The defense ministers of our NATO allies met last week in Slovakia--a place where NATO power has much recent neighborly resonance--and among the gathering was also Robert Gates. His position on Afghanistan is not quite clear, poised as he is between his president and his men. Of course, Obama has more power.
Lessons for Obama
September 29, 2009
I confess to reading people on the right. Sometimes with utter dismay. Oftentimes with respect. Among the people I read regularly is Peter Wehner who actually writes for Commentary's website, Contentious, with other conservative intellectuals. And very contentious they are. Wehner actually was one of George Bush's speechwriters. Since I thought some of Bush's speeches quite alright--and even better--this fact is not a disqualifier. Indeed, Wehner is one smart guy ... and a stylish writer besides. What's more, he knows his history.
September 18, 2009
WaPo: Meanwhile, McChrystal has finished drawing up his request for what is expected to be thousands or tens of thousands of additional trainers and combat troops for Afghanistan, but he is awaiting instructions before submitting the request to the Pentagon. Senior defense officials said that, in effect, McChrystal has been asked to delay submitting the request. "We're working through the process by which we want that submitted," Gates told reporters, without elaborating. This isn't necessarily sinister in any way.
The Sordid Tale of Gadhafi and Labor Britain Continues: With 189 Americans Dead on Pam Am 103, The Administration Is Strangely Detached
September 06, 2009
Let's face it: Moammar Gadhafi has outsmarted the Western powers, and he has been outsmarting them for exactly forty years. Not outsmarting them, by the way, in behalf of an ideology either collectivist or Islamist—although it aspires to leadership in both orbits. Libya's rise this coming year to the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly is a symbolic victory for the mangy man and his very wealthy country with deprived people. This is a case of kingship with populist and Arabist rhetoric.
Obama as Demon
September 05, 2009
I've got my quarrels with the president. They are mostly around foreign policy. And, no, not just about Israel. As for the most important domestic matters—matters that affect our long-time strength in international and military affairs—I believe he has been both brave and wise. And his advisers on these economic issues are not, like George Bush's were, people whose reputations were made making big money. Yes, making money in and from the very ways that brought on the country's financial near-fatal collapse. The people who have suffered the most from this are the poor and the middle classes.
Cheney: I Was "Advocate" of Iran Airstrike
August 31, 2009
Maybe not a shocker but on Fox yesterday the vice president gave the clearest affirmation yet of the idea that he pressed George Bush for military action to halt Iran's nuclear program.
The Return Of Idealism
June 15, 2009
The past few years haven't been kind to foreign policy idealism--the belief that when authoritarian states mistreat their own people, it is a matter of concern for all of us. We idealists can largely blame ourselves for this. The biggest reason idealism fell out of favor was Iraq--a disastrous war that many of us foolishly supported in the naive belief that substituting liberalism for totalitarianism in the heart of the Middle East would be a relatively simple thing. We made mistakes beyond Iraq, too.
May 21, 2009
I was mostly impressed with Obama's speech. He really does have a unique ability to reframe (maybe even reset) any debate in which he chooses to engage in a major, sustained way. I was particularly struck by his repeated linking of his policies to those of the late Bush administration. As Ben Smith notes, this is a good way of taking on his chief critic, Dick Cheney, who's trying to relitigate a number of the battles he lost in the second half of the Bush years.
An Alibi For Liberal Realism
April 20, 2009
Responding to this morning's eloquent New York Times op-ed on human rights in Afghanistan, Michelle Goldberg of the Prospect writes: So far, the administration's realism has overshadowed its idealism, especially in Afghanistan, where the United States is reaching out to "moderate" elements of the Taliban. Lots of observers seem relieved by this scaling back of American ambitions. By cynically cloaking its own aggression in the language of human rights, the Bush team did much to discredit the latter. But ... there are real moral costs to realist compromises.
Abrams: No Darfur, No Iran. Really?
February 17, 2009
Former Bush NSC official Elliott Abrams recently gave an interesting interview to his sister-in-law for the Jerusalem Post, which contains a curious assertion about George Bush and Darfur: Did you believe that Bush was going to bomb Iran before the end of his presidency? It's hard to remember what I believed about that in, say, at some date in 2002 or 2003. But I did not really believe it in the second term. There was one telltale sign: his decision not to bomb the air force in Sudan so that it could not be used to kill more people in Darfur. And it wouldn't have been that hard to do.