Monday, July 21, 2008

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum 

Over at Corrente, in a comment to Lambert's post about how Obama is already in control, bringiton describes the new reality in American foreign policy:
There has been a vacuum in American foreign policy and international relations for some time now. . . the rest of the world is heartily sick of it and has stopped talking to George and Dick. At the last several international conferences, our President has been shunned publically; there are photo after photo showing him sitting alone staring off while all around him other leaders are engaged with each other in conversation.
That smart-ass simpering cocaine and alcohol addled inarticulate dime store cowboy embarrassment that we’ve all grown to loath is not an act; that is GeeW, right out front and real, and nobody wants to put up with him anymore. Even Maliki, the tenuous prime minister whose status in office, and indeed his very life, depends on the continued support and good will of 150,000 of the most dangerous military troops on Earth who are occupying his country, jumped at the chance to defy and rebuke both Bush and McCain at the first opportunity for a face-to-face sit down with Obama. . . .
Since the outcome of the Democratic primary became clear, Maliki has stood up to Bush on the oil contracts, on the status of forces agreement, on insisting that a “time horizon” be negotiated, and has now embraced Obama’s proposal for a major forces troop exit at 16 months . . . The negotiations for the future of Iraq are now being conducted between the Prime Minister and a US Senator, who is not even his party’s official nominee as a candidate for the presidency.
The same thing with Karzai in Kabul . . . For years Karzai has called for more troops, more reconstruction, more infrastructure advancement, and those calls have been echoed by every military commander in country and every UN and NGO relief organization on the ground. Bush has done nothing but make one mistake after another in Afghanistan, again perhaps deliberately and perhaps not, but the net result is another disaster. Karzai is also now talking directly to and openly negotiating with Obama, another head of state in another critical situation who has abandoned any pretense of wanting to deal any more with the actual President of The United States. . . .
In the longer term . . . it is not a good thing on principle for anyone other than the Chief Executive or his delegate to be making these kinds of agreements – and agreements they are. . . .
In the short term it is beyond horrific that the sitting President has so completely alienated the entire world and all of its leaders . . . Obama has stepped into the void left Bush and Cheney to seize the power representing America in both Afghanistan and Iraq. So far, and I say this with fingers crossed, he has succeeded in negotiating agreements with Maliki and Karzai that conform to what needs doing, get out of Iraq and clean up Afghanistan. Sounds good, but then one never knows what will actually happen once he is in office. Still, it seems to me that having an adult take charge is probably better than simply leaving a void. The Plutocrats handed the remote control for the Imperial Unitary President Monster to Bush, an untreated coke-head alcoholic, and Cheney, a victim of multiple strokes in the last stages of cardiac failure; the boys lost it, big surprise, and now Obama has picked it up.
. . . Just to be sure we have this in perspective; Obama is not the first non-President to assume such a role. Ronald Reagan was conducting secret, unauthorized foreign policy negotiations, in direct contrast to the best interests of America and American citizen hostages, while he was running for the office. Obama, at least, is being open about it and thus far appears to be moving things in the direction any sane person would want. Woodrow Wilson’s second wife, Edith, took on the role of gatekeeper for him after his stroke and kept him isolated from the Vice President and his Cabinet, selecting what issues were presented to him and relaying his decisions to others; or at least her interpretation of his wishes. Obama, at least, is an elected United States Senator.
This isn’t a good deal for anyone, but it isn’t entirely unprecedented either.
The only thing that bringiton missed was that our very own Yo Harper is still BFF with GeeW. Isn't that special?

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