Saturday, November 22, 2008

Redefine Great

Dr Jack Perry, ex ambassador to Bulgaria way back in the last millennium and on again off again academic (he also shares an uncanny resemblence to jolly old St. Nick) unleashed a bizzaro blend of conjecture that cautions patience and perhaps the need to re define 'greatness' in the new millennium.

"Half of us still think we are the superpower who bestrides the earth
like a colossus and can enforce our will on the world. Others see a different world, with new challenges – many of them not at all susceptible to military solutions – and with the United States no longer in the position of unchallengeable dominator.

This does not boil down to questioning American greatness. It does
boil down to defining “great” in novel ways, and understanding that meeting energy needs and healing the global environment and suppressing human rights violations may be just as vital as combatting terrorism or fighting traditional wars.

Ah yes! The 'New Era' and old school concepts like reaching out to enemies - after all - everything is only a matter of communications, signals mixed - negotiations can cure everything!
"You will not be surprised to hear that a former diplomat believes
we are entering a new period when statesmanship will turn increasingly to negotiation, to the partnership of nations and people and groups, and away from guns and supersized “defense” budgets. Isn't this the same liberal twaddle we heard in the '20s and '30s?

No, I sincerely believe we are fated to enter a time now when the
uniting of the nations and peoples against common problems will start to take precedence over that everlasting question, who is most powerful?

We as a nation are so imbued with military ways of looking at the
political world that we are not too far from militarism itself, from thinking that guns and bombs and soldiers and ships take precedence over all politics and all diplomacy. That needs to change, and Obama can't do all the changing."



Great Satan's rowdy readiness to go anywhere and do anything to defend herself and her allies (averaging one intervention every 16 months since 1990) actually answered that everlasting quiz.

Looking at political and diplomatic issues with a big stick in hand (that friends, frienemies and enemies can spot a mile away) is exactly what has ushered in the 'new era'

pic - "Diplopolititary"

6 comments:

jim.carroll said...

It doesn't surprise me this guy was ambassador to Bulgaria. When was the last time Bulgaria took military action against anyone? Aside from that little tiff with Germany and then the Soviet Union? Of course, if he were ambassador THEN, all that unpleasantness would have been avoided, or at least greatly minimized. Virtually no one was killed during the Anshluss with Germany, and it could be argued that Chekeslovakia benefitted in the end.

Less diplomacy, more history.

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Donald Douglas said...

Courtney: The U.S. will face a period of strategic retrenchment, but Barack Obama has thankfully adopted a much more centrist tone than his radical left supporters, and HRC at State won't be too bad, if she gets the gig.

Ken Hoop said...

Obama's strategic retreat,oops retrenchment will involve the formal loosening of Iraq to Iranian-orientation, and negotiating with rather than attacking Iran, (ask Bolton). Let's hope he extricates the Empire from Afghanistan too before wasting more resources in unwinnable wars. I wonder also if the "New Era" concedes Hezbollah's gains in Lebanon under Bush, "coddles" Syria from necessity, and forces Israel closer to 1967 borders, again, from necessity.

Findalis said...

We tried isolationism in the 1920's and 30's and all it got us was Pearl Harbor. We should have learned our lesson from that. We cannot go back, we are the only Super Power in the world and must maintain a strong military.

Karen said...

Someone has to lead. I choose us, the U.S.

Ben Sutherland said...

The problem, Karen, is that people have to trust us for America to do that. And that is the problem America is having today.

If we wave that big stick around like we are going to get whatever we want or else, people will not trust us.

That is why Obama has been so popular in international circles. Because people trust him better to not wave that stick around so gratuitously.

We have the stick. People know that. We don't have to go around waving it in peoples' faces all the time. And doing so has had consequences, whether those who advocate it want to take responsibility for that fact or not.

If we want people to trust our leadership, we have to stop threatening to beat everyone with our stick.

If we don't, we deal with the consequences, no matter how much we try to explain them away.

It's actually really straightforward, when we're not making excuses for our failures.

Our stick is useful often. It is not useful always. And waving it around in peoples' faces - just as you would expect waving around a stick, literally, in peoples' faces - does not win us confidence, either internationally or in the U.S.

It, paradoxically, undermines our moral clarity - because noone is listening, they're just pissed about the stick - and it undermines peoples' trust in our leadership.

If we want that to change, we have got to stop waving around our stick, so to speak.

Strong men and women don't need to piss all over their neighbor's yard to prove how strong they are. They need to use their sticks when they are necessary and effective. But they need to avoid using it as much as possible because when abusing the use of that stick has consequences.

We are experiencing them, right now, whether we like it or not and whether we want to own up for that or not.

We continue down that path, we will lose peoples' confidence and their support for our using the stick, at all, if we can't learn that lesson.

That is why people like Obama, internationally. They think he has learned that lesson, better. On some issues, like international security, he has. On others - the economy and the environment, for instance - he has not, and will deal with his own consequences on the matter.

If Republicans want a strong challenge to Mr. Obama in 2012, they have got to learn this lesson, too, and offer a candidate who can challenge a President Obama with his own weaknesses on this count.

If they do not, look forward to 8 years of saying, "President Obama."

I, personally, would just rather have a better President.