Roundup: Media's Take
This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
SOURCE: TomDispatch (10-28-12)
In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money.
This was part of what made Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign so electrifying: he seemed like a man who spoke our language and called many if not all things by their true names. Whatever caused that season of clarity, once elected, Obama promptly sank into the stale, muffled, parallel-universe language wielded by most politicians, and has remained there ever since. Meanwhile, the far right has gotten as far as it has by mislabeling just about everything in our world -- a phenomenon which went supernova in this year of “legitimate rape,” “the apology tour,” and “job creators.” Meanwhile, their fantasy version of economics keeps getting more fantastic. (Maybe there should be a rectification of numbers, too.)
Let’s rectify some names ourselves. We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I'm not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.
Calling lies "lies" and theft "theft" and violence "violence," loudly, clearly, and consistently, until truth becomes more than a bump in the road, is a powerful aspect of political activism. Much of the work around human rights begins with accurately and aggressively reframing the status quo as an outrage, whether it’s misogyny or racism or poisoning the environment. What protects an outrage are disguises, circumlocutions, and euphemisms -- “enhanced interrogation techniques” for torture, “collateral damage” for killing civilians, “the war on terror” for the war against you and me and our Bill of Rights.
Change the language and you’ve begun to change the reality or at least to open the status quo to question. Here is Confucius on the rectification of names:
“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”
So let’s start calling manifestations of greed by their true name. By greed, I mean the attempt of those who have plenty to get more, not the attempts of the rest of us to survive or lead a decent life. Look at the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame: the four main heirs are among the dozen richest people on the planet, each holding about $24 billion. Their wealth is equivalent to that of the bottom 40 percent of Americans. The corporation Sam Walton founded now employs 2.2 million workers, two-thirds of them in the U.S., and the great majority are poorly paid, intimidated, often underemployed people who routinely depend on government benefits to survive. You could call that Walton Family welfare -- a taxpayers' subsidy to their system. Strikes launched against Wal-Mart this summer and fall protested working conditions of astonishing barbarity -- warehouses that reach 120 degrees, a woman eight months pregnant forced to work at a brutal pace, commonplace exposure to pollutants, and the intimidation of those who attempted to organize or unionize.
You would think that $24,000,000,000 apiece would be enough, but the Walton family sits atop a machine intent upon brutalizing tens of millions of people -- the suppliers of Wal-Mart notorious for their abysmal working conditions, as well as the employees of the stores -- only to add to piles of wealth already obscenely vast. Of course, what we call corporations are, in fact, perpetual motion machines, set up to endlessly extract wealth (and leave slagheaps of poverty behind) no matter what.
They are generally organized in such a way that the brutality that leads to wealth extraction is committed by subcontractors at a distance or described in euphemisms, so that the stockholders, board members, and senior executives never really have to know what’s being done in their names. And yet it is their job to know -- just as it is each of our jobs to know what systems feed us and exploit or defend us, and the job of writers, historians, and journalists to rectify the names for all these things.
Groton to Moloch
The most terrifying passage in whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s gripping book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers is not about his time in Vietnam, or his life as a fugitive after he released the Pentagon Papers. It’s about a 1969 dinnertime conversation with a co-worker in a swanky house in Pacific Palisades, California. It took place right after Ellsberg and five of his colleagues had written a letter to the New York Times arguing for immediate withdrawal from the unwinnable, brutal war in Vietnam, and Ellsberg’s host said, “If I were willing to give up all this... if I were willing to renege on... my commitment to send my son to Groton... I would have signed the letter.”
In other words, his unnamed co-worker had weighed trying to prevent the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of people against the upper-middle-class perk of having his kid in a fancy prep school, and chosen the latter. The man who opted for Groton was, at least, someone who worked for what he had and who could imagine having painfully less. This is not true of the ultra-rich shaping the future of our planet.
They could send tens of thousands to Groton, buy more Renoirs and ranches, and still not exploit the poor or destroy the environment, but they’re as insatiable as they are ruthless. They are often celebrated in their aesthetic side effects: imposing mansions, cultural patronage, jewels, yachts. But in many, maybe most, cases they got rich through something a lot uglier, and that ugliness is still ongoing. Rectifying the names would mean revealing the ugliness of the sources of their fortunes and the grotesque scale on which they contrive to amass them, rather than the gaudiness of the trinkets they buy with them. It would mean seeing and naming the destruction that is the corollary of most of this wealth creation.
A Storm Surge of Selfishness
Where this matters most is climate change. Why have we done almost nothing over the past twenty-five years about what was then a terrifying threat and is now a present catastrophe? Because it was bad for quarterly returns and fossil-fuel portfolios. When posterity indicts our era, this will be the feeble answer for why we did so little -- that the rich and powerful with ties to the carbon-emitting industries have done everything in their power to prevent action on, or even recognition of, the problem. In this country in particular, they spent a fortune sowing doubt about the science of climate change and punishing politicians who brought the subject up. In this way have we gone through four “debates” and nearly a full election cycle with climate change unmentioned and unmentionable.
These three decades of refusing to respond have wasted crucial time. It’s as though you were prevented from putting out a fire until it was raging: now the tundra is thawing and Greenland’s ice shield is melting and nearly every natural system is disrupted, from the acidifying oceans to the erratic seasons to droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires, and the failure of crops. We can still respond, but the climate is changed; the damage we all spoke of, only a few years ago, as being in the future is here, now.
You can look at the chief executive officers of the oil corporations -- Chevron’s John Watson, for example, who received almost $25 million ($1.57 million in salary and the rest in “compensation”) in 2011 -- or their major shareholders. They can want for nothing. They’re so rich they could quit the game at any moment. When it comes to climate change, some of the wealthiest people in the world have weighed the fate of the Earth and every living thing on it for untold generations to come, the seasons and the harvests, this whole exquisite planet we evolved on, and they have come down on the side of more profit for themselves, the least needy people the world has ever seen.
Take those billionaire energy tycoons Charles and David Koch, who are all over American politics these days. They are spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat Obama, partly because he offends their conservative sensibilities, but also because he is less likely to be a completely devoted servant of their profit margins. He might, if we shout loud enough, rectify a few names. Under pressure, he might even listen to the public or environmental groups, while Romney poses no such problem (and under a Romney administration they will probably make more back in tax cuts than they are gambling on his election).
Two years ago, the Koch brothers spent $1 million on California’s Proposition 23, an initiative written and put on the ballot by out-of-state oil companies to overturn our 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. It lost by a landslide, but the Koch brothers have also invested a small fortune in spreading climate-change denial and sponsoring the Tea Party (which they can count on to oppose climate change regulation as big government or interference with free enterprise). This year they’re backing a California initiative to silence unions. They want nothing to stand in the way of corporate power and the exploitation of fossil fuels. Think of it as another kind of war, and consider the early casualties.
As the Irish Times put it in an editorial this summer:
“Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, hundreds of millions are struggling to adapt to their changing climate. In the last three years, we have seen 10 million people displaced by floods in Pakistan, 13 million face hunger in east Africa, and over 10 million in the Sahel region of Africa face starvation. Even those figures only scrape the surface. According to the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed up by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, climate change is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affects 300 million people annually. By 2030, the annual death toll related to climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 and the economic cost to rocket to $600 billion.”
This coming year may see a dramatic increase in hunger due to rising food prices from crop failures, including this summer’s in the U.S. Midwest after a scorching drought in which the Mississippi River nearly ran dry and crops withered.
We need to talk about climate change as a war against nature, against the poor (especially the poor of Africa), and against the rest of us. There are casualties, there are deaths, and there is destruction, and it’s all mounting. Rectify the name, call it war. While we’re at it, take back the term “pro-life” to talk about those who are trying to save the lives of all the creatures suffering from the collapse of the complex systems on which plant and animal as well as human lives depend. The other side: “pro-death.”
The complex array of effects from climate change and their global distribution, as well as their scale and the science behind them makes it harder to talk about than almost anything else on Earth, but we should talk about it all the more because of that. And yes, the rest of us should do more, but what is the great obstacle those who have already tried to do so much invariably come up against? The oil corporations, the coal companies, the energy industry, its staggering financial clout, its swarms of lobbyists, and the politicians in its clutches. Those who benefit most from the status quo, I learned in studying disasters, are always the least willing to change.
The Doublespeak on Taxes
I’m a Californian so I faced the current version of American greed early. Proposition 13, the initiative that froze property taxes and made it nearly impossible to raise taxes in our state, went into effect in 1978, two years before California’s former governor Ronald Reagan won the presidency, in part by catering to greed. Prop 13, as it came to be known, went into effect when California was still an affluent state with the best educational system in the world, including some of the top universities around, nearly free to in-staters all the way through graduate school. Tax cuts have trashed the state and that education system, and they are now doing the same to our country. The public sphere is to society what the biosphere is to life on earth: the space we live in together, and the attacks on them have parallels.
What are taxes? They are that portion of your income that you contribute to the common good. Most of us are unhappy with how they’re allocated -- though few outside the left talk about the fact that more than half of federal discretionary expenditures go to our gargantuan military, more money than is spent on the next 14 militaries combined. Ever since Reagan, the right has complained unceasingly about fantasy expenditures -- from that president’s “welfare queens” to Mitt Romney’s attack on Big Bird and PBS (which consumes .001% of federal expenditures).
As part of its religion of greed, the right invented a series of myths about where those taxes went, how paying them was the ultimate form of oppression, and what boons tax cuts were to bring us. They then delivered the biggest tax cuts of all to those who already had a superfluity of money and weren’t going to pump the extra they got back into the economy. What they really were saying was that they wanted to hang onto every nickel, no matter how the public sphere was devastated, and that they really served the ultra-rich, over and over again, not the suckers who voted them into office.
Despite decades of cutting to the bone, they continue to promote tax cuts as if they had yet to happen. Their constant refrain is that we are too poor to feed the poor or educate the young or heal the sick, but the poverty isn’t monetary: it’s moral and emotional. Let’s rectify some more language: even at this moment, the United States remains the richest nation the world has ever seen, and California -- with the richest agricultural regions on the planet and a colossal high-tech boom still ongoing in Silicon Valley -- is loaded, too. Whatever its problems, the U.S. is still swimming in abundance, even if that abundance is divided up ever more unequally.
Really, there’s more than enough to feed every child well, to treat every sick person, to educate everyone well without saddling them with hideous debt, to support the arts, to protect the environment -- to produce, in short, a glorious society. The obstacle is greed. We could still make the sorts of changes climate change requires of us and become a very different nation without overwhelming pain. We would then lead somewhat different lives -- richer, not poorer, for most of us (in meaning, community, power, and hope). Because this culture of greed impoverishes all of us, it is, to call it by its true name, destruction.
Occupy the Names
One of the great accomplishments of Occupy Wall Street was this rectification of names. Those who came together under that rubric named the greed, inequality, and injustice in our system; they made the brutality of debt and the subjugation of the debtors visible; they called out Wall Street’s crimes; they labeled the wealthiest among us the “1 percent,” those who have made a profession out of pumping great sums of our wealth upwards (quite a different kind of tax). It was a label that made instant sense across much of the political spectrum. It was a good beginning. But there’s so much more to do.
Naming is only part of the work, but it’s a crucial first step. A doctor initially diagnoses, then treats; an activist or citizen must begin by describing what is wrong before acting. To do that well is to call things by their true names. Merely calling out these names is a beam of light powerful enough to send the destroyers it shines upon scurrying for cover like roaches. After that, you still need to name your vision, your plan, your hope, your dream of something better.
Names matter; language matters; truth matters. In this era when the mainstream media serve obfuscation and evasion more than anything else (except distraction), alternative media, social media, demonstrations in the streets, and conversations between friends are the refuges of truth, the places where we can begin to rectify the names. So start talking.
SOURCE: OUPblog (10-29-12)
James L. Baughman is the Fetzer-Bascom Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of “There Were Two Gerald Fords: John Hersey and Richard Reeves Profile a President” in the latest issue of American Literary History, which is available to read for free for a limited time. He is also the author of four books, including Republic of Mass Culture: Journalism, Filmmaking, and Broadcasting in America since 1941.
It has been more than 25 years since Gerald Ford narrowly lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.
Ford’s presidency has become a dim memory. “The more I think about the Ford administration,” John Updike wrote in 1992, “the more it seems I remember nothing.” Taking office after Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, Ford struggled to restore the public’s faith in the presidency, badly shaken by the numerous illegalities associated with the Nixon White House.
Ford also had to contend with another Nixon legacy: a new, unrelentingly critical journalistic style.
I have been working on a book about American political journalism since 1960, focusing on certain candidates and reporters. Political journalism has changed over the past fifty years, mainly for the better. It is more interpretive and searching. Yet not all changes, in my view, have been good....
SOURCE: Lee Ruddin (10-26-12)
Lee Ruddin is Roundup Editor at HNN. He lives in England.
It has recently been reported that David Cameron declined to take a phone call from Barack Obama because he was finishing a game of tennis. The claim is made by Charlie Brooks, an old school chum of Cameron’s from Eton, who allegedly visited the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) official residence in Chequers – racket to hand – and was busy playing a tie-break, third set when the President called. Downing Street, not surprisingly, has been quick to deny the Racing Post’s report and questioned Mr. Brooks’ recollection of events, insisting that while records show the pair had indeed played a game in August 2010, no phone call was logged from the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) during match play.
Another recent report of interest to students of Anglo-American relations relates to the publication of Kofi Annan’s memoirs. In it (Interventions: A Life in War and Peace), the former United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General claims that Tony Blair could have halted George W. Bush’s plans to ouster Saddam Hussein. In an exclusive interview with the The Times, Annan says that if Tony parted company with George after failing to acquire a second U.N. Security Council Resolution (S.C.R.), it would have given the Bush Administration ‘pause for thought’, so influential was the ex-PM’s standing inside the Beltway.
Both reports have attracted little readership to date but should be taken with a pinch of salt, cynics would no doubt say, since the two aforementioned authors are currently promoting books and eager to attract as much interest as possible. For me, however, the reports illuminate the true dynamics of the UK-U.S. “Special Relationship,” albeit in microcosm, and undermine the “poodle” thesis. Let me explain why I think Cameron is confident enough to snub Obama but only after illustrating why Blair was so integral to the invasion of Iraq.
First things first, Blair’s Britain could not have prevented Bush’s bellicose America from invading Iraq in 2003; the stench of death from 9/11 still hung over those in the Pentagon and few were surprised when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said ‘we can go it alone’ on the eve of war. This is not to say that Blair played no role, though. Indeed, as his Director of Communications records in the fourth volume of The Alastair Diaries: The Burden of Power – Countdown to Iraq, Bush left it to Blair to cajole Dick Cheney, a staunch unilateralist, into going down the U.N. route.
Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, was young, articulate and charismatic, as we all know – but so was Blair. Indeed, it was the latter who also cajoled the former into a pursuing a different (read: more activist) course of action in Kosovo with talk of deploying ground troops (which brought Slobodan Milosevic to the negotiating table) and recommended they radically overhaul (NATO) decision-making machinery. A month into the Kosovo campaign, Blair delivered a speech in Chicago outlining a ‘new doctrine of international community’ that explicitly rejected the narrow view of national interest and advocated intervention in the affairs of sovereign states, which, more than anything else, illuminated the difference between (say Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier, coauthors of America Between the Wars) Clinton’s ‘wobbly leadership and Blair’s steadfast resolve’ in an ever-increasingly dangerous and globalized world.
‘What Blair did in Chicago [at the Economic Club on 22 April 1999]’, historian Andrew Roberts writes, ‘was to expand the specific case of Kosovo into a general right to intervene if … criteria were met.’ So much so, in fact, the author of A History of the English Speaking-Peoples Since 1900 cautions against students and scholars displaying myopia when attributing the “revolutionary” doctrine of preemptive war solely to American neoconservatives:
Blair’s speech (the Blair Doctrine) in Chicago mentioned the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by name as a possible future candidate for removal from office, a full eighteen months before George W. Bush had even arrived at the White House, and nearly four years before the war against Iraq. To present Blair as a mere poodle of the Americans, therefore, represents a profound misunderstanding of the dynamics of the Special Relationship.
So influential was Blair on global events that journalists on the ground in Syria today (Luke Bozier, to name but one, writing in The Independent) ask not how Clinton would have reacted, or if Bush would have waged war, but rather: ‘what Blair would have done?’ This speaks volumes of the PM’s role as an international statesman and the impact he had on the formation of (White House and, in turn, western) policy for a decade.
David Cameron is an admirer of Blair (as Bozier reminds readers on 16 October), and infamously once described himself as “the heir to Blair.” Yet it is not only the latter whom should be proud of the former for taking charge of the intervention in Libya in 2011; most, if not all, Brits should be since – much like the occupant of Number 10 12 years earlier – a PM looked more assertive than an C-in-C and was a more articulate and convincing proponent of western action than American leaders.
Not for the first time in recent American history, the incumbent refused to take the lead in toppling a tyrant whom tormented his people. And, not for the time in recent British history, Her Majesty’s Government stepped in to fill the breach. Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal response to the Arab Spring and subsequent assault on rebels appalled cable viewers the world over, Obama included, but he was reluctant to act for fear of antagonizing the Muslim world. Cameron, on the other hand, set the tone of the response with Blair-style shuttle diplomacy and instructed the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to draw up plans for a no-fly zone. A similar move was initiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy days earlier and diplomats on either side of the English Channel were quick to come up with a U.N.S.C.R to authorize a no-fly zone, notwithstanding skepticism across the Atlantic from where U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, criticized ‘loose talk’.
The quick passage of U.N.S.C.R 1973 underlined the burden of leadership passing from an inert C-in-C to an increasingly influential PM. More importantly, though, it undergirded just how persuasive Cameron was in persuading the U.S. to back a no-fly zone, a course of action which Obama dithered over and was reluctant to view as anything other than a contingency measure, but one which his Administration fully supported when asked to vote upon.
While much has happened in Anglo-American relations these past eighteen months, the last month in particular – such as Attorney General Eric Holder formally complaining to Britain over Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to block the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon; a prospective merger (between BAE Systems and the Franco-German company EADS) which could have weakened defense cooperation between London and Washington; clashes over the implementation of the controversial secret courts law and Britain being put “on probation” by America’s intelligence-gathering community; and an opinion piece by a group of UK defense chiefs reaffirming the ‘open concern in the United States Congress over British disarmament’ – Cameron continues to have influence with the White House, much like Blair, who was able to counsel Clinton and Bush at key moments in international affairs, and thus confident enough to actually snub Obama.
SOURCE: National Interest (10-24-12)
Kenneth M. Pollack is a contributing editor to The National Interest and a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
SOURCE: The New Republic (10-23-12)
John B. Judis has been writing for The New Republic since 1984 and has been a senior editor since 1994.
I prepared for writing about the third debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney by reading about North Korea, Iran, Syria, the European Union, Mexico, Cuba, you name it -- well every place except Mali -- but I could have better spent my afternoon reading a novel or taking a walk. The candidates spent almost no time debating the substance of foreign policy. When they could, they detoured into domestic policy. I know I am supposed to say who won the debate, but I don’t think this was a conventional contest. Both candidates wanted to accomplish certain things; and they pretty much succeeded. And that goes for Romney, too, who many commentators think lost the debate.
Since the summer, Romney has been trying to play Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election between Reagan and Carter. If you close your eyes and listen to Romney telling Obama, “Attacking me is not an agenda,” you’ll hear the voice of Ronald Reagan in 1980 responding to Carter’s repeated criticisms. I would bet that Romney has listened repeatedly to that debate and attempted to emulate Reagan’s avuncular, reassuring, self-confident, witty style. Romney even made several awkward attempts at humor during this debate.
Romney adopted part of the Reagan script during the summer – his campaign people were talking about it at the convention – but he failed then to grasp what was essential to Reagan’s victory that year. During the summer, Romney adopted three elements of Reagan’s 1980 script; 1) the question, are you better off now than you were four years ago, 2) the charge America is falling behind, and needs to regain world leadership, and 3) the insistence that contrary to one’s opponent, Americans are not suffering from malaise, and America has nothing to apologize for. In the last month, Romney even found in the Benghazi terrorist attack a surrogate from Republican charges in 1980 that Carter was bungling the Iranian hostage crisis....
SOURCE: WSJ (10-22-12)
Mr. Stephens writes the Journal's "Global View" column on foreign affairs.
On Wednesday an Iranian-American named Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with Iranian military officials to blow up a restaurant in Washington, D.C. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration and Iran had secretly agreed "in principle" to hold direct talks after the election, a disclosure to which the White House responded with a lawyerly denial.
And so it goes with U.S. policy toward Iran. They are at war with us. We seek bilateral negotiations and confidence-building measures with them.
That is a point that—as I write this column ahead of the final presidential debate—I hope to hear Mitt Romney hammer home when the subject of Iran inevitably comes up. Barack Obama told "60 Minutes" last month that "if Gov. Romney is suggesting we should start another war, he should say so." Sorry, Mr. President: When it comes to Iran, the mullahs started that war a long time ago. Wishing facts away doesn't change them.
Here's a list of the American victims of Iranian aggression...
SOURCE: Daily Star (Lebanon) (10-23-12)
Daoud Kuttab, former professor of journalism at Princeton University, is general manager of the Community Media Network in Amman.
On Sept. 13, 1993, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas met on the South Lawn of the White House to sign the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles, or the Oslo Accords. PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin then sealed the agreement with an historic handshake.
The Oslo Accords – the result of secret talks that had been encouraged by the Norwegian government and conducted in the country’s capital – called for a five-year transitional period during which Israeli forces would withdraw from the Gaza Strip and unspecified areas of the West Bank, and the establishment of a Palestinian Authority. Letters of recognition between the PLO and Israel accompanied the agreement. The ultimate aim, though never explicitly stated, was to create a Palestinian state roughly within the 1967 borders.
But the goals laid out in the Oslo Accords remain unfulfilled. In fact, the agreement is unlikely to survive 89-year-old Peres and 77-year-old Abbas, who are now presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, respectively. Several factors contributed to the deterioration of prospects for lasting peace...
SOURCE: Miami Herald (10-21-22)
Jeb Bush is the former governor of Florida. Frank Calzon is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, D.C.
Fifty years ago, the world was on the brink of Armageddon.
The Russians had secretly installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, aiming them at Washington and other American cities. Confronting the Soviet Union at the United Nations, the United States displayed photographic evidence and demanded the missiles be removed. On Oct. 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered the Navy to blockade Cuba. Six days later Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev ordered the missiles dismantled.
How did that crisis develop? What lessons were learned that might be applied in these still-perilous times? The first lesson actually stems from Kennedy’s first meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna. Recently elected, Kennedy, 45, was young, dashing and charismatic. Khrushchev, 68, was a committed Communist who had been trained by Stalin, one of history’s most brutal tyrants. Sometime during the meeting Khrushchev concluded Kennedy was a light-weight and could be pushed around...
SOURCE: National Review (10-22-12)
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor, and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
How will this election be seen in history? Obviously, it depends on who wins.
If Barack Obama is defeated, the irresistible comparison will be to Jimmy Carter. A president was rejected for a second term after pursuing big-government programs amid high energy prices and attacks on America in the Middle East.
Actually, that’s not entirely fair to Carter. His budget deficits were minuscule next to Obama’s, and in response to the Soviet attack on Afghanistan he began the defense buildup that Ronald Reagan accelerated.
Carter supported airline deregulation, which made air travel widely accessible, as well as rail and trucking deregulation, which squeezed billions from the cost of goods and services. He signed a tax bill cutting capital-gains rates and establishing 401(k) deferred-tax retirement accounts.
Obama, in contrast, has made big defense cuts and suggested the sequestration process that threatens further cuts that his own defense secretary calls catastrophic. And in the face of voter disapproval, he pushed through Obamacare and has moved toward more regulation on almost all fronts...
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK) (10-21-12)
Edward Luce is the Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, London.
We are in the closing days of the third US presidential election since September 11 2001. Yet the shadow cast by the Twin Towers attacks has barely receded. In the final debate on Monday night, the killing of the US ambassador in the Libyan city of Benghazi is likely to be the most bitter point of contention between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Christopher Stevens and three others died on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Mr Romney has been trying to make capital out of it ever since.
On Monday night Mr Romney will get what further help, or rope, he needs from Bob Schieffer, the CBS moderator. Mr Schieffer has allocated two-thirds of the debate to the Middle East. Of his six topics, two are devoted to "the new face of terrorism in the Middle East", which means Benghazi. Libya may thus get as much time as "The rise of China" and "America’s role in the world" put together. The other topics are Israel and Iran, and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr Schieffer’s list highlights 9/11’s continued hold on the American debate. The 2012 election as a whole shows that the US has not yet left the George W. Bush era behind. The two nominees are essentially offering contrasting versions of Mr Bush’s presidency. Mr Romney promises a return to the unilateralism of his first term. Mr Obama will continue with the lighter touch of Mr Bush’s second. It certainly offers a choice. But it also reflects America’s weak appetite to talk about so many other challenges before it... ..
SOURCE: NYT (10-22-12)
GEORGE S. McGOVERN is, in some sense, the reason I exist. My parents met as radical community organizers in their early 20s, an idealistic honey-haired student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a scraggly wannabe farm boy from Brown University, knocking on doors for the now defunct Acorn.
It’s a typical 1975 story, except that they were pounding the pavement in Sioux Falls, S.D., a provincial little city at the edge of the upper Midwest and the Great Plains. Stranger still, they stayed in the state — my dad for nearly 40 years, my mom for 15.
It’s astonishing to think now, but South Dakota made sense as a destination for idealistic young liberals in the mid-1970s. Senator McGovern, who died Sunday at the age of 90, had run an inspiring but catastrophic campaign for the presidency three years earlier, bravely opposing the Vietnam War. The state’s junior senator, James Abourezk, was another liberal Democrat and the first Arab-American elected to the upper chamber. And Red Power activism was roiling the state’s Indian reservations; the Wounded Knee standoff on the Pine Ridge Reservation even captured the nation’s attention for several months in 1973....
We found a place amid a Plains liberalism whose patron saint was Mr. McGovern: Christian, populist, antiwar. Mr. McGovern, the son of a Methodist minister, had become horrified with war as a bomber pilot in World War II and studied theology when he returned home....
SOURCE: RootsAction (10-18-12)
Daniel Ellsberg is a former State and Defense Department official who has been arrested for acts of non-violent civil disobedience over eighty times, initially for copying and releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers, for which he faced 115 years in prison. Living in a non-swing state, he does not intend to vote for President Obama.
It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.
The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine -- progressives, especially activists -- to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.
An activist colleague recently said to me: “I hear you’re supporting Obama.”
I was startled, and took offense. “Supporting Obama? Me?!”
“I lose no opportunity publicly,” I told him angrily, to identify Obama as a tool of Wall Street, a man who’s decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who’s launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. “Would you call that support?”
My friend said, “But on Democracy Now you urged people in swing states to vote for him! How could you say that? I don’t live in a swing state, but I will not and could not vote for Obama under any circumstances.”
My answer was: a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better -- no different -- on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.
I told him: “I don’t ‘support Obama.’ I oppose the current Republican Party. This is not a contest between Barack Obama and a progressive candidate. The voters in a handful or a dozen close-fought swing states are going to determine whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to wield great political power for four, maybe eight years, or not.”
As Noam Chomsky said recently, “The Republican organization today is extremely dangerous, not just to this country, but to the world. It’s worth expending some effort to prevent their rise to power, without sowing illusions about the Democratic alternatives.”
Following that logic, he’s said to an interviewer what my friend heard me say to Amy Goodman: “If I were a person in a swing state, I’d vote against Romney/Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there is no other choice.”
The election is at this moment a toss-up. That means this is one of the uncommon occasions when we progressives -- a small minority of the electorate -- could actually have a significant influence on the outcome of a national election, swinging it one way or the other.
The only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama: not stay home, or vote for someone else. And that has to include, in those states, progressives and disillusioned liberals who are at this moment inclined not to vote at all or to vote for a third-party candidate (because like me they’ve been not just disappointed but disgusted and enraged by much of what Obama has done in the last four years and will probably keep doing).
They have to be persuaded to vote, and to vote in a battleground state for Obama not anyone else, despite the terrible flaws of the less-bad candidate, the incumbent. That’s not easy. As I see it, that’s precisely the “effort” Noam is referring to as worth expending right now to prevent the Republicans’ rise to power. And it will take progressives -- some of you reading this, I hope -- to make that effort of persuasion effectively.
It will take someone these disheartened progressives and liberals will listen to. Someone manifestly without illusions about the Democrats, someone who sees what they see when they look at the president these days: but who can also see through candidates Romney or Ryan on the split-screen, and keep their real, disastrous policies in focus.
It’s true that the differences between the major parties are not nearly as large as they and their candidates claim, let alone what we would want. It’s even fair to use Gore Vidal’s metaphor that they form two wings (“two right wings” as some have put it) of a single party, the Property or Plutocracy Party, or as Justin Raimondo says, the War Party.
Still, the political reality is that there are two distinguishable wings, and one is reliably even worse than the other, currently much worse overall. To be in denial or to act in neglect of that reality serves only the possibly imminent, yet presently avoidable, victory of the worse.
The traditional third-party mantra, “There’s no significant difference between the major parties” amounts to saying: “The Republicans are no worse, overall.” And that’s absurd. It constitutes shameless apologetics for the Republicans, however unintended. It’s crazily divorced from present reality.
And it’s not at all harmless to be propagating that absurd falsehood. It has the effect of encouraging progressives even in battleground states to refrain from voting or to vote in a close election for someone other than Obama, and more importantly, to influence others to act likewise. That’s an effect that serves no one but the Republicans, and ultimately the 1%.
It’s not merely understandable, it’s entirely appropriate to be enraged at Barack Obama. As I am. He has often acted outrageously, not merely timidly or “disappointingly.” If impeachment were politically imaginable on constitutional grounds, he’s earned it (like George W. Bush, and many of his predecessors!) It is entirely human to want to punish him, not to “reward” him with another term or a vote that might be taken to express trust, hope or approval.
But rage is not generally conducive to clear thinking. And it often gets worked out against innocent victims, as would be the case here domestically, if refusals to vote for him resulted in Romney’s taking key battleground states that decide the outcome of this election.
To punish Obama in this particular way, on Election Day -- by depriving him of votes in swing states and hence of office in favor of Romney and Ryan -- would punish most of all the poor and marginal in society, and workers and middle class as well: not only in the U.S. but worldwide in terms of the economy (I believe the Republicans could still convert this recession to a Great Depression), the environment and climate change. It could well lead to war with Iran (which Obama has been creditably resisting, against pressure from within his own party). And it would spell, via Supreme Court appointments, the end of Roe v. Wade and of the occasional five to four decisions in favor of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The reelection of Barack Obama, in itself, is not going to bring serious progressive change, end militarism and empire, or restore the Constitution and the rule of law. That’s for us and the rest of the people to bring about after this election and in the rest of our lives -- through organizing, building movements and agitating.
In the eight to twelve close-fought states -- especially Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, but also Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin -- for any progressive to encourage fellow progressives and others in those states to vote for a third-party candidate is, I would say, to be complicit in facilitating the election of Romney and Ryan, with all its consequences.
To think of that as urging people in swing states to “vote their conscience” is, I believe, dangerously misleading advice. I would say to a progressive that if your conscience tells you on Election Day to vote for someone other than Obama in a battleground state, you need a second opinion. Your conscience is giving you bad counsel.
I often quote a line by Thoreau that had great impact for me: “Cast your whole vote: not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.” He was referring, in that essay, to civil disobedience, or as he titled it himself, “Resistance to Civil Authority.”
It still means that to me. But this is a year when for people who think like me -- and who, unlike me, live in battleground states -- casting a strip of paper is also important. Using your whole influence this month to get others to do that, to best effect, is even more important.
That means for progressives in the next couple of weeks -- in addition to the rallies, demonstrations, petitions, lobbying (largely against policies or prospective policies of President Obama, including austerity budgeting next month), movement-building and civil disobedience that are needed all year round and every year -- using one’s voice and one’s e-mails and op-eds and social media to encourage citizens in swing states to vote against a Romney victory by voting for the only real alternative, Barack Obama.
SOURCE: SusanEisenhower.com (10-18-12)
Susan Eisenhower is President of the Eisenhower Group, Inc, which provides strategic counsel on political, business and public affairs projects.
...In answering a question about the former president of your own political party, most of us might have expected that any criticism from Romney would, at the very least, have come with a qualifier. He could have easily said: “Although the Bush deficits were far too high, the president was dealing with a national emergency—September 11.” This would have been smart since Romney also challenged Bush’s record on China, another sensitive matter.
Romney owes the GOP nomination – in large measure – to the Bush family. As pillars of the current Republican establishment, they still wield enormous power. The Bush family could have demurred and refused to endorse anyone, making it probable that a more extreme candidate would have gotten the nomination and lost the general election. This would have left the window wide open for a Jeb Bush nomination in 2016. After all, if Romney wins this November, Jeb will be sidelined in 2016.
Instead, during the grueling GOP primary fight one Bush after another came forward to support Romney, against the tide of opinion within the party rank and file. In March, former Governor Jeb Bush went first. He was followed a few days later by former President George H.W. Bush. Both of these endorsements came after former First Lady Barbara Bush had already recorded robocalls for the Romney campaign. A few months later in May, President George W. Bush informally mentioned that he is backing Romney. This was noteworthy because the former president had decided to stand back from a formal endorsement, as immediate former presidents often do....
SOURCE: TomDispatch (10-18-12)
Dilip Hiro, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of 33 books, the most recent being Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia (Yale University Press, New Haven and London). To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which Hiro discusses the embattled Pakistan-U.S. relationship, click here or download it to your iPod here.
The United States and Pakistan are by now a classic example of a dysfunctional nuclear family (with an emphasis on “nuclear”). While the two governments and their peoples become more suspicious and resentful of each other with every passing month, Washington and Islamabad are still locked in an awkward post-9/11 embrace that, at this juncture, neither can afford to let go of.
Washington is keeping Pakistan, with its collapsing economy and bloated military, afloat but also cripplingly dependent on its handouts and U.S.-sanctioned International Monetary Fund loans. Meanwhile, CIA drones unilaterally strike its tribal borderlands. Islamabad returns the favor. It holds Washington hostage over its Afghan War from which the Pentagon won’t be able to exit in an orderly fashion without its help. By blocking U.S. and NATO supply routes into Afghanistan (after a U.S. cross-border air strike had killed 24 Pakistani soldiers) from November 2011 until last July, Islamabad managed to ratchet up the cost of the war while underscoring its indispensability to the Obama administration.
At the heart of this acerbic relationship, however, is Pakistan’s arsenal of 110 nuclear bombs which, if the country were to disintegrate, could fall into the hands of Islamist militants, possibly from inside its own security establishment. As Barack Obama confided to his aides, this remains his worst foreign-policy nightmare, despite the decision of the U.S. Army to train a commando unit to retrieve Pakistan’s nukes, should extremists seize some of them or materials to produce a “dirty bomb” themselves.
Two Publics, Differing Opinions
Pakistan’s military high command fears the Pentagon’s contingency plans to seize its nukes. Following the clandestine strike by U.S. SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011, it loaded elements of its nuclear arsenal onto trucks, which rumbled around the country to frustrate any possible American attempt to grab its most prized possessions. When Senator John Kerry arrived in Islamabad to calm frayed nerves following Bin Laden’s assassination, high Pakistani officials insisted on a written U.S. promise not to raid their nuclear arsenal. He snubbed the demand.
Since then mutual distrust between the two nominal allies -- a relationship encapsulated by some in the term “AmPak” -- has only intensified. Last month, for instance, Pakistan became the sole Muslim country to officially call on the Obama administration to ban the anti-Islamic 14-minute video clip Innocence of Muslims, which depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, religious fraud, and pedophile.
While offering a bounty of $100,000 for the killing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-American Christian producer of the movie, Pakistan’s Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour called on al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban to be “partners in this noble deed.” Prime Minister Raja Ashraf distanced his government from Bilour’s incitement to murder, a criminal offense under Pakistani law, but did not dismiss him from the cabinet. The U.S. State Department strongly condemned Bilour’s move.
Pakistan also stood out as the only Muslim state whose government declared a public holiday, “Love the Prophet Muhammad Day,” to encourage its people to demonstrate against the offending movie. The U.S. Embassy’s strategy of disarming criticism with TV and newspaper ads showing President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning “the content and the message” of the film failed to discourage protesters. In fact, the demonstrations in major Pakistani cities turned so violent that 23 protesters were killed, the highest figure worldwide.
Taking advantage of the government’s stance, proscribed jihadist organizations made a defiant show of their continued existence. In Lahore, the capital of Punjab, the country’s largest province, activists from the banned Lashkar-e Taiba (Army of the Pure), whose leader Hafiz Saeed is the target of a $10 million bounty by Washington, led protesters toward the American consulate where perimeter defenses had been breached earlier in the week. In Islamabad, activists from the Sipah-e-Sahaba (Soldiers of the Prophet’s Companions), an outlawed Sunni faction, clashed with the police for hours in the course of a march to the heavily guarded diplomatic enclave.
These outlawed organizations continue to operate with impunity in an environment that has grown rabidly anti-American. A June 2012 survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center (PRC) found that 74% of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy. By contrast, only 12% believe that U.S. aid helps solve problems in their country in a situation in which 89% describe their nation’s economic situation as “bad.”
The American public’s view of Pakistan is equally bleak. February polls by Gallup and Fox News indicated that 81% of Americans had an unfavorable view of that country; just 15% held a contrary view, the lowest figure of the post-9/11 period (with only the remaining “axis of evil” states of Iran and North Korea faring worse).
Clashing Views on the War on Terror
Most Americans consider Pakistan an especially unreliable ally in Washington’s war on terror. That it provided safe haven to bin Laden for 10 years before his violent death in 2011 reinforced this perception. Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman Zawahiri, is widely believed to be hiding in Pakistan. So, too, are Mullah Muhammad Omar and other leaders of the Afghan Taliban.
It beggars belief that this array of Washington’s enemies can continue to function inside the country without the knowledge of its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) which reputedly has nearly 100,000 employees and informers. Even if serving ISI officers are not in cahoots with the Afghan Taliban, many retired ISI officers clearly are.
The rationale for this, top Pakistani officials say privately, is that the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani Network are not attacking targets in Pakistan and so pose no threat to the state. In practice, these political-military entities are being sustained by Islamabad as future surrogates in a post-American Afghanistan. Their task is to ensure a pro-Islamabad government in Kabul, immune to offers of large-scale economic aid from India, the regional superpower. In short, it all boils down to Washington and Islamabad pursuing clashing aims in war-ravaged Afghanistan and in Pakistan as well.
The Pakistani government’s multifaceted stance toward Washington has wide public support. Popular hostility toward the U.S. stems from several interrelated factors. Above all, most Pakistanis view the war on terror from a radically differently perspective than Americans. Since its primary targets have been the predominantly Muslim countries of Afghanistan and Iraq, they equate it with an American crusade against Islam.
While U.S. pundits and politicians invariably cite the $24 billion in assistance and military aid Washington has given Islamabad in the post-9/11 period, Pakistanis stress the heavy price they have paid for participating in the Washington-led war. “No country and no people have suffered more in the epic struggle against terrorism than Pakistan,” said President Asif Ali Zardari at the United Nations General Assembly last month.
His government argues that, as a result of joining the war on terror, Pakistan has suffered a loss of $68 billion over the past decade. A widely disseminated statistic at home, it includes estimated losses due to a decline in foreign investments and adverse effects on trade, tourism, and businesses. Islamabad attributes all this to the insecurity caused by the terrorist acts of local jihadists in response to its participation in Washington’s war. Then there are the roughly 4,000 Pakistani military fatalities suffered during post-9/11 operations against terror groups and other homegrown militants -- significantly higher than all allied troops killed in Afghanistan. Some 35,000 civilians have also died or suffered injuries in the process.
Drones Fuel Popular Rage
During a September address to the Asia Society in New York, Foreign Minister Hinna Rabbani Khar was asked for an explanation of the rampant anti-American sentiment in her country. She replied with a single word: “drones.” At any given time, CIA drones, buzzing like wasps and armed with Hellfire missiles, circle round the clock over an area in Pakistan’s tribal zone, their high-resolution cameras recording movements below. This fills people on the ground with unending terror, being unable to guess when and where the missiles will be fired.
A June Pew Research Center survey shows that 97% of Pakistanis familiar with the drone attacks held a negative view of them. “Those who are familiar with the drone campaign also overwhelmingly (94%) believe the attacks kill too many innocent people,” states its report. “Nearly three-quarters (74%) say they are not necessary to defend Pakistan from extremist organizations.” (In stark contrast, a February Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 83% of Americans -- and 73% of liberal Democrats -- support Obama’s drone onslaught.)
A recent anti-drone “march” by a nine-mile long motorcade from Islamabad to the border of the South Waziristan tribal agency was led by Imran Khan, head of the Movement for Justice political party. Joined by protesters from the U.S. and Britain, it was a dramatic reminder of the depth of popular feeling against the drones. By refraining from forcibly entering South Waziristan in defiance of an official ban, Khan stayed within the law. And by so doing, he enhanced his already impressive 70% approval rating and improved the chances of his party -- committed to ending Islamabad’s participation in Washington’s war on terror -- to achieve a breakthrough in the upcoming parliamentary election.
Unlike in Yemen, where the government has authorized the Obama administration to stage drone attacks, Pakistani leaders, who implicitly accepted such strikes before the Pentagon’s gross violation of their country’s sovereignty in the bin Laden killing, no longer do so. “The use of unilateral strikes on Pakistan territory is illegal,” said Foreign Minister Khar. Her government, she explained, needed to rally popular backing for its campaign to quash armed militant groups, and the drones make that impossible. “As the drones fly over the territory of Pakistan, it becomes an American war and the whole logic of this being our fight, in our own interest, is immediately put aside and again it is a war imposed on us.”
Underlying the deployment of a drone, helicopter, or jet fighter to hit a target in a foreign country is an updated version of the Vietnam-era doctrine of “hot pursuit,” which ignores the basic concept of national sovereignty. Pakistani leaders fear that if they do not protest Washington’s continued use of drones for “targeted killings” of Pakistan-based individuals selected in the White House, their arch-rival India will follow suit. It will hit the camps in Pakistan allegedly training terrorists to destabilize Indian Kashmir. That is one of the ongoing nightmares of Pakistan’s senior generals.
The Nuclear Conundrum
Since India would be the prime target of any nuclear-armed extremists, the Indian government dreads the prospect of Pakistan’s nukes falling into such hands far more than President Obama. The alarm of both Delhi and Washington is well justified, particularly because Pakistan’s arsenal is growing faster than any on Earth -- and the latest versions of nukes it’s producing are smaller and so easier to hijack.
Over the past five years, Pakistani extremists have staged a series of attacks on sensitive military installations, including nuclear facilities. In November 2007, for example, they attacked Sargodha airbase where nuclear-capable F-16 jet aircraft are stationed. The following month a suicide bomber targeted a Pakistani Air Force base believed to hold nuclear weapons at Kamra, 37 miles northwest of Islamabad. In August 2008, a group of suicide bombers blew up the gates to a weapons complex at the Wah cantonment containing a nuclear warhead assembly plant, leaving 63 people dead. A further assault on Kamra took place in October 2009 and yet another last August, this time by eight suicide bombers belonging to the Pakistani Taliban.
Given Pakistan’s dependence on a continuing supply of U.S.-made advanced weaponry -- essential to withstand any onslaught by India in a conventional war -- its government has had to continually reassure Washington that the security of its nuclear arsenal is foolproof. Its leaders have repeatedly assured their American counterparts that the hemispheres containing nuclear fuel and the triggers for activating the weapons are stored separately under tight guard. This has failed to allay the anxieties of successive American presidents. What disconcerts the U.S. is that, despite contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to underwrite programs to help Pakistan secure its nuclear arms, it does not know where many of these parts are stored.
This is not going to change. The military planners in Islamabad correctly surmise that Delhi and Washington would like to turn Pakistan into a non-nuclear power. At present, they see their nuclear arsenal as the only effective deterrent they have against an Indian aggression which, in their view, they experienced in 1965. “We developed all these nukes to use against India,” said an unnamed senior Pakistani military officer recently quoted in the London-based Sunday Times Magazine. “Now they turn out to be very useful in dealing with the U.S.”
In short, Pakistan’s military high command has come to view its nuclear arsenal as an effective deterrent not only against its traditional adversary, India, but also its nominal ally in Washington. If such thinking solidifies as the country’s military doctrine in the years following the Pentagon’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, then Pakistan may finally find itself removed from Washington’s list of non-NATO allies, ending the dysfunctional nuclear family of international politics. What that would mean in global terms is anyone’s guess.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (10-17-12)
John Gray is the author of False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism, and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and The Death of Utopia.
SOURCE: Bloomberg View (10-17-12)
Ezra Klein is a columnist and blogger at The Washington Post and a policy analyst for MSNBC.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (10-16-12)
Heather Hurlburt is executive director of the National Security Network in Washington, DC.
SOURCE: WSJ (10-15-12)
Mr. Gordon is the author of An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power (HarperCollins, 2004).
SOURCE: National Interest (10-15-12)
Paul R Pillar is a former senior CIA counterterrorist officer and now professor at Georgetown University.
SOURCE: American Conservative (10-15-12)
Martin Sieff is Chief Global Analyst for The Globalist and the author of the upcoming Cycles of Change: The Patterns of U.S. Politics from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama.
Russia and China today both enjoy the same grand-strategic advantage against the United States that the United States enjoyed through the 44 years of the Cold War.
The Soviet Union was then the superpower of the left, as the left had been globally understood since the French Revolution. It was the state committed to the promotion of revolutionary change across the world.
The United States, by contrast, was the superpower of the right. It was committed to the maintenance of stability and continuity in government systems around the world.
The United States won the Cold War. The craving for stability, peace, and continuity among governments and populations alike proved infinitely stronger than the fleeting flashes of revolutionary fervor. The Soviet Union eventually became physically exhausted and globally isolated by its ideological commitment to revolutionary change.
Today, however, the roles of the two great powers have been reversed...