Obama's International Debut


Rate Obama's first performance on the international stage on a scale of 1-10, and tell us why you think so.

Posted by Lauren Keane on April 1, 2009 5:54 PM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (80)

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Zolko

Holding a gun to the head of the captain for ransom is not "humanly", and what do Somali pirates have to do with 911, Guantanamo Bay and the Israeli-Palestinian war? Forget all that crap. How about if the Europeans just quit dumping toxic waste off the coast of Somalia?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Daniel

At some point, statements like that from Bob are just expected. "Restraint" also means deterred. In Bob's mind, we are worse than these other countries he listed - morally - despite the circumstances of the second world war, and despite the fact that others would have used the bomb if they developed the technology first.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Tom, no use in talking to Blund. I mean he points his finger at the U.S. for Hiroshima and Nagasaki when anyone who knows anything about the war knows that we were in a race with the Germans to develop the bomb--it was do or die.

Just reflect on Nazism a moment. Then reflect on the Japanese dying to the last man on Iwo Jima, etc. not to mention what they would have done had the U.S. needed to invade Honshu. Not to mention the practice of suicide called kamikaze. We had to drop the bomb. There was no "lack of restraint" on the U.S.'s part.

Just reflect on the horrors of Stalingrad--and yes, to be fair, reflect on the U.S. utterly destroying Dresden. It was do or die.

And after the war the U.S. has been the country longest with the bomb and not used it since. And of course Russia, China etc. have not needed to use it. Their so called "restraint" as Blund says is not restraint at all but lack of necessity.

But why am I bothering with this? What a pointless conversation.

I should just tell Blund he does not even know how to be a liberal. I am reading a book now by Samuel Delany called Stars in my pocket like grains of sand and he depicts a world so liberal that everyone--including the males--are referred to as "she", and not only are homosexual practices rampant, humans have sex with lizard-like creatures--bestiality. It gets even more interesting: People eat food out of each others mouths they are so communial. Blund is not interesting even as a liberal....

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Bob,

and how far was Afghanistan from the coasts of the Northern Atlantic (remember that NATO stands for North-Atlantic...) ? The Somalis have as much "right" to seize ships around their country as "we" have to seize Ben Laden (or whatever our excuses are today for bombing them).

I do defend the Somali pirates. They are doing the only thing that is left to them. They are NOT doing that for destruction, only the money. They don't even kill the people they take hostage. What they are doing is humanly in another league as "you" with "your" Guantanamo, that you are doing only for revenge. Or what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

“Hopefully, the 21st century will bring an end to the ethnic/religious/political hatred that killed around a 100 million people in the 20th century.”

How is over there in the land of Oz, Bob? Say hi to Dorothy for me.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Bob,

Agreed.

blund Author Profile Page :

Shiveh,

I concur with your post. I'm all for looking into toxic waste being dumped in their waters or even close enough to affect their waters and fishing. I'm not even opposed to Somalians detaining fishing boats in their waters or vessels dumping in their waters. They certainly have the right to protect the limited resources they have.

What I'm against is leaving their territorial waters for the sole purpose of committing piracy. These acts of piracy diminish the legitimacy of Somalian maritime infraction claims. Any ship should be able to pass 201 miles off the Somali coast without having to worry about pirates. The Alabama was 400 miles off the coast when it was seized.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Bob,

Are you asking me to defend the actions of the Somali pirates? Or is it that you think I’m doing it by discussing their point of view? Well, I can’t and I’m not. I’m just looking at the whole picture to find a solution I think will work the best; a solution that is also in line with the moral values of a civilized 21st century world community. The following could be it!

1. An international tribune should look into the illegal dumping and fishing problems and an international marine force should keep a watch on the Somali waters to stop further damage. i.e. in the eye of the Somalis we clean up our own act first.

2. In the absence of a functional government, the tribal elders of the fishermen should be contacted, informing them of the actions taken and demanding that they stop their pirates.

3. If the piracy does not stop, go in with full force and destroy them in their bases.

The first 2 steps isolate those pirates that are in it for the money and turns public opinion against them. Third step would wipe them out without risking a revengeful backlash. More importantly in my opinion, we need the first 2 steps to justify our stance on moral high grounds without becoming self indulging hypocrites.

blund Author Profile Page :

Shiveh,

Help me out here. What in the world does any of this have to do with hijacking container ships or oil tankers 400 miles off the coast of Somalia that had nothing to do with illegal dumping?

The answer is obvious. It has nothing to with it. It is nothing more then an irrational justification for piracy. Their logic is twisted. It goes like this. "My neighbor is acting badly so I think I'll go to another city and burn down someone else's house."

Frankly, if the Somalians were so worried about illegal dumping they would spend more time protecting their waters and less time transiting into international waters committing acts of piracy. This is all about the lawlessness in Somalia and money grabbing. It has nothing to do with illegal dumping or anything else. The justifications attempted simply don't pass the scratch and sniff tests.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Bob,

I posted the link because it had some information that I did not see anywhere else. It was another side of a story of which one side was fully known. No matter how right or wrong the actions of the Somali gangs may be, in my opinion the first step toward confronting their mayhem is to know why they are doing it.

Your post touches on an old dilemma which is, should we confront the effect (in this case kill the pirates) or correct the cause so the effect comes in line? I would argue that concentrating on the cause brings about a more permanent solution.

The following 3 paragraphs from The Independent clearly show the cause and effect in this matter. Note that the complaint’s legal pursuit thru UN channels has been ineffective and without a naval force to protect the Somali coasts it is in effect the law of jungle that the Somali fishermen have to work with.

“Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defense".

As you see, this is not about Somalis being poor or disadvantaged (as you said in your first post.) It is rather about Somalis being taken advantage of and responding to the best of their ability.

Now, I agree fully with you that 2 wrongs do not make it right and do believe that one way or another this piracy must stop. It is just that by looking at both sides of the problem we may be able to find a more effective and permanent solution. A solution that won’t leave a group of people so injured that may some day want to get back at us by acts like flying high jacked airplanes into tall buildings.

blund Author Profile Page :

Shiveh,

First, two wrongs have yet to make a right.

Second, you must remember we have just emerged from the 20th century. While this century saw unprecedented achievements it will also be known for hate and destruction at unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, the hate and destruction part has spilled over into the 21st century. With the possible exception of the top 2-5% of each countries populations via income the other 95-98% of this planet is exploited one way or the other. Some obviously worse then others, but exploited never-the-less. Hence, being a member of an exploited class isn't grounds for piracy or other acts of violence. If it were the world be in state of anarchy (similar to Somalia).

Obviously, it would be a hard sell for a poor person in the US or any other country to go into court and say they robbed a bank so they could put food on the table. If that was an acceptable criteria for robbing a bank we wouldn't have any banks.

There is no doubt in my mind many Muslims have legitimate complaints with the US and other western nations. However, taking violent actions to seek redress to those complaints I find inexcusable. (Tom thinks only repubicans are law and order people and he couldn't be more wrong) OBL should be hunted down like a dog and/or with dogs for 9/11 as should pirates. Those who use violent force to impose their will unless they are engaging in self defense need to be stopped. However, when the US can invade Iraq, topple it's government and start a civil war something is terribly wrong. The arguments for the use of force in Iraq were so loosely defined they were laughable. In the end it came down to Saddam was a bad man. Whoopee! In my eyes this was obviously a terrible action to take. This brings me right back to my first point. Two wrongs have yet to make a right. Hopefully, the 21st century will bring an end to the ethnic/religious/political hatred that killed around a 100 million people in the 20th century.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Thanks for great posts. I did get a big laugh from the last line; a good way to call it a day!

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

This is one instance I agree completely with Bob. However, whoever dumped toxic radioactive waste off the coast of Somalia that washed up on Somalia beaches ought to be shot (unless they're Republicans, although I don't believe there are any any Europe) - provided, of course, this story is true (it is a left winger who reported this, you know).

I also agree with you on different opinions. I try to get at least two different conservative opinions on every story...


TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

1. The Taliban are no longer in power (we are better off).

2. Saddam is no longer in power (we are better off).

3. Pakistan is worse off. Pakistan has clearly deteriorated, but that’s not Bush’s fault - at least not as near as I can tell. Obviously, the war in Afghanistan forced the Taliban to take refuge in NW Pakistan, and they have combined with the Pakistan Taliban to form a formidable force in Pakistan. That's Bush's fault.

Lets just say for the sake of the argument that Bush had the option to force Musharraf out. If he didn’t force the change, then its possible that Pakistan could have erupted because Musharraf (thus Bush) did not allow Pakistan to return to a democratic rule. Remember how unpopular Musharraf was after forcing the Chief Justice, Chaudry, out of office. In affect, Bush was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.

I agree that Pakistan was better off under Musharraf than Zardari, but I’ve always maintained that General Kyani Is really in charge now anyway.

In addition, Pakistan encouraged and supported the Taliban (in Afghanistan originally) because they served as an ally, and a regional counter to India. Today, Pakistan believes that Karzai is much too friendly to India (thus the bombing of the Indian embassy). Musharraf allowed the Taliban (now in Pakistan) to gain in power for the most part (I believe) because he does not support the current regime in Afghanistan. Clearly, they are out of control.

Once again, my feeling is that Pakistan is their own worst enemy, and created the problems that they face at home in addition to the problems that the US now faces in Afghanistan. History will probably have to be the judge on this one, but right now, in my opinion, that’s not Bush’s fault. He probably did misjudge them as an ally, but the Obama administration is following the same path.

4. North Korea remains the same threat regardless of the moron Bush, the sexual predator Clinton or Obambi, yet NK tested a nuke on Bush’s watch - and that’s Bush’s responsibility. In addition, Bush laid down the gauntlet to NK by saying after their nuclear test in 2006:

“…The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or nonstate entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action,…”

One of the biggest fears that the US has concerning North Korea is the transfer of nuclear material or expertise to rogue states and/or terrorist organizations. The North Koreans were caught red-handed supplying nuclear technology and equipment to Syria - even while engaged in the six party talks with the US. At that point, especially after the warning issued by Bush, US participation in the six party talks should have terminated. Why deliver a warning without consequences?

Appeasement by Republicans or Democrats doesn’t work. Bush earned negative marks on NK - a testament to his change in foreign policy philosophy.

5. The “grand bargain”, to me, is more hype than anything, and proves that Iran was an international supporter of terror before Bush became President. In addition, their nuclear weapons program was well on it’s way before Bush took office. None of that is Bush’s fault, and none of it has changed. Unfortunately, because of the invasion of Iraq, that probably closed the military option to end Iran’s nuclear program - the worst result of the Iraq war. Iran is worse today than when Bush entered mainly because of that lost option. Of course, you would have to support a military option to begin with.

Ahmadinejad, in my opinion, is a master of propaganda and highly underrated as a leader in Iran. He’s fearless, and fanatical in his beliefs. It took great strength of convictions and courage to enter the snake pit at Columbia University where he came away with a propaganda coup. He has stood the west down on the nuclear issue, and wreaked havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. I don’t expect Khamenai to “allow” Ahmadinejad to lose in the coming elections.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Bob,

Knowing different sides of a story helps to make an informed opinion. That is my goal in looking for different views. I did not defend the actions of the pirates and agree with you that there are better ways for them to air their grievances. This is just another reminder that running powerless people to the point of desperation often forces irrational responses.

The Independent article is a few months old. So the news about dumping the radioactive waste and also illegal fishing has been out for at least that time. Barrowing some of your own words, let me ask why the civilized world does not take responsible action against a crime where people have died, been mistreated along with goods being stolen? Somali gangs never learned better, what is our excuse?

blund Author Profile Page :

Shiveh,

I love the other side of most stories as well. However, in this case it's just justification for crime. A crime where people have died, been kidnapped and mistreated along with goods being stolen or ransomed off. Being poor or disadvantaged isn't an excuse for acting badly. If this was the case the Mexicans would start hijacking ships in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific. Of course this assumes they could beat the Costa Ricans, El Salvadorians, etc. etc. to the vessel to hijack it. Hence, if poverty or mistreatment was a justification for piracy there wouldn't be an international sea trade route open today.

There are thousands of other ways to address grievances without using AK-47's and RPG's.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Thanks for taking the time; but what I said was that those 3 were more threatening when Bush left. There wasn’t anything in your 2 responses to the contrary.

It may surprise you but I sometimes prefer the heavy hand of an authoritarian government if the alternative is chaos and regression. The only requirement I consider is that the governing elite have the good of the country in mind. Maybe it is because of what happened in Iran that I have accepted this paradox but I’ve always found the lesser of 2 evils an acceptable choice. My reference to Bush and Mosharaf was in this context (I know when Mosharaf came to power.) President Bush pushed Mosharaf out and brought Bhutto back. Ultimately this policy may result in Taliban rule in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and very soon we may have to pick up the nukes and flee. I just hope we do not leave any nuclear material behind since the so called Islamic bomb that Israel must be afraid of is in Pakistan not Iran.

Read the pirate story. It is interesting.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

I've said it before; there are at least 2 sides to every story. I always try to find the other side. For anybody interested, this is the other side of the pirate story from the Independent.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates-1225817.html

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Sea going cargo liberators? Not exactly. More like sea going cargo resellers. LOL.

I'm digging back in my memory banks here, but I have recollections of Q ships. These were ships the British used in WWII as anti-submarine vessels to thwart the German U-Boats. They looked like tankers and cargo ships, but were built to hide heavy guns and be able to take a torpedo hit. Once hit they would stop in the water. The U-Boat would surface to finish it off and then the British would open up on them. I don't know the exact numbers, but they did have an effect.

Piracy is a very heinous crime. I have zero concern over pirates well being. I would love to see modern day Q ships transiting the coast of Somalia. A whole lot of pirates would vanish in the Indian Ocean.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

You are completely behind the times. Pirates? That's seafaring cargo liberators....

blund Author Profile Page :

Mike,

3 dead pirates, 1 in captivity and a saved captain. Not bad a bad outcome for a new president who you said, "Obama is going to be perceived as weak and vacillating. Stick a fork in him, folks, he is done." Retraction time, maybe?

As it turns out the captain of the Bainbridge had orders to use force the moment he thought the captain's life was in imminent danger and they came directly from the White House.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

MikeB

While we may not agree on globalization and protectionism, providing tax incentives and dropping the idea of any kind of carbon tax - like cap and trade - on industry can help keep jobs at home. A carbon tax that is not applied equally to all nations will certainly help drive jobs over seas. Cheap labor is not the only reason companies relocate on foreign soil. In addition, relaxed environmental and safety standards contribute to the cheap cost of doing business in China, India etc.

In addition, we should allow immigration on an as need basis - much like Canada. Granted, Canada is well protected from the flood of immigrants from Mexico so they can control their immigration much better than we can.

Nothing, however, will be done - just like the past 30 years. The Democrats and Republicans are competing for future votes from a large voting block.

The Democrats have the best vision for future immigrants - especially from Mexico. Free medical, free education, and the creation of a welfare dependent society sounds way too good to vote for a Republican. Hell, I'll vote for it.

All democracies move toward socialism for this reason (at least partially, anyway) even though our wealth was built on pure, unadulterated cutthroat capitalism.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

I think we have agreed on that from the beginning (at least that China will have to solve the problem). No matter what the US and our allies give to Kim Jong-il, he is a threat to sell nuclear and ballistic missile technology to rogue nations like Syria, and continue developing nuclear weapons. The US should just drop the idea of a diplomatic solution at this point. Let China deal with the problem since they supplied Jong-il with much of his technology, anyway. They can rein in the little dictator when necessary, and it seems unlikely that China will permit a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula - especially if Japan threatens to develop a nuclear deterrent.

I read in Drudge yesterday where China congratulated Kim Jong-il II on his reelection.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

While NK claims SK is a US puppet government the same can be said of NK and China. Without China's intervention in the Korean conflict and continuing aid NK wouldn't even exist today.

It's time we stop talking to NK and holding China accountable for their 4th world puppet state. NK is nothing more then China acting badly.

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

Recent events have outpaced the economy. The recent hijacking of ships off the Somali coast are defining the Obama Presidency much like the Iranian hostage mess defined the Carter White House. We now understand that the Navy had the lifeboat in gun sight when the kidnapped captain was swimming for his life and did not fire because of orders to not undertake any sort of "military" action without Administration approval. As more information becomes available, especially if a negotiated settlement is not successful, and such a settlement seems extremely unlikely, Obama is going to be perceived as weak and vacillating. Stick a fork in him, folks, he is done.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

1. Pakistan. You blame Bush for the state of Pakistan? So Bush helped Musharraf overthrow the elected government of Pakistan when he was governor of Texas? If you ask me, Musharraf probably owned a bigger piece of Bush than visa versa, after all, he bilked the US out of 10 billion to fight the Taliban which he put mostly into weapons to counter India. In addition, the ISI - which is under the direction of the military - funded the Taliban who, I think, we‘re fighting. Pakistan is a mess because of their own policies (i.e., the US is not responsible) which included funding and support of the Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban on their own soil - nothing which Bush has had anything to do with (except, indirectly, as noted above).

2. Grand Bargain Letter. The Grand bargain letter is interesting to me. First of all, you have accept that Iran was really was interested in a grand bargain, and that they were trustworthy like, for example, their nuclear energy program which they claim is peaceful, but is clearly contradicted by the “grand bargain”. Iran was behind the killing of 240 US soldiers in Lebanon, as well as the attacks against the Israeli embassy and the Jewish Community Center in Argentina in which 130 people were killed in 1992 and 1994, respectively. Iran hijacked our embassy and held the personnel hostage for over 400 days. The latter incident led the US to break diplomatic relations with Iran.

From Ben-Ami (the paper you recommended I read - one of my favorites, by the way):

“…With all their strategic assets in jeopardy, and fearful of being encircled by America’s colossal might, the Iranians did not lose time in proposing a grand bargain to the U.S. where all
points of contention would be put on the table, from the nuclear issue to Israel,
from Hezbollah to Hamas. The Iranians also pledged to stop obstructing the
Israeli-Arab peace process. But Neocon haughtiness did not allow for a pragmatic
response to Iran’s demarche. “We don’t speak with evil” was the line that
came out of the Cheney-Rumsfeld circle…”

What conclusions can we draw from this letter?

First, the attacks on the WTC happened only a year and a half before Iran made their offer. In addition, Iran’s “clandestine” nuclear program had been exposed only in the past year or so. For the US to begin talks with Iran so soon after those two events would have brought a significant amount of criticism on Bush for negotiating with a known state sponsor of terror (and a lying one at that). Remember, the US broke off diplomatic relations with Iran after the embassy issue in 1979. In addition, Bush must have ascertained (correctly) that it was shock and awe that produced the offer of the “grand bargain” so he probably calculated that he could deal with Iran in the future (dang if he wasn‘t right about that one!!!).

Secondly, the grand bargain exposed the relation between Iran and their proxies, as well as the intentions (sorry, Bob) of their nuclear weapons program. Iran is responsible for Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran has, at every opportunity, undermined peace between Israel and the Palestinians through their client terrorist organization, Hamas (including the Oslo Accords and Camp David in 2000), thus they have used the plight of the Palestinians to increase their power and influence in the region. They were responsible for the war in Lebanon in 2006 since they control Hezbollah, and the same for the war in Gaza in 2008 (all, of which, I believed anyway). They admitted that they were developing nuclear weapons (how could a peaceful nuclear program be on the table?) so they lied about that, and left wingers all over the world ask for proof. That’s proof. Iran admitted (basically) that they were wreaking havoc in the Middle East prior to Bush becoming President.

Iran was a sponsor of terror before Bush became President - so Bush had nothing to do with developing Iran’s policies on terror - either before or after the grand bargain To blame Bush for Iran’s nuclear weapons program today, or because they are still a sponsor of terror throughout the Middle East is completely misguided. For example, just because Clinton passed up several opportunities to kill or capture Bin Laden, that certainly doesn’t mean that Clinton is responsible for the attacks on the WTC - even though killing Mr. Laden might have prevented the attacks. I haven’t, that I can remember, ever blamed Clinton for 911. The attacks of 911 are strictly Bin Laden’s fault, just as Iran’s sponsor of terror and their weapons program are their own fault - not Bushes. In hindsight, however, no doubt, Bush should have looked into the offer at the very least (of course, that’s based on zero research into why he didn’t accept the offer to discuss the “grand bargain“). Based on their record of negotiations with the EU-3, however, there is significant doubt (on my part) that much would have been accomplished - especially as conditions deteriorated in Iraq in 2004-2005. They are all talk and stall.

3. I’ll say it again, Shiveh, NK is unreliable even if you work with them. They built a nuclear plant in Syria, for God’s sake, after signing an agreement with the US in 2005. They are going to sell nuclear plans and ballistic missile technology at the going price to anyone.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

MikeB,

NY Times just published a very interesting article emphasizing the need for more foreign born talent in American IT industries. Proof is in the pudding!

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/business/12immig.html?_r=1&hp

“Google and other big companies say the Chinese, Indian, Russian and other immigrant technologists have transformed the industry, creating wealth and jobs.”

“The foreign-born elite dating back even further includes Andrew S. Grove, the Hungarian-born co-founder of Intel; Jerry Yang, the Chinese-born co-founder of Yahoo; Vinod Khosla of India and Andreas von Bechtolsheim of Germany, the co-founders of Sun Microsystems; and Google’s Russian-born co-founder, Sergey Brin.”

Isn’t it better that they work for us rather than competing with us?

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I hope that was said in jest. Afghanistan and Iraq are childs play when compared to dropping nukes on someone.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Early in Bushes presidency, after the 9/11 tragedy Mullahs were ready for a grand bargain on US terms (letter sent thru Swiss) and Taliban were crushed by the Northern Alliance with our support. President Bush caused Iran’s increasing influence in the region by eliminating her natural enemy and then failing to consolidate Iraq; gave a second chance to Taliban by dropping the ball on Afghanistan and disintegrating Pakistani government (he owned Mosharaf) and left N. Korea to its own to Improve its ballistic missile technology. All three became more threatening by the end of Bush’s watch and that is what I said. But it wasn’t the point that I emphasized. Bush chose to talk tough to our adversaries. He challenged them to “bring it on” and they did. The final result was that “It made us weaker and our enemies tougher.”

Ben Laden could destroy two buildings in NYC killing 3000 + Americans. Whatever happened after that is the result of President Bush’s policies. He was consumed by his wars and left everything else unattended. The country was left on neutral going downhill and all brakes were dismantled. The result is “So many messes it is hard to keep count.”

Mr. Bush reportedly is sitting in Texas waiting for the day that history shall exonerate him. It is more likely that history books in the future will write: House of the Yankees was brought down by a boy emperor they called Bush!

Obama is trying to correct some of the Bush mistakes. Instead of bashing him, I’m willing to give him a little time to try.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You're right. I don't know if we fired them off in anger, but if we didn't I'd hate to see what we would do if we got angry.

mohammad_allam Author Profile Page :

Mr Obama,the popular president of USA has started his tenure with well planned programmes and policies.What he briefed before the world on national and international level will restore the lost glory and respect led by people dictator.In a democracy,particular in American democracy, a president is more dangerous than Al-Qeda if he starts premptive strike like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The policies of reconcilation by Obama with the countries around the world to bring peace is important one.His policy of bail out to the financial institutions should be more accountable.The money that public lost,should be bring from the pocket of middle gainer.
The problem of terrorism and its sffetced areas should be counter with diplomatically and development works.When people have their house well built,they donot want a fire in neighbour.Let the violence lover to tast the fruit of development,every thing will change.Other wise what they are going to loose?Nothing but their life.And this life is meaningfull to get paradise in case of Jihad.So the time is to change the mind of the people,Not to kill them.
The power sharing approcah of Obama with other leading countries around the world is aapreciable.But that should have limit.The case of Iran ,Israel,North korea etc should be deal with reasonable interest of world community.The wise man always strikes on root of problem,not on the secondary.The time is to address all those problems systemitically and solve.Select the wolrd problem on priority basis and solve.
On the scale of success his policy is between 7 to 9.Let see what happened to this scale.Whether goes to up or down?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

"...Thank you for telling me the motives of the North Koreans. Trust me, I'm no fan, but I'll be damned if I'll even attempt to tell anyone what their intentions are..."

Well then, good. You don't disagree.

"At the same time we're the only country who has ever fired off a nuke in anger and we did it twice."

How do you know that we nuked Japan out of anger instead of, say, just to inflict so much damage on the Japanese that the war would end quickly, or to save lives because of the prediction that an invasion could cost the lives of 1 million Japanese and Americans. I'll be damned before I'll speculate on what Truman's intentions were, however.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

“…You will notew that TOM never mentiones where she/he would get the funds to keep wars going, to fiance her dear puppet reginmes [Israel, Egypt, Abbas of Palestine etc.], she must rely on the good fairy to balance the USA deficit and create savings to blow on foreign wars…”

Salamon, have you not been reading the paper or listening to the news for the past several months? The wars in Iraq (winding down) and Afghanistan amount to nothing compared to the spending in TARP 1 (TARP 2?), the stimulus package and Obama’s 2010 budget. The government is trying to spend our way out of debt. That’s why Obambi tried to convince the Europeans to increase their stimulus packages.

The wars are nothing more than a government works programs. Its good for our economy. Of course, the Fed will just create the money out of thin air…God-like.

“…TOM never mentiones where she/he…”

I guess my voice doesn't come across very deep on the internet?

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Face facts. You can't stop bashing democratics anymore then I can stop bashing Bush.

You wrote:

"North Korea does not build nuclear weapons because we have them, or as a deterrent to the US, but because they want to blackmail the US."

Thank you for telling me the motives of the North Koreans. Trust me, I'm no fan, but I'll be damned if I'll even attempt to tell anyone what their intentions are.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

“…Iran, North Korea and Taliban did not get this threatening on Obama’s watch. He is trying to sort out the mess that the decider dumped on his lap…”

Well, unless Iran started their clandestine nuclear weapons program the day after Bush referred to them as the axis of evil (late 2001), then it seems likely that Bush had nothing to do with their clandestine nuclear weapons program (discovered in 2002).

North Korea does not build nuclear weapons because we have them, or as a deterrent to the US, but because they want to blackmail the US. The people in their country are starving while Kim Jong-il puts his money into the army - which keeps him in power.  This is not a problem that was thrust onto Obambi by Bush. Clinton couldn’t solve the problem either. North Korea has shown that they cannot be trusted no matter what we give them. They were caught red-handed building a nuclear plant in Syria after they signed an agreement in 2005.

Needless to say, the Taliban hosted Bin Laden, which again, is the reason we are in Afghanistan - not Bush. But, I think that what you are saying is that Bush concentrated on Iraq, instead of Afghanistan. Its highly doubtful that the war in Afghanistan would be finished if Bush did not attack Iraq unless you believe that we should have invaded Pakistan - and no one believes that would have been the right course since Pakistan is considered an ally (that‘s dubious to say the least now). The Taliban have a safe haven in Pakistan, and until that changes, its impossible to finish off the insurgency (for all intents and purposes).

If anything, Bush (care of General Petraeus) developed the strategy in Iraq that President Obambi is following in Afghanistan - the surge (note that Obambi rejected the surge strategy in Iraq).

“Talking tough did not slow our enemies a bit, soft talk may confuse them just long enough to . . . .”

Bowing to them won’t help either. The apology tour, of course, is every liberal’s dream (The US is a “downright mean country“). I only hope that Obambi is starting off in a conciliatory tone, but will get tough when necessary. Lets see.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

MikeB,

The policy towards “enemy states” has changed. Bush wouldn’t negotiate, but Obama shows interest in negotiations. That was the point of the post, nothing else.

You are a vocal opponent of globalization and do not lose any opportunity to attack such policies. When it is about destroying the manufacturing base of our economy, I agree with you 100%. Canada, Mexico, China or India makes no difference; if it is cheaper to send the orders to an outside manufacturer than it is to produce the goods here, it’ll eventually destroy the manufacturing capacity of this country. Without manufacturing the middle class will lose its strongest support system. The people who deliberately destroyed the manufacturing base of our economy to substitute it with a service based one are responsible for much of our economic problems today.

But bulk of the beef you have with globalization is in regards to hiring foreign professionals in American companies. I’m not with you on this one. As long as people who do the work make and spend their money here and pay their taxes, I do not think they are hurting our economy. I actually prefer to see foreign talent working for us rather than competing with us. Of course if I’d lost a job to an Indian IT professional I might be thinking differently. The lasting solution in my opinion is to bring the production back to this country thru tax incentives and train the local talent better to fill the positions. A little competition will keep the local talent on their toes which is just what they need.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You're right. Attacking Bush is just too easy. Even the republicans I know think he was a baffoon.

Apology tour? That's just typical republican dribble. When one makes a mistake they need to say, "sorry." Saying sorry is very different then blowing it up into a full blown apology tour. Obama may be a lot of things, but dumb he isn't. In fact compared to the last nitwit in office he's Albert Einstein. (Sorry, I just can't help myself at times).

Anyway, if I was Obama I would have done exactly what he did. I'd say sorry, I didn't do it, but I'm doing my best to fix it.

Although, come to think about it after 8 years of a neo-nazi with the IQ of an eggplant and the dark side of the force in the white house maybe an apology tour is in order. (See, I really can't help myself) Have you read the Red Cross's report on US torture program under Bush yet? If not, don't read it withing 2 hours of eating as it's rather ugly and graphic. It must make you very proud to be an American when we have to put doctors in the interrogation rooms to make sure our people aren't killing the captives. However, we don't torture as both Cheney and Bush have asserted over and over again. What does a commie group like the Red Cross know about torture anyway?

What bothers me the most about conservatives today is even after the horrendous Bush/Cheney policies there is no apology. None, zip. All we hear is the word no. No to everything.

We hear no to Obama, we hear no to stimulus, we hear no international relations, we hear no to the existance of torture, we hear no to everything. When in fact just about every economic guru in America doesn't see an alternative to stimulus. Obama is a huge success overseas. We did in fact torture according to the Red Cross and broke several international laws and treaties in the process. The republican party has turned into Mikey. Remember Mikey from the cereal commerical? "Give it to Mikey, he hates everything." The only difference is Mikey was a cute 4 year old kid and the republicans are very ugly adults who are still trying to figure out (blaming everyone and anything except themselves for) how they lost their permanent majority so quickly.

Yes Tom, I get to gloat a little and frankly it feels good. 8 years is a long time to eat republican dribble and not be able to do anything about it. Just like you were able to gloat when Bush was screwing up the country I can gloat now. We won, you lost. Get over it. The campaign for 2012 starts next week anyway.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

You are a little touchy aren’t you, Bob? But, I still love your answer. You can’t defend Obama’s policies, so you do what liberals always do…you attack Bush, the US (like Obama) and Israel. Only, this time, you (incredibly) left Bush out . Its pretty funny….

Think his policies through somewhat. What does Obama hope to gain from the apology tour? Even I suspect he will toughen up a bit. How can he not? The Europeans are highly skeptical of his rhetoric, for example.

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH writes "...We tried it your way for 8 years..."

You don't get it. We're still trying it Bushes way, now going on 9 years. The same free trading, globalization, 'put Wall Street and the wealthy first' crowd is *still* in control and they haven't changed one thing on the Titanic except to move the deck chairs around.

blund Author Profile Page :

YEOLDS,

I'm just not a sky is falling kind of a person. We're all aware that oil is a finite resource that will run out at some time in the future. In the process of running out it will decline along the way. That's no secret. The argument is whose statistics you believe in discussing this topic.

Personally, I think there is very little difference between people claiming we're going to run out in 10 years or people who claim we're never going to run out. Both positions are just opposite ends of the extreme.

We are all aware there is an urgent need to wean ourselves from bio fuels and not just because of supply issues. The economic issues surrounding this topic are sufficient enough to make this matter urgent. Will Obama be able to make a dent in this issue? I don't know if he'll succeed or not, but I do know he'll try.

Also, you stated:

" Until such time that the USA can regain her economic stature of 1945-52..."

That most likely will never happen again. It took an unusual set of historical circumstance for this to happen to begin with. A major global war that seriously disrupted the manufacturing capabilities and infrastructures of almost every other developed nation on this planet led to our economic stature between 45-52. Anyway, let's hope it doesn't happen again.

In a general sense the US needs the world as badly as the world needs the US. We're still 25% of the world's economy. As you have just witnessed when we have a decline we drag the world right down with us. If Germany or Britian had a major decline you wouldn't even see a ripple on the world's economic pond. When Japan recently went through her "lost 10 years" of economic recession we didn't experience fallout that drove up our unemployment rate or closed any of our banks.

Hence, I find it curious that many of the same foreign leaders telling the world the US is losing influence economically are blaming us for their downturns. They can't have it both ways. Either we still are the preeminent power and driving force behind the world's economy or we're not. If we're not how can we be blamed for their downturns? Virtually all of the lip service at the G-20 blaming the US on one hand and talking about our decline was simply political rubbish. It made good press, but the fundamentals of the world economy haven't changed enough for the rest of the G-20 not to need us.

Having said this there is no doubt other countries will keep developing and it's not a fair assumption to think the US will hold a position that can effect the rest of the world as negatively as it can today. How long will this take? I don't know, but I'm 58 and I sincerely doubt I'll ever see this shift in my life time even if I live to the ripe old age of 100.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Yeolds,

I agree that one of the possible futures is the one you always mention. But I’ve lived long enough to know nothing is certain until it actually happens. Many people with considerable power are trying to stop this catastrophic future that you are preaching, I rather bet on their success than failure.

Please use a word processor with spell check. Sometimes I can not even guess what you are saying. Although we all have occasional typos (myself more than most,) for me it is the effort to eliminate them as much as possible that makes them bearable.

Thanks.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

please contemplate and comment to Tom and Shiveh on the following re:USA's propabiloity of growth.

http://graphoilogy.blogspot.com/2008/01/quantitative-assessment-of-future-net.html
enjoy!

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Shiveh:

Until such time that the USA can regain her economic stature of 1945-52 - that is being the world's sole banker and the industrial power of some 60% of GDP, til that time the USA will never have the power to rebuild the world in her theoratic system [ the real system is corrupted, with the politicians being in the pocket of K-Street].

Follow the money: USA deficit approx 1.8 trillioon [including states'] for the current year - the world does not have free funds to finance this gargutan requirement, thus the USA will print til hell freezeth over, and thus probably destroy the reserve currency status of the $; else will lower living standards by cutting all entitlements and Dod [mewans all foreign forward bases, wars, finaced puppet governments etc.

You will notew that TOM never mentiones where she/he would get the funds to keep wars going, to fiance her dear puppet reginmes [Israel, Egypt, Abbas of Palestine etc.], she must rely on the good fairy to balance the USA deficit and create savings to blow on foreign wars.

W@hile the trade deficit [balance of payments deficit has decreased tremendously from year ago, the interest obligations of federal and state governments, pension funds, etc increased even faster -- and will increase til they run surpluses - which no-one foresees.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

We tried it your way for 8 years. It made us weaker and our enemies tougher. Gung-ho attitude has exhausted some of our more effective options and destroyed our moral authority, so have a little patience. We need to build up our strengths before we can start to remake the world based on our image again!

Iran, North Korea and Taliban did not get this threatening on Obama’s watch. He is trying to sort out the mess that the decider dumped on his lap. Have a little patience my friend. Talking tough did not slow our enemies a bit, soft talk may confuse them just long enough to . . . . but only if our economic mess does not catch up with us first.

So many messes it is hard to keep count. What have we been doing lately?

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom, Tom, Tom,

Every day you sound more and more like a sore loser. It gives me great pleasure to see you pick on Obama for things out of his control. Like if Bush/Darth Vader weren't still in office Iran wouldn't have done the same thing?

What I don't understand, and probably never will, is the simple fact the US is sitting on 8,000 active nuclear warheads with the ability to hit any target on the face of this planet within 3 meters. We're also sitting on another 9/10 thousand inactive nukes we could activate at the drop of a hat. The Russians are sitting on 8,000 active nukes and another 10 thousand inactive ones as well. Israel is sitting on somewhere between 20 and 200 nukes. (We're not sure the exact number as they refuse to disclose they even have any) Now we're supposed to run out and build bomb shelters because Iran or North Korea may or build a nuke? At the same time we're the only country who has ever fired off a nuke in anger and we did it twice. Not the Pakistani's, not the Russians, Indians or the Chinese. Nope, only us. The fact remains every other country on the face of this planet with nuclear weapons has shown more restraint then we have.

However, these are nothing but facts so I don't expect them to get in the way of conservative dogma. Facts never have before.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

From the New York Times online, “Iran Claims Gains in Nuclear Program”, April 9, 2009:

“…TEHRAN — Iran inaugurated its first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant on Thursday and said it had increased its capability to enrich uranium. The developments came a day after the United States said it would participate in talks with Iran and other nations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, helped open the plant in the central city of Isfahan as Iran celebrated National Nuclear Day, begun three years ago when Iran announced for the first time that it had succeeded in enriching uranium. The plant is now producing nuclear fuel for the country’s 40-megawatt research reactor in Arak. The uranium for Arak requires no enrichment before engineers turn it into fuel rods, setting it apart from most reactors….”

In your face, Obama - the message from North Korea and Iran. Obama has now completed what Mark Steyn calls the “apology tour”.

From the Middle East Times, April 9, 2009 (“Taliban Respond Positively to Obamas Offer to Talk“), by Martin Gerner:

“…"Mullah Omar has given the green light to talks," Abdullah Anas, a Taliban mediator, explained recently to The Sunday Times. "A big, big step has happened. For the first time, there is a language of peace on both sides."
Everything seems to point to the fact that those involved in the secret strategic talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government that have been taking place in Saudi Arabia in recent months have reacted positively to U.S. President Barack Obama's offer…”

These are the hard core Taliban - known for their flexibility. Next Obama will offer to talk to Hamas - and he’ll reiterate the US official position that we are not at war with Islam. He’ll likely apologize for the US vote (last century) in the UN to recognize the new state of Israel….

ramanan50 Author Profile Page :

Rating-6.
1. He is attempting to dispel the impression that US is a bully and this is paying off especially in India.
2.His handling of G 20 was good.
3.His outrage and swift action in AG bonus affair.
4.Initiative to cut wasteful defense expenditure.
5.His consensus approach both Nationally and internationally.
His statement calling for disarmaments in the wake of Nkorea missile affair is is rather naive.
Needs to be assertive as the occasion demands.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Mike:

you should know, we corresponded often on this site: Salamon

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

YEOLDS - ANd, pay tell, what is *your* name?

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Mike Brooks:

listen to: http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22371.htm

will answer to you why Obama etc can not solve the problem
enjoy

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Zoltan:

Your point on reform of the giant size agro business is well taken, especially in light of long term declining oil/gas production, the basis for pesticides/herbacides.

your point on protectionalism is denied by history's lesson:

The revisit of the 1930-s protectionalism would drive the nail into the very heart of the USA economy.

Your point on turning the militasry industrial complex into consumer/industrial production has two weak points - I deliniated them in my last posting to Mike Brooks:

1., no capital for investments
2., extremely strong political defence of all things in DoD budget.

The major problem with any possible revamping of USA industry is two fold:

1., the politician/talking head/editorial complex is unwilling to acknowledege the size and consequences of the economic collapse -- they still dream of regaining the 2006 standard of living - impossible, there is too much debt - and therefore they do not see the need for reform [also, the dependence of modern industrial economies is tied to cheap energy, where oil/gas prices will take off to the stratos[phere in a year or two: declining productivity of old foields and lack of present investment to replace lost reserves - check http://www.theoildrum.com ].

2., the USA as other Anglo-saxon nations [Canada, UK, et al] does not train tradesmen as Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hungary et al, and their present employees are getting too old. This problem is already worrying the oil/gas exploration industry, for they fear that by the time of turn-aroudn [say 2-3 years] they be short of qualified drillers, roughnecks, oil service employees.

The notion of printing money [Fed and Treasury] is self distructive - as sooner or later it will lead to inflation, recall the Hungarian Pengo!!

Probable help would be community gardens in big cities on empty lots and where houses should be razed, with government/NGO assistance to educate the ignorant masses on survival techniques: basic food as potato, peas, beans, root vegetables.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

I think there are 2 reservoirs for immediate job creation, in the millions:

1) agriculture: if you turn from the massive intensive pesticide dependent model to a bio-growing model

2) turn the militaro-industrial complex into civil production, all the while raising trade barriers, especially with China.

These both will make the US $ collapse of course... can you make do with that ? Alternatively, I'm contemplating a new proposal by the Russians and the Chinese about an independent world money : why wouldn't you simply tell them that the US $ does just that, and abandon the printing of new $ (and the FED), and create a new "greenback" national intra-US money dependent on the US government ? It seems to me that this would be a very elegant solution.

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

As with most Ponzi Schemes, the"mortgage" crisis didn't appear until there was no more money to keep it going. The underlying problem is JOBS. Until (and unless) we do something about forcing companies to return jobs to this country, our economy is going to sink lower and lower. There will be no miracle that will create anything like the number of jobs this country needs - no new technologies, no green jobs, nothing. Either we end disasters like the H1-B and L-1 visas, enact punitive taxes and fees on companies that outsourced jobs, make corporate Benedict Arnold's *bleed* or we face a very bleak future, or no future at all. We are at a crossroad and our "leaders" need to decide whether we will survive as a nation or not and that is going to mean protectionism, radical protectionism.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Mike Brooks:

At this time short of printing ooodles of money and dropping it out of a helicopter all over USA [sans bankers and their ilk] the USA does not have the "free money" to satisfy the foretold federal [and states'] deficit, nevermind to invest in repatriating offsourced industry.

Helicoptering cash would/will lead to devaluation of the USD, with consequent rise in price of oil and all other raw materials [and therefore food, which under USA agro-business is extremely energy damanding, never mind herbacide pesticide, etc]. You definetely do not wish to visit the Weimar Repulic's or Zambesia's inflation rate.

The reform, if any, must come in two major phases to possibly revive USA's economy neither of which is acceptable to the ethos of the ruling elites [ and many citizens]:

1., Socio-democratic sharing of productions' gains [a.k.a. lower discrepency between workers and owners of capital, with strong effort to rein in the payscales of the top managerial employees of Corps - at present they collect millions, even as their co goes bnkrupt]. This step of course, demands single [pay health-insurance, affordable and equal quality of elem to prost grad education, reasoanble protection for the working stiffs in case of economic dawnturn.
2., Recognizing and admitting the problems of the financial sector [from hedge funds to banks, insurance etc] and the real estaste sector [housing, commercial , industrial reqal estate] and writnhg off all the losses a la Sweden's bank reform. This step includes serious size nationalization.

The bond holders, the overpaid executive employees, the neo-con cabal, the Republican anti patroitsts [they put their actions on ideology rather than the best for the USA] will cry bloody murder: SOCIALISM.

So I suggest to you, that Mr. Obama, even if willing, faces at present unsurmountable difficulty in Congress to take progressive steps. In a country where 14.5% of disposable income is going to service debt, it is essential to FIX THE
FIRE [finance.real estate] sector. Until things get worse, there is no way that such measure can be achieved with the purchased [by big money] Congress. What you need now is STALIN without the GULAG [excluding dealing with the MASTERS OF TEH UNIVERSE -- LOL].

You can not constrain international trade, for such would deprive you of necessities [from tungsten to T-Shirts, from Hafnium to Chromium etc].

That you have to cut waste form DoD is certain, but look at the backlash from recent announcements: even as budget increases [4% year over year] Congress is arguing against all cuts.

I am sorry, it seems that your society, especially your Congress is incapable to realize the depth of the present economic situation, and until it gets worse, there is very little hope for encompassing solutions [solutions which will not recreate the standard of living in 2006, probably 20-30% decrease over the coming years].

There is nothing that MR. Obama or any other politician, congress, parliament, etc can do: natural resources are declining, oil production is falling in all MAJOR FIELDS, the sea is almost fished out.. etc.

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

ZOLKO - It's a lot worse than that. He doesn't just understand economics, period, and the people advising him, surrounding him, are free trade, globalization cheerleaders. I am surprised that most analysts, like our two hosts, don't seem to understand that everything being done by Obama's economic team is to keep their globalization schemes running. They actually believe that a global economy makes the world a safer place, that countries that trade, wont go to war, and fail to understand that our "friends" in the world depend upon a parasitical relationship with the U.S. Germany's economy, for example, leans on an 85% export of manufactured goods. China, Japan, Taiwan are even more more dependent upon exports. We, on the other hand, export virtually no manufactured goods. Of all of our trade, only a tiny 5.6% is for manufactured goods. Actually, *most* of our exports are raw materials - raw timber, minerals, coal, oil, wheat, soybeans, corn. Worse, the manufacturing jobs those raw materials used to feed in this country have all been moved to other countries. Outsourcing is actually accelerating. This is a prescription for economic and social disaster and Obama and his team are going to reap the wind. Their rosy prognostications have made people feel "hope", just like his campaign promises and speeches. Unfortunately, those promises are rapidly being exposed as empty and, when everything simply collapses, likely this summer, all of those hope filled people are going to turn on Obama and the Democrats across the board. Now, the Republican's have been exposed as just as clueless as the Democrats and both camps are busy destroying each other and any remaining trust in government and our institutions, creating a rich environment in which to grow a revolution or an American Hitler. Because he is such an empty suit, so completely and hopelessly and dangerously out of touch, I give Obama a 2.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Obama was welcomed like a rock-star, performed like a rock-star. Except that he was supposed to be the president of the most powerful and most indebted nation of the planet. How does one rate that ?

Obama as a rock-star: 9/10
Obama as US president: 3/10

He said the same things as Bush (re Afghanistan for ex), he kept lecturing the world (Europe on Turkey for ex), he continued to install more US military bases (the missile shield in Tchekia for ex) and continued to threaten the ME (re Iran for ex). He did every-thing that US presidents do, except that he was smiling and obviously cultivated. And except that he was NOT supposed to do what US presidents normally do.

He did not seem to recognize the scope of the financial collapse, thus the low points.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Mike Brooks:

Completely agree with your analysis.

The difference between Bush and Obama in this respect: Bush ordered or bribed, Obama listens, but still acts as a hegemon, rather than taking non-USA advise.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Shiveh:

you stated: " A democracy must have a healthy play of political parties to truly be democracy."

This staement indicates that the USA has no democracy according to yopur definition:
1., there are two parties sucking form the same tits on K-Street.
2., Both parties underwrite the notion of US Empire building.
3., Both parties put the interest of Israel ahead of the interst of 90% of the USA's population.
4., Neither party is willing to talke on the miscreants of Wall Street.

So please cite the differences which wouod lead to healthy play - excluding any reference to Healthcare, where the majority of citizens want MAJOR CHANGES /one payer system.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

We elected Barack Obama for his charm, his oratory abilities, his common sense and his analytical strengths. We did not choose him for his expertise in economics. That part of the job is delegated to the likes of Larry Summers and company. Their success or lack of it at G-20 won’t be apparent at this early stage. The fact that they could not persuade other governments to print and disperse money as fanatically as we are doing could be a blessing in disguise.

Obama was successful in his charm offensive at the G-20. He mended much of the injury inflicted by his predecessor on our natural allies in Europe and beyond. He also defined the position of the United States in the new world stage thru comments like this one: "But we exercise our leadership best when we are listening, when we recognize the world is a complicated place and that we are going to have to act in partnership with other countries, when we lead by example, when we show some element of humility and recognize we may not always have the best answer."

Obama’s comment should be viewed in concurrence with the comment Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) made in ABC news’ "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Last Sunday. Here’s a little dose of reality by Mr. Haass: “… welcome to the 21st century. This is a world in which power, and in many cases in nasty forms like proliferation, will be more dispersed, more distributed. This is the future of the world. This is history calling to us. Now we can not solve it. We can perhaps manage it at times but this is going to be a messier and more difficult world that United States at best can influence but we can’t dominate it. We surely can’t control it.”

It is considering this new reality that I give president Obama a high mark on his performance at G-20. His comments on START treaty and total nuclear disarmament were also a plus although to fully implement them we should reserve a conference hall for next G-20 in the Land of Oz.

Michelle Obama’s brief encounter with the Queen occupied much space in the news reports. For some reason it reminded me of a comment I heard a while back about Iran, calling it a country that builds multi stage ballistic missiles and at the same time stones adulterous couples to death. Now, I wouldn’t compare touching the Queen with stoning but I think some hang ups are better left to the antiquities. What is poor Philip doing?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Daniel

Nope, I think you nailed it Daniel. Just democracy or liberal democracy works for me for the general case. No sense in getting too complicated for our discussions. The case for democracy (or liberal democracy) for individual countries can be argued individually.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

On the question of what exactly is meant by a liberal democracy we have to first define what we mean by liberal as it seems to have different meanings with the passage of time.

The historic meaning of liberal is something of liberty, free speech, etc. and it is true that a liberal state and a democracy in that sense are one and the same--and it is true therefore that calling a democracy liberal in that sense is a redundancy. But probably the redundancy served a purpose to discriminate between the more successful and the less successful democracies. In other words as democracies departed from being liberal in this old sense terminology was required by which we arrived at liberal and illiberal democracies.

Now with the passage of time something quite interesting seems to have occurred: the term liberal came to signify leftwing trends only--and in coming to signify leftwing trends only discredit was placed on any democracy which did not conform to this leftwing trend. In other words democracies which did not conform to the leftwing trend came to be considered illiberal even though these democracies were quite liberal according to the original definition of liberal.

Now it seems we have total confusion. We have people speaking of liberal democracies and taking the word liberal to mean leftwing trends but if that is done as it is being done what is happening is that we are moving away from democracy toward socialism or even communism. A democracy must have a healthy play of political parties to truly be democracy. If a democracy becomes liberal in the sense of leftwing trends dominating the society it really cannot be considered a democracy anymore at all.

The same would be the case if we would have a "conservative" democracy. Such a thing would not be a democracy as much as a dictatorship or a monarchy or a theocratic state. One really should never speak of a democracy being liberal (leftwing) or conservative because democracy gets lost in either direction. If we must characterize these left and right leanings we should say social democracy over liberal democracy and perhaps capitalistic democracy to characterize the right wing trends. And it is important to note that these distinctions seem to follow the economic pattern of a society. In other words the modern left and right are distinguished by differences of economic system and these economic leanings distort democracy in this direction and that.

Personally I believe the term liberal in the old sense must be retained to describe a democracy which has a healthy play of parties, which honors free speech, which is forward moving, dynamic, and not liable to the stasis evident in socialism, communism, or dictatorship or theocratic society, etc.--all the dangerous right and left wing trends. But I understand if people take exception to the term liberal in this sense because there is probably too much connection to the old laissez faire economic system, so...I really see no clear direction at all except a laborious process of trying to be exact about what one is trying to say...

I guess new terminology is required. Or maybe I just do not understand the problem at all.

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

Der Spiegel says it best - "The G-20 has agreed on plans to fight the global downturn. But its approach will only lay the foundation for the next, bigger crisis. Instead of "stability, growth, jobs," the summit's real slogan should have been "debt, unemployment, inflation."

Instead of asking the fawning twits who love Obama no matter what or the nasty race baiting right, go read the foreign press! The G20 meeting was a flop and Europe got to see Obama as a rick star ... with all of the knowledge of how to run a country as a rock star.

Others chiming in:
Huanqiu Shibao, China : "The American Myth Has Lost Its Luster..."

United Daily News, Taiwan: " As American Hegemony Disintegrates, Who Will Take the Lead?"

Sankei Shinbun, Japan: views Obama as so accommodating he appears ready to pawn the U.S. in the cause of globalization

Similar sentiments are expressed pretty much around the world. Obama basically came off as a well spoken empty suit.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I agree, it is a can of worms. Liberal democracy and democracy are basically one and the same via political definition and hence it's almost redundant to use the liberal. While countries like Pakistan have free elections (sort of) there are too many aspects of political system that don't meet the criteria for democracy to really be called one. A case in point is any real political opposition is either exiled or killed. The judicary has been interferred with to the point no one could even begin to call it unbaised. Human rights? Forget about it. So while I agree they have elections they still have a long road ahead of them to really be called a democracy.

Zakaria isn't on my top 10 list these days. His concept of a post-American world is so old and recycled it's almost laughable. Kissinger's concept of Detente was based on the same premise back in the 70's. Kissinger understood America came out of WWII virtually unscathed compared to the rest of the world and knew it would be only a matter of time before they rebuilt. Unfortunately, GM, Ford and Chrysler never understood this. His recent CNN interview over Obama's performance at the G-20 I found lacking in anything other then promoting his book. On one hand he's telling us the US is losing influence in the world as Obama didn't get all the injection of captial he wanted and maybe a little more regulation then he wanted. On the other hand we have these same new (?) up and coming power brokers blaming us for their crisises. You can have it one way or the other, but you can't have it both ways. If the US is capable of taking down the world's economy by themselves then the US's power isn't waning. Whether he or the 19 countries of the G-20 likes it the US is still powerful enough economically to be the world's driving force. Until that changes or there are clear signs of that changing based on economic statistics he simply doesn't have a point. Suffice it to say I'm not quoting Zakaria at this point.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

This is definitely a can of worms. The shortened form of liberal democracy, according to Wikipedia, is democracy, so the two terms can be used interchangeably, but what I had in mind (and confused for the term democracy) is what Fareed Zakaria wrote in Foreign Affairs in 1997 (“The Rise of Illiberal Democracy”):

“…Summary --
  
Around the world, democratically elected regimes are routinely ignoring limits on their power and depriving citizens of basic freedoms. From Peru to the Philippines, we see the rise of a disturbing phenomenon: illiberal democracy. It has been difficult to recognize because for the last century in the West, democracy -- free and fair elections -- has gone hand in hand with constitutional liberalism -- the rule of law and basic human rights. But in the rest of the world, these two concepts are coming apart. Democracy without constitutional liberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic competition, conflict, and war. [The international community and the United States must end their obsession with balloting and promote the gradual liberalization of societies]…” my brackets.

For example, Iraq is not a liberal democracy - obviously. Pakistan is another example (despite voting). Voting, in itself, does not constitute a democracy, but is only one part of democracy. Turkey also is questionable, although Wiki calls Turkey a democracy. To me, there are varying degrees of democracy.

Anyway, thanks.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

your notes on liberal democracy [nordic v US] are pertinent.
Your appearnt choice of the USA type is understandable [your career and your citizenship etc].
There is a fly in the ointment: peak oil is around or already happened, which puts the brakes on forever growing GDP. It came at the wrong time, for Wall Street [and gov regulators] aided and abetted the destruction of Capital [50+ trillion and more to come] at the very time that there is need in alternative energy investment and infrastructure.

The above missing capital will lead to a declining standard of living in the USA [largest relative] and in all developed countries, with major catastrophies in the poorest areas of the world, with the added probem of weather change [global warming].

The above will force in the next four years Mr. Obama and the Congress to adapt the social democratice social structure as a self defence considering the 270 million guns, and other armaments in the hands of the citizenry. Were no steps taken to ease the social structure of the poorest segments and the newly demoted middle class it is highly likely that the USA will face either fragmentation or major revolutionary movements backed by fire power [which does not exist in most developed nation to the same degree]. When experienced politicians like Mr. Breznenski {??? spelling} contemplate such thought in MSM land, then you can not write this off as nonsense.

Such change into social democratic social programs would eliviate the pain [to a certain extent] caused by the collapse of Wealth and the collapse of many cheap sources of energy and other raw materials. I am sure that the Walton family does not need 45 billion dollar wealth [in monetary terms] when this can be wiped out by the collapse of the US $ [weather international pressure, or self-administered idiocity].

if the steps taken by the powers to be [President, Congress, Federal Reserve, and Judiciary] to eliminate, or at least ease the structual inequality in all important aspects of life: education, access to decent housing [not McMasions] post secondary ed, and health care] The end result will not be pleasant.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

OK, all kidding aside. I understand your point, I just fail to see a difference using this definition between a democracy and a liberal democracy. Under this definition give me an example of a non-liberal democracy.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

Latest results (in a nutshell):

1. G-20: Obama (the Anglo-American block) got none of the new stimuli sought. Europe and the so-called “emerging nations” got the aid sought for poorer countries suffering from the crisis and a compromise (of sorts…) on more regulations.

2. NATO: Obama did not get the strong engagement (more particularly European) sought (no additional fighting troops), only marginal and verbal support.

Assessment:

1. The US needs to come to terms with the demand for a new financial, economic and political world order by the rest of the world (the so-called “emerging nations” and much of Europe). American unilateralism is dead. Mr. Brown’s final remarks notwithstanding, no new world order came out of that brief G-20 meeting. That issue will not be settled on the cheap with such pure rhetoric as his. It is urgent that international rules and institutions that define a new world order, truly representative of today’s world, come into existence.

2. The US needs to come to terms with the necessity to take full responsibility (financial, military and political) for all its mistakes. In our multipolar world, the citizens of each and every country now expect, more than ever, that their governments put national interests ahead of American interests. They are in no mood to pay for American blunders with their money, least of all with their lives and those of their children. BS coalitions (those of the Brainwashed, the Blackmailed, the Bribed, the Bullied and the Blind) may not be seen again for quite some time.

That means tough, long overdue decisions need be made in Washington. More of the same is not a viable option, and change we believe in is not enough. The world needs change IT believes in and demands. The US (and Obama) will lead only by being part of that solution the world now needs, not by remaining part of the problems the world now rejects. A most engaging smile, a relaxed demeanour, even charisma and a charming wife are no substitute for true leadership in the President of any country. .

Rating:

Obama, 4 (unsatisfactory) – progress in world disarmament may help improve that rating…
Obama’s staff, strategists, advisers and administration, 0.5 (mediocre)
US media, minus 10 (-10) for mistakenly interpreting the G-20 as a Gossip-20 event.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I like your thinking. Everyone who is a true American should vote liberal.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

The “liberal” in liberal democracy is a political reference, not social. In other words, that we are a capitalist country with less social programs doesn’t mean that we are not a liberal democracy. The protections inherent in our constitution (from government), and civil rights, human rights and civil liberties (and, importantly, protection of the minority from the majority) are what makes us “liberal”. Western countries (Europe, the US and Canada), for the most part, are liberal democracies - regardless of their social policies like welfare.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

As you've pointed out on numerous occasions the US is basically a politically conservative nation who when given an equal playing field will vote conservative. I don't like this fact, but I can't argue with it. Obama was elected because Bush was a horrible president. Clinton won because BushI let the economy go down the tubes.

When I think of liberal democracies or more accurately liberal representative democracies I think of countries that have moved substantially towards social democracies or democratic socialism. Sweden would be such a country. Norway, Denmark and Holland also come to mind.

Capitalism has it's strong points. This may not be a popular statement among many Europeans today, but basically capitalism has been the driving force in the growth of the US. The system that just created this recession is also responsible for the creation of wealth like the world has never seen before. However, you would have to admit there has been a price to pay for this. In capitalism you almost have a social Darwinistic approach to your population. Those who are capable of playing the game thrive and those that aren't are really poor and disenfranchised. You can travel to Scandanavia today and I dare you to find a slum. If there's one there I couldn't find and I have traveled extensively throughout Scandanavia. The same can not be said about the US. All of our major cities have large areas of slums. Reagan's trickle down economic theory was just an extension of how our society was already operating. We assume if business does well there will be a trickle down effect. This is opposed to a Democratic Socialist (DSOC) or Social Democrat (SD) system that believes it's the responsibility of those elected to ensure their citizens have a level of existance that provides them with basic services and fosters dignity at the same time among all of it's citizens.

Who is right? I don't know. On one hand I've been a captialist my whole adult life. On the other I've also believed in more social responsibility of government to raise living standards of those disenfranchised.

All democracies have certain things in common. Open and free elections, a separate judicary, the right of redress with their governments. We certainly have all of these. However, to tack a liberal label on US Democracy I think we would need to be closer to a socialist style of democracy to warrant it.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel. It seems we have had a misunderstanding and nothing more. You took the "liberal" part of "liberal democracy" to mean something of the equivalent of the liberal democratic party in the U.S. I took it to mean a typical successful
Western democracy in general--and that is how it is usually taken in foreign affairs. In fact even in domestic affairs it is strange as you say to consider a democracy liberal, or conservative or--for the simple reason that in any successful working democracy there are a variety of parties, conservative and liberal and others. By saying liberal democracy as you do you seem to mean a democracy dominated by something of the equivalent of the democratic, liberal party in the U.S. And I just find that characterization strange. But if that is what you mean well then you should have been clearer in your language because we are having a problem of definition here. But no harm done. If you want to speak as you do I will play along. And I agree with you (taking your definition) that Israel is not a liberal democracy--in fact Israel is quite hard right no matter their attempts to give the leftwing trends a voice. In general I suppose any beleaguered democracy would become less of a liberal democracy as you put it. But I find your characterization of the U.S. as not being a liberal democracy interesting--interesting because here (if you are correct) we have a democracy not liberal for no reason, because the U.S. is quite powerful and not beleaguered. Why the U.S. should be so conservative while under no threat is strange. Could it be the U.S is conservative because she is under the constant stress of assimilating immigrants? Interesting conversation here....

One more note: Our misunderstanding seems due to you taking "liberal" in the modern democratic party in the U.S. sense. I was taking "liberal" to mean what historically it has usually meant, namely a democracy of free press, liberty, etc.

I hope things are clearer for both of us now.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Uh Bob

Why isn't the US a liberal democracy?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

From the Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2009 (“US OK with UK's overture to Hizbullah”):

“…The Obama administration is "comfortable" with the British government's attempts to engage Hizbullah, a senior British diplomat asserts…Bill Rammell, Britain's minister of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, said in a brief interview late last week that despite protests to the contrary, the new US administration doesn't object to the fledgling contacts with the "political win" of the Lebanon-based Shi'ite Muslim group, which also has a heavily armed militia…"We have a different approach on this issue at the moment with the United States," he said. "But it's not an issue of disagreement in intentions. The feedback we had on Lebanon is that the Americans are comfortable with us doing things differently than they are at the moment."
Senior US officials privately have mocked and publicly rejected the British decision. "Our position on Hizbullah remains unchanged," Jeffrey Feltman, the US deputy assistantsecretary of State for Near East affairs, told lawmakers last month. "We see no distinction between the leadership and funding of the group's terrorist, military, political and social wings…Although the Obama administration rejects the British approach, Rammell said initial US alarm has given way to curiosity and that there is "no antagonism" between the two allies over the issue…”

Last month as the article says, the US rejected the approach of the British talking with the political wing of Hezbollah, and (rightly) said the US did not distinguish between the social, political and military wing of the “terrorist” organization (because there isn’t any).

For a Presidency built on negotiating with anybody, I thought it kind of strange when the US rejected the British diplomacy with Hezbollah. To me, the reason is fairly simple. How could Obama solve the Palestinian issue by rejecting talks with Hamas either through direct negotiations or through the British? The Europeans will site how they solved the unsolvable deadlock in Northern Ireland and will try to apply it to the Middle East. Good luck on that one.

And, of course, that will be the next step. The British or US will call for Hamas to reject violence (which I don’t believe they will, but instead will opt for a cease fire), but leave out the stipulation by Israel that Hamas must recognize the “Jewish” state - something Hamas will never do, but is critical for actual peace in the ME.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

I'm sorry, I can't stop laughing at your last post to me. I knew you couldn't let this go and would come up with something off the wall. You didn't disappoint me.

Let's try this one more time. I have never said Israel is not a democracy. All I said was they weren't a liberal democracy. I'm terribly sorry you don't know the difference. Democracies can be liberal, middle of the road or even conservative. If I had wanted to say Israel wasn't a democracy I would have said, "Israel is no democracy." I didn't do that. What I said was they are a lot of things, but a liberal democracy they are not.

The US isn't a liberal democracy either. Sweden is a liberal democracy. Norway is a liberal democracy. Israel while being a democracy isn't liberal.

I await your response.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Give Obama a seven....

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel. I could not get back to you on the last thread because the site kept saying that no more posts will be accepted. So I get back to our discussion on the last thread now.

First I should say I am insulted when you say I put words in your mouth. I never even think of such games.

You say you never said Israel is not a democracy--that you never even implied such. Go back to the last thread and go to the 28th post from the beginning--a post by you to Tom. In the second sentence or so of your post you said: "Israel a liberal democracy? Israel may be a lot of things but a liberal democracy they are not". That not only implies but says Israel is not a democracy.

Why? Precisely because when democratic elections occur in a country and the result is the election of a dictator or terrorist group or some other entity not democratic as in Western civilizations we often say the result was not a liberal democracy--meaning although we admit that democratic elections did occur, the result is quite far from liberal democracy.

So I would say that at least implies you said Israel is not a democracy.

I have to admit though in your last post to me you were being objective toward the end. Unfortunately you marred that by saying that I would probably respond to you by saying "Blund hates Israel". I think my record shows that I do not respond in such childish fashion.

Personally I think you owe me an apology for first saying I put words in your mouth (and the whole Israel not a democracy thing) and second for saying I would probably respond to you in the childish manner above mentioned.

But I doubt for all your secular humanism, all your lofty neutrality, that you will deign to stoop so low. But perhaps I am being childish now.

I will be mature and assume especially that you forgot mentioning to Tom that Israel is not a liberal democracy. And really, I do not think you were resisting my words about you saying Israel is not a democracy out of any malignancy--I honestly believe you forgot your words to Tom.

That is all.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

In 2-3 weeks or months this question might be pertinent. From what I read on the Communique it appears there is lot of talk [or hot air] without knowledge if any proposals will be enacted [sans IMF - even there there is a need for more contributions - and it is unclear if UK -bankrupt] or USA [Congress, and bankrupt] can do more than print money. It is also unclear if the two major causes of the financial house of cards, the USA and the UK are willing to follow the EU [German France] and China/Russia demand for comprehensive international regulations. It is my guess that the USA [sole superpower, greatest
BANKRUPT ECONMOY] has a thing about international law, international treaties and international supranational institutions, therefore, I do not think that the President and Congress are willing to back a STRICT INTERNATIONAL REGULATORY FRAMEWORK which takes precedence over NATIONAL CONTROL.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom has a point about the media on this one. Was he a hit? Sure he was. He went to London with rock star status and emerged with his status intact. From all appearances he was well received by the foreign leaders. Hopefully, this will lead to increased cooperation between various governments down the road. I'd give him a 7. Michelle on the other hand definitely deserves an 9. (Sorry Tom, the Queen initiated the contact). However, let's face it. It's normally easier to be an ambassador than a world leader.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

PG

At this point, its impossible for me to tell if Barack did well or not since the media is totally in the tank for him. I guess I'll find out more in the coming weeks. I give Krauthammer a 10 for today's Washington Post article on Obama. He's right on the money, in my opinion. Michelle was clearly a hit though (8).

PS I would have given Michelle a 9 if she didn't touch the Queen.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.