Tag Archives: Politics

Jeff and Gershom on Obama

Two of my favourite bloggers—Commander Huber of The Pen and Sword and Gershom Gorenberg of South Jerusalem—have written similar and different articles on Obama’s foreign policy.  The commander analyses the ducking and diving in Obama’s Iran policy from the perspective of the Pentagon while Gorenberg takes the foggy bottom angle of his Israel policy.  They agree on the difficulties he faces (you have to work with the political context you have rather than the the one you would like) and that while some of his tactical manoeuvres may have caused some dismay, it is quite possible (so they argue) to pick out a coherent strategy.  Needless to say we will need more data, but that reading seems defensible to me, and is consistent with his record, such as it is.

I am most curious to know whether Gershom Gorenberg agrees with Comander Huber’s analysis.

Hedges on Courtiers

Chris Hedges has a brilliant article where he lights into Tim Russert and Barack Obama as courtiers posing as outsiders holding power to account.  He is of course right.  It was interesting to note David Brook’s column highlighting Obama’s political effectiveness and ruthlessness, Sullivan’s agreement and Yglesias’s “boy-oh-boy is he pissed at Barack Obama”.

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This is NOT Compassion

Well, not necessarily.  We have no reason to believe that when Obama comforts the student when she breaks down 5:15 that this is an act of compassion.

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Robert Fisk has an article in the Indie about a Dutch press photographer putting on a photograph exhibition on Iraq based on images that Iraqis have captured with their mobile phones. The reason he is using Iraqi’s amateur collection is that Iraq is still too dangerous for anybody with any sense who has any option to be elsewhere.

The refugee statistics are so appalling that they have become almost mundane. Four million of Iraq’s 23 million people have fled their homes – until recently, at the rate of 60,000 a month – allegedly more than 1.2 million to Syria (a figure now challenged by at least one prominent NGO), 500,000 to Jordan, 200,000 to the Gulf, 70,000 to Egypt, 57,000 to Iran, up to 40,000 to Lebanon, 10,000 to Turkey. Sweden has accepted 9,000, Germany fewer – where an outrageous political debate has suggested that Christian refugees should have preference over Muslim Iraqis. With its usual magnanimity – especially for a country that set off this hell-disaster by its illegal invasion – George Bush’s America has, of course, accepted slightly more than 500.

This collection of pictures is therefore an indictment of us, as well as of the courage of Iraqis. The madness is summed up in an email message sent to Van Kesteren by a Baghdad Iraqi. “This summer,” he wrote, “a workman wanted to quench his thirst by putting ice in his tea. A car pulled up, the driver stepped out and began to beat and kick the man, cursing him as an unbeliever. ‘What do you think you’re doing? Did the Prophet Mohamed put ice in his water?’

The man being attacked was furious and asked his assailant: ‘Do you think the Prophet Mohamed drove a car?'”

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Gore for the Cabinet

Looking at Obama and Gore giving their speeches it strikes me that Gore and Obama make a fine team, Gore having the philosophy, stature and rock star appeal to make him quite at home in an Obama rally.  And Obama has asked him to lead his climate programme.  Gore for veep?  It could simplify a thing or two.

Appleyard, the Lords, Crooked Timber and the Irish Referendum

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Bryan Appleyard, Lords of the Blog and Crooked Timber) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]

Bryan Appleyard has an interesting reflection on the Irish thumbing their nose at the EU and David Davis doing likewise at the Westminster robotic party-political culture, both populists moves being as mindless as the proposals they are protesting in Appleyard’s view. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last to observe that ‘mistrust and distaste is now the primary political reality’. It has been with us for a while and coincides with the rise of the politics of psychotic fear filling the vacuum created with the collapse of positive political narratives at the end of the cold war (brilliantly documented in Adam Curtis’s documentary series The Power of Nightmares).

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Back to Internment?

So Brown has managed to restore some authority by railroading through the 42-day detention legislation with a bribe to the Unionists.  This is reminiscent of the dregs of the conservative administration who had to rely on the Unionists, but Major had a decent excuse, lacking a working majority.

Is this legislation to cope with civil unrest should they decide to start another war in the Middle East?

Cameron must be laughing all the way to the general election.  Let’s be clear.  <i>Anything</i> would have been better than seeing Blair continue a day longer in post, but this is pathetic.

100 Years

Marc Ambinder still doesn’t understand why John McCain should be held accountable for his ‘100 years’ remark:

The differences between McCain and Obama are clear enough; Obama wants a bare-bones U.S. presence in Iraq, and McCain is willing to tolerate a much larger one; Obama believes that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the tension and gives Iraqis a crutch to delay political reconcilliation. McCain does not. One would think that those differences are a sufficient basis upon which to launch a political attack.

If I tell my parents that I really don’t want to burn the family home down yet keep playing with matches, and proclaiming that I will keep on playing with them, what are my parent supposed to think? Of course I don’t want to burn the house down, but obviously it isn’t a very high priority, and anyway, whatever my professed intentions, my actions are going to lead to these consequences anyway.

For people that oppose the war, the occupation of Iraq is a neo-colonial operation and a continuation of the war and the fact that John McCain can’t see this is of great significance.  It would be incompetent and irresponsible of any anti-war candidate to gloss over and ignore McCain’s remarks and his continued defence of them; this issue should be attacked until it is properly understood, the kid of confused thinking it betrays being responsible for the current Iraq disaster.

It is really no wonder that Obama supporters take issue with Marc Ambinder’s professed neutrality.


Listening to Hilary Clinton’s speeches I was struck by how she has developed over the campaign from a rather stilted and wooden persona into a powerful and confident force.  I thought her acceptance speech was brilliant and that she and her supporters should be proud of her achievements.  At the start of the campaign I had difficulty reading news stories that talked about ‘Clinton’, having to work to remember that they were referring to Senator Clinton not President Clinton.  Now the reverse is true—’Clinton’ now means Hillary Rodham Clinton, not one of the most successful and important world leaders of the past 50 years.  I don’t know but I suspect that the power in the US senate may well collect around Clinton.  I was curious about her campaign from the outset and prepared to give her a hearing, but was horrified by the way the campaign developed—my political philosophy and sense of what is needed now entirely opposed to what was being offered.  However she gave it her best shot and I am sure that Barack Obama has benefited from Penn’s rough tactics, even if Clinton’s candidacy didn’t.

Hillary Clinon and her supporters have a great deal to be proud of.

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