Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It's a good question. And, according to Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner, writing in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, the answer is interesting:
Many of President-elect Barack Obama's supporters hope he will scrap the Bush administration's skeptical attitude toward international law and take a more European approach. This is presumably to bring us in line with what these supporters regard as more enlightened practices abroad.Indeed.
In fact, Europe's commitment to international law is largely rhetorical. Like the Bush administration, Europeans obey international law when it advances their interests and discard it when it does not.
The problem here, in my opinion, is that some people still see "international law" as a concept strongly analogous with the laws they know: enacted by their legislature, enforced by their police, and accountable to the people via elected officials.
But in the international arena, there is no such thing, because there is no World Government. All we have are international treaties, signed by some countries and neglected by others. Those who enact those treaties, and those who fail to follow them, are not accountable to anyone... and they cannot be enforced, except through war.
More succinctly, as General Charles de Gaulle once said: "Treaties are like flowers and young girls. They last as long as they last."
And in keeping with the former French President's attitude, the Europeans seem quite amenable to ignoring international agreements when it suits their purposes:
Consider the case of Yassin Abdullah Kadi and the al Barakaat International Foundation. A United Nations Security Council resolution has ordered nations to freeze the assets of Mr. Kadi, a resident of Saudi Arabia, and the foundation, and to take other sanctions against those suspected of financing al Qaeda and related organizations....in other words, the Europeans are just as capable of "cowboy diplomacy" (in the words of a common sneering accusation against the Bush Administration) as the United States is. The difference would appear to be that the United States doesn't pretend to take International Law seriously... whereas the Europeans do.
On Sept. 3, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Security Council resolution was invalid. The duty to comply with the U.N. Charter, it declared, "cannot have the effect of prejudicing [regional] constitutional principles." In doing so, the ECJ followed its advocate general's argument that "international law can permeate [the European Community] legal order only under the conditions set by the constitutional principles of the Community."
In other words, European countries must disregard the U.N. Charter -- the most fundamental treaty in our modern international legal system -- when it conflicts with European constitutional order.
(Say, wasn't it the United States that was roundly criticized in 2003 for going to war in Iraq, on the grounds that there was no U.N. approval... even though the American President had asked for, and gotten, a unanimous U.N. Security Council Resolution ordering Iraq to disarm or "face the consequences"? Times certainly have changed.)
Perhaps one day we'll have a World Government, with elected representatives and a cohesive legal system and checks-and-balances to keep powers separate. But pretending won't make it so... and, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, calling the U.N. a World Government doesn't make it one.
(hat tip: Instapundit)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Understatement can be a powerful thing. (Just ask the British, who are famous for it.)
On the other hand, it's clear that the British don't have a monopoly on this. What would you call it when 30 American Marines, tired out from a long day of patrolling, are ambushed by a force of 250 insurgents -- and fights them off, in the insurgents' own backyard, inflicting over 50 casualties with no American dead, and leaving the remaining insurgents disarmed and fleeing for their lives?
One of the young men who made it happen calls it "a good day for the Marine Corps":
FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan — In the city of Shewan, approximately 250 insurgents ambushed 30 Marines and paid a heavy price for it.
Shewan has historically been a safe haven for insurgents, who used to plan and stage attacks against Coalition Forces in the Bala Baluk district.
The city is home to several major insurgent leaders. Reports indicate that more than 250 full time fighters reside in the city and in the surrounding villages.
Shewan had been a thorn in the side of Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan throughout the Marines’ deployment here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, because it controls an important supply route into the Bala Baluk district. Opening the route was key to continuing combat operations in the area.
“The day started out with a 10-kilometer patrol with elements mounted and dismounted, so by the time we got to Shewan, we were pretty beat,” said a designated marksman who requested to remain unidentified. “Our vehicles came under a barrage of enemy RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and machine gun fire. One of our ‘humvees’ was disabled from RPG fire, and the Marines inside dismounted and laid down suppression fire so they could evacuate a Marine who was knocked unconscious from the blast.”
The vicious attack that left the humvee destroyed and several of the Marines pinned down in the kill zone sparked an intense eight-hour battle as the platoon desperately fought to recover their comrades. After recovering the Marines trapped in the kill zone, another platoon sergeant personally led numerous attacks on enemy fortified positions while the platoon fought house to house and trench to trench in order to clear through the enemy ambush site.
“The biggest thing to take from that day is what Marines can accomplish when they’re given the opportunity to fight,” the sniper said. “A small group of Marines met a numerically superior force and embarrassed them in their own backyard. The insurgents told the townspeople that they were stronger than the Americans, and that day we showed them they were wrong.”
During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t miss any shots, despite the enemies’ rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position.
“I was in my own little world,” the young corporal said. “I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target.”
After calling for close-air support, the small group of Marines pushed forward and broke the enemies’ spirit as many of them dropped their weapons and fled the battlefield. At the end of the battle, the Marines had reduced an enemy stronghold, killed more than 50 insurgents and wounded several more.
“I didn’t realize how many bad guys there were until we had broken through the enemies’ lines and forced them to retreat. It was roughly 250 insurgents against 30 of us,” the corporal said. “It was a good day for the Marine Corps. We killed a lot of bad guys, and none of our guys were seriously injured.”
Amazing. I do hope that the "young corporal" will be recommended for a Silver Star; that sort of cold courage and dedication to duty -- and to the team -- deserves serious recognition.
Addendum: to some, this will seem a very strange thing to celebrate. We should be grateful that over 50 Afghanis are dead?... Does that mean that Afghani life is less important than American life?
Well, let's understand this. It is part of a soldier's job to kill, and to risk being killed, in order to accomplish the mission. The mission may be to take a particular hill and hold it; or it may be to move into an urban area, smoke out the locals who have been sniping on them and terrorizing their neighbors, and force them to surrender or die. Or it might be simply to build roads and schools and electrical infrastructure, while defending themselves -- and the civilians working with them -- from attack.
You send in the military when force may be required, even if it's not expected... and you send in the military when nothing but force will do. Some find it depressing that such cases exist, but they do; not everyone is willing to negotiate, and some people simply will not believe you when you tell them that it's better not to fight. They will fight, regardless of whether their fighting makes sense to you... and you need to be prepared to fight back.
(If you're not willing to fight back, then you must be prepared to surrender to the first group that raises its hand against you. They will then treat you however they please. They don't need to listen to you; why should they, since you've already proven that you're not willing to fight, and they are?)
So our military, composed of citizens who have volunteered for the privilege, fight in our name. And when they fight, they don't have the luxury of wondering about the value of one human life vs. another. They know that they can see armed men who are determined to kill them, and that their choice is simple: kill or be killed... if you can. Protect your comrades-in-arms, as they protect you. And inflict enough damage on the enemy to force him to stop fighting.
When I served in the IDF, we were taught to use "reasonable force", which was defined as "the minimum force required to solve the problem". The Marines in Shewan clearly had a similar idea. Instead of calling in air support for saturation bombing, which would have leveled the town (and solved the problem), the Marines went house-to-house, seeking out their ambushers, and putting them on the run, in spite of heavily lopsided numbers. They cleaned out the town, which was their job... but they left the town intact.
By way of analogy: imagine a policeman in uniform, walking home past a dark alley. From the shadows, eight young toughs jump him without warning, brandishing knives and chains and clearly intent on murder. For the policeman to take on all eight of them, without assistance, and disable some and run the rest off, would be remarkable enough. For our policeman to do so with no serious injury to himself would be amazing.
A good day for the Marines, indeed.
UPDATE: When I first wrote this, I confusingly referred to "Iraqis"; sorry about that. Yes, this incident took place in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. Thanks to loyal reader Jane M. for straightening me out!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Happy Veteran's Day
Let's Not Get Vindictive
President-elect Obama is seen by many as a fresh face in Washington; indeed, he campaigned on that basis, describing himself as "post-partisan", calling for an end to "politics as usual" and presenting himself as the agent for Hope and Change.
I, and many others, will be watching and waiting eagerly to see if he can live up to the spirit of the change he promised, if not all of the actual details. Can Barack Obama inspire a new era of understanding between Republicans and Democrats, or between the United States and the rest of the world? That's a tall order for anyone. But it certainly would be wonderful to watch it happen, even just a bit at a time.
Inevitably, though, bringing the country together again will involve Democrats reaching out to Republicans. (It's up to the ones in power to include, or not, the minority party. Republicans did their fair share of this when they ran things in Washington; it will now be up to the Democrats.) And I'd suggest that, if the Democrats really do want to unite the country, it's not a good idea to be petty and vindictive towards Democrats who work well with Republicans.
Today's Wall Street Journal editorial page writes of two such Democrats: Rep. John Dingell, who has been generally supportive of the Bush administration on energy policies (while being a staunch Democrat otherwise), and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has been strongly supportive of the Bush administration's wartime foreign policy (while remaining a staunch Democrat otherwise). But there is now talk, under an Obama administration, of punishing these two men for their failure to toe the party line:
In almost every sense, John Dingell and Joe Lieberman are loyal Democrats. But Mr. Dingell is holding down the party's right flank on energy, and Mr. Lieberman in foreign affairs. Now they're targets, and the retribution speaks volumes about the direction of liberal politics.Sen. Joe Lieberman's case is perhaps even more extreme. Four years ago, he was a Democratic candidate for President; eight years ago, he was the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice-President. When it came time to support a wartime President, Lieberman, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, "refused to repudiate the war that he and so many of his party colleagues had voted for". For this, he was abandoned by his party; when he ran for reelection in 2006, his Senate seat was challenged by Ned Lamont, an anti-war Democrat, and it was Lamont that the Democratic Party supported, forcing Lieberman to run -- and win -- as an independent.
California Democrat Henry Waxman kicked things off the morning after Barack Obama's victory, with an announcement that he will seek the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. The post is currently held by Mr. Dingell, the bulldog Michigander who next year will become the longest-serving Member in U.S. history. In Congressional physics, seniority is gravity, which alone makes Mr. Waxman's challenge extraordinary.
It is even more so because it is a coup d'etat against a climate-change moderate. [...]
For that, Lieberman could have been forgiven for refusing to have anything to do with the Democrats who had abandoned him. But he insisted on caucusing with the Democrats -- which made a crucial difference for them, because had he not done so, the Senate would have been evenly split, with Republican Vice-President Cheney casting tie-breaking votes. So Lieberman took the honorable course and continued to follow the dictates of his conscience; a grateful Democratic Party allowed him to keep the chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee.
But now that they no longer need him, with a Democratic majority in the Senate of at least 57%, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reportedly telling Lieberman that he may be about to lose his chairmanship and his place with the Democratic caucus.
According to politico.com, President-elect Obama has appealed on Lieberman's behalf, arguing that he should be allowed to continue caucusing with the Democrats (although Obama's stance on Lieberman's chairmanship is unclear). This speaks well for Obama; let's hope that we see more of this. (UPDATE: Ben Pershing of the Washington Post agrees.)
Judging by the comments left at politico, Reid's claims that "rank-and-file sentiment against [Lieberman] had climbed to a point where he could not stay as Homeland Security Chairman" may well be accurate. (Have a look; some of those comments get pretty nasty.)
Throwing overboard the few Democrats who have a track record of working well with Republicans, however, will not help to re-unite America, or even to get things done, popular though it may be. It would also send a chilling signal to Democrats in Congress -- that public disagreement with the President-elect is not to be tolerated.
And, as the Wall Street Journal concludes, "If a venerable New Deal liberal first elected in 1955 and a Vice Presidential nominee only two elections ago aren't fit for polite Democratic company, it shows how far left the party's center has shifted."
Let's hope that President-elect Obama, and his administration, are more forgiving than his party colleagues in Congress.
UPDATE: June 2009: It looks as though the things I feared have not come to pass. I'm glad.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The audacity of this piece, by Philadelphia Daily News senior writer Will Bunch, just takes my breath away:
It was living proof of my personal belief that the greatest role for journalists is not to make sure that every story has 50 percent of one side and 50 percent of the other side – but that the vital function for reporters is to preserve democracy and the freedom of the press, because without those freedoms a valid media would cease to exist. Yes, they’re voicing outrage today inside the sacred sanctuary of the
Temple of Objective Journalism , where the celebrants nervously fingered their rosaries rather than confront the Constitutional bonfire that was building outside.
But for eight years now, there’s been an out-of-control fire raging outside of that temple – a fire that was built upon the USA Patriot Act and
Guantanamo and rendition and torture and signing statements and 16 words in a State of the Union Address. Ultimately, saving the last fabric of democracy is more important than worrying about what contrived commandments of journalism were stepped on while the blaze was finally extinguished.
I myself would call it truth-telling, and honest journalism, but now we have some who want to call it “media bias.” That’s fine with me, but understand this.
“Media bias” may have just saved America .
Saving America isn't your job, bucko. Your job is to report the news, not to save Americans from the horrible fate of disagreeing with you.
If you believe that President Bush is destroying the country, and that John McCain would continue the job, there are many honest and honorable ways of dealing with that. (Volunteering for the Obama campaign comes to mind.) Making your newspaper an unofficial and unpaid cheering squad for the Obama campaign is neither honest nor honorable.
What are the chances that, a year or two from now, some of Mr. Bunch's colleagues will feel the same horror towards President Obama that he recently felt towards Sen. McCain? And how will Mr. Bunch feel if, because they feel that they are honor-bound to save America, they declare their willingness to say anything, or do anything, to sabotage the sitting President of the United States?
What's good for the goose is good for the gander, pal. And what you're doing isn't good for anybody.
(hat tip: neo-neocon)
It sounds ludicrous -- getting elected President is, by far, the biggest thing the man has ever accomplished. But according to the Topeka City Journal, we shouldn't even wait for the man to be inaugurated (and, you know, actually do something):
The contact information makes it less of a news article and more of an unpaid commercial announcement, in my opinion. But we've seen a lot of that lately.
Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama, who will become the nation's 44th president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.
"Yes We Can" planning rallies will be at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every Tuesday at the downtown McDonald's restaurant, 1100 Kansas Ave., until Jan. 13. The goals are to secure a national holiday in Obama's honor, to organize celebrations around his inauguration and to celebrate the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12 1809.
At 7:30 a.m. on Inauguration Day, Obama Cake will be served at the downtown McDonald's, and a celebration is scheduled for 8 p.m. to midnight Jan. 20 at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, 420 S.E. 6th.
For more information, contact Sonny Scroggins, (785) 232-3761, 845-6148 or at email@example.com; Lamont Lassiter, McDonald's general manager, 608-2739; Ava Chander-Beard, (785) 234-9138, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Rhoda Carr, (785) 220-5883.
I'm tempted to ridicule this... but I don't think it's necessary. The fact that this movement is rallying at the local McDonald's speaks for itself.
The cult of personality surrounding President-elect Obama is a bubble, much like the sub-prime housing loan bubble, or the Internet profits-are-obsolete bubble. And, as we know, bubbles inflate to absurd proportions until they collapse; and few are interested in anticipating the collapse and planning for it, because the ride on the bubble is so much fun... while it lasts.
The Obama Bubble will collapse, too -- not today, certainly, and probably not before his inauguration. If I had to guess, I'd say it will happen well before the midterm elections of 2010. But sometime soon, the people who earnestly believe that Barack Obama can walk on water and will solve all their problems -- well, they're going to be bitterly disappointed.
It's no secret that the man is a Chicago politician, who deviates from business-as-usual Chicago politics only in being more ruthless than usual about getting elected. Nor is it a secret that the man has, as yet, hardly accomplished anything significant in his life, other than winning elections; doing the job he was actually elected to do has, for the most part, eluded him.
Not that this matters much now. If President-elect Obama can move forward boldly for the good of America, I'll take my hat off to him; I might even say someday, as I did in 2001 for President Bush, that I regret not voting for him... if his performance as President earns that respect.
But if he continues to be the hack politician he has thus far been, then a lot of people are going to be very, very disappointed in him.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Sol at solomonia.com quotes with approval from Byron York, in a lengthy essay about Sen. John McCain and the good job he did under exceptionally trying circumstances. In the process, Sol has quite a bit to say himself.
I agree completely. For all of McCain's faults -- which he has, just like the rest of us -- he ran a hard campaign, kept his dignity and his honor intact, and did much better than most 72-year-olds could dream of doing. He recognized from the beginning that he wasn't willing to win at too high a price -- and for that, we should be commending his restraint, not blaming him for failing to win at any cost.
It would have been all too easy, given the atmosphere of venom that surrounded this campaign -- and that Republicans have been living with for the past eight years! -- to have fought fire with fire, in the process deepening the divisions in American society and pitting blue against red all the more. McCain chose not to do that. He did not flinch from criticizing Obama's statements or his actions, but he refused to smear Obama personally, or to level the sort of personal attacks against him and his family that Gov. Sarah Palin, for instance, had to face daily from Democrats.
And for all McCain's restraint, he still picked up 47% of the vote -- better, as Sol and Mr. York point out, than Bob Dole or George H. W. Bush did against Clinton, neither of them facing the challenges that McCain did.
President Kennedy had a year and a half to govern before having to face down Russia in the Cuban Missile Crisis. It looks as though the Russians aren't even waiting for President-elect Obama to be sworn in:
MOSCOW - President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that Russia will deploy missiles in territory near NATO member Poland in response to U.S. missile defense plans.And so it begins... just when we thought that we had only Iran (and perhaps Iraq) to worry about.
He did not say whether the short-range Iskander missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.
In his first state of the nation speech, Medvedev also blamed the U.S. for the war in Georgia and the global financial crisis.
Speaking just hours after Barack Obama was declared the victor in the U.S. presidential election, Medvedev said he hoped the incoming administration will take steps to improve badly damaged U.S. ties with Russia. He suggested it is up to the U.S. — not the Kremlin — to seek to improve relations.
This, mind you, amid accusations of belligerence against the United States, and calls to increase power for Russian rulers:
Medvedev said the president's tenure should be lengthened to six years to enable the government to more effectively implement reforms. He said the term of the parliament also should be extended by a year to five years, and that parliament's power must be increased by requiring the Cabinet to report to lawmakers regularly.When a President calls for a Constitutional change to lengthen his own term of service, that's cause for concern. (President Bush has been accused of this; well, there's very little that he hasn't been accused of in the past eight years. But now the Russian President is actually proposing it, and he seems to be serious about it.)
The Cold War is on, folks. Russia has already gotten away with far more than she should have in Georgia; invasions of other Russian neighbors, I suspect, are not far off, with Russia daring the United States to do anything about it.
Will President-elect Obama show the spine to oppose them? Will he stand up to them, let's say, with the sort of rhetoric he has used with American allies? I hope that he will... but I fear he will not.
It's a dangerous world out there. We must be willing to negotiate with those who have legitimate differences, and who are willing to negotiate in good faith. But we must always keep the military option ready, because there will always be those with whom negotiation is impossible.
Iran has made it abundantly clear where she stands. Now Russia has joined in, clearly stating her willingness to oppose the United States, not just with words (as the EU has been doing), but with missiles.
And Americans may have reason to experience buyer's remorse, sooner than anyone expected. In the opinions of many, a large reason that Barack Obama won over John McCain on Tuesday was because the focus was on the economy (Obama's perceived strength) rather than on foreign policy and war (McCain's strength). Had the Iraq War been a major campaign issue, then the architect of The Surge -- and the one who had called for it before President Bush did, defying his entire party to do so -- might well have had a stronger chance.
Instead, with the Iraq War largely won and out of the headlines, the American economy dominated the election's last weeks -- and Americans voted overwhelmingly on that basis, as though the outside world was no longer a serious concern. But the outside world still poses tremendous challenges for America... and they're about to get more challenging.
Barack Obama is the one we voted for, and he's the one we got. Let's hope he's up to the challenge.
UPDATE: The initial signs aren't encouraging:
President-elect Obama is getting a rude welcome to the world of international diplomacy and the wide-reaching effect his decisions will have:You're in the big leagues now, Mr. Obama, where your every word is listened to -- and acted upon -- by world leaders everywhere. A careless phrasing from you now can no longer cost you the election... but it could bring your country to the brink of war, or sow the seeds of a future one by projecting weakness.President-elect Obama has spoken to the president of Poland about relations between the two countries but didn't make a commitment on the multibillion-dollar missile defense program undertaken by the Bush administration, an Obama aide said Saturday.So here we are with Obama telling a world leader one thing and the public another, very much like his statements on NAFTA during the election where he slammed the treaty on the campaign trail while simultaneously winking at the Canucks and saying it was just for the consumption of the gullible American electorate.
That contrasts with a statement by Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who said Obama told him the missile defense project would continue. [...]
But this is not Canada, this is Russia, the former Soviet Union, the Bear who was our enemy for decades and who will be again soon. Medvedev is the puppet while Putin pulls the strings and Putin is getting a measure of just who Obama is. Russia wants to regain its influence in the region and it starts with Poland, a fierce ally and a nation that dearly needs us to be very clear about our intentions. Instead we get mealy-mouthed rhetoric from Obama.
(Update: John Hinderaker seems to agree.)
Is Mr. Obama trying to assuage Russia by soft-pedaling the Polish missile deal? If so, not only would he be making a grave mistake (by being conciliatory towards a country that is making every effort to act like an enemy); he would also, again, be siding with an enemy at the expense of an ally.
America's allies are not dispensable, the way your former friends Rev. Wright or Bill Ayers or Tony Rezko were... and it's time to stop acting like a campaigner and start practicing to become the Chief Executive of the United States.
Democrats have complained endlessly about President Bush embroiling us in a war on two fronts (Iraq and Afghanistan), with more crises elsewhere (North Korea etc.). President-elect Obama now has storms brewing in Iran and Russia, without having made any progress at all on the existing problems.
Can we start to fear the future now? Yes, we can.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Now They Tell Us!
Glenn Reynolds is keeping track of "now they tell us" post-election moments, as are several others... and it seems like a fun idea to me.
I saw this yesterday, for example:
According to the six-year narrative of the press and political class, the Bush Administration's counterterrorism policies fall somewhere between the Spanish Inquisition and the Ministry of Love in "1984." So it was something of a shock to read a remarkable front-page story in the New York Times yesterday, the abridged version being: Never mind.(emphasis mine)
In their 1,600-word dispatch "Next President Will Face Test on Detainees," reporters William Glaberson and Margot Williams discover that, gee whiz, many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay really are dangerous terrorists. The Times reviewed "thousands of pages" of evidence that the government has so far made public and concludes that perhaps the reality is more complicated than the critics claim.
Lo and behold, detainees are implicated in such terror attacks as the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Those with "serious terrorism credentials" include al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and the so-called "Dirty 30," Osama bin Laden's cadre of bodyguards. The Times didn't mention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, though he's awaiting a war-crimes tribunal at Gitmo too.
Both Barack Obama and John McCain have pledged to put Guantanamo out of business, but, as the Times explains, "the review of the government's public files underscores the challenges of fulfilling that promise. The next president will have to contend with sobering intelligence claims against many of the remaining detainees." Now they tell us.
The snarkiness is, to me, all the funnier because it comes from the Wall Street Journal, of all places. (Granted, they're talking about their friendly adversaries over at the New York Times.)
Then there's this (hat tip: GR):
From Reuters:BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government is confident that president-elect Barack Obama will not jeopardize Iraq's improving security by hastily withdrawing U.S. troops, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Wednesday.
Obama has "reassured us that he would not take any drastic or dramatic decisions," Zebari told BBC television.
Wait, wasn't the whole idea that a President Obama would get us out of Iraq as quickly as possible and End
Then it turns out that Sen. McCain's campaign wasn't the dirtiest ever after all. (Admittedly, this is a lot easier to say after the campaign is over.)
What's next, a Democrat staffer claiming that we shouldn't have been so harsh on President Bush after all? Oh, wait --
The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.This, mind you, by a lawyer who interned with John Kerry's legal team four years ago. Now they tell us!
Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.
I expect we'll see lots more of this, in days and weeks and years to come -- both of the "our attacks on Bush weren't as justified as we thought" variety and the "Obama didn't quite mean what we thought he meant" type. Hang on, boys and girls... it's going to be a fun ride.
In the meantime, however, leave it to an Army National Guard staff sergeant to give us perspective on all this:
I'm smoking a Hecho a Mano Primo in celebration because when you think about it, it’s a victory no matter who won.Amen, brother.
To 44 peaceful transfers of power...
G-d bless America.
UPDATE: Perhaps this should be a category all its own, of the press admitting -- after the fact, naturally -- that they were heavily biased towards Sen. Obama. The Washington Post has the first frank admission I've seen:
The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.Oh, really?
The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.While (presumably) all the Post's liberal columnists were enthusiastic about Obama, at least once he clinched the nomination. Yup, no press bias here.
Our survey results are comparable to figures for the national news media from a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. It found that from June 9, when Clinton dropped out of the race, until Nov. 2, 66 percent of the campaign stories were about Obama compared with 53 percent for McCain; some stories featured both.In other words, don't worry too much about our press bias, because most of the national news media was doing the same thing. (Well, isn't that special.)
Counting from June 4, Obama was in 311 Post photos and McCain in 282. Obama led in most categories. Obama led 133 to 121 in pictures more than three columns wide, 178 to 161 in smaller pictures, and 164 to 133 in color photos. In black and white photos, the nominees were about even, with McCain at 149 and Obama at 147. On Page 1, they were even at 26 each. Post photo and news editors were surprised by my first count on Aug. 3, which showed a much wider disparity, and made a more conscious effort at balance afterward.(emphasis mine)
That makes me wonder about two things. First: you saw a blatant bias in August, and you didn't see fit to mention it to your readers until now, hey? Second: how bad was it before August 3rd, when your editors "made a more conscious effort at balance"? I guess it's not important, because she doesn't bother to tell us. (Or perhaps she finds it embarrassing.)
But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago. The Post did nothing on Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.All together, now -- now they tell us!
One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission.
Now -- what is the intent of admitting all this, four days after the election? Can they seriously believe that their blatant bias in press coverage of the campaign had no serious effect on the election results -- or that we'd believe them even if they said so? Or do they mean that, yes, they were biased, and yes, this may well have influenced the outcome of a national election; oops, sorry, now let's forget all about it, but now you can trust us again, really.
Two predictions: one, the "national press media" will (privately!) congratulate themselves on having made the American public elect their chosen candidate, and look forward to doing it again next time... and two, they will react with astonished befuddlement as their viewers and subscribers continue to abandon them in disgust.
Oh, and the Republican candidate of 2012 should assume, going in, that the press cannot be trusted with anything. Sen. McCain picked up on that this time around, but it was too little, too late, and he did nothing about it except to complain. If Republicans want to win elections from this point forward, they need to do locally what they accuse Democrats of failing to do internationally -- they need to understand who their friends are and who their enemies are, and treat them accordingly.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I'll admit that I'm disappointed in the way Campaign 2008 turned out in general. Yes, John Hinderaker points out that this was not a landslide. Nonetheless, John Kerry was reelected (with 66% of the vote). In spite of everything, Barney Frank was reelected (with 68% of the vote); in spite of everything, Frank Murtha was reelected (with 58% of the vote).
Nancy Pelosi was also reelected... which is good, I suppose, in that she's slightly better for the job than Cindy Sheehan.
Another 'election' of sorts is that the national press were vindicated. They seemed to think that, if they skewed coverage heavily enough in favor of Sen. Obama -- ignoring his major issues (while pounding Sen. McCain's minor issues to death) -- they could guarantee his election to the Presidency. To all appearances, that strategy has succeeded.
I think that's extremely unfortunate. Had McCain won, the press might have been chastened in their hubris; they might even have fallen back to their proper role, of researching and reporting news as fairly as possible. As it is, I think we're going to see some extremely swelled heads among the press corps' Obama Cheering Squads.
Will they now ever get around to reporting the issues they should have covered during the campaign? To a certain extent, they have a vested interest in not doing so; it exposes them for the partisans they are. But I suspect that they won't have much of a choice. Obama must now make decisions, some of which are sure to be unpopular; he can't vote 'present' any more. He may even alienate his friends in the press, as we saw more than once during his campaign... at which time he'll learn just what a fickle friend the press can be.
Congratulations to President-elect Obama
Well, the results were in last night -- and, contrary to my expectations and hopes, Sen. Obama ruled the polls, and it wasn't even all that close.
Let me start by saying congratulations to the man who will be 44th President of the United States, our first black President, the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote since 1976. Congratulations, President-elect Obama!
I do not like the man, nor do I particularly trust him. And I have serious doubts about the way his campaign was run, and the serious allegations of voter fraud that run entirely in his direction. Still, to pretend that the election results are anything but an overwhelming endorsement of Obama would be madness. He won; the Presidency is his.
(Don't get me wrong; I'm very proud that the United States has elected its first black President. I just wish that honor had fallen on someone else -- someone without both proven and yet-unexplored ties to terrorism, someone who is not on record as belonging to the Robin Hood school of economics, someone with a track record of achievement and devotion to country instead of credentializing for the next job. But them's the breaks.)
Hopefully this will silence, now and forever, the cries of systemic American racism. I, and many others, have gotten sick of hearing how racist America is, that we're not ready for a black President, that Obama will lose and only racism can explain it.
Racism is not dead in America, but we've come a long way indeed. We've already seen how we can transition smoothly from our first female Secretary of State, to our first black Secretary of State, to our first black female Secretary of State, with barely a mention of how unthinkable that would have been just a few decades ago. And now we have a black President-elect working with a re-elected female Speaker of the House. We're doing okay, folks.
So. What can we expect over the next four years?
Personally, I think that President Obama will spend a lot of time campaigning for reelection in 2012. Using his current job to prepare for the next one has been his entire professional life; this is what he knows. Oh, he gave a wonderful and gracious acceptance speech -- but that too is familiar territory for him. Can he actually deliver on his beautiful-sounding promises? I have my doubts... but we'll see.
He will certainly try to advance the agenda of a liberal-leaning Democratic Party; and he will have the increased Democratic holdings in Congress to help with that.
Beyond that, will he make major strides as President? My inclination is to doubt it; his career thus far has not been one of taking bold stances. On the other hand, even if his tendency is to play it safe, the troubled times in which we live will not let him.
One way or another, we're in for a turbulent four years. And personally, I'm very concerned about the challenges we'll have to face, and whether or not our President-elect is up for them.
But the American people have expressed their faith in Barack Obama. Let's hope that their faith is justified.
UPDATE: The incomparable Steven den Beste weighs in:
I think this election is going to be a "coming of age" moment for a lot of people. They say, "Be careful what you wish for" and a lot of people got their wish yesterday.
And now they're bound to be disappointed. Not even Jesus could satisfy all the expectations of Obama's most vocal supporters, or fulfill all the promises Obama has made.
I think Obama is going to turn out to be the worst president since Carter, and for the same reason: good intentions do not guarantee good results. Idealists often stub their toes on the wayward rocks of reality, and fall on their faces. And the world doesn't respond to benign behavior benignly.
But there's another reason why: Obama has been hiding his light under a basket. A lot of people bought a pig in a poke today, and now they're going to find out what they bought. Obama isn't what most of them think he is. The intoxication of the cult will wear off, leaving a monumental hangover.
And four years from now they'll be older and much wiser.
Read the whole thing. I agree with his prediction that we'll have another Islamic terrorist attack against the United States on President Obama's watch. I very much fear that his prediction of a nuclear Iran, and all-out conflict between Iran and Israel, will also come true -- the combination of an appeasing American President, a toothless Israeli Prime Minister, and militant Islam on the march is not good.
On the other hand, Mr. den Beste is classy enough to add this:
In the mean time, those of us who didn't want Obama to be president have to accept that he is. And let's not give in to the kind of paranoid fever dreams that have consumed the left for the last 8 years. Let us collectively take a vow tonight: no "Obama derangement syndrome". Obama is a politician. He isn't the devil incarnate.
UPDATE II: On the other hand, I had to chuckle at the comments I found here, in response to Michele Catalano's call to "give the President-elect the benefit of the doubt". For example:
So, suddenly since the “right man” is in the office, it’s time to respect it again and move forward? Yeah, if only people had thought of that in 2000 and 2004. Benefit of the doubt my ass. Obama’s gotta prove himself.Or this:
I hope he will prove to be a great man. As for myself, I’ll give him the exact same respect that was given to President G.W. Bush by his opponents. Nothing less, I promise.