Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 6, 2009

Lincoln Stirs the Pot

Sen. Blanche Lincoln has finally declared her opposition to card check, after much hemming and hawing. This ironically may be bad news for Arlen Specter, who can no longer advertise himself to anti-card check forces as the only thing standing in the way of passage. Now even if Specter loses his seat and it flips to the Democrats, presumably Lincoln’s vote would keep a filibuster going. (Am I the only one who thinks Lincoln’s “no” vote is more secure than Specter’s?)

Aside from Specter, it is getting increasingly difficult for Big Labor and their blogging spinners to keep up a brave face. Still, I eagerly await future postings on how “challenging” card check has become, and that an Obama effort is more critical than ever to deliver a win for Big Labor. Back in the real White House, I imagine they are delighted to see this issue recede.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln has finally declared her opposition to card check, after much hemming and hawing. This ironically may be bad news for Arlen Specter, who can no longer advertise himself to anti-card check forces as the only thing standing in the way of passage. Now even if Specter loses his seat and it flips to the Democrats, presumably Lincoln’s vote would keep a filibuster going. (Am I the only one who thinks Lincoln’s “no” vote is more secure than Specter’s?)

Aside from Specter, it is getting increasingly difficult for Big Labor and their blogging spinners to keep up a brave face. Still, I eagerly await future postings on how “challenging” card check has become, and that an Obama effort is more critical than ever to deliver a win for Big Labor. Back in the real White House, I imagine they are delighted to see this issue recede.

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Commentary of the Day

Warren, on Max Boot:

Missile defense is the only hope for neutralizing the threats of other nuclear powers. Whether it is an infallible system already or not, it is our best hope for the future. Not only does it have the potential to stop an oncoming nuclear armed missile, but it has the deterrent effect of reducing an enemy nation’s confidence in obtaining an advantage by striking first. With the exponential advances in technology in the digital age, it strikes me as strange that leftists consistently argue that these systems could never work and, that, if they don’t work already, they are not worth pursuing. Nuclear disarmament is nice in theory, but it is far from feasible or practical. In fact, continued nuclear proliferation seems logically to be the much more likely scenario, as coutries like N. Korea and Iran set the example that nuclear arms are useful for protecting criminal regimes from any and all punishment. Since that precedent is currently being set by the weakness of the international community, we can expect more of this behavior in the future. Meanwhile, multilateral nuclear disarmament will be a long, arduous, and uncertain process (to the point of utter impracticality). We would be forced to trust regimes that have never proven themselves to be reliable, and would end up putting ourselves, voluntarily, on an equal plane of vulnerability with our potential enemies. We would prostrate ourselves before the international community in seeking its approval, while sacrificing a defensive advantage and not ensuring any extra security.

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Warren, on Max Boot:

Missile defense is the only hope for neutralizing the threats of other nuclear powers. Whether it is an infallible system already or not, it is our best hope for the future. Not only does it have the potential to stop an oncoming nuclear armed missile, but it has the deterrent effect of reducing an enemy nation’s confidence in obtaining an advantage by striking first. With the exponential advances in technology in the digital age, it strikes me as strange that leftists consistently argue that these systems could never work and, that, if they don’t work already, they are not worth pursuing. Nuclear disarmament is nice in theory, but it is far from feasible or practical. In fact, continued nuclear proliferation seems logically to be the much more likely scenario, as coutries like N. Korea and Iran set the example that nuclear arms are useful for protecting criminal regimes from any and all punishment. Since that precedent is currently being set by the weakness of the international community, we can expect more of this behavior in the future. Meanwhile, multilateral nuclear disarmament will be a long, arduous, and uncertain process (to the point of utter impracticality). We would be forced to trust regimes that have never proven themselves to be reliable, and would end up putting ourselves, voluntarily, on an equal plane of vulnerability with our potential enemies. We would prostrate ourselves before the international community in seeking its approval, while sacrificing a defensive advantage and not ensuring any extra security.

If the left cares at all about national security, it would seem logical for them to approve of defensive weaponry, if they cannot approve of nuclear arms, as the safest and most moral means to ensure the safety of our homeland and the soverignty of our allies. But since they consider preparing for self-defense to be a provocative act, we might as well just sit back and hope that no one figures out how defenseless to a first-strike we really are. Frankly, since we might feel required to respond to an aggressive act in-kind, having a missile defense system in place might allow us to take the moral high ground, since our ability to stop a nuclear attack would make it easier to justify a non-nuclear retaliation, should such an attack occur. We could, thereby, prevent a nuclear holocaust on the homeland and retaliate using our precision guided weaponry that would allow us to eliminate the regime with as few innocent casualties as possible. But should a nuclear attack succeed on US soil, it is unlikely that cooler heads would prevail in preventing the demand for an immediate nuclear retaliation. In this scenario, we not only suffer nuclear devastation, but we lose the moral high ground that the left regards as the primary goal of foreign policy. So it makes no sense from both the rational and moral perspectives to not promote missile defense and to not provide it all the funding necessary to make the technology viable as soon as possible.

The left has never understood that weakness is provocative. The Russians make a big fuss about missile defense because it would damage their ability to leverage their nuclear arsenal against their neighbors. A viable missile defense system would make them less, not more, likely to attack the US or its allies. They may not like us as much as a result, but it’s only because we would have effectively prevented them from running roughshod over Europe. Our government’s number one priority is to assure the safety of its citizens. In geopolitical terms, one of our key strategic interests is to prevent the rise of aggressive regional hegemons. Nuclear arms, especially with successful proliferation in Iran, could only ensure that minor aggressions against our allies will go unpunished, and major aggressions against the US would result in a variant of mutually assured destruction for all parties. Missile defense, however, would eliminate the certainty of an aspiring regional hegemon that they could avoid punishment or use their arsenal to gain a strategic advantage against us.

Such an irrational approach to foreign policy as the one Obama has begun to pursue can only originate from a willfully blind ideology. We are seeking to sacrifice our advantages and rights as an individual nation in order to gain the acceptance of and inclusion in the international community. However, if we continue to deteriorate our capacity to fully defend ourselves and continue to denigrate the values that helped us achieve that capacity, we will find ourselves just one of many nations, no stronger or weaker. At that point, we will quickly learn that the international community has no guarantors of freedom, no natural peaceful order. We had long been freedom’s de facto guarantor. Just because we want to give up that role doesn’t mean we won’t still be the main target of freedom’s enemies.

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Obama’s Turkish Two-Step

President Obama was faced with a difficult task in his address to the Turkish parliament today. While he will get his share of brickbats for the latest edition of his foreign charm offensive, there is no denying the importance of trying to keep the Turks as U.S. allies. While much of the commentary about our relations with Turkey blames all the trouble on the usual scapegoat — former president George W. Bush — the truth is a lot more complicated than that.

As much as some on the left want to blame everything on America’s post-9/11 attitude toward the world (especially the Iraq War), the real change in U.S.-Turkey relations has taken place on the Turkish side. The rise to power of an Islamic political party has shaken the foundation of Turkey’s secular domestic traditions as well as played havoc with their foreign policy. The Turks bailed on the invasion of Iraq, thus complicating the outcome of that conflict. They have also lately shifted from being Israel’s sole friend in the Muslim world to being an increasingly hostile critic. And yet the Turks still long for integration into Europe and wish to be treated as an honored ally. Just to keep it even more interesting, they are also still obsessed with avoiding responsibility for the Ottoman genocide of Armenians during World War One.

Keeping the Turks on the reservation as allies isn’t going to be an easy task for anyone, including Barack Hussein Obama. Obama’s charm offensive moved to Ankara today and if there is one place where his standard attempt to be all things to all people might be appropriate, it is Turkey.

As Abe wrote, Obama played the even-handed card on Israel, articulating support for Israel’s “security concerns” and opposing terror while at the same time making noises about helping the Palestinians and reaching out to Syria.

More sensibly, Obama tried to rally the Turks to the cause of persuading Iran to give up its drive for nuclear weapons. He supported the Turkish right to defend their sovereignty against Kurdish rebels and backed their inclusion into the European Union. He even tried his best to dance around the Armenian question calling upon the Turks to face up to their “imperfect” and “tragic” history just as America has. Good luck with that.

More attention will be paid to his conclusion in which he promised, “The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.” This is, of course, a truism. No sovereign nation is ever going to be literally at war with a religion. The problem with Obama and George W. Bush (who never lost an opportunity to point out that Islam was a “religion of peace”) before him is that, whether we like it or not, Islamists are at war with the United States and the rest of the West. Obama can speak of his Muslim relations and his “deep appreciation for the Islamic faith” until the cows come home and it won’t change the fact that radical Islam hates Western democracy.

That said, if there is any country where a little Obama-style love might help it could be Turkey, an important country where the balance between secularism and Islamist forces is still very much in play. So I’ll give Obama credit for trying to keep the Turks from bolting the alliance even if it means avoiding the truth about an unavoidable clash of civilizations. The problem here though is not in his decision to make nice to the Turks, but in the delusion that seems to animate all of his foreign policy, that rhetoric alone will solve America’s problems in a dangerous and violent world.

President Obama was faced with a difficult task in his address to the Turkish parliament today. While he will get his share of brickbats for the latest edition of his foreign charm offensive, there is no denying the importance of trying to keep the Turks as U.S. allies. While much of the commentary about our relations with Turkey blames all the trouble on the usual scapegoat — former president George W. Bush — the truth is a lot more complicated than that.

As much as some on the left want to blame everything on America’s post-9/11 attitude toward the world (especially the Iraq War), the real change in U.S.-Turkey relations has taken place on the Turkish side. The rise to power of an Islamic political party has shaken the foundation of Turkey’s secular domestic traditions as well as played havoc with their foreign policy. The Turks bailed on the invasion of Iraq, thus complicating the outcome of that conflict. They have also lately shifted from being Israel’s sole friend in the Muslim world to being an increasingly hostile critic. And yet the Turks still long for integration into Europe and wish to be treated as an honored ally. Just to keep it even more interesting, they are also still obsessed with avoiding responsibility for the Ottoman genocide of Armenians during World War One.

Keeping the Turks on the reservation as allies isn’t going to be an easy task for anyone, including Barack Hussein Obama. Obama’s charm offensive moved to Ankara today and if there is one place where his standard attempt to be all things to all people might be appropriate, it is Turkey.

As Abe wrote, Obama played the even-handed card on Israel, articulating support for Israel’s “security concerns” and opposing terror while at the same time making noises about helping the Palestinians and reaching out to Syria.

More sensibly, Obama tried to rally the Turks to the cause of persuading Iran to give up its drive for nuclear weapons. He supported the Turkish right to defend their sovereignty against Kurdish rebels and backed their inclusion into the European Union. He even tried his best to dance around the Armenian question calling upon the Turks to face up to their “imperfect” and “tragic” history just as America has. Good luck with that.

More attention will be paid to his conclusion in which he promised, “The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.” This is, of course, a truism. No sovereign nation is ever going to be literally at war with a religion. The problem with Obama and George W. Bush (who never lost an opportunity to point out that Islam was a “religion of peace”) before him is that, whether we like it or not, Islamists are at war with the United States and the rest of the West. Obama can speak of his Muslim relations and his “deep appreciation for the Islamic faith” until the cows come home and it won’t change the fact that radical Islam hates Western democracy.

That said, if there is any country where a little Obama-style love might help it could be Turkey, an important country where the balance between secularism and Islamist forces is still very much in play. So I’ll give Obama credit for trying to keep the Turks from bolting the alliance even if it means avoiding the truth about an unavoidable clash of civilizations. The problem here though is not in his decision to make nice to the Turks, but in the delusion that seems to animate all of his foreign policy, that rhetoric alone will solve America’s problems in a dangerous and violent world.

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Only Six?

As Michael Goldfarb reports, six U.S. Senators, including Joe Lieberman and Mark Begich, have urged the president to reconsider his decision to largely abandon our missile defense program. Granted, we are on a congressional holiday but I must admit surprise that the list of signatories was so short. Really, are there only six senators who find it dangerous and foolhardy to back off of a program that may represent the only security for the U.S. and its allies against a rogue state? Our current confrontation with North Korea’s rocket ambitions should, if anything, illustrate the usefulness of a missile defense program.

As for Secretary Gates, one wonders what arguments have persuaded him to reverse course and abandon these programs. The message to Iran and North Korea is clear: their provocations will be tolerated and we will not take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. Obama is the un-Reagan — attempting to achieve peace through weakness. Our allies and foes are no doubt watching with interest.

As Michael Goldfarb reports, six U.S. Senators, including Joe Lieberman and Mark Begich, have urged the president to reconsider his decision to largely abandon our missile defense program. Granted, we are on a congressional holiday but I must admit surprise that the list of signatories was so short. Really, are there only six senators who find it dangerous and foolhardy to back off of a program that may represent the only security for the U.S. and its allies against a rogue state? Our current confrontation with North Korea’s rocket ambitions should, if anything, illustrate the usefulness of a missile defense program.

As for Secretary Gates, one wonders what arguments have persuaded him to reverse course and abandon these programs. The message to Iran and North Korea is clear: their provocations will be tolerated and we will not take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. Obama is the un-Reagan — attempting to achieve peace through weakness. Our allies and foes are no doubt watching with interest.

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How Wonderfully “Balanced”

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Words Fail Me

Michael Crowley, playing the role of the president’s mother.

Michael Crowley, playing the role of the president’s mother.

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All Carrots, No Sticks

Marc Thiessen writes of the Cuba trade embargo:

The dumbest thing we could do today would be to enact legislation unilaterally lifting the embargo. Set aside questions about the embargo’s efficacy. Like it or not, it is our only leverage, aside from our military, to affect the transition in Cuba. Why would we fritter away that leverage just as time prepares to do what the embargo could not — bring about the end of the Castro regime? Fidel was never going to negotiate a loosening of repression in Cuba in exchange for a lifting of the travel ban and other trade restrictions. But those who succeed him will, and the Castro brothers will soon be gone. The question is: When that happens, what power will the United States have to encourage a democratic transition on the island? Instead of strengthening Raúl by lifting the embargo now, we should keep our powder dry and use it to strengthen democracy and influence his successor. The embargo has been in place for 47 years — at this point, it would be foolish not to wait a little longer.

The argument is entirely logical, but utterly at odds with the modus operandi we have seen to date from the Obama team. They don’t much believe in acquiring or wielding leverage to gain a bargaining advantage with foes. They are the team that believes in grand gestures, chats with Dimitri Medvedev, and bows to Abdullah the Great. They think expressions of “respect” for the “Islamic Republic of Iran” will melt the mullahs’ hearts. And they don’t see why they shouldn’t scurry back to the six-party talks  with North Korea despite a missile stepping on the president’s lines. They flatter themselves that they can flatter their international opponents.

So they seem disposed to unilaterally give away what could be traded, and thereby make future discussions less likely to bear fruit. They equate strength with bullying and so try to appear as inoffensive as possible. Perhaps it will work. Although we’d be hard-pressed to come up with examples of it in the past.

Whatever you think of the Cuba embargo it is worth something. Even a  former Illinois Governor knows you don’t give something like that away for free.

Marc Thiessen writes of the Cuba trade embargo:

The dumbest thing we could do today would be to enact legislation unilaterally lifting the embargo. Set aside questions about the embargo’s efficacy. Like it or not, it is our only leverage, aside from our military, to affect the transition in Cuba. Why would we fritter away that leverage just as time prepares to do what the embargo could not — bring about the end of the Castro regime? Fidel was never going to negotiate a loosening of repression in Cuba in exchange for a lifting of the travel ban and other trade restrictions. But those who succeed him will, and the Castro brothers will soon be gone. The question is: When that happens, what power will the United States have to encourage a democratic transition on the island? Instead of strengthening Raúl by lifting the embargo now, we should keep our powder dry and use it to strengthen democracy and influence his successor. The embargo has been in place for 47 years — at this point, it would be foolish not to wait a little longer.

The argument is entirely logical, but utterly at odds with the modus operandi we have seen to date from the Obama team. They don’t much believe in acquiring or wielding leverage to gain a bargaining advantage with foes. They are the team that believes in grand gestures, chats with Dimitri Medvedev, and bows to Abdullah the Great. They think expressions of “respect” for the “Islamic Republic of Iran” will melt the mullahs’ hearts. And they don’t see why they shouldn’t scurry back to the six-party talks  with North Korea despite a missile stepping on the president’s lines. They flatter themselves that they can flatter their international opponents.

So they seem disposed to unilaterally give away what could be traded, and thereby make future discussions less likely to bear fruit. They equate strength with bullying and so try to appear as inoffensive as possible. Perhaps it will work. Although we’d be hard-pressed to come up with examples of it in the past.

Whatever you think of the Cuba embargo it is worth something. Even a  former Illinois Governor knows you don’t give something like that away for free.

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We Need an Ambassador in Iraq

I have to agree with American diplomat John Kael Weston: It’s a scandal that we haven’t had an ambassador in Baghdad since the able Ryan Crocker left in mid-February. Chris Hill’s nomination has been held up in the Senate largely because Senator Sam Brownback accuses Hill of misleading Congress in his previous testimony.

I have no opinion on the specifics of the allegations but I fully agree with Weston that there are a host of urgent issues to confront in Iraq — the most urgent being “a recent outbreak of fighting in Baghdad between the Sons of Iraq (a Sunni group that likely includes at least some former insurgents) and the Iraqi Army”– and that only a full-fledged ambassador can bring sufficient heft to deal with local politicos in a convincing way.

Chris Hill would not have been my first choice for the job, or my second. It would be nice if the administration had chosen someone with some Middle East background rather than a history of ineffectual and feckless negotiations with North Korea. But a second-best ambassador is better than no ambassador at all. Either Brownback et al. should swiftly reach a deal with the administration to send someone else to Baghdad or they should let Hill’s nomination proceed to the Senate floor where he will win confirmation.

I have to agree with American diplomat John Kael Weston: It’s a scandal that we haven’t had an ambassador in Baghdad since the able Ryan Crocker left in mid-February. Chris Hill’s nomination has been held up in the Senate largely because Senator Sam Brownback accuses Hill of misleading Congress in his previous testimony.

I have no opinion on the specifics of the allegations but I fully agree with Weston that there are a host of urgent issues to confront in Iraq — the most urgent being “a recent outbreak of fighting in Baghdad between the Sons of Iraq (a Sunni group that likely includes at least some former insurgents) and the Iraqi Army”– and that only a full-fledged ambassador can bring sufficient heft to deal with local politicos in a convincing way.

Chris Hill would not have been my first choice for the job, or my second. It would be nice if the administration had chosen someone with some Middle East background rather than a history of ineffectual and feckless negotiations with North Korea. But a second-best ambassador is better than no ambassador at all. Either Brownback et al. should swiftly reach a deal with the administration to send someone else to Baghdad or they should let Hill’s nomination proceed to the Senate floor where he will win confirmation.

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Both, Both, Both

How’s this for moral and cultural equivalence? Here’s Barack Obama speaking in Ankara, Turkey:

Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.

We know the road ahead will be difficult. Both Israelis and Palestinians must take steps that are necessary to build confidence and trust. Both Israelis and Palestinians, both must live up to the commitments they have made. Both must overcome longstanding passions and the politics of the moment to make progress towards a secure and lasting peace. . .

What “steps” has Israel failed to take in pursuit of a “road map” designed peace? What commitments has it reneged on? None. Yet the Palestinians have literally failed to reach “Phase I” of the road map, which requires that they “undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israel anywhere,” and launch “effective operations aimed at . . . dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.” Moreover, the only “longstanding passion” held by the overwhelming majority of Israelis is a passion to be left in peace. Is the president sure he wants Israelis to “overcome” that?

I guess for Obama, deciding on the moral soundness of each side is just another one of those “false choices.”

How’s this for moral and cultural equivalence? Here’s Barack Obama speaking in Ankara, Turkey:

Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.

We know the road ahead will be difficult. Both Israelis and Palestinians must take steps that are necessary to build confidence and trust. Both Israelis and Palestinians, both must live up to the commitments they have made. Both must overcome longstanding passions and the politics of the moment to make progress towards a secure and lasting peace. . .

What “steps” has Israel failed to take in pursuit of a “road map” designed peace? What commitments has it reneged on? None. Yet the Palestinians have literally failed to reach “Phase I” of the road map, which requires that they “undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israel anywhere,” and launch “effective operations aimed at . . . dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.” Moreover, the only “longstanding passion” held by the overwhelming majority of Israelis is a passion to be left in peace. Is the president sure he wants Israelis to “overcome” that?

I guess for Obama, deciding on the moral soundness of each side is just another one of those “false choices.”

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Learning from Lebanon

According to the Washington Post, the 2006 Lebanon War has garnered fresh “heated debate inside the Pentagon.” This renewed interest is due to the belief of certain American observers that this war is instructive on “how future enemies of the United States might fight.”

A big reason that the 34-day war is drawing such fevered attention is that it highlights a rift among military leaders: Some want to change the U.S. military so that it is better prepared for wars like the ones it is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others worry that such a shift would leave the United States vulnerable to a more conventional foe.

“The Lebanon war has become a bellwether,” said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command. . .

Whoever has followed the scores of reports, studies, and books analyzing the war already knows most of the details in the Post article. But not all of them:

Army generals have also latched on to the Lebanon war to build support for multibillion-dollar weapons programs that are largely irrelevant to low-intensity wars such as those fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 30-page internal Army briefing, prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior Pentagon civilians, recently sought to highlight how the $159 billion Future Combat Systems, a network of ground vehicles and sensors, could have been used to dispatch Hezbollah’s forces quickly and with few American casualties.

While American officers have no doubt studied the many Israeli papers summing up the war and drawing lessons for the future, Washington Post readers get exposed only to the American take on the issue. Thus, it’s worth citing some of the conclusions Israeli military planners, scholars, and strategists have reached in the aftermath of the war. Like many other studies conducted after the war, this INSS study, written by Amir Kulick, has concluded that Israel should expand the number of targets in its sight during future conflicts.

IDF’s lack of success in the preceding war in Lebanon in striking the organization’s senior command, let alone its political leadership, revealed an important weakness. Furthermore, the fact that Hizbollah managed to time its rocket fire (increasing and decreasing it) during every stage of the fighting showed that the organization’s command and control apparatus was not substantially damaged. Israel’s intelligence effort must therefore focus on the targets, so that in the next campaign against the organization, both the senior command staff and the control centers in southern Lebanon and elsewhere can be neutralized. Another type of target that must be addressed is the Lebanese state infrastructure. In the preceding war, these targets were off limits. At the same time, attacking some of them, for example electricity and fuel in certain regions, is likely to render it difficult for Hizbollah to conduct a regular campaign, and will certainly have this effect if the fighting is prolonged.

Many observers were quick to point out that Israel has implemented many of the lessons of Lebanon in the operation it launched in Gaza two months ago. But Gaza and Lebanon share a limited number of aspects. Preparedness on the home front was improved — and soldiers’ cell phones were confiscated as to prevent mass anxiety, (which ensued in Lebanon because parents were expecting phone calls from their sons and daughters in battle). Many other lessons were not applicable because of the different nature of these two operations.

This study, by General (Retired) Giora Eiland, accurately describes the way most Israeli military thinkers treat the possibility of new confrontation:

There is one way to prevent the Third Lebanon War and win it if it does break out (and thereby prevent the Fourth Lebanon War): to make it clear to Lebanon’s allies and through them to the Lebanese government and people that the next war will be between Israel and Lebanon and not between Israel and Hizbollah. Such a war will lead to the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure, and intense suffering among the population. There will be no recurrence of the situation where Beirut residents (not including the Dahiya quarter) go to the beach and cafes while Haifa residents sit in bomb shelters.

Of course, such a conclusion is more relevant to those interested in conventional war and less concerned with how to fight an insurgency. The assistance Israel can give to the U.S. has its limitations — the most significant one hinges on the different roles the two countries have on the world stage. Israel doesn’t do “nation building.” It only does survival.

According to the Washington Post, the 2006 Lebanon War has garnered fresh “heated debate inside the Pentagon.” This renewed interest is due to the belief of certain American observers that this war is instructive on “how future enemies of the United States might fight.”

A big reason that the 34-day war is drawing such fevered attention is that it highlights a rift among military leaders: Some want to change the U.S. military so that it is better prepared for wars like the ones it is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others worry that such a shift would leave the United States vulnerable to a more conventional foe.

“The Lebanon war has become a bellwether,” said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command. . .

Whoever has followed the scores of reports, studies, and books analyzing the war already knows most of the details in the Post article. But not all of them:

Army generals have also latched on to the Lebanon war to build support for multibillion-dollar weapons programs that are largely irrelevant to low-intensity wars such as those fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 30-page internal Army briefing, prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior Pentagon civilians, recently sought to highlight how the $159 billion Future Combat Systems, a network of ground vehicles and sensors, could have been used to dispatch Hezbollah’s forces quickly and with few American casualties.

While American officers have no doubt studied the many Israeli papers summing up the war and drawing lessons for the future, Washington Post readers get exposed only to the American take on the issue. Thus, it’s worth citing some of the conclusions Israeli military planners, scholars, and strategists have reached in the aftermath of the war. Like many other studies conducted after the war, this INSS study, written by Amir Kulick, has concluded that Israel should expand the number of targets in its sight during future conflicts.

IDF’s lack of success in the preceding war in Lebanon in striking the organization’s senior command, let alone its political leadership, revealed an important weakness. Furthermore, the fact that Hizbollah managed to time its rocket fire (increasing and decreasing it) during every stage of the fighting showed that the organization’s command and control apparatus was not substantially damaged. Israel’s intelligence effort must therefore focus on the targets, so that in the next campaign against the organization, both the senior command staff and the control centers in southern Lebanon and elsewhere can be neutralized. Another type of target that must be addressed is the Lebanese state infrastructure. In the preceding war, these targets were off limits. At the same time, attacking some of them, for example electricity and fuel in certain regions, is likely to render it difficult for Hizbollah to conduct a regular campaign, and will certainly have this effect if the fighting is prolonged.

Many observers were quick to point out that Israel has implemented many of the lessons of Lebanon in the operation it launched in Gaza two months ago. But Gaza and Lebanon share a limited number of aspects. Preparedness on the home front was improved — and soldiers’ cell phones were confiscated as to prevent mass anxiety, (which ensued in Lebanon because parents were expecting phone calls from their sons and daughters in battle). Many other lessons were not applicable because of the different nature of these two operations.

This study, by General (Retired) Giora Eiland, accurately describes the way most Israeli military thinkers treat the possibility of new confrontation:

There is one way to prevent the Third Lebanon War and win it if it does break out (and thereby prevent the Fourth Lebanon War): to make it clear to Lebanon’s allies and through them to the Lebanese government and people that the next war will be between Israel and Lebanon and not between Israel and Hizbollah. Such a war will lead to the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure, and intense suffering among the population. There will be no recurrence of the situation where Beirut residents (not including the Dahiya quarter) go to the beach and cafes while Haifa residents sit in bomb shelters.

Of course, such a conclusion is more relevant to those interested in conventional war and less concerned with how to fight an insurgency. The assistance Israel can give to the U.S. has its limitations — the most significant one hinges on the different roles the two countries have on the world stage. Israel doesn’t do “nation building.” It only does survival.

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Motes and Beams

The Democrats are all lathered up over a wisecrack by Mike Huckabee, who jokingly told voters that it would be “God’s work” to let the air out of Democrats’ tires on election day to keep them from voting. The howls of protest are coming from Terry McAuliffe (whose supporters’ tires are the ones being threatened), as well as countless other Democrats.

I guess it is pretty bad when a prominent politician makes jokes about this sort of thing. One wonders where Huckabee might have gotten such an idea.

Perhaps from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on election day 2004?

On that day, four employees of the John Kerry campaign — including the son of a congresswoman and the son of a former mayor — slashed the tires of 25 vans the GOP had rented to drive voters to the polls. They were later tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

Also in 2004, Democrats in Philadelphia physically blocked Republican poll watchers from entering polling places — with Democratic official Carlos Mantos sincerely explaining that since his district was 100% Democratic, the Republicans had no right to be there.

Apparently that was a bit too blatant, even for Philadelphia. In 2008, Mantos was muzzled — but replaced with Black Panther “volunteer security guards” who stationed themselves at the entrance of polling places, wielding clubs, until police told them to move along.

More recently, Democratic officials in New York have been quietly suppressing the rights of citizens to vote in the special Congressional election there.  And not just any citizens, but those military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even worse, they’re doing it with a wink and a nod from the Obama Justice Department — which decided to “help” by offering ineffective solutions and half-hearted assistance to those being deprived of their rights.

All that protesting over Huckabee’s stupid joke may only serve to remind people of some very recent and very real trespasses upon the rights of voting Americans.

The Democrats are all lathered up over a wisecrack by Mike Huckabee, who jokingly told voters that it would be “God’s work” to let the air out of Democrats’ tires on election day to keep them from voting. The howls of protest are coming from Terry McAuliffe (whose supporters’ tires are the ones being threatened), as well as countless other Democrats.

I guess it is pretty bad when a prominent politician makes jokes about this sort of thing. One wonders where Huckabee might have gotten such an idea.

Perhaps from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on election day 2004?

On that day, four employees of the John Kerry campaign — including the son of a congresswoman and the son of a former mayor — slashed the tires of 25 vans the GOP had rented to drive voters to the polls. They were later tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

Also in 2004, Democrats in Philadelphia physically blocked Republican poll watchers from entering polling places — with Democratic official Carlos Mantos sincerely explaining that since his district was 100% Democratic, the Republicans had no right to be there.

Apparently that was a bit too blatant, even for Philadelphia. In 2008, Mantos was muzzled — but replaced with Black Panther “volunteer security guards” who stationed themselves at the entrance of polling places, wielding clubs, until police told them to move along.

More recently, Democratic officials in New York have been quietly suppressing the rights of citizens to vote in the special Congressional election there.  And not just any citizens, but those military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even worse, they’re doing it with a wink and a nod from the Obama Justice Department — which decided to “help” by offering ineffective solutions and half-hearted assistance to those being deprived of their rights.

All that protesting over Huckabee’s stupid joke may only serve to remind people of some very recent and very real trespasses upon the rights of voting Americans.

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Time To Get Out While They Can

GM’s new CEO Fritz Henderson is sounding more amenable to the bankruptcy option. There is good reason for that. Shikha Dalmia argues:

If there is any intelligent life left at General Motors, it should run – not walk – to bankruptcy court. That may be the company’s only chance to free itself from the triple vise of unions, creditors and, now, President Barack Obama, who is by no means the least life-threatening of the lot.

Really, this has puzzled many of us for some time: Why not seek the haven of bankruptcy to shed the union contract and administer that “haircut” to bondholders? Rick Wagoner understandably didn’t want to lose his job, but he lost it anyway. Consumers might be frightened off, but they are already frightened.

If there wasn’t good enough reason to do it before, there is now. As Dalmia puts it, bankruptcy will help GM “escape from Obama’s thumb.” The car manufacturer might not want to pursue the financially unfeasible left-wing dream of producing mini greenmobiles Americans won’t buy. GM won’t, however, avoid the CAFE standards or the California emissions standards that the Obama administration has unleashed. So bankruptcy won’t allow for a completely clean slate.

Still, the prospect of a committee of political appointees running the company should  send shivers down the spines of those who survived the first round of executive firings at the hands of the Obama administration. GM has problems enough without trying to create a car line that pleases Tim Geithner and Nancy Pelosi. And after witnessing the fate of those unfortunate AIG execs, the company may conclude executive recruitment and retention will go a heck of a lot more smoothly without the White House and Congress retroactively determining bonuses. At least a bankruptcy court won’t threaten to release the names of executives so the mob can descend.

Bankruptcy is orderly, rational and a-political. Everything the current set-up is not. No wonder it’s looking better every day.

GM’s new CEO Fritz Henderson is sounding more amenable to the bankruptcy option. There is good reason for that. Shikha Dalmia argues:

If there is any intelligent life left at General Motors, it should run – not walk – to bankruptcy court. That may be the company’s only chance to free itself from the triple vise of unions, creditors and, now, President Barack Obama, who is by no means the least life-threatening of the lot.

Really, this has puzzled many of us for some time: Why not seek the haven of bankruptcy to shed the union contract and administer that “haircut” to bondholders? Rick Wagoner understandably didn’t want to lose his job, but he lost it anyway. Consumers might be frightened off, but they are already frightened.

If there wasn’t good enough reason to do it before, there is now. As Dalmia puts it, bankruptcy will help GM “escape from Obama’s thumb.” The car manufacturer might not want to pursue the financially unfeasible left-wing dream of producing mini greenmobiles Americans won’t buy. GM won’t, however, avoid the CAFE standards or the California emissions standards that the Obama administration has unleashed. So bankruptcy won’t allow for a completely clean slate.

Still, the prospect of a committee of political appointees running the company should  send shivers down the spines of those who survived the first round of executive firings at the hands of the Obama administration. GM has problems enough without trying to create a car line that pleases Tim Geithner and Nancy Pelosi. And after witnessing the fate of those unfortunate AIG execs, the company may conclude executive recruitment and retention will go a heck of a lot more smoothly without the White House and Congress retroactively determining bonuses. At least a bankruptcy court won’t threaten to release the names of executives so the mob can descend.

Bankruptcy is orderly, rational and a-political. Everything the current set-up is not. No wonder it’s looking better every day.

Read Less

Going on Tangents

When it comes to domestic policy, President Obama has been repeatedly and legitimately criticized for focusing on the wrong issues. Even as the financial industry has gone into a meltdown, threatening the entire economy, he has devoted most of his energy and political capital to programs, such as expanding health-care coverage, that have nothing to do with the crisis at hand. The same may now be said of foreign policy.

On Sunday, only hours after North Korea fired a long-range rocket and only months before Iran is likely to acquire a nuclear weapon, Obama gave a speech in Prague in which he laid out a nuclear arms-control agenda almost entirely disconnected from these urgent threats. In his speech, he promised to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same” and to “immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”– as if the U.S. nuclear arsenal were the problem, instead of the world’s greatest guarantor of peace since 1945. He went on to promise to negotiate “a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia this year,” which seems to be a return to the very kind of “Cold War thinking” that he denounced in this same speech.

Along with this reference, came vague promises to strengthen the existing anti-proliferation regime. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something,” Obama thundered. Yet at the same time North Korea’s violation of existing United Nations sanctions was being met with toothless debate at the UN, to be followed apparently by an announcement that the Department of Defense will cut funding for missile defense. Meanwhile, the administration has affirmed its willingness — nay, burning desire — to conduct one-on-one talks with Tehran and Pyongyang, thereby in effect legitimizing those criminal regimes regardless of all their provocations and violations of existing treaties.

This approach sends a dangerous message of American weakness in the face of growing nuclear threats. And it suggests a troubling trend of pursuing policy tangents that are not focused on the real problems we face.

When it comes to domestic policy, President Obama has been repeatedly and legitimately criticized for focusing on the wrong issues. Even as the financial industry has gone into a meltdown, threatening the entire economy, he has devoted most of his energy and political capital to programs, such as expanding health-care coverage, that have nothing to do with the crisis at hand. The same may now be said of foreign policy.

On Sunday, only hours after North Korea fired a long-range rocket and only months before Iran is likely to acquire a nuclear weapon, Obama gave a speech in Prague in which he laid out a nuclear arms-control agenda almost entirely disconnected from these urgent threats. In his speech, he promised to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same” and to “immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”– as if the U.S. nuclear arsenal were the problem, instead of the world’s greatest guarantor of peace since 1945. He went on to promise to negotiate “a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia this year,” which seems to be a return to the very kind of “Cold War thinking” that he denounced in this same speech.

Along with this reference, came vague promises to strengthen the existing anti-proliferation regime. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something,” Obama thundered. Yet at the same time North Korea’s violation of existing United Nations sanctions was being met with toothless debate at the UN, to be followed apparently by an announcement that the Department of Defense will cut funding for missile defense. Meanwhile, the administration has affirmed its willingness — nay, burning desire — to conduct one-on-one talks with Tehran and Pyongyang, thereby in effect legitimizing those criminal regimes regardless of all their provocations and violations of existing treaties.

This approach sends a dangerous message of American weakness in the face of growing nuclear threats. And it suggests a troubling trend of pursuing policy tangents that are not focused on the real problems we face.

Read Less

Obama’s Partisan Divide

Now isn’t this interesting. According to the Pew Research Center, “Partisan Gap in Obama Job Approval Widest in Modern Era.”

So it turns out Mr. Obama is the most polarizing President of the past four decades. According to Pew (which has Obama’s overall approval rating below 60 percent),

For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).

Barack Obama made bipartisanship and healing the political divide that existed among us a core commitment of his presidency. We’re now about 10 weeks or so into the Age of Obama — and the country is more divided than it has been in modern times.

It became apparent quite early that bipartisanship was a fictional commitment for Barack Obama; shutting Republicans out of negotiations and promoting what ranks among the most left-wing domestic agendas in our lifetime was all the evidence some of us needed. Apparently most of the rest of the nation understands that as well.

Is a record-setting divide among Democrats and Republicans as such an early point in his presidency really the change we were told we could believe in?

Now isn’t this interesting. According to the Pew Research Center, “Partisan Gap in Obama Job Approval Widest in Modern Era.”

So it turns out Mr. Obama is the most polarizing President of the past four decades. According to Pew (which has Obama’s overall approval rating below 60 percent),

For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).

Barack Obama made bipartisanship and healing the political divide that existed among us a core commitment of his presidency. We’re now about 10 weeks or so into the Age of Obama — and the country is more divided than it has been in modern times.

It became apparent quite early that bipartisanship was a fictional commitment for Barack Obama; shutting Republicans out of negotiations and promoting what ranks among the most left-wing domestic agendas in our lifetime was all the evidence some of us needed. Apparently most of the rest of the nation understands that as well.

Is a record-setting divide among Democrats and Republicans as such an early point in his presidency really the change we were told we could believe in?

Read Less

Even Carter Woke Up

Not surprisingly, conservatives are sounding a note of alarm about the North Korean rocket and the chances of talking international miscreants out of their ambitions. Unfortunately, the reaction from the administration only confirms fears that Obama and his advisors are operating in Never Never Land.

The Obama team rushes to the UN where, lo and behold, “a meeting of the Security Council on Sunday ended without any action being taken, with a pledge to continue discussions on what response it should make given the ‘serious situation.’” That’ll show North Korea to mess with the “international community,” huh?

Meanwhile the Obama team is in denial:

“I hate to speculate about North Korean motivations,” said Gary Samore, the White House coordinator for nonproliferation, adding that the North Koreans had announced their launch window two weeks ago, and that weather conditions favored today. “I’m not sure this is a deliberate calculated action on the part of the North Koreans.”

And if that weren’t enough,  Politico reports:

A senior administration official pushed back on the conservative critique, saying Obama’s call Sunday to secure vulnerable and loosely guarded nuclear material in four years shows he understands the top priority. “A loose nuke in the hands of a terrorist is our greatest threat,” said one senior administration official.

This senior official said the conservatives also are missing the fundamental impact America’s moving away from nuclear weapons would have. “By the U.S. leading on these issues, it becomes easier to rally the world to put more pressure on countries like Iran and North Korea, because we establish more moral authority,” the official said.

Let’s get this straight: we go to the feckless UN which is stalemated and we establish more “moral authority” by unilaterally disarming, all of which impresses Iran and North Korea, who will be shamed into abandoning their nuclear aspirations. This is nonsense. Dangerous nonsense impervious to facts, even ones as blatant as a missile shot on the president’s nuclear non-proliferation speech day.  And this dangerous nonsense assumes that the world’s democratic nations, with no aggressive ambitions of their own, need more moral authority than they already possess in dealing despotic, menacing regimes.

We haven’t seen such a lack of “realism” about the world since the Carter administration, which at least woke up to some nasty realities when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. But the Obama crew is plainly unwilling to wake up to the reality which intruded on Obama’s European charm offensive. If they were to wake up, they’d have to do something about it.

Not surprisingly, conservatives are sounding a note of alarm about the North Korean rocket and the chances of talking international miscreants out of their ambitions. Unfortunately, the reaction from the administration only confirms fears that Obama and his advisors are operating in Never Never Land.

The Obama team rushes to the UN where, lo and behold, “a meeting of the Security Council on Sunday ended without any action being taken, with a pledge to continue discussions on what response it should make given the ‘serious situation.’” That’ll show North Korea to mess with the “international community,” huh?

Meanwhile the Obama team is in denial:

“I hate to speculate about North Korean motivations,” said Gary Samore, the White House coordinator for nonproliferation, adding that the North Koreans had announced their launch window two weeks ago, and that weather conditions favored today. “I’m not sure this is a deliberate calculated action on the part of the North Koreans.”

And if that weren’t enough,  Politico reports:

A senior administration official pushed back on the conservative critique, saying Obama’s call Sunday to secure vulnerable and loosely guarded nuclear material in four years shows he understands the top priority. “A loose nuke in the hands of a terrorist is our greatest threat,” said one senior administration official.

This senior official said the conservatives also are missing the fundamental impact America’s moving away from nuclear weapons would have. “By the U.S. leading on these issues, it becomes easier to rally the world to put more pressure on countries like Iran and North Korea, because we establish more moral authority,” the official said.

Let’s get this straight: we go to the feckless UN which is stalemated and we establish more “moral authority” by unilaterally disarming, all of which impresses Iran and North Korea, who will be shamed into abandoning their nuclear aspirations. This is nonsense. Dangerous nonsense impervious to facts, even ones as blatant as a missile shot on the president’s nuclear non-proliferation speech day.  And this dangerous nonsense assumes that the world’s democratic nations, with no aggressive ambitions of their own, need more moral authority than they already possess in dealing despotic, menacing regimes.

We haven’t seen such a lack of “realism” about the world since the Carter administration, which at least woke up to some nasty realities when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. But the Obama crew is plainly unwilling to wake up to the reality which intruded on Obama’s European charm offensive. If they were to wake up, they’d have to do something about it.

Read Less

Popularity and Its Limitations

According to the Politico’s Jonathan Martin, what President Obama has gotten from his European trip so far is, “Adulation, but little help.”

In Martin’s words:

President Barack Obama is learning the limits of personal diplomacy. Warmly greeted by European leaders and the public alike as a welcome relief from his predecessor, Obama’s appeal hasn’t enabled to him to bridge differences on key economic and military issues with American allies. Obama left the G-20 summit in London without securing any further commitment by individual countries to enact more stimulus spending. And Saturday he departs from NATO’s gathering in this French-German border town without a pledge by allies to send further combat troops to Afghanistan to bolster the American military surge there.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos put it this way:

He did not get the kind of help we would like for combat troops in Afghanistan — not as much help as we would like on Guantanamo … But all the mood music on this trip couldn’t have gone better.

President Obama has done well in terms of his own commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan. But his overseas trip underscores what may be one of the chief weaknesses of Obama: he seemingly cares a great deal about “mood music” and the adoration of foreign audiences and foreign leaders; what he’s not able to do — at least so far, based on his maiden overseas trip — is leverage it in a way that advances American interests.

To be well-liked by Europeans is not an achievement by itself; all you have to do is to bow to their demands and, from time to time, criticize the actions of your own country, preferably on European soil. The trick is to use the good feelings Europeans might have toward us to advance America and the causes for which she stands. Adulation for its own sake is simply narcissism satisfied.

Beyond that, it’s safe to assume that the weakness Obama has demonstrated in his relations with Europeans so far — hoping for assistance on a range of issues but getting very little in return, and with no cost to our allies for their unhelpfulness — has not gone unnoticed in foreign capitals like Tehran and Pyongyang.

What is happening was fairly predictable: Obama’s charm has been an enormously effective instrument in American politics. But once he takes it overseas, it becomes increasingly limited in its effectiveness, or of no value whatsoever.

Right now we have a President who is popular but appears to be weak. By way of comparison, Ronald Reagan was unpopular in much of the world — Europeans viewed Reagan with utter contempt at the time — but strong. We’ll see who ends up as the more successful president.

According to the Politico’s Jonathan Martin, what President Obama has gotten from his European trip so far is, “Adulation, but little help.”

In Martin’s words:

President Barack Obama is learning the limits of personal diplomacy. Warmly greeted by European leaders and the public alike as a welcome relief from his predecessor, Obama’s appeal hasn’t enabled to him to bridge differences on key economic and military issues with American allies. Obama left the G-20 summit in London without securing any further commitment by individual countries to enact more stimulus spending. And Saturday he departs from NATO’s gathering in this French-German border town without a pledge by allies to send further combat troops to Afghanistan to bolster the American military surge there.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos put it this way:

He did not get the kind of help we would like for combat troops in Afghanistan — not as much help as we would like on Guantanamo … But all the mood music on this trip couldn’t have gone better.

President Obama has done well in terms of his own commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan. But his overseas trip underscores what may be one of the chief weaknesses of Obama: he seemingly cares a great deal about “mood music” and the adoration of foreign audiences and foreign leaders; what he’s not able to do — at least so far, based on his maiden overseas trip — is leverage it in a way that advances American interests.

To be well-liked by Europeans is not an achievement by itself; all you have to do is to bow to their demands and, from time to time, criticize the actions of your own country, preferably on European soil. The trick is to use the good feelings Europeans might have toward us to advance America and the causes for which she stands. Adulation for its own sake is simply narcissism satisfied.

Beyond that, it’s safe to assume that the weakness Obama has demonstrated in his relations with Europeans so far — hoping for assistance on a range of issues but getting very little in return, and with no cost to our allies for their unhelpfulness — has not gone unnoticed in foreign capitals like Tehran and Pyongyang.

What is happening was fairly predictable: Obama’s charm has been an enormously effective instrument in American politics. But once he takes it overseas, it becomes increasingly limited in its effectiveness, or of no value whatsoever.

Right now we have a President who is popular but appears to be weak. By way of comparison, Ronald Reagan was unpopular in much of the world — Europeans viewed Reagan with utter contempt at the time — but strong. We’ll see who ends up as the more successful president.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Bill Kristol sums up: “Well, the North Koreans did something real, and the president gave a speech about a nice future that might happen 50 years from now. And the question is what is the president of the United States going to do about a successful North Korean test.” Go to the UN and back to the six party talks, apparently.

Worse yet, Obama is going ahead to nix much of the missile defense program. As John Bolton notes, it is hard to imagine something so “extraordinarily ill-advised.”

On the Democrats’ termination of the DC school voucher plan: “The decision to let 1,700 poor kids get tossed from private schools is a moral disgrace. It also exposes the ugly politics that lies beneath union and liberal efforts across the country to undermine mayoral control, charter schools, vouchers or any reform that threatens their monopoly over public education dollars and jobs. The Sheldon Silver-Dick Durbin Democrats aren’t worried that school choice doesn’t work. They’re worried that it does, and if Messrs. Obama and [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan want to succeed as reformers they need to say so consistently.”

The New York Daily News seems to think Rudy Giuliani is prepping for a gubernatorial run.

A revealing poll: “Fifty-seven percent (57%) of U.S. voters nationwide favor a military response to eliminate North Korea’s missile launching capability.” Would they like a useless UN meeting instead?

Michael Kinsley gets it precisely right: “If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.” And he gets bonus points for saying it in the Washington Post. Read the whole thing, as they say.

Democrats react to the projected deficits in the Obama budget: “‘It’s insane,’ said Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss. ‘This is the fourth president since I’ve been in the House who’s said they were going to fix the deficit in later years. It only worked out for Bill Clinton.” Other Democrats were more circumspect. ‘It disturbs me a bit,’ said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ‘but we’re getting some good funding for transportation, and that’s very important.’” Well, if we get a monorail in Nevada I guess it’s okay. (CBO says Obama’s budget deficit will be $658B by 2012.)

So if the Obama team thinks George W. Bush acted like a “statesman” why haven’t they returned the courtesy and avoided slamming their predecessor on every imaginable topic?

Not post-partisan yet: “For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).” What is fascinating is that Obama’s support is more partisan than that of George W. Bush who won a highly contentious election. Both their ratings among independents at this stage in their presidencies is virtually identical. Funny how we don’t get those “Most Divisive Ever!” headlines.

You have to chuckle over headlines like this: “McAuliffe Takes A Chapter From Obama Playbook In Governor Bid.” Well, apparently the Clinton’s money man isn’t taking the chapter about relentlessly attacking Obama. And I don’t suppose the former DNC chairman and cable talk show fixture is going to be running as an anti-lobbyist, reformer. But yes, he’s using the Internet and social networking which makes him just like Obama. Got it.

The cat is out of the bag: Organizing America is a bust: “But in its first big test, the group dubbed Organizing for America (OFA) had little obvious impact on the debate over President Obama’s budget, which passed Congress on Thursday with no Republican support and a splintering of votes among conservative Democrats. The capstone of the campaign was the delivery of 214,000 signatures to Capitol Hill, which swayed few, if any, members of Congress, according to legislative aides from both parties.”

Bill Kristol sums up: “Well, the North Koreans did something real, and the president gave a speech about a nice future that might happen 50 years from now. And the question is what is the president of the United States going to do about a successful North Korean test.” Go to the UN and back to the six party talks, apparently.

Worse yet, Obama is going ahead to nix much of the missile defense program. As John Bolton notes, it is hard to imagine something so “extraordinarily ill-advised.”

On the Democrats’ termination of the DC school voucher plan: “The decision to let 1,700 poor kids get tossed from private schools is a moral disgrace. It also exposes the ugly politics that lies beneath union and liberal efforts across the country to undermine mayoral control, charter schools, vouchers or any reform that threatens their monopoly over public education dollars and jobs. The Sheldon Silver-Dick Durbin Democrats aren’t worried that school choice doesn’t work. They’re worried that it does, and if Messrs. Obama and [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan want to succeed as reformers they need to say so consistently.”

The New York Daily News seems to think Rudy Giuliani is prepping for a gubernatorial run.

A revealing poll: “Fifty-seven percent (57%) of U.S. voters nationwide favor a military response to eliminate North Korea’s missile launching capability.” Would they like a useless UN meeting instead?

Michael Kinsley gets it precisely right: “If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.” And he gets bonus points for saying it in the Washington Post. Read the whole thing, as they say.

Democrats react to the projected deficits in the Obama budget: “‘It’s insane,’ said Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss. ‘This is the fourth president since I’ve been in the House who’s said they were going to fix the deficit in later years. It only worked out for Bill Clinton.” Other Democrats were more circumspect. ‘It disturbs me a bit,’ said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ‘but we’re getting some good funding for transportation, and that’s very important.’” Well, if we get a monorail in Nevada I guess it’s okay. (CBO says Obama’s budget deficit will be $658B by 2012.)

So if the Obama team thinks George W. Bush acted like a “statesman” why haven’t they returned the courtesy and avoided slamming their predecessor on every imaginable topic?

Not post-partisan yet: “For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).” What is fascinating is that Obama’s support is more partisan than that of George W. Bush who won a highly contentious election. Both their ratings among independents at this stage in their presidencies is virtually identical. Funny how we don’t get those “Most Divisive Ever!” headlines.

You have to chuckle over headlines like this: “McAuliffe Takes A Chapter From Obama Playbook In Governor Bid.” Well, apparently the Clinton’s money man isn’t taking the chapter about relentlessly attacking Obama. And I don’t suppose the former DNC chairman and cable talk show fixture is going to be running as an anti-lobbyist, reformer. But yes, he’s using the Internet and social networking which makes him just like Obama. Got it.

The cat is out of the bag: Organizing America is a bust: “But in its first big test, the group dubbed Organizing for America (OFA) had little obvious impact on the debate over President Obama’s budget, which passed Congress on Thursday with no Republican support and a splintering of votes among conservative Democrats. The capstone of the campaign was the delivery of 214,000 signatures to Capitol Hill, which swayed few, if any, members of Congress, according to legislative aides from both parties.”

Read Less




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