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May 7, 2007

Foriegn Policy Under Obama - more of the same, with a human face?

-- by Thomas Leavitt

Sourced via the UK (and a California Green Party activist):

Kagan [a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s] wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by Obama at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was “pure John Kennedy”, a neocon hero of the cold war.

In his speech, Obama called for an increase in defence spending and an extra 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to “stay on the offense” against terrorism and ensure America had “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world”. He talked about building democracies, stopping weapons of mass destruction and the right to take unilateral action to protect US “vital interests” if necessary, as well as the importance of building alliances.

“Personally, I liked it,” Kagan wrote.

[Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1752381.ece]


***

Here's the lead from Kagan's column:

America must "lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good." With those words, Barack Obama put an end to the idea that the alleged overexuberant idealism and America-centric hubris of the past six years is about to give way to a new realism, a more limited and modest view of American interests, capabilities and responsibilities.

[Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702027.html?nav=emailpage]

***

Here's Obama's speech:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/04/remarks_of_senator_barack_obam.html

I really don't have the mental energy to engage in a comprehensive analysis of this. Suffice it to say, I understand why a neo-conservative like Kagan would be attracted to Obama's vision ... it is the liberal version of the neo-conservative ideal. America ascendant, the shining light, the imperial empire with a human face - in essence, a different rationale for the same massively interventionist behavior abroad. ... and we know what a hundred years of that have produced, rain or shine, Republican or Democrat, in the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Philipines, Africa, South-east Asia, etc.

... and for some historical context (Nov. 2005) ... oddly enough, Kagan appears to have linked to this speech in his article (an error? it points to a similar speech in Chicago before a similarly named organization)...

http://obama.senate.gov/speech/051122-moving_forward_in_iraq/index.html

***

Boy, I'm really excited: an increase in defense spending, adding 100,000 new members of the military, unilateral action... what more could us peace-loving anti-war activists want?

... but we know that in Washington, D.C., being "anti-war" means being "anti badly managed wars in Iraq" for all but a handful of our representatives. It doesn't mean deconstructing the American imperial empire and actually being against war in general as a tool of foreign policy and being for redirecting more than a fraction of the trillions aimed at the Pentagon to more socially beneficial purposes. My local House Rep., Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz, CA), is solidly liberal, and clearly thinks that he's being aggressive and progressive in proposing that just $60 billion of the $400 billion dollar defense budget (as he defines it) should be redirected elsewhere. Dismantling the Amercian imperial empire is just not on the agenda of even progressive Democrats in Washington, D.C.

I'm not saying that Obama wouldn't be a vast improvement over the lunacy we've had inflicted on us over the last six years - it feels really good, by contrast, when you stop pounding your bloodied head against the wall... at the same time, is this really the standard of comparison we should just our leaders by?

Shouldn't we expect more?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at May 7, 2007 6:31 AM

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