October 20, 2008

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden apparently didn't know reporters were in the room when he said this at a fundraiser in Seattle.

It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking…Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate… And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you - not financially to help him - we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.

Discuss.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2008 11:30 AM
Comments

IMHO it all comes out of a simple fact that many people are not voting Obama, but are voting against Bush and the republicans.

Obama makes many promises of fast and fat changes. Once something outside of the regular plans will hit, there might be a huge meltdown of confidence.

Posted by: CEHE4KA Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 12:02 PM

Meh. Fear mongering. If we all clap loud enough Tinkerbell might just come back to life. I anticipate that the anti-climax to this election is going to be stunning.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 12:56 PM

Lindsey,

Why would Barack Obama's running mate want to engage in "fearmongering" in front of liberal donors about what is likely to happen if he wins the election? Something else is going on here.

I think Biden is right that Obama will be tested by the more ruthless bad actors in the world so they can see what they can get away with. Biden is either warning liberals in advance that he and Obama will respond weakly and lose popularity with the center and right, or he's warning them that he and Obama will respond aggressively and alienate their left-wing base. I have no idea which it is.

What's really interesting here is that he, correctly in my view, expects an international shitstorm if Obama wins the election.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 1:05 PM

You just can’t make this stuff up. My vp guy, Plugs Biden, correctly states that if "The Obamessiah" is elected, the international thugs will test The Most Merciful Obamessiah with an international crisis.

My guy, Plugs, is absolutely correct. This is so wonderful.

Cheers, Richard

2 Weeks Until The Dawn Of The Reign Of The New Age Of:
Change, Hope, Love, Peace, Kindness, Benevolence, Transformation,
Optimism, Anticipation, Serenity, Wonderfulness, Ocean Rise Slowing,
The USSPR (The United States Socialist People's Republic),
The Age Of Aquarius, The Planet Healing, "3-Letter Word: Jobs (sic)",
"When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody", & Other Fine Stuff.

Can't Wait. Gonna Be Great ...

Posted by: PiggDogg Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 1:18 PM

well I guess it's about time someone from the left told the rest of the liberals that the world really is rough place and that there are leaders out there that will test obama and expose his inexpierence and weakness in foreign policy issues.

Posted by: ramsis Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 2:11 PM

Maybe Obama is going to invade Cuba.

Posted by: markytom Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 2:50 PM

The contention here a few days back was that Biden know his ass from a hole in the ground when it came to foreign policy.

So does he now know what he's talking about? Or not?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 3:53 PM

Sorry, s.b. "...doesn't know his..." above.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 3:54 PM

DPU: So does he now know what he's talking about? Or not?

I don't even know what he's talking about. See my comment above.

Either way, it doesn't require any kind of political genius to understand that ruthless bad actors will want to test Barack Obama. They aren't looking for hope and change. Not everyone in the world who hates Bush is a squishy liberal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 4:00 PM

What's really interesting here is that he, correctly in my view, expects an international shitstorm if Obama wins the election.

In the form of what? Crazed Islamists setting off suicide bombs? Insurgencies in Iraq? Hezbollah or Hamas launching rockets into Israel?

I'd agree that an Obama presidency would initially take a bit of wind out of Jihadist sails, and they might be tempted to provoke some kind of US response in order to beef up their street cred a bit, but once Obama's global honeymoon is over, the status quo will probably return.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 4:21 PM

DPU: I'd agree that an Obama presidency would initially take a bit of wind out of Jihadist sails

Well, you wouldn't be agreeing with me. I don't believe that for one second.

You and I have a very different understanding of the way bloody ruthless minds work. Pick any old terrorist group: Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, whoever. Do you really think they're afraid of Barack Obama and will be relieved if John McCain wins? Be honest.

Joe Biden does not seem to think so. He thinks they'll see an opportunity to attack.

If I were running for president as a Democrat, I would say something right about now that would scare the living shit out of them so they wouldn't feel tempted. Hillary Clinton probably would have if she were the nominee.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 4:41 PM

Michael's title is appropriate; heavy turbulence ahead. Will President Obama consult his generals or assemble his negotiators? I'm afraid I know already. Reality's a good teacher though, although some never learn.

Paul S.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 4:49 PM

Do you really think they're afraid of Barack Obama and will be relieved if John McCain wins? Be honest.

I don't think that they're afraid of either of them. Have they seemed terribly afraid of the Bush administration?

I do believe that they enjoy portraying the US as a racist imperialist power though, and reap the benefits from those who buy into that portrait. An Obama presidency will put a dent in that, at least for a while.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 5:17 PM

DPU: I do believe that they enjoy portraying the US as a racist imperialist power

Yes, they do. They did it during the Clinton Administration and picked up support from the 9/11 attackers during that time period.

An Obama presidency will put a dent in that

Among Eurolefties, sure. Among potential jihadists? Hardly. The next Mohammad Atta will not say "Oh, they got rid of the Republicans, I guess I don't have to massacre anyone now."

The jihadis are not at war with just the Republican Party. The worst of them are at war with the entire human race, including insufficiently fanatical Muslims.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 5:40 PM

The next Mohammad Atta will not say "Oh, they got rid of the Republicans, I guess I don't have to massacre anyone now."

Of course he won't, but if the popularity of the US improves for a while in the nations that Jihadists are active in, it will cut down in recruits and funding.

Yes, they do. They did it during the Clinton Administration and picked up support from the 9/11 attackers during that time period.

And they will during an Obama presidency as well. But I think that it will be less fertile ground for them for a while.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 6:50 PM

So in other words, everything they told you about Bush being the cause of the world's ills and people hating us because of Bush is all bullshit, nothing will change when he's gone, and Obama won't usher in the Age of Aquarius. Thanks, Joe Biden, we already knew that, you lying jackasses.

Posted by: Carlos Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 6:59 PM

DPU: I think that it will be less fertile ground for them for a while.

Why for a while? Seems to me any change in attitude would last through his entire administration or not arise in the first place.

Anyway, I think you're underestimating how dangerous it is to be perceived as weak in the Middle East and how valuable it is to be perceived as strong. Remember what Assad said to Time Magazine after March 14, 2005? "I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to cooperate" Then he evacuated his troops from Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 7:03 PM

It's not clear which candidate would be seen as 'tougher'. Obama said he would bomb Pakistan, which would be a direct threat to al Qaeda, and which would probably benefit Shi'ite groups. McCain talked about bombing Iran, which could hurt groups like Hezbollah and benefit al Qaeda.

In reality, both candidates are more level-headed and pragmatic than their threats, and both would do their best to ensure stability. They're both fairly efficient bureaucrats.

Anyway, Biden is unstuck in time again, and he's probably wrong again. We still don't know if he's remembering past/future events from this universe or an alternate.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 7:46 PM

I don't have anything against McCain. He is definitely patriotic but America needs a new blood and this blood is OBAMA. Let us hope the best for this country.

Posted by: Kdouh Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 7:56 PM

I think it is reasonable to expect that regardless of who is elected new POTUS will be tested.

What I see is an attempt by Biden to prepare Obama's hardcore supporters for possibility that Obama may not keep some of his promises whatever those unfulfilled promises may turn out to be.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 8:17 PM

Leo: What I see is an attempt by Biden to prepare Obama's hardcore supporters for possibility that Obama may not keep some of his promises whatever those unfulfilled promises may turn out to be.

Could be. I wish these guys would speak plainly so we'd know what the hell they actually plan to do in a crisis, especially since they're thinking about it and even expecting it. I don't think that's an unreasonable thing to ask for just before an election.

It doesn't matter for me anyway at this point. I already voted. In my state we can vote early.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 8:26 PM

I think it is reasonable to expect that regardless of who is elected new POTUS will be tested.

This is closer to reality than Michael, but I would break it down even a step further and say, "odds are good that some sort of international confrontation will happen in Obama's first year in office".

This has very little to do with Obama's specific characteristics and more to do with the sheer number of things America has its hands in, as well as the dynamics of the media. Basically, it's a strange and unusual year that goes by without a major international confrontation between the U.S. and someone, and the first years of presidents in office are no different.

You and I have a very different understanding of the way bloody ruthless minds work. Pick any old terrorist group: Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, whoever. Do you really think they're afraid of Barack Obama and will be relieved if John McCain wins? Be honest.

You should read Ron Suskind's One Percent Doctrine. Allow me to quote:

But as author Ron Suskind reported in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," there was also some muted thought of what bin Laden's apparent desire said about the Bush administration's strategy in the war on terror, which McCain has said he would continue. Describing a meeting at which a tape of bin Laden, released not long before the 2004 election, was discussed, Suskind writes:

Today's conclusion: bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection ...

John McLaughlin [then acting director of the CIA] opened the issue with the consensus view: "Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the president."

Around the table, there were nods ... There was some speculative talk of why -- knowing that bin Laden acted out a strategic rationale -- he would have done this, just as there was, [Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, formerly the the CIA's operational chief for WMD and terrorism,] recalled, of why the Soviets liked certain American leaders, such as Nixon: because they were consistent and predictable ...

But an ocean of hard truths before them -- such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected -- remained untouched.

"It was sad," Mowatt-Larssen remembered. "We just sat there. We were dispirited. We had nothing left at that point."

-----------------
I'm sure AQ is rooting for McCain. Terrorist groups that can't bait wars into starting have essentially no shot at ever achieving power. It's well understood among counterinsurgency and counterrorism experts that the secret weapon is baiting the government into acting with brutal, heavyhanded action. This isn't something I'm making up - it's a well-understood phoenomenon that worked for everyone from Che Guevara to Ayatollah Khomeini to Ho Chi Minh to Nelson Mandela.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 8:52 PM

What's really interesting here is that he, correctly in my view, expects an international shitstorm if Obama wins the election.

Or, as I'm saying, but not well, in my first paragraph up there, he expects an international sh*tstorm.. period. It will happen after Obama's been elected, just like it's been blowing before he was elected. But the first one after Obama's election will be breathlessly scrutinized as "a test of America's new leader".

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 8:57 PM

Meanwhile,

Discuss.

Ok. Pakistan's economy is plumetting into short-term near-collapse. It's debt has been downgraded twice in the past couple of months. Suicide bombs are going off at a rate that would bring down most elected governments. Military offensives have met with little success.

Every year that goes by in this state of affairs is a year where it is not impossible or even all that unrealistic to imagine, oh, a 100, 200, 500, or (this is probably too much, but I'll stretch) 1000-man raid on a Pakistani nuclear weapons facility.

It's not a large possibility, but I would say that it's the most serious internal political violence ever faced by a nuclear weapons state in the history of Planet Earth. Also, U.S. government policy, due to the election, is in paralysis.

I don't see any other sh*tstorms on the horizon bigger than this.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 9:05 PM

Glasnost: Terrorist groups that can't bait wars into starting have essentially no shot at ever achieving power.

Terrorist groups that can't defeat or force a retreat of opposing forces likewise have no chance of achieving power. Otherwise, why not just withdraw from Afghanistan?

The worst thing we could do is start a war and then abandon the field to them after they move in for the kill.

Anyway, they often start wars on their own. It only takes one side to start one. I don't need to give you examples, do I?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 9:09 PM

Glasnost: It's not a large possibility, but I would say that it's the most serious internal political violence ever faced by a nuclear weapons state in the history of Planet Earth.

Seems so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 9:12 PM

Either way, it doesn't require any kind of political genius to understand that ruthless bad actors will want to test Barack Obama. They aren't looking for hope and change. Not everyone in the world who hates Bush is a squishy liberal.

1) if obama looks ineffective or indecisive, will other western countries look to leaders like sarkozy to lead.

2) if the obama presidency looks like a weak horse right out of the gate, this can't hurt al queda's recruiting, no?

Posted by: j. marzan Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 9:18 PM

Otherwise, why not just withdraw from Afghanistan?

There are indeed, decent odds that in the long run, we will mostly withdraw from Afghanistan. And Karzai is likely to be replaced by some kind of compromise figure on good terms with the Taliban. It won't be either a clear victory or a clear defeat. We'll have to hope that all the years in between of getting blown up will have convinced the Taliban not to hang out the welcome mat for OBL next time. Heck, they may even rat out Zawahiri as part of the deal.

Somewhere around that set of events, there will be a lull in violence that may allow us to proclaim to our own media that we declared victory and left instead of declaring defeat and leaving. This many bodies into the game, I'm not sure it really matters that much.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at October 20, 2008 9:48 PM

"I do believe that they enjoy portraying the US as a racist imperialist power though, and reap the benefits from those who buy into that portrait. An Obama presidency will put a dent in that, at least for a while."

Right, that's just how it worked out under lovey-dovey Carter. "Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it".

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 12:33 AM

Here's the main difference I expect between Obama and McCain presidents.

At some point with Iran on nukes, there will be an ultimatum, like with Saddam (Oct 2002-Feb 2003), that the mullahs will either comply with, or else there will be 'war' (probably starting with a blockade).
(Our Saudi allies might be suggesting a blockade already, with oil prices dropping this would be a relatively less painful time to do so ... but not with elections in 2 weeks.)

With McCain winning, the Iranians will do more real cooperating, to prevent the war. With Obama, they will believe he won't go to war, so will really cooperate less. Altho they might well accept more summits and conferences while they lie more and see how many lies Obama will accept.

Under Obama, Iran gets a bomb or else we go to war to stop it. Under McCain, there's a much better chance the threat of war will be believable enough to make the Iranians avoid the pre-war ultimatum scenario.

The internal violence in Pakistan will be almost the same with either.

If Obama is speaking the truth about being willing to stop Pakistan, or stop Iran from getting a bomb, him leading a Dem Congress could more easily do so. But based on his frequent promise breaking (on Rev. Wright, public financing, unified Jerusalem), I have no reason to really believe him.

And I don't believe the Iranians will believe he's serious about stopping them, either.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 5:25 AM

"I would break it down even a step further and say, "odds are good that some sort of international confrontation will happen in Obama's first year in office"."

Odds are two plus two equals four. And you can safely replace 'Obama' with 'new President'.

It is not the question of if. It is the question of who will be taking care of it and how. With Biden learning how to spell or count or both (you pick) and Obama learning everything Biden can teach him I do not have much faith in that team. Obama will also have extra burden on his shoulders. He will feel the need to prove that he is real McCoy and not just Affirmative Action president. Watch out for screw up a la Olmert.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 5:36 AM

Who was Biden's audience? Strong supporters. And Biden is saying that Obama is going to do something unpopular with his base and needs support. That indicates that Biden and Obama are planning to take a strong stand - with someone - I would guess.

I said in jest earlier that Obama may invade Cuba - but there may be something to that - Biden's reference to JFK - Obama may need to make a strong stand against Russia (eg Georgia). Or Iran, Pakistan, staying in Iraq, ramping up in Afghanistan, etc. Who knows?

If Obama wins he's going to have his hands full - just with the looming worldwide recession that is coming our way, and a possible financial system meltdown.

Posted by: markytom Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 7:40 AM

I think the statement is mostly hot-air political posturing, as if to say "something's probably going to happen, and you might not initially like our response, and the Republicans are still going to make fun of us for it, but just trust us".

Could mean they might respond to "something" with more military force than their base would usually prefer to see, or perhaps the exact opposite.

To be honest, I think Biden knows a little under half of the country can't stand Obama and is just knows every little thing he does in office will be ripped to pieces by the right-leaning members of the media, and is trying to pre-fan any flames.

Posted by: jon r Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 9:23 AM

People who think that we can make the whole world like us and then there will be peace are naive. We need to step back and understand that there are two kinds of groups that both are identified by the title "terrorist." The first type is a group which is pursuing a political end, such as the IRA (my knowledge of which is admittedly limited). For these groups, the term terrorist is actually appropriate because they seek, in part, to create public terror, to cause their opponent to lose stomach for the political fight and thereby to give in to their demands.

The second type of group is the sort like Al Qaeda. While Al Qaeda does seek to intimidate local populations through force, it also seeks to rack up a massive body count for no other reason than to kill anyone who is not Muslim (or in some cases even those who are not sufficiently Muslim by their standards). They believe that their religion demands that they kill anyone who does not submit to Islam. Whether "genuine" Islam holds this view or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is that they believe they have a divine mandate to wage unceasing war against the non-Muslim world. Because of this distinction of motivation, I personally think the title of terrorist is not ideally accurate for these groups, since terror is not their primary goal, though no other term comes to mind that would be better.

When you are dealing with a group whose goal is not political accomodation but rather total domination, any amount of appeasement will get you nowhere but to strengthen and embolden your enemy. If we somehow accomplished every goal that is stereotypically identified with the Muslim or Arab world (creation of a Palestinian state, removal of the state of Israel, return of the Caliphate, return of Spain to Muslim control, removal of all US troops from Muslim-majority countries, etc, etc), it would not for a second abate the desire of groups like Al Qaeda to wage war against anyone who does not fit their ideological mold.

Michael is exactly right about Syria. It is no coincidence that, after what the US did to Saddam Hussein's forces, we told Syria "get out of Lebanon now" and they did.

Posted by: Ed Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 9:33 AM

When you are dealing with a group whose goal is not political accomodation but rather total domination, any amount of appeasement will get you nowhere but to strengthen and embolden your enemy.

But we're allied with the country that primarily supports al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia. How's that for emboldening the enemy?

After what the US did to Saddam Hussein's forces, Iran decided to make loud noises about getting nukes. Just like Saddam, Iran's government is braying and boasting about their nuclear capablities. When we make threats, they'll probably respond the same way Saddam did - they'll continue to provoke us. They bray and boast because for the same reason Saddam did. Once you start bellowing, you can't back down.

If we bomb Iran, we'll embolden our al Qaeda supporting Saudi allies and we'll empower Hezbollah in Lebanon. Instead of having to busy themselves bullying Lebanon, Hezbollah have a real war to fight. If we bomb Iran, we can't count on any support from the pro-American Iranians (who will probably not be pro American anymore, since we bombed their country). And the price of oil will go through the roof - more benefit to Saudi Arabia/al Qaeda.

And if the mess in Iran is ever cleaned up, Russia will probably start to support Syria's nuclear program. Syria will pop up and say "I've got nukes and I hate America too", and we'll have to play this trillion-dollar whack-a-mole game again.

The only way to avoid the false appeasement/warmongering dichotomy is to bypass these terror-supporting Islamist pawns, and deal directly with the Russians.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 10:10 AM

I agree with Bill Kristol on this one:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/10/kristol_what_biden_implied.asp

So Biden expects a test of the kind Kennedy faced after his disastrous meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June, 1961, less than five months into Kennedy’s presidency. Biden’s presumably thinking of the Soviet-backed construction of the Berlin Wall a couple of months later. Kennedy did nothing, and was criticized for his weakness back home.

So--leaving aside the merits of what Kennedy did or didn’t do in 1961--Biden is forecasting that Obama will have what seems to be a weak response to a provocation from, say, Iran or Russia, and he’s urging the liberals of Seattle and elsewhere to stand with Obama against the expected domestic criticism.

In other words, Biden is forecasting inaction by Obama in the face of testing by a dictator. I suspect he’s right in this forecast. McCain might want to clarify this point. It’s not just that Obama’s own running mate expects an international crisis early in his presidency. It’s not just that Obama has a weak foreign policy record. It’s that Biden himself expects what will appear to be a weak response from Obama to testing by a dictator.

Now Biden presumaby thinks such an apparently weak response would be in our long-term interest. But McCain needs to force that debate: “Sen. Obama, will you in fact do nothing in response to a Putin provocation against Ukraine or a final push by Ahmadinejad toward nuclear weapons? Isn’t that what your running mate has forecast? Isn’t it awfully dangerous to forecast weakness on the part of an American president?”

Posted by: Salamantis Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 10:48 AM

The only way to avoid the false appeasement/warmongering dichotomy is to bypass these terror-supporting Islamist pawns, and deal directly with the Russians.

This is interesting. How would we deal with them? Is that a euphemism for some form of aggressive action, or are we saying "deal" as in "cut a deal?"

Russia is not the key to Iran's nuclear weapons program. It might be important in constraining America and protecting it, but Iran's development per se has mostly come from Pakistan. And North Korea.

But you're right in pointing out the futility of whack-a-mole. Not because of Russia, either, but because in the eternal debate between whether aggression or appeasement emboldens one's enemies more, nobody can win. Just like between ordinary human beings, both types of action often embolden one's enemies. That's why it's helpful to not focus so much on emboldenment in the first place. It begs for manipulation.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 11:46 AM

Perhaps I overstated the issue of emboldening. Glasnost is at least partially correct in saying that one's enemies (or at least certain enemies) will be bold regardless of what you do. Some certainly respond to a show of force by backing down while others will simply get more defiant in the face of the same show of force. My point is not to say that strong methods always accomplish one's goals. My point rather is to say that, when you are dealing with a bellicose foe, surrendering ground is not going to gain you anything.

A lot of people are very concerned that the US is unpopular in many international circles. They claim that the only reason groups like Al Qaeda attack us is because we have an "aggressive foreign policy" and that everyone would give us a big international group hug if only we weren't so "arrogant". My point is that this is bunk. Presenting an impression of weakness is not going to fend off ones enemies. Now, as Glasnost said, a posture of strength won't necessarily fend them off either, but if I'm going going to embolden my enemy regardless of what I do, I'd much rather be in a position of strength when the conflict arrives.

Posted by: Ed Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 12:21 PM

This is interesting. How would we deal with them? Is that a euphemism for some form of aggressive action, or are we saying "deal" as in "cut a deal?"

Well, I don't know enough about our behind the scenes relationships with Russia, North Korea or Pakistan to answer that, but I'd guess that we should do whatever works.

In that sort of negotiation, McCain is probably better-informed than Obama.

We should be dealing directly with the real players, and not with Ahmadinejad. We should also make it clear to the rest of the world that, despite his bellowing, Ahmadinejad is beneath our consideration, and not worth our time to deal with. Before the Iraq war, we made Saddam appear to be a lot more important than he really was.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 12:35 PM

Money is power. Many trillions of dollars of wealth evaporated from the world this year with the credit bubble, housing bubble, asset bubble, etc. all popping at once. (Iceland went backrupt and Hungary is about to - this financial crisis is quite serious.) The coming worldwide recession is going to have dramatic affects on US foreign policy as there will be cries to "fix things at home" - money is contracting, banks are being nationalized, credit is hard to come by, unemployment is going to go up, companies are going to go out of business - and tax revenues are going to go way down.

Whether you were for the war in Iraq or not the fact is that it is very expensive - $12 billion a month adds up fast. Now with the international financial meltdown one can argue that the US is overextended militarily - it is a much harder sell to continue the wars in the mideast when people are losing jobs, losing benefits, companies are failing, etc. at home. And if you thought that the European countries weren't very cooperative in helping out the US in their foreign wars just wait until the recession is hitting them hard next year - the western world will be much weaker.

If I were Syria I would make a play for Lebenon early next year. What is the US (or Europe) going to do about it?

If I were Russia I would go after whatever I wanted - what is Obama (or McCain) going to do about it?

Who knows what AQ will do - but it's always a good tactic to attack when your opponent is weakened. Maybe Pakistan collapses.

The next president may end up looking a lot like Carter.

Posted by: markytom Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 1:31 PM

If I were Russia I would go after whatever I wanted - what is Obama (or McCain) going to do about it?

It is an international crisis. Russia's stock market fell 63.7 and oil prices are falling. They can't afford these games either.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 1:41 PM

It is an international crisis. Russia's stock market fell 63.7 and oil prices are falling. They cant' afford these games either.

But some of the ex-Soviet republics are in worse shape and Russia can push for more influence over them - doubtful anyone is going to do much about it. Putin likes to cause trouble.

"The announcement of progress in the IMF talks came hours after Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin signalled its support for a bail out. The Kremlin's efforts to restore its influence in Ukraine has become the dividing line of domestic politics in the former Soviet state."

Posted by: markytom Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 2:02 PM

Maybe Iowahawk knows what Biden was talking about.

Excerpt:

"Let me warn these folks who are American enemies -- don't let appearances deceive you," added Biden. "You might think, 'hey this guy looks like Urkel, let's steal his lunch money and give him a nuclear wedgie.' But guess what? He is another JFK. And just like JFK, Barack Obama has lots and lots of mob connections, so if you get any funny ideas, Mr. Nuclear Bully, President Urkel is gonna get on the hotline to Francis Albert Sinatra, and then let's see how you like losing you casino licenses and paving contracts."

Posted by: markytom Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 2:19 PM

Everything you need to know about life you were supposed to learn in Kindergarten. And one thing you need to learn is that you have to stand up to bullies.

If you have a literary bent, you might read Kipling’s “The Ballad of East and West”.

Osama bin Laden gave an interview in 1997 and explained that we were already at war. (Clinton was president; this is his war, not Bush’s) He had four examples that gave him the knowledge that it would be easy to defeat the US (as a necessary first step to establish the Caliphate.)

1. The Democrat’s failure in Vietnam (Johnson was president when Walter Cronkite announced that this war is lost. Nixon ran on a platform to get us out, which he did.)
2. Reagan’s failure to strike back in Lebanon after the 240 marines were killed, the embassy bombed and diplomats kidnapped and tortured to death. I believe that the Democrats threatened to impeach him if he did fight back.
3. While the US was in Somalia, 1992, a hotel was bombed in Yemen. It was a transit point for troops being deployed. Clinton did nothing.
4. After “Blackhawk Down”, Clinton cut and ran. (The Clinton administration had refused the troops additional firepower as it would send “the wrong message”. Instead they sent the message that the US was led by weak incompetent bungling fools.)

I would include Jimmy Carter’s pathetic failure in the Iran hostage situation.

Anyway, Bush was the first President to take all of the fun out of the murder of Americans. It’s no fun to bully someone that fights back. When some reporter complained that the US hadn’t gotten bin Laden, Bush replied words to the effect that “he had been running an entire country. Now all he is running is a cave.”

No fun when you used to be King and are reduced to hiding in a cave.

Obama has indicated that he is little more than another Jimmy Carter except without the experience. Of course he is going to be tested because he has said that he will not fight back. When Khrushchev tested Kennedy we ended up in Vietnam, Bay of Pigs, on the verge of war over Cuba, and Berlin (remember “Ich bin ein Berliner”?) What kind of war will The Chosen One get us into?

It’s also interesting to note that the Mad Mullahs of Iran must have read the western press during the Carter debacle. The press said that Reagan was a bomb crazy cowboy and would use the “N” bomb. It’s no fun to pick on people like him and lots of fun to pick on a doofus like Carter. So, they let the hostages go the day Reagan was inaugurated.

Regards,

Steamboat Jack

Posted by: Steamboat Jack Author Profile Page at October 21, 2008 8:53 PM

"I think it is reasonable to expect that regardless of who is elected new POTUS will be tested."

I am sure Al-Qaeda and the others know about McCain. They know that he personally faced enemies much worse than them.

The communists had a real chance to win. And McCain faced them and we won.

With George Bush Al-Qaeda had an enemy who was inexperienced and stupid, or so the left told them. With McCain they would have an enemy who knows war from the inside and is not impressed by their methods because those methods didn't work on him.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at October 22, 2008 1:39 AM

I think Biden is right... and I think he's right no matter which President we get in the White House. IF we are at war with someone, and it seems pretty obvious that we are at war with insert label here(terrorists/Islamists/jihadists/those guys with the bombs and crazy beliefs)... then a change of guard will provide a perfect opportunity for an attack. There has been 8 years of a single belief in how to deal with terror/Iraq/Afghanistan/etc. Either way, there will be a different belief going forward. It's to the advantage of the enemy that they test the next administration to see how they respond. Anyone that thinks otherwise is probably drinking kool-aid again.

In my opinion, I think Biden and Obama will respond with force, probably alienating a number of their current backers. If they're smart it will be decisive, quick strikes that go the gthe jugular. If they're stupid, they'll try invading somewhere like Pakistan and we'll have three insane situations in three theaters. And the absolute worst option, is if he actually hauls out negotiators.

McCain, if elected, will probably face the same test. I hope he also responds with swift deadly strikes, rather than this nonsense of occupying nations in an attempt to pacify them with democracy.

And Leauki, I wouldn't call the Vietnamese a worse enemy than Al Queda. That sounds far less informed than anything said by any of the candidates to date.

Posted by: dclydew Author Profile Page at October 22, 2008 9:19 AM

It's not clear which candidate would be seen as 'tougher'.

I think this is a misreading of the situation or willful self delusion. Obama has given all sorts of clues about his actions, such as meeting without preconditions with enemies. He knows that was naive because he has tried to change the story. You Tube won't let him.

McCain is a grizzled old war horse and the enemies will leave him alone. They tested Bush with the force down of the recon plane by China. Fortunately, he had Cheney and Rumsfeld there to handle the crisis. Kennedy was bamboozled at Vienna and that led to a very dangerous time. In "The Origins of War," Kagan wrote that KGB files, which were open briefly in the early 90s, showed that the Soviets backed down on Cuba only because they feared a coup d'etat if Kennedy looked too weak. That is why they took the deal on the Turkish missiles. They, of course, saw us as a mirror image of themselves. Khruschev was forced out later because of the Cuba fiasco.

We are still coping with the consequences of Carter 30 years later. God help us if Obama gets in.

Posted by: Mike K Author Profile Page at October 22, 2008 3:44 PM

I don't know much about Obama, but I do know something about Biden, because he's been on the scene a long time. For Biden, politics does not stop at the shore; in my view, has made plots with foreign governments for the express purpose of advancing his own career, to the detriment of then-current American foreign and defense policy.

Normally I wouldn't trust any promise made by Biden to a group of Americans, but this smells different. If there is some kind of planned international crisis targeting the U.S., Biden may not have a hand in it, but he may indeed have the connections to know about it, or at least the nose to sniff some out.

That last is what he's bragging about here, and he's pleading for reflexive support for "Obama" (Biden himself, really) for any unorthodox approach once that crisis breaks, rather than the partisan splintering that Democrats have been known for, i.e. Vietnam. That's about as honest as honest as Biden gets.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at October 23, 2008 4:59 PM

The Iranians want the pressure off them, and will surely make nice if Obama is elected. Nor do I see the situation with Pakistan or Al Qaida being effected in particular by the elections. The real threat will come from Russia. They seem bent on flexing their muscles and tweeking America's nose. Just like with JFK, they will intentionally cross a line to guage Obama's reaction. It will put Obama in a difficult position. With our hands full in the middle east, the thought of the cold war's return, after it had joyously been declared finished, will fill the public with despair. Most will prefer denial and token response, which may be our only realistic option. History may show that Bush's worst in a series of blunders was his mishandling of the Russians.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at October 24, 2008 11:19 PM

MarkC,

Russians do not have money for another Cold War II. In their case mind is willing, flesh does not permit. Plus, they have China to worry about.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 24, 2008 11:38 PM

Leo

Your comment is a bit pedantic. Russia doesn't have to return to full cold war status in order to throw American foreign policy seriously off kilter. Another micro war like the one in Georgia, massive arms supplies to Syria and other bad actors, bellicose troop or ship movements, all of these would represent a direct challenge to which the U.S. would be hard-pressed to respond, given its commitments elsewhere. Foreseeable to anyone capable of looking one move ahead on the chessboard.

By the way, I've read that while the U.S. was busily destroying its nuclear weapons stockpile, the Russians were quietly mothballing theirs, so that they actually surpass us in a number of weapons categories. And Putin has balls of steel. A cold war-lite scenario is not out of the question.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at October 25, 2008 9:25 AM

PS

Russia always had China to worry about. Also during the cold war.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at October 25, 2008 9:27 AM

"Russia doesn't have to return to full cold war status in order to throw American foreign policy seriously off kilter."

Yes, this part is true. However, Cold War is much more than that. It is arms race and build up of spheres of influence.
Plus, Russia is much more vulnerable than US when it comes to protecting its spheres of influence. Putin may have balls of still but in reality all he can do just jingle. It is all bluff. He knows this and he knows that US knows this.

"I've read that while the U.S. was busily destroying its nuclear weapons stockpile, the Russians were quietly mothballing theirs, so that they actually surpass us in a number of weapons categories."

This is incorrect. Both parties were and still are closely monitoring each other in this regard.
Here is what I learned from various Russian sources on the net:
Nuclear arsenal has very short shelf life, 25 - 30 years. Nuclear weapons have to be decommissioned regularly and be replaced with fresher versions. Russia's problem is that they decommission more than they can replace.
Deterrence factor is in numbers. Unless situation will change it is estimated Russia will lose its deterrence factor in respect to US in approx. 10 years. Given the speed at which China is progressing the same estimation puts China - Russia parity at the that time too.

PS. Situation with conventional weapons is not that good either. They have very good designs and no money to produce advance weaponry in meaningful numbers. Recent drop in oil prices did not help matters much either. I sometime think we triggered current financial crisis to punish Russia for Georgia (or maybe because its election time). But it is just my personal guess. Probably baseless conspiracy theory.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 25, 2008 9:21 PM

Sorry.

'steel' not 'still'

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 26, 2008 10:48 AM

An Obama administration won't make the jihadists hate us any less, it's true. The difference will come with our allies.

During the Bush years, being seen as an ally of Bush's America was incredibly damaging to European governments it lost us support in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama's support is much stronger among Europeans. Whether or not Obama will make real changes, the very perception that the US is turning a corner will help us tremendously on the diplomatic front. That's important.

I see no major difference in position towards jihadis in the Obama and McCain campaign. So I'm going to vote for the candidate who I think our allies in Europe would be far more willing to work with, because it will be politically more feasible for them to do so.

Posted by: stephenlev Author Profile Page at October 28, 2008 8:55 AM

"What's really interesting here is that he, correctly in my view, expects an international shitstorm if Obama wins the election."

No more interesting than the test that GWB encountered in his first 9 monhts in office. However, if you're a partisan hack like MJT, this only seems more interesting than 9/11 because you want Obama to fail so that you can feel validated. GWB correctly removed the Taliban from power after 9/11 (Gore would have as well) but then stupidly and inexplicably attacked a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 while being cheerlead by this blog's owner. I don't see Obama being this stupid and listening to such shrill supporters.

Posted by: Graham Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 5:42 PM

"What's really interesting here is that he, correctly in my view, expects an international shitstorm if Obama wins the election."

I totally agree with MJT's thoughts on this. I'm am scared to think what will actually happen should Obama win the election next week.

I am constantly amazed (and dismayed) by the naivete and lack of understanding shown by "squishy liberals", and the like, in regards to good, evil, and the human doers thereof. Our enemies - The evil bad guys who want to destroy the Non-Muslim world, as well as Muslims who are non-compliant to their fanatical ways - don't care about "diplomacy" or world opinion. The only thing to keep them off our shores is force and strength.

The current ideals which have secularized much of today's Western Cultures has contributed to this niavete and lack of understanding... lines between right and wrong, good and evil, are blurred and glossed over. History is discarded, or is so totally skewed when taught, that the valuable lessons learned in the past are lost. Reform, negotiation, compromise, whatever you want to call it, is not - now, nor has it ever been - effective at stoping those intent on doing evil. Sometimes, the bad guys must be stomped on... (let's all remember certain evil folks from the past and present: Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong Il, Sadaam.... the list goes on)
In Americas current Politically Correct, wishy-washy, "don't say or have anything even slightly resembling an opinion or backbone" culture, it's no wonder we have a generation willing to throw away our Liberty and Freedoms! These Liberties and Freedoms are not valued, therefore they mean nothing if lost...

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."
~ Samuel Adams

Posted by: HLH Author Profile Page at October 31, 2008 11:49 PM
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