Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 7, 2008
POLITICS: Power and Paranoia
Some of you may be getting your first exposure to Obama senior foreign policy adviser Samantha Power through her her foolish and intemperate insults to Ohio and Hillary Clinton on an overseas book tour:
Earlier, clearly rattled by the Ohio defeat, Ms Power told The Scotsman Mrs Clinton was stopping at nothing to try to seize the lead from her candidate.
Of course, you would think that foreign policy people are supposed to know better than to let their guard down when traveling, but at any rate, if you want to catch up on Ms. Power's background, Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has been on the case for months. Mirengoff has laid out his case that Power - to an even greater extent than some of Obama's other key advisers - is anti-Israel and buys into the Walt-Mearsheimer line that U.S. policy in general, and Iraq policy in particular, is under the nefarious influence of "special interests," mainly the Israel lobby, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Key quote from Power:
Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the "national interest" as a whole is defined and pursued. Look at the degree to which Halliburton and several of the private security and contracting firms invested in the 2004 political campaigns and received very lucrative contracts in the aftermath of the U.S. takeover of Iraq. Also, America's important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.
Of course, this sort of paranoia should not surprise observers of Obama, given where Obama himself, in his celebrated 2002 war speech, placed the blame for the decision to go to war:
What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
Gee, why specifically Perle and Wolfowitz, and not, say, Cheney and Rumsfeld? I think I know, and I think you do too. Obama knew his audience that day. But in fairness to Obama, he did argue that the Iraq War wasn't just a conspiracy of Jews, but also a political plot by Karl Rove to distract us from the Great Depression of 2002. That's a theme Obama has echoed elsewhere, albeit cannily shifting the blame for this sort of rhetoric to his constituents:
"Blacks are not willing to feel obliged to support the president's agenda," explains Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama. "They are much more likely to feel that (Bush) is engaging in disruptive policies at home and using the war as a means of shielding himself from criticism on his domestic agenda."
But never fear. Barack Obama isn't divisive; just ask him. Barack Obama doesn't demonize his opponents; just ask him. Barack Obama doesn't feed resentment and paranoia; just ask him. But don't listen too closely to him or his advisers.