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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Foreign Policy & Slippery Slopes

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The recent Mumbai attacks led Tom Brokaw to pose a very serious question to Barack Obama.  Obama’s response is worth examining.  Here’s the exchange:

MR. BROKAW:  I want to move now to international affairs, the war on terror. Obviously, we have all been stunned by what happened in India at Mumbai.  It is still playing out in that part of the world.  You have said that the United States reserves the right to go after terrorists in Pakistan if you have targets of opportunity.  Does India now also have that right of hot pursuit?

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA:  Well, I’m not going to comment on that.  What, what I’m going to restate is a basic principle.  Number one, if a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself.  I think that’s universally acknowledged.

The acceptance of the Bush Doctrine by Democrats will continue to stymie Democrats foreign policy for years to come.  It stymied what should have been an otherwise straightforward answer by Obama.  Common wisdom inside the D.C. punditry will compare everything Obama does to Bush’s policies because Obama and other prominent Democrats didn’t speak out forcefully against them during the past six years plus.  When Democrats didn’t speak out against them, I wondered why.  Would it be because they agree with it but don’t want to be seen as similary lawless and morally bankrupt as the Cons have been?  Obama’s response tells me that that very well could be the case.

He did comment on that by stating that country’s can respond to attacks, much like the U.S. did after 9/11.  He didn’t qualify his answer to indicate that any response would arise from moral underpinnings.  His answer is disturbing.  The U.S. should in no way encourage Indian and Pakistani tesnsions to escalate.  Both have nuclear weapons.  A nuclear disaster should be avoided at all costs.  Any oblique non-response to Brokaw’s question moves the world further down a slippery slope we shouldn’t be on.  Russia recently identified the Bush Doctrine as an open door to their invasion of Georgia earlier this year.  How many cases should be allowed to happen before the policy is emphatically rejected by Obama and other future U.S. Presidents?

***

Also in foreign policy news, the planned strategic deployment of Marines in Afghanistan is likely to change.  Instead of being posted close to the Afghan/Pakistan border, some Marines will instead be posted closer to Kabul, the capital.  That’s in response to this year’s Taliban advancements through Afghanistan.  It’s a situation that deteriorates every day.  President-elect Obama won’t have enough troops available to him to sufficiently take care of events in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  One has to take priority.  To boot, Bush is leaving Obama a severely depleted military – personnel and materiel have been significantly weakened.

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