September 13, 2008

Desperate to Lose, Part Gamillionth of an Endless Series

I will not take the time to analyze those parts of Alexander Cockburn's latest column with which I disagree, or that I find to be inaccurate or singularly ill-advised. I cite it for these passages in particular, which are absolutely correct:
Liberals, particularly women, maddened at the spectacle of attractive Governor Sarah embodying everything they loathe, flood the internet with frantic oaths and seize on every particle of gossip from Alaska suggesting that Palin is a hypocrite, a mismanager, a would-be burner of books, a bad mother and untrue to her man. Those scoffing only a few short weeks ago at the National Enquirer's "mere unverified gossip" about John Edwards' affair, now hasten to the supermarkets to snatch up the Enquirer's latest allegations about Palin and her family.

As the political news circuits began to buzz with news of improved polling numbers for McCain-Palin in the battleground states, Obama's ascent towards the status of a Sure Bet is stalled. After the triumphs of Denver the candidate relapsed into the nerveless mode of early August. He had the poor judgment to go on the cable news show of Fox's Bill O'Reilly and make the extraordinary statement that the so-called Surge in Iraq had "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams". He calls for 10,000 more troops for Afghanistan. Move over, Sarah Palin! You only want to shoot wolves from helicopters. Real men like Obama want more helicopter gunships to mow down Afghan kids from the air.

At a stroke, with that deadly concession about the success of the surge, Obama handed McCain the opportunity, in their upcoming debates, to congratulate his Democratic opponent for acknowledging McCain's superior political and military judgment. Simultaneously Obama foolishly threw over the side the reports of journalists on the spot like CounterPunch's Patrick Cockburn who have been describing how the present lowering of violence in Iraq owes little to the surge in US troops, as opposed to changes in local political conditions. It certainly confirms my view that Obama rarely has the stomach to stand his ground, when challenged from the right with any vigor.


Day after day McCain's escorts shielded Palin from any impromptu exchanges with the press, until the eagerly awaited 3-part interviews with ABC's Charles Gibson began last Thursday. I'll root for anyone against an uppity, patronizing network interviewer and so I was in Palin's corner when ABC's Gibson went after her about the Bush Doctrine, which he made sound as though it was something you learned in school along with the Gettysburg address. No one knows what the Bush Doctrine is, least of all President Bush. He's spent seven long years trying to define it. Basically the Doctrine says it's okay for employees or subcontracted agents of the US Government to kidnap people, lock them up in wire or concrete hutches for years at a time, regularly electrocuting them and beating their genitals until they go mad. Small wonder Sarah Palin didn't want to get too specific.
You will find more about Obama's view that "the Surge" is a great success in this entry. And note again this observation of Cockburn's: "Move over, Sarah Palin! You only want to shoot wolves from helicopters. Real men like Obama want more helicopter gunships to mow down Afghan kids from the air."

And there you have the deadly, mendacious hypocrisy at the heart of today's Democratic foreign policy prescriptions in conjunction with their attacks on the Republicans, a subject I have dealt with extensively here, here and here. Follow the many links for much more.

As for the "Bush Doctrine" and Gibson's insufferable, condescending game of "gotcha," consider the following in addition to Cockburn's lethally accurate comments. Set aside your knee-jerk reaction against any citation to The Corner; I offer the material only for the facts adduced. But you might legitimately be struck with awe and wonder that you visit a blog where you find links to Counterpunch and The Corner in the same post! Who else offers you such breathtaking treasures? Why, almost no one else at all.

So, from The Corner:
How would a real foreign policy sophisticate have replied to Gibson’s question?

Well, Anne-Marie Slaughter is the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. She was interviewed by Alan Johnson, for a book titled: "Global Politics After 9/11: The Democratiya Interviews."

Here's how the exchange begins:
Johnson: What are the central differences, and what are the elements of continuity, if any exist, between 'the Bush doctrine' and the 'grand strategy of forging a world of liberty under law'?

Slaughter: Tell me what you mean by 'The Bush Doctrine.'
In other words, Dean Slaughter gave the same answer as did Palin.
A pause while you collect your thoughts. The pause that refreshes, as it were. I will not dispute the contention that Palin was buying time and trying to collect her thoughts -- but in fact, her question was the correct one in substantive terms. But virtually no one wants to talk in substantive terms.

A bit more:
In case you’re interested, the rest of the exchange follows:
Johnson: Let's say a fairly aggressive strategy of promoting democracy, a willingness to use military force, and a refusal to be put off from using that force because you haven't been able to put an international alliance in place. Plus the idea that the root cause of the threat is the stagnation – politically, economically and culturally – of an entire region, so the only serious response is to promote political change in that region.

Slaughter: The Bush administration at its best looks long term at a lot of problems – terrorism is the most obvious. The Bush administration sees terrorists as a symptom and thinks their defeat requires social and economic and political change to empower individuals to make the most of their lives. And that's the concept of liberty – the liberty to flourish as human beings. And in that sense the Bush administration is continuing the policy of the Clinton administration, which continued the policy of the Reagan administration, which continued the policy of the Carter administration. You really have to go back to Kissinger before you get a break. A lot of what's happened since Kissinger was in reaction to a purely 'realist' foreign policy. So there is continuity there. We agree that long term democratisation is the best hope of creating a safer international environment for all of us. And yes, that does involve thinking about political change. Similarly, we also think there is great value in liberal democracies being able to bolster one another. So we propose a 'concert of democracies' – which has gotten a lot of heat – the Chinese and some Democrats are equally furious.
And there is still some more.

The savaging of Sarah Palin has revealed a great deal, and much of what it has revealed is of special interest to me. Here, I refer to issues in addition to the unspeakably ugly hatred of women as such that has been uncovered. On that subject, you can start here and follow the numerous links. I've already written a good deal on that topic, and there will soon be more on the general subject of the cultural and political reaction to the Palin selection.