Friday, August 01, 2008
Samantha Power on the Dems and national defenceSamantha Power: Dems need to be aggressive in talking about the disaster of the Cheney-Bush foreign policy
Samantha Power has a good article in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, The Democrats & National Security 07/17/08 (08/14/08 issue). It begins with a conventional recitation of the notion that voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on "national security".
But then she goes on to analyze why the Dems shouldn't be intimidated by this assumption and offers some concrete suggestions that Obama and the Democrats can use that combine good policy with smart, aggressive politics. Reviewing a book by Peter Scoblic on hardline Republican foreign policy, she writes about how reckless and foolish "tough on defense" Republicans have often been, especially under the Cheney-Bush administration:
Having suffered through what one diplomat called the "enemy deprivation syndrome of the 1990s," September 11 gave hard-line conservatives an opportunity to apply their pre-hatched theories; and from the start they sought to unshackle the United States from international agreements and to reduce reliance on diplomatic engagement. When the Bush administration scored a rare recent diplomatic success, convincing North Korea to open up some of its nuclear records, Vice President Cheney was so disgusted by his own administration's pragmatic decision to take Pyongyang off the US terrorist blacklist that he snapped at reporters, "I'm not going to be the one to announce this decision. You need to address your interest in this to the State Department." He then abruptly ended the press encounter, and left the room.She also addresses the issue of how to handle the dangers to Iraqi civilians as the US withdraws from Iraq, recognizing that the Republicans will do all they can to blame the Democrats for anything bad that happens in that regard.
As she points out, Obama has been addressing that issue, though our lazy media can hardly bother to notice:
Prominent Democrats must drive home the continuing costs of remaining in Iraq - costs to Iraq, the region, Afghanistan, US military readiness, and national security as a whole - while describing the specific ways an Obama administration would limit the harmful consequences of withdrawal. (In fact, Obama outlined such plans in a speech last year but it got little attention and needs reinforcement from the Democratic echo chamber.)Her article also has some useful thought about comparisons between the Kosovo War and the Iraq War (as an "humanitarian hawk", Power was a supporter of the Kosovo War, as I was, too, though I don't consider myself an "humanitarian hawk"):
We don't know how events in 2003 would have progressed without the Kosovo war, but it is hard to imagine that President Bush - a man who repudiated five treaties in his first year in office and has consistently ridiculed the UN - would have been deterred in any way by the absence of past precedent.Tags: barack obama, iraq war, kosovo war, samantha power
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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