Friday, August 03, 2007

Samantha Power on Obama on Pakistan


An excerpt:

"Vision: American foreign policy is broken. It has been broken by people who supported the Iraq War, opposed talking to our adversaries, failed to finish the job with al Qaeda, and alienated the world with our belligerence. Yet conventional wisdom holds that people whose experience includes taking these positions are held up as examples of what America needs in times of trouble.

Barack Obama says we have to turn the page. We cannot afford any more of this kind of bankrupt conventional wisdom. He has laid out a foreign policy that is bold, clear, principled, and tailored for the 21st century. End a war we should never have fought, concentrate our resources against terrorists who threaten America. End the counter-productive policy of lumping together our adversaries and avoiding talking to our foes. End the era of politics that is all sound-bites and no substance, and offer the American people the change that they need.

Barack Obama’s judgment is right. It is conventional wisdom that has to change."


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I detect no argument being advanced here, only a pronouncement of the goodness and rightness of Obama's position. It sure sounds nice---"new" thinking is always better than the old.

That Samantha Power worked as a foreign policy advisor for Barack Obama in 2005-06 presents some epistemological complications for her assertions here, or should.

But I'll leave it to Team Clinton44 to field this one, and I trust they will. It's they who stand to benefit the most.

Me, I hope Obama's the Democrat nominee. Send a check today.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Maybe check your reading comprehension skills, then.

A rough reconstruction of the argument:

1. Bush's strategy has been an abject failure.

2. Obama's strategy represents the most reasonable and obvious alternative to Bush's strategy.


3. Obama's is worth a shot.

I guess I just don't see how it's tough to understand "Not talking hasn't worked; talking is the most reasonable course of action, anyway. So let's talk to 'em" is hard to understand.

But maybe that's just me.

I, too, hope that Obama's the candidate. Happy to have your support, Tom.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

My comprehension's fine, thank you, WS. I assure you that I read you more carefully than you reciprocate. There is nothing being advanced here except x sucks, therefore y is worth a try.

Eh. "Anything's better than this" is not the strongest method of argument, and shows a lack of imagination.

Ms. Power's story is interesting. According to Sy Hirsh (who always writes the truth), Obama came to her as a babe-in-the-woods about foreign policy circa 1995. She became an advisor, and judging by her articles here and there, what Obama's pushing is pretty much her philosophy.

So we have Samantha Power concluding how wonderful her own thoughts are. OK. Not the strongest method of argument either, but everybody's got a right.

As for "obviously," there's that word again, itself not the best method of argument.

None of this is to say Obama and Power are wrong, mind you, but something stronger will be required to pull the necessary votes from Camp Hillary.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Jeez, I must really be getting cranky, but it seems to me like you just repeat the same misreading again in your second comment.

Am I missing something?

Also: isn't this Power piece just a sort of short, rhetorical response to a debating point? Shouldn't one look elsewhere for a more well-worked out version of the ideas?

4:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I did, and reported back. I spent more time on your post than you did. Why the abuse?

10:30 PM  
Blogger Joe the Blogger said...

I don't know if you read the full memo that S. Power put out, Tom...did you? To my mind, that is the only possible reason why you didn't find an argument. If you did read it....Well, I don't know what to say to you. Ok, I will do it. I hate to have to do this b/c it's somewhat tedious and I don't know if you'll even read this. But, what the hell, I'm bored:

She backs up her support of Obama's foreign policy by noting (1) Bush's strategy in the War on Terror (WOT) has not diminished the threat al Qaeda poses, and she references the recent National Intelligence Estimate; (2) Bush's policy of not talking to Iran, N. Korea, and Syria have not made things better--things have gotten worse on all three fronts. N. Korea has improved somewhat b/c of current diplomacy, but that has come very late; (3) Bush has been very gentle with Musharraf, and Power argues that this has only allowed bin Laden to regroup to the level he was at prior to 9/11...thus, a more aggressive policy vis-a-vis NW Pakistan is required unless we are content to let bin Laden continue having a sanctuary; (4) Obama thinks it is important to state clearly that using nukes is unacceptable as a tactic for destroying terrorist camps b/c of the effect it will have on the civilian population and the harm it will do to America's image in the Muslim world

...What part of this isn't an argument? You can disagree with (1)-(4), but you have to explain why these points simply amoun to: Obama...good!

As for S. Power being an Obama advisor....How does that diminish the logic of her argument or the evidence she adduces (eg, NEI) to back it up?

Ok, I give up now. If this doesn't work, nothing will.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Joe the Blogger said...

One question I forgot to ask you Tom:

Why do you refer to the "Democrat" nominee as opposed to the Democratic nominee? The latter is the way it has been referred to my whole life, just like we've always referred to the Democratic leadership, not the Democrat leadership.

I know some Republicans do this because they don't want to allow the Democrats to imply with their name that they are for democacy, when the Republicans know that IN REALITY, the Democrats are just commies and terrorist sympathizers...

I think it's an extremely petty tactic by Republican activists, but hey, whatever gets them off.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Democratic. Sorry.

If you can purge this blog of the other couple dozen pejoratives that are used with great frequency for the folks on the other side of the aisle, I'll be in your debt.

Bush has talked to the Norks, Persians and Syrians, just not on the summit level, WS, and feelers are out all the time at even lower levels. Read the news and stop crabbing. There are no magic wands.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said... first your story was that Obama was proposing something new, but new wasn't enough, b/c new isn't necessarily right. Now Obama is proposing something right (because Bush-like), but not new.

So if he's not proposing anything different than the wise and glorious George W. Bush has been doing, why the crankiness?

Oh, I forgot...because Clinton will eat him up. Your concern is touching...

8:17 AM  

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