Ethical foreign policy? Yes we can!


So, for those of us who don’t live in the United States, the big question about the US election is – what’s this going to mean for the rest of the world? Specifically, once the two oilmen are out of the White House, will this mean a more pacific international order?

Probably not, from the looks of things. On the Republican side we have John McCain, the hawk’s hawk, a man so bellicose he doesn’t think W has started enough wars. It’s one thing, of course, to promise to hunt down bin Laden. But this is the guy who led a Senatorial delegation all the way to Tskhinvali, which may not quite be the end of the earth but comes pretty close, just so he could demand that every square inch of South Ossetia be returned to Georgian rule, and no matter what the South Ossetians had to say on the matter. Those goldarn South Ossetians, y’see, just a little too keen on the Russkies.

Surely the Democrats must be miles better? Well, you would hope so, but then we have the Clinton family running, and we know how peace-loving Mr Bill’s regime was. Just to remind us, back in Iowa Hillary was flanked by prize gargoyles Wesley Clark and Madeleine Albright. This raises the prospect of yet more comic-opera interventions in the Balkans. If Hillary starts making cryptic references to Novi Pazar or Dobruja, it’s probably time to run for cover. And then of course there was her demand for US forces in Iraq to overthrow the, er, puppet government because it was showing signs of independence – which actually put her to the right of the Bush administration.

Then again, we do have a fresh face in the person of Irish-American candidate Barack O’Bama. O’Bama may be a political rookie, but he’s smart enough to know that the war in Iraq is extremely unpopular. And despite mixed messages on foreign policy generally, Barack’s patented brand of stump poetry has convinced lots of folks that he’s the man to heal the division between America and the rest of the world.

He does on the other hand tend to look a bit lost when it comes to the big wide world out there. But despair ye not! Barack has gone and got himself a foreign policy guru. You’ll never guess who it is.

Natalie: Go on, then. I am agog to learn.

Me: Zbigniew Brzezinski!

Natalie: Gesundheit.

Me: Come on, you remember Zbigniew Brzezinski. The Afghanistan guy. Not Tom Hanks, the other one.

Natalie: Oh, that guy. I thought he was dead.

Well, apparently not. And, if Barack is short of ideas, old Zbigniew is just full of good ideas. Most famously, he was the guy who thought it was a good idea to recruit a bunch of mad Wahhabis, arm them to the teeth, and send them to Afghanistan to fight the Russians. That couldn’t possibly have anything but good consequences for the American people.

Or, then again, there was Zbigniew’s contribution to peace in Cambodia. You would have thought that by 1979 the Cambodian people had suffered enough. But no, they had to be punished further, because behind the National Salvation Front government stood Vietnam, the country that had so recently humiliated the Empire, and behind Vietnam stood The Bear. And so it was that we got that great triumph of democratic geopolitics, the US’s long-running diplomatic support for Pol Pot.

Of course, Zbigniew couldn’t do that openly. He outsourced the dirty work to China. Let Zbigniew explain:

I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot…Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.

Now isn’t that the sort of change we can all believe in?

Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!


  1. MattS said,

    March 3, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Obama once dined with Edward Said and in Chicago supported Palestinian resolutions in the city council offering solidarity. He recently found out that Israel was the one he should be solidarizing with. Conveniently for him his conversion came at just the right moment; when he decided to run for President.

    Obama is a loathsome politician and, because he has to prove himself, will be even more vociferous in his support for Israel. I am secretly hoping for a Hillary win, it will be better for the development of a left-wing third party candidate and I can’t stand the idea of 4(or 8) years of Obama speak, his Bonoisms and the myriad of “humanitarian interventions” he will preside over.

    He even wrote a letter to the US ambassador to the UN when the Gaza siege began some months ago urging the US to veto the vote on condemnation of Israeli policy. The US veto is routine and didn’t hinge on Obama’s urging, but to make sure that his position was perfectly clear his letter to the ambassador was, again conveniently, leaked to the press. Here’s Obama’s speech to the main Israeli lobby AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee):

    Obama’s AIPAC speech. Text as prepared for delivery.

    Prepared text of Barack Obama’s speech for the AIPAC foreign policy forum.

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama

    As Prepared for Delivery

    AIPAC Policy Forum

    March 2, 2007

    Chicago, Illinois

    Thank you so much for your kind introduction and the invitation to meet
    with you this morning.

    Last week, this event was described to me as a small gathering of
    friends. Looking at all of you here today; seeing so many of you who care
    about peace in this world; who care about a strong and lasting friendship
    between Israel and the United States, and who care about what’s on the
    next page of our shared futures, I think “a small gathering of
    friends” fits this crowd just right.

    I want to begin today by telling you a story.

    Back in January of 2006, I made my first trip to the Holy Land. It is a
    place unlike any other on this earth – a place filled with so much
    promise of what we truly can be as people; a place where we’ve learned
    how in a flash, violence and hatred and intolerance can turn that promise
    to rubble and send too many lives to their early graves.

    Most will travel to the holy sites: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the
    Dome of the Rock or the Western Wall. They make a journey to be humbled
    before God. I too am blessed to have seen Israel this way, up close and
    on the ground.

    But I am also fortunate to have seen Israel from the air.

    On my journey that January day, I flew on an IDF helicopter to the border
    zone. The helicopter took us over the most troubled and dangerous areas
    and that narrow strip between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. At
    that height, I could see the hills and the terrain that generations have
    walked across. I could truly see how close everything is and why peace
    through security is the only way for Israel.

    Our helicopter landed in the town of Kiryat Shmona on the border. What
    struck me first about the village was how familiar it looked. The houses
    and streets looked like ones you might find in a suburb in America. I
    could imagine young children riding their bikes down the streets. I could
    imagine the sounds of their joyful play just like my own daughters. There
    were cars in the driveway. The shrubs were trimmed. The families were
    living their lives.

    Then, I saw a house that had been hit with one of Hezbollah’s Katyusha

    The family who lived in the house was lucky to be alive. They had been
    asleep in another part when the rocket hit. They described the
    explosion. They talked about the fire and the shrapnel. They spoke about
    what might have been if the rocket had come screaming into their home at
    another time when they weren’t asleep but sitting peacefully in the now
    destroyed part of the house.

    It is an experience I keep close to my heart. Not because it is unique,
    but because we know that too many others have seen the same kind of
    destruction, have lost their loved ones to suicide bombers and live in
    fear of when the next attack might hit. Just six months after I visited,
    Hezbollah launched four thousand rocket attacks just like the one that
    destroyed the home in Kiryat Shmona, and kidnapped Israeli service
    members. And we pray for all of the service members who have been
    kidnapped: Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser, and I met with
    his family this week. I offered to help in any way I can.

    It is important to remember this history—that Israel had unilaterally
    withdrawn from Lebanon only to have Iran supply Hezbollah with thousands
    of rockets.

    Our job is to never forget that the threat of violence is real. Our job
    is to renew the United States’ efforts to help Israel achieve peace with
    its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do not share this
    vision. Our job is to do more than lay out another road map; our job is
    to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the

    That effort begins with a clear and strong commitment to the security of
    Israel: our strongest ally in the region and its only established
    democracy. That will always be my starting point. And when we see all of
    the growing threats in the region: from Iran to Iraq to the resurgence of
    al-Qaeda to the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah, that loyalty and
    that friendship will guide me as we begin to lay the stones that will
    build the road that takes us from the current instability to lasting peace
    and security.

    It won’t be easy. Some of those stones will be heavy and tough for the
    United States to carry. Others with be heavy and tough for Israel to
    carry. And even more will be difficult for the world. But together, we
    will begin again.

    One of the heavy stones that currently rest at the United States’ feet
    is Iraq. Until we lift this burden from our foreign policy, we cannot
    rally the world to our values and vision.

    As many of you know, I opposed this war from the beginning – in part
    because I believed that giving this President the open-ended authority to
    invade Iraq would lead to the open-ended occupation we find ourselves in

    Now our soldiers find themselves in the crossfire of someone
    else’s civil war. More than 3,100 have given the last full measure of
    devotion to their country. This war has fueled terrorism and helped
    galvanize terrorist organizations. And it has made the world less safe.

    That is why I advocate a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq to
    begin no later than May first with the goal of removing all combat forces
    from Iraq by March 2008. In a civil war where no military solution
    exists, this redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi
    government to achieve the political settlement between its warring
    factions that can slow the bloodshed and promote stability.

    My plan also allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain and
    prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for international terrorism and reduce
    the risk of all-out chaos. In addition, we will redeploy our troops to
    other locations in the region, reassuring our allies that we will stay
    engaged in the Middle East. And my plan includes a robust regional
    diplomatic strategy that includes talking to Syria and Iran – something
    this Administration has finally embraced.

    The U.S. military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in Iraq. Our
    troops have done all that we have asked them to do and more. But a
    consequence of the Administration’s failed strategy in Iraq has been to
    strengthen Iran’s strategic position; reduce U.S. credibility and
    influence in the region; and place Israel and other nations friendly to
    the United States in greater peril. These are not the signs of a
    well-paved road. It is time for profound change.

    As the U.S. redeploys from Iraq, we can recapture lost influence in the
    Middle East. We can refocus our efforts to critical, yet neglected
    priorities, such as combating international terrorism and winning the war
    in Afghanistan. And we can, then, more effectively deal with one of the
    greatest threats to the United States, Israel and world peace: Iran.

    Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s regime is a threat to all of us. His
    words contain a chilling echo of some of the world’s most tragic

    Unfortunately, history has a terrible way of repeating itself. President
    Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust. He held a conference in his
    country, claiming it was a myth. But we know the Holocaust was as real as
    the 6 million who died in mass graves at Buchenwald, or the cattle cars to
    Dachau or whose ashes clouded the sky at Auschwitz. We have seen the
    pictures. We have walked the halls of the Holocaust museum in Washington
    and Yad Vashem. We have touched the tattoos on loved-ones arms. After 60
    years, it is time to deny the deniers.

    In the 21^st century, it is unacceptable that a member state of the United
    Nations would openly call for the elimination of another member state. But
    that is exactly what he has done. Neither Israel nor the United States has
    the luxury of dismissing these outrages as mere rhetoric.

    The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program and
    prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to
    have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we
    should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained
    and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our
    primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.

    Iranian nuclear weapons would destabilize the region and could set off a
    new arms race. Some nations in the region, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia
    and Turkey, could fall away from restraint and rush into a nuclear contest
    that could fuel greater instability in the region—that’s not just bad
    for the Middle East, but bad for the world, making it a vastly more
    dangerous and unpredictable place. Other nations would feel great pressure
    to accommodate Iranian demands. Terrorist groups with Iran’s backing
    would feel emboldened to act even more brazenly under an Iranian nuclear
    umbrella. And as the A.Q. Kahn network in Pakistan demonstrated, Iran
    could spread this technology around the world.

    To prevent this worst-case scenario, we need the United States to lead
    tough-minded diplomacy.

    This includes direct engagement with Iran similar to the meetings we
    conducted with the Soviets at the height of the Cold War, laying out in
    clear terms our principles and interests. Tough-minded diplomacy would
    include real leverage through stronger sanctions. It would mean more
    determined U.S diplomacy at the United Nations. It would mean harnessing
    the collective power of our friends in Europe who are Iran’s major
    trading partners. It would mean a cooperative strategy with Gulf States
    who supply Iran with much of the energy resources it needs. It would mean
    unifying those states to recognize the threat of Iran and increase pressure
    on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. It would mean full implementation
    of U.S. sanctions laws. And over the long term, it would mean a focused
    approach from us to finally end the tyranny of oil, and develop our own
    alternative sources of energy to drive the price of oil down.

    We must also persuade other nations such as Saudi Arabia to recognize
    common interests with Israel in dealing with Iran. We should stress to the
    Egyptians that they help the Iranians and do themselves no favors by
    failing to adequately prevent the smuggling of weapons and cash by Iran
    into Gaza.

    The United States’ leverage is strengthened when we have many nations
    with us. It puts us in a place where sanctions could actually have a
    profound impact on Iran’s economy. Iran is highly dependent on imports
    and foreign investment, credit and technology. And an environment where
    our allies see that these types of investments in Iran are not in the
    world’s best interests, could help bring Iran to the table.

    We have no quarrel with the Iranian people. They know that President
    Ahamadinejad is reckless, irresponsible, and inattentive to their
    day-to-day needs which is why they sent him a rebuke at the ballot box
    this fall. And we hope more of them will speak out. There is great hope
    in their ability to see his hatred for what it is: hatred and a threat to
    peace in the region.

    At the same time, we must preserve our total commitment to
    our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military
    assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense
    programs. This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and
    repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza. And
    when Israel is attacked, we must stand up for Israel’s legitimate right
    to defend itself. Last summer, Hezbollah attacked Israel. By using
    Lebanon as an outpost for terrorism, and innocent people as shields,
    Hezbollah has also engulfed that entire nation in violence and conflict,
    and threatened the fledgling movement for democracy there. That’s why
    we have to press for enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,
    which demands the cessation of arms shipments to Hezbollah, a resolution
    which Syria and Iran continue to disregard. Their support and shipment of
    weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which threatens the peace and security in
    the region, must end.

    These are great challenges that we face. And in moments like
    these, true allies do not walk away. For six years, the administration has
    missed opportunities to increase the United States’ influence in the
    region and help Israel achieve the peace she wants and the security she
    needs. The time has come for us to seize those opportunities.

    The Israeli people, and Prime Minister Olmert, have made clear that they
    are more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian
    conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and
    security. But the Israelis must trust that they have a true Palestinian
    partner for peace. That is why we must strengthen the hands of
    Palestinian moderates who seek peace and that is why we must maintain the
    isolation of Hamas and other extremists who are committed to Israel’s

    The U.S. and our partners have put before Hamas three very simple
    conditions to end this isolation: recognize Israel’s right to exist;
    renounce the use of violence; and abide by past agreements between Israel
    and the Palestinian Authority.

    We should all be concerned about the agreement negotiated among
    Palestinians in Mecca last month. The reports of this agreement suggest
    that Hamas, Fatah, and independent ministers would sit in a government
    together, under a Hamas Prime Minister, without any recognition of Israel,
    without a renunciation of violence, and with only an ambiguous promise to
    “respect” previous agreements.

    This should concern us all because it suggests that Mahmoud Abbas, who is
    a Palestinian leader I believe is committed to peace, felt forced to
    compromise with Hamas. However, if we are serious about the Quartet’s
    conditions, we must tell the Palestinians this is not good enough.

    But as I said at the outset, Israel will have some heavy stones to carry
    as well. Its history has been full of tough choices in search of peace and

    Yitzhak Rabin had the vision to reach out to longtime enemies. Ariel
    Sharon had the determination to lead Israel out of Gaza. These were
    difficult, painful decisions that went to the heart of Israel’s identity
    as a nation.

    Many Israelis I talked to during my visit last year told me
    that they were prepared to make sacrifices to give their children a chance
    to know peace. These were people of courage who wanted a better life. And
    I know these are difficult times and it can be easy to lose hope. But we
    owe it to our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, and to all
    those who have fallen, to keep searching for peace and security — even
    though it can seem distant. This search is in the best interests of
    Israel. It is in the best interests of the United States. It is in the
    best interests of all of us.

    We can and we should help Israelis and Palestinians both fulfill their
    national goals: two states living side by side in peace and security.
    Both the Israeli and Palestinian people have suffered from the failure to
    achieve this goal. The United States should leave no stone unturned in
    working to make that goal a reality.

    But in the end, we also know that we should never seek to dictate what is
    best for the Israelis and their security interests. No Israeli Prime
    Minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table
    by the United States.

    We must be partners – we must be active partners. Diplomacy in the
    Middle East cannot be done on the cheap. Diplomacy is measured by
    patience and effort. We cannot continue to have trips consisting of
    little more than photo-ops with little movement in between. Neither
    Israel nor the U.S. is served by this approach.

    Peace with security. That is the Israeli people’s
    overriding wish.

    It is what I saw in the town of Fassouta on the border with Lebanon.

    There are 3,000 residents of different faiths and histories.
    There is a community center supported by Chicago’s own Roman Catholic
    Archdiocese and the Jewish Federation of Metro Chicago. It is where the
    education of the next generation has begun: in a small village, all faiths
    and nationalities, living together with mutual respect.

    I met with the people from the village and they gave me a tour of this
    wonderful place. There was a moment when the young girls came in and they
    played music and began to dance.

    After a few moments, I thought about my own daughters, Sasha and Malia and
    how they too could dream and dance in a place like this: a place of renewal
    and restoration. Proof, that in the heart of so much peril, there were
    signs of life and hope and promise—that the universal song for peace
    plays on.

    Thank you.

  2. Renegade Eye said,

    March 4, 2008 at 3:53 am

    Obama is obsessed with Afrghanistan. He thinks there should be more troops there. Zbigniew Brzezinski didn’t tell him what happened to the Russians there. The Taliban didn’t fight hard against the US, so they can get them later as occupiers.

  3. MattS said,

    March 5, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    after lasts night’s wins for Clinton we are in for another six weeks of this horse race until Pennsylvania votes in late April. A long six weeks. I think it will end up going beyond that too.

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