Stephen Zunes : Obama Foreign Policy
For those hoping for a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy under an Obama administration — particularly regarding human rights, international law, and respect for international institutions — the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is a bitter disappointment. Indeed, Senator Clinton has more often than not sided with the Bush administration against fellow Democrats on key issues regarding America’s international legal obligations, particularly international humanitarian law.
I had really wanted to celebrate Barack Obama’s remarkable victory for a day or so before becoming cynical again. I really did….
The smear campaign by John McCain, Sarah Palin and their supporters reached a new low this past week with their attacks on Democratic nominee Barack Obama for his former ties with Palestinian American scholar Rashid Khalidi. This is just one of a series of desperate guilt-by-association tactics by the Republicans to make the staunchly pro-Israel Obama appear to be anti-Israel and may be designed less to harm the Democratic nominee’s chances of election as to limit politically his options for addressing urgent matters of Israeli-Palestinian peace upon becoming president….
Back in the 1950s, at the height of the McCarthy era, simply being friends with someone suspected of being a Communist could ruin your career. It became known as “guilt by association.” During this year’s presidential campaign, however, it’s been extended to guilt by spatial proximity, which could appropriately be called the “cootie effect.” If you sit on the same board, have appeared at the same event or otherwise have been in close physical proximity of someone deemed undesirable, you therefore must have been infected by their politics or, at minimum, have no problems with things they may have done in their past….
The October 3 debate between Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Delaware Senator Joe Biden was disturbing for those of us hoping for a more enlightened and honest foreign policy during the next four years. In its aftermath, pundits mainly focused on Palin’s failure to self-destruct and Biden’s relatively cogent arguments. Here’s an annotation of the foreign policy issues raised during the vice-presidential debate, which was packed with demonstrably false and misleading statements….
Barack Obama has alienated key sectors of his progressive base with statements and policy proposals regarding Israel in which he allies himself with right-wing Republicans. These have included: rejecting calls by human rights activists to condition military aid to Israel on an improvement in the government’s human rights record; defending Israel’s massive 2006 assault against Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure, which killed more than 800 civilians; disputing findings by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other reputable human rights organizations citing Israeli violations of international humanitarian law; calling for an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel without supporting the right of the Palestinian-populated eastern half of the city to be the capital of a Palestinian state; making exaggerated claims about Iran’s threats towards Israel while refusing to express any concerns regarding Israel’s threats towards Iran; and bringing in Dennis Ross — a prominent supporter of Israeli government policies — as his principal Middle East advisor….
The Real News
Stephen Zunes: Obama’s anti-Iraq war stance wiped out by choosing hawk Biden
Barack Obama has won the race for the Democratic nomination for president against Hillary Clinton on the issues. Sort of. This is not what the pundits will tell you: they would rather focus upon the most superficial and trivial aspects of the two final candidates’ style, personality, associates, personal history, and campaign organization and strategy, not to mention race and gender….
In many respects, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has played right into the hands of cynics who have long doubted his promises to create a new and more progressive role for the United States in the world. The very morning after the last primaries, in which he finally received a sufficient number of pledged delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination and no longer needed to win over voters from the progressive base of his own party, Obama – in a Clinton-style effort at triangulation – gave a major policy speech before the national convention of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Embracing policies which largely backed those of the more hawkish voices concerned with Middle Eastern affairs, he received a standing ovation for his efforts….
The rise in popular support for Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy reflects the growing skepticism among Democratic and independent voters regarding both the Bush administration’s and the Democratic Party establishment’s foreign policies. Indeed, on issues ranging from Iraq to nuclear weapons to global warming to foreign aid, as well as his general preference for diplomacy over militarism, Obama has also staked out positions considerably more progressive than the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry….