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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,979

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Foreign Policy: There Is a Difference Between the Parties!

No, I am not talking about the Democratic and Republican parties.

I am talking about the informal Obama and Clinton parties (or the conservative imperialists vs. the interventionist maniacs, if you prefer).

And I'm inviting you to read this fairly historic interview with Obama published in the April issue of The Atlantic. (Excerpt & link below. First my own views...)

For my part I'm certainly in firm opposition to drone wars, covert political interventions of any kind, the continuation of the "war on terror" under other names, the enormous surveillance/National Security State, the attacks on whistleblowers, the continued high military expenditure and a lot of other deadly irrationality and imperialism in U.S. policy under any president. And Sanders sadly endorses all of the above, along with Obama.

But you can see an important difference in Obama's relative caution about the direct use of force, his gradual distancing from certain aggressive allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel, even as the U.S. continues to back the wars of both), in contrast to Clinton's enthusiasm for new wars and a more aggressive stance to Russia and Iran.

This is clear from Clinton's record as the most hawkish in the Obama administration - and from Obama's recent open, if modest, break with the DC foreign policy establishment to which Clinton belongs, by way of this fascinating interview in The Atlantic.


Obama’s reticence frustrated Power and others on his national-security team who had a preference for action. Hillary Clinton, when she was Obama’s secretary of state, argued for an early and assertive response to Assad’s violence. In 2014, after she left office, Clinton told me that “the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” When The Atlantic published this statement, and also published Clinton’s assessment that “great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Obama became “rip-shit angry,” according to one of his senior advisers. The president did not understand how “Don’t do stupid shit” could be considered a controversial slogan. Ben Rhodes recalls that “the questions we were asking in the White House were ‘Who exactly is in the stupid-shit caucus? Who is pro–stupid shit?’ ” The Iraq invasion, Obama believed, should have taught Democratic interventionists like Clinton, who had voted for its authorization, the dangers of doing stupid shit. (Clinton quickly apologized to Obama for her comments, and a Clinton spokesman announced that the two would “hug it out” on Martha’s Vineyard when they crossed paths there later.)


For some foreign-policy experts, even within his own administration, Obama’s about-face on enforcing the red line (in Syria) was a dispiriting moment in which he displayed irresolution and naďveté, and did lasting damage to America’s standing in the world. “Once the commander in chief draws that red line,” Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and then as secretary of defense in Obama’s first term, told me recently, “then I think the credibility of the commander in chief and this nation is at stake if he doesn’t enforce it.” Right after Obama’s reversal, Hillary Clinton said privately, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.”


But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, “Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.”) American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.

Assuming it actually gets implemented the way it works elsewhere...

(1) That means in theory one budget for what is now multiple, including Medicaid and Medicare.

(2) Co-payments may still exist, they won't be extortionate.

(3) There are limits currently too. Mounds of them. The "death panels" have existed all along, they're called insurance adjustors.

I think you're asking the wrong questions. Look at Germany (not quite single payer), Canada or Scandinavia (single payer) and ask, how do they get better results in longevity, prevention and health at a lower % GDP spent on health care? Why can't some form of that be implemented here?

The key is in eliminating the profit and growth motives of private insurance. How do almost all systems in place have administrative costs 1/3 or less than the U.S.? How is it that Social Security, lacking the profit-seeking private entities in the middle, gets along with 2% administrative costs?! Get rid of the profit-seeking corporate middleman! The profit motive is still there for the actual medical providers, but with limits on the gouging especially in the pharmaceuticals.

"Our" first president was also the leader of the first party

They were called Federalists and their antagonists, the Anti-Federalists, fed into the Republicans (as the later Democratic party was originally called until around Jackson's time).

Parties were always there, inevitably, as was the bogus unity rhetoric. Elites had disagreements they wanted to settle among themselves, and when too many people would get involved, they'd trot out the rhetoric about how terrible parties are.

Identifying with the long-dead leaders and causes of the 18th century is one of the biggest obstacles we - the actual we, the living people - have to overcome. They were very into law and contracts, so there's been a document we can work from and revise, but it's gotten very very unwieldy through the centuries. The danger is trying to change it while there is still such an imbalance favoring the few.

Clinton-Gingrich agreed to gut social security but scandal intervened.

Neither Sanders nor any other potential opponent got a chance to oppose the initiative because it was not rolled out.

Your comment suggests you did not read the piece, or do not wish to address it.

It is a passage from historian Steven Gillon's 2008 book, describing how the plan to reform SS through cuts accompanied by the introduction of individual retirement accounts was brokered by Clinton's chief of staff Bowles (of the Simpson-Bowles duo) and agreed on between Gingrich and Clinton, but ran into the Starr/Lewinsky matter before a public rollout of the details. They planned to keep the details under wraps and covered by a series of fixed town-hall-style meetings before pushing the legislation through the lame duck Congress in late 1998 - when instead the House was impeaching Clinton for the "sex scandal" bullshit, which the Republicans en masse mistakenly saw as the bigger opportunity to get everything they wanted. We can imagine how things might have gone if not for that, where the "retirement accounts" would have ended up in the 2007-2008 denouement of the great Wall Street scam.

Six consecutive neoliberals, you mean?

The most important and obvious thing they have in common. I mean, if we are talking about real things that affect life and death, as opposed to fantasies. Yeah, that must be it, since only five in a row can be said to be full hawks. I mean Jimmy tried to be better than that.

Or maybe you're referring to the awesome increase in the cost of winning it? Pretty steep curve. Very consistent. One of the few things that outpaced the price of tuition.

Have you read any of my posts the last 15 years?

Where do you think someone who fucking writes like I do would live? Fucking Rye, or Fucking Great Neck? Here's my bona fides: I fucking hate New York, and if you can't say that, then you haven't fucking lived here.

(I swear, if this fucking gets alerted we will see how many people have any fucking clue about New York Fucking City on this site. Or a motherfucking sense of humor.)

That being said, I was happy to live 15 years outside the city at one point. It really fucking brightened my disposition!

Politically? FDR, no doubt.

He's not a socialist, contrary to what he seems to think, but a social democrat; and hardly the anti-war anti-imperialist that Debs was, and for which Debs was imprisoned. Sanders has not been that since the 1980s, anyway. But he is also not the war-lovin' imperialist that TR was. And McGovern's main thing really was the war, while Sanders' is to restore the New Deal. If he should end the wars in the process... it will be good!

He played it beautifully.

Perfect gesture, like a magic trick, then turned it straight to world peace. Hard to imagine any of the rest doing that, while still being genuine. He deserves to win just for that.

As for those who want to see god at work - I'm all for it. Better they should think She sent that bird than that She anoints Cruz.

And as for the CPRs (Committed Rationalist Pedants) telling people that it's just a bird - well no shit. Get a sense of humor.

Tulsi Gabbard Spirit of Aloha Thread

Oh no, this is making me fall in love with Sanders-Gabbard 2016. I'm actually starting to like politicians instead of just going with the issues. But ultimately the issues are why. Watch this without blinders and consider its power. In a functional democracy, this ad would end the contest to Bernie's favor, not only in Hawaii but in the country at large:


End the wars! Bring the troops home and spend the money on the people!

PS - If you're going to attack her, deal with this first:


What is your response to social media attacks against you, including by groups alleging that you are Islamophobic? Of fomenting fear or hatred against someone based upon religion?

I am a very firm believer in the Aloha spirit -- respect and love for everyone, irrespective of their religion, race, gender, or any other external differences.

In my view, the essence of religion means love for God and trying to serve God by working for the well-being of others.

The essence of the Hinduism that I practice is Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, which means to love God and all of His children, regardless of their race, religion, etc, and to use my life working for the well-being of everyone.

I do not see religion as something that involves different teams or an 'us versus them' mentality.

Whether we are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, any other faith, or atheists, we are all children of God and we should love and respect each other as brothers and sisters.

You have continued to call out President Obama for not identifying ISIS as 'Islamic' and 'Islamic terrorists' and their ideology as 'Islamism.'

To be successful, the fight against terrorism must be both military and ideological.

Naturally, we will not be able to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organisations militarily or ideologically if we do not understand what their ideology is.

An old military truism is that if you do not know your enemy, you cannot defeat your enemy.

This is why it is critical that we accurately define our enemy and its ideology.

The ideology shared by ISIS, Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations is 'Islamism.'

Distinct from the religion of Islam, Islamism is a radical political ideology of violent jihad aimed at establishing a totalitarian society governed by laws based on a particular interpretation of Islam.

As one who sees everyone as a child of God, I do not like to see anyone attempt to incite hatred or fear of others because of their religion.

This is one reason why, as we discuss terrorist organisations and refer to those terrorists who are waging war against us, I am careful to use language and terms that clearly distinguish between religion and radical, political ideology.

Let me be clear, the political ideology of Islamism is not the same as Islam, the religion. The vast majority of Muslims who embrace Islam do not adhere to the political ideology of Islamism.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, I believe that we cannot overcome the divisive challenges facing our communities, our countries, and our world if we do not recognise and respect all others as children of God, despite our differences of nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, and so forth.

While religious discrimination sadly exists in democratic countries like the United States, Great Britain, or India, it is not enshrined in the Constitution and law. Therefore, discrimination in these democratic countries is an aberration, not the norm.

How important do you believe is the Indo-US Strategic Partnership, particularly since you are close to Prime Minister Modi?

It is very important that the world's two largest democracies -- India and America -- have good relations. That is why I was very happy to visit India at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi. I wanted to do whatever I could to strengthen the relationship between our countries.

Working together on everything from fighting terrorism to combating climate change to promoting renewable energy, and much more, India and the US can make the world a better place.

In my attempt to strengthen the relationship between India and America, I have no interest in siding with or favouring one Indian political party over another.

As a member of the US Congress, my interest is in helping cultivate a closer relationship between the US and India, not just between the US and one political party of India.

Both in India and here in the US, I have held meetings with members of both the BJP and the Congress party. I am known in America for being nonpartisan -- I successfully work with Democrats and Republicans alike to get things done for the people.

My feeling about politics in India is similarly nonpartisan.

Now why doesn't this have 300 recs and responses?

Sick of the nonsense - attempts at ethnic division substituting for debate on the issues. Sorry if I see one side doing this every way they can, because they don't want a debate on the issues.
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