Debating Obama’s Foreign Policy

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Obama's Foreign Policy Iq2debate.jpgThe Rosenkranz Foundation puts on some very interesting ticketed “Intelligence Squared Debates” in New York at the NYU Skirball Center in cooperation with National Public Radio, Newsweek and Bloomberg Television.
I participated in one of these debates last year on President Obama’s Afghanistan policy — and found myself on the opposite side of the debate on stage from my New America Foundation colleague Steve Coll. Great fun and interesting session.
However the debate my DNA was forged for — on Obama’s Foreign Policy — is taking place on Tuesday, May 11th, but I’m not in it. Darn it.
Those debating, however, include former senior Pentagon and White House official Dan Senor; US News & World Report editor-in-chief Mortimer Zuckerman; French philosopher and best-selling author Bernard-Henry Levy and retired four star General Wesley Clark.
Levy and Wes Clark are going to defend President Obama’s foreign policy — while Senior and Mort Zuckerman are going to argue that Obama spells America’s decline.
NOTE TO MY FRIENDS AT ROSENKRANZ & INTELLIGENCE SQUARED: If Levy drops out or gets caught behind another cloud of volcanic ash, call me. Wes Clark is great — and I’d love to partner with him.
The fact is that the George W. Bush administration, for which Dan Senor was a lead spear-carrier and which was often strongly defended by Mort Zuckerman (who I saw and chatted with at the White House Correspondents festivities), punctured the mystique of America’s superpower status and sent American power over a cliff.
Superpowers can define themselves in four key areas — military cability, economic power, moral leadership, and ideas and institutions.
George W. Bush’s team, particularly the Cheney/Addington/John Bolton wing of that team, managed to show fundamental limits of America’s power in the invasion of Iraq; managed to allow the exporting of toxic financial products to the rest of the world, undermined America’s moral standing through the embrace of torture, abuse of detainees, warrantless domestic spying on US citizens, and more; and worked to undermine America’s position at the UN, undermine the nuclear non-proliferation treaty regime, and sidestepped key international protocols America needs like the Law of the Seas Treaty that even George W. Bush supported but couldn’t get past his own staff.
Barack Obama has a lot of challenges on his plate — and he needs to do well at them. But American decline — that can be measured in the behavior of our allies as much as our foes — was started far earlier than the Obama administration.
So, this could be an interesting debate — though I think that the Intelligence Squared folks did not assemble the strongest team in favor of Obama’s foreign policy.
Still, it may be interesting to see.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

11 comments on “Debating Obama’s Foreign Policy

  1. Don Bacon says:

    SC: “Superpowers can define themselves in four key areas — military cability, economic power, moral leadership, and ideas and institutions.”
    * from Rand: Measuring National Power–Gregory F. Treverton, Seth G. Jones
    “Power is an elusive concept. As the famed political scientist Hans Morgenthau wrote,

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  2. nadine says:

    “I came across a Hillary article the other day, POA, probably at the Foreign Policy site. It was something of a puff piece. Apparently, they’ve decided she’s the “bad cop”.” (Dan Kervick)
    She’s the bad cop? Hillary is the one who is really supposed to put a scare into foreign leaders?
    We are so screwed.

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  3. Dan Kervick says:

    I came across a Hillary article the other day, POA, probably at the Foreign Policy site. It was something of a puff piece. Apparently, they’ve decided she’s the “bad cop”.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wow! Immediately after posting my rant about this embarrassment of a Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, I clicked on over to the Palestine Note and found this…..
    US Rep. Lee demands probe of Anderson shooting
    Injured activist Tristan Anderson [Photo: International Solidarity Movement]
    More than a year after Israeli border police shot American activist Tristan Anderson in the head with a tear gas canister, Congresswoman Barbara Lee has introduced a resolution calling for an investigation into the incident.
    Anderson, 38, from Oakland, CA, was shot in the West Bank village of Ni’lin in March 2009 after an unarmed demonstration against the construction of Israel’s West Bank separation wall. The tear gas shell caused severe brain damage, and Anderson remains in a coma in a Tel Aviv hospital.
    Lee, who represents Anderson’s Bay Area district, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives last week calling for a US government investigation into the shooting.

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  5. sanitychecker says:

    Apparently, America’s elites can’t get enough of that mental midget of BHL. But in DC, he’ll fit in fine. In fact, move the guy from Paris to DC and watch the IQ of both places rise…

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that steve names Bush’s “team”, but has absolutely no mention of Hillary Clinton on Obama’s “team”.
    Anyone wanna take a shot at trying to name one single “success” or positive/constructive diplomatic triumph she has brought home, particularly in regards to the Middle East?
    Considering her confrontational rhetoric against nations that Obama bullshitted us into believing he would “engage”, and no pushback towards Israeli arrogance and intransigence, what exactly has this Secretaru of State done that deserves any kind of praise, or has paid dividends to the citizens of the United states????
    Steve is obviously not disposed to tackle this question, for whatever reasons. It is what it is. But the silence from the wide scope of the blogosphere, and the carnival mainstream media is somewhat inexplicable. Its as if this Secretary of State is indeed invisible. She nary gets a mention, except when she’s slobbering on Netanyahu’s shoulder, or feeding us the script on Iran and Syria.
    I will NEVER forgive the sack of shit for her posturing and insincere crocodile tears over Neda while completely ignoring Tristan Anderson and the more recent American citizen SHOT by these gestapo clones in Israel. It takes a real slimey human being to capitalize politically on the death of someone like Neda while turning a blind eye to the plight of Tristan Anderson. I have seen NOTHING from Iran in its treatment of protestors that is any more brutal than what Israel is doing. And Iran hasn’t SHOT any AMERICAN PROTESTORS, have they?
    Regardless, how can someone “debate” Obama’s foreign policy while ignoring Hillary’s bizzarro idea of what constitutes “diplomacy” and “engagement”????

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    I think JCall gets most of it’s money by someone called
    Ahrimanejad, Achdamullahdin, Achmedinejad…or something like
    that…
    Just joking.
    I have no idea. But BHL is so rich that I guess he could finance the
    whole thing himself without having to sell his private jet.

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  8. nadine says:

    And whose money is paying for JCall?

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  9. Paul Norheim says:

    I don’t intend to turn this thread into a Israel/Palestine
    discussion – but just wanted to inform that the above
    mentioned philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy, as well as Alain
    Finkielkraut and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, are among those
    supporting a newly established European version (sort of) of
    JStreet, called JCall:
    “3,000 Jewish intellectuals belonging to new JCall movement
    sign letter to Europan Parliament demanding cessation of what
    it calls systematic support for Israeli government decisions.
    A new leftist European Jewish group, JCall, has written a letter
    to be delivered Sunday to the European Parliament calling for a
    cessation of what it calls systematic support for Israeli
    government decisions.
    JCall, which describes itself as “the European J Street” and is to
    be officially launched Sunday with the presentation of the letter,
    has raised a storm with its call to stop construction in West
    Bank settlements and East Jerusalem.
    The letter is signed by some 3,000 Jewish intellectuals, among
    them philosophers Bernard Henri-Levy and Alain Finkielkraut,
    considered some of Israel’s strongest defenders among French
    intellectuals. Signatories also include Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader
    of the student protests in the 1960s and now a member of the
    European Parliament, as well as other Jewish members of the
    European Parliament.
    The letter calls occupation and settlements “morally and
    politically wrong,” noting that they “feed the unacceptable
    delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad.””
    More at the refreshed Haaretz website (I hope they’ve got rid of
    their viruses too):
    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/european-j-street-
    urges-israel-to-freeze-settlements-1.287589

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  10. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks Wig — would be fun to go some rounds with Dan who I know in DC but have not had a chance to debate. But even with the folks they have, should be a good show. all best, steve

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  11. WigWag says:

    “The Rosenkranz Foundation puts on some very interesting ticketed “Intelligence Squared Debates” in New York at the NYU Skirball Center in cooperation with National Public Radio, Newsweek and Bloomberg Television.” (Steve Clemons)
    Sorry you were not invited to participate, Steve; you would have been the most well-spoken and cleverist participant by far (although Senor is pretty articulate).
    Perhaps at the next Guildenstern Foundation meeting you will be invited to keynote.

    Reply

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