisis.
Today marks the fortieth birthday of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, one of the most important pieces of paper the United States has signed in the last half century--and one of the most popular. Even Bush officials, who went on a treaty-killing spree during their first year in office, made an exception for the NPT. Why wouldn’t they? The NPT is one of the best deals the United States has ever made: It allowed five countries (including the United States) to possess nuclear weapons, but banned the rest from ever developing them.