Posts Tagged ‘foreign policy’

What Obama Isn’t Saying Now

17 Mar

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war….A war
based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear –
I suffer no illusions about Muammar Gaddafi . He is a brutal man….He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Libyan people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Gaddafi poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or
to his neighbors, that the Libyan economy is in shambles, that the Libyan military a fraction of
its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be
contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

That’s what Obama might have said in response to the Libyan civil war, and he would have been right. It’s remarkable how little one has to change this part of Obama’s 2002 speech against the Iraq war to fit the current situation. I would say that it’s surprising that Obama’s response to Libya has so little in common with his criticism of invading Iraq, but I know that it isn’t. When there was political pressure in Chicago to speak out against a new war, that was what he did, and now that the pressure in Washington has been building to start a new war that is what he intends to do.


What the average American thinks we spend on foreign aid

04 Dec

27% of the federal budget

vs what they think we ought to be spending (=13%)

and what we’re actually spending (=0.6%)



Robert Gates gets the last word on WikiLeaks

01 Dec

I've expressed skepticism about whether WikiLeaks will actually lead to greater foreign-policy transparency. That said, l'affaire WikiLeaks has generated just a smidgen of greater candor from at least one U.S. policy principal. Here's Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the fallout from the cable dump:

Let me just offer some perspective as somebody who’s been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: “How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel." …

Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think -- I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets.

Many governments -- some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation. So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another. Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.

Hat tip: Jack Goldsmith.