Skip to content

Obama the Atlanticist?

Before the details of Barack Obama's foreign policy team started to emerge, I had expected that his administration would take a global approach to foreign policy and security challenges, and would not necessarily engage Europe first. This perception was fleshed out in the Atlantic Review post 'Obama the Catalyst' by Don, and my post on the Berlin speech, 'Obama keeps it Global'.

The foreign policy people Obama is surrounding himself with speak more for an accelerated renaissance of the transatlantic alliance than anything else.

Hillary Clinton, the next Secretary of State, was more interested in Europe than Obama during the primaries for the Democratic nomination, as Christian Andreas Morris wrote at the time on the Atlantic Community. Moreover, her husband's administration had most of its high profile foreign policy engagements in Europe. Insofar as Hillary Clinton received foreign policy experience through 'osmosis', Europe looms large in her frame of reference.

Matthew Yglesias has noted that the main thing about retired general James L. Jones, Obama's National Security Advisor, is that no one really knows what his views are. It is not too hard to find out some of those views, however, as Jones delivered a number of speeches when he was SACEUR from 2003 to 2006, which can be found on the SHAPE website. A few more pieces can be found on the website of the Atlantic Council of the Unites States, of which Jones is currently the chairman.

You just don't get more atlanticist than Jim Jones. He grew up in France, speaks the language, and spent his years as SACEUR in Brussels on a mission to transform NATO. In his farewell address as SACEUR he said:
I love this Alliance. I love what it stands for. I love for the inherent goodness of its people. I love the inherent example that the members of the Alliance set for the world over. And I think it's a wonderful, vibrant organisation that is alive. Alive and prosperous and going to make tremendous contributions, the likes of which perhaps none of us can even imagine in this 21st Century.
Now, Obama has held a presser in which he effectively stated "change comes from me". And I've read a lot of bloggers who have written that this or that appointment does not matter that much because these people are going to be carrying out policy, not so much shaping it. On foreign policy, there are good reasons to think these appointments do signify something about policy.

First, Obama has a huge domestic agenda which he will have to spend a lot of time on if he wants to be successful. In spite of the awesomeness of Obama who can carry out telephone diplomacy with Kenya while he's on the campaign trail, he is still human and doesn't have more hours in his week than any of us. He's not going to be able to micromanage his foreign policy.

Second, it can matter a great deal whether the first thought on the mind of the people he talks to is 'who do we involve in this?' or 'how do we involve Europe in this?'

Third, Jim Jones was notable within NATO for driving its transformation from a reactive alliance focused on defence towards a more pro-active force focused on providing security. He made plentiful use of Obama's stock phrase, change, before it was hip:

Transformation is a topic that has been around for a number of years. Transformation to me means change, but I’ve found that change is something that people generally like to do to somebody else, but not to look at themselves. The larger the organization, the harder it is to change.

But nonetheless, change is important. To put it in a business context, I would say that organizations must change in order to remain competitive; similarly, in order to face the new challenges of the 21 st century, NATO must also change. Happily, the Alliance has the capacity, interest and commitment to do just that. But change is not easy.

The rest of that speech does deliver specifics and is well worth reading, by the way. It seems plausible that the Jones pick signals that Obama is not just vaguely looking to patch up NATO, but is serious about completing its as of yet imperfect transformation.

Bob Gates, the returning Secretary of Defence, does not really complement this picture. We'll see Gates and some European countries in a familiar adversarial role during the next NATO summit, as he'll be pushing the Bush line on Georgian and Ukrainian membership. The question is to what extent he is going to run foreign policy.

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

David on :

The appointment of Susan Rice as UN ambassador is also significant. Obama has elevated this to a cabinet position which means he is serious about revitalizing America's role in that body. The implications for the "Atlantic Alliance" are less clear, except that Rice will be energetic in marshaling European support for humanitarian interventions. Good profile of Susan Rice [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/us/politics/01rice.html?_r=2&hp]here[/url].

Pamela on :

except that Rice will be energetic in marshaling European support for humanitarian interventions. Darfur, maybe?

A_GUY on :

(Comment removed)

Marie Claude on :

may-be a guy reads the wrong news, or listen to the neo-c sirens check this article that an authentic Sudanese endorse for representing well Sudan's reality http : // www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12630209 also as far the Frenchs are concerned in this hot aera, they are there at the request of the official Chad government, and if they weren't you could count one more genocide in Africa, be among the different ethnies, be a massacre anti-white, hey, they save many times some american a...es from being slaughtered Easy to say they are there for colonial pseudo-ambition, um did I see that any other country was volontary to go there ??? NO (if there any, it's for business purpose°, NO gain to expect, but a boring job among a poorest population of the globe, that also speaks french, any question ??? I go to "true" sources while yours are virtuals http : // www.sudanesethinker.com/

Pamela on :

I'm not passing judgement on the idea A_GUY. It's just that I recntly read a piece about how Rice, while in the Clinton admin, was so appalled at what happened in Rwanda and I thought maybe Darfur may have the same effect.

Joe Noory on :

The "Idea"? The big-ol-pretend superpower that is what were the European powers insisted 4 years ago that they were going to "rapidly deploy" to Europe. In the 4 years since then, they have spent the entire time trying to get someone to commit a half dozen helicopters, and get developing country "partners" to stay as a military component after the photo-op. Nothing has come of it other than handwringing, and a lot of people have become refugees and undergone further attack. Moreover, they didn't want the US to be involved so that the leadership could try to get the lower nomenklatura of Military / International affaires / Development / Aid to get used to the idea of Europeans being able to do this kind of thing on their own and with someone other than the Europeans of the former Yugoslavia. Otherwise the idea of being able to form any sort of committment within the EU without an outrside force like the US or UN as a catalyst has led to few commitments to burden-sharing. The methodology not the compelling need for it does not appear to be emerging while these "big players" leave a vaccuum of power in the column listing the societies with good intentions. Moreover, I don't think the election of Obama will change that, just the explanations for Europe's internal political difficulties.

Marie Claude on :

that's funny, not so long time ago you were sayin it'all but french colonial policy !!!

Joe Noory on :

When did I say that? I don't think I've ever used the term "colonial policy" at this site at all. Nor would I stretch the range of logic so far as to say that the way Europeans don't really deal with one another could have anything to do with French colonail policy. I think all of that has come out of your imagination, along with the idea that any article on this site requires a response based entirely on how it solely impacts your life and no-one else's - such as it was about nuclear power. That was also silly, because it assumes that every person in the society you live in somehow uses it to power the things that support your existence - even if you did seem to show any sign of trying to understand the circumstances of anyone other than yourself.

Marie Claude on :

yeah, Alzheimer schon da !!!! I take it personal to defend my country against any intended biased information, that's why I'm often at the front, cause most of my compatriots don't care and would just say "bof, one more rubbish, they don't have anything else to think" you can see that I assume my identity, I don' constat that your compatriots do it much

Joe Noory on :

And it's necessary to lie about what I've said to be proud of your country? There has to be more than that.

Marie Claude on :

what lies ? OK those which you don't agree with !!!

microgod on :

General James L. Jones was everywhere: Vietnam, Near East, Iraq, Afghanistan. Very impressing.

Don S on :

Fred Barnes points out that the tilt of Obama' major cabinet appointments thus far is distinctly rightward. To some degree you have to look at who ISN'T in the cabinet to properly appreciate the nuances. Hillary Clinton at State means that Al Gore or John Kerry - aren't. Hillary did her share of state visits to Europe during her Hubby's presidency of course, but isn't primarily seen as an Atlanticist, certainly not nearly as much of a 'soft-power' Atlanticist as Gore, Kerry, or even Bill Richardson would have been. The omission of Kerry is particularly significant, because Kerry gave a great deal of help to Obama during his ascent, tabbing him to give the Keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention and giving Obama his first big endorsement last year. Obama owes Kerry a lot, Kerry wanted State BADLY, and was reputed to be a lock for State as little as two weeks ago. And yet Kerry isn't in the cabinet. Summers and Geithner are Obama's major economic advisers, and both have a rep for being as hard-core free-marketers as you find in the Democratic Party. And face facts, given the economic situation Treasury is going to be the epicentre of power during Obama's first term. There is a lot of speculation that Summer's actual job (whatever the title) will be something akin to an economic version of the National Security Advisor. Geitehnr is a Summer's protege and they are friends, so one can hope for them to work well in tandem. And they will inevitably have a huge role in international relations given the situation. James Jones as NSC is an undoubted Atlaticist, but I don't see any of the other appointmentees as being specificly identified as atlanticists. Susan Rice at the UN is a sop to the kumbaya wing of the Democrats. Obama wants to sing sweet songs to the Europeans and she will do that. But UN Ambassador is not a key policymaking position, falling behind a number of Asst Secretaries of State. She may be in the cabinet - but do you really suppose she is going to carry a fraction of the weight that Clinton, Jones, Summers, or Geithner will? Think again, Rice will mostly be in New York while the decisions will be made in DC. William Gates stays at Defense. He's a middle-brow GOP 'realist' and far right of Obama's stance while he was in the Senate. Only one major appointment remains to be made, that of Attorney General. But the AG is the least international of the major cabinet slots. The appointments thus far form the core of the international security and economic teams....

Don S on :

Oops, here is the link to Fred Barnes I mentioned above: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/856nzktr.asp?pg=1

David on :

Eric Holder is AG.

Detlef on :

He grew up in France, speaks the language, and spent his years as SACEUR in Brussels on a mission to transform NATO. Oh no!!! Did you ask the "Weekly Standard" and the "National Review Online" how itīs possible that an actual American general might speak - gasp - French? I seem to remember that speaking French was disqualifying you to become President of the USA back in 2004? You should oppose him immediately! /end snark

Don S on :

John Kerry was a substandard Prsidential nominee in so many ways I won't bother to quantify it, but speaking French wasn't one of them. There were better choices for Secretary of State this year, one of whom Obama chose. But had Obama tabbed Kerry I wouldn't have argued with the choice. To my mind Kerry lost my support when he dishonored his ribbons, although it wasn't necessarily a black and white issue. If he had expressed contrition for what he did AND had compiled a superb record as a US Senator I would have considered him. He did neither of those things, so I didn't. The Democrats had a slam-dunk choice available in 2004, Joe Lieberman. Lieberman would have beaten Bush in the General Election. But the Democrats decided to shoot themselves in the feet with another Culture Warrior, and lost. This year they FINALLY got the message - and WON! QED....

Detlef on :

[i]John Kerry was a substandard Presidential nominee in so many ways I won't bother to quantify it, but speaking French wasn't one of them.[/i] No disagreement here but it was mentioned in 2004. At least on Republican-supporting websites. Just asking though? How would you have classified Bush back in 2004? Given the fact that his rationale for invading Iraq - like predicted - was nonsense? That he didnīt catch Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, didnīt destroy the Taliban? Because he concentrated on Iraq - somewhat - while forgetting Afghanistan? Given these facts I thought Bush was pretty substandard in my (European) opinion back then. [i]To my mind Kerry lost my support when he dishonored his ribbons, although it wasn't necessarily a black and white issue. If he had expressed contrition for what he did AND had compiled a superb record as a US Senator I would have considered him.[/i] Maybe. But at least he went to Vietnam. Unlike the President you reelected in 2004. Plus the Vice-President you reelected. Did they express "contrition" for having "other priorities"? Iīm really puzzled here. A guy who served in Vietnam and thought afterwards it was a bad idea needs to express "contrition". Two guys who avoided service in Vietnam - but talk tough now - are perfectly acceptable? I donīt quite understand that? [i]But the Democrats decided to shoot themselves in the feet with another Culture Warrior, and lost.[/i] Come on. (Religion, abortion, gun control. Youīre trying to tell me that Republicans arenīt "Culture Warriors"?) Donīt tell me that the Republicans didnīt use so called "culture wars" in 2002 and 2004 to win. I seem to remember a Democrat politician named Cleland in 2002. Lost three limbs in Vietnam, decorated for valor. Lost his reelection bid to a Republican named Chambliss. Who used attack adds with a photo of Osama bin Laden and won. If you Americans really valued bravery and valor you would have elected Cleland again. Provided of course that you would have liked his other political opinions. (Mind you there might be other reasons why voters decided otherwise.) Anyway it serves as an example that honorable service in Vietnam in itself doesnīt count for anything in current US politics. And if it doesnīt what would have been your problem with Kerry?

Pat Patterson on :

There was another famous American general, Gen George Patton, who spoke French fluently and when he was put in charge of some areas of France to administrate near the end of the war and after immediately complained that he needed to bring the Nazi trained bureacrats back in because the French seemed incapable of picking up a brick off the street. It wasn't the fact that Sen Kerry spoke French that bothered people it was the idea that speaking French made him something special as opposed to being merely fluent in Spanish, as is Pres. Bush, which a heck of a lot more of our neighbors speak than French.

Marie Claude on :

There was another famous American general, Gen George "Patton, who spoke French fluently and when he was put in charge of some areas of France to administrate near the end of the war and after immediately complained that he needed to bring the Nazi trained bureacrats back in because the French seemed incapable of picking up a brick off the street". um, is it in your legend of the big modesty America ? cuz, so far I know, Mr Patton was so "speedy" that Eisenhower never let him administrate a french aera, he, he was the incarnation of Napoleon, "sus aux Nazis" was his motto !!! "It wasn't the fact that Sen Kerry spoke French that bothered people it was the idea that speaking French made him something special" yeah, smart !!! "as opposed to being merely fluent in Spanish", then bad A..s !!! "as is Pres. Bush", (really ?) "which a heck of a lot more of our neighbors speak than French." why should they ??? we don't need to be invaded !!! In fact, if they want to visit Effel tower, they don't need to learn our language, there are some pannels in english there !!!

Don S on :

"why should they ??? we don't need to be invaded !!!" Why should Mexico, Central America, and almost all of South America (apart from Brazil and perhaps some of the Guyana's) speak Spanish? Why, because they wish to I would say! It is their heritage. And many people of Spanish heritage live in the US and even vote. When pople in the US take a foreign language it is usually Spanish for these reasons. The reason to take French or German is usually for reading tesxts in the original or for travel, not for every day use.

Pat Patterson on :

Every American general that commanded a division was considered to be the governor-general of whatever territory was in his TO. I wasn't till after the war and sometimes in a few areas considered pacified were the appointments made more to an eye on civilian reconstruction than attack. But Patton as well as Clark and Gavin knew that the sooner the debris was cleared then the faster the reconstruction could commence. O/T-Patton and the after he told Eisenhower were shocked to discover that some of the admirable traits they saw in Germans clearing debris and rebuilding was based on some families still having POWs as slaves. They would bring them out, French, Polish, Russians, etc at night to clear areas were there were no American troops. Plus the point I wished to make is that knowledge of a second language does not make the possesor somehow anymore sympathetic than one who doesn't.

Marie Claude on :

uh, what will do O with the RAND institute, cuz he has'nt got any money in the house to pay its geedy experts, but seems tha t the Clintons made it quite good with the habits of the FIRM http : // www.tomdispatch.com/post/174884

Pat Patterson on :

It's hard to take a citation seriously when they claim that certain defense companies, "...have been watching their stock rise..." considering that the best of the ones mentioned, Raytheon, has lost 32% of its capitalization. the rest range from Boeing losing 58%, Northrup Grumman losing 45% and Lockheed losing 40%. And it also should be noted that the US military budget will be the second lowest since 1944's high of 37% of GDP compared to the lowest of 3% in 1999 and 2009 FYI of 4%. Plus Obama promised during the primaries to create two new divisions but that promise hasn't been heard of in months and the new NSA, Gen. James Jones, came out against expanding the military now but then he also predicted the surge in Iraq wouldn't work either. Jones has had a distinguished career but was shuffled off to Brussels because he couldn't keep his mouth shut and was not seen as having the right experience of temperment to become a member of the JCS. But unlike Susan Rice he was not sent to the shallow end of the pool with bright orange floatation wings on his arms like she has by accepting the UN post. Mainly there will be a few conferences and many triumphant press conferences of the heads of European nations lauding a new maturity in Washington until South Anerica's increasinglt shakey economies go belly up and then the real fun begins.

Don S on :

Well but Raytheon has actually been outperforming the markets this year, especially when one considers stellar performers like the auto companies. So a 32% drop actually counts as a huge rise, in dog years or something..... ;)

nanne on :

Pat, I don't get what you're saying about Jones. When did he oppose the surge? Sure, Fred Barnes said he did, but I tried to find a statement of the sort and couldn't find anything. In this [url=http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/8415]Charlie Rose interview[/url] (from 6:50) he's supporting the surge, which was in April 07 (three months in). And as far as I can tell from that interview and from [url=http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2008/11/21/who-is-jim-jones.aspx]other sources[/url], he was offered several positions, including CENTCOM and chairman of the JCS, but declined.

Pat Patterson on :

I'll have to backtrack a bit because I also couldn't find his comment on the surge except the had had argued that troops should have been sent to Afghanistan instead and that the surge hadn't worked as of late 2007 and early 2008. I'll remain firm on my postition that he was passed over, just as Wesley Clark was and that there already was a Marine as Chairman, Peter Pace, who though not renominated is still on the JCS. And once the surge seemed to working then it was obvious that Jones, who had held no actual command for years, was in Kurdish Iraq for only a few months after the 1st Gulf war and has had no other command even remotely connected to the Middle East which would seem a requirement for CENTCOM. He was not going to get the CENTCOM position which went to Gen. Petraus this year and was not offered to Gen Jones in either 2001 at any time after as Rumsfeld and Gates were happy with Adm. Fallon even though a magazine article about him left quite a few politicians and generals unhappy. But the main point is that the appointment to head up NATO is the last stop of a well-connected and generally well-accomplished military career. By rights the US doesn't have enough troops in Europe to justify its position as Supreme Commander. But the treaty recognizes that this total is based on troops assigned to Europe and not where they are deployed. In other words on paper the US may have 200,000 troops stationed in Europe but due to deployments may actually only have 75,000 in Europe. Slightly over on division. Thus this command is not a step up as much as it is a step out but without the gold watch. But the appointment to CENTCOM is that final step before either retirement or the JCS usually the latter and Gen. Jones knew when he headed off to Europe and then was passed over his career was at its apex and would go no higher. I'm not sure how one can claim Raytheon is outperforming the market when its decline is virtually the same throughout the sector. I'd hate to have to explain to my stockholders that they were lucky that they could have lost more and then have to face a hostile Democratic congress ready to cut the procurement budget. Though the recent announcement that Raytheon had been credited with the installation and testing of all required electronics systems in the first of the new Zumwalt class destroyers. the ones with all the Star Trek weapons and detection system. That could help Raytheon immensely. But they will have a way to go before the restore the lost capitalization and loss of capital they have suffered.

Detlef on :

[i]I'll have to backtrack a bit because I also couldn't find his comment on the surge except the had had argued that troops should have been sent to Afghanistan instead and that the surge hadn't worked as of late 2007 and early 2008.[/i] Well. You might have caught Bin Laden, Mullah Omar and the rest of the gang in Afghanistan years ago? But why go after the guys that - you know - were actually responsible for 9/11? Republicans in the USA seem to have a remarkable tendency for "1984 NewSpeak". [i]I'll remain firm on my position that he was passed over, just as Wesley Clark was and that there already was a Marine as Chairman, Peter Pace, who though not renominated is still on the JCS.[/i] Thatīs entirely possible. Mind you, Iīm NOT defending Jones. How could I, I donīt know his exact positions? Just want to point out that a guy like General Shinseki was thrown out for saying things the Bush administration didnīt want to hear a few years ago. [i]And once the surge seemed to working then it was obvious that Jones, who had held no actual command for years, was in Kurdish Iraq for only a few months after the 1st Gulf war and has had no other command even remotely connected to the Middle East which would seem a requirement for CENTCOM.[/i] Dream on! The surge worked because: - Petraeus bought the Sunni Iraqis for now by giving them money and weapons. Which the current Shia government in Iraq doesnīt like. - The Shia Badr movement decided to stand down. Probably with Iranian pressure? Their leader right now is in Iran? -The surge worked because a lot of the ethnic cleansing was already accomplished. 1-2 million refugees already outside Iraq, another 1-2 million refugees displaced inside Iraq. Given a population of around 25 million. - Not to mention a probable 6-digit number of Iraqis already killed in Iraq. Did I mention that according to the Geneva Conventions the USA was actually responsible for the well-being of Iraqi civilians? - The current Iraqi government is heavily influenced by the Shia DAWA and ISCI parties. Parties that were founded and heavily supported by Iran. Actually your soldiers right now are dying to support an Iraqi government heavily influenced by Iran. You and your Bush 43 President seem to be Iranian agents? /snark? [i]But the main point is that the appointment to head up NATO is the last stop of a well-connected and generally well-accomplished military career. By rights the US doesn't have enough troops in Europe to justify its position as Supreme Commander. But the treaty recognizes that this total is based on troops assigned to Europe and not where they are deployed.[/i] Okay. I agree completely! Now you just have to convince your own American politicians that the US doesnīt deserve the SACEUR post. According to you itīs just slightly "over on division. Thus this command is not a step up as much as it is a step out but without the gold watch." And if itīs just a "glorified" division command why donīt you just leave? Leave Ramstein, leave Landstuhl, leave the UK bases, the Spanish bases and the Italian bases. Just to mention the more important US bases in Europe. And then try to deploy and supply troops in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Have fun doing so! You might find out that youīll be in real trouble without these bases. And now try to tell me again that leading NATO is the "last stop of a well-connected and generally well-accomplished military career".

Pat Patterson on :

I'm not to sure if you have thought through your comment concerning catching the leadership of the Taliban or al Qaeda as that would have entailed a ground invasion of Pakistan. The tactics that worked in Afghanistan of using the Northern Alliance would have been a miserable failure in the much better organized, equipped and trained Pakistani military. In spite of the constant repetition of an unsourced claim that Gen Shinseki was removed from command he retired in June of 2003 on exactly the same date he had planned and his service record suggested as early as 1996. Pres. Bush spoke at Shinseki's retirement and much later it came out that Sec. Rumsfeld used him as a consultant when problems with the Stryker Brigades(the Strykers didn't fit in the Globemaster as originally called for). Shinseki recommended that no more C17 IIIs be built and that production be sped up on the C17B which can carry the Stryker as well as the Bradley. Some exile. There were obviously quite a few reasons but it is plain that the surge worked as it was designed. Read Petraeus's Counter-Insurgency manual which outlined several steps to pacify Iraq. Clear and hold, use of overwhelming force and multipliers of force, enhanced training of the Iraqis and bribes. What is terribly surprising or even smacks of the surge somehow being tainted because the US used every tool available. One of the bonuses is that most of Sadr Brigades, while Sadr is still in Iran "studying to be an ayatollah, were being degraded in each encounter with first the US forces, then the Iraqi army and even now by the national police. That's like arguing that Stalin allowed Poland to be pacified because he withdrew his forces from combat. I guess that is a new way of describing a rout. I would not recommend that Europeans assume that geography or infrastructure is on their side. That was a tactic that the Phillipines tried and failed spectacularly with in Subic Bay as well as the Vietnamese when they turned over an US navy base to the Russians. But who already allowed, very quietly, for the US Navy and the NSA to set up small bases, survey Cam Rahn Bay and negotiate for the return of the US Navy. Closing the US naval base in Italy would mean some initial difficulty but the possibility of naval bases in Morocco or defintely in Albania. As well as the smaller bases already in Bulgaria and Macedonia. Plus it might be wise to consider that within a year of removing Saddam from power that Balad in Kurdistan hosted one of the biggest and busiest military air bases in the world with two runways of over 11,000 feet essentially built from scratch. But the fact remains that the second beating heart of the Free World is Europe and the US and Janus-faced European politicians are no more anxious for the US to leave then they are to face the consequences. The fact is that no US president, even if in so doing cause rversals elsewhere in the world, is going to abandon Europe. And the prospect of the 10th Division and the 24th MEU running around the German countryside in desert camo is more likely than NATO breaking up.

Sebastian on :

I would not be so optimistic about Obama's impact on the transatlantic relations. I actually believe that it will be the exact opposite and that the transatlantic divide will deepen considerably under his time in office: http://www.europeancourier.org/143.htm

Brian on :

I love that we can come back to this post 100 days in and see how foolish that sentiment is. If for no other reason that a counterpoint to the disdain for "closed-shore" american policy under his predecessor. He even gets a pass on the US economy sinking the world into a depression (oops... I mean, recession) because he's the guy who was brought in to fix it!

John in Michigan, USA on :

I love follow-up on past statements as well. Before agreeing to your conclusions, I would simply point out that it is still early days. If Bush is convicted of war crimes, it is hard to imagine that NATO would continue in its present form. If there is another major terrorist incident, it could draw the US and Europe closer together (9/11) or further apart (11/3). Also, if the Obama administration continues on its present spending rate, the new deficits will make the Bush deficits look like pocket change. Europe will be affected by this. If, during Obama's watch, the international debt market crashes (think asset bubbles, over-leverage, and Ponzi schemes but substitute government debt for private debt and equity), or if the world enters a global trade war, I imagine the Bush recession will look benign. Finally, even with Obama in the White House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, there is still no US consensus in favor of [i]meaningful[/i] action on global warming. Meaningful action would mean getting below 1990 emission levels, which even so will only delay global warming a bit. At this point, to prevent global warming, there would have to be multiple, Manhattan-project scale initiatives, each of them 100% successful, all showing results within the next five years or less. So, if one believes the alleged scientific consensus (which I do not), a worldwide holocaust appears pretty much inevitable, and it is hard to see how the US (even under Obama) doesn't get blamed for this as well. So, even though both sides have made happy noises toward each other these first 100 days, there's a lot that could still drive us apart.

Jean on :

Good job demolishing Detlef Pat! Let me just add one more thing - Shinseki was not thrown out for saying something Bush didn't want to hear. Rumsfeld canceled some heavy weapon systems that didn't mesh with his idea of an expeditionary force structure, and Shinseki and then Secretary of the Army White went behind Rumsfeld's back to Congress to try and get the Crusader artillery system reinstated. Rumsfeld wanted to fire Shinseki immediately, but given that Shinseki was well-connected in Congress, settled for naming his successor earlier than is the norm. Shinseki did serve out his full term, but pointing out facts to lefties is usually a waste of time - so why do I bother?

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options