Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 11:36 pm
Quote:
Show Me the Money

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: November 9, 2008
So, I was speaking to an Iranian friend about what a mind-bending thing it must be for people in the Middle East to see Americans, seven years after 9/11, electing someone named Barack Hussein Obama as president. America is surely the only nation that could " in the same decade " go to war against a president named Hussein (Saddam of Iraq), threaten to use force against a country whose most revered religious martyr is named Hussein (Iran) and then elect its own president who’s middle-named Hussein.

Is this a great country or what?

Much has been written about how people all around the world are celebrating the victory of our Hussein " Barack of Illinois, whose first name means “blessing” in Arabic. It is, indeed, a blessing that so many people in so many places see something of themselves reflected in Obama, whether in the color of his skin, the religion of his father, his African heritage, his being raised by a single mother or his childhood of poverty. And that ensures that Obama will probably have a longer than usual honeymoon with the world.

But I wouldn’t exaggerate it. The minute Obama has to exercise U.S. military power somewhere in the world, you can be sure that he will get blowback. For now, though, his biography, demeanor and willingness to at least test a regime like Iran’s with diplomacy makes him more difficult to demonize than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

“If you’re a hard-liner in Tehran, a U.S. president who wants to talk to you presents more of a quandary than a U.S. president who wants to confront you,” remarked Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “How are you going to implore crowds to chant ‘Death to Barack Hussein Obama’? That sounds more like the chant of the oppressor, not the victim. Obama just doesn’t fit the radical Islamist narrative of a racist, blood-thirsty America, which is bent on oppressing Muslims worldwide. There’s a cognitive dissonance. It’s like Hollywood casting Sidney Poitier to play Charles Manson. It just doesn’t fit.”

But while the world appears poised to give Obama a generous honeymoon, there lurks a much more important question: How long of a honeymoon will Obama give the world?

To all those Europeans, Canadians, Japanese, Russians, Iranians, Chinese, Indians, Africans and Latin Americans who are e-mailing their American friends about their joy at having “America back,” now that Obama is in, I just have one thing to say: “Show me the money!”

Don’t just show me the love. Don’t just give me the smiles. Your love is fickle and, as I said, it will last about as long as the first Obama airstrike against an Al Qaeda position in Pakistan. No, no, no, show me the money. Show me that you are ready to be Obama stakeholders, not free-riders " stakeholders in what will be expensive and difficult initiatives by the Obama administration to keep the world stable and free at a time when we have fewer resources.

Examples: I understand any foreigner who objected to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the gross mishandling of the postwar. But surely everyone in the world has an interest in helping Obama, who opposed the war, bring it to a decent and stable end, especially now that there is a chance that Iraq could emerge as the first democracy, albeit messy, in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. Obama was against how this Iraq war started, but he is going to be held responsible for how it ends, so why don’t all our allies now offer whatever they can " money, police, aid workers, troops, diplomatic support " to increase the odds of a decent end in Iraq? Ditto Afghanistan.

The U.N. says it doesn’t want Iran to go nuclear and doesn’t want the U.S. to use force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. I agree. That’s why I want all those people in China, France, Russia, India and Germany who are smiling for Obama to go out and demand that their governments use their tremendous economic leverage with Iran to let the Iranians know that if Tehran continues to move toward a nuclear weapon, in opposition to U.N. resolutions, these countries will impose real economic sanctions. Nothing " and I mean nothing " would more help President-elect Obama to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran than having a threat of biting Chinese, Indian and E.U. economic sanctions in his holster.

President Bush, because he was so easily demonized, made being a free-rider on American power easy for everyone " and Americans paid the price. Obama will not make it so easy.

So to everyone overseas I say: thanks for your applause for our new president. I’m glad you all feel that America “is back.” If you want Obama to succeed, though, don’t just show us the love, show us the money. Show us the troops. Show us the diplomatic effort. Show us the economic partnership. Show us something more than a fresh smile. Because freedom is not free and your excuse for doing less than you could is leaving town in January.


This is a bit naive don't you think?

What are the chances that Russia, China, and Europe will "get behind" American power because Obama is our president?

I like Friedman well enough, but he must have written this while he was still giddy from watching the election results.

It is in no nation's interests for Iraq to end badly?

How about Iran or Syria?

China and Russia would not be happy to see such a blatant display of American power end in ruins? They wouldn't like to see Americans suffer another two decades of the middle-eastern version of Vietnam War Syndrome?

Are Europeans going to tax their already sickly economies to help fund American led endeavors (diplomatic, military or even humanitarian) because Obama smiles and asks them to?

His own supporters threaten to set him up for a big fall.



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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 11:44 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Friedman almost always strikes me as naive and silly, with the occasionally insightful article that's enough to partially redeem himself.

This is one of his usual naive plans. First of all, I reject the premise, that any other country should be going out of their way to put their money on the line to help clean up an American mess they disagreed with and that were threatened with relegation to irrelevance over.

They should absolutely not contribute to cleaning up the American mess when America was willing to thumb their noses at the world and what they thought of the idea of invading Iraq.

It's bad market feedback to financially support stupid ideas, and even more so when they all knew it was a stupid idea all along. Friedman should pay extra for it instead, he was one of the idiots supporting it and pretending it was great till he couldn't even fool himself anymore.

I have an idea, everyone in America who supported it should pony up instead. Why should, say the French, who were boycotted over their opposition to the war foot the bill? America made this decision, America should pay the consequences for their own decisions.

And since he himself was a big proponent of this misadventure, he shouldn't be pointing at others to foot the bill for the mess they said it would cause.

Friedman, where is the money?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 12:12 am
@Robert Gentel,
Can you arrange to have the additional taxes Obama plans to take from me go directly to the military effort in Iraq?

If so, I'm OK with that.

Of course his article did not focus solely on Iraq.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 12:00 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Can you arrange to have the additional taxes Obama plans to take from me go directly to the military effort in Iraq?

If so, I'm OK with that.

Money is fungible, so if you want to think that your money is going to Iraq or perhaps to pay down the deficit, part of which is due to Iraq, then that's as valid as any other assumption as to where your money goes.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:20 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
Can you arrange to have the additional taxes Obama plans to take from me go directly to the military effort in Iraq?


i'm sure you would be permited to support an organization that cares for disabled veterans , wouldn't you ?
by supporting such a group , would you not be also supporting at least the past "war effort" of the veterans ?
i would think any serving soldiers would applaud such efforts .
hbg
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:20 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
I believe our adversaries might think Obama is naive. I do not think Obama is naive. I think he has "game."
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 12:06 pm
@hamburger,
Quote:
i'm sure you would be permited to support an organization that cares for disabled veterans , wouldn't you ?


I already do thank you, and foundations for the welfare of the children of slain soldiers, and arranging to send WWII veterans to their memorial in DC, but since I am going to be taxed more heavily when Obama takes office and since I supported the war, I would like to take Robert Gentel's advice and have the additional monies the government will take from me and directed towards the war effort. Seems fair to me.

Of course this has nothing to do with Friedman's article or what I had hoped might be a discussion about the reality of the world's apparent wecome of PE Obama.

0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 12:10 pm
@Foofie,
Quote:
I believe our adversaries might think Obama is naive. I do not think Obama is naive. I think he has "game."


Perhaps you are right (although I don't know where he might have acquired his "game"), and I hope you are, but our adversaries (as Biden has promised) will test him, rather than throwing in with any mission he might have to change the world.

Foxfyre
 
  0  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 02:22 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Rather than Iraq, I saw more of a theme there of whether Obama will get a pass on criticism when he makes the decision to do some of the same kinds of things that President Bush has done. Of course he will. President Clinton used the military in aggressive/combat action numerous times during his administration with widely varying degrees of success. Whatever criticism that generated was short lived and soon forgotten. President Bush would have been barely criticized for Iraq had success been achieved in the first year. In fact when that appeared to be likely, he was getting quite a bit of praise from a lot of the same folks around the world who would later scorn him.

Friedman's point is directed at how the world will treat Obama when he does something that displeases them.

Personally, I think as long as he doesn't start something with long lasting unpopular consequences, it won't care.


0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 08:21 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Quote:
I believe our adversaries might think Obama is naive. I do not think Obama is naive. I think he has "game."


Perhaps you are right (although I don't know where he might have acquired his "game"), and I hope you are, but our adversaries (as Biden has promised) will test him, rather than throwing in with any mission he might have to change the world.




It is possible that the Commander In Chief Eisenhower jacket may look very good on the new President. I personally think many of his left of center constituents may suffer from some great disappointments, while some in the McCain camp may be pleasantly surprised. This can turn into an O. Henry story!
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:30 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Of course his article did not focus solely on Iraq.

Well, it almost did. He asks the world to stand by America to face and solve the urgent threats to global security ... and then only ever mentions Iran and Iraq. Pretty much the only two things the Bush admin focused on too.

So basically, he expects the world to pony up the money, troops, police and aid to solve the problems ... as the US, in his vision, would define them. And in addition, to do so right in advance, before Obama has even moved into the White House; a blank cheque to support whatever he decides to do, in short.

All that in addition to the points Robert already made.

If and when Obama has proven that he will indeed move swiftly to pave the way for an end to US military operations, listen to the critical allies that have proven to be right all along, and make the major strategical changes that are required to end the whole operation at least halfway successfully, I hope that the Dutch, Hungarians and all the rest will contribute funding, aid and troops as well. But if I'd write a letter to my MP now it would be to ask him to wait and see first, and make no promises in advance to a President who hasnt even taken office or appointed his Cabinet yet.

And yeah, along the lines of what Robert was saying, people like Friedman have quite the nerve, cheerleading for this misbegotten war and now that it's all ended in tears lecturing us, the outsiders who warned from the start, what we should all be doing to solve the problem.
0 Replies
 
 

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