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Outlining A New Foreign Policy

It’s a new presidential term. A new global time. Maybe time for a new American foreign policy.

A small boat passes in front of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise anchored of the coast of Faliro, near Athens. (AP)

A small boat passes in front of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise anchored of the coast of Faliro, near Athens. (AP)

For half a century and more, the United States has been the world’s big, globe-straddling power.  There was the Soviet Union and there was lots of effort at friendly diplomacy, but the broad American grand strategy consensus has been that the United States should dominate the world militarily, economically and politically.  It could and it did.  It has.

But now new questions are being raised about whether the US can still afford that role.  And whether it still really works.  The call is to pull back.

This hour, On Point:  the call for a new, dramatically more modest American foreign policy.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Barry Posen, professor of political science and director of the security studies program at MIT. His essay, “Pullback: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy” was published in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

William C. Wohlforth, professor of government at Dartmouth College. He co-authored a rebuttal to Barry Posen’s essay in Foreign Affairs; “Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post “President’s Obama’s inaugural address is already making headlines for its points on domestic policy and social issues. But what did the most important national leader on Earth, the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military, have to say about foreign policy? Almost nothing, surprisingly enough.”

The Huffington Post “A harrowing nighttime flight over the African jungle and a wild search for a rebel leader helped forge a relationship between Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Rep. Ed Royce, two men at the forefront of Congress’ changing guard on foreign policy.”

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  • Potter

    Would Obama try to do anything bold (which would be needed) towards moving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict towards a peaceful end? If an even more right-wing government in Israel is installed would he risk, be bold? Does he believe ( as many do) that this conflict is key to our relations with the Arab world?

    • brettearle

      It is a monstrous fallacy to believe that Islamic Fundamentalism will scatter–if Israel and the Palestinians find temporary, or even permanent, common ground

      • JobExperience

         That may not happen, but if peace comes you’ll lose your posting job.

      • Potter

        NO it’s a battle either way, but a preferable one, a more moral one, one that pulls the rug out from under a lot of fundamentalist arguments.

    • stephenreal

      It does not help the US cause
      that the Likudniks believe
      they have the “devine right of kings”
      to build in Jerusalem
      even if they have to take other peoples property to do it.
      not cool dude.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      Today an innocent 22 year old Palestinian woman was shot in the face today by the IDF.  Have not seen this in the US main stream news yet.

      • stephenreal

        We don’t live there friend. One could honestly care less when we have people shot everyday in our states.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

          That is quite a heartless statement.  Not to mention that over 5,000 US personel were killed and almost 50,000 maimed in a bogus and concocted war.   One million Iraqis have died because of selfish and evil mindsets such as yours.

          • stephenreal

            heartless? no
            realist? yes

          • JobExperience

             Nihilist then.

          • stephenreal

            ni·hil·ism
            A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

            realist 
            A person who is aware of and accepts the physical universe, events, etc., as they are; pragmatist

      • JobExperience

        That’s what I call defensive!

  • Gregg Smith

    Iran and N. Korea are on the verge of nukes. A new generation of radicalism is sweeping through the Middle East. Al Qaeda is reemerging. We have embassies breeched, murder of diplomats, hostages killed and mayhem. President Obama did not address any of it. JFK in his inaugural address said:

    “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

    • stephenreal

      All foriegn policy does not “stem from the barrel of the gun”.

      • Gregg Smith

        True.

        • stephenreal

          I agree that Iran and North Korea are a problem when it comes to nukes.

          • JobExperience

            Japan’s nuclear accident is more urgent. It doesn’t help for the contractors we recommended to dump contamination in the creeks and ditches.

          • stephenreal

            In 1990 the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ranked the failure of the emergency electricity generators and subsequent failure of the cooling systems of plants in seismically very active regions one of the most likely risks. The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) cited this report in 2004. According to Jun Tateno, a former NISA scientist, TEPCO did not react to these warnings and did not respond with any measures.[34]
            Film maker Adam Curtis mentioned the risks of the type of boiling water reactorscooling systems such as those in Fukushima I,[35] and claimed the risks were known since 1971[36] in a series of documentaries in the BBC in 1992 and advised that PWR type reactors should have been used.

    • jefe68

      Yeah, it’s a big bad world out there.
      You can blame President Obama for everything that happens. GW Bush had 9/11, which kind of dwarfs a lot of things when one puts it into context.

      We can’t control the world, we can’t control outcomes and if you look at the era after JFK, we had Vietnam.

      Using force is not going to work and if you want to reduce the debt and work on the deficit one would think spending less on the military seems to be a no brainer.

      You can’t have it both ways.

    • nj_v2

      Greggg’s fatuous trolling continues. He strings together a bunch of disparate, semi bogus factoids followed by a quote whose relevance that can only be guessed at.

      New generations of “radicalism” have been “emerging” in the Mideast for generations.

      Embassies have been attacked for decades.

      Al Q never really went away, so it’s not really “re-emerging.” Same few hundred guys it’s always been.

      Greggg thinks Obama should have said something specific about this, but what is anyone’s guess.

      • jefe68

        The problem with people like Gregg is they go on an on about the debt and deficit and yet when it comes to foreign policy money is no option.
        We can’t have it both ways.We can’t control what happens on the ground in Mali any more than we can in Iran. Iraq is still a mess and that country is still dealing with car bombs. A recent car bombing killed 22 people.  

      • Gregg Smith

        Obama killed Osama, all is well. Go back to sleep.

  • stephenreal

    President Obama has rebuffed the neocons
    (when it comes to future US military adventurism)
    with the choice of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

    Our soldiers are burnt out
    the people have had enough of war
    (over the last ten years).
    What other choice do we have?
    but to work with our allies
    then “going it alone” one more time (in Iran).

  • raj566

    President Obama is the president who understands current global situation  . He is definitely not a hawk and knows limitations of any military engagements.

    I completely support his leading from behind strategy. What did previous president’s aggressive “leading from front” bring us…other than headaches and loss of respect in the world.

    We should work with allies and parties involved in resolving middle-east and Iran issue. 

    • stephenreal

      damn straight dude.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “For half a century and more, the United States has been the world’s big, globe-straddling power.”

    “Globe-straddling”. That’s gotta to be the best expletive substitution I’ve ever seen.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      More than George Carlin’s remark about the metaphor inherent in “withdrawing from Vietnam”?

    • JobExperience

      So defecation is just a euphemism for bombing?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Wrong expletive. Think more FTW.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    Obama may be feigning a move away from Israel, but the Al CIAda bogey man machine is gearing up again with this strange group of canadians in Algeria,  Frances grab for Uranium mines in Mali, and the BBC – mercenary onslaught of Syria. 

    Mercenaries are presented as Jihadi, although there may actually be a few misguided religious extremists included in these Mossad-led adventures. 

    Pearl, Wolfowitz, Pipes, Kristol, Kagan and the other Neocons and their Plan for the New American Century haven’t missed a beat. They have just stepped out of the limelight for a while.

    • stephenreal

      there are no uranium mines in Mali. Are they exploring for one? yes

      Indian officials announced that the Tumalapalli mine in Andhra Pradesh state of India could provide more than 170,000 tonnes of uranium, making it as the world’s largest uranium mine.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

        Apparently as the online neocon-watchdog…you are incorrect regarding Mali.

        • stephenreal

          dude your analysis is filled with conspiracy and half truths…no need to name call.
          just do your homework

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

            Dude,  Im still waiting to see the DEAD OBAMA PHOTOS.

             

          • stephenreal

            You did not like the funny out takes of Bin Laden? or his lame  self loathing looks? or how upset Pakistan was when we caught them hiding him?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

             I guess you believe the movie and the book written and produced by CIA operatives.  No need to see the real proof.
            ….and the Easter Bunny ???

          • stephenreal

            How many intelligence agencies are there in the US again? The CIA is hardly the only one. It’s a team effort as you know. You give too much credit to the CIA. How about spreading the credit around a little?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

             It widely known that it was the CIA that created (and ended) the Osama Bin Laden
            bogeyman.

          • stephenreal

            A CIA program called Operation Cyclonechanneled funds through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency to the Afghan Mujahideen who were fighting the Soviet occupation.[76]
            At the same time, a growing number of Arab mujahideenjoined the jihad against the Afghan Marxist regime, facilitated by international Muslim organizations, particularly the Maktab al-Khidamat,[77] which was funded by the Saudi Arabia government as well as by individual Muslims (particularly Saudi businessmen who were approached by bin Laden). Together, these sources donated some $600 million a year to jihad.

          • JobExperience

             Kath Bigelow is our Leni Reifenstahl.

    • jefe68

      There are no uranium mines in Mali. But there are in Nigeria and I think in Niger. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

        Niger as well.

        • jefe68

          I mentioned Niger.

  • Michiganjf

    Every nation has an interest in world peace and secure trade…

    there is no reason whatsoever that the U.S. should assume all or nearly all of the burden of international peace-keeping.

    The U.N. should be strengthened enough to become the world’s primary peace-keeping force, contributed to by all nations in proportion to GDP.

    The U.S. can no longer afford to be “mother hen” to the rest of the world, either economically OR politically.

    • stephenreal

      The UN is not a real world governing group when China, Germany and Brazil are not on the security council when the victors of the ww2 are

      • Ray in VT

        China’s a permanent member of the Security Council based upon it’s status as a World War II winner, right?  Was that just an oversight on your part?

        • stephenreal

          yes you are right. thankyou.

          • Ray in VT

            You’re welcome.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002360588492 Dev Devta

         stephenreal, you really meant India instead of china, because china is already on the security council!

        • stephenreal

          yes you are right, thankyou.
          India should be on the council along with several other friends. in my opinion.

      • Michiganjf

        You don’t participate, you don’t have your trade security interests addressed… it’s as simple as that.

        • stephenreal

          yes from a euro ethno-centric view of the world you are right but what about the view from the developing world

        • stephenreal

          I invest my money all over the world. do you?

          • JobExperience

             A dollar in Chinese candy here, and a $5 Bangladeshi shirt from WalMart there, a pack of Indian gum, some $15 Vietnamese sneakers and you’re done.

          • stephenreal

            and…?

    • MarcusXH

       Totally agree with you

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      Did you actually say “PEACE KEEPING” and “MOTHER HEN” ???

      The burden of this “PEACE KEEPING” seems to be falling on every war strewn destabilized country that MOTHER HEN has been laying her eggs.

      • Michiganjf

        Good points, yet nonetheless, that’s the excuse and the widespread perception in our populace.

  • JGC

    An interesting column from Thomas L. Friedman in NYT today on this subject, “Break All the Rules”.   He is suggesting that big diplomacy doesn’t work anymore, so try something “radically new:  creating the conditions for diplomacy where they do not now exist by going around leaders and directly to the people. And I’d start with Iran, Israel and Palestine,” he wrote. “We live in an age of social networks in which every leader outside of North Korea today is now forced to engage in a two-way conversation with their citizens.  There’s no more just top-down.  People everywhere are finding their voices and leaders are terrified.  We need to turn this to our advantage to gain leverage in diplomacy.”  

    • stephenreal

      great read 

    • Coastghost

      What are daily NYT circulation figures for Iran in January 2013? (or do the ayatollahs only take the Sunday edition?)  

      • JGC

        For information dissemination:  I am sure they haf their vays…

    • JobExperience

      First go directly to the people here at home.
      Microsoft and GE are never gonna represent our needs.
      Our overseas adventures actually belong to our owners.
      They created Al Queida and gave it a smile….
      God loves everybody and I do too.

      Mr. Hot-crowded-n-flat speaks for the Elite.

      • stephenreal

        I think the billionaire Osama Bin Laden might have say in whom created his own organization if he wasn’t dumped into the sea.

        • JobExperience

          How was OBL a billionaire? Here goes Mr. Factfree sr again. The CIA bankrolled Al Queida originally to fight the Russians.

          Is Gregg Smiff yo’ daddy?

          • stephenreal

            The bin Laden family (Arabic: بن
            لادن‎, bin Lādin), also
            spelled bin Ladin, is a wealthy family intimately connected with the innermost
            circles of the Saudi royal family.   The family was thrown into media spotlight through the activities of one of its members, Osama bin Laden, who was involved in the September 11,2001 terror attacks on US government and commercial buildings.

            The financial interests of the bin Laden family are represented by the Saudi Bin ladin Group, a global oil and equity management conglomerate grossing $2
            billion US annually, and the largest construction firm in the world, with
            offices in London, Dubai, and Geneva.

      • JGC

        I dunno. Maybe I missed something, but Friedman often speaks on behalf of economic justice issues for the U.S. worker.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Whenever I hear Obama speak it’s kinda like this for me:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss2hULhXf04

    • JobExperience

       Solution: Don’t listen. Do something constructive instead. Reminds me… I gotta get off this blog and do the  cat litter.

      (He lipsynchs like Miss Bouncy.)

      • Wahoo_wa

        I don’t listen anymore really.  It’s all false hope with no results.  Picking my nose would be more productive than an Obama speech.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Good advice. But I contend that you’re throwing good advice down a rathole, given you’re addressing it to someone who put up the clip that Wahoo did.

    • jefe68

      That says more about you than the president.

      • Wahoo_wa

        I know right?!  I say what I mean, I follow through and I don’t suffer fools gladly.  Obama could learn something!

        • JGC

          I have a question, if you don’t mind:  How can the Log Cabin Republicans justify their existence? Do you think money/business is the over-riding factor for them, or do they hope that they can eventually wrest back the Republican party from the social conservative faction, and leave the strident LGBT  discrimination they are subjected to, (from within their own party!), behind?  I really don’t understand the Log Cabin Republicans.  

          • Wahoo_wa

            I would ask a Log Cabin Republican.  I am an independent myself.

          • JGC

            Thanks, anyway. Being a lazy sort, I just thought maybe you could give  some insight without me having to do any actual work!  But (after reading your reply) I did then go find the Log Cabin website, which was the next easiest thing to finding an actual Log Cabin Republican. And believe it or not, it unequivocally answered my question.

            I am a voter in the PA-8 district, and the two candidates for U.S. Representative in 2010 were Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) and former Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R).  Both are somewhat centrist; Murphy more so than Fitzpatrick.  But incumbent Murphy was also a sponsor for the successful bill to repeal DADT, a “tireless worker” for the repeal, in spite of potential blowback in a not-at-all-safe seat in PA. (This of course before Obama was persuaded to join the bandwagon.)  Somewhat based on this leadership, I purchased one of those “U.S. flags that have flown over the Capitol, courtesy of your representative” requests (and the flag package is amazing, by the way; I recommend everyone request one of these flags from their own rep, if you all are a flag sort of person).

            But I digress.  The Log Cabin Republicans support all sorts of issues like fiscal conservatism, equality of employer benefits for partners, equal tax treatment, safe space for “out” school students, etc.  The upshot from the Log Cabin website is:  they endorsed and financially supported Mike Fitzpatrick over Patrick Murphy, who then went on to become my new U.S. House Representative. That totally answers my question.         

  • joseph makela

    right on Mr Posen.
    us foreign policy/hegemony – nothing changes…from Iran to Congo to Guatemala…the gig is up .the hyperbole is something else! keep warm today! cheers

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems to me that since the Vietnam “domino” war, the reality has begun to set in:  Locals fight their own wars best.  If the people on the ground are not willing to fight, an outside power, no matter how rich (yeah, right) cannot foist a resolution on that territory or those people.
        With regard to the extremists, with money from hostage taking and other illegitimate activities, if the local population supports the extremists, there is not much we can do, I think.
        So it sort of behooves us to consider why people might turn to organizations with extreme and/or corrupt underpinnings to support them.  
       It’s the bread, stupid.

    • JobExperience

       Ellen, we Americans may be “supporting extremists” by remaining docile in the face of Oligarch governance. What’s more extreme than Billionaires soon Trillionaires in a nation of 50% poverty and 25% unemployment?

      • Ellen Dibble

        Docile?  I haven’t met a single one who’s anything approaching “docile” in that regard.  Fuming.  Sputtering.  Organizing, arguing.  Etc., etc.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Frothing at the mouth while simultaneously achieving little-to-nothing. We’re good at that, our politicians are Masters.

          • Ellen Dibble

            We need a couple of amendments, since money is very good at getting legislation that makes it harder and harder to anything BUT froth at the mouth.  Oh, they’ll froth on our behalf?  It’s not the same… 

          • JobExperience

            The FBI is following leftist frothers and ignoring domestic terror prep among right wing militias. Maybe the militias are meant to take out us frothers. The FBI is our national political police, you know.

  • siskoe

    look at all the military men and women who supported Ron Paul…and look at the reasons…

    • JobExperience

      Shouldn’t they just follow orders without question like the rest of us?

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Thank you for talking sense Barry Posen, it’s a welcome change of pace.

  • Ellen Dibble

    How is it that our Congress, with defense “interests” in practically every state, buttressing the economies of those states, can execute the cuts Posen poses?  Wasn’t that tried with the “peace dividend” after the collapse of the USSR?  And didn’t the defense industry, Halliburton, etc., begin to look around for places to put a footprint?  Is this the time — yet?

  • http://www.toddrlockwood.com/ Todd R. Lockwood

    How about the elephant in the room!? I’m still waiting to hear the words “military industrial complex.” Honestly, how many of these overseas excursions would we undertake if there wasn’t big money to be made by a handful of U.S. contractors?

    • stephenreal

      “military industrial complex” was in a world, at that time, when the US dump something like 20% GDP into the miltary as compared to 4% GDP today.

      • http://www.toddrlockwood.com/ Todd R. Lockwood

        I still can’t believe we would have gone into Iraq if there wasn’t serious profit to be made in doing so. At the time, many thought it was about oil, but the profit margin on military hardware dwarfs even oil. No sensible business would spend the kind of money the government pays on these no-bid contracts.

        • stephenreal

          We secured Iraq’s oil for China as you know in whom won the majority of Iraqi oil contracts.

          • JobExperience

             Our Owning class has big interests in Chinese oil operations, just like IBM and Ford in WWII they play all sides. No oil, not even North Dakota oil, is secured for the American public. Oil is traded on a global market controlled by big players. Highest bid gets the juice.

          • stephenreal

            In 2004, China had to import 100 million tons of crude oil to supply its energy demand, more than half of which came from the Middle East.Chinese President Hu Jintao has proposed to build a pipeline from Russian oil fields to support China’s markets as well as other billion-dollar arrangements with Russia, Central Asia, and Burma. They have recently purchased less than 1 percent of the British oil company BP, worth about $1.97 billion.China’s oil industry is dominated by its state owned oil companies, in particular three major players: China National Offshore Oil Corp, China National Petroleum Corp, and Sinopec. These companies have largely invested in exploration and development in countries that have oil fields but do not have funds or technology to develop them.

        • Ellen Dibble

          I think Halliburton made out real well from that adventure, that “leaning forward,” although it tipped the national balance sheet into the red.  But wait, the vice president, for one, had nothing to do with that, right?

      • nj_v2

        Wrong.

        Defense spending as a percent of GDP was around five in 1950, spiked at just under 15 in the early 50s, and steadily dropped to around 10 at the end of the decade.

        • stephenreal

          When President Eisenhower said his farewell speech in 1961.
          Defense budget was 19% of the GDP.

      • RonShirtz

        The US spends more on its military than all the nations combined. It is number one global seller of military hardware.

        You also forget the hidden costs of military adventures paid by ordinary people–Broken lives, maimed bodies, an economy using its best and brightest sponsored by DARPA to weaponized everything then perhaps see if there is a peaceful application of said technology.

        The Military industry is one of the few indigenous businesses that the US has, and can truly claim that our weapon tech is “Made in America”. War is not just good for business, it is our ONLY business!

        • stephenreal

          ahh Walmart, Exxon, GM, GE, Berkshire Hathaway, Ford, AT&T etc…
          not one defense firm even hits top 50 Fortune 500 firms baby.
          Do even own any stocks?

          America’s business is business.
          Unless you live in fantasy

          • RonShirtz

            I should own stock in GM, after the Government bought major holdings in their company with my tax dollars to bail them out. I’m still waiting to receive my dividend or free car.

            GE? LOL! You do realize they are one of the biggest military indistries that benefit from our wars and occupations, don’t you? They don’t make their made profit off refrigerators anymore!

          • stephenreal

            The company operates through four segments: Energy, Technology Infrastructure, Capital Finance and Consumer & Industrial.

            I hardly see NBC or Vivendi as war hawks.

          • JobExperience

             WalMart is our biggest domestic arms dealer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

        4%  ?????    Look like YOU need to do your homework…dude.

        • stephenreal

          total defense spending was $670 billion in fiscal year 2012 4.3 percent of the nation’s $15.5 trillion economy according to an August CBO report.

        • JobExperience

          You’re correct Paolo. sr is way off.
          Defense spending is now approx. (at least) 1.5 trillion and more when the national security state is added. That’s over half of a yearly federal budget of about 3 trillion and at least 10% of the GNP. When our military spending is as great or greater than all other nations combined it is a certainty we are spending enough and a good deduction that we are spending far too much. sr has some sort of Neocon agenda with his fact-free reporting I think. Maybe he needs to move to Tel Aviv or an illegal settlement since he likes living in a garrison state. Any dude or bro can see that.

      • walterwz

         That 4% of GDP is a fact that requires some serious fact checking.  I do have overwhelming confidence that some ultra convoluted lie can be spun up to support this, but I am not buying it. 

        • stephenreal

          I advise you to check the CBO numbers for 2012.

          Doug Elmendorf (8th Director of CBO) was a senior fellow and the Edward M. Bernstein Scholar in the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He was previously an assistant professor at Harvard University, a principal analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, a senior economist at the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, a deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, and an assistant director of the Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Reserve Board.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Nobody paid attention to Eisenhower when he warned us of the perils involved and they continue to ignore him today. Fifty years of willful ignorance and counting.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If the Security Council could act more unanimously — i.e., if China and Russia could coordinate with the USA more often — wouldn’t a more global strategy for global stability be more attainable?  Anyone heard from Putin lately?  Or don’t nuclear weapons matter anymore, there being no grand two-sided standoff in place.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Keeping the Straits of Hormuz open is in the interest of EVERY country that gets oil from the mid east. All those countries are VERY HAPPY to have the USA fork over the money and military to do so.

    We are the patsy of the world being played by everyone. Why spend their “capital” when they can spend ours?

    Our “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” foreign policy has never served us well. It has cost many. MANY thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. Our “friends” are our friends as long as we give them money and weapons. Sounds like a dysfunctional relationship.

    We don’t need to be isolationist but instead of trying to control the world, to be the police of the world, we should work with the world.

    • stephenreal

      Those days of protecting the Straights of Hormuz are coming to an end.

      • JobExperience

         Protect the Gays of Hormuz instead?

        • stephenreal

          what are you thinking? you ok?

  • Ellen Dibble

    The main thing I heard in Obama’s inaugural address involving foreign policy was “engagement more securely ends suspicion” (more or less; he said it better); anyway, not embargoes and sanctions, but dialogue.  Does that mean diplomat to diplomat, capitalist to capitalist, college to college, tourist to tourist, Tweet to Tweet?  What?

    • 1Brett1

      Dancing Tweet to Tweet? …ongoing dialogue in as many ways as that is possible (all of the above, so to speak).

  • BHA_in_Vermont

     Jobs, Todd, JOBS!

  • Respectful_dialogue

    Please, Tom, refrain from interrupting your guest(s) in mid-sentence.

    • jefe68

      He does that a lot. I’m not sure why.

  • PithHelmut

    Our military policy is so flawed that if it wasn’t so tragic it would be laughable. How can we secure the freedom of anyone when we bomb them? Please explain that?  Our foreign policy is being continued by old-world thinkers and many of them have investments in weapons companies (eg: Diane Feinstein who voted to go into Iraq for a recent example of flawed thinking). For the few who are benefiting from war, the people here at home have been plunged into poverty.  If it’s for oil, we should have been off that stuff last century.

  • Ray in VT

    The last caller before William Wohlforth came on raised a part of the contradiction that exists in our foreign policy.  Many Americans want us to assist those struggling against oppression and to ensure basic human rights, but many don’t want us to be the world’s policeman.  If we get into the idea of spreading democracy, then one gets into a difficult place, as it has been pretty well proven that we cannot just plop down our ideals and institutions in areas where there does not exist the history and institutions, or even the local interest, to support those endeavors.  One also gets into the sticky spot whereby in order to create stability or to support our interests we have supported regimes that have had terrible records regarding civil and human rights.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Great comment, on a side note did you catch Tom’s He-Man reference? lol

      • Ray in VT

        Maybe.  Was it “masters of the universe”.  I’d love a “by the power of Greyskull!”

    • Ellen Dibble

      To me, it’s a no-brainer that nonmilitary methods of seeking to expand human rights could be a lot more effective than military means.  That’s almost an oxymoron.  Military might means you’ve given up on human cooperation; it inflicts; it controls.
          What are the alternatives?  I think the World is listening; not stepping up, but wondering, how does it work, having Free Speech, not having the women experience genital mutilation, having a country where everyone reads, what have you.  They’re looking at us, by the gazillion:  “What’s it really about, this way of life we can only despise and censure, by tradition?”  “Or envy.”  It’s a human-to-human effort.  Not a rockets-red-glare type effort.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that you’re correct in your position that military might is limited when it comes to combating some of the problems that exist globally.  I think that it can, and should, still probably play a role.  I read and agreed with your earlier comment regarding attempting to combat the underlying causes that drive people to extremist groups, such as poverty and want.  I think that if those things were curtailed, then I think that there would be less extremism.  There’d still be some fanatics who want to blow up people and such, but I think that there would be less of them, and that offering a positive alternative lessens the appeal to such ideologies.

        • Ellen Dibble

          Exhibit number 1, people turning to “extremist” religious groups for social supports, safety nets, bread:  Gaza, where people actually voted in Hamas; take that, USA, or Israel actually, maybe.
          Exhibit number 2, people turning to the Muslim Brotherhood with a similar track record, in Egypt.
          Exhibit number 3, people in northern Mali, where their own government had turned corrupt and feeding off the populace rather than working toward prosperity for all, but the AQIM had absorbed both weapons to defend them and money from their criminal endeavors, enough to ensure them a foothold.
          Exhibit number 4, Afghanistan, where continuing military threats made it all the more necessary to latch onto anyone, however extreme, who could maintain a modicum of order.
              I have a feeling the exhibit list goes into the hundreds, but my foreign affairs knowledge has limits.

          • JobExperience

             West Point reports domestic right wing violence up 500% in last 5 years. That exhibit is coming home to roost.

    • walterwz

       The one big problem with terrible records when it comes to civil and human rights is that people are so attentive to other countries and not paying much attention to themselves.

      Does it matter to you that your government can disappear you with no due process, monitors your every move, can torture you. You do get to keep your gun though.

      Does it bother you that the American People have voted twice now to change this and it has not changed?

      We are completely screwed. The American People are being sold the most bogus bill of goods and they are still happily buying all of it.

      Every comment here is an AMEN to this terrible fact.

    • Gregg Smith

      Excellent comment. Geo-politics is a bitch. Doing nothing is also a position with consequences. World dynamics evolve whether we participate or not. Evil spreads, things get ugly. 

    • hennorama

      Ray in VT – all good points.

      One also needs to consider the impression that an occupying military force leaves on current and future generations of the local populace.  US military occupations have left both positive and negative impressions.  However, the negative ones, especially those due to civilain casualties, seem most pronounced and long-lasting.  This has led to increased militant insurgency and recruitment and training of terrorists.

      This is far from a new phenomenon.  For example, toward the end of British rule in India, British troops opened fire on a large crowd, killing hundreds and wounding over a thousand.  This became known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, and was depicted vividly in the 1982 film Gandhi.  This event from 1919 is still well-remembered today nearly 100 years later.

      While I don’t mean to suggest the US military has done anything like the atrocities of Jallianwala Bagh, it’s certainly true that we’ve been responsible for many civilian deaths.  These deaths will be remembered for decades, perhaps for generations, and the resulting negative attitudes are difficult to overcome.  Anything that we can do to reduce these deaths will go a long way toward reducing hatred of the US by some who may act on their hatred with acts of terrorism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    Its been clear for years that US foreign policy is basically a desperate military intensive attempt to maintain the US dollar hegemony, and the disproportionate resource and standard of living benefits associated with it.

    There is a youtube video on The Road to World War 3 by stormclouds  which clearly explains this in a few minutes.

  • lbgatt

    Wohlforth is speculating on possibilities without offering any empiridal evidence that those possibilites are in any way likely to occur.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Mr Wohlforth says Isolationism is not the answer. Perhaps not but neither is “globe-straddling”.

  • Ben Cornforth

    To the thought that our economy would suffer without the defense stimulus – build a rocket ship.  Seriously, build 10, the logistiscs and training of those things would be worth far more than killing machines.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Rebuild our bridges.  Didn’t Obama say there was something like a trillion three needed to get our infrastructure back to normal, let alone rewire for new energies and high speed internet for all, or wiring that is immune to flood and tornado and wildfire?  

          But wait.  The guy who programs the computers that design the latest drone is not the guy who goes out and paves the roads.  Hmm.

      • Bluejay2fly

        The only bridge form the USA to Windsor, Canada is privately owned that shows you how much infrastructure and corporatism has taken over.

        • hennorama

          Bluejay2fly – that’s likely to change soon.  A new bridge seems to be clear for construction after ” …Michigan voters defeated Proposal 6, which would have called for a statewide vote on plans for any new international crossing, including the proposed new bridge over the Detroit River. Slightly more than 60 per cent of voters turned down the proposal, which would have been entrenched in the state’s constitution.”

          See:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2012/11/07/wdr-mich

          • JGC

            Thanks for bringing that up. (My foray into your link didn’t come up, but that may be a border thing, that’s one of the reasons why I don’t give direct links, because I am sometimes thwarted.) 

            This private bridge owner who has been raking it in for decades (and doing ZERO improvements) was behind the referendum to stop the building of a second, new, better yet PUBLICly funded bridge to alleviate choking congestion at the border.  The (conservative) Michigan governor in conjunction with the Canadian government did a runaround where the bridge building will be funded by Canada, and then repaid through toll collections to Canada. What a farce.   

          • hennorama

            Sorry JGC I somehow cut off the tail end of the URL.

            Given that the Ambassador Bridge owner, billionaire Matty Moroun, put up $30 million to promote MI Prop 6, it seems hard to argue that the existing tolls aren’t perhaps a bit high. It will be interesting to see how he likes actual competition rather than a monopoly.

            Try this:

            http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2012/11/07/wdr-michigan-proposal-six-bridge-windsor-detroit.html

          • JGC

            Works for me!  As Mike_Card might say, “What a Moroun”!

          • hennorama

            LOL seriously. Well done.

      • Gregg Smith

        Wasn’t the “stimulus” for infrastructure?  Didn’t we already do the “Shovel-ready jobs” thing?

  • lbgatt

    Wohlforth is speculaing on possibiliies without offering any empirical evidence that those possibilites are likely to occur.

  • MarkVII88

    I think the time has come for the U.S. to stop spending so much money abroad on military operations.  There are many domestic issues that could benefit tremendously from even a fraction of the money we’ve spent in the last 12 years on defense.  The problem becomes though, if we shrink our overseas military operations and reduce the size of our fighting forces, what happens to all the soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines that move from the service to the private sector at home?  Will this create a lot more unemployment and need for government services? I hate the thought that our servicemen and servicewomen won’t be able to support themselves in our current economy once they’re out of uniform. That’s not how we should treat our soliders.

    • JGC

      They could always go to work at WalMart.  Didn’t WalMart just publicize a policy of hiring veterans? Of course, on WalMart wages, they still won’t be able to support themselves, let alone their families…

    • hennorama

      MarkVII88 – this is merely anecdotal evidence, so take it FWIW.  My limited recent experience with ex-servicemembers who’ve served in combat, especially with those who are unmarried, is that most return to the US only long enough to be hired on as private security contractors.

      This field is changing quickly as US government funding is drying up.  While these ex-military personnel used to primarily work as armed security in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are now often being employed in logistics and intelligence gathering.  There is also growing employment in security for oil & gas and mining operations, which will no doubt increase after the recent Algerian incident.

      My only advice to them is to be sure they have plenty of life insurance, and a written will.  This is obviously a dangerous field.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julia.gandrud.9 Julia Gandrud

    It is nonsense to say that a hugely reduced military equals isolationism. When has military made things better for the world, since WWII? We need a LOT of soft presence, which is, in the end, more effective and cheaper.

  • nj_v2

    Who are we kidding? Most of U.S. foreign policy and military intervention is, and has been for many decades, designed to manipulate if not control outright conditions to be favorable to the ruling elite and the corporations that employ them. 

    Look at revolving door politician>corporate CEO/president >cycles over the years. Look at Wall Street involvement in 9/11. Look at politicians’ connections to military contractors. Look at decades of U.S. subversion or outright overthrow of democratically elected governments when they didn’t play our game. Look at U.S. support of dictatorships when they did our bidding.

    Why isn’t this documented history represented on this program?!

    .

    • stephenreal

      No.
      It stems from being the world’s first democracy.
      We had to fight kings, oligarchs and dictators since the dawn of the republic.
      Yes history does matter.

    • JobExperience

      Tom could be gagged for “representin’”!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.paul.5680 Anita Paul

    How is it working if we are still talking about staying in Japan for a war that ended 68 years. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    I would like to Pohsen: “We have huge infrastructure expenditures to make” w.r.t. not spending it on the military side, that there’s “no difference”.

    There is a difference: The multiplier effect of almost every other way to spend a federal dollar is greater than when it’s spent on the military.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Right. And, building infrastructure in the USA has certain benefits that don’t come from building in Eastasia :)

      Also, the right loves to talk about waste, fraud, inefficiency etc in every program BUT the military, and that’s where abuse is the worst. The lucrative giveaways to politically connected “contractors” would be a great place to start.

      • hennorama

        TomK_in_Boston – the problems can’t even be fully quanified.  A recent GAO report shows that even they can’t figure out where all the DOD assets are, and how the money is being spent.  Select excerpts FTA:

        ” About 34 percent of the federal government’s reported total assets as of September 30, 2012, and approximately 21 percent of the federal government’s reported net cost for fiscal year 2012 relate to the Department of Defense (DOD), which received a disclaimer of opinion on its consolidated financial statements.”  and

        “…serious financial management problems at DOD that have prevented its financial statements from being auditable…”

        But don’t worry.  There’s a plan in place to figure it all out ….. by Sept. 30, 2017. Who knows, pigs may be flying by then.

        See:http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/651357.pdf

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Till 9/17 I guess we can focus on finding $ via “entitlement reform”, then.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Control The World? Hell, we can’t even control ourselves.

  • Jillian Nowlin

    Its too late to consider stepping off the world stage. I don’t think its a matter of the US pulling back from taking part in
    international diplomacy, etc., and I don’t think that the United States
    has a moral high ground in which we’re cosmically ordained to bestow
    democracy on the lesser developed- can we cut back on the ethnocentric, cultural hubris please?? We live in an extremely globalized, international community in which the United States has much invested politically, economically, and environmentally. I think its a matter of the quality of US actions within the international community. I believe we’re way past choosing to back away from international involvement.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    “America has always been at war with Eastasia”

  • Jillian Nowlin

     PS- If any type of scaling back needs to happen, its in military interventionism, but that doesn’t mean that the United States cannot contribute within the international community. Its not a black and white situation.

    • hennorama

      The US could also transfer some of its estimated 700 to 1100 worldwide military installations to other countries, or close them completely.  Domestic installations also need to be examined in light of Federal budget concerns and the fact of reduced personnel needs post-Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • 65noname

    Once again government radio slants and limits the discussion, in part by its choice of spin dudes.  The show acts as if the question is whether the US should or should not continue to spend wealth in an attempt “spread democracy”. 

    Of course, what the show did not consider is whether the US’s policies is now and historically actually the strongest force AGAINST democracy.

    However, the MC’s own example of MLK demodstrates the dishonesty of this spin on the amerikan role in the world. When King both said that the US is engaged in too many expensive adventures around the world and said that no one is free until everyone is free, he wasn’t presenting a conundrium; he was saying that the amerikan militarry is used to PREVENT deomcracy to prop up dictators around thee world who support amerikan imperialism.

    How about having a guest who suggests that current amerikan foreign policy is NOT in support of democracy but rather is attempting subvert democracy?  How about presenting more positions  than simply one that presents the US as a great country interested in spreading democracy?

    • stephenreal

      The Muslims in Sebrenica loved our military adventuriesm to save their lives from death squads.

      • 65noname

        Too little too late.  and compare the scope of that action to the totality of amerikan force used around the world for 200 hundred years to prevent democracy and to prop up

        dictators because they support amerikan economic interests.

        • stephenreal

          we were not the first modern democracy? Name the others bro
          Let’s do the historical review.
          China?
          all of the middle east?
          South America? where even Simon Bolivar believed in repressing the natives?
          where bro? show me
          name one democracy that was created before us?

          • 65noname

            Dude,

            I’m not your bro.  I also never said that the US wasn’t (or was) “the

             first modern democracy”.  Before
            you lecture people on what they write you might try learning to read.

            But the question is not whether the US is a democracy, and that is a very debatable point, but whether government radio presents a full range of opinions in its shows.  Here, as usual, it has left out points of view that don’t go along with its myths of amerikan exceptionalism.

              

          • stephenreal

            Government radio?
            really dude? really?
            you get more on your tax return by percentage…
            In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from federal, state and local government funding, 10% of their revenue from CPB grants, and 14% of their revenue from universities.

          • 65noname

            all of which is government money. and who appoints the board? and who

             forces it to keep certain points of view off the air?  And forces it to always give the israel lobby the right to rebute any criticism of israel ? And do you remember when the government prevented it from presenting a governemnt TV children’s show episode that took place on a farm owned by two gay women?

          • stephenreal

            The board consists of 17 directors, 10 of whom are managers of NPR member stations and are elected to the board by their fellow member stations. The seven remaining directors include the president of NPR, the chairman of the NPR Foundation, and five prominent members of the public selected by the board and confirmed by NPR member stations.

          • 65noname

            you could not possibly beleive that government radio is not a creature of the government and that its political and other editorial decisions are highly influenced by its reliance on the government.

          • stephenreal

            I think this where we break. I live in the world as it is and not how I wish it should be

          • Gregg Smith

            How ’bout we give a pittance to Rush?

          • JGC

            LOL!

          • stephenreal

            How about dealing in the world as it is and not as you wish it should be?

          • JobExperience

            Haiti was the second modern democracy…. but our owners fixed that.

          • stephenreal

            On January 1, 1804 Dessalines then declared independence,reclaiming the indigenous Taíno name of Haiti (“Land of Mountains”) for the new nation. Most of the remaining French colonists fled ahead of the defeated French army, many migrating to Louisiana or Cuba. Unlike Toussaint, Dessalines showed little equanimity with regard to the whites. In a final act of retribution, the remaining French were slaughtered by Haitian military forces. Some 20,000 Frenchmen were massacred at Cap-Français, 900 in Port-au-Prince, and 400 at Jérémie.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.rothwell.96 Jonathan Rothwell

      There is some truth to what 65noname writes, the US government has indeed subverted democracy historically in
      many instances (Iran, when Mossadegh was overthrown by the CIA, most of the
      Middle East, the Philippines, Latin America at times, our own Southern region
      until 1965), but the question is not: “has the US always been good?”,
      it is: “What should the US government do?” For some reason, those on
      the far left (like Chomsky) believe that because the answer to the first
      question is no, the second question is irrelevant or the answer should be
      “nothing.” The fact is that the world and the United States are much
      better off when the United States consistently supports republican institutions
      and human rights, and most importantly, this is what the United States should do.
      That entails using our military to support rebels in Syria and set up liberal
      institutions afterwards, and continuing to help those in favor of liberal
      democracy in Libya, Iraq, and elsewhere—which is to say the majority of the population.

      The
      “realism” offered by Barry Posen is immoral and impractical, and his
      reasoning is fallacious in its straw man characterization of the opposing
      point: Just because America can’t solve every problem, or police every
      conflict, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t intervene when the potential benefits–the
      development or maintenance of open/liberal institutions, or the protection of
      human rights–are large, relative to the costs. And, I know it’s a contrarian
      thought, but a few billion dollars to set a country on a path to democracy is a
      worthwhile investment. Just think of the payoff to France from King Louis’s
      intervention in supporting America’s victory of England. We have reaped such gains from interventions in S. Korea, Japan, and Germany. Surely, the gains from
      a democratic Middle East and Africa would also be immense, as those countries would
      gain in wealth, education, and innovation.

      • 65noname

        Actually, my point was that this program continually hews to a point of view that pretends that the US is a force for good in the wworld and when it isn’t, its only because of “mistakes” or

        hubris. Or overreaching in its attempt to do good.

        It ignores the idea that the US is a prime cause of what is wrong in the world and that many, many current world problems are the result off the amerikan government’s attempts to subvert economicand political democracy thru out the world for the last 175 years.  So the first thing that should happen is an honest historical discussion of what has been going on in the world for the last 175 years and why.  Then the question becomes whether the amerikan government can be trusted to stop its policy of turning every thing that happens in the world into an attempt to subvert democracy and economic self determination. Not to mention whether there is any reason to believe that the forces that control amerikan policy have any intention of ever changing its ways.

        Calling that a “far left” position does not make it untrue.

  • JobExperience

     Who’s gonna win the Super Bowl. I see you got your foam finger ready. USA! USA! USA!

  • http://www.facebook.com/julia.gandrud.9 Julia Gandrud

    This conversation is too macho!  Where is the conversation outside of force?

    • JobExperience

       I understand and agree with your observation.

  • JobExperience

    You got history upsidedown.
    See how we helped Haiti?
    We do that everydamnwhere.

    *intended as reply to stephenreal

    • stephenreal

      Haiti did it to themselves.
      They are not the “pull youself up by your bootstraps” nations like Germany and Japan.
      Their mindset is hardly built for success.

      • JobExperience

         To understand the racist implications of your post you need to study some history. Right now Commissioner Clinton has UN troops down there fighting unionism. I like the welfare nanny states like Japan and Germany but compared to them Haiti has been a French and American  field slave. It’s the nearest thing to Gaza in this hemisphere.

        • stephenreal

          People are not people all  over the world?
          Funny how one can justify and rationalize what is clearly in front of them.

  • Ellen Dibble

    By the way, what’s the matter with having Iran sort of manage the Shia part of the Middle East?  Let them manage stability there?  Does someone think Saudi Arabia can lord it over the non-Sunni universe?  Not going to happen.  Will Russia guarantee the peace there?  Hmm.  Oh, but Iran supports terrorism.  Issue number one.  Oh, but Iran wants to obliterate Israel.  Issue number two.
        Maybe someone should get that on the table, and see if the Iranian people want to support terrorism and obliterate Israel, or would like a distinguished place in that part of the world.  Ask them.

  • Respectful_dialogue

    Thank you for providing all of the interesting topics and format that you present on your show.  I very much enjoy having the opportunity to learn about these issues, and usually I am satisfied with what I hear.  However, at times I find myself distressed about how guests are interrupted in a challenging (and sometimes disrespectful) way when they are in mid sentence.  I realize that there are times when interruption is important to the
    goal of disseminating information on your show or having breaks , but I
    find that your show relative to other NPR programs (e.g. Fresh Air and others) interrupts more and is less respectful.  Please, Tom, rethink the degree to which guests are interrupted, and when they are interrupted, please soften the language and tone.

    I appreciate having this opportunity to provide you feedback, and I understand the challenge of providing a show that

    - Provides accurate & interesting information
    - Is entertaining (sometimes this can err on the side of disrespectful controversy, which is the source of my concern)
    - Is respectful to listeners & guest.

    Best of luck and continued success with your program!!

    • Bluejay2fly

      Your right, I have the impression Tom’s (liberal interventionist view) was in opposition this guest. He frequently interrupted him, much to my amazement as he is usually never that biased, and he also seemed more interested in proving him wrong than exploring his ideas. I was also disappointed not to here anyone talk about: How much money is spent on overseas bases which enriches wealthy nations like Japan, Germany, Kuwait and Korea. How much military aid we have given our allies, Israel alone is over 200 Billion. Finally, the justice of spending money on these Non U.S. citizens while our own countrymen endure: 20K+ murders and 30K+ suicides every year , Millions of people in prison, ruin porn cities like Detroit, 50K seriously mentally people just kicked to the streets to become homeless people, and of tens millions without access to any middle class jobs. Where is that discussion, TOM?

  • JobExperience

    I see the  US population as pretty well cowed and controlled by fear and indoctrination. It’s adventurism in support of Oligarchy that’s out of control.

    *intended as reply to DrewinGeorgia

    • stephenreal

      maybe in your state

      • JobExperience

        Is San Juan P.R. warm today?
        When you gonna secede?

        • stephenreal

          Some clouds with the chance of a couple showers developing overnight. Record low temperatures expected. Low 53F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

          It’s even cold there dude.

  • RonShirtz

    Ron Paul was a lone courageous voice in the GOP and presidential debates in 2007 advocating that the US should stop be the world’s policeman and involved in regime change. Five years later we can see how right Dr. Paul’s position was, with NPR now finally discussing this issue in a backdoor method with Mr. Posen. Dr. Paul was deliberately labeled as isolationist, when in fact he encouraged diplomacy and trade among nations. But no one like his idea of NOT having the US throw its weight around with carrier fleets (which are designed to project force), fly overs, and military occupations to make the world safe for democracy–While making a handsome profit for the military industrial complex.

    The US has been using the CIA for decades in dirty covert operations to effect policy changes, as well a the US military as a blunt instrument to instill “democracy”. It has failed miserably at a great cost of lives and treasure.

    Stop for a moment and imagine how any of us would feel if the same policy of convert and overt force from another country was applied here domestically to get us to do what is in our–or others– best interests?  Would we not resent it, even resist? Of course we would. Its only human nature to do so.

    But US foreign policy does not threat the people in other counties as humans only as political materiel to shape them into our image as a American “mini me”. We apply aid and force in equal measures to do this, and yet somehow surprised that our subjects do not respond favorably to our recipe.

    • stephenreal

      Why wouldn’t you use the CIA to whack our enemies then going to war?

      • RonShirtz

        Because the CIA covert operations–Which they themselves admitted–create unintended consequences, better know as “blowback” that ripple bad effects years later.

        They have performed regime change in several nations, the Shah of Iran for example, that resulted in a radical reaction that now haunts us today. The CIA employs drones strikes against “suspected terrorists”, causing collateral damage among innocent civilians. This results in bringing new recruits for the radical elements, as well as straining relations with Pakistan whose borders we violate doing so.

        The CIA actions often result our out troops paying the blowback they cause. The CIA’s only mission should be intel gathering, not James Bond hit jobs.

        • stephenreal

          Iran did it to themselves.
          You have way too much faith in the CIA abilities to overturn governments without significant help from the locals themselves.

          The CIA needs to whack our enemies like they’ve done since the beginning of their origin.
          Why was the CIA created again?
          Pearl Harbour.

  • Bob Fidler

    Wolhforth’s arguments were weak.  The US has proven time and again we are NOT a stabilizing influence.  The problem with having the largest/strongest military is that we use it.  Name the last president who didn’t use the miltary.  He spoke of wise leaders and how they will judiciously use the armed forces – there was no wisdom with Bush and Cheney.

  • walterwz

    Battle of the straw men! 

    US Foreign Policy and the US Empire makes perfect sense when looked at in terms of disaster capitalism.

    Nothing demonstrates right wing schizophrenia more perfectly than this: when it comes to a government helping its people, health care, education and social security government can do no right. Social welfare creates a culture of dependency. And there is no money and attending to these things will bankrupt us.

    But when it comes to the Military and dealing with foreign countries and their internal affairs government suddenly can do no wrong. Nothing more is needed than permanent occupations, permanent war and one failed state after another.  If there are any problems it is because the trillions spent were not enough.

    Any notion that the American Empire is a force for good is a LIE.

    Anyone who believes this lie is delusional.

    I am delighted to go the way of Cicero in this matter.    

    • stephenreal

      Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC–December 7,43 BC) (also known by the anglicized name Tully, in and after the Middle Ages) was an orator and statesman of Ancient Rome. 

      He came from a wealthy municipal family of thee questrian
      order, and is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.

      It was during his consulship that the Catiline conspiracy
      attempted the government overthrow through an attack on the city from outside forces, and Cicero suppressed the revolt by executing five conspirators without due process.

      “Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country.” Cicero

    • Gregg Smith

      No one says government can do no right or the military can do no wrong. There’s your straw men.

    • Bluejay2fly

       Your right they are inconsistent because nothing they do is logical when it comes to serving the common good. They are only there to make the few rich at the expense of the many. Justifying it to the masses requires loyalty to a hotch potch of often inconsistent and idiotic ideas in order to sell it to the people they are robbing. Sadly, too many Americans are not smart enough to catch on to this BS. Good Job 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1672421583 Patricia Miller Sherwood

    I’d love to read the article here…but if I go to that page what pops up is the opposing article “Lean Forward”.  There is apparently no way to get to “Fall Back”.  I am so in favor of Barry Posen’s point of view…could someone take a look and fix the technological glitch?

    • hennorama

      The links are backwards/mislabeled.  Click the opposite one for the article you want, at least for now. These are both premium articles, BTW.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hal.pepinsky Hal Pepinsky

    “DIRTY WARS” http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/22/dirty_wars_jeremy_scahill_and_rick

    Hal Pepinsky, pepinsky@indiana.edu, “Peacemaking” at
    pepinsky.blogspot.com

    January 22, 2013

                    I defy
    anyone to click the link to today’s “Democracy Now!” segment on the film “Dirty
    Wars” that Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley are premiering at the Sundance Film
    Festival, and conclude that the US Government is the world’s leading and still
    growing terrorist force and state sponsor of terrorism, and since President
    Truman’s acceptance speech at the 1948 Democratic Convention  has constructed and swelled the ranks of
    anti-US guerrilla forces by giving them a common surnames, originally
    “Communists,” now “al Qaeda.”   If
    terrorism is the greatest threat to US national security, meet the enemy: the
    enemy is us.  If we US criminologists
    allow ourselves to include state action in our definition of terrorism, if we
    define terrorism as first-degree murder, and if serial first-degree murder is not
    the most serious of violent crimes, should not our theories of today’s violent
    criminal careers be grounded in the study of habitual offender groups like the
    US Special Operations Command and its commanders, who carry on globally
    terrorizing and killing innocents in our name? 
    Without that conceptually grounding, our claims to knowledge of
    international violent crime are premature, if not morally bankrupt.  Love and peace–hal

     

  • hennorama

    Israeli elections had surprising outcomes yesterday.

    Netanyahu has been significantly weakened as a result.  His party (Likud) got only 32 seats, a loss of 9 seats  It’s not yet clear if he will be able to keep his job, since there is a deadlock in the Knesset.  The right wing parties together, and the left wing parties together each now have 60 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.

    Netanyahu will have about a month and a half to try to form a majority coalition.  Regardless of the outcome, Israeli electoral politics seem to have shifted significantly to the center, with a brand-new centrist party, Yesh Atid (formed only last year) coming in second, with 19 seats.

    These results may have significant regional political outcomes, especially if Netanyahu is unable to form a stable coalition government.  Observers worldwide are now trying to figure out multiple new “what-if” scenarios after these surprising results.

    Read more here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2013/jan/23/netanyahu-wins-israeli-general-election-live-updates

    http://forward.com/articles/169791/final-israel-election-results-shows-dead-even–/#ixzz2IoriQn5m

    • stephenreal

      the good news is their more women in the Knesset

      “The incoming Knesset will have 26 women, five more than the previous, record-setting one. Dr. Ofer Kenig of the Israeli Democracy Institute reviewed women in the Knesset, pointing out that in the first Knesset had 11 female members, and in 1988, only seven women were voted into the Knesset, the lowest number since the state’s establishment.”

      http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=300690

  • http://www.facebook.com/hal.pepinsky Hal Pepinsky

    How about converting our military industries to production of restoration and replacement parts for our infrastructure and buildings including houses–to redeploy our troops in domestic public reconstruction?

    • JobExperience

       So what would happen to our trained killers?

      • JGC

        They will join the leadership of the NRA.

    • harverdphd

       Great..but no unions

  • Scott Meyer

    Shouldn’t the goal be for the U.S. to be involved on the world stage without a bloated military?  Why does reducing the amount of money poured into military spending have to equate to isolationism in some peoples minds?

  • MattCA12

    Wish Tom would ask his question, then shut up and let the guest answer.  All I hear is him talking over his guest, very annoying.

    • JobExperience

      The producer needs a kill button on Tom’s mike.

    • jefe68

      Makes you wonder if he had to much caffein today.
      It was more annoying that usual.

    • aclsm28

      I was just about to post a very similar comment and then scrolled down. This was obnoxious and rude. I’m surprised that his guests didn’t just go off on him.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/D2ICI64U7WH4G5COCON42EQBMQ Roxanne

      I was wondering if I was the only one feeling this. He’s usually so good. Sounds like he’s on steroids today. Calm down, Tom!

  • hennorama

    Barry Posen makes a great deal of sense, and his thesis is thought-provoking.  Mainly, he seems to propose that other countries take more responsibility for global defense spending, and that the US reduce its military spending.  This point is dificult to argue against, IMO.

    The US spends 4 to 5 percent of GDP on defense (4.7% recently).  European countries spend from 1.0 to 2.6 percent of GDP.  Japan spends 1.0% and China 2.1%.  Brazil spends 1.6%.  India 2.7%.  Countries in the Middle East spend a LOT – Saudia Arabia is at 10.1%*, and Israel at 6.5%.

    * figures for Saudi Arabia include expenditure for public order and safety and might be slight overestimates

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Military_expenditure_by_GDP_2008.png

    Given current Federal budgetary concerns, military spending needs to be at least part of the discussion.  Compared to 2007 spending levels, overall Federal Net New Spending (NNS) increased during the 5 year period of 2008 thru 2012 by $3.7116 Trillion.  Defense spending (including military defense, veterans expenditures, foreign military aid and foreign economic aid) added $888.5 Billion, 23.9% of (NNS).

    To get a grip on the numbers, the added DEFENSE Spending would pay  the 4 year average college costs for 12.25 million students.  That’s about the current number of female college and university students.

    Alternatively, you could have paid off the entire negative equity of all underwater US mortgages ($691 B) and have $197.5 Billion left over, enough to pay for all Federal Law Enforcement, Courts, Prisons, Transportation and General Government activities in 2012.

    The US military has a very large number of installations worldwide, with  estimates ranging from 700 to 1100.  The exact number of is not known due to secrecy and security concerns.  Perhaps we can close a few dozen of these, or transfer them to other countries.

    Here a some illustrations and articles on US military bases:

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/10/28/graphic-mapping-a-superpower-sized-military/

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-worldwide-network-of-us-military-bases/5564

    http://nationalpostnews.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/fo1029_usbases12001.gif

  • Outside_of_the_Box

    Try this one on for size.
    Bring the troops home.
    Maintain diplomatic relations.
    And focus on the homefront.
    Yes, we have strategic interests, but we accomplish a lot more with investment, good relations, etc; than with bases, invasions, drone wars, etc
    Who is going to mess with us?
    So let’s focus on what the people really care about:
    healthcare
    pensions
    jobs
    infrastructure
    education
    welfare
    and putting a Gov in place that will focus on these things rather than special interests~

  • Gregg Smith

    Hillary summed up the new foreign policy today: “What difference at this point does it make?”

    • StilllHere

      I don’t think that moment will play well in 2016.
      It’s like Obama’s four dead people is not optimal.

      • JGC

        I might be mistaken, but I am getting that vibe that V.P.Biden will be making a play for the top job in 2016.  Here I thought he was going to ride the Acela Express off into the Delaware sunset at the end of the Obama years.  But I don’t get that feeling at the moment.  Watch your back, Hillary… 

        • Gregg Smith

          I think so too. Ugh.

    • OnPointComments

      It’s a truism about incompetence in government:  nobody ever pays a price for incompetence.  The SEC receives specific warnings about Bernie Madoff and does nothing; nobody is fired or pays the price.  SEC personnel watch porn for 8 hours a day on government computers, and they all still have jobs.  ATF funnels guns into Mexico resulting in hundreds of deaths, and a couple of personnel are moved around.  The EPA chief evades Freedom of Information laws by establishing a fake email account, well, that’s par for the course.  The State Department ignores pleas for protection, and the country is supposed to move on because it doesn’t make a difference now.  No wonder so many people are cynical about the government.

      • OnPointComments

        An afterthought:  did you see PBS Frontline “The Untouchables” last night?  Add to the list the government prosecutors who displayed total incompetence in prosecuting any Wall Street executives who pedaled fraudulent loans.

    • jefe68

      Yeah, Mrs. Clinton does have point when when one considers that Republicans did nothing after any of these attacks on our embassies. not one peep out their self-righteous mouths.

      2002 when the US Consulate in the Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked and 10 were killed.

      2004 when the US embassy in Uzbekistan was attacked and two were killed and another nine injured.

      How about in 2004, when the US Consulate in Saudi Arabia was stormed and 8 lost their lives.

      There is more: In 2006, armed men attacked the US Embassy in Syria and one was murdered.

      Then in 2007 a grenade was thrown at the US Embassy in Athens.

      In 2008, the US Embassy in Serbia was set on fire.

      In 2008, bombings in the US Embassy in Yemen killed 10.

      • Gregg Smith

        You may have forgotten the Iraq war. I realize you don’t understand anything but revenge but it was an effort to change the face of the entire Middle East.

      • Gregg Smith

        Who went on TV and lied about those attacks?

  • StilllHere

    In addition to cutting SS, Medicare and other entitlements, we should cut foreign aid and troop placement in foreign territories as we strive to get a handle on runaway spending.

  • ambika kamath

    Why aren’t the views of Andrew Bacevich brought up in these conversations? He’s one of the most eloquent speakers against American interventionism. 

    • hennorama

      ambika kamath – A search for “Andrew Bacevich” in this site’s search box above yielded 47 results, so it’s not like Prof. Bacevich has been absent from the discussions.  Try it yourself.

      You might also be interested in a more recent On Point show titled “Nobody’s Century” with Ambassador Chas Freeman.
      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/10/22/nobodys-century

  • hennorama

    As Howard Fineman pointed out to Chris Matthews today, Sec. Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees could be viewed as both the final event of the 2012 Presidential election, and the first event of the 2016 US Presidential campaign.

    Clinton masterfully flicked aside the arguments and statements of the Benghazi obsessives, like Sen. (Ayn) Rand Paul, who hilariously imagined himself as President and firing Sec. Clinton; and Sen. Johnson who accused Sec. Clinton of using the ongoing FBI investigation as “a good excuse” and who claimed that Sec. Clinton was “purposefully misleading the American people.”

    Then there was the finger-wagging fool from South Carolina, Rep. Jeff Duncan, who accused the Secretary of “national security malpractice” and suggested that she should have resigned as a result of the attacks.

    My suggestion to Sec. Clinton – save these tapes.  They are akin to how NBA players “posterize” an opponent by dunking over them in spectacular fashion.

    For more:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/clinton-benghazi-testimony-86611.html#ixzz2IqGADFIK

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/23/clinton-on-benghazi-story-confusion-what-difference-does-it-make-video/

    While the deaths of 4 Americans in Benghazi is certainly important, this attempt at a 20/20 hindsight-filled blame game is beyond the pale.  The focus should be on tracking down and prosecuting with extreme prejudice those invloved in the attack, and on preventing similar attacks in the future.

    BTW:  Americans killed by firearms since Newtown – at least 1173, nearly 300 times the Benghazi death toll.

    Source:http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

    • OnPointComments

      I watched both the Senate and the House hearings on C-Span today, and came away thinking they were a total waste of time.  Your characterization of the Republicans may be mostly correct, but you omitted a characterization of the Democrats who wanted to genuflect in front of her and kiss her ring.  One thing that was said rang true:  no matter what happens in government, nobody ever pays a price for incompetence.  It’s a sad state of affairs when our own government allows four Americans to be murdered, and there is little interest in understanding the chain of events that allowed it to happen.

      • hennorama

        OPC – TY for your response.

        I agree that these hearings were mostly a waste of time, except for Sec. Clinton – she clearly came out on top. The proceedings were completely predictable, and virtually customary at this point – if you agree with the person testifying, you first praise them, then serve up softball questions. If you disagree with them, you first pontificate on your point of view, then treat the witness with as much disdain as you can muster. It’s all political theater for the benefit of the cameras.

        However, I disagree that “no matter what happens in government, nobody ever pays a price for incompetence.” No one was fired, but there have been several resignations post-Benghazi. I also disagree “there is little interest in understanding the chain of events that allowed it to happen.” The Accountability Review Board has investigated and issued classified and unclassified reports. There are ongoing investigations. There have been multiple sessions of Congressional testimony, again both classified and unclassified. There will be (and have been) changes as a result.

        My view all along is that we need to now focus on finding the [expletives deleted] individuals and groups involved in the attack, and prosecuting them with extreme prejudice.

        • OnPointComments

          “Benghazi penalties are bogus”
           http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/benghazi_penalties_are_bogus_ncP7RZx5uTIgDPbTp5WtoN 
           
          Excerpt:
          The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.
          The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.
           ___________

          Suppose you have a child in a daycare center.  Numerous people warn the daycare center that the playground is easily accessible to unauthorized people, and plea for the security problem to be fixed.  The daycare center ignores the pleas and does nothing; to the contrary, supervision of the playground is decreased.  Your child is killed by a madman.  Would you attempt a 20/20 hindsight blame game, or would catching the madman be enough for you?  As long as the daycare center took steps to prevent similar attacks in the future, would you agree that there shouldn’t be any repercussions for the daycare personnel who allowed the killing to happen in the first place?  If there were 1173 children killed in other circumstances unrelated to the killing of your child, would that number console you?
           
          The questions are facetious.  I thought that if I brought an example closer to home you might realize the fallacy in your argument.  No one should be allowed to perform their job so poorly and with such lack of judgment that it results in 4 deaths and get off scot-free.

          • hennorama

            OPC – TY for your response. I understand and respect your views, and TY for the link. If the reports in the NY Post article are true, that is indeed outrageous. However, I note that in a foxnews.com article on the same date as the NY Post article, “Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she could not independently confirm a New York Post report claiming Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, remains at the department…”

            See:http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/26/state-department-official-who-resigned-after-libya-findings-reportedly-staying/#ixzz2IrIOl5Lm

            I would also quibble with your use of the phrase “allowed the killing to happen” in your analogy. Clearly security at the Benghazi mission was inadequate, and the type of attack that occured was not properly anticipated. And while I understand that there were some prior security concerns expressed, we cannot change the outcome. Unfortunately, assigning blame does nothing to change the events that have already occurred. Nothing can bring back either the 4 Americans killed there, nor the 1173 (or more) Americans killed by firearms since Newtown.

            By your standards, one might argue that Pres. Bush II and members of his administration should have lost their jobs post-9/11. Remember that Pres. Bush II “allowed” the September 11, 2001 attacks even after the infamous “Bin Laden Determined to Strike In US” Presidential Daily Brief was given to him while he was on vacation on August 6, 2001. Nearly 3000 people died in these attacks.

            The blame game gets tricky. The people who should be most held to account are those who commiited the heinous acts, just like we did post-9/11. We need to move forward and work to change what can be changed to prevent future losses of life, both in our diplomatic services, and in everyday America life.

          • OnPointComments

            Further down in the Fox article it states that the State “department has not denied the report” that personnel were reassigned and are not off the government payroll.  My guess is that the State Department would vehemently deny the report if it wasn’t true.
             
            I would agree that President Bush and members of his administration should have lost their jobs if the buildings around the World Trade Center had been attacked by Al Qaeda over a series of months, and they were warned that the World Trade Center was next and refused requests to increase security.
             
            We can never change the outcome when people are killed.  But we do hold people accountable when their negligence contributes to the deaths — unless the people work for the government.

          • hennorama

            OPC – TY again for your response and for expanding your views. I understand and appreciate them. Clearly we have different viewpoints, which seem unlikely to change with further discourse, regardless of how much fun it might be to continue. The old trope “Let’s agree to disagree” seems most operable. Thanks again for taking the time and most especially for the link to the NY Post article.

        • Gregg Smith

          “My view all along is that we need to now focus on finding the [expletives deleted] individuals and groups involved in the attack, and prosecuting them with extreme prejudice.” 

          That is exactly the strategy. That is what you are supposed to want. But this is not about something as small and petty as revenge. Just like killing Bin Laden did not make us safer, capturing the perpetrators will not mean anything. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try, I’m saying it solves nothing. BTW, Tunisia set one free without informing us.

          This is about a global jihad and our government lying to us about the ramifications.  

      • Gregg Smith

        I agree with you completely and maybe more. She was masterful in her deviousness and made mincemeat of the feckless Republicans. I do think Rand Paul was 100% correct but even he seemed more about making a name for himself than getting to the truth… which we still don’t know.

        I have to hand it to her, the hutzpah it takes after 4 months to interject “at this point” into “what difference does it make” is astonishingly breathtaking. And when she cried I flash backed to the 2008 NH primary. I remembered her playing the victim with Rick Lazio. I thought of the people she has victimized, like Billy Dale. 

        She’s cold. I don’t believe her tears, I just don’t. I wish I could, I hate that about me.
        She cried when she talked about comforting the parents of the slain. How does that jive with her telling them she would make sure the videographer was jailed? She knew it wasn’t the stupid video. 

  • burroak

         Great subject,  Our national defense will always be a top priorty;  and maintaining this will remain an economic staple.  However, why can our great nation manufacture a fighter jet costing 100 million, and not develope high-speed rail that travels speeds 150-170 m.p.h? France and China have these technologies, why not the United States? And, is the economic investments worthwhile for continued research and study on energy sources? Yes, especially, if this leads to more energy independence.   
         Finally, with the vast amount of scientific data, climate change seems to appear more and more evident each year, will this spur more economic sectors in our nation? And if so, will these companies decide to invest and build their facilities here, in our nations cities, towns, and communities? Or will they go abroad and give those economic lifelines to some obscure nation?
         

  • Raj_Raja

    Tom,
    This is a fantastic topic. I think what we need in this country is to enact a law that says we should not be borrowing money to pay for a war. And the we need to have an itemized federal tax for every war we go into. I would love to see how much the American public is interested in world engagement.

    Raj

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    Tom is a very savy interviewer.  He’s very adept at anticipating an answer his producers would not agree with, and cutting it off summarily by interrupting.  Witnessed it many times in the past.

    • biophilia

      What is your evidence of that? How do you know what “his producers would not agree with”?

      • Tyranipocrit

         its called understanding power an dthe world.  follow the money, not the lie

  • http://www.facebook.com/robby.boyer.14 Robby Boyer

    Why not bring our resourses back home, remember in the fifties the ninties it’s time, we could do some thing simple like a bike hike trail from the east coast to the west coast promoting commrence along the trail and healthy living imagine all the fresh gardens you could grow along the trail and tourism that you could promote yea a trans conteintail trail.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    We cannot afford Wohlforth’s immoral, arrogant, paternalistic interventionist foreign policy. I really question his motives. If I had my way we’d cut the “defense” budget 75% and defend our own borders and embassies ONLY. How do you ask the last American soldier to die to guarantee his amorphous world empire?

    Tom Ashbrook often suggests more infrastructure spending, but I urge people to think critically about this classic case of the broken window fallacy. Resources devoted to infrastructure deprive other endevours that may be more deserving. Would you rather have a new high speed train from LA to Las Vegas in lieu of the iPhone? http://www.policymic.com/articles/47/america-s-broken-infrastructure-and-obama-s-broken-windows

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