October 02, 2009
To the Left, Everything is Bush's Fault
No doubt the President was sincere, but it's been quite a while since America has been "at its best," thanks to the Bush Administration. Why would anyone believe that the United States will indeed "make sure that all visitors would feel welcome," given our track record over the past eight years with regard to burdens placed on anyone who seeks a visa, the possibility of inquisitions (and being turned back) even upon arrival, vulnerability to "terrorist lists" that have a proven degree of unreliability, etc.? This is really a stunning rebuke of the United States, given the willingness of both Obamas to put themselves on the line. He's going to have to generate far more "change everyone can believe in" before the US will be chosen as a venue for an event like the Olympics (and properly so). And how confident can we be that he will be willing to take on the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, and other Republican demagogues (many of them in the House and the Senate) to reduce the burdens placed on foreign visitors?
The notion that the international community will suddenly jettison their natural interests if we just sweet talk them enough is a profoundly silly one. The ugly truth Obama seems only now to be discovering is that a great many nations' interests conflict with ours. Moreover, despite his frankly ludicrous assertions that "we need not compromise between our security and our ideals", Obama is rapidly finding that the view from the driver's seat is very different than the one from the peanut gallery. Even for Obama, compromises between the perfect and the good cannot be avoided indefinitely:
George W. Bush did not brush aside international law as casually as his critics claimed, and President Barack Obama's approach is likely to be surprisingly similar. The United States -- under the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties -- has taken a fairly consistent approach to international law over the decades, one that involves building legal regimes that serve U.S. interests and tearing down those that do not.
The bill of particulars against Bush seems long. He withdrew the Unites States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia; "unsigned" the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC); invaded Iraq in violation of the U.N. Charter; authorized war-on-terror tactics in tension with human rights treaties and the Geneva Conventions; dragged his feet on a climate treaty; imposed a tariff on steel in violation of international trade law; stood by while a genocide took place in Sudan; and refused to sign a host of new and old treaties aimed at promoting human rights and limiting violence in war.
But there is less here than meets the eye. Bush acted within the law by withdrawing from the ABM treaty (which permitted withdrawal upon six months notice, a requirement he observed), and he had no obligation to maintain the U.S. signature on the Rome Statute (which lacked support from both political parties in the United States). Nonetheless, Bush provided valuable support to the ICC by agreeing to allow it to investigate crimes in Sudan. The invasion of Iraq did violate the U.N. Charter, but it also removed one of the world's worst international lawbreakers and vindicated the U.N. sanctions regime that Iraq had disregarded.
There was little political support for a climate treaty until the end of the Bush administration. When that support finally materialized, Bush signaled that he would go forward with such a treaty. In similar ways, Bush's war-on-terror tactics moderated over time, as the threat diminished. Bush had no obligation to intervene in Sudan -- indeed, an intervention without Security Council authorization, which would certainly have been blocked by China, would have been unlawful. Nor did he have an obligation to sign other human rights and law-of-war treaties that he disapproved of.
During his presidential campaign, Obama expressed support for the International Criminal Court and humanitarian intervention. In office, he has done nothing for the ICC and has stood by while the killing continues in Sudan. He has promised to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay; the problem, however, was not that the facility itself violated international law but that the detention methods practiced there (arguably) did so. These very same detention practices have continued in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Obama has sought to give immunity to Bush-era interrogators -- another possible violation of international law, and certainly in tension with it. Bush's unlawful tariffs on steel are matched by the "buy American" provision in the stimulus bill signed by Obama and the tariffs that he has slapped on Chinese tires. Obama has provided some symbolic support for international law in a few ways, but where it counts -- obtaining Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty (which Bush also supported) and numerous international human rights treaties -- he has expended no political capital. Don't expect this to change.
Obama's ever-evolving individual consensus on a whole plethora of issues can't help but remind us of a particularly insightful remark made many moons ago by Nan Pelosi:
"There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position," Pelosi said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.
You can get away with that nonsense when you're an ineffectual minority party but when you're in charge, people expect you to get out front and lead. Obama's problem is that he's only willing to take a stand on relatively trivial matters.
The vicissitudes of pragmatic, responsible leadership appear to have made Barack Obama reality's bitch. When it really counts, the Obama millions of Americans voted for is nowhere to be found.
Posted by Cassandra at October 2, 2009 12:42 PM
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I thought it would take, oh, a couple of hours for the Blame Bush Brigade™ to roll out their boiler-plate excuse as cover for the IOC decision. At least, a couple of hours... Silly me...
Wait! What's that sucking sound? Ah, it's B.O.'s prestige amongst the non-aligned/uncertain circling the drain.
Posted by: bthun at October 2, 2009 01:19 PM
I'm no genius (which you may have already guessed, wrongly!), but I'm most frequently and occasionally close enough to being right on target so as to convince you otherwise, or so to speak after a fashion.
Consequentially, it comes as no surprise that I cannot understand why the Presidential power was required to go to someplace in Europe where the Olypics are not even held. Prety dumbs I'm sure. Plus, everybody in Europe already voted for Obama, and they don't even speak Engish, so there.
As my old coach used to say "You moron!"
Posted by: My name is... Nah ah! You can't trick me! at October 2, 2009 02:13 PM
Rampant violations of international law abound!
Have they ever, like, actually *cited* the specific law which was, y'know, *violated*?
Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2009 03:20 PM
..."I cannot understand why the Presidential power was required to go to someplace in Europe"...Vell, if yu vas in ze position to vake up evahre mornik vit a person whose vahzeek, ven compahed to youh own, made yu loohk like zee before picture in a Chalz Atlas komic book advert, yu might vant to go on a sight-seeing tour of Denmark too...
Posted by: Doktor Ruth at October 2, 2009 03:32 PM
..."I cannot understand why the Presidential power was required to go to someplace in Europe"...
1)Your strategy for Iraq hasn't been implemented.
2)You couldn't close Gitmo despite the fierce moral imperative of doing so.
3)Your strategy for Afganistan never made it past the platitude stage and 4)the guy you just promoted tells you your asking for the impossible anyway.
5)The peasants are revolting (but aren't they always) over your healthcare plan.
6)You've abandoned democracy in Hondurus in favor of a tin-horned dictator wannabe.
7)You've refused to stand on the side of the protestors that Iran was murdering for the crime of wanting fair elections.
8)You've knuckled under to Russia to gain a meaningless "we won't stop you from wasting your time with sanctions that won't work against Iran that China will veto, anyway" pledge.
All that in the first 9 months. I don't blame the guy for wanting to get out of the country.
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 2, 2009 05:20 PM
I don't suppose it was a murder rate surpassing Baghdad's that had any influence on the vote.
"There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position," Pelosi said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors."
How true. That explains a lot.
"... Presidential power was required to go to someplace in Europe where the Olypics are not even held..."
Because we have to placate the Belgians.
I found a quote earlier on, during the campaign, when Obama was promising he would bring the Games to Chicago. Here's the news, from Chicago's Channel 2:
"In 2016, I'll be wrapping up my second term as president, so I can't think of a better way than to be marching into Washington Park alongside Mayor Daley, alongside Rahm Emanuel, alongside Dick Durbin, alongside Valerie Jarrett as President of the United States, and annoucing to the world, 'Let the games begin!'"
I. Me. Obama.
Sept 17: "
11 senators voted today to take your money and give it to ACORN. You might want to call them and let them know what you think of that…
Dick Durbin (D, IL) (202) 224-2152
(He voted against a bill that would prohibit ACORN from getting funds.)
"... yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism."
Valerie Jarrett has real-estate holdings in Chicago. She was behind the recent effort to "recruit" the NEA to become the propaganda arm of the White House:
We need no explanations of Emanuel and Mayor Daley.
(Reminds me of a not-so-old joke: A Chicago man was knocked into a coma in 1958. This year, he finally comes out of it. The first thing he asks is, "Who's the mayor?". They answer, "Daley". He says, "thank goodness, I haven't been out too long.)
Posted by: ZZMike at October 2, 2009 05:37 PM
Chicago Pols are stunned.
And now, for the rest of the story...
Posted by: Paul Harvey at October 2, 2009 06:33 PM
It's impossible to underestimate the impact a Obama [sic] would have on Chicago's chances if he's elected president.
Underestimation wasn't the problem. And Copenhagen didn't just get a Obama, it got *two* Obama...
Posted by: Bill Z.Z. ZydecoT at October 2, 2009 06:54 PM
Would that be Obami ?
Posted by: bt_Curmudgeon_hun at October 2, 2009 07:03 PM
Crime Rate, political corruption, lousy infrastructure, a citizenry that didn't want it, and the last time the USA hosted the summer games (during *Clinton's* admin) the IOC President snubbed us.
Nope, gotta be Bush's fault.
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 2, 2009 07:06 PM
Would that be Obami ?
Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2009 07:27 PM
What a shame the racketeering scum of the Chicago Machine won’t have this windfall to skim-off of, LOLOL
Aren't things going great since Valerie Jarret has been running the country?
Posted by: Reaganite Republican at October 3, 2009 07:52 AM
16 September 2009: "I would make the case in Copenhagen personally, if I weren't so firmly committed to making real the promise of quality, affordable health care for every American," he [Obama] said. "But the good news is I'm sending a more compelling superstar to represent the city and country we love, and that is our First Lady, Michelle."
2 October 2009: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*...
This bodes really well for hopes of firm commitment to a consistent foreign policy, huh?
Posted by: BillT at October 3, 2009 08:46 AM
Haven't I been saying this for years, Cass? I even came up with a mathematical equation some years back to express it, which Mathmom approved.
IIRC, it went something like the infinite set of "all things that could possibly happen in the universe" is multiplied by 1 when a liberal or Democrat does it, but by -1 when a conservative does it. Therefore, the very same act or acts can be simultaneously positive when done by a liberal, and negative when done by a conservative.
The act itself is not the important aspect but, rather, WHO is performing the act.
Posted by: a former european at October 5, 2009 04:07 AM
The Chicago bid went nowhere because the USOC is one of the most disorganized national Olympic committees on the planet with a bunch of part-timers involved. It has skipped important meetings of the IOC that everyone else went to. And it tried to create it's own TV network that would have at least cut into the share of the TV money that the IOC would otherwise get from the U.S. Olympic broadcast rights. That's what screwed the pooch.
Posted by: RonF at October 5, 2009 02:12 PM