The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More on Presidential Politics

More on Presidential Politics
Clublog–July 31, 2007

In the June/July issue of Foreign Affairs, the premiere of the premiere magazines on US foreign policy, Obama's name appeared as the author on the lead article of the issue. Romney appeared as the author of the immediately following essay. Both Obama and Romney attempted to express their foreign policy vision and positions. Some things about both leading candidates, Foreign Affairs magazine and its publisher, the Council on Foreign Relations can be explored further. This entry builds on the two entries from yesterday (July 31st) on the 2008 Presidential election.

From reading Obama’s foreign policy ideas, and from other public campaign statements, a person should ask: "Yes, regaining America's position and influence in the world is definitely necessary, but what are your ideas for making that work? What are the details, please? Enough ‘bright and shining’ phrases (from the Neil Sheehan book, The Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Van and the US in Vietnam). I want something concrete and practical.” The entire FA article was a very long sound-byte. There was far too little of specific or practical programs or policies. Nothing comprehensive tied together a workable and good grand strategic theme, all of these impressions, of course, being merely my opinion.. Unfortunately, if Obama had the lead article, and Romney's came second, the US therefore might have the two Establishment-picked candidates that will be on the ballot in Nov. 2008 You can look back at anointed” ones who received strong Council of Foreign Relations approval. They usually turn out to be the major party nominees. It might be because David Halberstam's “powers that be” in the media pick up on that support and carry it further. It is a widely known fact that numerous owners and managers of media organizations possess some connection to the CFR.

We are losing our republic of enlightenment to the democracy of the mob. And mobs are always incited by influential groups and individual manipulating and exploiting them for their own ends. It gets worse and more disheartening every two and four years. Policy gives way to politics (not at all related to "the politics of war and peace,” called grand strategy). Common good is overcome by partisan spoils. But in the end, the real benefits accrue to those smart enough to exert influence subtly, behind the scenes, both parties and the political system. These “opinion makers” already own or have access to a lot of wealth. While national policy has the marriage of the Military-Industrial-Legislative Complex (which includes food and energy consortiums) dominating government operations, it is the “Opinion Complex” within that which produces the propaganda generate public consent for it. Such control of the print and broadcast media consortiums are one critical reason why freedom of speech and equality of access and use of the Internet world is so important for the future of liberty: It defies control in its current form and disseminates dissent and alternative facts.

A recent example of the MIL and Op-ed complexes is the 2006 elections and the actions of the Congress that was elected. It should not surprise anyone that so little progress has been made on US foreign policy and the current wars: The new Congress is the same made of the same political class that was either reelected or reinforced with more of their own kind. The failure of executive and legislative (and, one can clearly see, judicial) leadership on the global war on terror, Afghanistan and Iraq–stemming from the complete selfishness of both parties–remains the true core of all problems or war policy and its implementation. The reason should be all too clear: There is too much at stake for the entire complex to disrupt the domestic system as it is. Consequently, gridlock is costing thousands of dead and wounded, Iraqis AND Americans, and allies, every month.

What I have heard or read from the Democratic Party candidate, Obama and Clinton completely ignore other, potentially more dangerous US foreign relations. I would like any candidate from either party to talk sensibly about the potential benefits and the avoidable dangers of China, not rail against cheap labor and Chinese products "invading" this country. I need to see how they view the growing closeness of China and Russia, and in particular, do they see, understand, and have a plan for avoiding a power struggle with nuclear “mega-power" Russia? Such a problem looms. It may not portend another Cold War, but lack of common understanding and conflicting interests adds more instability to the international system.

Closer to home, no one at the Presidential-level of politics, excepting Richardson and ironically President Bush himself, has a practical vision on immigration or a very real grasp of the what the future is for America within the Western Hemisphere. This hemisphere is our own troublesome “near abroad” which requires creative vision and policy. On that vision and understanding, Bush's executive and policy-making experience as governor of the immense state of Texas prepared him, as did Richardson's service as governor of New Mexico and US Ambassador to the UN have prepared him.

People may wonder why I haven't even mentioned Edwards. The answer is simple: I haven't heard one single sensible foreign policy statement from him. The closest he came to that was admitting his error in voting for the Oct. 2002 war authorization act against Iraq. He did not, however, go far enough to state why he voted for it (as did Mrs. Clinton and other candidates now regretting their support for the war, none of who will admit why). More than anything else, as the Democrats mistakenly learned in the 1992 Presidential election, those who voted against authorizing force in the Gulf War to evict Iraq from Kuwait lost the primary struggle with the lack of support cited by analysts. Tsongas, et. al. voted against it and lost. Gore voted to support President G.H.W. Bush in the Gulf War, the US won a crushing but incomplete victory, and Gore became Vice President. It was the wrong lesson to draw from that experience. Such fickle fortunes make the fates of people and nations.

It is a cynical game, but all politics are local politics. It is even so with international politics, but that level hams the people themselves in more bloody and violent and otherwise costly ways. In every situation when things are done for personal or partisan interests, good policy, the common good of the people, and good strategy lose.

In every possible way, the fate of the US and the fate of the world are directly linked and mutually dependent on each other. As the US Presidential election can impact the world, what happens elsewhere in the world causes some direct impact on the US.

I believe that if people come up with some idea big enough, that idea can apply universally up and down the food chain. Of course, I'm talking about Libertarian Internationalism, or Liberty International for short (a shameless sound-byte way to present it), but as we say, "The Cepia Club is all about reason, logic and good strategy.” Or we think we are.

On Obama

As promised, Obama gets a special blog entry. I’ll need to expand on what I call his “vanity,” his “deception,” and his “lack of experience and substance.”

I describe Obama as somewhat vain. In his defense, he worked very hard as a grass roots organizer in the inner cities of Illinois, getting people aware and motivated about issues that directly affected them. That is entirely in the spirit of a “cepia: community ending public ignorance and apathy.” From this activism, where it is most needed, Obama propelled himself into electoral politics, first locally, then in the Illinois legislature, and finally to a US Senate seat in 2004. He has undoubtably pursued causes important for his constituents. On the downside, he is a professional politician to the core. All professional politicians have agendas, no matter what. It could be justly claimed that his agenda is for the common people and local communities.

The vanity is to pretend that the faith in people and optimism in the good of people’s welfare in domestic (read “local” issues) have any practical relevance to conducting safe foreign policy. Faith and optimism in the international system have never existed and do not exist now. The people of the world do not vote in what is a very hard, “realpolitick” contest between the competing needs of security for every national interests in conflict. And if the public can rea through all the facts and data, the interests are growing far more diverse and dangerous (they now include arable land and access to drinkable water where those were NEVER issues before). There will hopefully be a time when bright shining phrases and slogans for world peace and prosperity will do enough to create the reality of less conflict, more cooperation, unsurpassed access to wealth for everyone. As stated in the previous entry on “Presidential Candidate’s Assessed,” the issue in the 2008 election has to be about foreign policy. The world is dangerous, more so every day, with far too little grasp of it among the general public who hear the things from populist politicians (not just Obama) that sound good but make little sense for the way things unfortunately actually are at the moment.

The world is on the brink of breaking into competing regional blocks in the form of alliances of convenience based on shared interests. The system is further being undermined by an ideological struggle in continuous existence since the first decade of the 7th Century (the beginning of Mohammed’s conquest). That struggle grows more dangerous to world peace and prosperity every passing day. The vanity of Obama is to believe that someone with no executive or policy making experience or implementation at the national or international level, and someone still quite young, is honestly prepared to offer himself for candidacy to the Office of President of the United States. Obama found a wave that was looking for a messiah to rescue the Democratic Party from its abysmal record since F.D. Roosevelt, a need for a two-term Presidential candidate based on the New Deal ideology. (Truman couldn’t carry the New Deal forward, Carter was too conservative in reality, Clinton was clearly not New Deal liberal) Obama, in my opinion (which everyone can reject, as I might be completely wrong), became intoxicated with the idea and believes he is that messiah.

In sum, for the theme of what I think America needs for a President beginning in January 2009 (again, I do suffer the poison of my own point of view), substance and experience at this stage are necessary for the one thing that will determine America’s future as the beacon and light of liberty: foreign policy. The international system will not be fixed to a stable and compatible relationship between nations by popularity and sound-bytes. It will only be fixed by hard acceptance of what is at stake and a realistic appraisal of what is possible to secure everyone’s cooperation for mutual benefit. Outbreaks of war, even nuclear, biological and chemical warfare between bigger powers, let alone terror insurgencies, can instantly make the United States a militarized, police state by the choice of our own leaders. In my opinion, Obama and the other populists have presented no appreciation or sense of the situation, and have either provided nothing of substance (for example, withdrawing from Iraq but no concept of what needs to come after) or things that are completely bad strategy.

At the end of David Lean’s movie, Lawrence of Arabia, Prince Feisal (played by the great Alec Guinness) comments to all in the room that war requires the wild and passionate virtues of the young. But peace requires the virtues, however hard, of “old” and experienced men : caution and suspicion. (I firmly believe that any qualified woman could do just as well; for example, Angela Merkel of Germany or Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain and many others) Experience at community activism for low-crime, public services, and clean streets is fine and honorable in itself. However it is not relevant at all to the paramount need of the United States for another Truman (a Democrat) or a Nixon (a Republican). Truman and Nixon came at their moment of supreme danger for America with a visionary, but also trained, prepared, and practical experience in executive politics and foreign policy.

While I don’t endorse any candidates, I believe they should be judged by the following criteria: executive branch or private sector policy making and implementation experience; principles underlying their philosophy (Obama qualifies here); sense of realism; substance and great ideas in statements and agendas for foreign policy.

Presidential Candidates Assessed

For the Democrats as far as a "good" politician goes, Kucinich is the only one I believe not out to make money for himself or corporations, although I disagree with him on almost all of his policy proposals. Still, honesty and integrity are very hard to come by in Presidential politics. Mrs.Clinton seems to have more personal agenda rather than policy agenda. While Mr. Clinton as President from 1993-2001 displayed surprising insight and vision in creating many of the really good things we experience now, Mrs. Clinton betrays extreme ambition with her statements. Personal ambition, as we have seen in over 220 years of Presidential politics, is usually wrapped in some base form of irrational populism, and that type of ambition has always proven a disaster for the people once the consequences of electing professional politicians with little policy experience to the position of chief magistrate of the nation.

On the Republican side, Paul is the only one with whom I agree on more than 1/5 of their views, voting and policy records, and statements of vision and philosophy. Paul will outlast McCain, and already has more money. While Paul might have some streak of naive faith in a power politics world, he does have the most optimism about the future of humanity. That future is rightly thought to be the destiny that only more individual liberty, based on the relative freedoms people can have opposed to their responsibility, is the one and only thing that will guarantee a peaceful and prosperous world someday.

On the other Republicans, the only credible ones from a public acceptability point of view are Romney, who hides a religious agenda behind polish (he is a professional politician, not a policy maker) and prove just another in an unending supply of corporo-fascists. Thompson, who if he ever really enters the race, is in the same mold as Cheney, Wolfowitz: He is a disciple of the American Enterprise Institute neo-conservative conspiracy against the Declaration of Ind. and the US Constitution.

The least bad of both parties, one who has fairly decent odds as an underdog (and someone I hope will surprise the experts) is Richardson. He has more policy making experience, despite being a sometime politician) than all of the rest of 20-odd candidates in both parties combined. He is honestly the only one qualified in the current field to be chief magistrate of the country. Even with him, I might agree with him probably only 1/5 of the time, but he might surprise skeptics who find more agreement as time goes onward. But Richardson’s experience and his record clearly say that is the most immediately prepared to address our most pressing need: Foreign Policy. Perhaps like Nixon, he can be the right foreign policy grand strategist at the most critical time since the early 70s. At that time, the liberals and even the paleo-conservatives were bent on surrendering the Cold War completely. Nixon used immense experience in foreign affairs as Congressman, Senator, Vice President, lawyer and world-traveling private citizen to seize a unique moment in history. One can only hope that Richardson could have the same grand perspective and a practical, pragmatic, original way of addressing foreign policy. This is a dire time in the entire international system since the post-Vietnam era. Unacknowledged to the general public, the peaceful cooperation on which world prosperity and individual liberty depends is disintegrating into a dangerous situation. If not Richardson, then someone with a similar policy making/political consensus building background and experience is needed the most for the next US President.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quick Update

For certain reasons we cannot control, the Clublog has had no postings for over a month. Shortly, within a week or two, we should restart our current events postings. Sorry if we disappointed anyone. In the meantime, we have updated our profile a little. Check it out.