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DenButsu
09-19-2008, 12:23 AM
Which candidate will be the better foreign policy president? Who's more knowledgeable? Who has better judgment and vision? Whose policies and message on foreign policy resonate stronger with the American public?

And when it comes to McCain and Obama, is there a foreign policy double standard in effect?

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What follows is from a blog writeup about the Spain/Zapatero confusion from McCain's recent interview, conducted in English by the Spanish language newspaper El País. But the more important segment of the piece, I think, comes further down when the writer says:


Forgetting Zapetero's name is almost forgivable, though hard to explain for a candidate who claims to be an expert in foreign policy. But the interviewer kept using the word "Spain." She even gave him a big hint with the word "Europe."

Let's also not lose sight of the broader pattern. McCain thinks (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/08/15/mccain-russia/) the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." He thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border (http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/16270.html). He believes Czechoslovakia is still a country (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/07/16/mccain-again-cites-current-events-in-czechoslovakia/). He's been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/30/mccain-confuses-sudan-and-somalia/). He's been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan (http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/16220.html), or both. He's been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq (http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/15745.html). He's been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence (http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/15370.html) in Iraq. He's been confused about Iran's relationship with al Qaeda (http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=hsnews-000002691574). He's been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi'ia (http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/15146.html). McCain, following a recent trip to Germany, even referred to "President Putin of Germany (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5ENwej0fpc)." All of this incoherence on his signature issue.

I'm curious. What do you suppose the reaction would be from the political establishment if Barack Obama had made these mistakes over the course of the campaign? What would reporters, pundits, and Republicans have to say about Obama's ability to lead a complex world in a time of war and uncertainty?

I think an intellectually honest person would agree that if Obama had made these same mistakes he'd be labeled "clueless" on foreign policy. So, why the double-standard?washingtonmonthly (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_09/014775.php)


I think the sheer volume and frequency of all those blunders described in the "broader pattern" paragraph bolded above (all of which were made during the current campaign, keep in mind) is pretty compelling evidence that can't very easily be dismissed as "misspeaks", "gaffes" and "senior moments". There's just too much there (never mind the question of whether it would be good to have a president who has so many foreign policy misspeaks, gaffes and senior moments), and taken as a whole it really seems to me to suggest that McCain is on much shakier ground regarding his "foreign policy expertise" than the general perception would suggest. (And that general perception, by the way, has been largely perpetuated and repeatedly affirmed by the so-called "liberal media" time and again; they've continually given him free passes on all these points). And so I think the question of if there's a double standard in play - and if so, why - is a reasonable one to ask.

And a reasonable follow-up, imho, would be: If McCain is actually more expert and competent in this area, why hasn't he schooled Obama on foreign policy in this campaign? Both sides have pushed their main talking points - Obama says McCain showed bad judgment in supporting the war, McCain says that Obama showed bad judgment in not supporting the surge - but neither has truly gained the upper hand on this issue. If Obama is truly so inexperienced, uninformed and inept at foreign policy as his critics constantly claim, and McCain is really the man, why hasn't McCain just wiped the floor with him already?


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As a side note, the first debate next Friday will be centered on foreign policy. (Supposedly, although I imagine both candidates will try as much as possible to pivot to the economy since it's the much greater public concern right now). Obama has been adamant throughout his entire campaign that a foreign policy debate with McCain is something he'll welcome and is happy to have. But going into, I'm sure McCain will be looked at as holding the advantage. Should be real interesting.

ari1013
09-19-2008, 12:44 AM
So he thinks Spain is in Latin America. Everyone makes that mistake now and then, right? :rolleyes:

SmthBluCitrus
09-19-2008, 01:04 AM
Sure, I made that mistake yesterday. It was right after I got the Alaskan governor confused for the Russian foreign relations envoy.

Um The Dude
09-19-2008, 01:13 AM
wow,cmon Obama !!!!! Mccain is more of an military guy then the next leader of the free world " are we still free ?the economy makes us freeless slaves right" ...Oh im sorry have an dream over here anyways.....

DenButsu
09-19-2008, 04:25 AM
I'm sorry, but I honestly have absolutely no idea what you're trying to say.

SmthBluCitrus
09-19-2008, 09:18 AM
Seconded.

hoosiercubsfan
09-19-2008, 10:02 AM
Thirded :)

DenButsu
09-19-2008, 12:17 PM
So here are some questions that should be asked of the two candidates and their vice-presidential nominees (and here's hoping reporters get beyond meaningless questions like who's wearing a flag in their lapel):

Afghanistan: Clinton shied away from using force against the Taliban and Bush used force without any plan. Clinton's aides acknowledge they could have revised policy but instead listened to supporters in Congress, who preferred to impose sanctions on Pakistan than seek its cooperation against the Taliban. How would Barack Obama see that the long-term national interest prevails in future - rather than the agenda of a major party constituency? And does John McCain have a long-term strategy in Afghanistan?

Continuity: George Bush approached foreign policy with an "anything but Clinton" attitude (as did Clinton with Bush's father). How will Obama and McCain, both of whom say they are seeking meaningful change, avoid discarding Bush policies that may be in the national interest?

Pakistan - Bush has apparently ordered cross-border raids and continued bombings in Pakistan, arousing national opposition - and both Obama and McCain say they'd do the same thing. Do the candidates see a risk of destabilizing the democratically elected government of Pakistan? Is there a way to work with that government?

Iraq - Bush adopted the agenda of the neo-conservatives toward what he proclaimed as the "Axis of Evil": Iraq was a threat to U.S. security, North Korea was acquiring a capability to fire nuclear missiles at the United States, and Iran could not be talked to. What will a McCain administration do to assure that it has its facts right before it goes to war? And would an Obama administration support Joe Biden's repeated calls to partition Iraq along ethnic lines?

CIA - Tim Weiner in "Legacy of Ashes," argues that successive presidents invariably turn to the CIA to carry out foreign policy, because they can give orders for covert operations with minimal oversight and not be held publicly accountable when they go wrong. Do presidents rely too heavily on covert operations? What would the two candidates do differently?

Georgia - Do the two candidates want to tie NATO's fortunes to a country that is highly exposed to Russian pressure, led by an impulsive nationalist and where western power is bound to be unable to succeed, especially as the alliance's European members, reliant on Russian fuel supplies, are deeply divided?

Missile defense - George Bush abrogated the ABM treaty with Russia, and aroused enormous anger in Moscow as he proceeded unilaterally to set up an unproven missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Would either candidate proceed with that system or suspend it?

Iran - The Bush administration has not publicly discouraged Israel from a pre-emptive attack on Iran to destroy its nuclear fuel enrichment program, and some see this as a "yellow light" leading to intervention. John McCain once joked: "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Does McCain really favor that course? If you want to avoid war, how would you resolve the issue?

Guantanamo - If they close down Guantanamo as both have promised, will the candidates propose any compensation or apology for detainees who'd been held without charges, without due process and in a number of cases in complete error? If the Bush administration broke the law by torturing detainees or holding them without due process, will either candidate seek court action against its top officials?

Bipartisan foreign policy - Two successive presidents seem to have promoted their party agendas in foreign policy. What will each candidate do to ensure that politics stops at the water's edge, and to center foreign policy on the long-term national interest?modbee.com (http://www.modbee.com/opinion/national/story/433845.html)

ari1013
09-19-2008, 12:30 PM
if only we could have questions like that in the debate...

gcoll
09-19-2008, 01:43 PM
Is there a double standard on foreign policy issues?

Sure. I think if Obama had made some of those same mistakes he may have gotten a bit more flak.

Is it justified? Possibly. I mean....one of the reason Mccain has more "flubs" on foreign policy is because he speaks more on foreign policy, and he's been asked his opinion more on foreign policy, and has been a relevant figure in the foreign policy of the United States. Especially recently.

Also. Those questions Denbutsu posted. Pretty good. Would like to see the answers to a lot of those.

DenButsu
09-19-2008, 08:24 PM
one of the reason Mccain has more "flubs" on foreign policy is because he speaks more on foreign policy, and he's been asked his opinion more on foreign policy

I can't agree with that part. The Dems did shy away from foreign policy to a too large extent in 2004, but Obama has decidedly confronted those issues directly throughout his campaign, and he's spent a great deal of time outlining his foreign policy positions (many of which have now been copied by Bush), and has always welcomed questions from the press about his views.

JHG722
09-19-2008, 09:04 PM
So he thinks Spain is in Latin America. Everyone makes that mistake now and then, right? :rolleyes:

To be fair, Spain is a dump, so who cares.

ari1013
09-19-2008, 09:39 PM
To be fair, Spain is a dump, so who cares.
Just like Long Island?

Here's why we should care about Spain:
1. They're one of the few countries that still have troops in Afghanistan.
2. Spain is about as Western as they come, boasting a literacy rate higher than the US rate; one of the lowest Infant Mortality rates in the world; and one of the highest life expectancy levels in the world.
3. Spain's economy is also rather large:
- GDP per capita of $30,100
- Total GDP of $1.4 trillion
- GDP growth rate: 3.8%
- Debt to GDP ratio of only 35.2%
4. When the number of countries we like that have oil are getting smaller, is it really a good idea to lose another one? Spain exports 175K barrels per day, which isn't much, but it's still something.
5. We're second to the rest of the EU in terms of imports and exports to Spain.

JHG722
09-19-2008, 10:35 PM
Just like Long Island?

Here's why we should care about Spain:
1. They're one of the few countries that still have troops in Afghanistan.
2. Spain is about as Western as they come, boasting a literacy rate higher than the US rate; one of the lowest Infant Mortality rates in the world; and one of the highest life expectancy levels in the world.
3. Spain's economy is also rather large:
- GDP per capita of $30,100
- Total GDP of $1.4 trillion
- GDP growth rate: 3.8%
- Debt to GDP ratio of only 35.2%
4. When the number of countries we like that have oil are getting smaller, is it really a good idea to lose another one? Spain exports 175K barrels per day, which isn't much, but it's still something.
5. We're second to the rest of the EU in terms of imports and exports to Spain.

Yes, just like Long Island. The people there can't walk to save their lives...

DenButsu
09-20-2008, 09:05 PM
What's the difference between the Army and the National Guard? (http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2008/09/does-john-mccai.html)

gcoll
09-20-2008, 09:58 PM
yeah. And Spain is actually a European country that likes the US. If those two exchange students in my European Union class are to be believed....


What's the difference between the Army and the National Guard?
OMG. Mccain doesn't know what the Army is!!!!!

Oh wait. You mean he said that Palin's son was in the national guard, instead of the army? Oh.

He was right on the deployment of more Alaska national guardsmen to Iraq though, right?

And there is a "stryker brigade" in the Army National Guard, which I think is different than the "National Guard"...or is it?

ink
09-23-2008, 01:06 PM
I'm posting this in here because it deals with foreign policy, and specifically, McCain's hot-headed approach to foreign policy as WAR policy ...


For McCain, by contrast, the two prime areas of weakness are his judgment and temperament—both of which Obama singled out for criticism at the convention. “What Obama needs to make clear in the debate is McCain has no larger strategic vision, that he responds viscerally to every immediate situation with the same level of anxiety,” says a Democratic strategist. “Georgia-Russia is only the most recent example. He said that was the first serious crisis since the Cold War. Really? What happened to 9/11? The threat of Muslim extremism? He usually says that is the most significant issue since World War II! So? Which is it? The guy can’t distinguish between the moderately serious (Georgia is such a case, just a classic big-power landgrab), the important, and the world-changing. He’s just a hotheaded fighter pilot: a nicer but still pointed way should be found for Obama to say that, right in his face.”

A posture that confrontational would be out of character for the hopemonger. But what he can do is find a way to expose the troubling centrality of military engagement to McCain’s foreign-policy vision. On countless occasions, he has informed audiences with calm certitude that more combat is in America’s future. By pointing these remarks out, as well as his various Cold War–ish pronouncements—“Today, we are all Georgians”—Obama can paint a picture of recklessness without getting personal. “Obama has been pretty clear that he believes that bellicosity isn’t a substitute for a foreign policy,” Axelrod says. “And McCain’s impulse is that. In that respect, he may be worse than Bush. His public temperament as it relates to foreign policy is a real concern, and one we will not shy away from raising.”

http://nymag.com/news/politics/powergrid/50516/index1.html

gcoll
09-23-2008, 01:53 PM
I don't know who wrote that piece you presented Ink, but I don't take it very seriously.


He’s just a hotheaded fighter pilot: a nicer but still pointed way should be found for Obama to say that, right in his face


A posture that confrontational would be out of character for the hopemonger.

Maturity is not that person's strong suit.

ink
09-23-2008, 02:04 PM
I don't know who wrote that piece you presented Ink, but I don't take it very seriously.

Maturity is not that person's strong suit.

Please. :rolleyes:

gcoll
09-23-2008, 02:07 PM
Please.

You feel that that person's analysis is astute?

Why can't he voice his opinion in an above 5th grade manner?


And again. If Obama feels he can engage Mccain on the subject of foreign policy, and even try to use it as an advantage....I think it may backfire, because I think people may trust Mccain more on those matters.

ink
09-23-2008, 02:13 PM
You feel that that person's analysis is astute?

Why can't he voice his opinion in an above 5th grade manner?


And again. If Obama feels he can engage Mccain on the subject of foreign policy, and even try to use it as an advantage....I think it may backfire, because I think people may trust Mccain more on those matters.

He writes for the Economist. I figure if he didn't write in "an above 5th grade manner" (sic) his editor might have pointed that out by now. ;)

SmthBluCitrus
09-23-2008, 02:14 PM
You feel that that person's analysis is astute?

Why can't he voice his opinion in an above 5th grade manner?


And again. If Obama feels he can engage Mccain on the subject of foreign policy, and even try to use it as an advantage....I think it may backfire, because I think people may trust Mccain more on those matters.

Slightly. It really depends on the poll you're looking at though. The last I saw in my local paper had McCain ahead slightly on the foreign policy question (in the low-to-mid 50%'s).

But, foreign policy isn't the issue that should be focal to the Obama campaign -- even though that's the subject of the first debate. Obama needs to try to turn the topic when it's presented to him to make it about domestic issues being of benefit to the world.

ink
09-29-2008, 01:20 PM
Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG1aOORf8Pc) of debate intercut with direct quotes from McCain.