August 21, 2007

"Obama, with his African relatives and Indonesian childhood, would start his presidency riding an enormous wave of international goodwill."

Writes Anne Applebaum in a column about whether it matters if a presidential candidate -- notably Barack Obama -- doesn't know very much about foreign affairs:
His differences from our current president -- he's young, black, with a more complicated background -- would win him a lot of points in a lot of places, whether or not he knows the name of the Pakistani president (and whether or not he would bomb that country, as he recently seemed to imply he would).
Insulting but probably true.

39 comments:

hdhouse said...

.......not because he is black and not because he is an idealist...but because Bush is so hated by the rest of the world you could put Mickey the Chimp in office and it would be perceived as an improvement.

Ann Althouse said...

You don't think the fact that he is black will have an effect on the minds of people around the world? Why not?

NSC said...

Eh, in the end they will still be chanting "Death to America."

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Didn't stop the French from stabbing Colin Powell in the back at the UN.

"...would start his presidency riding an enormous wave of international goodwill."

Touchy feely crap. When was the last time the US banked international goodwill?

Palladian said...

"Eh, in the end they will still be chanting "Death to America.""

This is true. "International Goodwill" has the shelf-life of a plate of egg salad in a car trunk in August. The "Arab Street" might hate Obama even more than Bush because Obama's an Islamic apostate.

Chris said...

This is my first comment here, so please trust my assurance that I am a long-time lurker (and a peruser of the archives from before my time):

I think the column takes for granted the racism of non-Americans. It is often just as shameful as our own.

All, too often, white Americans see the distinction as simply being White or Minority. That dichotomy doesn't apply worldwide.

Roger said...

I would submit, Ms Applebaum is as full of s### as a christmas turkey. The rest of the world sees Americans as Americans first. What we have here is a case of projection. Lets see: Nedra Pollard is in the tank for Obama and now Ann Applebaum. Is this a woman thing?

Sloanasaurus said...

Even if Obama got more goodwill, what would it get us? Nothing.

SteveR said...

Bill Clinton was well liked in many international circles and that didn't stop the rise of the Islamists. I know its against our 21st century, "We Are the World" longings but at this point in time, I'd somewhat prefer that they were scared of us.

Mr. Bingley said...

I'm supposed to vote for my President based on how the rest of the world views him/her?

Say what?

Bruce Hayden said...

Being liked is fine, but being freared is better for security. Being both feared and liked would probably be best, but Obama is unlikley to be feared, esp. in comparison to the current President.

I think that this is the classic liberal/(neo) conservative split. The "liberals" wish to be liked, and think that will prevent the next terrorist attack, or somehow raise our status in the world. The neocons look at it the other way, that fear is the best defense, and really don't care about being liked, unless there is strategic value to it.

bill said...

Questioning Obama’s racial qualifications

joe said...

Even if Applebum's idiotic statement is true, so what? The only time we receive "international goodwill" is when we are bleeding and on our knees.

hdhouse said...

Ann Althouse said...
You don't think the fact that he is black will have an effect on the minds of people around the world? Why not?"

because he is the norm in the rest of the world...not-white.

certainly he will cause a stir but race doesn't equate to goodwill...it doesn't here and why do we assume it doesn't elsewhere except there are major parts of this earth that put religion before race.

Parker Smith said...

To paraphrase Capone:

"You can get more with goodwill and a strong military-industrial complex than you can get with goodwill alone."

Hoosier Daddy said...

but because Bush is so hated by the rest of the world you could put Mickey the Chimp in office and it would be perceived as an improvement.

And I should care what the 'rest of the world' thinks when I'm at the polls?

Clinton was supposedly adored by the planet yet that didn't stop the WTC in 1993, Khobar Towers, African embassys, or the USS Cole.

Whose running the country makes little difference to fanatics who want to kill all Americans. I know that probably seems too simple but sometimes simple is true.

P. Rich said...

Crap. And further, irrelevant crap. Move along.

jimbino said...

What would gain enormous goodwill would be for a president to be able to communicate in a foreign language! Which of our candidates can carry on a conversation in a foreign language?

hdhouse said...

Richardson

Cedarford said...

Ann Althouse said...
You don't think the fact that he is black will have an effect on the minds of people around the world? Why not?


1. Remember the effect Colin Powell had.
2. Remember the love and respect and cooperation that an articulate, intelligent black women now gets from foreign leaders.

Anne Applebaum is full of crap. Like many secular progressives in the media and Hollywood, she has swooned for Obama - who will give her dispensation for her white sins, her Jewish guilt - if only America proves how good we are by electing the Promised One.

Then she projects the forgiveness coming to people like her and others on the Left from the moral superiority of a "Magic Negro" onto the whole planet. She assumes they will be like her. Excited and delerious with joy that a sorta black guy who talks of pulling America out of the ME for Iran, Russia, China, and KSA to fight over while he plans to "hit Pakistan" will lead America.

The world has kinda been through it already with a long line of "revered, so-articulate & wise" black "Statesmen" like Julius Nyere, Jomo Kenyatta, Samuel Arap Moi, Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Buikemase, SGT Doe, Robert Mugabe - who usually ended up leaving the nation worse off than when they found it. Besides Africa, Euro and American Lefties found disappointment in the Caribbean too, with their "Wise Hopes" for the future.

Maybe Obama will satisfy. Kofi, a very articulate man, was revered by progressive Europeans and the Davos crowd until he foundered at the end..

It's essentially a PC argument - minority or victim status will somehow impress people one will encounter. They will want to vote for Edwards because his wife has inoperable breast cancer. Hillary will be welcomed by India and Gaboon and Brazil because "she is a woman". If only China's leader could have been a person in a wheelchair - China would be liked more.

It really doesn't make sense.

We know that what other leaders want from an American President is dependability, charisma, a vision where America and the world needs to go AFTER he LISTENS to them, no bully boy talk, careful action and words, intelligence, experience, and leadership.

Obama has some of those attributes, lacks others for now. But he may gain them with time.

John Thacker said...

Well, yes, but he would also face a tremendous amount of negative feelings from other pars of the world, partially because of racism (which is pretty prevalent in the Middle East and elsewhere), and because certainly some Muslims would view him as a Muslim apostate. So, particularly in the Middle East an Obama Presidency might make it very difficult to negotiate and achieve peace with some of the countries we're having the most problems with.

Of course, I don't believe that those are good reasons to not elect him, but the argument is as true as Ms. Applebaum's.

PatCA said...

"Meanwhile, Obama, with his African relatives and Indonesian childhood, would start his presidency riding an enormous wave of international goodwill."

How the heck does she know this!? Whose goodwill? Again, she is reducing world politics to the sorority paradigm: we must try to be popular and then we can end war and poverty!

Chirac did not refuse to join us in the Iraq war because he didn't have "goodwill" towards Bush, he did it for political reasons. Sure, the world would love Obama--they could walk all over him.

hdhouse said...

Cedarford said...
"Remember the love and respect and cooperation that an articulate, intelligent black women now gets from foreign leaders."

if you are thinking Condi Rice please guess again. Our foreign policy is in shambles. The state department is leaderless.

Just what articulate, intelligent black woman do you have in mind who garners all this love and respect?

you must be the dumbest twerp on earth.

Revenant said...

Ok, let's assume for the sake of argument that being a part-African man raised in Indonesia would impress Africans and Indonesians.

Question: who gives a rat's ass about impressing Africa and Indonesia? What are they going to do if they aren't "impressed" with us -- threaten to stop begging for foreign aid and debt forgiveness?

How about "impressing" India, China, and the industrialized West? Those are the nations whose opinions of the United States actually carry some weight.

Cedarford said...

Henhouse - you must be the dumbest twerp on earth.

Hardly, that trophy goes to someone unable to detect obvious sarcasm.

Especially sarcasm in context of a post that argued that sending a minority - like to woo France and Russia and 50 or so irrelevant 3rd world nations run by "minorities" -has not been very fruitful in the past.

And Applebaum likely got all wrapped up in her personal guilt, need for minority approval - and projected her guilt and needs onto how the rest of the world must "feel" just like a liberal Jewish female writer.

What she wrote was laughable crap.

jeff said...

"would start his presidency riding an enormous wave of international goodwill."

Right up to the point where he had to make a decision that was in the best interests of US.
If you want to stay on the rest of the world's good side, everything bad is the United States fault.

Hey said...

A successful and essentially imperial power shouldn't expect to be liked. The French intelligentisa still hated the US when Clinton was president, as did the relevant segment in the UK, the rest of western europe, Japan, Korea, Canada, Latin America, etc.

Every world actor and every individual have free will and their own motivations. Frequently this is unlikely to be affected by any reasonably likely change in behavior by the US.

Truly intelligent politicans and statesmen realize this. Caring about minute to minute popularity is just as stupid on a state level as it is on a personal level, and evident of the same lack of moral strength. To coin a phrase, "let them hate, so long as they fear".

Oderint dum metulant is just as true now as it was in 100BC. You'll notice that countries that are truly feared are not hated, because there might be some negative outcome (the Chinese, North Korea, media approach to salafists), but a country that is trusted to be reasonable and civilised can be defamed and abused in the extreme.

US presidents should focus on accomplishing their goals and hampering all rivals, with no attention to "world opinion". The BBC and Le Monde will hate every US President who comes anywhere close to doing his job. A more vindictive foreign policy would also help.

Joe said...

Well, except for Pakistanis.

Peter Palladas said...

"Obama, with his African relatives and Indonesian childhood, would start his presidency riding an enormous wave of international goodwill."

Fatuous, unsustainable, intellectually simplistic, nonsensical journalistic rhetoric of no significant factual account or meaningful import...

Now let me see. Who might have written that? Err, so many suspects!

But allow me a wild guess here.

How about Anne Applebaum? Right up her polished, empty street methinks.

Am I close at all? Do pray tell!

Steven said...

Racism against those of African descent is painfully common everywhere except sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Caribbean. But it doesn't matter; the fact that Arab cabinets and Chinese diplomats will be cracking n----r jokes behind closed doors won't affect diplomacy too much. It just means Obama will not have any special wave of goodwill that, say, Hillary Clinton won't have.

Applebaum dismisses Richardson (without even naming him) by saying "the world looks quite different (and Mexico seems a lot more important) from . . . Santa Fe, N.M." Of course, Richardson has actually conducted real foreign policy; he has been Ambassador to the United Nations and a special diplomatic envoy to such hotspots as North Korea and Sudan. His "[o]ther kinds of foreign connections," include a biography that matches Obama in having a foreign-born parent/relatives and spending much of his childhood outside the U.S.

Of course, Ms. Applebaum isn't trying to make an honest appraisal effort; she's trying to spin the damage taken by Obama with his foreign-policy gaffes by talking down the other candidates. Which is why she can't actually name Richardson, because that would undermine her narrative.

LoafingOaf said...

Unlike candidate Bush, Obama knows the name of Pakistan's dictator.

Unlike President Bush, Obama would not fail to act when there's actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaeda inside Pakistan.

Applebaum brushes over the second matter by saying that Obama implied he'd bomb the country. She's another who wants to keep the voters confused.

What he said was he wouldn't be afraid of strategic strikes on al Qaeda targets within Pakistan's borders if they have good, actionable intelligence (whether that be snatch-and-grab missions, or whatever appropriate small-scale/special-ops methods fit the circumstances), not bomb the whole country.

The White House intelligence assessment has concluded that Bush's policies have failed and allowed al Qaeda to grow in Pakistan, where the actual perpetrators of 9/11 still find safe haven.

The newspapers reported that in 2005 Donald Rumsfeld called off a snatch-and-grab mission, and this failure to act "frustrated some top intelligence officials and members of the military's secret Special Operations units, who say the United States missed a significant opportunity to try to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.

This failure to act is what prompted Obama's remarks.

The Navy Seals were already in the cargo planes in Afghanistan ready to go. Porter Goss was making an 11th hour appeal to Rumsfeld to get his head out of his ass and get on with it. But no, the incompetant Rumsfeld and Pentagon beaurocracy bungled the planning of the mission and decided they were afraid to go forward as they'd allowed too many people to get involved. Probably to cover their own asses, too.

One of those senior members of al Qaeda they had unusually strong intelligence would be present was Zawahiri himself, the mastermind of 9/11. So much for "smoke 'em out, dead or alive."

"[Top intelligence officials'] frustration has only grown over the past two years...as Al Qaeda has improved its abilities to plan global attacks and build new training compounds in Pakistan's tribal areas, which have become virtual havens for the terrorist network.

In recent months, the White House has become irritated with Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, for his inaction on the growing threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda."


Yes, Applebaum is right that people should pause before laughing at Obama. I don't see what's crazy about a presidential candidate who actually knows the names of foreign leaders and actually is focusing his foreign policy on getting the people who did 9/11.

Oh dear, he must be nuts! Shouldn't he be talking about attacking someplace else where the 9/11 terorists are not residing!? You mean he knows the name of the dictator of Pakistan before the election?! You mean he still wants to get the perpetrators of 9/11!?! Don't be silly! Let's find another dunce like Bush to mess up the world! Or let's elect another Clinton, because we can't possibly imagine a Democratic president with a different last name! Wasn't it great how her husband allowed al Qaeda to grow into the threat we're dealing with today, and like Rumsfeld, kept failing to act when we could've gotten bin Laden's head on a platter?!

And what's this about electing a president who is likely to generate international goodwill towards the USA? Please! We want another President people around the world simultaneously hate and laugh at! We don't want some fresh blood or anyone who claims he has learned a few lessons from the mistakes of Clinton and Bush foreign policies.

LoafingOaf said...

More from that news article linked in my previous post:

Some of the military and intelligence officials familiar with the 2005 events say it showed a rift between operators in the field and a military bureaucracy that has still not effectively adapted to hunt for global terrorists, moving too cautiously to use Special Operations troops against terrorist targets.

That criticism has echoes of the risk aversion that the officials said pervaded efforts against Al Qaeda during the Clinton administration, when missions to use U.S. troops to capture or kill bin Laden in Afghanistan were never executed....


So, Obama-bashers? You saw the TV docu-drama about Clinton (Path to 9/11) that people tried to keep off the air. Do you really, truly want a President who has learned from the mistakes of Clinton and Bush? If so, why are you laughing at Obama attacking Bush's failure to act against bin Laden and Zawahiri?

Far too accepting of the failed and incompetant status quo of our foreign policy leaders, I'd say. Will we be stuck with Bushes and Clintons for the rest of our lives as we've been for my entire life so far? Ugh

Revenant said...

The White House intelligence assessment has concluded that Bush's policies have failed and allowed al Qaeda to grow in Pakistan, where the actual perpetrators of 9/11 still find safe haven.

The White House intelligence estimate also noticed that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

Which is why Al Qaeda will be able to use it as a safe haven for as long as it wants until the government of *Pakistan* does something about it. We aren't going to bomb a damned thing in there without the permission of its dictator, because if Musharraf didn't use the nukes on us himself, whichever Islamic nutcase deposed him in the immediate aftermath of the bombing *would* use them on us. Dictators rule by fear. A dictator who can't even keep his own allies from bombing him isn't going to be in power much longer.

That's why Obama's a moron for making the suggestion that he did.

hdhouse said...

Revenant said...
The White House intelligence assessment ....
The White House intelligence estimate also ...."

Now Revenant, everyone knows you should use White House and "intelligence" in the same sentence and to do it consecutively is terribly bad form.

John MacEmbry said...

See, this whole racial kerfluffle about Barack Obama is just another sign of how messed-up American politics has become. The American people can no longer think rationally about candidates, because they're too wrapped up in race. That's why it's time to support a candidate who doesn't have a race: Illiac Babbage Dendral, a proud American who is proud to be raceless. http://votedendral.blogspot.com

Revenant said...


Now Revenant, everyone knows you should use White House and "intelligence" in the same sentence and to do it consecutively is terribly bad form.


HD, that "joke" would make a lot more sense if I hadn't been responding to a claim that the "White House intelligence estimate" had determined that Bush's policies failed. So, what -- you're arguing that the White House is too stupid to be trusted when it tells us it failed?

That's... interesting. I don't think I've ever heard anyone, least of all a leftist, argue that Bush has been a success and just doesn't realize it yet.

LoafingOaf said...

Revenant: The White House intelligence estimate also noticed that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

As did Obama.

We aren't going to bomb a damned thing in there without the permission of its dictator,

Apparently we already have, though we don't know all that's going on. You can accept a safe haven for the masterminds of 9/11 if you like. I want a president who won't have it.

whichever Islamic nutcase deposed him in the immediate aftermath of the bombing *would* use them on us.

Musharraf might get killed at any moment anyway, and that unstable situation will continue for as long as it's a dictatorship. We shouldn't cause that to happen, but if the Pentagon's doing its job there's a plan to disable those nukes should the nutcases take over. What I don't accept is that it's impossible to do more in Pakistan than Bush has.

That's why Obama's a moron for making the suggestion that he did.

If he's such a moron, why were so many top intelligence officials and others involved in the 2005 plan pushing to do it and now regretting that we didn't?

Joe Biden attacked Obama, but then noted he's been calling for more action in Pakistan for years. So, he actually agrees with Obama on substance, but his beef with Obama is that you're not suppose to speak about these things, just do them.

It's good that Obama spoke about them in the campaign (though he shouldn't once he's prez) for two reasons:

1. We need straight talk in our campaigns so we know what we're voting for.

2. The dictator's on notice he won't be off the hook if Obama is elected.

Obama had a good response for those who speak of foreign policy experience when attacking a candidate who bucks some of the conventional (and proven failed) wisdoms: "No one had more experience than Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld."

The article on the aborted mission says the primary reason it was aborted was because "the number of troops involved in the mission had grown to several hundred...and [Rumsfeld]determined that the United States could no longer carry out the mission without Musharraf's permission."

Originally, "the military developed a plan for a small Navy Seals unit to parachute into Pakistan to carry out a quick operation.... But as the operation moved up the military chain of command...various planners bulked up the force's size to provide security for the Special Operations forces."

If they had stuck with a higher risk but smaller footprint mission, it could've gone undetected or at least given Musharraf plausible deniability.

Instead, they botched the planning, then aborted, then fell back into the Clinton methods that Bush used to criticize (firing a missile and hoping to get lucky).

They managed track one of the terrorists from the target they failed to act on - Haitham al-Yemeni - and blew him up with a missile from a drone, but got none of the others. They did at least four more missile attacks in Pakistan over the next year.

It's too bad these attacks in Pakistan weren't more successful, and it's legit for Obama to criticize Bush for not focusing enough resources, not applying enough pressure on Musharraf, and not planning missions well. These terrorists have a haven in a very small area of Pakistan and more could've been done.

Obama's policy calls for numerous ways to get Musharraf to do more with sensitivity to his unstable situation, such as putting conditions military aid.

Bush's missile attacks were kept as secret as possible. We only know that Musharraf didn't give public permission, which - to the people of Pakistan - means we attacked Pakistan without permission. In one case, he told his people that terrorists had blown themselves up while making bombs.

So, contrary to your claims, it's possible to blow things up in Pakistan without Musharraf giving public permission but allowing Musharraf to plausibly deny it. That's in response to your point: Dictators rule by fear. A dictator who can't even keep his own allies from bombing him isn't going to be in power much longer.

Trooper York said...

Obama has a unique opportunity...as the proud son of a black man and a white woman..he can provide a synthesis our society really needs...he can be an elegant, classy role model we can all root for...sort of exactly like Derek Jeter...except of course for the herpes