Sunday, January 30, 2011

When Presidents Get Idealistic in the Middle East

Hillary Clinton was right, when during the primaries she featured the ad that about an emergency call in the middle of the night and asked if the guy answering would have the experience to make the right decisions. When a candidate runs for office they most often compare themselves to the sitting President and say one of two things, I’m going to be my own man but not make major changes or they say, this guy is taking us down the wrong path and I’ll change things, yet these initiatives rarely if ever are what a President is remembered for and it’s even rarer that a candidate has been able to avoid the early morning call or even guess what that call might be about. Sure they all say I’ll do this differently with this regime (insert any current or ongoing pain in the butt country here). If we are talking to them the candidate says I’m going to get tough on them and if we’re being tough on them and not talking or continuing to seek more sanctions the candidate says we need to use dialogue to achieve our foreign policies goals.

George W. Bush’s speeches during his primary run and then as the nominee show us a man very focused on domestic issues. When it comes to foreign policy some of his initiatives were to be ending the idea of nation building and getting out of Bosnia and Kosovo...why because President Clinton had US forces there long after combat operations ended and the US military wasn’t built for nation building. He also proposed a review of the US force levels in South Korea suggesting that we could cut more than half of the 50,000 troops and instead station troops in less expensive Japan and reinforce if necessary but really he wanted to turn over the task of protecting South Korea to South Korea, he also proposed cutting the European command to less than 100,000 troops centred on fewer bases and if possible down to less than 50,000 troops in all of Europe by the end of his first term. The savings would be used to replace the military’s heavy equipment designed for the cold war and to pay the troops more. All good stuff and none of it happened because on a bright fall day a group never once mentioned by either candidate (even though the very group attacked US targets 5 times during the 2 Clinton terms) during the 2000 election attacked the US. Bush’s Presidency changed in a heartbeat as his fathers had when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

President Carter didn’t like autocratic leaders who wouldn’t help their citizens, he demanded better of the government he told its leader that without reform the US could not and should not support him and then President Carter cut off aid to that country. Roughly a year later an unknown Mullah came to power and ordered his followers to take over the US Embassy. After decades of friendship Iran became the enemy of the United States and still is.

President Obama needs to look hard at Middle Eastern history and that of Africa. While we’d like to believe that when young people take to the streets asking for more freedom, what comes of it most often is more repression and more chaos. I would truly wonder what a young Pakistani would say about his country today. Is he happier under President Asif Ali Zardari than he was under General Pervez Musharraf? If President Bush had resisted the urge to tie aid to reform and forced General Musharraf to agree to step down as the head of the military and then pressured him to leave office would Benazir Bhutto still be alive, would the Taliban not have been increasing ignored while Musharraf ensured he wasn’t going to be overthrown in coup and let the Generals off the hook in going after the hard core AQ and Taliban elements living in his country in exchange for their support?

Today we see Cairo in flames and we’re shocked, we see young people in the thousands risking and losing their lives to say we want more freedom and that the government have allowed the police to go too far. They are increasingly corrupt and brutal in the way they ensure bribes are paid. In fact what is really going on is a reaction to the corruption reaching a tipping point. The police and local government officials have gone too far in their demands for bribes and as in Alexandra, the main police station was the primary target for those who complained of beatings when bribes weren’t or couldn’t be paid by business people and average citizens but and it’s a huge but, what is truly waiting to replace Hosni Mubarak, is it the Nobel Peace winner or is it the official opposition party, the Muslim brotherhood? President Bush learned a harsh lesson when he called for fair and free elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip thinking the Palestinians would support the moderate candidates that wanted peace with Israel, he bet on freedom and what he got was Hamas and more rockets being fired at Israel and elected opposition Fatah members running for their lives back to the West Bank. It’s hard to walk back from we trust the people unless the people vote for a terrorist organization. You really have a hard time with your freedom agenda if the people freely chose a terrorist organization.

President Obama in 2009 called for more freedom in Egypt and today we’re seeing the people step up and demand it. In 2005 President Bush made the same call and Egyptians responded by electing the largest number of Muslim Brother Candidates ever. President Mubarak learned from that election and rigged the next one to ensure he got 88% of the vote and that the Brotherhood only elected a handful of candidates.
While I believe that the peoples of the Middle East can prosper in a democracy it is certainly not going to be in a Western style democracy so we need to work behind the scenes to help improve people’s lot in life, not in public, for out of protest the most frequent result in Africa and the Middle East is chaos followed by brutal repressive regimes that make the past injustices look mild not to mention these regimes are often thrilled to thumb their nose at the US and Israel thus destabilizing the region.

Should President Obama make the wrong choices in the next 96 hrs and even hint publically or to the wrong people privately that he’s considering suspending aid we’ll see protests like never before and violence beyond anything to date and the result will not be a more peaceful and stable Egypt that remains indifferent to Israel but a country ripe for Al Qaeda and it’s cousin the Muslim Brotherhood and then folks we’ll really see what happens when a US President gets idealistic in the Middle East.

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Monday, January 03, 2011

Sarah and CNN

So what’s up with the CNN political ticker headlines? At first I thought it must have just been me but after I really started paying attention I’d realised that over the past month Sarah Palin has been the headliner for all but about 4 days and every single one of the headlines on the main webpage have a negative connotation even if the story itself doesn’t. A good example was a few days back when the headline was “Palin abandoned by close supporter”. The actual story was about a Palin aid who has taken a chief of staff job with a new member of congress that Palin had supported. While some editor could work this into being abandoned it hardly seems so to the layperson reading the full story.

Why is it that CNN has declared war on Sarah Palin and is doing everything day after day to show her in a bad light? Did they do a poll and discover that Palin has high negatives with their on-line viewership or is it just me over analysing CNN’s intent? Their attempt to poison the well for her ahead of a potential Presidential run is becoming the norm for the MSM which is a pitiful.

It really makes one wonder why Sarah Palin has been the target of the vast majority of the MSM since appearing on the national scene during the 2008 election. It would seem that the more Middle America grew to like the plainspoken hockey mom the more the MSM had kittens and threw their Teddies but it begs the question why?

For what it’s worth I think it was the post-Hillary loss backlash that caused the MSM to have a hate-on for Sarah. While the MSM was in the tank for President Obama during the general election I think they were split down the middle during the Democratic primary with many pulling for Hillary too.

I was brought up in what could best be described as a blue dog house, by very strong women who believed in their own brand of feminism. They taught me that equal work demands equal pay and that nobody should be barred from doing something based on anything other than the ability to do that something. They also taught me that while women were well behind in many areas they didn’t want special treatment or access they wanted to compete and show the world that they were equal and often better when not hindered. I have a wife and two daughters and lord help the person that attempts to tell them or me that they are banned from being anything they want to be, but lord help my daughters if they think for a second that I think they should get anything without being qualified for it and working hard to achieve their dreams. Gender is not a benefit or a barrier but it would appear the US MSM have a different vision of what kind of women they should portray positively.

I don’t hunt, fish or camp, I really don’t believe that everybody should be running around with guns, I’m not at all religious to the point of not being sure that I believe in a god, I do try to be honest, moral and ethical and have failed in each category at times in my life, I do believe in a strong justice system, a strong foreign policy that doesn’t excuse countries who support terrorism or allow quasi dictators to slaughter their own citizens and I believe in having as small a government as we can have with as limited a tax base as we need, which means I support Sarah Palin in some respects and in others not so much, but why has the MSM and in this case CNN decided she’s not the right woman and must be undermined at every turn?

Well I think she’s not the right woman because they expected the first woman President would be the Democratic Party kind not the Republican kind. The kind that wants to ban guns to protect children, have a government funded national health care system to take care of everybody for free, a woman who brings her perspective to the argument of sharing the wealth and breaking down the old boys club that has destroyed the dream that was the free market.

While I’m all for accountability on Wall street regardless of whether or not it’s men or women in charge and I’m all for making sure everybody has a reasonable level of health care, I can’t for the life of me understand why people want to punish success. The whole tax the rich more is a great headline but I’ve yet to meet the poor person who ever created a job. Taxing the rich means the rich spending more on accountants to seek additional tax shelters and ignores the fact that the rich pay more than 75% of all the taxes paid already, while the poor pay almost none and almost all that they do pay in mandatory deductions is returned to them by Uncle Sam.

If women believe in equality, true equality, they need to stand up and say that while they might not agree with Sarah Palin she must be treated with respect and with dignity or their cause will be fractured and eventually lost. There will never be a female US President as long as men and women allow the MSM to pre-emptively destroy Sarah Palin because she doesn’t represent their ideal of what a woman candidate should. Let her win or lose on merit and trust in the American people to make the best choice in November 2012.