Edwards' Foreign Policy Speech

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

As a pretty lefty Democrat, I have been trying to figure out who I will support for the Democratic nomination for President. I really, really want to like Obama. I am sure he is a fine man, but his lack of specificity on his policies and his recent attack on the auto industry has left me wanting something else. Edwards has always been on my radar screen.

Today, Edwards gave a speech on the Iraq war and on military and foreign policy before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. I was pleased to read that he didn't call for an immediate withdrawal of all troops like many of the other candidates. I think many Democrats will agree - no matter what their feelings are about the Iraq war - that we have a high level of responsibility for what happens in Iraq after we leave. He calls for a longer-term, but smaller contingent of forces to remain there to keep the place from degenerating into genocide. In the long speech, he also discusses the condition of the military, our duty to our veterans, and other policy matters.

I post the link to his speech to get feedback from my friends who have served in the military, as well as gather input from Around the Keg's other 1.01 Million daily readers.

Sorry I have been monopolizing the blog. It seems that Smitty has either completely drank all the beer in Michigan, and therefore he has no more beer to review, or he has entered the Betty Ford. I'll check in with Mrs. Smitty to make sure he's OK.

Hey, at least I am writing about more than just stem cell.

Read the speech here.

7 comments:

steves 7:16 PM  

I'll post my impressions pre and post speech. I will speak from the non-military perspective. I have very mixed feelings for the war. While I consider myself a small 'l' Libertarian, I disagree with their defense only approach to dealing with other countries. I also disagree with the neocon approach of GWB. I understand that we bear some responsibility for what happens in Iraq at this time, but I have several questions:

1. Is our presence making the situation worse?

2. Is it a foregone conclusion that they will drift into civil war whenever we leave?

3. Are the people of Iraq ready for democracy?

BTW, I liked the stem cell stuff. I was going to post another gun related entry, but maybe I should try something else?

Bob 7:56 PM  

I think my definition of self defense is definitely to the right of many of my Dem colleagues. My memory is a bit sketchy, but back in 2004, the U.S. Navy boarded a ship that was suspected of carrying N. Korean nuclear weapons technology to a Middle Eastern country. I actually had Dem. friends of mine talk about how other countries had "a right" to have nuclear weapons too and that the U.S. "broke the law" by boarding the ship. I really don't care id we violated international law. If some crazy-ass country ( I am not sure which crazy-ass country it was.) may be about to receive a nuke, I say do whatever it takes to stop it from happening. If that's not self defense, so be it.

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I still have part three coming up on the economics of stem cell. It will likely be the shortest part of the series.

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Fire off another gun entry (pun intended), or anything else that crosses your mind.

steves 7:46 AM  

rI read the speech and a few things stand out.

I think that Edwards must have been working hard to improve his foreign policy cred. He is certainly an intelligent person, but I think it is clear that he has been working on this area.

His assessment of the current administration's handling of foreign policy is very accurate and I can find no fault with it. One thing that he keeps discussing is our "moral authority." I have trouble with this. I don't believe that a country can be moral. People can be moral (or immoral) and their actions can be described as such, but I just don't think that describing a country as moral is necessary when discussing foreign policy. I do believe it is important to consider the implications of what a certain policy will have, and I am not suggesting that "anything goes." I am suggesting that a certain amount of realpolitik may be necessary.

An example. Carter's NSA, Zbigniew Brzezinski, admits that the US took steps to encourage the USSR to invade Afghanistan in the late 1970's, with the hope that they would get bogged down in a long war. He was correct and that war contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. I would have to say that provoking a conflict between two countries is seriously immoral, but the value of hurting communism made it worth doing, in the opinion of most people.

He talks about US leadership after WWII. He is correct that the US did a great job of rebuilding Europe. The US, though, did a terrible job in estimating the threat of the USSR to the rest of the world and allowing them to take control of Eastern Europe and North Korea. We are still feeling the effects of this decision after more than 50 years.

I am skeptical of his cabinet level post to encourage democracy, education, and safety worldwide. I am a huge proponent of these things and genuinely believe that people are better off when they have a say in their government, but I also think it is arrogant to say that US knows what is best for the rest of the world. I would like to know how he would encourage this without sounding like, "we know what is best for you." I think the US has the potential for being a great world leader, but we must be willing to listen and respect the soverignty of other nations. If not, we will just be seen as a bully, which is fine in some cases, but shouldn't be the status quo.

His ideas on military policy sound good, as does his proposed ban on torture, closing the Guantanamo prison, and restoring habeas corpus. Overall, it was a good speech, but I still have some doubts that it may be overly optimistic in some areas and may lack solid plans in others. I hope he can fill in the gaps at some point.

Smitty 7:53 AM  

No, Smitty has not entered Betty Ford. God hates a quitter. Nor have I drank all the beer. I still have some of my homebrew left. No...I have been at the Crapitol non-fucking-STOP and have had neither the time nor the energy to write a post. But see...the beauty of having other contributors is that you guys not only add to the debate, but have well-thought and intelligent posts of your own.

It's 8:35 a.m. I will put me pre-having-read-the-speech thoughts right now. Then, whenever the Hell I am done at the Crapitol today (I am hearing laaaate tonight) I will post some more thoughts. This comment is based on what he has said thus far in other campaign speeches I have heard from him.

General Patreus (sp) has pretty much said that we can't win this thing with military alone. We need to involve Iraqi politicians, public and civic service organizations, etc. in order to make this work. That being said, the military has "a" role to play...just not "the" role to play. But in this post I put up a few weeks ago, Zawahri said it all. to paraphrase, a huge U.S. presence is exactly what they want. It gives them everything they need, from a reason to recruit to a big, desert-camoflage target. That's no way for us to win any conflict.

W seems to be playing a game of Risk or Axis and Allies; the more pieces I have and the harder I hit, I win. This is no way to win a conflict rife with local politics and loyalties. Again, the military plays a role and can certainly play a very sophisticated role. It starts with grunts making friends with locals. It moves from there into special forces units and commanding officers inserting themselves into local politics and building loyalty. This is what we're doing in Afghanistan, and minus a few setbacks (to be expected), is working quite well in apprehending our enemies. Wear the man-jammas. Grow a beard. Build local trust. The kind of shit the Berets and to a degree the Rangers do.

But that's where our role ends. In order to do that role, you don't need a gazillion of us. Mind you, you have a gazillion in reserve, ready to pounce when need be (globally-positioned Marines can be anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit).

Our real effort needs to be infrastructure. The reason why Hamas was so dangerous in the recent Isreal-Lebanon conflict is that Hamas, not Israel or the Lebanese government, was supplying water, police protection, food, electricity and medical. This is what the U.S. needs to spend its money on: buidling Iraq'a economy, supplying fully-functioning water, sewage and electrical infrastructure. Hospitals. Food banks. We want to make democracy work? Wireless internet.

More later. Gotta go.

Rickey Henderson 7:17 AM  

So similar to his "two Americas" schtick, does Edwards believe that "two Iraqs" exist as well?

That's gonna make out job over there twice as hard...

Smitty 8:55 AM  

Ha!!! Rickey Henderson's point is made more hilarious by the fact that it is probably fucking true.

Otto Man 12:04 PM  

I'm an Edwards man myself. He has the most detailed and realistic approaches to pressing domestic issues like poverty and health care, and I like the way he (and Obama) seem able to call upon Americans to show their patriotism on something other than war, as Edwards puts it.

His foreign policy platform is slowly moving along, but it's getting there. I'd love to see Edwards-Clark as a ticket. That'd be terrific.

I had much more to say here, but once again, steves' jiggling avatar has driven all the blood from my brain. Hypnotic.

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