In the Arena

What Middle East Alternative?

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Charles Krauthammer’s precipitous descent into partisan silliness proceeds apace. In this week’s column, he excoriates President Obama’s Arab Spring policy and suggests that Mitt Romney “go large” in opposing it. Ok…but what’s the alternative? In the past, when he was still a rigorous and creative thinker, Krauthammer might have offered a strategy. In the past, he might even have offered a coherent explanation of where Obama went wrong–not continuing to support Mubarak? Ignoring the rebellion against Qaddafi? But this is about as good as it gets:

Yet Romney totally fumbled away the opportunity. Here was a chance to make the straightforward case about where Obama’s feckless approach to the region’s tyrants has brought us, connecting the dots of the disparate attacks as a natural response of the more virulent Islamist elements to a once-hegemonic power in retreat.

Talk about feckless. Krauthammer clearly pines for the hegemony of yesteryear. This is, of course, delusional. The last time that sort of formulation was even semi-plausible was during the Cold War, when the US and the USSR could manage the region through aid to autocrats–and even then it was something of a delusion. Much has happened since. A communications revolution has happened. The war in Iraq has demonstrated the limits, and unintended consequences, of American adventurism in the region. The chance of returning to a neo-colonial relationship with the region is not only impossible, but also unnecessary and wildly at variance with our national values.

The best we can do now is try to stabilize these fledgling democracies, while continuing our largely successful campaign against Al Qaeda and  other salafi extremists. It seems clear now that we had an intelligence failure in Libya, which allowed the attack on the consulate to happen–and the Obama Administration has been foolish in not acknowledging that failure. That was a singular exception. We’ve had incredible drone and special ops successes not only in Pakistan, but also in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere in the region. So what does Krauthammer want? A 100% effective campaign against Al Qaeda? Ain’t gonna happen. A return to the democracy-denying hegemony of the past? Ain’t gonna happen. A President who listens to his, and other neoconservatives’, advice on foreign policy even though it has been disastrously, bloodily wrong? Hmmm…but that doesn’t seem to be going so well right now, either.

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proletaria
proletaria

"Krauthammer clearly pines for the hegemony of yesteryear."

This explains the conservative attempt to get a cold war brewing with China.

Diane Helland
Diane Helland

The neocons only like "democracy" when they approve of the result.  They cannot abide the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was democratically elected in Egypt so therefore Obama should not have supported Mubarek's ouster.  Hmmmmm, seems t0 me they were far quieter when Hezbelloh was elected after Bush pushed for elections in Palestine.  Interestingly, we have absolutely no idea how a Romney administration would handle any of this, including Afghanistan.  Although he spends much of his time criticizing Obama for everything I have yet to determine how he would handle any of the conflicts in the Middle East.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

From "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"

This week, the president unveiled his new campaign slogan, "Forward." ... Mitt Romney unveiled his slogan, "My money might be offshore, but my heart's right here in America."

53underscore3
53underscore3

It hasn't arrived yet.  It's being held up in customs at Ronald Reagan International Airport.

The ahem, "item" is in the downstairs break room for the agents next to two ham sandwiches that were left by a coworker last week.

Seems there's an investigation into illegal organ trafficking...

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Krauthammer does not want 100% success, he is from the Fox loon network that politicizes everything in an election year.  I had NO respect for Romney based on my knowledge of him, and even more scorn after he came out foolishly and heartlessly to politicize the death of Americans.

Romney's parents were rich enough to send him out of the country during the Vietnam war, on his emm Missionary work. How convenient. Of course, NONE of his sons has EVER gone to war or served the country in ANYWAY. Yet, Romney claims to be intimately acquainted with foreign policy.  However, just as the faceless laborers that work in his numerous estates, to Romney, the soldiers are not people with families, real humans--to him, they are just numbers and individuals who will be sent to fight against our imaginary foes of Russia and China.  

Go big??? Romney?? Who knows nothing about Foreign affairs?? I guess Krauthammer wants Romney to humiliate himself even more than he has done thus far.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

It's a tough call between Kristol and Krauthammer when it comes to a descent into partisan silliness, but I would give the nod to Krauthammer, as Kristol occasionally writes something sensible.

Easily the most nuanced and sensible commentary I have heard this year came from Hisham Melhem (head of Al-Arabiyya's Washington news desk) in an interview 2 days ago. It's well worth the effort to read through (or listen to) the entire interview, but this quote really stayed with me (emphasis mine): 

[Obama] did well in Libya, notwithstanding all of the criticism that he's leading from behind. But essentially, the American role in Libya was extremely important. These are countries that are going through a tumultuous transition and nobody can control that transition. The United States can influence it, but the United States can not decide the future of these states.

The full transcript is available here: http://m.npr.org/news/U.S./161...

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Mr. Klein, I don't have anything to add to your assessment -- I agree with it wholeheartedly -- but I wanted to chime in with applause for your willingness to criticize your colleagues. In general, we need more working professionals in journalism willing to do so if our field is to improve. So, thanks! 

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

What is Joe's alternative? Israel should be wiped  out. The entire Middle East should come uner the dominance of al-Qaeda. That's the geopolitical situation that Obama's foreign policy has created. It is confirmed by the slogan shouting youth in the streets of Cairo, Kabul, Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, Tunis, Benghazi"OBAMA! WE ARE OSAMAS. The killing of American ambassador is the greatest national humiliation equivalent to 9/11. Obama has converted Afghanistan into another Viet Nam. If the Taliban could target the most secure place in Afghanistan where Harry is staying, it is like the Tet offensive. And yet, ther are columnists like Joe to praise Obama's foreign policy and the stinking economic policy.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

The alternative that Joe (and most reasonable people) would like to see would be a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.  I believe that if the Palestinian conflict were resolved, then the most potent rallying cries to extremism would suddenly be without basis.  As for your false equivalency between the murder of our Libyan Ambassador and the 9-11 attacks....it is offensive to me as an American (and a New Yorker) to hear such nonsense.  These people killed in Benghazi were truly victims of terror, but at the same time, they signed-up for the duty and were well aware of the volatile nature of their environment.  9-11 was the wholesale slaughter of innocents.

Finally, it was the "Tet" offensive, not the "Ted" offensive you moron.  Much like your presidential candidate, you seem to have the ability to get both feet into your mouth at the same time.

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

'Just and lasting peace' is utopian. We can imagine to have just and lasting peace in every volatile situation in the world. Yor moron and people like Joe cannot give a practical solution. Krauthammer, unlike  Joe, has given some concrete suggestions. But one thing is clear: Obama's foreign policy is utter failure, not only in the Middle East but in Asia and Europe. Even to interfere in Syria, Obama has to get the nod of Beijing and Moscow.

grape_crush
grape_crush

Krauthammer clearly pines for the hegemony of yesteryear.

Krauthammer (and the right wing in general) are pining for a world - and an America - that's largely passed them by.

 

ERenger
ERenger

"In the past, when he was still a rigorous and creative thinker, Krauthammer might have offered an alternative."

--------------------

The reason Krauthammer is no longer a rigorous and creative thinker is obvious from looking at the disturbing, cadaverous visage that is his face. It's clear from the way the thin, dead flesh clings to his skull that he is one of the Walking Dead. His higher brain functions have ceased, and now he is only motivated by his desire to dine upon human flesh. 

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

From what he's said, Romney does think we should have supported Mubarak, after all the lip service that Republicans have given to supporting Democracy.  And if a country is going to become Democratic, then we should "shape" the outcome of the elections, apparently.

And everything will be okay is we're perceived as so "strong" that no one will want to challenge us.  In the same way that Romney thinks the economy will improve just because he's President, my guess is he thinks the world will improve just because he's President.

And in spite of that, he's fatalistic about the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, as he said on the 47% tape. 

I asked a Republican friend yesterday, "assuming for the moment that everything you think about Obama is correct, What reason has Romney given us to vote for him instead?"  Didn't have an answer.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 My point exactly!! I think it is extremely insulting for Romney to assume that it is enough to market the "I am not Obama" strategy and expect that right thinking folks will elect him.

For some of us who supported him in the past, as governor of our State, WE KNOW that he is INCOMPETENT.  He just wants these positions because he is arrogant, entitled and rich. He does not care about public service, and CERTAINLY treated us in MA like scum. Romney, president??? He would be WORSE than G.W. Bush. He wrecked MA, and now, he cannot even run a campaign. He is a FAILURE and should not be elected.

Vote Obama Biden 2012.  

53underscore3
53underscore3

This much is clear:

On one hand, Israel wants badly for the Iran nuke situation to be resolved.

On the other hand, the US wants very badly for the Palestinian statehood issue to be resolved.

This is very, very easy.  Never mind complexities.  Both have been put forward as the kind of issues that simply must be resolved by whatever means.

The best move if Obama wins in November is for him to present Bibi with a simple choice:

If you want us to guarantee Iran won't build a bomb, then you give us a just peace and statehood for Palestine.

Two birds, one stone...

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

If anyone is the authority on "feckless partisan silliness" it's Joe ( man of the people ) Klein.  Why he speaks and Obama lips aren't even moving. 

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Something about free speech I reckon....

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

"A President who listens to his, and other neoconservatives’, advice on foreign policy even though it has been disastrously, bloodily wrong? Hmmm…but that doesn’t seem to be going so well right now, either."

And considering the previous two lines, is it any real wonder?

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

New poll: Romney overtakes Obama on terrorism

Foreign Policy

The foreign-policy results of the new Bloomberg National Poll haven't gotten much attention yet, but the survey contains some bad news for the Obama campaign. According to the poll, Mitt Romney has a 48-42 advantage over Barack Obama on the question of which candidate would be tougher on terrorism. Romney, in other words, has encroached on one of Obama's signature strengths. 

What makes this result so surprising is that the president has consistently trounced Romney when it comes to counterterrorism. A Fox News poll earlier this month found that 49 percent of respondents trusted Obama to do a better job than Romney in protecting the United States from terrorist attacks, compared with 41 percent who put their faith in the Republican candidate. The president had a 51-40 advantage on handling terrorism in an ABC News/Washington Post poll around the same time, and a 50-35 edge on carrying out the war on terror in an Ipsos/Reuters poll in August. The Democrats' rare national-security muscle was on full display at their convention, where speakers boasted about the administration's successful raid against Osama bin Laden and targeted killings of al Qaeda leaders.

The Bloomberg poll contains other grim findings for Obama -- such as declining approval of the president's diplomacy and a neck-and-neck battle between Obama and Romney on flashpoint campaign issues such as energy independence, Chinese trade practices, relations with Israel, and Iran's nuclear program (61 percent of respondents were skeptical about Obama's pledge to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon).

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/...

53underscore3
53underscore3

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt 3xfir3's pipe dream for this dose of reality:

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.n...

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

I was just about to go there when you beat me to it.  Interesting to see the trends in the odds of Obama being re-elected (They are up about 9% this week alone).

53underscore3
53underscore3

There seems to be a nosedive taking place.  If you look at Nate Silvers' website, you'll see divots at two places:

1. Akin's comments

2. Romney's 47% comment.

outsider2011
outsider2011

Thanks Joe. Good article - and you're right about Krauthammer.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

not only impossible, but also unnecessary and wildly at variance with our national values.

One of the more enduring paradoxes of the United States Of America is our steadfast advocacy and support for self-determination..........except.........

The most heartening thing about Obama's UN speech was his willingness to explain in no uncertain terms that self-determination WAS an American ideal and that it, like free speech, needs to be supported especially when it's inconvenient. The Neocon notion that the earth is ours to do with as we see fit is NOT an American ideal and that's one of the several fronts where Paulite Libertarians and Liberals can agree.

destor23
destor23

Joe, where do you even get, "Ignoring the rebellion against Qaddafi?" as a possible criticism of Obama?  Had Obama truly "ignored the rebellion," it is quite likely that Qaddafi would still be in power.  The rebellion only succeeded because Obama decided to give it air support.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Actually, I think that is the point: that Krauthammer is seeking a reversal of the democratic gains so if Obama had ignored Libya, the controllable/containable dictator wouldn't be attacking US Consulates. The stupidity of it is the point

sacredh
sacredh

destor23, I think Joe was asking Krauthammer if he thought Obama should have ignored the rebellion against Omar.

destor23
destor23

 I guess that has to be what he meant.  He didn't quite write it that way, but it's the only reading that makes sense, unless Joe just has a completely different understanding of what happened.

sacredh
sacredh

"In the past, when he was still a rigorous and creative thinker, Krauthammer might have offered an alternative."

.

The republican party took a flier on reality and Krauthammer went with them. "We'll show em'" doesn't work anymore. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Here's a Middle East alternative: Get out of there.  Invest in clean, alternative energy and if Israel wants to pick a fight with Iran then that's their problem, not ours.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Didn't Nahoohoo's speech seem like Colin Powell all over again?

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Nahoohoo believes; Powell sold out after expressing objection.  

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

All he's missing is the little vial of Anthrax.

53underscore3
53underscore3

I think Foghorn has toon connections, kbanger. :)

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

ACME sells little vials of fake Anthrax in the section before the pictures of cartoon bombs. Just ask Wile E...

53underscore3
53underscore3

He probably wasn't allowed to bring it into the country.

jmac
jmac

Even the press is getting snarky on the situation in the Middle East.  Last paragraph in a long article on the UN talks:   Mahmoud Abbas:  "There is no homeland for us except Palestine, and there is no land for us but Palestine."   (to heavy applause).  

Netanyahu's response:  "We won't solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the U.N."