Saturday, January 26, 2008

NYT for Hillary

New York Times endorses Hillary for Dem Primary. It is not a surprise. It is just sad. One can understand NYT may hesitate to endorse Obama, but they could have waited or even let go folks to decide what is right without endorsing anyone.

One particular point in this endorsement is how casually NYT brushes aside her Iraq vote, saying that it is behind now and what is important is what to do next in the Iraq war. It is very convenient for NYT to say so because NYT is naked in this matter! They got their Iraq call wrong and no wonder then they would not mind the colossal mistake by Hillary in this regard. People fail to understand, in many respects Iraq call is the ‘litmus test’ of our era. Many got wrong including John Kerry and still he was backed then. But that need not be the case now.

Further, parochial consideration of Hillary being popular Senator of New York is just one more reason for the NYT endorsement.

One can read Bill Colbert in Washington Post when he rips thoroughly the Clinton machine. The need of the hour for America is to break the ‘Clinton Machine’; the one which in most hideous manner introducing ‘race’ in minds of Democratic voters and is effectively wrecking the Democratic party. It is sad that NYT failed to recognize this importance. Fortunately, all these newspaper endorsements are so pompous and so like from the past that they do not carry much weight in today’s world.


Anand said...

I chanced about your blog while reading about your post in response to a review of "The World is Flat". If you're interested in my views, here's a post on India Unbound, by Gurcharan Das, a sort of Indian version of defense of globalization.

But here I'm talking about Obama. Without talking about Obama more broadly (many things I agree with and like), my main point here is that Obama's anti-war image is largely bunk.

Let's look closely at the Iraq war and Obama. Obama was, of course, not a senator when the war was launched. And it's revealing that his voting record on the war subsequently has been virtually identical to Clinton. He didn't vote on the Iran issue. And can one disregard his statement on bombing Pakistan? Just look at his main foreign policy advisers. Like Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the main actors regarding the Afghan Mujahideen and USSR. That would give a very different picture.

You can take a look at Obama's Foreign Affairs piece. Among many reasonable-sounding statements, are just outlandish ideas. Just take a look at the section Revitializing The Military. He envisions an increase in military. Among other things, the section contains the following paragraph:

"I will not hesitate to use force, unilaterally if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests whenever we are attacked or imminently threatened.

We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability -- to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities. But when we do use force in situations other than self-defense, we should make every effort to garner the clear support and participation of others -- as President George H. W. Bush did when we led the effort to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991. The consequences of forgetting that lesson in the context of the current conflict in Iraq have been grave."

Taken literally, this doctrine is even more extreme than Bush's. Of course, there's the small matter of the UN Charter which outlaws unilateral use of force for issues other than self-defence. And we know what "making efforts to ensure support" means. It would mean something like what Bill Clinton did when he was bombing Serbia ("a coalition of the willing" which meant NATO, primarily Britain).

People can say one thing when they are out of power. What they do when they do get into power is quite different. That reflects the real forces which drive them.

Umesh Patil said...

Anand, thanks for your comments. There are some issues here:

- Obama is on record to say he wants to fight 'right wars and not dumb wars'. He has spoken in public that he will not be averse to use force to capture terrorists if it means invading Pakistan. General Tommy Franks, to use Kerry's phrase, outsourced task to capture Osma to Pakistani forces and he got away. If Americans had involved, there was better chance to get him.
- Even today Defense Sec. Gates is howling all over the world how he does not have sufficient troops to fight Afghan war (since so many of those are occupied in Iraq).
- Keep in mind, there were 22 Senators who got it right for the Iraq war: Byrd, Ted, Boxer and Feingold included. So let us not say that there were not Senators who were able to see what it was. With Hillary, need to project 'strong on security' image trumped her common sense. In the end, it does not matter what Obama did for a minute; what matters is Hillary missed big time - not worth to become Commander-in-chief.
- Many of these same Senators who opposed Iraq war then supported Iraq war financing bills. You can not stop sustaining troops who have been asked by the Commander-in-chief to keep fighting that war. Including Hillary and Obama; many Dem proposals of pulling out troops from Iraq got defeated because GOP does not come by and Bush opposes any pullout. Until the troop reduction decision is finalized (i.e. the political battle is won with the Commander-in-chief), no Senator in right mind can stop the funding. That is just not right and not feasible. So do not take that vote as backing to Iraq war.

Anand said...

Zeroth, a technical matter, is there a way to subscribe to a post here, so I get notifications?

From your response, I think you're not disagreeing with my point that Obama isn't anti-war (your first point). Clearly he supports war as an instrument of policy. And clearly, he favours invasion of Pakistan if he believes it will help to capture terrorists. So he can't be anti-war, as I understand the term. If I'm missing something in your position, let me know.

Now that's not to say that he's indistinguishable from Clinton (an unapologetic hawk). Of course, differences exist. But I think we should recognize how little we're saying when we say that Obama is not an unapologetic war-monger. These differences may be sufficient reason for someone to vote for Obama.

Before replying to the other points I would like to be somewhat clear on your position. From point 1, 2 and 3, you seem to think it was OK for the US to invade Iraq if let's say there was no significant US casualties? Is that a fair statement? Or are you against the invasion, period? Or something else?

Anand said...

Also, could you comment on your view of the invasion of Afghanistan? Was it justified?

Umesh Patil said...

Thanks Anand for your continued interest in this conversation. Here are the answers to you questions and comments:

1. I do not regard Obama as an ‘anti-war’ candidate. I think Denis Kucinich tried to run his campaign with that flank. I am not looking for that kind of policy prescription.
2. This also means, I do support certain war efforts and my assumption is Obama too. In that context, I would say Howard Dean, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama group of leaders support Afghan war policy. I agree with that policy and support that war.
3. For me it is not ‘too little’ to say that Obama is not an ‘unapologetic war-monger’. I am with the standard American Foreign Policy of never taking the option of war away from the table. Once that is accepted, what becomes of paramount importance is to exercise the judgment about when to use force and when not. You see, the policy of not to use force unless in total dire situation or to use it whenever you get an opportunity; all are easy to adopt. What is difficult is to be judicious about that. Folks have not been judicious about Iraq war.
4. The related question is on what parameters one can decide when to use force. Clearly exhausting UN intervention, basing judgment on sound and confirmed intelligence; all these things are definitely applicable. As we all know, sadly many of these things were not followed in case of Iraq war and in that sense it is easy to identify it as the foreign policy mistake. But beyond this, there is ‘political judgment’ involved. There is a component of ‘war and peace’ decision making which is profoundly determined by History and we are looking for leaders who have that innate grasp of History and sense of righteousness. Claim is Obama is likely to have that sense whereas in case of Hillary she demonstrably failed on one big occasion.

Anand said...

Thanks for your comments. I guess we agree on the facts and you have your judgements about what works for you. Fair enough.

If you want to have a discussion regarding justification and/or wisdom of Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I will be happy to do that. Let me know if you are interested.

Otherwise perhaps I could comment on another post. You have a few post on the economy, perhaps I could post a reply there.