Foreign Policy

Beinart on the New Politics of Foreign Policy

Peter Beinart, from a nifty op-ed in the Washington Post:

In "The Best and the Brightest," David Halberstam chronicles Lyndon Johnson's absolute terror of appearing soft on Communism. Having seen fellow Democrats destroyed in the early 1950s because they tolerated a Communist victory in China, Johnson swore that he would not let the story replay itself in Vietnam, and thus pushed America into war. The awful irony, Halberstam argues, is that Johnson's fears were unfounded. The mid-1960s were not the early 1950s. The Red Scare was over. But because it lived on in Johnson's mind, he could not grasp the realities of a new day.

In this way, 2008 is a lot like 1964. On foreign policy, many Democrats live in terror of being called soft, of provoking the kind of conservative assault that has damaged so many of their presidential nominees since Vietnam. But that fear reflects memories of the past, not the realities of today. When Democrats worry about the backlash that awaits Barack Obama if he defends civil liberties, or endorses withdrawal from Iraq, or proposes unconditional negotiations with Iran, they are seeing ghosts. Fundamentally, the politics of foreign policy have changed.

Tom Friedman offers one response to Anne Applebaum

Yesterday, I cited an interesting column by the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum wondering how Obama would be received by the rest of the world. In his column today, the New York Times's  Tom Friedman offers one possible response:

This column will probably get Barack Obama in trouble, but that's not my problem. I cannot tell a lie: Many Egyptians and other Arab Muslims really like him and hope that he wins the presidency.

I have had a chance to observe several U.S. elections from abroad, but it has been unusually revealing to be in Egypt as Barack Hussein Obama became the Democrats' nominee for president of the United States.

While Obama, who was raised a Christian, is constantly assuring Americans that he is not a Muslim, Egyptians are amazed, excited and agog that America might elect a black man whose father's family was of Muslim heritage. They don't really understand Obama's family tree, but what they do know is that if America - despite being attacked by Muslim militants on 9/11 - were to elect as its president some guy with the middle name "Hussein," it would mark a sea change in America-Muslim world relations.

Every interview seems to end with the person I was interviewing asking me: "Now, can I ask you a question? Obama? Do you think they will let him win?" (It's always "let him win" not just "win.")

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats' nomination of Obama as their candidate for president has done more to improve America's image abroad - an image dented by the Iraq war, President Bush's invocation of a post-9/11 "crusade," Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and the xenophobic opposition to Dubai Ports World managing U.S. harbors - than the entire Bush public diplomacy effort for seven years.

Some interesting stuff I've found

NPI contributor Ruy Teixeira has just published an interesting paper for Brookings on how the white working class is shrinking in the US.

Talking Points Memo continues to just nail the truly ubelievable Bob Schaffer Mariana Island story.

Jerry Muller has an excellent article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs which argues:

Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. But in fact, it corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit, it is galvanized by modernization, and in one form or another, it will drive global politics for generations to come. Once ethnic nationalism has captured the imagination of groups in a multiethnic society, ethnic disaggregation or partition is often the least bad answer.

Speaker Pelosi appropriately rebuffed President Bush today on his efforts to ram the Colombia FTA through Congress, saying:

“If we are going to be successful in passing a trade agreement,” Ms.
Pelosi said, “we have to first tell the American people that we have a
positive economic agenda.” (see this related post from Tuesday).

The Times had an interesting editorial this am on the global rise of food prices.

Finally thanks to those who came out at 8am this morning in San Francisco to hear Rob Shapiro and I discuss his new, excellent book, Futurecast.

A Moment of Transformation - new updates

A Moment of Transformation?
A look at just how big a change may be coming to politics, America and the world

Top Experts coming together for this day-long event on March 12th in
Washington D.C. to discuss how multiple transformations in America
and the world could be catalyzed by a transformation in politics

The political world is in a moment of transformation with many unprecedented developments rapidly coming together amidst widespread calls for deep, systemic change. But our politics is part of a larger series of transformations happening in many fields across America and the world.

Come to a day-long gathering in Washington D.C. on March 12th where NDN and the New Politics Institute bring together leading thinkers and experts as they lay out the potential for transformative change in their fields and talk about the implications for politics and governing:

  • On the unprecedented evolution of the global economy into one increasingly integrated whole, join Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, author of the new book, Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work.
  • On the vast array of practical, ready-to-implement new technologies and efficient practices to green the economy, join Amory Lovins, the famous head of the Rocky Mountain Institute and author of Winning the Oil Endgame.
  • On one big, bold initiative about how to quickly scale up an overhaul
    of transportation from gas-powered to electric, join entrepreneur Shai Agassi, founder of Project Better Place.
  • On game-changing government policies, join Elaine Kamarck, soon
    to be co-chair of the Climate Task Force, a new organization bringing
    business and environmentalists together around the most effective ways
    to address climate change.
  • On the new emerging world order, particularly the rise of the 21st century Asian powers of China and India, join Orville Schell, author of nine books on China and Director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society.
  • On the massive demographic shifts going on in America, such as the rise of the young Millennial Generation, join Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, coauthors of a brand new book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics.
  • On how these transformations in the private sector and civil society
    may or may not be catalyzed through politics and enacted by government,
    join a top panel of big picture political journalists, among them Matt Bai of the New York Time’s Sunday Magazine and John Heilemann, who writes for New York Magazine and formerly worked for Wired magazine.
  • On how all of this is integrated together and impacts politics, join hosts Simon Rosenberg, NDN President, and Peter Leyden, Director of the New Politics Institute.

The day will be organized around a series of relatively short presentations and discussion with the audience all integrated around the overarching theme of what’s really possible after this historic election in 2008. With all the talk on the campaign trail about change and transformation, what will it really mean to governing in the years ahead?

Come to this March 12th gathering and find out. Be sure to spread the word to all those who may be interested. The entire event is free and open to all, and includes lunch and a cocktail party. So RSVP today, invite your friends on Facebook, and forward this e-mail along to your network.

Date: March 12th, 10:00am - 6:00pm
Location: Capital Hilton, 1001 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
RSVP: Click here to RSVP

If you have questions about the event, contact Courtney Markey at 202-544-9200 or email at

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