Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stupidity (1/2)

This winter, the Middle East is heating up, and so is Lebanon. But let's start with the international scene first; the United States. I am surprised no one has picked up on Taheri's New York Post

Yes, Taheri cried wolf far too often, but this time he appears to be on the level. And yes, it's no lipstick, but the implications are far worse. Most notably, Obama's response all but confirms Taheri's claims!

Heck. I can understand that journalists are stuck in "group think", but I cannot see they can miss this one; after all, there's no lobbying egging them away from the truth. Normally, US elections would not matter to us foreigners; past history shows that whoever is elected will tend to maintain the policies of previous administrations. But this one may be different; yes, domestically Obama's plans appear superior to McCain's, but in Obama's approach there are elements on foreign policy that are downright stupid.

In the short term, there'll be hell to pay until an Obama administration wises up. This may be secondary to the concern of many in the United States; we ragheads do not matter; we do not vote in the US elections, and only the economy really matters. However, while Oil matters more than Arab blood (and in this case American blood too), the United States is not an Island.

Not anymore...

Update/Note:

Gus rightly points out that those are technically separate agreements. However, there are larger issues here, beyond the point raised by Taheri that the two agreements are essentially linked.

The main concern here is that Obama's actions give the appearance of fundamental disharmony within the United States, and this could create a dangerous precedent. A president Obama would then expect his foreign interlocutors to stall, since they would expect political challengers to undermine him from within. Such undermining may not be unprecedented in American history, but its level and brashness is.

This perception of "two Americas" will further weaken the position of the United States in the region; Americans would be vain to think that theirs is still "a shining city on a hill".

The rest of the world is watching...

... And learning.

Update/Follow-up (September 24th, 2008):

Many a commenter pointed out that Tahery's report is misleading and, at best, simplistic. The basic arguments advanced by Tahery has been (again) refuted, and I apologize for not updating the post sooner... I tend to follow a “feast or famine” cycle, and work has been getting in the way of blogging lately.

Still, while that may be a reason, it’s no excuse…

However, it's not a complete crow breakfast for me; my main point remains valid: America’s not isolated. In this globalized world, I feel foreign forays by candidates, such as Obama's latest, can risk undermining the standing of the United States. Granted, this standing was not helped by the policies of Dubya Harding so far, but when addressing foreigners will little concept of plural democracy, this gives the appearance of disunity.

On another note, economic nationalism may be leading the august burghers who rule "shining city on a hill" to forgo the advantages fo globalization. Maybe Paulson does not need those 700 Billion after all; there's plenty of money in the world that's may be willing to get a slice of the action. Or maybe he's worried about his (incompetent) friend's golden parachutes... But I digress again, we have enough on our plate already.

Back to my main point; in an increasingly globalized world, America’s can longer afford to consider itself an isolated city on a hill anymore. Internal shenanigans have an external effect, and foreigners are now increasingly playing in its internal politics, as evidenced by the latest foray by Maliki, who’s proving to be no pushover, but no enlightened liberal either. Whoever gets this hot potato will like have to butt a few friendly heads. In this context:

Facts will matter less than perceptions.

5 comments:

Gus said...

The only surprising thing in this matter is that you seem to have accepted the "silly" Taheri presentation. The press did not make an issue of this matter simply because there is nothing credible in the Taheri article. He has so clearly confused two very different things; troop withdrawl and the Strategic Framework Agreement. These are two completely separate issues. The former is concerned with troop reduction and cessation of hostile action in the immediate future(up to 18 months from January 2009) while the latter is a long term arrangement regarding US presence for decades to come.

Gus said...

It was revealed today in Al Hayat that the spokesperson for the US embassy in Iraq declared that the US is the party that is requesting that both sides; Iraq and the US; should not rush into a strategic framework agreement. It appears that the Bush administration has failed thus far to get the Iraqi side to agree to what it wants included in the "strategic framework agreement". Note that the US is not in a rush to conclude such an agreement with Baghdad.

Jeha said...

Gus,

Thanks for pointing this out. if confirmed, that would invalidate my point... In which case, it will only prove the stupidity of the current Harding administration.

I'll check and update/correct accordingly.

Gus said...

J,
The NYT is reporting today, Friday Sept 19, the same story as Al Hayat but in greater details. It looks like the Iraqi government has become much more self confident and assertive. They have the US cornered since the UN cover for the US forces expires on Dec 30 2008. Al Maliki is saying that Iraq will request an extention but will attach conditions that the US cannot accept. In that case the US will be forced either to pack up and leave or to stay without a legal cover. Both sides are playing a game of cjicken and it looks that the Iraqis will win this one ( note that it is Iraq that is refusing to sign a strategic framework agreement without a date specific for total US pullout.

Colin said...

Yeah, let me add my voice to the litany of Taheri critics.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/undermining-mcc.html

It's been refuted.