Monday, November 30, 2009

'He talks too much'

Yes, he certainly does.

20 comments:

Evan said...

Tom Friedman once met a guy in a cab who told him all he needs to know about globalization and foreign policy.

Lachlan said...

That's nice. Your point?

Evan said...

My point is that columnists always seem to have anonymous sources who are in a position to tell them...what they already believe.

But when "a professor" says it, it gives the idea credibility. Basing an entire article like this on an anonymously sourced quote is bad journalism.

Lachlan said...

Okay, as long as your only issue with the piece is a four-word quote in the lede and not the litany of truths following it.

Evan said...

My issue is the veneer given to this. If the columnist actually believes this, that's fine, we all have our differences of opinion. But don't give it the appearance of being the belief of the majority of people in the Middle East. The author cites "endless chatter" indicating disappointment, but doesn't quote any of it. In fact, his quoting says the exact opposite of what the Pew report says on this topic: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=264

But what does Pew know? Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

TJE said...

I've missed your interlocutions.

Lachlan said...

That survey shows an average 31 percent approval rating of Obama's Middle East policies among citizens in the region. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

And the point of the piece, and of the quotes in it, was that words are all well and good, but they don't yield results without action. 'He talks a lot' should go without saying. I would like to see a president do a lot.

Ayush Soni said...

Do a lot...isn't that hard to do when you need 60 votes to get anything done because one party refuses to compromise and negotiate? If there's one thing Jones has taught us, it's that Presidents have very little power. I am always surprised by how much conservatives keep telling Obama to do something and either try to prevent anything from being done, or if something actually does get done, criticizes him to no end. Where's the peace and harmony?

Lachlan said...

If we were talking about health care, the 60 vote point might be relevant. Since we're not, it's not. The President, not the Congress, runs American foreign policy, except in the cases of declaring war and confirming federal officials. And maybe if Obama gets something done on the foreign policy front, conservatives will criticize him. Until he does, we just won't know.

Evan said...

First, I'd argue the measure of success isn't an absolute number, it's a relative number (over Bush years)--and the answer there is obvious.

But I think there's a point in the "Presidents are limited" thing--namely, when any U.S. President acts on a foreign policy stage, he's relying on actors who he has very little power over giving in to the compromise he wants. We can't just muscle in a peace deal between, say, Israel and the Palestinians. Or enforce an arbitrary end to Sunni-Shi'ia strife. We can do a lot that's artificial to make the situation look good--have a summit, launch a surge--but the underlying problems don't go away simply because we want them to.

Ayush Soni said...

On that point that Evan brought up, how do you think India would look at Obama if he gave Kashmir to Pakistan, or vice versa? I'm thinking is approval rating would not be too high with one of those countries. It is not his place to tell a sovereign nation how to control and handle its land. Like Evan said, he can only suggest and hold discussions. While the U.S. president has power, he cannot control the world as he sees fit. Do not blame world conflicts that have been going on since before Obama was born on him when it is only 11 months into is Presidency

Lachlan said...

I agree with you there, and I would take an Obama doing nothing over a Bush doing bad things any day. That said, I don't think Iran, to take the most obvious example, would be pursuing nuclear enrichment with the speed and bravado that they are if Bush were in office. If nothing else, he scared the shit out of our enemies (who knows who he'll bomb next!). This all goes back to our discussion about an Obama-as-Richie-Cunningham post, and how sooner or later he's going to have to knock someone on his proverbial ass if he wants to be respected on the world stage. If he can, he should be loved and feared. But if he has to choose between the two, he should opt for the latter.

Evan said...

So on the one hand you want Obama to make fewer bad decisions than Bush, but on the other, you want him to randomly threaten to bomb countries for the hell of it so they'll be scared of us?

You can't really have that both ways.

Lachlan said...

Umm no that's not what I said. I want my president to assure allies that we will stand behind them if they are attacked, and assure enemies that we will take action if we feel our nation or our interests are threatened. Obviously Bush took it overboard in invading countries (well, just one really) that did not pose any immediate threat. Obama has done the opposite, and has given the world no reason to believe that he will take forceful action to safeguard our interests.

Evan said...

But how exactly can we "assure our enemies" we'll take action, other than by taking action? And what interests deserve military intervention?

Lachlan said...

Well, you could tell them. Maybe say to Iran, 'if we feel threatened by your nuclear facilities, we will take appropriate actions to safeguard ourselves and our allies.' No need to be specific, they will get the point. And yes, I think a nuclear Iran would be a worthy target of a military strike.

Evan said...

But Obama has said exactly that - "All options are on the table." (source.)

As a practical matter our military simply doesn't have the capability of dealing with the consequences of an attack on an Iranian nuclear facility, given Iran's proximity to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lachlan said...

Okay, maybe a little specificity would be a good thing. Unless he makes it clear that we are considering military intervention, there's no reason for Iran to believe that we would choose that option.

And I'm sure our buddies in Tel Aviv would be more than happy to do the dirty work.

Evan said...

But any analyst in Iran who's looking at the situation knows that we can't reasonably intervene militarily.

And it's bad form for us to speak for Israel.

But beyond that, Iran is a sovereign nation. Do we really have a right to bomb a facility of theirs pursuing a weapons program we don't like? I understand the international law implications, but from an objective standpoint, wouldn't that make, say, the CIA black sites open to a country's assault? They're certainly illegal under international law...

Lachlan said...

I wouldn't justify attacking Iran for a violation of international law, as I don't recognize international law as a necessary condition for protecting the United States and our allies. But the fact that Iranian leaders have spoken time and again of their desire to "wipe Israel off the map" (and most likely start World War III in the process) is enough of a reason, in my opinion, to prevent them from acquiring weapons-grade uranium.