Promoting Dignity And Reducing The Politics of Fear

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obama.feetup.jpg
(Photo Credit: Peter Soutza/White House Photostream)
The American Prospect Senior Correspondent and The Washington Independent Senior Reporter Spencer Ackerman has a thoughtful piece on the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the current issue of The American Prospect.
Rather than providing a typical rundown of the state of play on key global issues, Ackerman organizes his article around two key themes – the Obama administration’s goal of promoting dignity around the world and its effort to reduce the politics of fear here at home.
This style is refreshing and the conclusions are succinct: thumbs up on promoting dignity, thumbs down on lessening the politics of fear. Hopefully that will come later.
In his words:

On dignity promotion, the administration has racked up real successes and set the stage for several more. Obama has proved that the world is prepared for positive-sum American leadership — whether it’s by restructuring U.S. global economic partnerships through the G-20 instead of the more restricted G-8 set of powerful nations; whether it’s resetting relationships with great and rising powers like Russia and China over contentious issues like Iran and climate change; whether it’s explaining to the Muslim world that America’s commitment to its well-being reaches far beyond securing its cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Dignity promotion, a new twist on the very old idea of liberal internationalism, is still taking shape. But the early evidence is that it’s working — for America and for the world.
Where Obama hasn’t made nearly as much progress, to the disappointment of his supporters, is on confronting the politics of fear. The first days — literally — of the administration were defined by sweeping pledges to end torture, close the detention facility at Guant

Comments

16 comments on “Promoting Dignity And Reducing The Politics of Fear

  1. rc says:

    Someone needs to tell this guy that showing/pointing the soles of your feet/shoes is a very rude and disrespectful thing to do in most cultures on this planet.

    Reply

  2. unimpressed says:

    PissedOffAmerican (Apr 07 2010, 9:24PM) ==> yes, spot on logic. If Iran needed any reason to start a nuclear weapons programme then it only has to now refer to this implied declaration of hostilities and war by the US to completely justify it. The fate of Saddam H. (for not having any) is not lost on anyone. The underlying message to Iran: get onto the fast track asap!

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  3. ... says:

    poa 924pm – bang on..

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    Poor Europeans. And they were so happy to get rid of that cowboy Bush, too! Now too late, they have figured out that Obama is softer than they are. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”
    Since the Democrats are still under the impression that the way the Europe views the US has improved tremendously under Obama, I would break the news gently to them. If you can. I think they’re still in denial.

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  5. frenchconnection says:

    johnH
    Europe, the “democracy spawner” disagrees completely with you about Iran. I don’t know where you get your information from, but if there is a country which is deeply impopular in Europe today in that region (besides Israel, but for different reasons), it’s Iran.
    Every European pundit from the right to the left (except of course the extreme left which sees anybody anti-US – for whatever reason – as “good”) will tell you that Iran is a serious problem. Why ?
    1) because it’s theocratic
    2) because it’s a military dictatorship which is so bad that the military is used to repress even the moderate clerics (which are in majority)
    3) because it’s meddling with its neighbours (which is widely PROVEN) and sponsors terrorism
    4) because it’s PROBABLY trying to acquire nukes since the official “peaceful nuclear approach” doesn’t make economical sense and all propositions to enter the peaceful nuclear market are always rejected.
    You can say that others are bad too. But at least Israel doesn’t shoot its democratic opposition – which gives at least a hope of future change – and the Saudis have a lot of bad sides, but they aren’t either into trying to get local nuclear hegemony and are anyway a weak nation since the national element doesn’t work and completely relies on foreign technology.
    That’s why most Europeans see Iran as the PRIMARY problem right now and it’s not because they have been brainwashed by the previous US administration or the current one. Actually the European countries have been standing in their absolute majority to the right of Obama in the Iran question (after all future Iranian missiles could hit us, and not the US) and rather dismayed at Obama’s soft approach so far.
    And Europeans haven’t been specially dismayed at Honduras and the US position either, seeing it as a local power struggle. After all Honduras hasn’t turned into a new Sandinista/Contras carnage.
    As I said before a rational approach to those problems doesn’t have to turn you into a moonbat liberal or a rabid neocon. The problem with Obama’s foreign policies is that they are inconsistent and sound more like posturing instead of analysing. And at the same time we hear that Europeans are wussies which is good for a librul and bad for a teabagger. Because nobody cares to listen.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that no one has commented on the insanity of demanding that Iran cease its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, while at the same time hawking a “new policy” of circumstances in which we will use nukes, EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF IRAN AND N.KOREA, whom we reserve the right to nuke at will. Iran would be crazy to not be seeking a nuclear deterrent.
    What the hell is “dignified” about such an asinine display of bizarro diplomacy? And if Obama’s LIES about the “evidence” of an Iranian nuclear weapons program isn’t selling policy through fear mongering, than what the hell is it?

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  7. JohnH says:

    “The [Honduran] ouster was quite legal.” But not according to the Organization of American States, the European Union, and even Obama, who criticized it before he accepted it.
    Of course the coup regime asserted that everything was perfectly legal! But then they proceeded to commit massive human rights abuses defending their “legal” position, softening up the population for an election that allowed only candidates screened by the coup leaders, a practice the US government condemned in the case of Iran, but ignored in Honduras.
    Honduras is the only coup in the Western Hemisphere in a long time. And the US government is perfectly comfortable with it, exacerbating its already ambiguous moral standing throughout the hemisphere.

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  8. nadine says:

    Don’t worry, JohnH, Obama is your kind of guy. Obama puts friendship dead last as a value. In fact, he believes in treating enemies better than friends. Which is why he will soon find he has no friends left, much to his surprise.

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  9. nadine says:

    Yes, Honduras is a great example, the US did NOT support the legal ouster of a Chavez wannabe, to the distress of true democracy supporters everywhere. The ouster was quite legal and was supported by the judiciary and the Congress, even though the Congress was the same party as the president. The US was forced to sorta-kinda support the legal outcome of the new elections after Honduras refused to knuckle under to the US’ ill-considered bullying.
    “Instead, freedom, democracy, and human rights seem to be just talking points used to influence the public to agree with the latest government scheme”
    Nope, those are YOUR talking points JohnH. That’s why you support Saddam Hussein over Maliki, Ahmedinejad over the Green Movement. Your only point of consistency is to be reliably anti-US.

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  10. JohnH says:

    Nadine puts friendship above all other values: “friends let friends drive drunk.”
    Well, that seems to be what the US seems to be blissfully condoning with its “friend” Israel.

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  11. Mr.Murder says:

    So long as “dignity” does not include a definition of worker equity and labor union participation, you have a point.
    Not much of one.
    Let’s all drink the low wage kool aide.

    Reply

  12. JohnH says:

    Actually, Nadine, I think that Iran, Russia, and China should dramatically improve their human rights. But who are we to criticize, when we support countries with atrocious human rights records, like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Honduras? Why do we criticize only the human rights records of our enemies, not our friends?
    Well, the answer seems to be pretty clear. US policy is driven mostly by special interests who don’t much care about the national interest or American values. Those folks don’t care much for freedom, democracy and human rights, either. Doing so would allow foreigners to pursue their own interests, which do not align neatly with those of American special interests.
    Instead, freedom, democracy, and human rights seem to be just talking points used to influence the public to agree with the latest government scheme. The Iraq horror show is a classic example.
    If freedom, democracy and human rights were more than just talking points, we would see the US government actively would putting its words into practice, giving its allies the tools to foster democracy, like its gives its allies the tools to repress their people.
    Honduras is a great example. The US government supports the recent coup in Honduras, despite Obama’s smooth talking, to the dismay of most governments in the Western hemisphere.
    Count the democracies the US has engendered in the last few decades. It’s hard to find any outside of a few communist block countries. Then count those that the European Union has spawned. The disparity could not be more stark or embarrassing.

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  13. nadine says:

    “Nor has Obama made much progress on “dignity promotion” for Iran, where that mantra is that Iran must bow before US interests (whatever they are–an unproven nuke program today, unproven armed meddling in Iraq yesterday, something else tomorrow.)
    Nor has Obama made much progress on “dignity promotion” among a wide range of oppressive regimes that continue to exist largely due to US protection, from Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Honduras.” (JohnH)
    Boy, does this sum up your worldview in a nutshell.
    Oppressive regime hostile to the US, protested by its own citizens by the million, jailing, raping, torturing and killing them in response? Ooh, their dignity must be supported, they must be allowed to build nukes, they must not be meddled with.
    Oppressive regime not hostile to the US? It’s the US’s fault they are oppressive! Bad US!
    Some humanitarian you are. There is only one common thread to your attitudes: hatred of the US. All the Saudis and Egyptians need to do to win your approval is make alliance with Iran (it might happen, the way Obama is botching Mideast policy). If they too become enemies of the US, they can oppress their people as much as they like with your full approval. Just like Iran.

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  14. Jerry says:

    WHY is it necessary for The U.S. to operate a prison used for any reason in a Communist nation.
    Yes, you can make the claim that The U.S. owns or has a lease on GITMO, but GITMO still is located in a Communist nation.
    That must look nice to the rest of the world: America can’t maintain this prison in America; I wonder why?

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  15. Jerry says:

    WHY is it necessary for The U.S. to operate a prison used for any reason in a Communist nation.
    Yes, you can make the claim that The U.S. owns or has a lease on GITMO, but GITMO still is located in a Communist nation.
    That must look nice to the rest of the world: America can’t maintain this prison in America; I wonder why?

    Reply

  16. JohnH says:

    Nor has Obama made much progress on “dignity promotion” for Iran, where that mantra is that Iran must bow before US interests (whatever they are–an unproven nuke program today, unproven armed meddling in Iraq yesterday, something else tomorrow.)
    Nor has Obama made much progress on “dignity promotion” among a wide range of oppressive regimes that continue to exist largely due to US protection, from Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Honduras.

    Reply

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