Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 01, 2008

"If the only tool you have is a hammer ..."

"... you will see every problem as a nail."

The foreign policy persons Obama selected for his cabinet are hawks.

Clinton as Sec State, Gates at Defense, a General as national security advisor and an Admiral as director of national intelligence. (Is there any other democracy that puts so many (ex-)military people into political positions?).

Susan S. Rice at the U.N., the worst choice possible after John R. Bolton. She will argue to bomb this or that country whenever something complicate might happen there. Africom will get a lot of stuff to do.

Obama promised to increase the U.S. troop strength by some 90,000. 20,000 active military will be dedicated to homeland security within the U.S.  The hammer will get bigger and the urge to use it even stronger.

What country will he bomb first? We already know of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But where else does he want to kill? Somalia? Sudan? Kenia?

As for Change - why not use some nukes?

Posted by b on December 1, 2008 at 8:04 UTC | Permalink


The Cuckoo Clock Speech watch til the end...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 1 2008 8:20 utc | 1

Every president in my lifetime that ran as an "anti-war" candidate ended up being a monster. LBJ was the peace candidate and took us to Vietnam. Nixon "had a secrete plan" to get us out of Vietnam. Bush I was going to have a "kinder, gentler" foreign policy and invaded on two continents. Clinton bombed Europe, Africa, and the middle east. Bush II promised an end to "nation building".

Now Obama wins. Time will tell, but history says he will start wars.

So, what is a USA voter to do?

Posted by: Buckaroo | Dec 1 2008 10:41 utc | 2

What country will he bomb first? We already know of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But where else does he want to kill?

Oh c'mon b. "where else does he want to kill?" You make him sound like Idi Amin.

I've been watching as closely as anyone. Some of his top level appointments, particularly in Treasury... I'd like to see him abandon the WS banking crowd entirely.

But he's also announced strong 2nd tier appointments that I do like, true progressives. From little bit available... eg. policies currently extremely non-specific, it sure looks to me like his group is just the opposite of composite yes-men, rather wide ranging POVs there. Good step in the right direction.

And his team has been working around the clock... 24/7, and it's damn apparent they're going to hit the ground running. We haven't seen anything like this in any transition team since WWII.

How about giving the guy a little room to breath?

Posted by: jdmckay | Dec 1 2008 11:16 utc | 3

I have been writing to blogsites both liberal and conservative: give the man 100 days in office before condemnig or praising anything he does.

We all know that it seems like he's in office already, Bush is keeping as low a profile as possible while Obama is doing everyting to look like he is in charge already.

But he is not.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 1 2008 11:21 utc | 4

Plenty of time to criticize when he actually does something.


Posted by: beq | Dec 1 2008 12:37 utc | 5

Yup, so much for change. The establishment will continue to run the government as it always has before.

Posted by: whisker | Dec 1 2008 12:54 utc | 6

Speaking of tools, Doris had all the right ones. Big, big loss to the blogosphere.

Posted by: Hamburger | Dec 1 2008 13:55 utc | 7

politics is the art of the possible, remember?

Posted by: outsider | Dec 1 2008 14:08 utc | 8

politics is the art of the possible, remember?

No, politics is the art of telling someone to go to hell, and making it sound so good they can't wait to take the trip. In other words, the ability to sugar-coat the shit sandwich they want to shove down our throats.

While I hope Obama is better at thinking first rather than just reacting, I don't see at this point any reason to believe he will be more 'antiwar' than any other politician.

Posted by: Ensley | Dec 1 2008 15:12 utc | 9

You forget that Obama drives the policy to be enacted by his cabinet. None of the people you fear so much dictate policy. Please remain calm and in your set until touchdown.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 1 2008 17:43 utc | 10

Obama's Nuke Gaffe

those politicians, they'll say anything to get elected.

Posted by: annie | Dec 1 2008 18:02 utc | 11

As TMBG said, "If it wasn't for disappointments, I wouldn't have any appointments."

Most of these people wouldn't take the positions without a long term commitment from Obama. Since it is rare for American politicians to resign on principal, I doubt there will be much bending of wills or changing of opinion in cabinet policy debates.

I'm not surprised by his choices and I 'hope' that at least some things get done to improve the environment and people's lives, both domestically and internationally. I'll appreciate them when they happen.

Except through economic pressure, I don't expect to see a big surge of recruits wanting to fight in Obama's Armed Forces. If anything, fewer white rural kids will be signing up, especially to fight in Africa.

Posted by: biklett | Dec 1 2008 18:04 utc | 12

Boy, he sure has a war cabinet now, doesn't he?

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 1 2008 18:06 utc | 13

@jdmckay - Oh c'mon b. "where else does he want to kill?" You make him sound like Idi Amin.

Well - where is the difference if Obama sticks to the usual U.S. foreign policy?

Posted by: b | Dec 1 2008 19:31 utc | 14

On election day I argued that putting down the Obama victory was over the top and self defeating because it was in effect putting down the people who voted for Obama, people who would be needed if any real change could ever be effected in amerika.

At that stage Obama hadn't done fuck all either.
After he appointed Emanuel, I was prepared to believe he wanted the dem zionists in the tent pissing out, that it wasn't because Rahm was determined to stay close to the levers of the machine which had pulled off one of the most deceitful and deliberate perversions of humanity's good intentions witnessed thus far.

But then came gates, geither, general jones, susan rice, and the final kick in the guts uber neo-zi clinton as secretary of state.

They're all in the tent pissing out alright. Pissing out on any hope of a reduction in amerikan violence and bullying about the world. More importantly it has become apparent that Obama owes a lot of powerful people a lot of favours.
These appointments reek of quid pro quo being settled. How much more? the bloke has fuck all left to trade with.

Just where is the left of centre input gonna come from? The office of the vice prez? Ole Joe Biden re-invigorated as a friend of the masses, shorn of his close relationships with corporate amerika? yeah right.

Think about this. If this is Obama's cabinet, what would he put up to the Supremes? No. It doesn't bear thinking. I'm betting that in the interests of "national unity" he'll nominate some dusty old nazi ex fed prosecutor from the repugs. Ken Starr maybe. The rehabilitation of Starr being the down payment on "keeping impeachment at bay".

Be as self delusional as you want dem hacks but you do need to understand that as much as tearing down Obama on election night was a negative, sticking yer head in the sand as a war cabinet is being constructed will prove a disaster.

The peeps who voted for Obama want to hear they did the correct thing then, but they were betrayed - that means taking a risk and getting ahead of the national epiphany which is brewing. right now.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 1 2008 22:37 utc | 15

Wow Debs. Short honeymoon for Obama; he hasn't even taken the oath yet. All this doomsaying is premature. Give the man his Hundred Days. The Democrats don't want to betray the electorate because the national mood will sour real quick. If I heard Clinton correctly today she was recommending that the US back away from military solutions in favor of diplomatic efforts.

The public wants to see withdrawal from Iraq. A shutdown of Guantanamo. A return to international legal norms. A rational and responsible foreign policy. A reboot of the Constitution protections. And now that people are so alarmed about the recession, they expect someone to lead, who is capable of setting the economic house in order and adjusting our nation's priorities in a rational way.

I'm not going to balk at eating crow, nor will I become an apologist either, if this new administration starts doing contemptible things. But I'm sorry Debs, when you write, "I'm betting that in the interests of "national unity" he'll nominate some dusty old nazi ex fed prosecutor from the repugs. Ken Starr maybe. The rehabilitation of Starr being the down payment on "keeping impeachment at bay"", it just comes across as a wild exaggeration.

The republicans are in no position to do any barking in the House since they've received a pretty strong rebuke at the ballot box. Obama has huge political capital now; and a flurry of legislation, most of it initially dealing with the economic mess, is bound to sail through Congress, and will likely pass without a whimper from the republicans.

I get what the critics are saying: primarily in foreign policy (war policy) the Obama administration will be expected to just grease the wheels of the imperial project. And worst case scenario: invading new countries and killing new people. I might have to withdraw my support at some point (and I hope it won't come to that) but I think the cynical misjudgment of Obama is wrongly marking him as a wolf in sheep's clothing. But we will see.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 2 2008 2:53 utc | 16

I dunno Copeland, dude's determined to escalate the unwinnable Afghanistan clusterfuck, just for starters.

think that may involve "killing new people"?

he'll be a blood-soaked war criminal within hours of taking office.

Posted by: ran | Dec 2 2008 3:38 utc | 17

Yeahh we will see but it doesn't look pretty for the start...Unfortunately I am with Debs on this one:

They're all in the tent pissing out alright. Pissing out on any hope of a reduction in amerikan violence and bullying about the world. More importantly it has become apparent that Obama owes a lot of powerful people a lot of favours.

Posted by: vbo | Dec 2 2008 3:53 utc | 18

A little more detail on the domestic">">domestic end of that hammer, from the WaPo either today or yesterday (it's the 2nd where I'm at.)

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 2 2008 4:05 utc | 19

Huh... identical friggin' link as above. Disregard or delete comments 19 and 20 please, b.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 2 2008 4:08 utc | 20

These cabinet people have a history and it is fair game to criticize these appointments. And Debs is correct when he said that those who voted for Obama have already been betrayed. However, b asking “where else does Obama want to kill people?” is definitely over the top at this stage of the game.

Posted by: Rick | Dec 2 2008 4:11 utc | 21

that is a bit harsh Rick.

how about: in order to advance his political career, prove his hawkish bonafides and cater to his MIC/AIPAC paymasters, what third world country or countries will Obama reluctantly feel compelled to rain destruction on?

Posted by: ran | Dec 2 2008 4:54 utc | 22

Only a few weeks ago the US electorate was settling an account at the ballot box: whether the country could by any stretch of the imagination, vault over its historical taint of racism, and elect an African-American as President, a candidate who talked of change, yet strongly signaled his centrist leanings. Alternatively there was McCain/Palin and headlong flight to the final republican ediface and the lizard's eye of fascism.

Please signal in the affirmative that we chose wisely.

Now the unremarkable selection of Clinton and the others seems to provoke deep foreboding. This should be taken as an example of heightened sensitivity after 8 years of a totally criminal administration. Also post traumatic reaction to having cut off domestic fascist horror, with an ultimate republican transition, whose last act would surely have involved President Palin.

Let's not do the catastrophist dance, before we really have something to go on. And let's not conflate the wicked, wicked policies of the outgoing regime with the as yet unknown design of the newcomers.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 2 2008 4:56 utc | 23

Barack Obama says US 'will maintain strongest military on planet', as Clinton confirmed top diplomat - Telegraph

President-Elect Barack Obama has declared that the United States should maintain the "strongest military on the planet", while aiming to restore his country's global moral leadership.

Mr Obama promised greater use of diplomacy and greater emphasis on building alliances around the world as he formally introduced his national security team, which included Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

But the former Illinois senator, whose rise was built on his opposition to the Iraq war, delivered a message of surprising toughness that at times could have come from George W Bush.

Mr Obama said: "To ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad, we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet."

With the responsibilities of office just seven weeks away, he added that his administration was "absolutely committed to eliminating the threat of terrorism"

Posted by: Fran | Dec 2 2008 6:13 utc | 24

i think debs showed considerable restraint post-election. i was one of those assholes who let the flash of amazement flare out quickly, fuck the honeymoon.

from that vantage point nothing thus far is surprising, yet vindication is not pleasant. maybe i need a little pep talk from waldo, though copeland, you come close with that patient hope; that you will one day taste the carrot leading you toward the cliff.

i'm doubtful much can be done in terms of progressives getting their shit together before the Pak/Indie flare up meshes seamlessly with Obomb's promise to escalate, and thus repeat, the mistake russia made thirty years ago.

Posted by: Lizard | Dec 2 2008 7:20 utc | 25

Jeff Huber on the Great White Junta

What do they call it again, when a country is run by its military?

Great White Junta

Obama won't be the first U.S. president to have his initiative to end a war opposed by an intransigent military establishment.
The most persistent symptom of insanity in the New American Century has been military leadership's relentless pursuit of military solutions when it knows good and well that none exist.
More than 40 years later, the military industrial complex has expanded into an all engulfing confluence of Big War, Big Business, Big Message, Big Energy, Big Jesus, Big Money and Big Brother. Political careers and regional economies are wholly dependent on war, the costliest and least productive sector of the U.S. and world economies.
Obama says the "vision for change" comes from him. Given the makeup of his national security team, though, I fear there's a good chance he'll be gazing through a distorted lens, and it's a dead certainty that a fistful of neocons are meeting in the basement of some think tank these days cooking up 10,000 ways to pull the wool over the colored guy with the Arab name.

Posted by: b | Dec 2 2008 8:16 utc | 26

Mr Obama said: "To ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad, we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet."

I think we really have something to go on.

Posted by: DM | Dec 2 2008 11:15 utc | 27

Yep DM - that sentence hit me in the face too.

What about prosperity abroad and peace at home?

Is it the task of the military to bring prosperity? To whom?

Posted by: b | Dec 2 2008 11:29 utc | 28


Yeah, sounds about right. And what DM said. With the large U.S. debt, one would think that from that standpoint alone, the foreign bases should be abandoned, including our military aid to foreign nations. Perhaps an argument could be made for an exception for some coumtry, but I don't know of any. If we are at war with some nation, even as an ally to a nation under attack, then this war should be declared by Congress. Am I too simplistic here?

Posted by: Rick | Dec 2 2008 13:42 utc | 29

Well - where is the difference if Obama sticks to the usual U.S. foreign policy?

What's usual U.S. foreign policy? Seriously... Bush's? Clinton's? Or you make no distinction between the 2?

Obama has done nothing yet. But as I mentioned previously & I'm sure you are aware, his team's preparation to hit the ground running is noteworthy. That his policies have been held close to the vest has troubled me. But then, after 8 yrs. of Bushco I've developed a tendency towards skepticism of everything, and for good reason.

My ideal for economic turnaround... I don't know, there's not much to go on. But beyond the Goldman Sachs crowd, he has appointed some progressives to his econ team who I am familiar with and who I respect. Beyond that, Roubini has been effusive describing the high esteem he holds for BO's econ team, and Roubini knows a bit more than I. I've seen similar praise from econ folks I've come to respect, across the board. This, among other things, has given me pause to check my skepticism and give them a chance.

That said, the reason I frequent MofA for some years now is precision, verifiability & relevance of topics you've chosen to address and spotlight. Many many times you've dug up stuff that likely would have gotten past me. The details on alleged Iranian supplied explosives for example. Details on misrepresentation of Georgia event (eg: "The Bear is awakening") another one. Misrepresentation in western media of Iran IEAA inspsections, etc etc.... whole lot more.

I appreciate and acknowledge your effort, time, & contributions. It's made a difference. This stuff matters to me: helps paint a picture of reality.

In my own mind, I would charactarize your efforts as making distinctions: peeling back the covers, looking more closely, giving good evidence that what's being promoted is a lie. Since BushCo's crime spree began, my reading/referances/media/blogs etc. have constantly been refined to focus on what I have described as my perception of your style and substance... there's only so many hours in a day, and I try not to waste time reading "Judy Miller" type fluff stuff.

So that said, your comment I responded to makes no distinctions of any kind that I can see. You impute upon BO a motive/desire ( "where else does he want to kill") not only not in evidence, but evil. Rather than make distinctions between he & Bush, you conflate them. And it's this tendency of right wing propaganda media which has raised my ire and, AFAIC, contributed so widely to the intellectual poverty which is more responsable than anything else (IMO) for allowing Bush's crime spree to run it's course.

I've seen nothing... nothing, to suggest BO's contemplated "(who) he want to kill?", & read that comment as damn intellectually sloppy. It in no way indicates anything he has, in reality, done to this point. And in fact, there's plenty of indicators that his foriegn policy is going to be a whole lot different from what we've seen not just under Bushco, but Bill Clinton as well.

But most assuredly, what he's going to do is unknown... we'll have to wait and see. Personally, I've accepted that. And I've accepted very good reasons why he's playing it that way, although it's not what I'd like to see.

So anyway, I'm sure not trying to piss you off... I just object for reasons stated.

Lastly, it's real easy... really easy, to get washed up in a backwash of group think motivated by retaliation against damage Bushco has wrought. I really, really understand that. But given severity of what BO has to deal with... from econ to foreign policy addressing so much that's coming apart at the seams, I can see wisdom in staying out of the factitious recrimination crowd in order to focus solely on what the hell he's going to do about any of this stuff.

On so many levels, it's mindboggling.

He's going to have to show me evidence of what you accuse him of before I buy into any of that stuff. There's just too much at stake here.

MofA is your place, and obviously you can do what you want. Personally I hope you continue what you've done in the past. But this stuff, and Deb's rants on "exceptionalsim" (crap... ) loses my attention fast. I've been around the block a few times... more than enough to know a critic w/out solutions when I see one. Being the critic, that's the easy part.

Show me really enlightened ideas... stuff that rises above the crowd and speaks to needs in eye opening ways, that's what I'm interested in. I already know what's wrong.

Posted by: jdmckay | Dec 2 2008 16:27 utc | 30

@jdmckay - ok - my post was provocative. And it was supposed to be so.

I am quite disgusted by the folks Obama has selected. Not one light in that foreign policy configuration.

There is a long history of bloody U.S. military intervention in the world and any hope for a change of that is lost when one sees the people Obama has put into position.

Susan Rice will love to clobber Sudan over Darfur, just like Bill Clinton did when he blew up their pharmaceutical factory that produced 40% of their medicines. How many people were killed by lack of those?

There is of course really distinction between Clinton and Bush and Obama in some issues.

But U.S. war mongering seems not be one of them. Just ask the people who were bombed by Clinton, by Bush and in future by Obama.

How many were killed in Clinton's Yugoslavia project, on Haiti, the Iraq bombing in 1998 ... Clinton certainly killed a lot of people.

As for Obama's team:

How could he even think of keeping Gates, a republican apparatchik form a to z. Hillary and Rice are interventionist liberals. Well known hawks, only the reason they marketing wars with distinguishes them from the rightwing hawk. There is oil under the sands of Darfur ...

Hillery voted for Iraq and all. Biden wants to split Iraq in partes tres. Obama wants more troops in Afghanistan - what for?

"To ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad, we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet."

Uggh - I could throw up over that.

Economically a military is the most unproductive investment one can think of. How will that help prosperity other than by stealing from others?

I thank for the long reply and the praise I get in it. You might not see 'exceptionalism' and the wars resulting from it as big as problem as I do. I believe war is the worst humans can experience. In Obama's team selection I see the willingness to use war as a tool to win this or that advantage for the U.S. - something that should be out of bounce for any decent wo/man.

Maybe he will show restrain? We'll see. I am not optimistic at all about that.

Posted by: b | Dec 2 2008 17:47 utc | 31

I think I'll be rude.

Posted by: beq | Dec 2 2008 18:01 utc | 32

i don't think the only tool he has is a hammer. his main tool is his mind. the perception of how he is perceived goes along way towards getting his goals accepted. sure he will get flack from the left, but naturally his main adversaries will likely come from the right. he may have chosen these people for their usefulness in terms of the acceptability factor by his critics. last night when i saw him on the news he said more than once they would be task to carry out his plan. w/gates for example, aren't people less likely to criticize his deployment strategies if they are implemented by one of their heroes?

i'm not ready to throw in the towel on his presidency. within 6 months, if i have seen no progress or a serious attempts towards progress wrt IS/PAL i will be massively pissed.

Posted by: annie | Dec 2 2008 18:15 utc | 33

hi beq, fancy meeting you here. we must have been cross posting.


Posted by: annie | Dec 2 2008 18:17 utc | 34

I seem to be not the only one with my opinion. Not One Anti-War Voice - Obama's Kettle of Hawks


On Iraq, the issue that the Obama campaign described as "the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation", Biden and Clinton not only supported the invasion, but pushed the Bush administration's propaganda and lies about Iraqi WMDs and fictitious connections to al-Qaida. Clinton and Obama's hawkish, pro-Israel chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, still refuse to renounce their votes in favour of the war. Rice, who claims she opposed the Iraq war, didn't hold elected office and was not confronted with voting for or against it. But she did publicly promote the myth of Iraq's possession of WMDs, saying in the lead up to the war that the "major threat" must "be dealt with forcefully". Rice has also been hawkish on Darfur, calling for "strik[ing] Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets". ... There is not a single, solid anti-war voice in the upper echelons of the Obama foreign policy apparatus. And this is the point: Obama is not going to fundamentally change US foreign policy. He is a status quo Democrat. And that is why the mono-partisan Washington insiders are gushing over Obama's new team. At the same time, it is also disingenuous to act as though Obama is engaging in some epic betrayal. Of course these appointments contradict his campaign rhetoric of change.

Posted by: b | Dec 2 2008 18:17 utc | 35

As an aside to the main thought here, let me add that I have no problem with provocative posts. Sometimes such a technique is helpful to get people thinking –out loud - and let the fur fly! Probably many of us have done the same thing. (I have purposely stirred the pot a few times myself.) In this case, b’s comments brought forth an excellent post by jdmckay and again, an equally excellent response by b. Both posts were civil and enlightening and I thank both persons.

Posted by: Rick | Dec 2 2008 23:14 utc | 36

Gates softens opposition to 16-month Iraq timetable

Posted by: annie | Dec 3 2008 1:40 utc | 37

I'm still in the "hundred days" camp. A lot of the Afghanistan and other warmongering is - I am guessing and hoping - 90% bluster by a politician on the campaign trail. Not very admirable, granted, but not exactly surprising either.

The domestic economic situation in the USA is more damaged than the public at large has grasped yet. I can't tell if the campaign/transition wizards grasp it or not. And there are many insults to culture and nature that are vastly deeper in our fabric now than in the last "great depression" 70 years ago.

These realities may (I'm hoping) prevent any new warmaking - we don't have the strength in personnel and "boots on the ground", reductions are in the works because we can't afford all the toys on order, we're edging closer to ecological collapse, and we're heavily in debt to a lot of actors that have allegiances or interests in our "enemies" out there.

I'm waiting to see if our President-elect and his chosen aides can rise to the extremely bleak set of challenges awaiting them and all of us, all past proclamtions, declarations, speeches votes, and campaign contributions notwithstanding.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Dec 3 2008 1:46 utc | 38

he speaks:

Obama described South Asia as the area of greatest concern. “The situation in Afghanistan has been worsening. The situation in South Asia as a whole and the safe havens for terrorists that have been established there, represent the single most important threat against the American people.”

can he really believe this is the "most important" threat the American people face? that would make him a moron. or does he know better, which would make him a liar? Obama: moron or liar? discuss.

Posted by: ran | Dec 3 2008 3:52 utc | 39

politicians are professional liars. it's a requirement. not a great idea to give one much benefit of the doubt. nor too much slack.

as b says, AFRICOM will get a lot to do in this new admin. joe biden wants to put u.s. troops in darfur. susan rice doesn't want to leave sudan to africa to solve. (expect a strong push for a no-fly zone there.) obama's nominee for nat'l security advisor, general jones, while commander of EUCOM, informed the senate armed services committee (in 2005) of his stance

We must craft a policy that recognizes the growing strategic importance of Africa and its potential to become the next front in the Global War on Terrorism. African security issues will continue to directly affect our homeland security. It appears that we have a small window of opportunity to make relatively modest near-term investments to avoid massive problems requiring U.S. intervention in the future that could prove costly.

Posted by: b real | Dec 3 2008 5:01 utc | 40

Obama: moron or liar? discuss.

I'll take liar for 800 please, Alex ran.

Rachel Maddow: Why won't Obama prosecute war crimes, torture?

Maddow: Why wont Obama pursue war crimes, torture?
By David Edwards
President-elect Barack Obama has been doing a lot of compromising lately, and it seems that his ideas are the ones falling by the wayside. Is he giving too much away to Republicans? Rachel Maddow is joined by senior editor Dahlia Lithwick.

This video is from MSNBCs The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Nov. 24, 2008.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 3 2008 7:23 utc | 41

Maybe I'm reading way too much into the Samantha Powers 'thing', but...

How much does his (re-)including of Samantha Powers matter? Is she a token gesture to reassure progressives, or is Clinton (et al) such a gesture to reassure DLC types? (If Clinton is the token gesture, why does she get the corner office? Then again, Clinton wouldn't take a 2nd tier position behind Powers while it makes sense to have Powers do so behind Clinton.) Standing with Obama at his press conference is for public consumption. What matters is, who stands behind the throne and whispers in his ear?

Admittedly, from what little I've heard about her, Powers' role is very 'behind the scenes'--no high level title for her that I'm aware of. So it is optimistic to be reassured by her presence, but that said, 'behind the scenes' is where people listen to each other's whispers.

Too, that she was with Obama early in his campaign is reassuring.

Bottom line, though: Obama is president-elect more for who he isn't, than for who he is:

1) he isn't Republican

2) he isn't gaff-prone--he had a very savvy, strategically and organizationally-sound campaign, which means being all things to all people, to a certain extent, so NOT being against specific interests

3) he hasn't (yet) done the wrong things, and could
believably say things that more Americans were willing and
eager to vote for,

That's more a lack of negatives than a list of positive/clear/strong indications of his outlook.

From his manner and willingness to speak out clearly on certain issues, Obama has a great deal of potential--and that in itself is like water in the desert after the last 8 years--but discounting statements made in the course of the campaign (which seem, generally, about as reliable as a would-be lover's promises) he's a bit of an enigma.

So let's agree: meet here on April 19--appropriate, perhaps, as, in some places, that's a holiday celebrating the beginning of a revolution.

ALSO though--seems like we're getting genocide stories (CNN giving an extended [in-depth?] spotlight to such on Thursday Dec. 4 at 9:00pm--yes there's the 1948 anniversary as a basis, but when has that ever mattered before?) and women-as-victims-of-Muslim-extremists (acid splash story).

Are these being used to justify military intervention to progressives/liberals?

The little I know about Powers comes from her TED speech. In that, her 'thing' was genocide/human rights. I'm thinking we are going to send troops to places like Darfur and Zimbabwe (okay, maybe someone else's troops for the latter--it's not traditionally a U.S. stomping ground, but still). Seems like that's where Powers and Clinton would converge.

[disclaimer: the above statements and opinions are based more on a lack of evidence than the presence of such. Any resemblance to future events is purely conicidental.]

Posted by: Schneb | Dec 3 2008 16:18 utc | 42

schneb - The little I know about Powers comes from her TED speech. In that, her 'thing' was genocide/human rights.

may i recommend edward herman's Richard Holbrooke, Samantha Power, and the “Worthy-Genocide” Establishment for starters then?

Posted by: b real | Dec 3 2008 17:12 utc | 43

It strikes me as possibly delusional that O will "keep his enemies" close so that he can cleverly outmaneuver their ambitions by cleverly conferring failures to those enemies, and hence justify a bold move to the left.

Is there any example of world-historic hoodwinkery in American politics? FDR? Hoover? Lincoln?

We knew he would not change foreign policy except bring to it a glow of "respectability."

Truthfully, though, his appointment of the Rubinnites+Volker finance capitalist class warriors is a real fuck you to "progressives," regardless which behind the scenes token progressive is left to "whisper in his ear."

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 3 2008 17:14 utc | 44

sudan tribune: Obama appoints hardliner on Sudan to UN ambassador post

Obama said that Rice shares “my belief that the UN is an indispensable—and imperfect—forum.”

Other senior members of the incoming administration were also outspoken critics of Sudan, including Vice President-elect Joe Biden, the Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton and the Commerce Secretary nominee Bill Richardson. But unlike these figures, Rice was not a political rival during the Democratic primary and she advised Obama in recent years while he held a position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

During the campaign she stated, “Six years of killing and maiming and the Sudanese government still is not facing any meaningful pressure from the United States or the international community. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that tougher sanctions combined with real assistance to help the UN-African Union peacekeeping force stand up and protect civilians is long overdue.”

But in earlier statements Rice had made clear that she believed the U.S. should take an even more exceptional role in the Sudan.

Writing in the Washington Post in 2006, she suggested that the U.S. Air Force and Navy undertake a bombing campaign and coastal blockade. The article was co-authored by Anthony Lake, another adviser to Obama, and Congressman Donald Payne.


Activist groups issued a statement Tuesday applauding Rice’s nomination, as well as those of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Retired Marine Corps General James Jones for National Security Advisor. Three key activist leaders stated, “millions of Americans will expect them to exert the energy and resources necessary to ensure that a lasting peace is forged, a credible protection force is established, and perpetrators are brought to justice.”

those activist groups:

‘Obama picks strong team to lead peace initiative to end Darfur genocide.’

WASHINGTON – The Enough Project of the Center for American Progress, the Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network today applauded President-elect Obama’s selection of a foreign policy team with a strong Sudan record and called on the nominees to make ending the Darfur genocide a top and immediate priority.

In a joint statement, Enough Project executive director John Norris, Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler and Genocide Intervention Network executive director Mark Hanis urged the new foreign policy team to highlight Sudan as a critical priority during upcoming confirmation hearings and immediately develop plans for a “peace surge” to finally end the conflict instead of simply managing it.

The statement read: “There is a window of opportunity for the United States to lead in Sudan, and this must be a high priority on day one for President-elect Obama and his foreign policy team. With an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president for genocide and crimes against humanity increasingly likely, the new administration has a rare moment to work with our allies and lead a concerted diplomatic push that will end Sudan’s long tragedy.

“Senator Hillary Clinton and Dr. Susan Rice have been outspoken advocates for more forceful action to resolve the crisis. In addition, General James Jones led NATO efforts to assist international peacekeepers in Darfur. As the nominees are confirmed and take office, millions of Americans will expect them to exert the energy and resources necessary to ensure that a lasting peace is forged, a credible protection force is established, and perpetrators are brought to justice.”

i've posted other stuff on this coordinated push by these three groups on the next admin earlier - for instance, here

Posted by: b real | Dec 5 2008 6:03 utc | 45

Policy group on genocide urges changes to U.S. agencies

December 8, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – Three U.S. institutions issued a policy plan for developing standing mechanisms in government agencies for preventing and addressing genocide worldwide.


Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen headed the task force responsible for the 174-page document released on Monday. Other task force members included John Danforth, a former U.S. envoy to Sudan, and Jack Kemp, a former Republican Party presidential and vice-presidential candidate.

Under Danforth’s leadership the current administration helped to broker a 2005 north-south peace deal in the Sudan, but another war had already begun in 2003 in the remote western region of Darfur.

The task force was jointly convened by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy and the United States Institute of Peace, beginning in November 2007.

Its ranks were joined by several members of President-elect Obama’s national security transition team. For instance, the sub-group on "employing military options" included Sarah Sewall, who is a Harvard colleague of Samantha Power, another Obama advisor and Darfur activist.

The report recommends that the president create an interagency Atrocities Prevention Committee at the National Security Council. Special alert channels in the intelligence agencies and State Department would thus send information directly to the National Security Council.


"We are keenly aware that the incoming president’s agenda will be massive and daunting from day one," wrote Albright and Cohen. "But preventing genocide and mass atrocities is not an idealistic add-on to our core foreign policy agenda. It is a moral and strategic imperative."


If the United States were to intervene in a foreign conflict, said the task force, then UN Security Council Resolutions offer "unparalleled legitimacy in the eyes of world governments." But the team also pointed to policy options that could bypass the Security Council, such as strengthening regional organizations like the African Union or NATO.

Failing at that, the State Department could assemble a "coalition of like-minded actors" willing to intervene, according to the doctrine espoused in the report.


"There is a choice for U.S. policymakers between doing nothing and large-scale military intervention," explained Cohen. "We hope this report will help us utilize those options."

For the final stage of escalation, the groups explicitly call for preparations for offensive interventions. If adopted, these would be streamlined into military procedures. For instance, the military would be tasked with planning, war-gaming different scenarios, and undertaking training in providing safe havens and humanitarian aid, military-civilian cooperation, civil security and traditional war-fighting.

The report adds, "These initiatives should extend and expand ongoing efforts in related areas, such as joint peacekeeping exercises conducted at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk."

"Generally the task force recognized that this isn’t just defensive, that there may be times when the use of more offensive force is required to end the actions of belligerents or to protect civilians," said Holt, also stressing that the report is general and not written with one specific country in mind.

The Task Force was funded by Humanity United and other private organizations.

Posted by: b real | Dec 10 2008 5:30 utc | 46

inner city press: At UN, Ms. Albright Talks Genocide While Dodging on Rwanda Votes of 1994

UNITED NATIONS, December 9 -- The U.S. is said to be a forgiving country, a land of re-invention of self. How else to explain Madeleine Albright, who in 1994 while serving on the Security Council pushed to remove UN peacekeepers from Rwanda during the genocide, showing up Tuesday at the UN along with William Cohen as experts to advise Barack Obama on the prevention of genocide?

Certainly, a person who has erred is in a good position to help successors avoid the same mistake. But Ms. Albright's introductory remarks to the Press did not mention the word Rwanda. So Inner City Press asked her, as the U.S. Permanent Representative during the Rwanda genocide, what lesson she has taken from it, and from the Council's dealings with the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Video here, from Minute 10:44.

Ms. Albright could only say that people had been distracted by Bosnia and Haiti and, she said, Somalia "where the Black Hawk helicopter had been shot down." We were doing things, she said. But she did not address the connection, that following the deaths of American service people in Somalia, President Bill Clinton decided that not only no Americans, but no other peacekeepers should take action in Rwanda.


News analysis: rather than "never again," this is a recipe for "again and again."

Posted by: b real | Dec 10 2008 5:35 utc | 47

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