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The LiberalOasis Blog
February 25, 2005 PERMALINK
You’d think folks would learn.
Recall that back in November 2002, the US persuaded the UN to vote to send inspectors back into Iraq.
But it is clear, in retrospect, that the UN was used by Bush so he could pretend every diplomatic channel was exhausted before going in (and appease a skittish Tony Blair).
Now, the media are falling for it again, as a “senior administration official” told reporters trailing Bush in Europe that there is a “shift” in “attitude” (as opposed to actual policy) regarding how to handle Iran.
Use your noggins, people.
Do you really think the Bushies suddenly grew distasteful of regime change?
Suddenly learned the value of diplomatic engagement with your enemies?
When Condi Rice is sitting across a table with Iranian officials, trading serious proposals to keep Iran nuke-free, then we’ll have a shift worth noting.
Until then, keep your pen caps on, and don’t hold your breath.
Why Does Roger Ailes Hate Freedom?
From Fox News’ Special Report With Brit Hume yesterday:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: …since the first meeting between President Putin and Bush, Russia has gone backwards.
The governors are now appointed and not elected.
The press is pretty un-free --
BRIT HUME: Although…it was clear that the press that was accompanying Putin at least, and I assume that’s a select group, didn’t like hearing about that.
KRAUTHAMMER: Well…the press also sung the praises of the government in the old [Soviet] days.
In fact, it was chilling that the members of the Russian press sang the praises of the president.
It was not what you’d want in a democracy.
From the 12/4/03 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on the hiring of Chris Wallace to host Fox News Sunday:
Chris Wallace says he got only one vaguely political question when he talked to Roger Ailes about hosting "Fox News Sunday."
The Fox News boss asked: "Can you wake up in the morning without assuming that the U.S. is in the wrong?"
Chilling, apparently, is the word.
February 24, 2005 PERMALINK
Back in June '03, on NBC’s Meet The Press, Howard Dean explained one of the fundamental reasons why we need a completely different foreign policy:
DEAN: ...In foreign affairs, there's a phenomenon called “encirclement”...
...A single, very great power with no obvious rivals in the world who exercises that power unilaterally and in contempt of other countries will result in the formation of an alliance of other second-tier powers to contain the power of that great military power...
...It will happen over a period of years. Should I become president --
TIM RUSSERT: It will happen? We will [become] a secondary military power?
DEAN: If we continue following George Bush's military policy and defense policy, [we] will become a secondary military power.
We can already see the very early stages of encirclement.
The EU surely is aware how this move will drive the Bushie neocons crazy.
As LiberalOasis has noted before, neocon foreign policy is obsessed with preventing China from becoming a rival superpower.
(It is that obsession which drives Dubya’s dangerous strategy on China’s neighbor North Korea, as opposed to a desire to prevent nuclear proliferation.)
To be clear, opposing the lifting of the arms embargo is a case where Bush is right for the wrong reasons.
The embargo was a response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
China has not exactly become a big believer of human rights since then, and therefore, has not earned the privilege to buy arms.
But that is not what is driving Bush’s opposition.
He is all too happy to pal around with human rights abusers (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, etc.).
Bush is not acting on principle. He just playing geopolitical chess.
This is why it is so imperative that we lay out a clear alternative foreign policy.
One that does not foolishly try to exert unilateral influence by installing permanent military bases in countries that don’t want us.
But instead, forges multilateral alliances and works with the United Nations to end poverty, fight disease, resolve conflicts and spread freedom.
We’re headed down a terrible road, and if we don’t talk about the ramifications, we may not be able to change course.
The big concern is that Democratic leaders won’t be interested in making fundamental distinctions in foreign policy approaches, preferring to be seen as supportive of Bush’s goals.
Take Sen. Hillary Clinton.
She is currently on trip with a few other Senators to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
On Sunday, while in Iraq, she was asked on CBS’ Face The Nation, “Do you think we're coming to a situation where we will have permanent bases in Iraq?”
No, but I think that we should take this sort of one step at a time...
...We are going to be negotiating with the new Iraqi government. The Iraqi government could turn around any time and say, “We want you to leave.”
I don't see any indication of that, but it could happen.
The Iraqi government could say, “We want you to be here with a certain kind of footprint.”
But until the Iraqi government is stood up and operating, I think it's a little premature for us to be talking about what they and we may decide to do together.
On one hand, she’s not coming out in favor of permanent bases.
But on the other, she’s covering for Bush by saying we’re not already on that path, when we clearly are.
Most importantly, she doesn’t make a clear distinction between the parties on this fundamental issue, leaving open the possibility that she would support them.
(Arguably, one might be hesitant to be partisan while on foreign soil, but LiberalOasis isn’t expecting any clarifications when she gets home.)
Later in the trip, Sen. John McCain, who holds neocon foreign policy views, came out explicitly for permanent bases in Afghanistan (something which the Administration still wants to be coy about).
As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty indicated, permanent bases in Afghanistan are likely a step towards putting additional unilateral pressure on Iran (perhaps even launching attacks).
Though, as the AP (very subtly) indicated, it also would fit in the neocon strategy to keep China in check.
Now, the other senators on the trip didn’t comment on McCain’s assertion.
But the Dem ones, Clinton and Russ Feingold, should make it clear they reject McCain’s view.
They should make it clear that Dems believe permanent bases won’t stabilize the region and won’t help spread freedom.
And that unilaterally establishing permanent bases will only keep us on the path of alienating the world, giving even our closest allies incentive to turn against us.
If Dems don’t speak up now, then they are, intentionally or not, giving tacit support to a policy that jeopardizes our national security in the most fundamental way possible.
February 23, 2005 PERMALINK
The initial strategy was to try to take the elderly and near-elderly out of the equation.
All the polls have shown that older voters were far less inclined to support privatization than younger voters.
Therefore, the logic was: don’t bother selling privatization to older voters.
Have Bush tell those 55 and older, “for you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.”
The hope was the seniors would think selfishly, “My Social Security will be untouched, so who cares what those kids want to do to the system.”
Bad calculation, on two levels.
While younger voters are relatively more open to privatization, they are not clamoring for it, and support for it drops as they learn about the associated benefit cuts and massive borrowing.
At the same time, older voters -- who will, as usual, be a voting force in 2006 -- have not taken the bait, and are speaking up in defense of the retirement security of future generations.
You wouldn’t need to attack AARP directly if the Right had successfully disengaged the senior community.
And you wouldn’t need to smear a messenger if your own message was resonating (note that the attacks on AARP have nothing to do with the supposed merits of privatization).
Now, this is not to say that the anti-AARP campaign won’t be a complication.
AARP is one of the few organizations on our side in this battle with financial resources (while privatization advocates will be spending freely).
And the attacks will likely force AARP to expend energy, and money, fighting them off – an unhelpful distraction. (The Left Coaster offers an aggressive strategy to minimize the impact.)
But the White House and its right-wing allies clearly didn’t want to fight on AARP’s generational turf.
And they have learned they have no choice.
(UPDATE 2/23/05 9:15 AM ET -- The official AARP blog has more.)
Standing Up To The Right-Wing Blog Lynch Mob
Speaking of right-wing attacks, kudos to Rep, Maurice Hinchey, the target of the latest blog lynch mob for discussing the theoretical possibility that Karl Rove may have been behind the “RatherGate” memos.
Faced with the cyberattacks, Hinchey did not flinch.
He went on CNN’s Inside Politics, denied nothing, apologized for nothing, and turned the attacks around to further the story about White House propaganda and media manipulation.
For the transcript, click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.
February 22, 2005 PERMALINK
One of the open questions in Iraq is: will the new government adopt a version of sharia law, based on Islam, that will severely restrict the rights of women?
Juan Cole recently analyzed the women’s rights views of possible Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and his Dawa party.
And the woman behind the blog Baghdad Burning discussed, in her last two posts, the “almost constant pressure in Baghdad from [Islamic political] parties for women to cover up what little they have showing.”
It’s debatable how much the Bushies care about Iraqi women.
They certainly like having female-friendly talking points (Afghan girls going to school!) to give some liberal sheen to their right-wing foreign policy.
But in Iraq, is protecting the rights of women as important to them as establishing permanent military bases?
Admittedly, this is somewhat of a tricky issue.
On one hand, Iraqis should have the right to choose their own government. If they want an Islamic state, another country shouldn’t have the right to say otherwise.
On the other, Iraqi women have rights too, and a human-rights based foreign policy (which Bush claims to have) should not result in anyone losing rights.
There is a way out of this dilemma, a way to attain both goals, but it’s a way the Bushies will never consider.
It so happens that 25 years ago, the United Nations brought the world together to agree that women have basic human rights and all nations must protect them.
A treaty, known informally as the Women’s Treaty, was signed to codify these rights and eliminate discrimination.
Almost every country in the world has ratified it.
In fact, Iraq has ratified it.
But we haven’t.
We join the illustrious company of Iran, Sudan, Somalia and a few others in not ratifying it.
And like all treaties we undercut by not signing, the Women’s Treaty hasn’t had as big an impact as it could have (though it has led to some improvements in the lives of women).
Whereas if we had signed it, we would have more legitimately been able to pressure Iraq to find a way to reconcile its possible desire for Islamic law with the terms of the treaty.
Because it would not be one country trying to impose its values on another, but the world coming together to insist on globally agreed upon basic human rights.
But the conservative movement is repulsed by the concept of international law, the idea of a formal mechanism that lifts each other up and moves the world forward.
So afraid are the right-wingers that we can’t live up to global human rights standards.
Of course, the Women’s Treaty isn’t the only piece of international law that Bush snubs to the detriment of others.
As the NY Times’ Nick Kristof recently noted, while Bush has said that he would not allow another genocide like Rwanda’s happen “on my watch,” he is in the Sudan, because he refuses to legitimize the International Criminal Court.
If Bush and his right-wing brethren were serious about spreading freedom, they would embrace these key treaties that compel the world to respect and protect human rights.
They don’t, and that speaks volumes.
(UPDATE 2/22/05 11 AM ET -- Feministing highlights a new Amnesty International report finding that the status of Iraqi women has not improved in the last two years.)
The Blog Wire
Iranians For Peace: "if the United States is really interested to promote democracy in the Middle East, she should encourage active participation of Iranian politicians, business people and scholars in the global events, instead of trying to isolate them"
Abu Aardvark on a new Arab poll: "the survey found extremely widespread opposition to American foreign policy, along with evidence that Arabs would like to have closer relations with the West... but only if the United States changes its foreign policy."
Star Tribune's Jim Boyd: "[the Right wishes] to repeal the 20th century and return us to the individualism of the frontier days and the robber-baron era ... I do not intend to accept quietly this radical social deconstruction that will hurt not only the poor, but also a middle class that finds itself in precarious economic conditions."
W. Post: GAO rebukes Administration on peddling propaganda
Chuck Currie: "If the [United Church of Christ] wants to play a more active role advocating for peace then our denomination should demand of itself increased financial support for aid organizations that benefit both the Israeli and Palestinian people."
The Left Coaster: "a recent poll shows that respondents want the Democrats to not go along with the GOP, but rather to be a counterweight to George W. Bush. But will Democrats actually seize the opportunity to be an opposition party?"
TomPaine.com has CIA vet Ray McGovern on Negroponte: "with [Michael] Chertoff, [Elliot] Abrams and now [John] Negroponte back in town, those concerned to protect civil liberties here at home and to advance them abroad need to care a whole lot"
The SEA-EAT Blog has information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts for victims of the SE Asian tsunami
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