Commentary Magazine


Contentions

A Memo from the Real World

Any serious revamping of U.S. health care will be the endlessly intricate work of years, not the slapdash cure-all being pushed by the White House. Had last night’s press conference not been a commercial for snake oil with a sideshow about the nation-defining issue of a professor’s misplaced house keys, the president could have been made to answer some important foreign policy questions that have been lingering of late. The press corps might have come up with something like this:

On Afghanistan: “Lately the administration has broadcast a more hesitant message about the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan. At the end of June, James Jones signaled to commanders there that the White House may not be receptive to a request for more troops. On July 11, you told Sky News that what the U.S. can do for Afghanistan after its upcoming elections ‘may not be on the military side, it may be on the development side.’ You then said to the Dutch prime minister that you hoped operations would ‘transition to a different phase’ in Afghanistan after the elections. And only days ago, Robert Gates described troops there as ‘tired.’ Are you in fact laying the groundwork for a shorter engagement in Afghanistan than you had committed to in May? If so, what is the goal of the mission at this point?”

On Iran: “In the immediate wake of the June 12 election in Iran, you said several times that it was up to the Iranian people to choose their leadership. Days later you said you were ‘appalled and outraged’ by the violence the regime visited upon Iranians. It’s been well over a month since the election, and thousands of Iranians still feel that they’ve been robbed of their right to choose their own leadership. Would you, at this point, support a do-over of the election, or are you content that justice has been served in Iran?”

On North Korea: “A new study by the Korean Bar Association has come out, revealing the depth and scope of North Korea’s political prisons. An estimated 200,000 North Koreans are currently thought to be held inside these labor camps, working and starving to death. With Pyongyang’s rash of nuclear tests and missile launches, American policy has been focused primarily on the nuclear question. Is there any explicit human-rights component to the administration’s North Korea policy, and if so, what is it?”

On Middle East Peace: “There are reports that your June meeting in Riyadh with King Abdullah was not as productive as you would have liked. Specifically, the Saudis refused to countenance any reciprocal gestures toward Israel in regard to settlement policy or a two-state solution. Given that you’ve been so supportive of the Saudi plan since first taking office, are you now less hopeful about this particular route to Middle East peace?”

Instead, we got the red pill, the blue pill, and a presidential lecture on proper police procedure.



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