Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Here's his big speech. I want to leave this open to commenting, but I will make some observations.  One, his plan leaves forces in Iraq to fight Al Qaeda.  Two, he wants to increase the size of the military.  Three, he argues that more trade agreements and more assistance to displaced workers is the right strategy.  Four, he is putting 'cap-and-trade' out there to deal with global warming, which is very different and much more centrist than Dodd's approach of a global carbon tax.

It's good speech, what I would expect from a brilliant neoliberal.  Obama provides a connected economic and political vision, which very much borrows from McGovern, Carter, and Clinton's notions of a globalized and connected community led by American moral and military might.  There's a lot to like here, though it's not so much a progressive vision, which you can tell from his allusions to people like Dick Lugar, George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, and Sam Nunn.  It's from the Clinton playbook.

The Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama fight looks like Hart-Mondale, doesn't it?  Anyway, please read the speech and let me know your thoughts.  Please read it, don't just come on here and pump up your candidate.  That's boring.

Update [2007-4-23 19:29:2 by Matt Stoller]:: Scott Paul has related thoughts at the Washington Note. I'm a bit surprised at the lack of discussion in the blogosphere at large, though I'm really enjoying the comments in this thread. So substantive! MyDDers be proud!

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, president (all tags)

Comments

213 Comments

A good speech!

This is a good speech, a speech with a hopeful vision that builds on the past successes and values of the U.S. especially building on the progressive presidents of the past. It's a good, strong speech of optimism for a progressive candidate. I think the underlying reality of the world he is describing involves a U.S. that is weaker and has more limits in movement. But a candidate must focus on opportunity and hope, and attempt to address the real threats of proliferation, terrorism, trade imbalance, and poverty, while attempting to heal the harm that has been done by the previous administration.

by cmpnwtr 2007-04-23 01:44PM | 0 recs
Couple points

First, I think his idea of increasing foreign aid as a means of fighting terrorism is a very progressive and potentially effective strategy.  

Second, I would note that he cited the Dick Lugars and Sam Nunns of the world in reference to nuclear disarmorment b/c those two guys have been very good on that issue.  Not so much on a LOT of others, but I think it's fair to say that both are "progressive" on the issue he's talking about there.  

Overall, I really like what Obama said here.  Maybe that means I'm not "progressive" from Matt's point of view -- could be I suppose.  Although I was under the impression that there was a bit of wiggle room regarding what THE progressive foreign policy position is.  :)

I'll be genuinely curious to hear what others have to say about this.  Ultimately, discussion about substantive ideas is a good thing, so here's hoping this doesn't turn into EITHER a pure love or hate -fest.

by HSTruman 2007-04-23 01:47PM | 0 recs
The speech was true to form

moderately progressive, cautious. I'm not sure he said anything that John Kerry didn't say in 2008:

build up international insitutions
diplomacy first
restore the country's moral credibiity

Most of the stuff is straight out of the respectable Democrat playbook. Nothing new or exciting here.

Playing it safe.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The speech was true to form

What I'm looking for is not someone who can deviate from the mainstream Democratic playbook, but someone who can defend it, someone who can persuade voters in the way Reagan and Clinton used to persuade.

John Kerry said the right things in 2004 but he seemed to have no response to the standard GOP talking points like "Dems want to outsource our national security to the UN."  Was it a gaffe to say "global test"?  I have no idea, but having said it, a competent candidate should be able to explain it and stand by the idea.

Is Obama the guy?  I'm not sure yet.  He certainly has the rhetorical gifts in spades, but too often he doesn't apply those gifts to actual matters of policy.  This speech was a good start in that direction.

by Steve M 2007-04-23 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The speech was true to form

you should have written, "DemocratIC playbook."

by jgarcia 2007-04-23 03:42PM | 0 recs
lots to like, even inspiring at times, but

lots to dislike.

i really like his international vision, and i don't really like his approach to iraq, and global warming (though the details could matter here). a delicate balance of pragmatism, and idealism.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: lots to like, even inspiring at times, but

According to Matt Yglesias, the Global Warming part is McCain-Lieberman.

http://www.matthewyglesias.com/archives/ 2007/04/getting_specific/

by MassEyesandEars 2007-04-23 03:17PM | 0 recs
Coming on board Edwards call for a ...

... commitment to closing the education deficit was particularly impressive, since most of USAID project spending has little long term impact on economic development.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-24 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I assumed I would be writing a critical comment, but I can't find too much to complain about here. I will try and pretend the whole "expanding the military" thing is just Obama's attempt at appearing strong on defense. Otherwise, I think his overall approach (aid + pressure + diplomacy + trade + leading by example) is the right one.

It is easy to attack his emphasis on trade, only because the history of multinational trade agreements is stained. I would fully support further efforts to liberalize trade IF it a) gave equal bargaining power to developing nations and b) including strong regulations on labor and the environment. Remember, trade can be good or bad - just like capitalism in general can be good or bad. Both depend on regulation to bring out the positives and suppress the negatives.
The question is, does Obama have the guts and the persistence to insist on STRONG regulation of international trade? No speech can tell us that.

by LandStander 2007-04-23 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Personally I think expanding the military is a great idea...doing so means increased pay, retention bonuses, expedited promotions and theoretically fewer deployments for military personnel. Those things are all side-effects of increasing the number of new recruits, and the promotions and bonuses would help retention tremendously.

by mihan 2007-04-23 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I could be convinced it is a good idea. But I would insist on profound cutbacks on non-personnel related military expenditures (as another commenter suggested).

by LandStander 2007-04-23 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Right, I agree, the first step toward paying for personnel-related increases is to decrease spending in operations...and I'm all for that. I think a great deal of what we're talking about can be found right in the current discretionary DOD budget. There is plenty of money to be found in wasteful spending, including developing new ballistic missile systems, carrier contracts for airlines to fly troops to the middle east, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

All of these things of course have to be conditional upon cutting waste where possible. The track record on that isn't great in any way, provided that some headway could be made there, it wouldn't be necessary to further bankrupt the Government by simply increasing Defense spending.

by mihan 2007-04-23 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Or it could mean bring conscription back.

by antiHyde 2007-04-23 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Although I am personally against "expanding" the military it appears Obama is lining up with the traditional Democratic DC defense establishment on this which is expected.  

by robliberal 2007-04-23 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Obama has said he will look to cut the defense budget after we heal our military, given the stress that has been placed on it from iraq.

he said he would cut defensesspending on outdated items.

he said this during his very first few campiagn stops.

by dpg220 2007-04-23 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

But not in his high-profile foreign policy speech? Makes one wonder if he will ever say it again.

by LandStander 2007-04-23 02:55PM | 0 recs
I think the commenter misstates slightly...

Obama has said on a number of occasions (townhalls, etc.) that he believes there is a need to rebuild our broken military, which may require some short term funding boost, rather than cutting the military budget right away.

He makes it clear that he's talking about the personnel in the military (i.e. manpower, key equipment like humvees, etc.) and that there are short-term and long-term savings in cutting wasteful weapons programs.

by rashomon 2007-04-23 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I agree that there is quite a lot to like here.  Especially this theme:

In today's globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it's America's problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

Here Obama shows that he has grasped the essential interrelatedness of the world--America can't pretend that it can do what it wants unfettered by the views and aspirations of others, nor can we live in isolation.  His basic grasp of this principle, which permeates his speech, gives me great hope.  It (and most of the rest of the speech) is miles away from Bush.  And he appreciates what the great issues are--nonproliferation and decommissioning of nukes, global warming, poverty and disease etc rather than dwelling on grand clashes of civilizations.  He sees that we must speak to the common humanity of people across the globe not on what divides us, and that the US must be a beacon of hope again.

I thought it was very good, in that it showed his principles, goals and temperament.  It showed flexibility and a real appreciation of people in other countries as people with their won asporations, something that has been sorely lacking in American foreign policy most of my life.  I may differ on how many troops to leave in Iraq, but I have no doubt that if elected, he would not feel bound by what he had said a year and a half before the election, but would do what made sense in January, 2009.  

Interesting you invoke Mondale and Hart.  That really was, in many ways, a generational fight.  Hart very much embodied the aspirations of elder Boomers, even though he was older than that.  He had been McGovern's campaign manager, and although he appreciated the need for a strong military, he also had strong credentials against the Vietnam War.  Mondale was perceived as a fuddy duddy, younger than Reagan, but still older generation, a traditional interest-group liberal.  In that sense there is something to the comparison of Obama to Hart, as well as their foreign policy realism.  Neither is a classic progressive, both in some ways transcend the categories of their time.  I'm more worried about the influence of Robert Rubin on Obama than Gary Hart, though.

by Mimikatz 2007-04-23 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

And another point--we have  to get away from reliance on mercenaries (contractors) to provide much of the support to our troops.  It's ok with me if we enlarge the military if we shrink the reliance on contractors and bring many functions back into the purview of the regular military.  much cheaper, too.

by Mimikatz 2007-04-23 02:56PM | 0 recs
It might be quicker

for you to go straight to the Hamilton Project in the future seeing as how Obama's basically pushing their ideas.  Market based solutions, profits before people, and no problem with the status quo.  

It appears that Sen. Obama doesn't understand that the problem is that sometime in the early 1970's the neoliberal hordes destroyed the post war social contract, and replaced the idea that equality is a good thing with a myopic focus on making more money.

We don't need a Bill Clinton or an Al Smith, we need an FDR, someone who will change the way that the country works, and will push this country back towards social democracy and away from the social darwinism that dominates economic thinking in our time.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-23 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: It might be quicker

Here are my criticisms:

First of all, no, we can't afford a bigger military without someone having the courage to talk about cutting weapons system, and even then, we can't afford it without gutting social security and/or medicare.  And no, Obama isn't talking about cutting weapons systems.  Two, keeping troops in Iraq when the Iraqis don't want us there is pure imperialism, and wrong.  Three, cap and trade without a carbon tax is a horrible, horrible idea.  Four, McGovern, Carter, and Clinton failed.

When I write that Obama has a centrist vision, I mean that it's a very bad vision for our world, one that will break and fail.  What I 'like' about it is that it's a vision, and that it's going to push us to articulate a comprehensive framework to oppose it.

This is a very big problem.  We've got two centrist neoliberals leading the Presidential race.

Edwards is too incoherent for me to get a handle on.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-23 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: It might be quicker

This is not my area of expertise so I want to take some time to digest it.  There were some things I liked, others I want to research.  However, I agree that he gets credit for putting out a vision, something I haven't seen from the others yet.

by John Mills 2007-04-23 02:17PM | 0 recs
Incoherent?

Please explain. He's put forth a very coherent domestic pro-people agenda. I suppose you say incoherent because you believe his foreign policy doesn't mesh with his domestic policy. Well, wait and see. he hasn't given his big foreign policy speech yet. I can't deny that he has some room to grow on foreign policy, but I expect that the logic of his pro-fair trade agenda will influence his feelings about imperialism. At least I hope so.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: It might be quicker

It's about the ideas.  

Obama has ideas, the problem is that his ideas are essentially a continuation of the policies that have failed us again and again.  It's about altering society to accomodate the market, instead of making the market accountable society.

It wasn't always this way. During the years that the Democratic party was dominant in this country, it was because we had ideas. Different understandings of the world (the fancy word is epistemologies) lead people to define different things as good or bad.  

Senator Obama is very clearly in the Rubinite camp, they are essentialy Schumpeterians, they argue that there is nothing wrong with an understanding of the world that values the market over society, saying that there's nothing incapable of being priced in money terms. That labor is people, and the earth a patrimony that can't be priced is something that they don't understand.  It's all about the Benjamins for this gang.

There's another way to look at the world.  To say that there's something to human life bigger and better than the market.  That it's not possible to put  price tag on human dignity.  Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation is the premiere work of substantivist political economy in this tradition.  He argued that it is unnatural for the market to colonize society as it has in the US.  Without society there is no market.  Labor and land aren't commodities, they aren't made by markey processes.  

Does it seriously make any sense to say that people have babies because they think that they're going to make a profit?  Where's the love in that man?  

The market is something made by men, not the god that the Right and the neo-liberals like Obama and Clinton have made it into.  The market should be made to bend to social needs, not the other way around.

Now, John Edwards hasn't come out and said exactlly that, but I believe it's what he thinks.  The Two Americas speech was a secular version of the academic gospel that Polanyi and the substantivists laid out over 60 years ago.  That's why I'm supporting Edwards.

It's only a matter of time before something happens with the twin trade and budget deficits, creating economic crisis.  We need a leader who can be an FDR, and push for social democracy, not accomodate the status quo.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-23 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: It might be quicker

I said it earlier today (and of course no one agreed) but it appears to me that Obama is trying to run slightly to the right of Clinton to try to head off the experience and national security concerns.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 02:35PM | 0 recs
Can you back that up?

This speech certainly does not put him to the right of Hillary. It is not as leftist as Edwards post-2006 positions though.

by Populism2008 2007-04-23 11:54PM | 0 recs
actually, cap-and-trade is fine

if permits are auctioned, rather than allocated to the politically connected--not that i have any idea whether or not obama is proposing that.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, cap-and-trade is fine

I think that is what Edwards has proposed.

by okamichan13 2007-04-23 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, cap-and-trade is fine

Along with firm caps on carbon emissions, as well as building them into our trade agreements to limit the emissions of our trade partners.

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:45PM | 0 recs
Matt have you tried to get any clarification

on what you call :incoherent" from Edwards - he is approachable!

Why not talk to him directly for clarification, you don't mind email others for clarification when needed. Why not him?

by dk2 2007-04-23 03:17PM | 0 recs
I dont understand "incoherent" at all

Edwards has spoken on just about every issue up there. From how we should be utilizing dipolmacy, to our future role in Iraq, to global warming, to efforts to incease global education and decrease global poverty, etc etc.

With all due respect, do your homework.

by okamichan13 2007-04-23 05:01PM | 0 recs
And your first assignment starts here
Transformational Change For America And The World
http://johnedwards.com/news/speeches/nhi p20070315/
by okamichan13 2007-04-23 05:10PM | 0 recs
To get a better handle on Edwards ...

... it might help to read more of the literature.

Fisher and Newell, 2004, Environmental and Technology Policies for Climate Mitigation gives a traditional marginalist modelling evaluation, and even in that economic approach a portfolio that combines an emissions price together with R&D is superior to an emissions price approach alone.

Of course, a traditional marginalist economic approach does not weigh the development of US jobs in the renewable energy sector as a substantial benefit in its own right, so Edwards plan also includes a 25% renewable energy mandate on utilities, which functions as a combined tax on fossil fuels and a subsidy for renewables.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-24 09:09AM | 0 recs
Darn You Matt! {Shakes Fist}

I have a headache, and you want me to wade through that whole speech before I react to it!

Well, I will after I get home, but I was getting all fired up to pump up why this makes it all the more essential for my Congressman Tim Ryan to make a run at Voinavich's Senate seat in 2010, and you brought me to a screaching halt.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-23 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Darn You Matt! {Shakes Fist}

The only substantial differences I could see to what Edwards has said are the heavy emphasis on building a 21st century military, which will have the obvious budget impacts constraining other policy initiative, and allowing for an anti-terrorist combat force in Iraq, where it emerged, in the big kerfuffle about Edwards saying he would not put American humanitarian workers on the ground without the forces they need for protection, that Edwards would not do that.

Those two specific points aside, it seems like Clinton, Edwards, and Richardson could have delivered the same speech, so there is very little to object to, though by the same token very little to single out for praise.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-24 04:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech
I am still greatly troubled by his Iraq policy, which seems to be contradictory: in one sentence he states that his plan is to have "...a phased withdrawal of American forces with the goal of removing ALL COMBAT BRIGADES FROM IRAQ BY MARCH 31st, 2008". Then two sentences later, he states: "...my plan...allows for a LIMITED NUMBER OF TROOPS TO REMAIN IN IRAQ TO FIGHT AL QAEDA AND OTHER TERRORISTS." (emphasis mine).
If ALL combat brigades are to be out of Iraq by March 31, 2008, then who the hell is going to be fighting al Qaeda and other terrorists -- the administrative staff? the cooks? the communications people? the truck drivers? WHO exactly is he talking about? If it's combat brigades, then his first sentence is incorrect. And if it's combat brigades, how many is he talking about? 5,000? 10,000? 50,000? 100,000? And if they're going to be fighting "al Qaeda and other terrorists", how, pray tell are our troops going to be able to identify the bad guys? Are they the ones wearing bright yellow uniforms? Oh, maybe we should continue to rely on "informants" that we find by kicking down the doors of homes at 3 a.m., rounding up a few thousand Iraqis and then torturing them to find out where al Qaeda and other terrorists are hiding.
I'm sorry, but Obama's Iraq strategy leaves me absolutely cold.
by flash123 2007-04-23 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I think this is the reaction you wanted to have...you're not applying yourself to thinking this through. For instance:

And if they're going to be fighting "al Qaeda and other terrorists", how, pray tell are our troops going to be able to identify the bad guys? Are they the ones wearing bright yellow uniforms? Oh, maybe we should continue to rely on "informants" that we find by kicking down the doors of homes at 3 a.m., rounding up a few thousand Iraqis and then torturing them to find out where al Qaeda and other terrorists are hiding.

Is it really that unfeasible that there may be a good and reliable information that would allow for our forces to be used effectively in this manner? What you are arguing is military intelligence and tactics, and it sounds like you have no experience whatsoever in either area.

by mihan 2007-04-23 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Yes, it really seems unfeasible to me that our military intelligence is very good and reliable. Polls show that 80% of Iraqis want us to get the hell out of their country (which does not imply that they will be terribly interested in cooperating with us), we do not understand their language or customs, there seems to be a huge amount of evidence that Abu Ghraib was a small indicator of the amount of "overzealous" interrogation force that our troops use, so, yes, I think our military intelligence is of very limited use in Iraq. It may work great in other countries and in different circumstances, but I believe we have screwed up so badly in Iraq that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people have no interest whatsoever in cooperating with us, and, frankly, the local populace is about the only effective way of identifying the bad guys. All of the high tech methods of gathering intelligence have relatively little usefulness in this type of situation.

by flash123 2007-04-23 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Just be clear on one thing: when you talk about the effectiveness of military intelligence in Iraq, you are treading on very personal territory for me. You're talking about Abu Ghraib, interrogation tactics, high-technology, and freaking POLLS as proof that military intelligence is incapable of providing any tangible benefit in Iraq. On that score I couldn't believe that you are more dead-wrong.

Real intelligence-gather is multi-faceted. It involves personal relationships with informants, familiarity with local customs, and a real kind of  bravery from our soldiers on the ground. You seem to believe that because polls say Iraqis don't want us there, that this is clear proof that there are no Iraqis who are able or willing to provide useful intelligence on insurgent activities, which apparently includes the Iraqi government.

I'll put it to you this way: Iraqis can and have provided very useful intelligence. It has nothing to do with Abu Ghraib, interrogation, technology or any of that nonsense. Despite those things there have been individual Iraqis that have risked their lives and those of their families to help American forces, and they continue to do so to this day.

Your ignorance on the matter is stunning to me, but don't compound ignorance with the arrogance of believing that you know anything at all about the subject.

by mihan 2007-04-23 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

You don't sound like you know much either.  Would you like your door kicked in at 3am?  Look at it from the opinion of an Iraqi.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-04-23 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Yeah, I'll think about that, thanks. Jerkoff.

by mihan 2007-04-23 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I gave you my sincere opinion and my sense of what's going on over there. You gave me your opinion and sense of what's going on over there. Neither one of us had clear, corroborated facts to back up our opinions, but at least I didn't degenerate into a personal flame war. You can state your opinion all that you want, but please leave out the personal name calling of "stunning ignorance" and "arrogance". You made some decent points in your first three paragraphs, then completely wrecked it with your final paragraph.

by flash123 2007-04-23 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I think he means special forces, which are under  a different command than "combat forces", i.e., regular Army or Marines.  They would be fighting presumably a clandestine war through special ops and intel-gathering, rather than the kinds of kick down the door and patrol missions they do now.

by Mimikatz 2007-04-23 02:29PM | 0 recs
not that i support his policy

but a combat brigade (BCT-Brigade Combat Team) is a specific combat organizational unit. supposedly, any troops that remain in iraq will be part of special operations unit...

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I was at least a little concerned about the idea of leaving combat troops in Iraq, but this part made me feel a lot better about it. It makes the idea seem like common sense, which thankfully re-enforces what I'd believed he would say on the matter.

That is why my plan provides for an over-the-horizon force that could prevent chaos in the wider region, and allows for a limited number of troops to remain in Iraq to fight al Qaeda and other terrorists.

But my plan also makes clear that continued U.S. commitment to Iraq depends on the Iraqi government meeting a series of well-defined benchmarks necessary to reach a political settlement. Thus far, the Iraqi government has made very little progress in meeting any of the benchmarks, in part because the President has refused time and again to tell the Iraqi government that we will not be there forever. The President's escalation of U.S. forces may bring a temporary reduction in the violence in Baghdad, at the price of increased U.S. casualties - though the experience so far is not encouraging. But it cannot change the political dynamic in Iraq. A phased withdrawal can.

by mihan 2007-04-23 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

So we're only going to fight the terrorists if the Iraqi government meets benchmarks? If we're leaving troops to fight al-qaeda, then presumably we aren't doing that for the benefit of the Iraqi government.  This section of the speech reads like a cut and paste job.

by MassEyesandEars 2007-04-23 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

No...

the "plan" refered to in the snippet above is the overall withdrawal timetable Obama has proposed.

Obama conceives the phased withdrawal as the last, best way to force the Iraqis into making a political accomodation.  It's basically the anti-surge, using the idea that the phased withdrawal will show Iraq's leaders that we're serious about leaving...and they need to get their shit together.  If they don't, we leave.  If they are able to create the kind of political consensus that could lead to a stable Iraq soon, then we slow down the withdrawal timetable to provide assistance as needed.

by rashomon 2007-04-23 03:51PM | 0 recs
A gaping hole in the speech

Unless I missed something, it lacked  what I want to hear from all the candidates: some principles or guidelines dictating when the U.S. should military force--that is, an alternative to Bush's doctrine of premeptive war and American exceptionalism. To be more specific, I expected a much stronger condemnation of preemptive war. Here's what he said:

"No President should ever hesitate to use force -
unilaterally if necessary - to protect ourselves and
our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently
threatened. But when we use force in situations other
than self-defense, we should make every effort to
garner the clear support and participation of others -
the kind of burden-sharing and support President
George H.W. Bush mustered before he launched Operation
Desert Storm."

"When we use force in situations other than self-defense"...Hmm, okay, when, I want to know, should we use force when it's not in our self-defense. Is he talking about, what, intervention in humanitarian crises or is he talking about wars like the war in Iraq?

From this speech, we have no way of knowing if he thinks the war would have been wrong even if Iraq had had WMD. What lessons does he draw from Iraq? That we should build a coalition before we go to war. That diplomacy is preferable? No shit.

To be fair, I've heard none of the other candidates offer a compelling philosophical framework for the use of military force.
I hope Edwards is more skeptical of the benefits of military force--more liberal as opposed to neoliberal--but I expect that when all is said and done, all of the leading candidates will offer a similar moderately liberal foreign policy.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 02:11PM | 0 recs
Re: A gaping hole in the speech

I think you are asking for too much. You are asking a candidate to leave themselves wide open for nonstop, brutal attacks from the center and right (and parts of the left) that they are weak on defense. Attacks they cannot repel if they stick to their laurels. Attacks that could sink them. I don't expect any candidate to take a truly dovish stance at this epoch of American history. And I don't want them to - because they would lose.

by LandStander 2007-04-23 02:22PM | 0 recs
I don't want truly dovish

I want an alternative vision, not only for security but for human rights. Something like:

"After Iraq, we have no choice but to be very skeptical about the capacity of military force to transform societies and to keep us safe. Democratic change must come from within, and sometimes the best thing the United States military can do to promote human rights within a country is to stay far away. Let me state it frankly: if I am president, this country will not to go to war against a country unless that country poses a clear, unmistakable, and eminent danger to our country, and even then, I will use every means at my disposal before committing this nation to war."

Off the top of my head, but you get the idea. The fact is, the failure of Iraq validated the left's thinking--any speech needs to show that,.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't want truly dovish

You are right - not to do so would be an opportunity wasted. But I can stomach having my pro-diplomacy foreign policy coupled with some hawkish rhetoric. Not that I want this, of course, but I can't help but be concerned with <gulp> electability (at least when it comes to Democrats and defense).

by LandStander 2007-04-23 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't want truly dovish

Right on. Now where's my Mizner for President bumper stcker?

by MassEyesandEars 2007-04-23 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't want truly dovish

I'm somewhat surprised Obama declined to draw more extensive lessons from the War in Iraq, actually. Hopefully he does so in the future.

by Korha 2007-04-23 04:32PM | 0 recs
It's amazing how

little the foreign policy debate has changed, considering. It's as if Iraq never happened.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't want truly dovish

I realise that suggestion's the work of a moment, but there's one thing missing: a commitment to help intervene to stop genocides and the like.

by Englishlefty 2007-04-24 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: A gaping hole in the speech

The problem with the 'Bush Doctrine' isn't that it's for pre-emption, which ALL nations have always been for (if something or someone presents an immenent threat to you, you have to stike at it first or risk death), but rather that he saw fit to define any war he wanted to start as a necessary act of pre-emption, even when no real threat existed.

That's the dramatic change we need, and I think Obama presents: we need to use better judgement in deciding which threats to challenge militarily, and which threats to challenge in other ways.

by James Gatz 2007-04-23 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: A gaping hole in the speech

I totally disagree with this sentiment.  ALL nations are not for pre-emption -- only powerful nations. Small nations can not go and attack another simply because they feel threatened: how would you explain the fact that Poland or Czechoslavkia never invaded the Soviet Union?

So, it is only powerful nations -- bullies, to put a name on it -- that are for pre-emption.  To say there there is good pre-emption or bad pre=emption is to justify aggressive war.  

If there is one terrible thing to have come out of this current "war" it is that Americans have not rejected pre-emption.  As a result, I see many more such disasters in our future.

by PageUp 2007-04-24 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: A gaping hole in the speech

I fear you are right that all the top-tier candidates will endorse a similar foreign policy. But I can't agree that this is a "moderately liberal" foreign policy -- it is an extremely conservative position. It assumes that the US can and should use force whenever we want to protect "our interests" around the world. Since "our interests" are frequently defined to be cheap oil, cheap minerals, and cheap labor for US corporations, this stance essentially endorses the notion that the US should use military force to exploit other countries and crush any opposition.

Moreover, invading another country -- unless there is an imminent threat of actual attack -- is illegal under international law (United Nations Charter). The UN Charter was created largely at the behest of the United States (Eleanor Roosevelt). The Charter does not allow pre-emptive invasions because a country feels there might be a threat against it sometime in the future or because another country is led by a dictator.

A progressive foreign policy would explicitly define US interests as ending exploitation and oppression of all people around the world. A progressive foreign policy would state that the US will work diplomatically through the United Nations and other international bodies to make this possible.

Also, a progressive candidate should be calling for reducing the size of the US military, closing foreign military bases, and cutting the the international arms trade. The United States currently has the largest military force that has ever existed in the world. US military force is more than 10 times larger than any possible opponents (or even allies). This is unprecendented in modern history.

A progressive foreign policy should be based on the simple idea "military force" is not a good way to solve problems, or "war is not the answer" --  to quote Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). The United States should be trying to get along with the rest of the world community, not bullying everyone.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-23 03:01PM | 0 recs
fair enough

well put. I would call it probably center-left, based on the spectrum of "acceptable" views, but anything you call it, it's more conservative than I'd like. But as I said, I'm not sure any of the other candidates--including the one I support--will offer anything substantially better.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: A gaping hole in the speech

So sad that saying we shouldn't attack countries before they attack us is considered a radical leftist position.

by LnGrrrR 2007-04-23 07:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Mixed feelings:

I like that Obama is actually producing substance for a change. It makes him seem more Presidential.

I like the general tone and  scope of his speech. He's pragmatic, and stuff like this convinces me that he's the most "electable" Democrat, if "electability" even exists. I don't mean pragmatic as in triangulation, I mean pragmatic as in politically grounded.

I'm not sure about his plan to expand the military. If it is meant as a plan to restore it to its pre-Iraq strength, then I'm all for it. If it's a huge ramping up of the defense budget a la Reagan, then absolutely not.

I dig his general theme of diplomacy, and I love his claim that he would slow down OUR production of nuclear warheads and serve as an example for the world to wind down nuclear proliferation. I also liked that he would rely on the UN and NATO, instead of only ourselves, to conduct diplomacy. There's safety in numbers.

I HATE "weapons of mass annihilation." Way to rhetorically one-up George WMD Bush.

And finally, the general mundane-ness of his ideas left a yucky taste in my mouth. I felt like Obama flipped through some center-left think-tank's pamphlet or something and picked the prettiest sounding ideas and sprinkled them with a pinch of his own special charm. For a campaign that claims to be about big ideas, this speech was surprisingly (or not) lacking.

One point of contention: my understanding is that he wouldn't make a trade agreement that displaced workers, not that more trade agreements are the right strategy. Also, I am not familiar with "cap and trade," so I have no opinion on his global warming policy.

by b1oody8romance7 2007-04-23 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

In 2004 the only two candidates who proposed cutting the defense budget were Dennis Kucinich and Wesley Clark. I think in 2008 the only two who will likely propose cuts will be Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. Clinton, Obama, etc. will have very, very similar positions on this.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

More free trade...that's really great politics and policy.

Didn't Mark Schmitt write an article in the Nation last week that said Obama was thoroughly not of the 1990s?  What a crock.

by Peter from WI 2007-04-23 02:18PM | 0 recs
Yeah, it is just me

or in the last week or so, has Trade emerged as huge issue? There were like five diaries on Kos today about trade, and of course Edwards came out against the Korean trade deal. I hope that in the debate on Thursday, Edwards challenges Clinton and Obama on trade.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah, it is just me

Does "the dailykos-aligned blogs have been talking about it this week" necessarily equate to it "emerg[ing] as a huge issue"?

by Silent sound 2007-04-23 03:23PM | 0 recs
Ouch

Yeah, okay, so I'm living in an insular little world. Still, I remain convinced that before long it''ll be a big issue in the presidential election.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 06:18PM | 0 recs
I kinda wish...

We could have a debate with Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Richardson...and maybe Biden or Dodd (coin flip decides!).  These early debates end up with too few opportunities for exchanges like the one you describe...which would tell us a lot about the candidates.  We end up with 16 minutes of Kucinich and Gravel instead...

by rashomon 2007-04-23 03:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Trade Agreements DO NOT EQUAL Americans Lose More Jobs. That is a fallacy of the left. Yes, it is based on the reality of multinational trade agreements thus far, but it is not an inevitable outcome of increased trade.

Not that I have full faith in Obama (or any candidate) to work towards equitable international trade that seeks to secure American jobs, expand labor rights and safeguard the environment - but I will not write someone off simply because they are a proponent of trade. And I urge you not to do so as well.

by LandStander 2007-04-23 02:20PM | 0 recs
Strawman Eats Red Herring For Lunch

Trade Agreements DO NOT EQUAL Americans Lose More Jobs. That is a fallacy of the left. Yes, it is based on the reality of multinational trade agreements thus far, but it is not an inevitable outcome of increased trade.
(1) You go to war with the trade agreements you've got.

(2) It's a fallacy of the anti-left that the left is opposed to trade agreements per se.  The left is opposed to neo-liberal trade agreements.  And those are the only ones on the table.

(3) These agreements are about much more than trade, and anyone who fails to discuss that is constitutionally incapable of dealing with the problems they generate.

They are about protecting investors, at the expense of everyone else.  They are about shifting risk onto those least prepared to handle it (such as bottom-rung Third World farmers, and the first-world poor who end up competing with them for jobs when the Third World farmers go belly-up and move north looking for work).  They are about securing international property rights. They are about limiting the rights of people to protect labor, the environment, and consumers.

Above all, they are about shifting the locus of government over economic issues from the democratic realm of state, local and national politics to the private realm of closed door trade negotiations, and similar structures that are set up to adjudicate disputes after the agreements are in place.  

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Strawman Eats Red Herring For Lunch

i don't completely agree with #2, there is a substantial chunk of the ideological and what you might call the "low-information" left (as well as the americanist left and right) that is, in fact, against trade agreements. neoliberal or otherwise.

your critique is spot on, though.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Strawman Eats Red Herring For Lunch

I agree with a lot of what you say Paul but there is some completely anti-trade sentiment out there.  Yesterday, someone was complaining about the Korean made Chevy Aveo while ignoring the fact that American car companies make very few fuel efficient or hybrid cars.  I have bought cars 3 times in my life, the first in 1991 and the last 2 years ago.  The choice of fuel efficient non-SUV US cars has shrunk so much compared with the early 1990s.

by John Mills 2007-04-23 04:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Strawman Eats Red Herring For Lunch

Your comment simply offers a description of the dominant trends in trade relations in recent history. And it is an accurate description. Congratulations, you know stuff.

but my point is about the possibilities, and is directed against what you are describing -  Trade does not have to be like this, and if approached in a dramatically different way it will have a dramatically different impact on our economy and the economies of the developing world.

And I clearly qualified my earlier comment by stating that I do not have full faith in Obama to steer us in a radically different course (though I hold out hope) - but you seem to have full faith that he can and will only offer more of the same.

I just hope you're wrong.

by LandStander 2007-04-24 10:45AM | 0 recs
NOT Hart-Mondale

More like Clinton-Tsongas.

Two Rockefeller Republicans.

Big whup.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

i never realized there was a difference between being a progressive and a neoliberal.. i've learned that on this site..

i always thought they were the same... i loved howard dean and consider myself pretty leftwing but i believe in free trade and globalization.... i don't believe in protectionism , isolationism etc

i'm not sure what i am anymore i guess... i know i'm also a libertarian when it comes to personal morality... and i also believe govt should help people..

but on this site- particularly on the thread about france where i wrote about how impressed i was with sarkozy and was practically told to get out of here- i have realized i may not be welcome here  because i don't fit people's definition of what a progressive is..

i always assumed everyone in the US was a neoliberal... its only in countries like argentina  etc where i thought neoliberal was a dirty word..those countries have omnipotent and useless govts, a lack of respect for the law, excessive regulations that stifle people and force them to leave, excessive trade barriers which lead to shoddy local industries where cars cost much more than in places that can freely import..and they made the ford falcon until the late 1990s! a car that in the US had a heyday in the 50s! thats protectionism for you!..

of course argentina's brief stab at greatness was due to 30 years of neoliberal rule.. the alternative of populism and demogoguery is chavez...  is that what progressivism is?

i've become confused and will look to take a sabbathical from this website.

by serge in dc 2007-04-23 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I assumed that most participants on this site were "Fair Trade not Free Trade" types. But I am starting to get a very strong "No Trade is Good Trade" vibe. I think this is akin to isolationism, ignores the reality of the global economy, and takes us out of an argument that we desperately need to be a part of. Trade will continue to expand, and we need to use our power to shape the ways in which it does.

But I do think that it is nearly unanimous among MyDD participants that the path of international trade so far has been unsatisfactory (to put it very mildly).

by LandStander 2007-04-23 02:33PM | 0 recs
Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Lots of people who are for "fair trade not free trade" also recognize that we're a million miles away from anything close to fair trade.  Which is why they're sharply critical of existing trade dogma.

In my case, the first time I took action writing to Congress about trade issues was circa 1990--and I was drafting information adivsories to inform other citizens as well.  So I am no johnny-come-lately to the subject.

It's not protectionism I want--but it is protection.  If trade means destoying the environment, undermining labor, and ceding self-government, then that is far too high a price.  And if we simply refuse to pay it, then trade will not stop--but the conditions on which it continues will have to change substantially.

And that is what I'm in favor of.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Richard Gephardt would have been your candidate.

Unfortunately we appear to be long past the point where there are many viable options on trade. We are making the transistion to a global economy like it or not. Clinton and Obama are getting the biggest share of corporate backers with Dodd, Biden and  Richardson getting some as well. On the GOP there will be no doubt a nominee who represents corporate interests as well.  

by robliberal 2007-04-23 02:55PM | 0 recs
No, Gephardt Was NOT My Candidate

Gephardt was too backward-looking.

There are plenty of viable options on trade.  But not as long as you worship in the House of Rubin.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: No, Gephardt Was NOT My Candidate

But not as long as you worship in the House of Rubin.

aka House of the Setting Sun

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-23 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

We have sizeable exports over a $1 trillion/ year.  My wife recently left a job at a company that was a huge exporter.  They had manufacturing plants in NY and England (not low cost, low wage places) and derived 40% of the business from goods sold all over the world.

I am not a big fan of NAFTA or CAFTA that clearly lead to a race to the bottom but if we can't compete with Western Europe, Japan, Canada (our #1 trading partner by a large margin), etc.  we have a big problem.

by John Mills 2007-04-23 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

I am not a big fan of NAFTA or CAFTA that clearly lead to a race to the bottom but if we can't compete with Western Europe, Japan, Canada (our #1 trading partner by a large margin), etc.  we have a big problem.

When we import goods, we import the social conditions under which they were produced.  Surely you understand that there's a huge difference between the legal situation in EU countries that have integreated EU common law into their national legal code, and China or Vietnam where independent, democratic trade unions are not allowed?

That's the difference European integration is based upon convergence to the Europan Social model.  NAFTA is all about creating a neoliberal wetdream where workers have no rights, and you can dump what you want where you want.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-23 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Yes I do and for years I did my best to avoid buying these made in China b/c of Tianeman Square.  

However, if my memory is correct, yesterday you were railing about importing Chevy Aveo's from South Korea and 3,000 cc and smaller engines which American car makers make in very small numbers.  I have issues with that trade agreement now that I have learned about Kaesong piece of it.  However, if it weren't for that piece I'd see no problem with having a trade pact with a wealthy democracy that has labor union participation at similar rates to the US and has environmental protection laws.  

We can't compete with one hand tied behind our back such as against countries which pay their workers $20 a day rather $20 an hour.  However, it's an interconnected world and we better be able to compete with countries who have similar pay scales and standards of living with us or else we are screwed.

by John Mills 2007-04-23 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Yes I do and for years I did my best to avoid buying these made in China b/c of Tianeman Square.  

However, if my memory is correct, yesterday you were railing about importing Chevy Aveo's from South Korea and 3,000 cc and smaller engines which American car makers make in very small numbers.  I have issues with that trade agreement now that I have learned about Kaesong piece of it.  However, if it weren't for that piece I'd see no problem with having a trade pact with a wealthy democracy that has labor union participation at similar rates to the US and has environmental protection laws.  

We can't compete with one hand tied behind our back such as against countries which pay their workers $20 a day rather $20 an hour.  However, it's an interconnected world and we better be able to compete with countries who have similar pay scales and standards of living with us or else we are screwed.

by John Mills 2007-04-23 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

i really think free trade can be fair...

you can have free trade and still have standards...

people around here seem to think that free trade means destroying the environment and slave labor.. thats not usually true but there are cases where there are abuses..however, getting rid of free trade would be a terrible mistake for the US..its like throwing the baby out with the bathwater...

anyways i never thought i'd have to argue the advantages of free trade with people who live in the country that has benefited the most from it.. i can see arguing against it in the case of argentina which does not benefit from free trade because the US and Europe continues to unfairly subsidize agriculture wihch are argentina's main exports but argue against it here??? are we turning into pat buchanan supporters here? in order to save some jobs in textile mills we want to pay double for our japanese cars?  because if we start erecting tariffs and quotas against imports then others are going to do the same... and next thing you know you are going to be paying far more for the stuff you need... i guess you can produce it in the US and have more jobs? but at what cost

and what about the fact that it is our trade that i think traditionaly has been the fastest growing in creating jobs?

i read here about how terrible NAFTA is and i can't believe it! Mexico has developed greatly since NAFTA went into effect and we have benefited too..but there is a long way to go..what should we do?abolish NAFTA and build a wall and keep mexican products out? does anyone know how many MORE illegal immigrants will come in to our country due to the economic hit they would take..their so called maquiladora jobs are generally their best jobs! when those people do't have those jobs what are they going to do?

by serge in dc 2007-04-23 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

I believe what you're coming up against is this: people who think in terms of actually-existing systems, and not particular agreements or theoretical results.

These are the same people who were strongly against the invasion of Iraq not based on a principle of pacifism in all cases, but because they imagined that this particular administration couldn't handle an invasion, and that the theoretical results were bunk. They cared more about the actual results, as they saw them.

With trade it's kinda the same. I think everyone agrees that fair and free trade, in principle, is wonderful. But you'll find some folks here who doubt that this administration, or any 'neo-liberal' administration, will actually impliment anything like 'fairness'. And you'll often find that they're focused on either the actual results of not-quite-fair-but-entirely-extant trade, or on the little niggling details in trade agreements that they think can cause tremendous harm.

Because they focus on those things, however, doens't mean they're against free and fair trade, any more than opposition to the invasion of Iraq means someone's against military action.

My two cents, as someone who watches these debates without much of a stake in them.

by BingoL 2007-04-23 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

How can you expect people who don't believe in rules to make and enforce good rules?

by jallen 2007-04-23 03:14PM | 0 recs
drive by troll?

very nice.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 03:34PM | 0 recs
Really.

For asking a rhetorical question backing up the comment I'm responding to, I get labelled a troll?  thanks.

by jallen 2007-04-23 03:40PM | 0 recs
no, you troll rated my comment

drive by style.

you are weak.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: no, you troll rated my comment

That's because it was elitist bullshit.  The are plenty of low-info free traders.  There are just fewer, because there are fewer free traders in existence.

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: no, you troll rated my comment

oh, there are totally low info free-traders, actually there may be more off them, they dominate our corporate media.

if you notice, i never said there weren't, i was responding to a claim by paul rosenburg that the left was not opposed to trade, just neolib trade, which is totally untrue--there are big chunks of the left, whatever one calls them, that are actually opposed to trade.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-23 05:26PM | 0 recs
Re: no, you troll rated my comment

Sorry that I misunderstood you, but I disagree with you.

by jallen 2007-04-23 05:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

On an overall level free trade is beneficial, but that doesn't mean that too many people in the manufacturing sector will like it.

Thats what I suspect it amounts to.  To me the whole slave labor and enviromental complaints are disengenious because the slave labor and environment destroying stuff is happening right now and free trade tends to improve working conditions overseas.

My problem with arguing for trade restrictions that I've seen done on this site is that it I don't think that it is a progressive opinion.  I view it more as a paleo conservative position.  

by sterra 2007-04-23 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

It's not disingenuous.  From my perspective, the market doesn't react quickly enough.  And in the long run, we're all dead.

by jallen 2007-04-23 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

"free trade tends to improve working conditions overseas."

No. Trade unionism improves working condidtions. Free trade does not care whether the product is produced by a workers soviet or a slave labor camp as long as one of the two has a comparative  advantage.

That is why workers conditions have not improved in China. It's an authoritarian government that bans unions (except the one officially sanctioned union which is effectively neutered) and keeps workers in shit conditions with wages that are stagnant and non-existent benefits.

by adamterando 2007-04-23 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

There's a significant body of literaure in political economy that associates labor repression with economic development.  Atul Kohli comes to mind as the most explicit writing on South Korea, where the goverment was for many years highly hostile to labor unions.  It was only union militancy in 1988 that finally led to democratic transition.  On the more general literature on the relationship between economic development there are basically two views.

One put forward by Carles Boix and Susan Stokes basically restates the modernization argument: As nations develop economically they become democratic.   i.e. development causes democracy.

Another view suggest that the reason most dictatorships are poor, and democracies wealthy is because development increases the costs of conflict put forward by Adam Przeworski.  In the Congo for example the wealth of the nation is unlikely to be destroyed in a war, because there are few factories or other capital goods to be destroyed.  So in fighting to control all the countries wealth, the gain made is unlikely to exceed the cost in terms of destroyed factories, etc.  On the other hand, in nations where most income comes from factories and or human capital, each time a group bombs a factory or kills a worker, they subtract from the gain they make in controlling the nations entire wealth.  So development sustains democracy, but doesn't cause it.  

Now think about those arguments in terms of trade.  If development doesn't cause democracy, then free trade with non-democractic states makes little sense.  No amount of economic development in China is going to make the country democratic.  That will only come when there's internal political strife.  Which appears to be on the horizon given the large number of strikes and demonstrations in the country, which increasingly are beyond the ability of the police to control.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-23 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Have you ever read any of David Harvey's work?

by adamterando 2007-04-23 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

No, what's it about?

Soon I will actually have time to read non-school things again.  I like most of what I have to read for school though. It's nice that there's a lot of self direction as a graduate student.  I'm all on political economy and unions right now.  

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-23 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

It's more school things. He's a famous geographer who is the go-to guy on structuralist and probably post-structuralist theory. He's at CUNY and has been around for about 30 years. He's very much a political economist and critques neoliberal thought. I think you'd like him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Harve y_(geographer)

by adamterando 2007-04-24 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Definitely on my must read list now.  May 5. May 5, I will be free.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-24 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Amen, thank you.  Why we should use any trade agreements we enter into as an opportunity to seed and spread more unionization across the world...and here at home.

by California Nurses Shum 2007-04-23 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

I'll second that. Now if I can just get you on board with John Edwards's health care plan :)

by adamterando 2007-04-23 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Trade lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens out of poverty. Free trade does improve working conditions - when the prior condition was destitution.

by LandStander 2007-04-23 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

That's hardly free trade.

by jallen 2007-04-23 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Well, what is free trade then? Care to expand? Certainly no arrangement in the modern world could be considered completely free trade.

It was freer than it had been previously - China was willing to open its economy to outside investment and it reaped (and is reaping) tremendous rewards for doing so. Among those rewards has been a dramatic improvement in the standard of living for the majority of people in China.

And do you know any free traders who actually support scraping agricultural subsidies, opening our borders to unfettered Mexican trucking, allowing unhindered drug trafficking, abolishing the FDA and dismantling the federal reserve system?

No one is really a Free Trader.

by LandStander 2007-04-23 08:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

There are about a billion more still living in poverty, however.

Free trade produces winners and losers and can't be simplified down to 'people lose, corporations win' or similar. Obviously some Chinese citizens benefitted. But from my point of view, ameliorating poverty at large is more important than creating the odd millionaire in a sea of paupers.

by Englishlefty 2007-04-24 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

What I suspect is that you have drank the "free-trade" kool-aid and, like the establishment in Washington, this free-trade orthodoxy is like a religion to you.  

I find those that adhere to the free-trade propaganda as extremists.  There's an almost religious aspect to it.  Kinda scary, really.

by jgarcia 2007-04-23 04:25PM | 0 recs
This Is Just Dogma

The idea that "overall level free trade is beneficial" comes out of an economic theory that is long on logical proofs, and very short on evidence.

Or, to put it in terms of pure snark: It comes from a theory that keeps economists employed, but no one else. (Well, except for CEOs.)

This:

To me the whole slave labor and enviromental complaints are disengenious because the slave labor and environment destroying stuff is happening right now and free trade tends to improve working conditions overseas.
is itself disenenious, for a very obvious reason:  The very problems that you point to now are evidence of what's wrong with free trade.

Free trade isn't something in the future.  It's something that's been with us for quite some time now. Labor rights and environmental protections have been rolled back steadily for the past 25 years or so, as a direct result of free market ideology.  This is what World Bank/IMF Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) have been all about since the time of the second oil shocks of the 1970s.

Furthermore, the claim that free trade improves working conditions overseas is demonstrably false. It's just another axiom of the imaginary economic theories that has no support in the real world.  In the real world, production just keeps moving to the newest super-low-wage economy. If working conditions ever do start to improve, that's when the factories leave for somewhere else.

My problem with arguing for trade restrictions that I've seen done on this site is that it I don't think that it is a progressive opinion.  I view it more as a paleo conservative position.
This is just attacking something by slapping a negative label on it.  This approach is not just not progressive.  It's not even rational.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

"of course argentina's brief stab at greatness was due to 30 years of neoliberal rule"

Yeah, that good 'ol neoliberal policy of tying the peso to the dollar sure worked out well for Argentina didn't it!

I guess it worked out for Kirchner since 35-40% unemployment tends to discredit those kinds of policies.

by adamterando 2007-04-23 03:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech
there is nothing neoliberal about pegging your currency! neoliberal is about freefloating your currency..
there is also nothing neoliberal about widespread govt corruption..there is nothing neoliberal about borrowing tens of billions of dollars to finance capital flight...
by serge in dc 2007-04-23 05:15PM | 0 recs
Argentina's brief stab

"of course argentina's brief stab at greatness was due to 30 years of neoliberal rule"

Interesting that you give (partial) credit to a fascist regime for its flirtation with greatness. Now explain to me.... neoliberal policies are progressive because why?

by adamterando 2007-04-23 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Argentina's brief stab

i'm afraid you are out of your element here..you don't know enough about argentina apparently to know  what you are talking about.

i am speaking of the argentine neoliberal governments between 1865/1870-1900.. governments like avellaneda , sarmiento (even well known in the US as a great educator and if there is anyone more progressive than domingo faustino sarmiento i don't know them), mitre..

not sure what you are speaking about fascism..this was the age when argentina adopted a consitution based on the US..

this resulted by 1910 in argentina being a top 10 economy and people like my grandparents electing to go there instead the US as it was a land of opportunity like the US...

the fascism you may be speaking about began around the US great depression and continued with peron..it resulted in protectionism and otherwise backward policies.. these were generally dictatorial and repressive governments..hardly progressive

the results are apparent today.. a wreck of a country no one remembers for what it was and could have been.. a shambles.. strong unions too by the way! guess it doesn't necessarily help the workers who earn a pittance

by serge in dc 2007-04-23 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Argentina's brief stab

Did neoliberalism even exist in that period?

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Argentina's brief stab

it depends on what you think neoliberalism is..

i get the sense from this thread no one has a clue what it means..

by serge in dc 2007-04-23 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Argentina's brief stab

Neoliberalism didn't exist in that period.  Neoliberalism means embracing markets, and using markets to solve our problems, rather than more direct coercion.  A neoliberal foreign policy involves "spreading freedom and democracy" and neoliberal economics.

by jallen 2007-04-23 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Argentina's brief stab

i think we may use the word differently in latin america.

its liberalism really.. not being american liberal (not lefty) but being liberal being free believing in markets ...

by serge in dc 2007-04-23 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Argentina's brief stab

No. That was classical liberalism - free trade hasn't really existed since 1914, as restrictions on the flow of capital have developed. Indeed, I don't think it can be reborn, as free trade doesn't just mean no tariffs, it means no handouts, and big corporations only object to welfare when it goes to the poor rather than into their coffers.

Liberalism of that kind was almost omnipresent at that time, incidentally (the exceptions being Germany, the US and Japan, which both practiced limited protectionism to allow them to develop their industries, and with great success). Argentina's growth was arguably as much due to its large land area and the immigration that promoted as to economic policy.

by Englishlefty 2007-04-24 09:03AM | 0 recs
Actually, Argentina Is Recovering Rather Well

Getting out from uder the IMF--with help from Venezuela (oooh! scary!)--has done Argentina a world of good since 2003, as you can see here.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 04:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually, Argentina Is Recovering Rather Well

i agree with getting out of the IMF..
look i'm not going to write a book on this web site

there are always complexities..nothing is simple black and white...

but i will say this: despite improvements under kirchner argentina is a developing country with huge poverty.. this is not comparable to the situation in 1910.. where after 30 years of neoliberal policies- which is what we were discussing or i was referring to- argentina was a top 10 economy

after the argnetine economy collapsed in 2001 the country lost 2/3 its gdp in dollars overnight.. its unemployment hit levels only seen in the US during the great depression...(it had been approximating these levels for years but things got worse after the crash- I WAS THERE)...

things have improved..but long term kirchner is not a serious proposition although he's done some things correctly.. and thats all i can say .. my mom is visiting from argentina and i gotta run...

by serge in dc 2007-04-23 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually, Argentina Is Recovering Rather Well

That was the point of my original comment. The IMF is the epitome of neo-liberal policies. And Argentina followed them to a T and its economy collapsed as a result. It wasn't until they abandoned those policies that things have picked up again.

by adamterando 2007-04-24 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

It's the difference between liberals who think there is no difference between being a progressive and a liberal, and those among us who believe that libertarian values and economic freedom are the pragmatic basis of being progressive.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-04-23 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

That's fairly redundant, and doesn't cover those of us who are not very liberal at all.

by jallen 2007-04-23 05:03PM | 0 recs
Hehe, join the club

I mean, I'm libertarian when it comes to government, but a bit isolationist when it comes to foreign policy and trade. I also support a few 'social net' policies, but not a whole lot of them.

by LnGrrrR 2007-04-23 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I'm not sure if I'm being supportive or critical of Obama when I say this, but I don't think his candidacy is predicated on the notion that he has the best policy positions and proposals.

So wonks aren't gonna much like him. (For the record, I'm a strong Edwards-leaner at the moment.) And perhaps wonks can't even really understand his allure (or at least his allure as I explain it).

As I understand, it doesn't  make much sense to complain about growing the military (which is fine with me, btw, depending) or keeping troops in Iraq or not supporting a carbon tax. I mean, we can criticise those things, but they're not central to his appeal or his candidacy or even, perhaps, his potential.

Because this is the Obama Plan:

1) Win the D nomination with a risk-adverse centrist-sounding platform and campaign.

  1. Win the general so resoundingly, so completely overwhelmingly, that he transforms the country from a 50/50 nation into a 60/40 nation ... thus changing everything. (And don't forget coattails!)
  2. Govern as a centrist--maybe, we'll see, plenty of time to simply govern as an intelligent president, dealing with issues as they arise--in an environment in which the political reality is deeply transformed.

I certainly don't  think Obama's lying about holding centrist positions, I just think that the whole basis of his candidacy is disengaged from policy.

by BingoL 2007-04-23 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I think you're right. And I think Obama is already running his general campaign, planting seeds in (R) voters' minds. Premature, maybe, audacious, yes.

by kvenlander 2007-04-23 04:07PM | 0 recs
What's Audacious

is running on an Eisenhower platform, as the reincarnation of JFK and James Dean.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-23 05:04PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Audacious

This is funny. Not that I agree, but funny. Thanks!

by kvenlander 2007-04-25 04:04PM | 0 recs
A Very Promising Start

As a Democratic primary speech, about an 8 on a scale of 10. For the general election, probably closer to a 9. Either way, current polling -- Obama's comfortable margins over Edwards among likely primary / caucus voters, coupled with Edwards' occasionally stronger polling performance in the general v. Giuliani -- suggests that Obama could get a little less cautious and a little more progressive. There is time for him to do that -- and he should. Still, given where we are in the campaign, this was a very good -- perhaps even great -- speech.

Three rhetorical misses from the prepared text, which I hope were corrected in the live performance:

1) "...while there will always be those who succumb to hate and strap bombs to their bodies, there are millions more who want to take another path...." (emphasis mine)

At the very least, should have said "may always be."

2) "...until we change our approach in Iraq, it will be increasingly difficult to refocus our efforts on the challenges in the wider region -- on the conflict in the Middle East, where Hamas and Hezbollah feel emboldened and Israel's prospects for a secure peace seem uncertain...." (emphasis mine)

Should have avoided the politically obvious and cynical mischaracterization that "Israel is the good guy, Palestine is the bad guy" and found a way to say that Palestinian enfranchisement is a necessary part of the equation.

3) In recapping, at the end of the speech, his five foreign policy priorities, Obama failed to mention the first one: Ending the war in Iraq.

As far as it goes -- and that is an important caveat -- Obama gets a B+/A- on this one. But it does reinforce the emerging wisdom that Obama needs Richardson as VP. That would be a devastating ticket.

by horizonr 2007-04-23 02:35PM | 0 recs
Ugh.

Aaannnddd, my suspicions are confirmed.  No thanks, Barry.

by jallen 2007-04-23 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.

I don't get it? What's wrong here?

This was a profoundly progressive foreign policy statement, talking about fighting terrorism with foreign aid and international institutions, making ending the war in Iraq his #1 priority, talking about climate change as part of a foreign policy.

I know you like Edwards more, and that's fine, but what's so bad about this? That he's for a 5% increase in the size of the military? That he says he's for keeping a small force of (presumably special forces) troops in Iraq strictly to fight Al-Qaeda?

Honestly, what's your problem?

by James Gatz 2007-04-23 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.

Just my 2 cents but it sounded like he was reading a Hillary Clinton speech. I think he was trying to signal to the business and military that he will not rock the boat.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.
  1.  I'd be okay with increasing the number of soldiers in the Army, if it meant the USMC, USN, and USAF were shrunk into defense-oriented forces.
  2.  I'm fine with keeping some forces in the region around Iraq, and potentially small forces in-country.
  3.  It's the ideology, stupid.  I'm perhaps 10% conservative, 45% liberal, and 100% socialist.  Social democrat, or democratic socialist to be more specific, depending on how I'm feeling at the moment.  So... I don't like neoliberalism, and I don't like a lot of aspects of any form of liberalism.
by jallen 2007-04-23 03:04PM | 0 recs
Question...

if Edwards was giving a similar type of speech (i.e. outlining foreign policy "vision") where would he differ from Obama in your view?

by rashomon 2007-04-23 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Question...

I'm not sure, but I began thinking about what I would want from a "vision" a few days ago while reading FDR's convention speech from 1936.  Specifically this:

We do not see faith, hope and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a Nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.
Faith- in the soundness of democracy in the midst of dictatorships.
Hope-renewed because we know so well the progress we have made.
Charity- in the true spirit of that grand old word. For charity literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves.
We seek not merely to make Government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity.
We are poor indeed if this Nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude.
In the place of the palace of privilege we seek to build a temple out of faith and hope and charity.

Now, that is hardly detailed, but it is a good start.

by jallen 2007-04-23 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Matt Thanks for steering the debate on the speech.

by pmb 2007-04-23 02:57PM | 0 recs
Not a perfect speech, but pretty decent.

Things I liked:a lot
-Doubling foreign aid
-Global Education Fund
-International fuel bank
-Nuclear disarmament
-Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy
-Rhetorical flourishes (choked up a bit when he was talking about torture)

I'm a little wary about increasing the military, but it doesn't seem like that bad an idea when you consider how broken it'll be in a couple years.  Also, while a carbon tax would be great, it may not be politically viable, nor does it easily integrate with the rest of the world in combatting CO2 emissions (relative to a cap and trade system).  

And I don't think there's anything wrong with leaving a small contingent of troops in Iraq, with the consent of the Iraqis.

by Ramo 2007-04-23 03:01PM | 0 recs
Military Budget Needs to be Cut

The current US military budget is larger in real terms (adjusted for inflation) than it has been anytime (including during the Cold War) since WWII. Check out this chart and this one focusing on the last decade. And look at this article. (And I can't find the really good chart I hoped to link to.)

Even in its "broken" state, the US military is larger than any other military force in the world by at least 10 times and larger than any military force ever to exist in the world. Only if we intend to keep invading countries all around the world do we need such a large military.

The military budget needs to be cut, not increased.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-23 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Military Budget Needs to be Cut

The interesting thing to me is that he talks a great deal about expanding and upgrading the size of the armed forces, national guard etc and their equipment, but says not one word about expanding the military budget. He talks about foreign aid in explicit terms of expanding the foreign aid budget; not so the military.

What to make of this? Does he refrain from talking about how much this is all going to cost because he knows he's going to have to raise military spending to get what he wants, but is trying to sweep that part under the carpet? Is he just assuming that the money not spent in Iraq after the pullout will just be spent on the military in other ways? Or do we assume that anything that isn't part of the new "21st century military" he alludes to (but doesn't define) gets cut? I.E. do we assume the armed forces increases will all get paid for by cutting the budget for Rumsfeldian technology and gadgets?

Hopefully he can start to be a bit more specific by the next time he talks about this subject.

by Silent sound 2007-04-23 03:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Military Budget Needs to be Cut

Of course the military budget needs to be cut.  But there's a reason why a military the same size as the one Clinton presided over, is costing twice the money.

And we still have major responsibilities around the world even after we withdraw from Iraq.  See Afghanistan.  We could also have the flexibility to stop the genocide in Darfur, for example.  This sort of thing is difficult with the military in its current state.

Like I was saying, I'm wary, but unconvinced it's such a bad idea.

by Ramo 2007-04-23 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Military Budget Needs to be Cut

I finally located the chart I was looking for that shows that Bush's request for 2008 mlitary budget is gigantic compared to every US military budget since WWII.

The chart by Winslow Wheeler of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information (CDI) is slide number 2 in this PowerPoint presentation and on page 2 of this pdf newsletter. It uses Pentagon numbers.

If you look at the chart, you see that the proposed FY2008 DoD budget is about $625 billion in 2007 dollars. This exceeds the average during the Cold War (about $380 billion in 2007 dollars), the peak of the Vietnam War ($450 billion), the peak of the Reagan buildup ($500 billion), and even the peak of the Korean War ($550 billion). And this is just the DoD budget -- it doesn't include nuclear weapons under the Department of Energy budget or the cost of the current wars. Adding these: $647 billion.

Given that the Soviet Union no longer exists, it is extremely difficult to argue that there is any reason to spend so much on the military. Terrorists are best fought with police investigation, not the military.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-23 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I thought it was a great speech, nothing spectacular but a very good vanilla foundation. Here are my observations...

1) any increase to our military should come through the Guard and Reserves to make it harder, not easier to activate for wars of choice, it would be more complete to propose where the funding would come from but I'm not sure it would be smart politics, we DO need more troops and we NEED to cut Defense spending. Obama left out the hard choice of what systems to cut.

2) the Nuclear Fuel Bank sounds like a great idea but if it's so important - $50 million dollars is a drop in the bucket. That's 1/2 the cost of a single F-22 fighter plane. It costs $2 billion to build one 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant. Obama should provide a more realistic funding figure.

3) Obama sounds like he means it on fighting corruption in our government and around the world, that's one of the best themes in the speech. He mentioned corruption in several contexts (LatAm, Africa, our own goverment).

4) "Studies show that with each degree of warming, rice yields - the world's most significant crop - fall by 10%. By 2050 famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide." - this kind of big picture strategic thinking is impressive

5) "We cannot negotiate trade agreements to help spur development in poor countries so long as we provide no meaningful help to working Americans burdened by the dislocations of a global economy." - this is the one line in the whole speech I see about trade. Is that one line worth all the criticism he's getting on trade in these comments?

6) Iraq. Iraq is the most tepid part of the speech but I can see why that would be the case. Iraq is the most pressing issue and future decisions will be shaped more by conditions that this speech. Matt and many above are correct to say that stationing troops in Iraq is a kind of imperialism   but ultimately is Obama going to fight the Iraqis for this force? I'm certain that any of the Iraqi groups (Sunni, Shia, Kurd) would be happy to accept any US intelligence and covert support to root out Al-Qaeda on their own. I'm fairly certain this is how things will ultimately play out

7) Obama loves him some Sen. Lugar. Don't be suprised if Sen. Lugar is Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.

8) Obama is running on humility, competence, an mutual respect. It's an awesome contrast to the current administration. It's not going to please policy wonks and political diehards but I think it's a winning theme for Obama and our country.

by joejoejoe 2007-04-23 03:10PM | 0 recs
International Fuel Bank

The bank doesn't need to construct a reactor, just needs to buy a certain quantity of fuel.  I doubt that the start-up costs are all that huge.  But I agree, it should probably be significantly higher...

by Ramo 2007-04-23 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Dick Lugar as SecState? I hope not.

by PsiFighter37 2007-04-23 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Good summary, joejoejoe.  But do you really believe no.7?  They've worked together, but I can't see this happening.  If it were to happen, I'd find a way to withdraw my vote, esp. when he would possibly have Bill Richardson or General Clark to consider for those spots.  

The themes are encouraging, and what resonated with me the most was his intent to recruit foreign language experts for military/foreign affairs purposes.  HUMINT needs better support, and frankly, liberal gov't investment is the way to support it.  

The principles re: trade agreements that he cited are encouraging, not a default neoliberal position.  I hope that he lives up to this observation.

No.2--I'll have to re-read the nuclear fuel-bank portion.  $50 million sounds like a college kid's internship stipend compared to what we'd really need, and I hope he clarifies this.  $50 million would have to go toward establishment of the organization itself, one would think.

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

A good Secretary of State doesn't exceed his/her mandate with the President. Lugar would be very good at securing nukes, he's hard working, and he'd be help get Senate support for controversial programs.

It would also be good to highlight Lugar-style internationalism in the Republican Party. The GOP is in imbalance right now with too many aggressive authoritarians. The old-school moderate Republican foreign policy (Eisenhower) is good for America.

Obama's going to be his own Secretary of State anyway if he gets the job. Good Presidents don't delegate foreign policy like it's the Commerce Department or the EPA. It's also much smarter to have a Republican do the so-called weak diplomacy than reinforce the idea that Republicans are strong on defense, as Clinton did when he made Cohen SecDef.

by joejoejoe 2007-04-23 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I'll admit to my own personal biases, and Lugar is one of the more realistic Republicans, his positions on Iraq not withstanding.  And Eisenhower is one of the few Republican presidents I think highly of--TR and Abe being the other two, although Abe might not count, depending on who you talk to.  

Even then, I'd still contend that Barack wouldn't have to reach across party lines to find a choice just as respectable and effective, if not more so.

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech


5) "We cannot negotiate trade agreements to help spur development in poor countries so long as we provide no meaningful help to working Americans burdened by the dislocations of a global economy." - this is the one line in the whole speech I see about trade. Is that one line worth all the criticism he's getting on trade in these comments?

Yes.

by clarkent 2007-04-23 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Interesting segment from the speech--I read the initial post about Obama's speech and saw the term "neoliberal" being thrown around, when originally Obama voted against CAFTA.  The quote you reference in your comment, clarkent, seems to indicate that Obama wants a healthy balance between free trade and providing for American workers.  

While I would say that the cap & trade system doesn't have the same teeth that a full-blown carbon tax system does, his position on free trade, mentioned more in passing, doesn't seem to be the same neoliberal cop-out.  I'm still skeptical of the path that Sen. Obama would select, but if he voted against CAFTA, and doesn't not work with others in Congress to renew Bush's fast track authority, it'll show he at least has some sense.  

For now, I like the other policies and themes he enumerated more clearly, but I really hope that his words are an indicator that he will pursue fair trade.  Rather than being a Republican-lite "third way" policy, I'm hoping (audaciously, if you'll forgive the lousy joke) that Obama would pick a genuine compromise trade policy that would protect and prepare American workers.  I.e.--protections for the right to unionize, standardization of job training (where appropriate), support for healthcare measures.  

On foreign policy, Wesley Clark is still my top choice because of his familiarity with the workings of departments in DC, international experience, and development of the Powell Doctrine.  However, Barack looks promising.  I guess we'll have to withhold any strong judgment on trade issues, however.

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

One vote on trade doesn't negate ideological preferences, especially when there was so much pressure on Democrats to vote against it, and it was such a high-profile vote.

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Of course.  Some Dems crossed over, so it wasn't a complete slam-dunk, but you're right.  And I'm still cautious about deciding entirely on his candidacy.  As a big union-rights supporter, I like Edwards the best, and Clark would be similarly supportive if he ran.  That said, Obama cited the right principles:  1)staying involved in trade and not removing America from this international system and 2)providing for American workers.

If he supports modified trade agreements, I wonder how he'd observe item 2.  And, for the sake of discussion (not just to encouraging shilling for one candidate over another), how would Edwards compare?  In other words, what has Edwards given on this topic?

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Edwards is a trader, but wants higher, stronger standards.  Ask him how he defines that.

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Again, I guess we'll have to wait and see.  He and Obama don't seem all that far apart in this sense, and I think assessing them is more a matter of doing our homework on the viability of policy specifics.  

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I said yes, because I really don't believe Obama really means much when he says "meaningful help." Meaningful help as in a few hundred million dollars more for job retraining programs? Or meaningful help as in 15% GDP, as they do in Europe? In the past, Obama has nodded in the direction of the former.

He also prefaces that with "we cannot negotiate trade agreements to help spur development in poor countries". Trade agreements may spur development in poor countries, but without labor and environmental protections, they do nothing to lift up the poor in other countries.

by clarkent 2007-04-23 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

When he says meaningful help, in that phrase alone, there is no detailed indicator of whether he will make some well-meaning gesture, or whether he'll actually do something.  After Robert Rubin having his way with Bill Clinton and John Kerry, it's easy to be skeptical; I am.  

That said, interpreting that ONE sentence to mean anything specific about his trade plan can go either  a populist or neoliberal direction.  I'm not sold yet on Obama, but I'm curious--in what specific ways has he nodded in a more neoliberal policy direction, as you argue?  And has he enumerated any free-trader policies for his campaign before now?

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I have a big problem with this statement, and not because Bush has used it in the most patronizing possible way.

Obama: "I believe that the single most important job of any President is to protect the American people."

I don't like it because I don't accept it. The President takes an oath to protect The Constitution, not the people,  and George Bush missed that and tried to fob off this other version of reality on us. Bush so made me cringe. I don't want any president protecting me or mine; I've been pretty good at that and of course our city supports firefighters, police, and so on, and we vote for good government. What I want from the federal government is not a promise of safety but the promise of justice for all citizens.

Obama: "And I am equally convinced that doing that job effectively in the 21st century will require a new vision of American leadership and a new conception of our national security - a vision that draws from the lessons of the past, but is not bound by outdated thinking."

I don't care for platitudes. My politics comes with a different stlye, more rough hewn.

I'm sorry and surprised at Obama speaking so like President Clinton. My voting kids adore him and want me to love him too.  I'm a populist progressive - yes I know what that is - so my politics are just different from Obama's and the Clintons. Of course I'll work for the Clintons or Obama or Richardson like I did for Kerry if it comes to that - hundreds of calls and doorbells.

But just once before I die I'd like to have a champion of the ordinary people, someone with my populist politics, in the WH.

by mrobinsong 2007-04-23 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I can't believe that you disagree that the most important job of the President is to keep America safe from foreign threats, which is very clearly what Obama's statement refers to.

The responsibilities of the President as head of the state, chief negotiator and commander-in-chief of the armed forces are by far the important functions of that office, as it was originally conceieved, and certainly today.

Unless you think municipal firefighters and local police can fight global terrorists, negotiate trade agreements, and prosecute wars?

by Korha 2007-04-23 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

The President's first duty is to uphold the constitution.  He (or She) has no obligation to protect the people or territory, only what that document establishes.

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Historically protecting people and territory has been one of the major duties.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

That has been an elective role, not a duty.

by jallen 2007-04-23 05:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

The Oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Look at the first part: "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States." Unless you want to say that the office does NOT include responsibilities as commander-in-chief and head of the state, then your statement is simply incoherent.

I'm somewhat shocked that I have to argue this.

by Korha 2007-04-23 05:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

What is the president's role as commander-in-chief, according to the constitution?  IIRC, it's about two sentences long, and doesn't say what you want it to.

by jallen 2007-04-23 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

What? It's the very fact that he IS the commander-in-chief. You don't need any more than that.

Armies exist to protect the country.

by Korha 2007-04-23 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

The president's duty as commander-in-chief is to command the Army and Navy, and during war, to command the militia.  That is the extent of the president's constitutional role as commander-in-chief, and the extent of the president's war powers.

What you say makes you sound like Nixon or Cheney.  Your president would be a decider.

by jallen 2007-04-23 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I admit I am not a lawyer or constitutional expert, so I don't want to quibble over words with you. Here's where I'm coming from. The original poster made a statement saying he/she does not accept that "the most important job of a President is to protect the American people". I expressed my disblief at this statement.

Then you chimed in by saying that the most important job of a President is to uphold the Constitution. Fine, I don't disagree that is very important, maybe even the most important. This view of yours is apparently based on a close reading of the Constitution. Again, fine.

Then you said this: "He (or she) has no obligation to protect the people or territory, only what that document establishes." I'm not exactly sure what the second clause is supposed to mean, seems a bit redudant to me--the president has the powers that the constitution gives him, obviously. Anyways, I took it to mean you saying that the President does not, in fact, have an obligation to protect the American people. I strongly objected to his assertion, which seemed and still seems self-evidently wrong. But I misunderstand what you were saying, then I apologize.

Jallen: do you agree or not agree that the President has an obligation to protect the American people? Do you agree or not agree that this obligation is a very important (or most important) duty?

by Korha 2007-04-23 05:59PM | 0 recs
... in which I expose my American Exceptionalism.

America is about more than just the people or land within its borders.  It isn't the president's job to protect them.

Article II:

Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Those are the president's duties, other than what is said in the oath.  I don't think that the constitution says the president has to protect the lives of Americans.  Frankly, upholding the constitution is more important.  Give me liberty or give me death, and all that, right?  Liberty and rights are more important than life.

by jallen 2007-04-23 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: ... in which I expose my American Exceptionali

I'm not quite understanding why you think these two things are necessarily in conflict. Clearly, it would be optimal to have liberty and also live, at the same time.

The President should both be able to protect the constitution and keep this country safe; these are the two most important things he can do. If he can't do those things then he is failing the job the people have entrusted him with.

by Korha 2007-04-23 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: ... in which I expose my American Exceptionali

Because you and Barack mistakenly asserted that the first duty of the president is to protect the American people.  It is not.

But as to your point, I somewhat agree that the two aren't mutually exclusive.  It's just that I'm sick of the president's role as commander-in-chief and his war powers being exaggerated, and I'm sick of Congress and the Courts supporting it.  The president's job is very limited.  Congress and the states have the real power.

by jallen 2007-04-23 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: ... in which I expose my American Exceptionali

OK, last reply. Perhaps it is true that the founders, when writing the Constitution, envisioned a more limited role for the President in terms of foreign policy and military power... I believe it wasn't intended for the U.S. to have a standing professional army in the first place.

However, I also believe in a "living Constitution." And the history of this country, almost from the very beginning, shows that the President has enormous protective responsibilities. As leader of the executive branch, he's in charge of the CIA, FBI, INS. As commander-in-chief he's in charge of the most powerful military in the world. As head of state he's responsible for negotiating very important trade agreements.

It's really too much power for one person, I think. It's certainly not a "very limited" power, though. This is how it is in reality. Even if in your view the President shouldn't be responsible for say fighting terrorism at home and abroad, the fact is that he is. And that is a very, very significant responsibility.

Here's another point. If you want the President's role to be so limited... who's going to fill that void? Congress and the states simply aren't equipped to deal with the task of homeland security, which requires a centralized authority.

by Korha 2007-04-23 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: ... in which I expose my American Exceptionali

If it's your last reply, why end with a question?

I merely want to scale back the president's powers, not the responsibilities.  The president should lead the military in wars declared by the Congress.  The president shouldn't be able to engage w/out the Congress.  The president is the administrator-in-chief, so concerns you mention at the end don't apply.  And I don't want people saying things that aren't true, like that the president's first job is to protect the American people, particularly when it's such a grave subject.

by jallen 2007-04-23 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Woah, way off on this statement.

The President's number one duty is to uphold and execute the law... not defend our country.

There's an easy way to answer this question too. Which would you approve of... the President breaking any law to keep us safe, or having a President who follows the law even if we're less safe because of it?

by LnGrrrR 2007-04-23 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Expanding the military.  This means,in short, that the bad thing about Iraq is that we lost so in the future we should have a bigger military so we can "win" wars like this.  I am afraid that the larger the military the greater the temptation to use it.  As Albright complained to then chairman of joint of chiefs, why do we have such a big military if we don't use it.

I would feel much better if one of these guys could just come out and admit that the problem is not just Bush incompetence, but also a military that is too large and has too much influence.

But groan, such are the choices  I am a likely Obama supporter.  I fear that no politician can cure America's addiction to its militarism, probably the only thing that can is national bankrupcy.

by syvanen 2007-04-23 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I don't mind having a larger national force if it means they'll be used in instances where they're needed - say, Darfur, for example, as part of a UN force.

by PsiFighter37 2007-04-23 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

A military one-tenth the current size would be large enough to send a sizable force to Darfur. We don't need a bigger military, we just need to change our goals to protecting our country and supporting humanitarian purposes -- not to "project power" around the world. This power projection is mostly used to dominate and control other countries, and fight them when they resist.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-23 05:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I think there could be massive cuts in the military budget and we could still assure national security and create a better society with healthcare and education for everyone. That is not possible politically because the military industrial complex is one of the largest gravy trains for corporations in the world.  

by robliberal 2007-04-23 03:43PM | 0 recs
Kinda ties back to the theme...

about corruption in government, no?  I think you could make a pretty good argument about expanding our "boots on the ground" military...while slashing the wasteful and corrupt spending on defense contractors.  Pro-military and anti-corruption all in one.

by rashomon 2007-04-23 04:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for Supreme Court Justices! It's a place for careful but brilliant thinking.

by mrobinsong 2007-04-23 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

This doesn't do much to change the terms of the debate. It's more like a grab-bag of popular phrases: "we must be ready to use force, unilaterally if necessary", "staying on the offence," etc. It washes back and forth from progressive to hawkish rhetoric, leaving me with little real impression of what he's all about. It's also thin on specifics and pushes a lot of fear buttons.

It's also got too much starry-eyed American Exceptionalism in it for me, and not enough frank realism. I don't think "our beacon of hope" can really stop people from wanting to kill themselves to remove our military footprint from the middle east.

I would like a statement which more directly rejects the War on Terror as a framing issue. I would like to see someone looking beyond the post-cold-war unipolar dynamic (which I see as fatally unsustainable) towards greater regional responsibility. American leadership is fine, necessary even, but in what direction are we leading? It's got to be towards a more distributed balance of power.

I like the framing of global warming in national security terms, but I'm no expert on the policy there. It's also sort of a footnote to the "international institutions" part of his speech.

Finally, I'm not opposed to expanding the number of military personnel, but I'd like to see that coupled with a pledge to cut legacy pork projects like missile defense, next-gen fighters, artillery, etc. That could actually bring pentagon spending down and free up money for health care and other domestic economic infrastructure.

by Josh Koenig 2007-04-23 03:56PM | 0 recs
Nukes

He did mention the cessation of building nukes (in contrast to Bush's bunker-busting fetish).

by Ramo 2007-04-23 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Nukes

Indeed, and it's a good idea. Message-wise it still seemed to be cast in cold-war terms though. To me, anyway.

by Josh Koenig 2007-04-23 11:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

It's a good speech.  Not great, but it's good. In some ways, it's the minimum we can expect out of any candidate.  Basically, he's proposing that our foreign policy be non-ideological and that the people who execute it are competent.  Nothing to get too excited about.

by Reece 2007-04-23 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Basically, he's proposing that our foreign policy be non-ideological and that the people who execute it are competent

Just because he says our problems are the result of failed ideologies doesn't make it non-ideological.  It is a neoliberal foreign policy, the same kind that we have had for a few decades, and the one that has caused many of our problems.  Barack is merely cloaking it in non-ideological terms, which is easy to do with liberalism.

by jallen 2007-04-23 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Dick Durbin's comment on Hardball this evening were brilliant, and really build Obama's case.

On the other hand, Matthews ripped Clinton to shreds.

by mattmfm 2007-04-23 04:13PM | 0 recs
What's the difference?

I think we're pulling teeth here guys. While the global carbon tax is different than cap-and-trade, who knows which one would be more effective?

And while Richardson calls for no residual force, I doubt that a select group of Special Forces would not remain in Iraq for selected missions.

Most of the policy differences on our side of the aisle are about semantics and emphasis. I sincerely doubt that any of these administrations would differ greatly on policy. I could be wrong, but seriously.

by ahf8 2007-04-23 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I don't think Obama is really interested in breaking new idealogical ground. One of his most common refrains is to talk about how we all know what the problems are, and what the solutions are, and so the only thing preventing us from fixing these long-standing issues is "cynicism" and a broken political process. You might not agree with that analysis, but he says it all the time, so there you go.

Obama's campaign seems to me to be centered around three interconnected messages:

1) A new kind of politics

  1. An improbable quest
  2. A new generation of leadership

To Obama, the most important thing is a "new vision" of politics... and nothing more than that. He's not selling transformational idealogy. I agree with you that this foreign policy speech is very much a return to the pre-Bush consensus. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Of course if you think the international system is broken then there will be disagreement.

by Korha 2007-04-23 04:30PM | 0 recs
Why Obama isn't Optimus Prime

One problem I had with the speech (which I liked by and large) was that it seemed to represent every major foreign policy issue at root as a matter of security.

We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people. We must lead by marshalling a global effort to stop the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons. We must lead by building and strengthening the partnerships and alliances necessary to meet our common challenges and defeat our common threats.

I have a problem with this kind of rhetoric because I think it reinforces the notion that the only valid argument about why we should care about events in foreign countries is if we might die as a result. If you look at the speech, Obama makes that type of argument a couple of times - progressive arguments about global interconnectedness in terms of maintaining our security. I appreciate his novel use of this argument, in a sense he is inverting it's meaning, but ultimately it might have been better if he had argued that we should care about foreign lands and peoples even in instances where our own security isn't threatened. Reasonably speaking, I suppose this is about as far a major party politician could go in challenging the people's assumptions about the centrality of "security" to foreign policy.

Also, Obama repeats a line of reasoning central to the war in Iraq that I wish more politicians would take on directly.

But while sustaining our technological edge will always be central to our national security, the ability to put boots on the ground will be critical in eliminating the shadowy terrorist networks we now face.

At times, it appears Obama is arguing that war between nation-states no longer poses the central (or even a main) threat to international peace and prosperity. He makes the point implicitly by arguing that the real threats are decentralized, transnational threats (global warming, leaderless terror cells). Non-state actors and transnational threats are the epicenters of global instability. He is  making a serious mistake if when he argues that putting boots on the ground can be an effective strategy for stopping terrorist acts. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a situation where we need to put a large number of troops on the ground to prevent a terrorist act, or stop a terrorist. It is much more likely that if troops hit the ground to "fight terrorism" that  it is already too late.

I don't think Obama would disagree with any of that, but in talking about boots on the ground with reference to fighting terror he is reinforcing conceptions of "the war on terror" which he should be challenging. On the other hand, he should receive kudos for refraining from using the "GWOT" misnomer.

Overall, I thought the speech was pretty good, but it does demonstrate how Obama will walk up to the limits of acceptable rhetoric and sort of pantomime stepping over the line - but never actually does. Long-term, this is probably an effective strategy for winning the support of mainstream voters. After all, the limits of discourse are there for a reason. This tendency to stop short of challenging people's assumptions will eventually call into question his claims about the transformative nature of his campaign. Optimus Prime, he is not.

by Ozymandias 2007-04-23 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Obama isn't Optimus Prime

I have a problem with this kind of rhetoric because I think it reinforces the notion that the only valid argument about why we should care about events in foreign countries is if we might die as a result... I appreciate his novel use of this argument, in a sense he is inverting it's meaning, but ultimately it might have been better if he had argued that we should care about foreign lands and peoples even in instances where our own security isn't threatened.

I think you've misunderstood the speech. Obama greatly emphasizes that in a globally connected world, everything effects everything else... that is, events in foreign lands and with foreign people will directly affect American national security. This isn't a novel argument, either, indeed it's been the liberal consensus for a decade at least.

That said, it's true that his speech is quite pragmatic, indeed cold at times. I personally prefer this very clear-eyed thinking about our role in the world (coupled with a bit of lofty rhetoric). Excessively moralistic arguments are quite dangerous, in my opinion.  

by Korha 2007-04-23 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Obama isn't Optimus Prime

I appreciate this comment Korha and I agree with you about the importance of pragmatism in foreign affairs. I realize that interconnectedness was the main thrust of the speech, I just sought to identify that Obama's means of articulating that interconnectedness was by providing an argument about how situations could end up effecting our security. This is important for two reasons:

1. It demonstrates the centrality of security to the discourse of foreign policy.
2. It might not be obvious how a particular situation that we should be concerned with is related to our personal security. For example, in the case of Darfur.

I am actually an Obama supporter, and overall thought the speech was even better a second time through, but I just wanted to demonstrate how Obama doesn't go as far in reconfiguring right-wing frames/ mistaken assumptions as I would like sometimes.

by Ozymandias 2007-04-23 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Obama isn't Optimus Prime

I agree that a foreign policy driven by domestic security concerns is incomplete.  Specifically, I would have liked to learn his definition of what is in our national interest. For example, would he include humanitarian crises, like Darfur, or domestic conflicts that do not threaten international security but threaten thousands of lives, such as that of the former Yugoslavia?  Considering finite military resources and accumulating domestic entitlements, though, focusing foreign policy on areas clearly within our national interests is understandable, at least in the near term.  I did appreciate his call to reemphasize foreign aid as a component of an enlightened foreign policy.

by Mr DC 2007-04-23 06:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Comparing Obama's speech to Hillary's, Hillary emphasises international cooperation and institutions while Obama focuses on  building and using American military power. My own inclinations are toward Hllary's liberal internationalism, though I can understand the appeal of American exceptionalism and force. The latter may have more general election appeal.

People in the liberal blogosphere have reversed their positions on the spectrum of liberal foreign policy, hopefully Obama's speech corrects that misperception.

by souvarine 2007-04-23 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Be fascinating to see a diary teasing out the differences between the two speeches ...

(And yes, I'm way too lazy to do that myself!)

by BingoL 2007-04-23 05:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

1.  He said:

We now know how badly this Administration squandered that opportunity. In 2002, I stated my opposition to the war in Iraq, not only because it was an unnecessary diversion from the struggle against the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, but also because it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the threats that 9/11 brought to light. I believed then, and believe now, that it was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies - a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset.

I just wonder why he has not articulated this to us for all these years?

2.  His speech calls for us to be the moral leader of the free world that everyone again looks to, but the world will not ever listen to us unless we show we can take care of our own business right here at home.  We are no example and have no right to tell anyone what is best unless we take bold steps to fix our problems.  His speech was short in this area.  Without addressing our own deficiencies as a society, who are we to preach to others?

by citizen53 2007-04-23 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

About your second point, from Obama's speech:

It's time we had a President who can do this again - who can speak directly to the world, and send a message to all those men and women beyond our shores who long for lives of dignity and security that says "You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now."

It's time, as well, for a President who can build a consensus at home for this ambitious but necessary course. For in the end, no foreign policy can succeed unless the American people understand it and feel a stake in its success - and unless they trust that their government hears their more immediate concerns as well. After all, we will not be able to increase foreign aid if we fail to invest in security and opportunity for our own people. We cannot negotiate trade agreements to help spur development in poor countries so long as we provide no meaningful help to working Americans burdened by the dislocations of a global economy. We cannot expect Americans to support placing our men and women in harm's way if we cannot prove that we will use force wisely and judiciously.

But if the next President can restore the American people's trust - if they know that he or she is acting with their best interests at heart, with prudence and wisdom and some measure of humility - then I believe the American people will be ready to see America lead again.

They will be ready to show the world that we are not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. That we are not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they are there or what they are charged with. That we are not a country which preaches compassion and justice to others while we allow bodies to float down the streets of a major American city.

That is not who we are.

There's some other stuff in there that addresses moral authority, but I can't seem to find it at this moment. Anyways the above quoted section is good enough for me.

by Korha 2007-04-23 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

To me, that is not talking about our society, the real work we have to do here, if we have any chance to persuade others.

It's about making sure our own society is just before we call on others to be just.

Those lines, to me, were throw aways.  I think the world wants to see more from us that we are an example of moral authority.

by citizen53 2007-04-23 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

It's somewhat frustrating, right now I can't actually find any significant text that explicitly talks about restoring U.S. moral authority in the eyes of the world, though I know I saw that stuff in there the first time I read it.

Perhaps you're right it's really an implicit theme of the speech, though a very prominent one.

by Korha 2007-04-23 05:41PM | 0 recs
I thought that second

to last graph was strong but too quick; he should have made it a bigger part of the speech. I don't know why one of these candidates isn't taking the lead in opposing torture.

I'm glad that, though, that Edwards said one of his first acts would be to shut down Gitmo.

by david mizner 2007-04-23 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

Citizen53, your 2nd point raises a crucial issue that I've thought about as well--but the good will of someone who wants to change course and reexamine the premises that Bush foisted upon the War on Terror will help us out a lot.  

I'll reply more at length later, hopefully, but as to answer your question--we can preach when we've elected 10 more Democratic Senators for the next president to do something with.  If the next President has some room to work, we'll be better off.  I think Obama is cautious enough to formulate an approach that will make our nation's foreign affairs community look less as if it's pontificating and more like it's doing it's job, simply stated.

by IrishCatholicDemocrat 2007-04-23 05:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

It will be a few decades before we are ever considered the "moral leader" of the world again. Bush blew all 200 years of that history.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 05:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

Perhaps.  I think it starts way sooner.

Poverty in America, health care in America, discrimination in America.  We need a leader who addresses these issues and call on us to engage.  The world will see if we are true to ourselves.  

by citizen53 2007-04-23 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Two initial impressions

The political junkies of the world, maybe. But take it from me, the British people have never been terribly enamoured of America but Bush has destroyed just about any goodwill left, and there are plenty of countries where the Iraq War was received less favourably.

Improving America will be a gradual program and one which won't have any great effect on the rest of the world. That's not going to tip the scales back. Frankly, I think America's going to have to deal with an instinctive distrust of its ideas (although a continuing love affair with its culture) from the citizenry of the world for at least a generation.

by Englishlefty 2007-04-24 09:20AM | 0 recs
MyDDers be proud!

OK, but when are we gonna get the t-shirts made?  I mean, that's when you know you've arrived....  ;-)

by palamedes 2007-04-23 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Where is the audacity?!

He calls out to a new generation to take up the call to renew America and our place in the world. He made his announcement speech right here in Springfield, taking up the mantle of Lincoln and ML King.

This is just standard lukewarm internationalism functioning via neo-liberalism. Terrorism is just one manageable risk of Glorious Globalizaton. This is about as bold as Milquetoast.

by alarabi7 2007-04-23 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Rather Clintonesque. But then Obama has distinguished himself as a terrific cat burgler of Clinton ideas. Obama's recipe. Two heaping tablespoons of Clinton ideas, carefully add a teaspoon of Edwards true progressivism, stir and serve promptly.

Actually, I think "robliberal" is spot on when he note "Obama is trying to run slightly to the right of Clinton to try to head off the experience and national security concerns."

Frankly though, if he is going to steal Clinton clothes I'd much prefer the original than  the Xerox version.

by superetendar 2007-04-23 05:06PM | 0 recs
Letters from his father

There were more than thirty of them, all handwritten by my father, all addressed to colleges and universities across America, all filled with the hope of a young man who dreamed of more for his life.

It is because someone in this country answered that prayer that I stand before you today with faith in our future, confidence in our story, and a determination to do my part in writing our country's next great chapter.

Lucky to be in the audience today, I teared up at this point. Basing one's life goals, at least in part, on a parent's goals is familiar to me, and to people in my circle of friends. I liked this personal ending, because throughout the speech he referred to places he'd visited and seen the evidence jobs not completed, lining them up as projects for him to accomplish as president. Often, Obama then asks the audience to join him as participants in accomplishing these goals.

by Books Alive 2007-04-23 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Jeez.  I really want to like Obama. Really, I do. I want to see his vision.  I want to see his rationale. I want him to sweep me off my feet.  I want to ignore what my progressive friends from Chicago say.

But, yes,  he's a wanker.

by Working Class in Oregon 2007-04-23 05:37PM | 0 recs
Exactly What I Would Expect

This is appropriate:

One good test as to whether folks are doing interesting work is, Can they surprise me? And increasingly, when I [listen to Obama], it doesn't surprise me. It's all just exactly what I would expect.

by tgeraghty 2007-04-23 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly What I Would Expect

Okay I admit this is pretty good.

by Korha 2007-04-23 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

haha! i like this one. throw his words back at him.

obviously, he surprised folks in a twisted way; so i guess he's doing interesting stuff.

by pmb 2007-04-23 06:20PM | 0 recs
Good but..

I still don't see how North Korea, Iran or anyone else is going to respond positively to, "You get rid of your nukes or else! What's that? Get rid of OUR nukes? You're kidding, right?"

by LnGrrrR 2007-04-23 07:28PM | 0 recs
I talked about it

earlier in the day.  I didn't like it, and thought Richardson's earlier one was much better.

by Nonpartisan 2007-04-23 07:33PM | 0 recs
I wish I had a different source for this.
http://www.indepundit.com/archive2/2005/ 03/did_he_just_say.html
"KATIE COURIC: Let's turn to Lebanon, if we could for a moment, Governor. Because as you know, Syrian President Assad has announced that his troops will withdraw from Lebanon, a country that Syria has occupied since the mid-70s. For people who may not be foreign policy experts, how significant is this?
NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON (D): Well, this is very significant. I believe the Bush Administration deserves credit for putting pressure, and saying that authoritarian regimes have to go. What is happening here is, the assassination of a very popular former prime minister in Lebanon, has fueled massive demonstrations in Lebanon, that hopefully will lead to all 14,000 Syrian troops out of Lebanon, plus their intelligence agents, by May. It means that in Lebanon, in Egypt there's some potential new elections. The Palestinian Territories; in Iraq; I think there's a wave of democracy caused by internal pressures, of young people in the Arab world, rooting against these authoritarian regimes--and pressure from the Bush Administration--
KATIE COURIC: I--
BILL RICHARDSON: They deserve credit.
KATIE COURIC: I was going to say, because a lot of foreign policy experts are hailing the Bush Administration's policies, and saying the Bush Doctrine, of spreading democracy throughout the world, there's clear evidence that it's working. You agree with that assessment?
BILL RICHARDSON: Well, it is working. Whether by design, or by accident, it is working. The fact that the President has spoken out, where in the past the US policy has winked at Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, because of their massive security, and we have energy interests there, we have military bases, we kind of said, "OK, it's alright not to be democratic. The President, in talking about freedom and democracy, is sparking a wave of very positive democratic sentiment that might help us override both Islamic fundamentalism that has formed in that region, and also some of the hatred for our policies of invading Iraq. So, this is not only bringing a good result in the Middle East, potential democracy and full elections, but also it is helping our security, perhaps making us safer, by having less Islamic fundamentalism--
KATIE COURIC: Right.
BILL RICHARDSON: ...because democracy provides an outlet against it. And also, younger Arabs that are fueling this discontent throughout the Arab world, becoming pro-US, which is a good sign for the future.
KATIE COURIC: Alright. Good news indeed."

Bill Richardson, neoliberal.
by jallen 2007-04-23 07:39PM | 0 recs
Absolutely

He's a neoliberal.  But a straightforward one, and an accomplished one.  And one with actual plans, unlike Obama.

by Nonpartisan 2007-04-23 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

I am an internationalist in the FDR/Harry Truman mold as opposed to the unilateralists who have been running the country the past 6 yrs.  Overall, I liked the speech especially the idea of working with our allies.  It is going to take decades to restore our credibility in the world and whoever wins in 2008 is going to have their work cut out for themselves.

I am not sure I like the idea of expanding the military although there is a part of me that is intrigued by Charlie Rangel's idea of reinstating the draft in order to prevent another Iraq.  Bush would never have gotten away with it if a large percentage of people 18-30 had a chance of going to fight but I am not sure that is a good reason to start the draft again. I am struggling with that one.

There are only 2 circumstances under which I would support leaving troops in Iraq - as part of a regional/UN peacekeeping force or special forces/covert operations to deal with terrorist threats.  Amazing that 4 years ago there were no terrorists in Iraq and today it is the new Al Qaeda training ground.  What a disaster this has become.

Trade is not a word that raises red flags to me.  I think you have to take each agreement as it comes.  Matt's idea of removing fast track authorization might be the best way to deal with it.  Let them negotiate the deal and then we can review it and see if it makes sense.

It is just one speech but an interesting one.  I continue to look around for a Pres candidate.  Thank god I have until Feb 5, 2008.

by John Mills 2007-04-23 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Granted I read it quickly but nothing about Darfur?

by hollysnj 2007-04-24 06:28AM | 0 recs

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