Obama’s Stock of Power Gets an Uptick

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obama distinguished.jpg
Recently, through no fault of the correspondent but unfortunately through context-removing snips by an editor, I was misquoted in the Wall Street Journal. Various conservatives then grabbed my comment to try and score a gotcha point against President Obama and his team.
The quote by me that appeared in this Wall Street Journal article (and was used as the title in some online cases though not in the newspaper itself) was:

The mystique of America’s superpower status has been shattered.

This has been a phrase I have used many times to refer to the many limits the US has exposed militarily, economically, morally, and institutionally over the years. The George W. Bush administration, particularly because of the Iraq invasion, exposed most of these limits. The current account deficit skyrocketing from just below 2% of GDP under Clinton to nearly 7% was another mystique shaker during that administration.
Obama started with a bad hand when he came into office and he’s doing a lot to turn America’s low stock of power into some gains.
The quote above sounds as if I was saying that “Egypt” was shattering the mystique of America’s superpower status, and that is far from the truth and not what I conveyed. The reason that I raised the issue is that fifteen or so days into the standoff with Mubarak, it was interesting to note how Egypt’s President was standing strong despite the headwinds coming at him.
Ten or fifteen years ago, I don’t believe that this would have been the case — and to some degree the perception of US power is a factor. That’s not President Obama’s fault. A whopping trade deficit, wobbly economy, the exporting of poisonous financial products to the rest of the world, military overextension — all well in place before Obama got the keys to the White House is what has undermined the perception of American power — not Egypt.
So, I don’t fault Fox News, Peter Feaver, or Barry Rubin from jumping on the quote as it ran, but this is a signal to them that it would be inappropriate to further use my phrasing in their critiques of the Obama White House.
If instead they want to go after the administrations of George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, feel free. Search on this blog under “superpower” and “mystique” and one will find a lot of references that may help them and their readers see both how botched America’s national security and economic portfolios became under Bush — and how steep a hill Obama has had to climb these last couple of years.
Lastly, from my vantage point, what has unfolded in Egypt — even though there were some zigs and zags and that affairs inside that country were in the Egyptian public’s hands and not up to the US — has enhanced Barack Obama’s stock of power.
I think Mubarak thought he was going to survive the uprisings and shrug off Obama and the international community. After all, he has seen Netanyahu get away (thus far) with a number of wins in wrestling matches with the Obama White House.
But in the end, Mubarak was shoved aside by a military that recognized that the key principles that Egypt’s citizens were calling for — and which Obama was highlighting — were OK to support and that the army’s future depended on supporting at least for the time being this people power movement.
This nudge-from-behind and focus-on-principles-up-front approach — which worked — gets Obama some uptick in his power pack. Now the trick is to get some momentum on other problems where America can move the needle.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “Obama’s Stock of Power Gets an Uptick

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    There are two alarming possibilities about Powell here. Either he was remarkably uninformed and naive, to the point of gross incompetence, or, he knew Curveball’s spew was garbage.
    Either scenario sucks, considering the expense, death, destruction, and mayhem that has ensued.
    Seeing Powell act as if he was somehow punked or mislead by the CIA is pathetic. If a lowly outside the beltway carpenter in CA could see the horns sprouting forth on Bush and Cheney’s foreheads, certainly Powell should have been able to ascertain it wasn’t just acne.

    Reply

  2. Cee says:

    Chris Matthews asked his audience to call their reps to demand an investigation.
    I knew Curveball was a liar when he opened his mouth.
    Did Chris Matthews call him out then too?

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    “Few Americans have heard of [Gene] Sharp. But for decades, his practical
    writings on nonviolent revolution

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  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Jeremy Kahn has an interesting article at the Boston Globe about oil security and US military
    presence in the Middle East:
    “The idea that such oil shocks will inevitably wreak havoc on the US economy has become
    deeply rooted in the American psyche, and in turn the United States has made ensuring the
    smooth flow of crude from the Middle East a central tenet of its foreign policy. Oil security
    is one of the primary reasons America has a long-term military presence in the region. Even
    aside from the Iraq and Afghan wars, we have equipment and forces positioned in Oman,
    Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar; the US Navy

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  5. Carroll says:

    The thing about Curveball is the Germans knew he was crazy, told the Americans he was crazy and not reliable.
    The CIA agents that interviewed in Curveball said he was mentally off and lying. They proved he couldn’t have been where he said he was in Iraq and therefore couldn’t have seen what he claimed to have seen at those times.
    This 2005 article explains Curveball and all those involved.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/complete/la-na-curveball20nov20,0,5362808,full.story

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    And here is more on Curveball:
    “Colin Powell, the US secretary of state at the time of the Iraq invasion, has
    called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain why they failed to alert him to
    the unreliability of a key source behind claims of Saddam Hussein’s bio-
    weapons capability. (…)
    Curveball told the Guardian he welcomed Powell’s demand. “It’s great,” he
    said tonight. “The BND [German intelligence] knew in 2000 that I was lying
    after they talked to my former boss, Dr Bassil Latif, who told them there
    were no mobile bioweapons factories. For 18 months after that they left me
    alone because they knew I was telling lies even though I never admitted it.
    Believe me, back then, I thought the whole thing was over for me.
    “Then all of a sudden [in the run up to the 2003 invasion] they came back
    to me and started asking for more details about what I had told them. I still
    don’t know why the BND then passed on my information to the CIA and it
    ended up in Powell’s speech.”"
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/16/colin-powell-cia-curveball

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Here’s the amazing story about “Curveball”, a man who unintentionally has done more
    than most non-Americans to expose the limits of US power and puncture the “mystique”:
    “In a small flat in the German town of Erlangen in February 2003, an out-of-work Iraqi
    sat down with his wife to watch one of the world’s most powerful men deliver the speech
    of his career on live TV.
    As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations
    security council, the man watching

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  8. questions says:

    “Realism Schrmealism” from the Monkey Cage — a take on a Walt post, a dig at Mearsheimer as a bonus.
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/02/realism_schmrealism.html
    “Stephen Walt writes a quite odd post on realism, liberalism and the future of the euro.”
    ***
    Oh, and WigWag, just to avoid extra posts with the new and more awkward system….
    The Rosen episode is truly depressing. I cannot believe the original twitter response. Yes, structures allow any and all possible thoughts. But that doesn’t mean one should actually entertain all that is possible to think. And if one does entertain some fairly unseemly, but totally possible to think, thought, one ought to have some kind of filter between oneself and the world. And if one has no such filter, one ought to wonder why.
    Obama got in trouble for using the word “empathy” at some point. What Rosen displayed is a fairly shocking lack of empathy. He seemingly did not double over and half retch at the mental image of the assault — an empathic response. Rather, he twittered a careerist/competitive response.
    Very sad.
    Perhaps now he has some empathy?

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  9. WigWag says:

    “It might be constructive if Americans could debate a new international grouping in which the terms of association are different from those that define our alliances currently.” (David Billington)
    I agree; that would be a good debate to have. I have some opinions about this.
    Some of the nations that the United States should be trying to weave into a new alliance are obvious. India is the most prominent example. I would love to see the United States as keen to see India develop as it was to see Western Europe recover from the ravages of World War II. I understand that we might not have the resources available to propose anything similar to the Marshall Plan, but we should provide India with far more assistance than we are. The Bush Administration was wise to rebuff Democratic objections and make the nuclear deal with India that it did. On the India-Pakistan dispute and specifically the dispute over Kashmir we should tilt decisively in India’s direction. India, like the United States is a child of Great Britain and it is in our interests to see India become the world’s next superpower.
    The United States also needs to turn Russia from a wary adversary into a close ally. One step in the right direction would be to reverse the boneheaded decision to recognize Kosovo. By unnecessarily picking fights with Russia’s Slav cousins, the Serbs, the United States foolishly alienated the Russians while doing nothing to stabilize the Balkans. I think the United States would also be wise to express far less hostility to Republika Srpska. Beyond the Balkans, the United States needs to step back from its affection for Georgia and the Ukraine and start respecting Russian influence in its near abroad. Russia faces many of the same problems as the rest of Europe only worse, especially the demographic problems. But there is no nation in the world more strategically located than Russia and it has vast energy and other mineral resources. It may take time and perhaps it is impossible, but I would like to see Russia as close to the United States as France is. The fact that today’s neoconservatives are so nostalgic for the Cold War that this suggestion seems like an anathema to them tells you everything you need to know about their geopolitical sophistication.
    In terms of Europe, it

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  10. Paul Norheim says:

    An interesting article comparing recent post-Ben Ali events in Tunisia with what may happen in post-
    Mubarak Egypt:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/16/deposing-dictators-middle-east-transformation

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    From The Economist:
    “Where is the next upheaval?
    The shoe-thrower’s index
    BY PUTTING together a number of indicators that we believe feed
    unrest,and ascribing different weights to them, we have come up
    with a chart of Arab countries

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  12. rc says:

    An interesting interview with Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, suggesting Turkey views Israel (and by implication the US) as respected equals — and not exceptions above the democratic values and principles.
    He believes it is now time for the ME to enjoy stability and prosperity and, it would seem, for Israel to be defined by its internationally recognized by it pre-1967 borders.
    Obama is going to have a far more complex balancing act to follow with an emboldened Turkey and an new emerging democratic Egypt both dealing with an unrepentant Israel that seems unable to respect others in the region.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/talktojazeera/2011/02/201121575542266481.html

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  13. Paul Norheim says:

    The following quote contains a very interesting take on the changes in the Middle East – from Sefi
    Rachlevsky (Haaretz):
    “Looking from Amman, Cairo, Gaza and Tehran seem far away, while Turkey looks close. Making
    predictions at this time is seen as foolhardy, but through the mist and cool breezes of Amman, what
    appears is a Turkish Middle East, a version of the Israeli dream of the all-inclusive package. It includes
    radical Islam, a large, pragmatic and corrupt military establishment, and a lively secular class. Various
    mixes of these three elements look like a kind of future that would captivate many. It’s a mix in which no
    single element dominates, with the goal of having the best of all worlds.
    From Amman, where you see fewer security forces than in Jerusalem, one sees an Israel that has already
    made its choice: Turkey. The all-inclusive package. This includes the extremist Rabbi Dov Lior. It includes
    the merry “Daughter of the Regiment” from the opera in Tel Aviv. It also, of course, includes the large,
    pragmatic and corrupt military establishment. All of them together, with none of them dominating.
    However there is a hidden threat in Israel’s Turkish model. Without a middle class with an Israeli identity
    that will decisively and clearly overcome the messianism of territory and race, there is a growing risk that
    the region will come to an apocalyptic confrontation that will make the Egyptian revolution look like a
    leisurely stroll in the streets of Amman.”
    More here:
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-has-chosen-a-turkish-middle-east-1.343475

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    From a NYT editorial comment today:
    “Iran

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  15. David Billington says:

    “American ability to influence the world in the future will depend primarily on whether it is able to
    forge a new alliance with other nations that can replace the trilateral alliance that it has depended
    on since the end of World War II.” (Wigwag)
    It might be constructive if Americans could debate a new international grouping in which the
    terms of association are different from those that define our alliances currently.
    “I think the problem, DonS, is that realists are primarily interested in taking “an inventory” of
    American interests while neoconservatives and their more liberal colleagues are primarily
    interested in taking “an inventory” of American values. Neither point of view is sufficient.”
    How would you define what is sufficient?
    “I think Ferguson’s article makes alot of sense.”
    Crisis management and grand strategy are different things, but he may be right about the need
    for a longer-term policy that can provide more guidance to US actions. Generally speaking, a
    grand strategy in peacetime is not possible in the sense that it is in wartime, because peacetime
    is open-ended. The danger of trying to define any strategy in peacetime is the collapse of ends
    into means.
    But I have noted before that we could try to strengthen the voice of small states in a world of large
    ones. Stronger regional associations in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia would create
    more great power centers at the table to offset the lack of regional unity (and consequent tension)
    elsewhere. By necessity this would be a long-term goal but it would be a finite one.
    What I am less sure will work is a strategy that aims to polarize Asia into two armed camps. That
    may happen anyway but it is not a situation we should actively seek. We have to find the
    diplomatic imagination to work for a different world if we can.

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  16. JohnH says:

    I agree with Wigwag that foreign policy should be based on values. It is these values that give it moral authority and contribute immensely to soft, constructive power.
    But which values are we talking about? The ones that SOSs never tire of repeating–freedom, democracy, and human rights? But what truly free and democratic regime has the US spawned in recent history?
    Or are we talking about the values that America practices: ambivalence about freedom and democracy in Honduras and Egypt; opposition to democracy in Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay; obliviousness to daily shootings, dispossession, and other human rights abuses in Palestine, bombings of wedding parties and funeral processions in Afghanistan?
    Robert Fisk noted on Charlie Rose that Obama missed his golden opportunity for America to be well regarded in the Arab world. He simply refused to take a strong stand for freedom and democracy. And so, I respectfully disagree with SC that Obama’s behavior during the crisis enhanced his stock of power. Instead, he merely demonstrating that the US in incapable of practicing what it preaches.

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  17. Carroll says:

    “But I would only wonder who exactly would be the arbiter of which values and interests are important and to be pursued.”…..DonS
    Well, that is the question of our times isn’t it?
    Contrary to wig’s asseration, Articles I and II of the constitution are about the ‘structure’ of governing, outlining the duties and powers of the “representives of the people”. It was not intended to create ‘individual elites’ who would make decisions for the nation based on their personal interest and beliefs.
    But that is what has increasingly happened.
    If we assume that ‘people vote’ based on their own interests and that election outcomes influence policy through something like majority rule, how do we account for a generation of policies that have produced a majority of people disatisfied with the results in every area?
    It would be hard to find many people,intelligent or not, in the majority or in the fringes who think the US WH or congressional policies have been more for the benefit of the country and common good than for self serving political considerations.
    Some distrubing event(s) will have to occur to
    get a real national conversation going about what the people’s, as opposed to what we call the government’s, values and interest actually are.
    There are similaries in Egypt’s and other
    countries discontent and America’s discontent.
    Constitutions,processes, structure of rule, all eventually become meaningless when they don’t advance the interest of the majority.

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  18. WigWag says:

    “The United States shouldn’t be worrying about its mystique. Instead it needs to take an inventory of its values and its interests and then forge a coalition of like minded nations that will help it pursue those values and interests in the international arena. This sound good, actually sounds like a committed realist might state it…” (DonS)
    I think the problem, DonS, is that realists are primarily interested in taking “an inventory” of American interests while neoconservatives and their more liberal colleagues are primarily interested in taking “an inventory” of American values. Neither point of view is sufficient.
    If you want evidence, look at some of the statements realist heroes like Brent Scowcroft and Chas Freeman have made. Scowcroft laughed at Condi Rice’s suggestion that the United States had made a mistake by supporting authoritarian regimes in the Middle East for 50 years. He scoffed and told her that the policy had been enormously successful at keeping the peace. The fact that by pursuing its interests, the United States might be eschewing its values never seemed to occur to Scowcroft as important.
    Freeman wasn’t any better. His diatribe against the student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square and his disgust that the Chinese Communist government didn’t treat them even more harshly was caught in an email exchange he had with a colleague. If there was anything that the average American might object to about how the Chinese students were treated you wouldn’t know it by reading Freeman. One can only imagine what Freeman thinks about the Egyptian demonstrators or what he would recommend if students fighting for liberty were to blockade downtown Riyadh.
    The neoconservatives and their more liberal colleagues take the opposite tack. Sometimes they agree with each other as they did about the Revolution in Egypt and sometimes the neocons and the liberals have different values that they are interested in promoting; but more often than not, for them, American values (as they understand them) trump American interests. This accounts for much of the unsophisticated analysis that we’ve seen at places as diverse as the New York Times and the Weekly Standard on the recent overthrown of Mubarak. Thrilled by the vision of young students chanting for freedom, and with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, our neoconservative and liberal friends never paused to examine the success rate of revolutionary change or ponder the possibility that the overthrow of Mubarak might leave both the Americans and the Egyptians worse off not better off.
    The reality, of course, is that as often as not, American interests and American values are not aligned but opposed; naturally this causes cognitive dissonance. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said,
    “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
    So few foreign policy professionals seem prepared to consider both interests and values as equally important. And I regret to say that in my opinion at least, there appear to be few persons of first rate intelligence who choose diplomacy or international relations as their field.
    On another matter, I recommend to you and others an article published today in Newsweek by Niall Ferguson. It is scathing on Obama’s approach to the recent crisis in Egypt; like Clemons and the Leveretts frequently do, Ferguson spends a good part of the article comparing Obama and his NSA to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger but of course Ferguson has a different take than Steve or the Leveretts would.
    While reading the Ferguson piece it would be wise to keep in mind that Ferguson’s lover is Ayaan Hirsi-Ali (he left his wife to take up with her). Ms Hirsi-Ali has been the subject of numerous death threats and has to travel everywhere with a bodyguard presumably even when she is out in public with Ferguson. Ms Hirsi-Ali also had to deal with the assassination of her close friend and collaborator Theo Van Gogh (he was the great, great grandson of Vincent Van Gogh’s brother). In the eyes of most devout Muslims, Mrs Hirsi-Ali is an apostate and as polls have shown a majority of Muslims specifically in Egypt believe that apostates should be subject to capital punishment. If the Muslim Brotherhood opposes this point of view, they are quite shy about saying so.
    In light of this it is hardly surprising that Ferguson has a special loathing for Muslim extremists and that he has a harsh view of the Muslim Brotherhood which has done nothing to quell or criticize the fatwa issued against Ms Hirsi Ali.
    I think Ferguson’s article makes alot of sense. It would be interesting to hear Steve’s critique of it.
    Here it is in case you’re interested,
    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/02/13/wanted-a-grand-strategy-for-america.html

    Reply

  19. Don Bacon says:

    I basically agree with WigWag on the past. As for the future when I listen to our elected representatives, and mostly agreeing with DonS, I don’t see any relief from American Exceptionalism. The idea that the US is special, despite evidence to the contrary, will make forging new alliances most difficult. The one significant new alliance the US is promoting is with India, which is fraught with danger from those nations negatively affected, principally China and Pakistan.
    The best alternative would be an increased participation in the world community through the United Nations, but unfortunately the UN seems to be on the US enemies list except when the UNSC can be forced to accede to US foreign policy. Thus we are seeing increased US activity in NATO, where US influence with western European countries obviates the need to cooperate with those pesky Chinese and Russians, and others like Brazil and Turkey, as well as third world countries.
    Apart from the political, the US is promoting commercial alliances between US corporations and foreign entities (business and labor), an effort conducted by US embassies, American Chambers of Commerce and the USAID using taxpayer money. The business of America is not primarily ruling the world for political advantage, but to make money. The business of America is business, and currently the US corporate investment and job creation climate is sunnier overseas than at home.

    Reply

  20. DonS says:

    “In the case of the United States, it’s the Congress and the President who get to decide in accordance with the powers enumerated by Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution.”
    Thanks for the history lesson, WW, but you know as well as I that it is also the media, the corporate tycoons, the well financed lobbying groups (that are pretty much owned by the corporations or other special interests), the think tank, academic circle, government, corporate revolving doors, and, yes the Congress and the President is in the mix. You can call it democracy if you wish. Some would say oligopoly, or plutocracy is more accurate.

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  21. Kathleen says:

    Clinton talking about “letting the walls fall” in regard to the internet, political speech. news coverage etc. What a farce. Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, Diane Rehm, Neil Conan, Richard Engel etc etc all silent on the Goldstone Report, decades long Palestinian protest, the UN report about the massacre on the Mavi Marmara. The Obama administration silent SILENT
    What a farce..hypocrisy.
    Hadley on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell right now talking about internet, media access, political freedom of Cuba, N Korea, China, Iran etc. Silent about how the Palestinian issue is ignored by Andrea Mitchell, Hadley, Clinton etc. Enough of these hypocrites.
    Will be so interesting to hear how Maddow etc will spin the Iranian protesters numbers tonight.
    A breakthrough on the Maddow show last night. I think that is the very first time I have ever heard her whisper about the Israeli Palestinian conflict (except during Cast led). She had Dan Rather on..
    Last night Chris Matthews threw up a map of where the “tsunami, earthquake” of freedom and democracy is moving. Israel and the broken up Palestinian territories not even on the map. Not even on the map!
    Sure as hell wish that Chris Matthews etc would have former CIA middle east analyst and former Bush administration Flynt Leverett on to discuss the situation with Iran and the alleged faulty Iranian elections. They must have Flynt Leverett behind the “wall of silence” They keep having people like Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Goldberg, Robin Wright on who all beat the bad bad bad Iran drum

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  22. WigWag says:

    “But I would only wonder who exactly would be the arbiter of which values and interests are important and to be pursued.” (DonS)
    In a democracy, our elected representatives get to make that call; that’s what the very nature of democracy is. That’s what the young Egyptian students were fighting for; or at least it

    Reply

  23. DonS says:

    “The United States shouldn’t be worrying about its mystique. Instead it needs to take an inventory of its values and its interests and then forge a coalition of like minded nations that will help it pursue those values and interests in the international arena.” (wigwag)
    This sound good, actually sounds like a committed realist might state it. But I would only wonder who exactly would be the arbiter of which values and interests are important and to be pursued. There is a wide divide in this country on international policy probably as great as on domestic policy, from the neo isolationists to the liberal interventionists to the neocons.
    “The main problem is not that the United States has made bad decisions” also seems like a naive over simplification. Taking just the decision to invade Iraq, there is no shortage of critics who consider it the worst American blunder in international affairs of the past 50 years.
    Or take the matter of engagement with the Muslim world. You see a clash of civilizations; others see a possibility for communication. Naturally you think you are right.
    More and more the US seems isolated in it’s exceptionalist views. That’s the ‘mystique’ that, to me, is indeed shattered.

    Reply

  24. questions says:

    From TPM, on “Curveball”
    “”Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” Janabi told The Guardian. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”"
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/curveball_i_lied_about_iraq_wmd_to_help_topple_saddam.php?ref=fpb
    Well, this is pretty interesting.

    Reply

  25. Steve Clemons says:

    Don — many thanks for your correction. You are right. best, steve

    Reply

  26. Don Bacon says:

    SC: “The current account surplus skyrocketing from just below 2% of GDP under Clinton to nearly 7% was another mystique shaker during that administration.” I suspect that Steve means deficit not surplus, with that ratio now being about minus three percent.
    Regarding Egypt, the US president had little choice but to (figuratively) join the crowds in Tahrir Square. Even if it’d been Harry Truman in the fifties there were no American options. Properly managed through the Egypt military, there is little at stake for the USA.
    In any case it was the strength and fortitude of Egyptians, not Americans, that carried the day. The brave Egyptians in Tahrir Square cared not a whit about the perception of US power nor any mystique of America’s superpower status. People with multiple injuries, and having seen their comrades die, did not shrink from their dedication to the human and civil rights that have been denied to them.
    The current pro-democracy demonstrations in Yemen and Bahrain, by contrast, are receiving no US support, while the US foments change in Iran.

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  27. angellightq says:

    The truth is that Pres. Obama made a speech and help to bring about Democracy, while Pres. Bush went to war through Invasion of a country to try and bring about Democracy while infringing on our freedoms at home through highly debatable or undebatable Patriot Act!
    There would be no reason to make such drastic cuts to the budget if: (1) Rich people and corporations would pay their fair share in taxes (they should donate their billion dollar bonuses to the people at this time of crisis; (2) Take a hatchet to defense spending and do away with all the military spending which we are not using, have not used, and will not use. Trillions go to that budget. Surely they can cut it in half. These things alone, would give the U.S. plenty money to begin to build a 21st century economy. It is well known by the “powers that be” that Saudi Arabia is running out of oil, that there will be tremendous food shortages due to freaky weather patterns. We should be building alternative energy sources and addressing real climate changes. A high-speed rail system that could transport people faster than a car, would do much to address cutting back on oil consumption. We need smart men running our country; men and women who are forward thinking, ahead of the curve. Not people who offer a No and Cut solution to every single proposal offered to make this country better, faster, sounder.
    Military might does not make right, but as Egypt and Tunisia has shown the world the might of a peaceful power can make right! Where is the Wisdom Teachers and Leaders? Where is there light, their bravery and courage to speak up in the face of the fearmongers and do what is right for America. What the people really want anyway. Who do they fear? The Mighty Bank Merchants. Their days are numbered anyway! Why do we always have to save ourselves on the backs of the poor and working class, while the rich and powerful stay safe in their Ivory Towers.
    Oh America, you will surely reap what you sow and the High will be made low and the Low will be made High! All the other countries, China, Japan, Germany have outpaced us, out smarted us because they care about their people and do not try to get rich off the backs of the poor. Even China has helped her people, albeit they have not much freedom in policy making. And, Germany is in talks to buy Our stock market, how low can you go, and we have the GOP, Party of No to thank for all of this!
    _______________________________
    For a feel-good story: The Facebook Freedom Fighter
    Wael Ghonim

    Reply

  28. WigWag says:

    “The mystique of America’s superpower status has been shattered.”
    The myth is that America’s superpower status every conferred a mystique on the United States. A more accurate quote would be that the “idea of the unipolar world has been shattered.”
    It’s important to remember that America’s status as the world’s only superpower is an historical anomaly with few precedents in modern history. Between the end of World War II and the final decade of the 20th century there was no “mystique” and no one ever thought there was. The United States and its allies confronted an adversary and its allies that were just about as strong, influential and committed to its ideology as we were.
    Did the North Koreans buy into the American mystique? What about the Cubans or the Vietnamese?
    How about the revolutionaries who took over Iran or the terrorists who killed the American marines in Beirut; what did they think of the American mystique?
    Those on the left who think that the United States is squandering its mystique are as mistaken as those on the right who think the United States still has mystique or ever did.
    The United States was never powerful enough to rule the world by itself and it never will be. Even at the height of its power, the United States was critically dependant on allies who were frequently annoying, incompetent or only marginally committed; that’s just the way it is.
    The United States shouldn’t be worrying about its mystique. Instead it needs to take an inventory of its values and its interests and then forge a coalition of like minded nations that will help it pursue those values and interests in the international arena.
    The main problem is not that the United States has made bad decisions (although it has made some serious ones); the problem is that the allies that the United States has depended on for the past 50 years are in increasingly desperate straits. Population growth is plummeting in Western Europe and Japan; both Europe and Japan face debt problems and economic calamity even more serious than what the United States is confronting and Europe, if not Japan, is intellectually and morally spent.
    American ability to influence the world in the future will depend primarily on whether it is able to forge a new alliance with other nations that can replace the trilateral alliance that it has depended on since the end of World War II.
    If it does, the world will be organized at least somewhat in a way that America likes regardless of its “mystique.” If it can’t forge the appropriate alliances a loss of mystique will be the least of America’s problems.

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