The President-Elect’s Encouraging Start

He’s not starting out using ‘war on terror’ rhetoric:

‘Here in America we compete vigorously in elections and challenge each other’s ideas, yet come together in service of a common purpose once the voting is done.’

He cast America’s economic woes in a grim light. ‘Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes,’ he said. Simple figures bear that out, especially after new figures on Friday showed that the economy had lost 240,000 jobs in October. That was the 10 successive month of losses and America has now shed 1.2 million jobs so far this year.

The tone of Obama’s words provided a contrast with Bush. Though he repeated a vow to help Obama in establishing a smooth transition, he also addressed the issue of foreign policy, using a familiar line about the threat from Islamic extremists. ‘This will also be America’s first wartime presidential transition in four decades. We’re in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us – and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people,’ Bush said.

Despite pressure from the Polish president, he’s not committing to proceeding with America’s missile defence shield, which has so angered Russia:

US President-elect Barack Obama has not given a commitment to go ahead with plans to build part of a US missile defence system in Poland, an aide says.

He was speaking after Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s office said a pledge had been made during a phone conversation between the two men.

But Mr Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, denied this.

Two small, yet highly significant and welcome starts. I know very well that both positions might change, but the signal which is being sent at this stage I think is important. I can’t help but wonder if there was a misunderstanding with the Polish president, or if he was trying to blackmail Obama into a position he didn’t want, particularly following Russian President Medvedev’s confirmation in his aggressive State of the Union that he would deploy missiles on the border with NATO to counter the missile shield. Given how stupid the missile defence shield is, I hope that circumstances will allow for the project’s dismantling – I’d hate to see it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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5 responses to “The President-Elect’s Encouraging Start

  1. Why would we not procede with the missile defense system? that makes no sense what so ever. As for not pissing off the russians, wouldn’t a show of force be more effective against a bully instead of reducing defenses that prevent blackmail by North Korea and Iran?

    As for changing the rhetoric on the war on terror go for it, it doesn’t matter what you call the rat as long as you catch it.

  2. Why would the new administration proceed with a defence system which a) hasn’t been proven to work b) which needlessly provokes the Russians and c) is clearly to defend ‘us’ from ‘them’, even though the Bush administration said otherwise. The Cold War and post-Cold War realities haven’t changed so much that nuclear weapons will ever be launched by either side, so why provoke?

    As far as the ‘war on terror’ goes, there will remain a problem worldwide with Islamist terrorism, but lumping regional, glogal, local and individual problems together as a ‘war on/by terror’ was always counter-productive. In fact it did more for Osama, who could have remained the abject failure he spent the nineties as.

  3. the system has been proven to work, cannot possibly survive against more than a ten or twenty missile strike, thus meaning it only works within it’s stated goals. and since that is the case has nothing to do with the cold war which was your final point. If defending oneself is a crime that angers a dictatorship should I care? Did Russia invade Georgia out of the goodness of their heart? I’ve never accepted the rationality behind pacifism so you’ll have to do better than this.

    Osama’s highlights were in the 90’s under Clinton, The Embassy bombings in Africa, the bombing of the USS Cole, and the first attack on the trade center. Perhaps you have forgotten.
    Seeking nuance in a largely theological matter is pointless as the greater mass of muslims both approved of his efforts and his methods.

  4. Perhaps you have forgotten.

    Why do you feel the need to get so aggressive to me on my blog? I can break that shoddy analysis in two seconds flat, but there’s really no point. The greater mass of Muslims were completely unmoved by Osama’s shenanigans in the 90s – his aim was to destabilise North Africa in particular, but the vast majority weren’t interested and after Algeria failed to topple the not-quite-Al Qaeda was fading.

    Did Russia invade Georgia out of the goodness of their heart? Straw man argument I’m afraid – let me recast it for you (if the thread I wrote doesn’t already do that). Whilst Russia’s invasion of Georgia and its subsequent behaviour was unconscionable, it most certainly didn’t happen without reason. Noone advocates pacifism, but encircling Russia by NATO influence at unprecedented speed and then backing the attack on ethnically Russian South Ossetia was never going to be a smart move. Following it up by installing a missile ‘defence’ shield which clearly isn’t intended for Iranian or North Korean missiles would be a mistake so gigantically historic it would make Iraq seem trivial.

  5. your right, attempting to alter peoples opinions is always pointless.
    I will endeavor to remember the point.

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