22 May 2010

A debt to democracy, a date with destiny. . .

You have just made the change from peacetime pursuits to wartime tasks - from the individualism of civilian life to the anonymity of mass military life. You have given up comfortably homes, highly paid positions, leisure. You have taken off silk and put on khaki. An all for essentially the same reason - you have a debt and a date. A debt to democracy, a date with destiny. . .
-COL Oveta Culp Hobby

Obama and the curse of moderation
What Obama desperately needed to do was radical, but it was and remains achievable: to build credibility through offering tangible support for the peoples rather than the leaders of the region.

He hinted at significant change in his famous Cairo speech of one year ago with his call for a "new beginning" based on "tolerance and dignity," but his rhetoric has turned out to be just more smoke and mirrors.

Not only does his administration continue to "tolerate" dictators and systematic human rights violations, he has sought to continue and in some cases even extend policies that violate constitutional norms and/or US law.

Obama's moderation has not only failed as a foreign policy making principle. It has not worked domestically either.

The tragicomedy of Iran sanctions
It is this kind of international 'leadership' that grabs defeat from the jaws of victory for the non-proliferation agenda.

It has also reaffirmed the fears of many regarding US intentions: the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, remains every bit as unilateralist as that of George Bush, his predecessor, and it displays equal disdain for multilateral negotiations despite the new rhetoric.

Peace appears to be a non-option for the Nobel Peace Prize winner. And with such 'leadership', the UN security council sinks further towards irrelevance or perhaps even self-destruction.

...[T]he 2007 US sanctions against Iranian banks ironically ensured Iran's immunity from the global financial crisis that was about to explode.

Iran was among the few major economies in the world not to be severely affected by the crisis.

Obama campaigning against Bush--again
President Barack Obama is trying to ride the wave of anti-incumbency by taking on an unpopular politician steeped in the partisan ways of Washington.

It doesn’t matter that George W. Bush left office 16 months ago.

The White House’s mid-term election strategy is becoming clear – pit the Democrats of 2010 against the Republicans circa 2006, 2008 and 2009, including Bush.

It’s a lot to ask an angry, finicky electorate to sort out. And even if Obama can rightfully make the case that the economy took a turn for the worse under Bush's watch, he's already made it - in 2008 and repeatedly in 2009.

It’s not clear that voters still want to hear it.

Guantanamo forever?
Two days after his inauguration in January 2009, Barack Obama, the US president, signed an executive order promising to close the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within one year.

But the deadline was missed, and today some 180 men are still being held at Guantanamo.

Now many worry Guantanamo may not even close in Obama's first term, and might even stay open far into the future.

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