Some Saturday Links On Iran-Skepticism, To Say The Least

To a certain extent, the current administration has invested in the realpolitik of liberal internationalist policy-makers like Samantha Power, who promised the U.S. will not cut a bad deal with Iran at the U.N. (I’m aware that it’s just the U.N.).

Yet, such realpolitik often has roots in a base in Western Left-Of-Center, anti-war, pro-peace, human-rights activism.

John Kerry, as Secretary Of State, felt the need to dust-off his anti-war protester credentials in order to placate Code Pink while offering opening remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on potential military action in Syria.

Code Pink!:

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Naturally, this base to which Obama appeals is torn between their ideals and action. After all, how does one achieve ‘peace and transparency’ with heavy use of drone strikes, ‘kinetic military action’ in Libya, and potential wars in Syria and Iran?

One answer is by making ourselves very small, and by achieving any gains in a circumscribed manner, with constant appeals to international rules and coalitions which may or may not exist as we’d like them to.

In other words, we’re pulling out of the region. We’re leaving it up to them, but we are open to making deals with even the worst regimes as long as they say they might be interested in peace and negotiations.   Even then, we’ll be reluctant to use force or the threat of force, sacrificing much of our leverage for minimal gains and potentially empty promises.

You’ll recall we made a deal with Assad (not reassuring to most Syrians nor other leaders in the Middle-East), assisted by the  opportunistic, undemocratic, thugocratic leader of Russia in order to squeeze out of a tight-spot we didn’t necessarily have to be in (Syria was always tough, but that particular spot…wasn’t good strategy to say the least).

Feel free to highlight my ignorance, but it’s worth keeping in mind as deals with Iran are discussed:

Walter Russell Mead:

‘The details of the deal aren’t publicly available at this point, but the broad outline seems to involve Iran freezing certain nuclear activity while gaining access to up to $50 billion in frozen funds’

and:

‘Past administrations have generally concluded that the price Iran wants for a different relationship with the United States is unsustainably high. Essentially, to get a deal with Iran we would have to sell out all of our other regional allies. That’s not only a moral problem. Throwing over old allies like that would reduce the confidence that America’s allies all over the world have in our support. But there is also a question as to whether Tehran can actually impose a Pax Iranica on the neighborhood. If the US steps out of the picture, and the Turks, Kurds, Gulf monarchies and Israel are all determined to balance against Iran, we could see the region becoming even more unstable and warlike than it already is.’

Basically, there are few good options with Iran, but nearly all the options are worse with a nuclear Iran.   The Sunni-led Saudi regime is already looking towards Pakistan for nuclear capabilities to counter.  You know, Pakistan, the failing-state which keeps everybody up at night because its nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

The view from Jerusalem is different:  They don’t trust the Iranians, and may soon make other security arrangements as well:

‘Exactly 10 years ago, on October 21, 2003, the so-called Troika of the European Union (the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany: Jack Straw, Dominique de Villepin, Joschka Fischer) together with the leaders of Iran issued the “Tehran Declaration.”

The leader of the Iranian delegation with whom the Troika “claimed a diplomatic coup” (George Bush, take that), was “tough but fair to deal with,” Jack Straw recently said.

The name of that negotiator? Hassan Rohani.’

How is any of this leading to more peace?

A quote from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”

Addition: Of course, this implies that the 60’s activist, Left-of-Center, civil-rights crowd and political coalitions they’ve cobbled together currently running our government are racking up bills which are going to come due.

Related: So what are our interests and how do we secure them as the fires in the Middle-East rage?  Michael Totten makes a case here in Why We Can’t Leave The Middle-East.’  He gets push-back in the comments.

If only we could break through the hard-line, repressive, Islamist thugocracy down to the pragmatic, pro-democratic Green thinking, this would be a masterstroke, went the current and perhaps wishful thinking.

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Iran: Keeping The World’s Oddest Couple Together’

Adam Garfinkle piece here.  Materialism and Leftism…I’m an amateur still: Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize IranMichael Totten Interviews Rick Francona At World Affairs: ‘From Saigon to Baghdad’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Getting Off The Embarrassment Carousel’

Full piece here.

A good review of how we’ve gotten to this point:

‘Above all, the Administration needs to use the coming autumn not just to restore American credibility, but even more fundamentally to rebuild its image as being capable of mature, professional and responsible foreign policy behavior. If it doesn’t do that, there is no hope of its developing an effective policy toward the Syrian mess and, indeed, the region as a whole – ‘

I still don’t think many people understand the political and ideological commitments Obama seems to have also affect how he sees and reaches out to the world.

Don’t hold your breath.

Comments are worth a read.  We could still end up in a State of War.

Related On This Site:  A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

More Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Vladimir Putin Op-Ed At The NY Times: ‘A Plea for Caution From Russia’

Full piece here.

How could you Americans violate international norms, approve an airstrike in Syria, and walk away from the table of international cooperation, asks an entirely earnest, forthcoming Vladimir Putin?:

‘It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.’

As for that exceptionalism thing, our current President is probably closer to this view than most Presidents have been, whatever your strategic thoughts on Syria.

I remember coming of age in the 80’s, and being introduced to the Ivan Drago school of diplomacy:

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Here’s Putin, back in the 80’s, meeting Reagan.  Ho hum, just a tourist, snapping some photos and meeting, how do you say, your premier.

From The Atlantic Photo: Vladimir Putin-Action Man

‘Russia needs a strong state power and must have it. But I am not calling for totalitarianism.’

Vladimir Putin

That’s a relief.  Some wikipedia backstory on Russia-Syria relations.

***Bonus-Putin and Bush’s love affair in a GAZ M-21 Volga caught on tape.  Putin sends Medvedev out to keep the flame alive with Obama on missile defense.

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics? I get a sorely needed refresher on the Cold War:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

St Basils domes Red square Moscow Russia

by Ipomoea310

A Few More Syria Links-‘Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

A pretty damned good overview of Syria for the non-initiated, including what’s been going on since 2011 and the backstory at the thehowardbealeshow. Recommended. Really.

Julia Ioffe at the New Republic-‘The Syria Solution: How Obama Got Played By Putin & Assad’

What do you do when you have little to no strategy, a map that isn’t lining up with events, and no clear vision of what you want to achieve?:

This, to borrow a phrase from a Congressional staffer at his wits’ end, “is an unmitigated clusterfuck.”

Strong language, but, you know, perhaps quite appropriate here.  This blog is generally more skeptical of the liberal internationalist ideals and the human rights crowd running foreign policy, because no matter how successful the realpolitik, they can often put the cart before the horse.  I suspect few people expected the cart to be unhooked from the horse and left in the mud for a few years.

‘As it stands now, Russia and France have taken the lead on working out a plan to get Assad to hand over his chemical weapons, a lead Obama seems all too happy to relinquish. Hammering out the details will take a some time, and, while they’re at it, Assad will still have his chemical weapons but will no longer be under the threat of a U.S. military strike. (Who knows if he’ll use them, but he certainly hasn’t let up on the conventional shelling.) Putin has succeeded in throwing sand in the gears of the American political process and separating the U.S. from its allies, and the current American handwringing over Syria seems likely to grind on for weeks. And a pro-Assad paper ran with the following headline this morning: “Moscow and Damascus Pull the Rug Out From Under the Feet of Obama.”

Our foe, the obviously undemocratic Putin, has come to rescue our cart!  Of course, by opportunistically taking advantage of our leadership vacuum and uniting Russian opinion against us.  Our profile and influence diminish further.  Assad, our clear foe and ruthless dicator thug stays in power, maybe the chemical weapons the Russians have been supplying to him are taken away, but probably not.  The Civil war continues and continues to spill out all over the place.

That’s if Putin is even serious.

Meanwhile, our allies and possible alliances remain ignored, unconvinced, or can be seen turning away with looks of disbelief, back to their own politics to play this for what they can and pursue their own interests as they see fit, perhaps at our expense.   At the same time, our enemies, like Al Qaeda, remain under little to no pressure from anyone to become more ‘moderate,’ while Iran’s regime keeps one foot in the ‘international community’ pretending to be civil, with the other kicking furiously towards deliverable nuclear weapons, the Shia crescent, and regional domination.

At home, public opinion remains strongly against this war, and deeply skeptical of our political leadership.

I fail to see much upside here.

Dan Drezner tries to spin this deal into something tolerable, perhaps some kind of victory towards inducing foes and bad actors towards the goal of international law and the Geneva Conventions, but, think about it:  A gaffe made by Kerry is pounced upon by Putin and Assad in order to help our President out of his own corner…towards international cooperation:

‘Despite a series of mistakes, screw-ups, u-turns, and flubs, it’s possible that the Obama administration can, at the end of the day, claim credit for forcing Syria’s regime into relinquishing its chemical weapons stockpile and signing on to the convention banning its use.

Take the deal. Take it now.’

Here’s to hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

Addition:  Get ready for the President’s speech, and the refrain that this was a war averted and brilliant game of chess by the President.  The ideals were advanced.  All is well.

Related On This Site: More Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Best Case Scenario in Syria’

Full piece here.

You know, there may have been a chance of avoiding such a region-destabilizing Civil War, but that moment, should there have been such a moment, has long passed:

‘As the White House repeated this Monday, the conflict in Syria will only end with a political solution. In other words, the United States should use the leverage it has, in the form of continued pressure and looming military strikes, to help get all sides to the table.’

Could a bomb Saddam-like campaign work?

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment disagrees:

The US, however, should avoid getting sucked into the Syrian Civil War. Thus, it should punish Assad with enough force to deter future use of chemical weapons, but without using so much force that it gets drawn into an open-ended conflict’

But his solution strikes me as the same kind of liberal internationalist, U.N. one worlderish-type thinking that helped get us to this point:

‘The US should strive to persuade all parties to reach a power-sharing agreement to end the war. This can only happen with the cooperation of Russia and other players, such as Iran.’

That’s good for a laugh.  We kept a lid on the region.  We were the muscle, and now the Saudis, partially due to fracking, partially due to our withdrawal from the region without plans for our replacement, are turning to Moscow.  With so many players, including Iran and Russia fighting a proxy war Syria, this sounds pretty unworkable.

This is also why John Kerry’s appeal as to the moral awfulness of chemical weapons, and the need to draw a ‘red line’ and call others to action, while reasonable and historically accurate, still rings so hollow.  Geneva conventions do not a peaceful world make:

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Are we still the world’s policeman?  Stay tuned.

Addition: Ramesh Ponnuru at the National Review, dissents:

‘This is not a military action that we are undertaking to defend ourselves from attack or to protect a core interest. The congressional power to declare war, if it is not to be a dead letter, has to apply here. And it seems to me exceedingly unlikely that Congress would vote to commit us in Syria, because the public manifestly opposes it. This is a war with no clear objective, thus no strategy to attain it, no legal basis, and no public support. I dissent.’

Related On This Site: …From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Friday Quotation From Samuel Huntington

Dexter Filkins on the chemical weapons likely used by al-Assad against his own people in the Eastern suburbs of Damascus 

A quote from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”

I’ll keep putting it up, as it’s so relevant. A few central quotes from this article here:

Huntington was instinctively a conservative because he valued an ordered society, but he also championed conservatism as a necessary instrument to defend liberal institutions against communism. In many of his books he attacked idealistic liberals for holding such institutions to impossible, utopian standards that undermined their effectiveness in the world.”

and:

“An iconoclast to the core, Huntington never threw his lot in with left or right. He was too statist to be a libertarian, too realist to embrace neoconservatism, and too sympathetic to nationalism, religion and the military to identify with liberal Democrats. As a conservative Democrat, then, he is an intellectual rarity.”

Too late to act with lower risk and higher gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’Fareed Zakaria On Youtube: ‘Stay Out Of Syria’

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Interesting paper here.

Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

See Also:  Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?:  The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘  (previews)available.

Huntington’s page at Harvard here.  Reihan Salam has a short piece here.

Also On This Site: Francis Fukuyama, a neconservative up until the Iraq War or so, student of Huntington’s, and author off The End Of History, has a view that modernization and Westernization are more closely united.  Yet Fukuyama envisions a Western State which has an endpoint that the minds of men might be able to know.   This breaks with Karl Marx’s end point of Communism rising from the ashes of capitalism, is more Hegelian via Alexander Kojeve in Paris, and advocates for a State that ought to be bigger than it is now in the U.S.  This requires a more moral bureaucratic class to lead us here at home and perhaps an almost one worlder-ish type Super-Government for all.  Can you see limited government, life, liberty and property from here?:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Egypt Falls Back On The Military’

Full post here.

Comments are worth a read.  The Army and President bluffing?

Stranger things have happened, but we are looking at country with grinding, nearly 3rd world poverty, in an economic spiral downwards.

Totten’s interview with a Muslim Brotherhood representative shows their rather nutty worldview and impracticality in the wake of Mubarak (not really people we can do business with), and any hope of stability is now being placed back upon the foreign-aid supported military.

The State Department and the Obama administration are still trying to convince the American people democracy has been brought to the Middle-East and be seen as having done so.  True, these were ‘democractic’ elections, but the conditions for any kind of democracy or liberalism the West would recognize were never ripe for the serious business of a power vacuum and the failure of Egypt’s institutions and conditions on the ground.

Spengler At PJ Media: Egypt Falls Back On The Military:

‘There is only {one} reason the military might do a better job than the Muslim Brotherhood or the liberal opposition, and that is because Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states (besides tiny Qatar) might decide to provide funding for a military regime that suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Saudi regime rightly fears as a competitor to its medieval form of monarchy’

Adam Garfinkle’s Adbel Fattah al-Sisi-Memorize That Name:

‘This drama has never been about the fate of democracy or liberal attitudes and institutions. That was our passion play, not Egypt’s. This drama has always been about the fractionation and dissipation of traditional sources of social authority in a country that has tried and failed now at least three times since Napoleon’s 1799 invasion to come to terms with the press of modernity – ‘

Related On This SiteNancy Okail At Freedom House: “‘Muslim Rage’ and the Politics of Distraction in Egypt’From Al Jazeera English: ‘Morsi Wins Egypt’s Presidential Election’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…are we still on a liberalizing, Westernizing trajectory?, however slow the pace? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Some Saturday Benghazi Links

So what happened at Benghazi that night, and more importantly, what happened in the months leading up to the attack, and what happened after the attack?  Here are some links I’ve rounded up after watching the State Department testimony.

It’s worthy of mention that State Department officials feel it necessary to speak out against the chain of command.

Eli Lake At The Daily BeastIn Benghazi, CIA Trusted Local Militia That Melted Away.  I think the State Department testimony showed that most people knew how sketchy the hired help was.  Benghazi was a mission designed to establish an eventual embassy there.  It was very dangerous, and getting more so.  Pushing ahead with the embassy, despite increasing security threats, lines up with the political goal of succeeding in Libya, and being seen as having succeeded in Libya in the run-up to the presidential election.  Signs of terrorism and a direct attack would compromise the leadership.

It was a judgment call, and the response to that judgment call is pretty political.

Also from LakeThey Knew It Was Terrorism-One would hope (such is politics) that the loyalty of the State Department employees would be met with similar loyalty from our political leaders when the shit hit the fan.  A decision was made to stand down (which gets at the heart of morale and why people serve, and the ethos of those who do).  Then, the video narrative took over, and it seems pretty clear the administration was happy to leave it at that, and try and keep it as quiet as possible, even making life uncomfortable for Hicks.  There was a lengthy, none-too-impressive, highly compromised FBI investigation.

They just wanted it to go away. How far did they go?  How much did they whitewash?

Peggy Noonan At The Wall Street JournalThe Inconvenient Truth About Benghazi-CYA and rather petty politicking probably took precedence over a more responsible leadership.

Adam Garfinkle At The American InterestBenghazigate, Republicans Missing The Point-For Garfinkle, the point is that the Libyan war was a mistake in the first place, not the Bush-lite, masterfully played pivot off of Obama’s Cairo speech.  It’s spilling out all over the place.   It’s not meeting its objectives.  Regardless, politics does have its uses, and the main one is to hold our leaders accountable, regardless of party affiliation.

We’ve got to get the incentives right.

Addition: Conditions on the ground in Tripoli are unstable.

Related On This Site:  Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Remember Libya?’A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

Some Saturday Links On The Middle-East

Just a blogger in the wilderness, trying to make sense of our foreign policy.  Because of the many levels of security, knowledge, intelligence, and experience out there, it’s a pretty daunting task, but maybe it’s of some use.

Syria-Still burning. As Israel gets further involved to secure their interests, Walter Russell Mead thinks Obama could cut a deal with the Israelis to help them deal with the deteriorating conditions in Syria, Iran and Egypt, and get some concessions on the Palestinian issue.  One big concern in Syria has been a long conflict that inflames other fault lines throughout the region.

Interesting paper here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.  Possibly 70,000 dead so far.

Libya-There’s a book out on Benghazi (the authors do not look favorably on John Brennan conducting covert operations without the knowledge of most everyone else, which they claim caused the retaliatory attack, killing Ambassador Stevens).  Obama’s Libyan war has also stirred the uprisings in Mali, and Algeria, and which could spill over into Niger.  Regardless of what you think of our strategy, the same authors lament the lack of an overall strategy, and stronger leadership.

Afpak-We’re in a pretty much un-winnable situation, but our objective really hasn’t been met.  The FATA region of northwest Pakistan is poor, tribal, and not even controlled by the federal government.  Enemy fighters in Afghanistan simply melt back into Pakistan, recharge, and return.  The Taliban mill around, kill our troops, and know they can pretty much wait us out.  Kabul is notoriously corrupt.  Pakistan is barely stable, and nuclear.  The area is still home to the Haqqani network and some Al Qaida fighters. 

Dexter Filkins, now at the New Yorker.  The Afpak channel at Foreign Policy.  Michael Yon’s Twitter feed.

Iran-Part of the axis of evil or not, Iran is a state sponsor of terror in Hezbollah, is still supporting Assad in Syria as a key ally, and is still trying like mad to get nuclear weapons.  In order to be top dog in the region, they lie, project, delay, and play aggressive, belligerent games.  They are almost completely untrustworthy, even by international standards.  Yes, we took over Britain’s colonial project, yes, we helped to install a Shah, yes, the Khomeni came back and is running an aggressive, repressive theocratic regime alongside Ahmadinejad. There are many ways of thinking about what happens if Iran gets the bomb.  Almost none of them are good.

Even Obama has said Iran getting the bomb is a red line, so we’ll see how this develops.

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Since Obama took office, it seems his overall inclination is towards Enlightenment humanist/universalist ideals.  Many former human rights players turned diplomats are those he chooses for positions of power.  Some of their idealism is tempered by realpolitik, and Obama has often had to rely the experience of others.

Other, more hawkish Democrats like Hilary Clinton and the Clinton camp have gone along to get along.  In the Wilsonian tradition,  he seeks to subsume U.S. interests to international organizations, laws and courts.  I would guess his strongest base are made up of the peaceniks, one-worlder types, secular humanists, human rights people, and the anti-Bush crowd.  This noted, he’s enjoyed much broader popular support due to strong feelings of isolationism, his having appropriated the Clinton wing, and other factors.  Our economic recession/depression, the American people’s suspicion of our long wars and continuing challenges have contributed to his relative popularity.

Here’s to hoping we don’t back ourselves into worse situations.

From Middle East Perspectives: ‘President Obama’s New Leadership Picks And The Middle-East’

Full post here.

Rick Francona is not happy with the overall direction of Obama’s policies:

‘That said, orders for military operations originate at the White House, for better or worse. It is no secret that I think this Administration is clueless on effective military operations. Again, see the article I mentioned above.

I assume that the Senate will not violate the professional courtesy afforded to fellow Senators and that both Hagel and Kerry will be confirmed. Again, they will only carry out the ill-advised policies of the President.’

Where is there a conservative movement in the Middle-East not dominated by political Islam?  In order to get around the autocrats, where are there liberal movements that represent the will of enough people with enough wealth to build democratic institutions?

Addition:  In the meantime, without our objectives necessarily being met, and without taking a position of leadership, Obama continues to assume his liberal internationalism tempered by realpolitik is sufficient to secure our interests.

Related On This Site: Al-Zawahiri’s Egypt, a good backstory: Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

From Al Jazeera English: ‘Morsi Wins Egypt’s Presidential Election’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…are we still on a liberalizing, Westernizing trajectory?, however slow the pace? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Michael Totten At The American Interest: “A Leaner, Meaner Brotherhood”

Pakistan’s a mess, but in a way, more stable than Egypt:  Via Youtube Via Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘VICE Guide To Karachi’Christopher Hitchens At Vanity Fair: ‘From Abbotabad To Worse’Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’