“America in the World” – Sen. Gordon Smith


I’m back from an interesting and informative conference put on by the Center for American Progress and the Century Foundation.
I shared some reflections earlier and have a few more to throw out.
Senator Gordon Smith delivered a keynote this morning. I feel I should preface anything I write about Senator Smith by pointing out that he is the strongest voice in his party for a strong non-military international affairs budget, bar none. That’s a hugely important role.
Now, with that out of the way, Smith’s presentation was all over the map. For starters, he proposed that America is currently trusted, but not loved, and it is better to be trusted than loved. For evidence, Smith cited the lobbyists lining up outside his door who want military and economic assistance for other countries.
Somehow, that doesn’t make the case to me that America is trusted. In fact, I think Senator Smith would be hard pressed to find any piece of evidence that could convince me that America enjoys the world’s trust right now. Is he serious?
My other issue with Senator Smith: on one hand, he supports the administration’s preconditions for negotiating with Iran, and stipulates that they may never be met; on the other hand, he discusses the need to exhaust diplomatic efforts before the military option is considered.
Now, my organization and I don’t work directly on Iran, but the implication is obvious: diplomacy may be exhausted without even an attempt at direct talks. Helloooo?
Still looking for comments on how the Middle East might look today had strengthening the elected government of Lebanon been a top priority instead of, say, Iraq. Post away on the thread directly below.
— Scott Paul


15 comments on ““America in the World” – Sen. Gordon Smith

  1. degustibus says:

    Is this the same Gordon Smith who said in December 2006, “I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that any more. I believe we need to figure out not just how to leave Iraq but how to fight the War on Terror and to do it right.”
    Whe\atever happened to that guy? Oh, right. A politician. A republican.


  2. Ian Kaplan says:

    Dear Steve,
    I would like to suggest more pictures of Annie and
    Oakley, rather than tepid endorsements of so called
    “moderate” Republicans (who always seem, despite
    their moderation, to line up right behind Dear
    Leader when push comes to shove). Annie and
    Oakley totally rock. In this era of the G.W. Bush
    cult of personality and the abandonment of
    Congressional oversight Republicans can’t compare
    to your dogs.
    So more pictures!


  3. Johan Depaul says:

    Gordon Smith took U$ 130,000 from the Israeli Lobby in 2006 (see link below)…… he has instructions from Jerusalem to promote the nuking of Iran.
    In short- he is a clown like all the others in the US Congress; this problem will never go away unless the Americans go through a second American Revolution and refound a citizen’s US Congress


  4. downtown says:

    Here is the crux of the problem:
    “I am very sensitive to Lebanon’s budding democracy. I’m very sensitive to the delicate balancing act we’re in, and I grieve for civilian casualties,” Engel said. But he added: “I don’t want to be an honest broker. I want to be a friend and ally of the only democratic government in the Middle East that is besieged by its enemies.”
    Congressman Eliot Engel, Bronx NY
    Read this again….”I dont’t want to be an honest broker”.
    Then we wonder why our standing in the world has reached its nadir.


  5. karenk says:

    We missed our chance to encourage a burgeoning democracy in Lebanon. As is often heard in NYC, “You snooze, you lose”. That country was on the cusp of democracy, we even got Syria to pull troops out, then, when the trouble with Hezbollah and Israel started, we did absolutely NOTHING. Condi Rice should have been on the first plane out to the ME when that trouble started. Instead we did nothing as it continued to escalate, even though Israel was bombing places where American citizens were present. We eventually worked to get our citizens out but that’s it. I read somewhere that even the Israelis, as they were bombing southern Lebanon, expected the world to react and step in to stop the madness. But as was stated above-this Administration doesn’t “do” diplomacy. It’s not making any $ for the weapons manufacturing industry when there’s peace-so much more lucrative with war.


  6. Carroll says:

    Coming back and looking at Scott’s question about what the US could have done “about” Lebanon five years ago to make a difference in Lebanon democracy I realize why question short circuts my brain and makes it blank.
    First, a lot of ME experts can tell us what “should have” been done. I can guess, or give a under educated opinion, is that worth anything? No.
    Second, for me it’s past the point of what “should have been”. It’s about WHY it wasn’t done and the likelihood of that same WHY meaning it will continue not to be done.
    It’s way too frustrating and wearying with no change in sight. The only thing my brain wants to do at this point is zero in on the whys behind our FUBAR policies and join in trying to raise enough hell to change them.


  7. Bill R. says:

    I am a constituent from the state of Oregon. This is all political calculation. That’s why it makes no pretense of adhering to logic. To be elected in a moderate state, Smith tries to sell himself as a Mark Hatfield Republican. He has never been so, but likes to posture thus nevetheless. It’s all phony. He’s dancing with trying to maintain the right wing base with one foot, while doing a soft shoe number with the other, selling the fiction that he is independently moderate on foreign policy and other issues.


  8. gq says:

    Wow, Smith’s cavalier approach to logical reasoning is astounding. I do have to admit, though, it is not quite as bad as Coburn continually affirming the consequent.
    Thanks for the update and summary.


  9. Forest Ranger says:

    With regard to Lebanon’s democracy over the past five years, I would separate the era into pre- and post-Hariri assisination. In a pre-Hariri era, US involvement would have been viewed suspiciously. However, after his assassination, the US could have used the Cedar Revolution (an organic movement!) to truly promote democratic efforts in the country and for the region. For example, Hezbollah is estimated to receive at least $250 million from Iran. If the US would have “matched” that donation, Iran’s influence would be diminished in Lebanon and the region. Plus, the US could point to Lebanon as a shining example of democracy in the Middle East.
    Moving forward, Lebanon is at a crossroads again, and there is no easy solution. The US should continue to support the governmnet and mitigate Iranian and Syrian influence as best it can.


  10. goethean says:

    I still can’t believe that Steve fels sorry for Scooter Libby. He completely lost my respect with that one.


  11. Regis says:

    I live in Oregon and The Oregonian is pushing for Smith’s reelection. In fact there is a group of Democrats, including a former Congresswoman from Oregon who have formed a group of Democrats for Smith. They have had one full page ad in The Oregonian. Their naivety is beyond comprehension. This is going to be Rhode Island 2006 all over again. Good-bye Gordon Smith; hello some Democrat.


  12. JohnH says:

    “Smith cited the lobbyists lining up outside his door who want military and economic assistance for other countries.” Apparently Smith is more than happy to meet with these lobbyists. However, he’s getting a reputation in Oregon for locking the doors of his offices to avoid having to meet with constituents.
    If Smith is considered the strongest voice in his party for anything having to do with international affairs, it is a devastating commentary on the institutional ignorance and incompetence now manifest in Congress. But what would you expect from a club that has made sucking up to big donors its life’s work?


  13. Carroll says:

    Gordon Smith!..my gawd. Who in their right mind would invite Gordon Smith to talk about America’s role in the world? So much for those two “Progress Centers”.
    The last time I thought about Smith was when I called his office after the statement I saw in the JP he made while in Israel to the Israeli and Arab press in which he showed he didn’t a rats ass about how his Israeli fetish may affect our troops on the ground in Iraq..which was:
    “that the US stands behind Israel and is NOT in any way a neutral party to the Mideast peace protest. Smith stated flat out that the US’ first interest is to secure Israel, with statehood for Palestine “only if possible”.
    This asshole little piece of christian zionist white trash needs to have his dick, if he has one, cut off and stuffed down his throat…(pardon my Tony Sorprano moment).
    All this yada,yad,yada crapola about what America’s role in the world should be can’t start until we have some gawd-damn AMERICANS in office in this country.
    Until then AIPAC and all those other foreign lobbist lined up outside Smith’s office are our role in the world.


  14. Jeffery Haas says:

    Strengthening the government of Lebanon would not have yielded a profitable outcome for the elites.


  15. David N says:

    The problem is that neither Sen. Smith, nor you, nor anyone in the establishment, the government, or the media knows what the word “diplomacy” means.
    Beyond that, the problem is that the real solution to a lot of these problems is honest engagement on ideas, and that is something that will never, ever happen.
    Our greatest strength in the Cold War was our ideas. Our greatest traitors in that struggle were the Right-Wing idealogues who believed that we must destroy our freedoms in order to save them.
    In this struggle against blind fundamentalist religious totalitarianism, not only is that still true, but the person who should be our leader, our president, is on the other side.
    Hows that for blunt?


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