Saturday, May 24, 2008

Joe Biden for Sect. of State

Sen. Joe Biden had an Op-Ed in the WSJ on Friday responding to another Op-Ed a couple days earlier by turncoat Sen. Joe Lieberman.
The essay spells out some refreshingly common sense facts about U.S. foreign policy that have been ignored by the Bush administration.
He starts off talking about how Bush's foreign policy has been a failure because of its obsessive focus on the so-called "war on terrorism."

At the heart of this failure is an obsession with the "war on terrorism" that ignores larger forces shaping the world: the emergence of China, India, Russia and Europe; the spread of lethal weapons and dangerous diseases; uncertain supplies of energy, food and water; the persistence of poverty; ethnic animosities and state failures; a rapidly warming planet; the challenge to nation states from above and below.

Instead, Mr. Bush has turned a small number of radical groups that hate America into a 10-foot tall existential monster that dictates every move we make.

Indeed, Republicans are practically frozen by fear over the prospect of "terrorism" such that they can't fathom any other concerns in the world.
And what's more, partisan bloggers such as Beldar fully believe that the only measure of success for Bush's foreign policy or for his entire presidency is whether or not we have another 9/11 terror attack.

But back to the real world and Sen. Biden's excellent essay...

The intersection of al Qaeda with the world's most lethal weapons is a deadly serious problem. Al Qaeda must be destroyed. But to compare terrorism with an all-encompassing ideology like communism and fascism is evidence of profound confusion.

That's putting it awfully nicely. How about profound ignorance? Or profound stupidity?

Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. Messrs. Bush and McCain lump together, as a single threat, extremist groups and states more at odds with each other than with us: Sunnis and Shiites, Persians and Arabs, Iraq and Iran, al Qaeda and Shiite militias. If they can't identify the enemy or describe the war we're fighting, it's difficult to see how we will win.

But they aren't interested in "winning". The neverending war is great for them! Have you checked the price of oil lately?
But it is not so great for the rest of us. Now let's listen as Sen. Biden addresses Bush's "legacy."

On George Bush's watch, Iran, not freedom, has been on the march: Iran is much closer to the bomb; its influence in Iraq is expanding; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon and that country is on the brink of civil war.

Beyond Iran, al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 – are stronger now than at any time since 9/11. Radical recruitment is on the rise. Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel every day. Some 140,000 American troops remain stuck in Iraq with no end in sight.

Because of the policies Mr. Bush has pursued and Mr. McCain would continue, the entire Middle East is more dangerous. The United States and our allies, including Israel, are less secure.

It's not just that the Republican policies aren't accomplishing what they said they would. It is that they are making things infinitely worse the longer they go on.

It is a great article and I would encourage everyone to read the whole thing. I certainly hope that President Obama will consider tapping Joe Biden to be our next Secretary of State.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Overlooking the obvious

Jonathan Gurwitz has a good column today titled Republicans are in trouble and they don't know why.
But it seems that Gurwitz doesn’t know why either, or at least he can’t bring himself to admit it.
He makes several good points which are surprising coming from a right-wing pundit such as that the lengthy Democratic primary and the nasty catfight between Obama and Hillary is not going to save Republicans from the electoral drubbing that they’ve got coming this fall.

The Democrats' long, competitive primary race has allowed them to receive more media attention, raise more money, register more voters and create greater grassroots organization in more states than Republicans could dream.
A few months of intra-party squabbling isn't going to do serious damage to a major political party.

Gurwitz outlines the special election losses I mentioned in my previous post as symptoms of a political party that is self-destructing. He then goes on to make another good point that I’ve made in the past, which is that it is not ALL George W. Bush’s fault.

Though Bush's unpopularity certainly doesn't help, he isn't on the ballot. And the American people have no problem distinguishing between party affiliation in Congress and party affiliation in the White House — which is one reason polls show John McCain still has a decent chance of winning the presidential race.

I would say a “slim” chance of winning as opposed to a “decent” chance of winning, but the point is taken.
But here Gurwitz starts to go awry in his analysis and suddenly develops an accute case of tunnel vision that somehow prevents him from seeing the elephant in the room.
How can anyone write an entire column about the GOP’s election woes without once mentioning the Iraq war? But Gurwitz seems to think that voters are mostly upset about scandals and profligate spending and that it is the Republican Party’s failure to “oppose the spendthrift ways and pork barrel spending (of) the new Democratic majority” that has put them in trouble with the electorate.

Republicans continue to figure disproportionately in Capitol Hill ethics imbroglios, share in the spoils of earmarks and wasteful appropriations and fail to distinguish themselves from Democrats and from the disreputable record that cost them control of Congress.

What Gurwitz can’t bring himself to admit is that the real reason that Republicans are in the doghouse now is because we have tried their ideas these past eight years and found that they DON’T WORK.
Republican tax cuts were supposed to energize the economy, produce a windfall of tax revenues, balance the budget and lead to even more tax cuts. Instead, we got a stagnant economy, spiraling deficits, $4 a gallon gasoline, and we are on the brink of a recession.
On the foreign policy front, the war in Iraq was supposed to last no more than six months, cost less than half a billion dollars (which we were supposed to recoup in oil revenues) and result in a flowering of democracy across the Middle East. I don’t even need to recount the horrors of the last five years to demonstrate that it was all bullshit.
That is why the Republicans are going to get their butts kicked in the next election, Jonathan. Not because people are upset about earmarks or scandals. It’s the war and the economy. And Republicans don’t have a clue about how to fix either one.