Tag Archives: foreign policy
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama.
At the Group of 20 economic summit held last Wednesday in London, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and our President Barack Obama took the fledgling steps to thaw the characteristically frosty relationship between the two countries.Â Both leaders have stated their interest in reducing their nuclear warheads and have agreed to begin talks — the first in more than a decade (BBC). Not only did Medvedev extend an invitation to Moscow, Obama whole-heartedly accepted it, saying the relationship between Washington and Moscow should be “reset.”
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which currently limits the U.S. and Russian arsenals to 1700 to 2200 warheads, is due to expire at the end of the year, making it even more essential for Russia and the United States to begin talking on good terms. The presidents both echoed the necessity for Iran to cooperate with the UN to ensure their nuclear program is peaceful. They also “agreed to work together on Afghanistan and expressed concern about an upcoming North Korean rocket launch,” a fact which certainly pleased President Obama (BBC). In addition, Obama agreed to support Russia’s World Trade Organization bid and seek U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty — two things Moscow has wanted for a while.
There is no doubt that there are many issues between the two countries that have yet to be resolved and will definitely have to be addressed in the future (e.g. missile shield, expansion of NATO). On the same note, I am glad Obama is taking the required steps for a good relationship with Russia and generally attempting to promote friendlier, but firm, foreign policy altogether. There is no better time than now.
Barack Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan
-Barack Obama was against the War in Iraq from the very beginning. He was willing to take a bold political stance and buck the bipartisan conventional wisdom in Washington and 60% of the American people to oppose the war. Not only did he oppose it, but he opposed it for prescient reasons, warning of â€œan occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequencesâ€.
-In January 2007, Barack Obama introduced legislation that would responsibly end the war in Iraq, with a phased withdrawal of combat troops.
His plan for Iraq and Afghanistan:
-Barack Obama favors a timeline for withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. This would begin immediately and would involve the removal of 1 to 2 brigades per month until all active combat troops were removed. This timeline would be responsible and would be based on conditions on the ground, in consultation with our military officials on the ground and the Iraqi government.
-Our current policy gives the Iraqi government a blank check for their current lack of action and political will. Only a strict timetable for withdrawal will create the necessary impetus for concessions and power-sharing within the Iraqi government. This will be accompanied with a surge in diplomacy led by the Obama administration to negotiate directly with Iraqâ€™s neighbors to create a stake for them in Iraqâ€™s future. It will also go along with the will of the Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people.
-Withdrawal of troops from Iraq will allow us to focus on the war in Afghanistan, which has been neglected as part of an effort to engage in an unnecessary war in Iraq. The Taliban is resurgent within the country and al-Qaeda has been re-emerging to plot another attack. Our armed forces are already overstretched right now and we should be allocating these scarce resources on the place where it is needed the most.
Statistics to Know:
-The War in Iraq has cost $556, 126, 220, 837 as of 12:46 AM on September 22, 2008 and over 175 million just for Ann Arbor alone
-4148 US soldiers have died in Iraq and 587 have died in Afghanistan
-70% of Iraqis want us to leave, including the Prime Minister
â€œHere is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.
So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden- as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.â€
â€”Barack Obama, Clinton, Fayetteville, North Carolina, March 19, 2008
There’s no doubt in my mind that once these people are gone that we will be welcomed as liberators.”- John McCain 3/24/03-Hardball
As Sarah Palin so relevantly pointed out to Charlie Gibson, you CAN see Russia from Alaska, which is pretty much her only foreign policy credential, other than “knowing more about energy than probably any one else in the United States of America“.
Here we see Diomede, Alaska.Â This is the only settlement on Little Diomede Island, the island she was apparently referencing.Â I think that white building on the left is where she regularly met with Dmitry Medvedev and Vladmir Putin, hashing out important matters of foreign policy over beers.Â Or something
Barack Obama with foreign policy advisers (from left around table) Gregory Craig, Susan Rice, Anthony Lake, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, and Samantha Power
With Susan Rice coming to campus on Wednesday (somebody film that and post it so I can watch it), I feel that it would be relevant to stir up some foreign policy talk.
First up, this article on Tomdispatch about the situation in Iraq provides an interesting look at the Iraqi leadership’s growing resistance to Washington. This can be seen in areas from tensions over the Status of Forces agreement to a recent $3 billionÂ contract signed with the China National Petroleum Corporation.
Then, Joe Biden is criticizing John McCain for not having anything in his Iraq plan beyondÂ his undefined concept of victory.
Speaking of Joe Biden criticizing Republicans, watch this:
Oh Joe. I digress. On to other foreign policy.
Tensions with Russia over Georgia are not over, but the EU is doing a good job of negotiating with Russia. Props especially go to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The US could learn a few things about diplomacy from this episode.
Finally, Al Qaeda has made a video to mark the 7th anniversary of 9-11. How thoughtful of them. It contains criticism of Iran andÂ the United States (John McCain, please take this as a sign that Iran is NOT providing training to Al Qaeda), as well as commentary on the conflict between Georgia and Russia and the resignation of Pervez Musharraf.
I would like to submit Exhibit 1:
Yesterday the Bush Administration announced that the North Korean Regime had satisfactorily completely significant portions of the disarmament process. They had handed over key documents about their nuclear program, although they did not hand over any information about their actual weapons stockpiles. In exchange, President Bush has removed North Korea from sanctions lists and the list of state that are state sponsors of terror, ie the Axis of Evil.
“As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”
This is the famous quote from Bush’s address to the Knesset in which he denounced, in essence, diplomacy.
These two facts seem to be in complete contradictions to each other. While Bush goes around making political points at the expense of Barack Obama, his State Department seems to be contradicting with Bush’s warring half.
What explains this dichotomy in American foreign policy? To me it looks like a lame duck president consecutively grasping for political points and a legacy on the world state, which has led to a dual personality foreign policy.
I do not trust the North Korean regime. The North Korean regime is led by a legitimately crazy man and who prefers to be a international boogey man instead of a international player. At best, their response to international efforts has been schizophrenic. With these last waning months of the Bush Administration the last thing we need is a mirror of North Korea in our State Department.
I was listening to BBC World Service as I was driving home tonight. The topic of talk was U.S. Foreign Policy, George W. Bush and the upcoming election. I wish I could remember the name of the British analyst I was listening to, but the name escapes me at the moment. I’ll try to find the link when it’s not so long passed my bedtime.
What I got out of the short, but insightful, segment was that the international community (Great Britain especially in this case) views the current President’s foreign policy as a continuation of a very predictable and long legacy in American foreign politics. The analyst said that Bush was not exactly bad for the U.S. because he merely continued the policies (and policy mistakes) that have been typical in our nation’s history. Bush’s reaction to 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq were not anomalies and the international community was not taken by surprise. However, Bush has become the whipping boy of foreign diplomacy for both his constituents and the nations of the world. This is because he is the embodiment of everything that has gnawed at the patience of foreign leaders and peoples throughout the United States’ existence.
I’m always a little torn when it comes to weighing in on how much blame the President really deserves for the screw ups of the last eight years. From an international standpoint, I can see why Bush’s actions seem typical of U.S. policy, and why his blunders are not much different than those prior to his administration. What I am certain that I can blame on President Bush is the fact that he has made mistakes that should have been avoided through maturation of U.S. foreign policy, that someone else had to be better for the presidency. With regards to trade, war, cultural understanding and a whole slew of issues, Bush has failed learn from the mistakes of others before him and instead has repeated them all in many ways.
The last part of the segment talked about whether either ’08 candidate, McCain or Obama, would be able to depart from what the international community sees as a tradition of bad U.S. foreign policy once in office. The concern was that even though both candidates strive to distance themselves from the Bush-style politics, they would fall victim to the same fate as liberal and conservative administrations before them, continuing the “pattern” of typical U.S. policies.
While I am certain that a McCain presidency would ensure repeated bad foreign policy, I sincerely believe that Senator Obama is the best chance for real change our country has seen in many an election cycle. If ever there was a time that America was tired of the type of politicians which George Bush personifies, it is now. If ever there was a leader in America that diverged from the past and current trend of Washington politicians, it is Senator Obama. I look forward to one year from now, living the promise that change holds for our country.
Â I never thought I would see it. Donald Rumsfeld says something intelligent that I do not disagree with.
While admitting Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia and setting up membership action plans (MAPs) for Georgia and the Ukraine for entrance into NATOÂ mayÂ makeÂ Russia angry, it is smart foreign policy. These countries are looking to become active members of the international community and are actively demonstrating their committment.
Russia will get over it. It may take some negotiating, like maybe giving a bit over the missile defense system idea, but that is a good tradeoff for everybody. It brings more international support to countries that are developing and participating in the international system, and giving on the missile defense system issue calms Russian fears and shows that the United States and Western Europe are willing to compromise on international issues. Overall, it’s a win-win, and I hope people listen to Rumsfeld on this one (I never thought I would be saying that).
For those of you interested in the topic ofÂ a previous debate held on this blog about Barack Obama’sÂ pledge to meet with foreign adversaries, the Wall Street Journal has written a pretty good article about the criticism of it and the response of the Obama campaign. You can find it here.