Thursday, September 13, 2012

Well, OF COURSE No One in the Presidential Campaign Really Wants to Talk About Foriegn Policy

Could the insanely stupid presidential campaign get any stupider? The answer to that question appears to be yes after Willard made quite a spectacle of himself by bizarrely attempting to politicize the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, before the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was even confirmed. In its own particular liberal, toadying-to-power way, the Atlantic Wire tried to explain the problem in an article entitled, "No One in the Presidential Campaign Really Wants to Talk About Foreign Policy":
The conservative backlash to the backlash to Mitt Romney's comments on the attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo and Benghazi Wednesday goes like this: You media people said you wanted Romney to talk about foreign policy, and now he is. What's the problem? Well, it's that no one — both campaigns and political press corps included — seems to really want to talk about foreign policy. The debate Romney wanted to get into on Wednesday wasn't a substantive one on actual foreign policy and how to make sure the new governments created by the Arab Spring remain friendly to the U.S. Romney instead wanted a cable news shoutfest about whether Obama made us look like wimps abroad. Instead the cable shoutfest was over whether Romney is qualified to answer 3 a.m. phone calls. You can understand why Romney supporters would like to change the subject. As National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote for Politico this morning:

"The old complaint about Romney was that he didn’t talk about foreign policy. The newly minted complaint about Romney was that he did talk about foreign policy. He gets it coming and going, and everywhere in between."

Lowry writes that foreign policy debate doesn't stop just because Americans die, and that wars and violence have always been campaign fodder. Likewise, a Wall Street Journal editorial is headlined "Romney Offends the Pundits." Subheadline: "Doesn't he know he's not supposed to debate foreign policy?" And The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol says Romney is "right to reject the counsel of the mainstream media," and that he should use a crisis for political purposes.

"Still, the fact remains that the events of September 11, 2012, represent a big moment for the country. Romney is right to sense this, and to seize on this moment as an occasion to explain the difference between his foreign policy and President Obama’s."

It's true that during Romney's press conference Wednesday, every question reporters asked was whether Romney felt bad about issuing a political statement before he knew Ambassador Christopher Stevens had died. But it's not just the timing that has pundits, including Republican ones—not to mention one anonymous Romney aide whose comment was deleted from a New York Times news story—saying Romney mishandled the events. It's also that Romney got one small fact wrong, claiming the Obama administration's "first response" to the attacks was to apologize, when, in actuality, the Cairo embassy had posted the statement in question before the protests, before anyone died, and before getting approval to do so from the State Department.

Then there's Romney's larger statement—a talking point he's promoted for years—that Obama has been overly concerned with the hurt feelings of Muslim radicals who want to kill Americans. For once thing, Obama hasn't done that much IRL coddling -- Lowry describes the "signature Obama foreign policy success," as "killing people." For another, in 2010, Romney himself condemned an American preacher who was going to hold a Koran burning because, "It puts troops in danger, and it violates a founding principle of our republic." But that was two years out from the presidential election, not two months.
The section I've highlighted above is the key point--no one in the campaign wants to talk about foreign policy because then they would have to admit that there is essentially NO difference between Romney and Obama on foreign policy...just as there is essentially no difference between Romney and Obama in terms of kissing Wall Street's ass and propping up the zombie economy by giving out as much "free" money as the big banks are willing to take. As the two potential faces of the American Empire, circa 2013-2017, Obama and Romney are nothing more than a sophisticated good cop, bad cop routine.

As the article states, Obama's signature foreign policy success has been killing people, which will no doubt be Romney's primary foreign policy pursuit should he be elected to replace him in November. It is what should be expected from a declining empire that can feel the sands of history shifting under its feet and knows no other way to try and forestall its inevitable downfall.

Bonus: "Even Richard Nixon has got soul"


  1. I largely agree, but Bill Kristol is a leading neo-con (who are always 'ends justify the means' types), one of the founders of Project for a New American Century, and therefore, one of the principal architects of the rapid escalation in U.S. militarism since 2001. That he's supporting Romney over Obama alone should show that there is SOME difference between another Obama administration and a potential Romney administration.

    Although Obama is President Drone, he also wrapped up Iraq and hasn't started another conflict. I wouldn't count on another GOP administration heavily influenced by the neo-cons to do the same.

    1. Actually, Libya WAS another conflict and the one which resulted in the blockback of the Ambassador's killing. Being a partisan stooge, Kristol has to come up with a reason why there's a difference, even if he has to make one up. That's his job.

    2. Kristol isn't a stooge, and it's a mistake to think that. He's posing as a media guy now, but he's a think tanker at heart. PNAC was THE playbook for the response to 9/11, we've followed it practically to the letter, and Kristol was a principal in it.

      Now, both parties are irretrievably compromised to the Military-Industrial Complex. But D.C. itself isn't a monolith. Various factions constantly battle for supremacy, and one side is largely about maintenance of the MIC and one side is about aggressive expansion of the MIC. While it's dangerous to think Obama (and the Democrats) are all smiles and sunshine, it's also dangerous to think there is no difference between the two. One side WILL pull out all the stops to increase U.S. miltarism. The Neo-cons are devoted entirely to this cause.

      Romney and the Neo-Cons:

      Libya is apt, because a way at looking at this is Democrats = Libya, Bosnia, and Sudan and Republicans = Iraq 1 and 2 (Afghanistan being shared between both sides). Are they similar? Absolutely. But which is worse? If one IS worse, is it wise to assume otherwise?

      Kristol on Syria:

      Kristol on Libya:

      Kristol on Iran:

    3. "But D.C. itself isn't a monolith."

      Coulda fooled me. Please, grasp at straws and split some more hairs desperately trying to find the alleged "differences" between the parties these days. Or just turn on CNN, they do a better job of fooling us.

    4. "Coulda" - you're right, and also wrong. As one can miss the forest for the trees (as you haven't), one can also miss that there are individual trees in the forest (as you have). Just because they all have green leaves doesn't mean they're all the same species. The differences, however subtle, are real - and it's just wrong to think otherwise.

      There would be NO point to the ridiculous levels of campaign funding if there were no differences between candidates. Guys like the Kochs simply wouldn't bother.

      I'm not excusing Obama and the Democrats. In fact, I intend to vote third party because of Obama's obvious corporatism, poor foreign policy record, poor environmental record, and so on. But another neo-con administration WOULD have devastating effects in our foreign policy, and thinking that Obama is a bloodthirsty hypocrite is right, but it's also assuming there couldn't be far, far worse.

      It's about who is more likely to pull the trigger in the use of force. To those in power, morality in national service is defined by national interests. How they (and their advisors) personally define national interests determines how and where they use military force. One can determine who is more likely to use force based on political philosophies.

      For all the disillusionment with Obama and his policies (he was an anti-war activist who extended Afghanistan, regularly drone bombs Pakistan, sanctions covert wars, extended and strengthened national surveillance, bombed Libya, backed out of his promises on Guantanamo, etc. etc.), you have another side claiming he is a weak-kneed anti-American who is constantly placating the 'enemy'. As bad as Obama is, don't be surprised if an empowered group of chicken hawks puts boots on the ground again.

      I'm simply saying that it's unlikely a Romney administration (especially if he puts neo-cons in his Cabinet) would behave in the exact same ways in foreign policy as another Obama administration.

      A group of people who believe with their whole hearts that America is best when it flexes its military power WILL use it as often as possible. A nation of people easily led to agree with them via propaganda and false patriotism will go along with them.

      On TV, I'd suggest nothing of true value or accuracy can be found on any channel.

    5. Anon - check today's post in which The War Nerd explains why Obama gets so little credit for his warmongering. It speaks to Obama's rock-hard place position, given that he would never, EVER consider a more peaceful path.

  2. I think you can summarize the difference between the two parties in this way...

    Democrats tell you that they want to help you. Then they go out, sell you down the river for the benefit of the elites. Then they feel bad about it.

    Republicans, on the other hand, tell you they are going to sell you down the river for the elites, do sell you down the river for the elites, and, frankly, don't give a rat's ass what you think about it as long as their patrons are happy.

    So, basically, the republicans are raging sociopaths, but honest about it, while the democrats are hypocritical sell-outs, but it gives them angst.

    1. Yep--that's pretty much the size of it. It all depends on whether you'd rather be stabbed in the front or the back, except that the Republicans are masters at getting the morons to believe it is really the OTHER GUY they are going to stab in the front.