Would Obama have an interventionist policy?

Senatorbarackobama "Barack Obama’s first major speech on foreign policy was delivered on April 23, 2007 to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He identified the problems the current foreign policy has caused, and the five ways America can lead again, focused on "common security", "common humanity", and remaining "a beacon of freedom and justice for the world":[15]

During the speech Obama called for an expansion of the United States Armed Forces "by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines", an idea introduced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

In an address on national security to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on August 1, 2007, Obama stated that as President he would consider military action in Pakistan in order to attack al-Qaeda, even if the Pakistani government did not give approval. [16] Obama said, "I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America."[17] He also said "As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations". [18] Tariq Ali, an acclaimed BritishPakistani historian, criticized Obama for his comments regarding attacking terrorists inside Pakistan and stated "Were the United States to start bombing raids inside Pakistan, there would be a massive increase of support for the jihadi fundamentalist groups in that country, and it would weaken not just secular political groups, it would weaken even the moderate religious parties who are not associated with that."[19]"  Wiki



During his 2004 Senate campaign, Obama stated that he had not ruled out military action against Iran. In a meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Obama stated: "The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures, including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point are we going to take military action, if any?" Obama stressed that he would only resort to force as a last resort.[32] Obama has not declared a change in this stance since the 2004 campaign. In 2006, he called on Iran to "take some ownership for creating some stability" in Iraq.[33]

In an interview with Tim Russert on October 22, 2006 Obama said, "I think that military options have to be on the table when you’re dealing with rogue states that have shown constant hostility towards the United States. The point that I would make, though, is that we have not explored all of our options…We have not explored any kind of dialogue with either Iran or North Korea, and I think that has been a mistake. As a consequence, we have almost no leverage over them."[34]

Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on 2 March 2007, Obama stated that he regards Iran’s government as "a threat to all of us," stating that the US "should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons."[35] Diplomacy would include "more determined U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations," "harnessing the collective power of our friends in Europe who are Iran’s major trading partners," and "a cooperative strategy with Gulf States who supply Iran with much of the energy resources it needs."[36]""  Wiki


It should be clear to the reader here that I am essentially a non-interventionist when foreign policy is involved.  I have "followed the drum" in many quixotic efforts to improve the general lot of mankind.  The first was the Kennedy era "Alianza para el Progreso."  That was a splendid effort, but it failed inthe end becasause the latifundistas liked things just fine as they had been, and, in the end, these were all their countries, and not ours.  That is the essential problem in trying to "reform" countries that do not wish to be reformed.  In the end, one must depart and they remain to do whatever pleases them.

An alternative would be to occupy the country(ies) in question for a hundred years or so, suppress opposition and impose our view of the goodness (truthiness?) of things. 

That is called colonialism and the neocons are essentially colonialists. 

On the basis of his public statements regarding what his foreign policy might be, I would have to say that Barack Obama sounds a lot like the neocons, that is, an agressive, utopian interventionist who might well pursue his ideals overseas.  At the same time, his self-image as a "man of destiny," a Lincolnesque figure, may lead to attempts to transform the United States into something different, something I would not want to experience.  People are always talking about "change" in our elections as though change itself is a benefit.  Perhaps we should begin to ask what change is intended. pl


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21 Responses to Would Obama have an interventionist policy?

  1. Martin K says:

    He could make a great political point by turning 180 degrees, admitting a learning curve in that area, wich is his weakest. At that point, he should also present some serious councilors on foreign policy.

  2. Walrus says:

    I see no effort on the part of any candidates from either party to propose that we might actually try to research and UNDERSTAND the causes of jihadism before we go about confronting it.
    I suspect that the reason for this is that confronting militant Islam the way it should be done – by promoting secular humanism and consigning militant religious belief to the dustbin of history, will cause immense “collateral damage” to militant Judaism and militant Christianity, and we can’t have that can we?
    “They hate our freedoms” will have to do, and you can’t win the war of ideas that way.

  3. Charles I says:

    That’s rich. Start a war with Pakistan, so that there’s an arc of instability and hatred stretching from the former Central Asian Soviet Republics all the way to Saudi Arabia, even right up to the tiny bit of border Iran shares with China. Since 90%+ of the fuel for the Afghan campaigns comes by tanker truck from Pakistan, though we have troops positioned there ready to strike Pakistani nukes should the need/opportunity? come, they won’t have much gas and jet fuel to fight on.
    Regime change Syria. American and Israeli bullshit with Abbas/Hamas/Palestine. Mubarak is 75 and in failing health. Soon the Saudi’s wont even be pumping enough to pay even their own family off – thousands of Princes on the oil dole from $19K to to $170K per month. Oil allotments to “ordinary” Saudi’s have fallen from a high of $28,600 in 1981 to less than $7K by 2003. In sinking dollars.
    Energy return on Investment (Eroi) is sinking everywhere: most all the easy accessible sweet crude has been pumped and the oilfields damaged by water injection to sustain high output to support the west’s orgy of consumption.
    Obviously the US and then the world is in for mighty big recessionary adjustment to the present economic fantasy worlds of government and citizen alike. The “hydrogen economy” has no chance of underpinning the tremendous international economic, political and military infrastructure that has supported the consumption of millions of years of solar energy via sweet, stable-at-room-temperature, easily transported round the globe oil, that we have driven into the ground in less than 200 years.
    Obama is going to inherit a trillion dollar debt,an exhausted military, and an angry planet squabbling for fuel, food and water. And that’s before the collapse of whole the whole house of cards globalization scam.
    Then there’s China, but so what. Long as they’re shipping 50,000 wide screen lcd tv’s, 12,000 miles across the globe to Walmart so that you can save your way out of your entire non-military domestic manufacturing base, why, party on.
    These people believe that we can just carry on ad infinitum, and that market driven “technology” will save the day and fuel the whole rickety edifice at a level commensurate with the “non-negotiable American way of life”(D.C)
    This is nuts.

  4. michael savoca says:

    I don’t think, he is yet,but I could see how Obama might become cozy with the neocons.
    But we should not be fooled. The neocons with their private armies and willingness to suspend the bill of rights especially the 4th, and 5th amendments plus habeus…will not go quietly from power.
    Naomi Wolf is a smart,well published, and respected investigative writer.
    In this interview on youtube, if you watch it, you will be chilled by her well reasoned clarion call to defend our Constitution.
    the best part is the middle…its long but worthwhile…I pray for our republic.

  5. Andy says:

    It sounds like Col. Lang will be voting 3rd party next year…

  6. Mo says:

    Many times I have had to explain to people from my parts -ie Arabs – that, no Obama is not the man who will bring “justice” and “fairness” to US foreign policy. We, the Arabs that is, would be far better off with a confirmed Zionist and pseudo-neocon like Hillary. I try to explain to them, that were he to win, Obama would spend his entire time in office proving himself to the AIPAC sponsored media. That would translate as being even more Pro-Israeli than Bush. Hilary on the other hand would at least be able to make decisions without needing to prove her love of Israel.

  7. Mad Dogs says:

    Your statement that you are “…essentially a non-interventionist when foreign policy is involved…” reflects both your personal experiences, as well as what I believe is fundamental wisdom.
    At times it saddens me to consider all those who “purport” to lead who have yet to, and perhaps never will, understand the sagacity of this simple truth.

  8. John Moore says:

    One must remember that it’s that a political candidate’s talk is just that. Until they are elected and actually get something done, the talk is just an idea. Bush Sr. said, “No new taxes!” during his campaign, and he turned around and gave us new taxes. Clinton promised healthcare and labor reforms. The former never made it through Congress and the latter was abandoned. Bush Lite has lied to us at just about every opportunity. His Presidency makes Clinton’s look good unfortunately. Fiscally conservative my ass! Louis Black is right – the Republicans only have bad ideas and the Democrats have no ideas. If a Republican has a bad idea, a Democrat will jump up and say, “I can make that idea even shittier!”

  9. Mark K Logan says:

    I certainly hope not.
    It seem unlikely to me he will partake of the Kool Aid
    to the same degree, anyway.
    Andrew Sullivan wrote a
    thought provoking analysis
    of Obamas and his appeal in the Atlantic.
    Obama says he is opposed to “dumb wars”. One can only hope.

  10. kim says:

    the thing is, mr candidate, you don’t have to win and actually serve the 4-8 years. although i’m pretty sure that, radical progressive bleeding edge extremist though i be, i could deal with it. pretty sure.
    but we really need someone with real qualifications (colbert is funny but… well, that’s his job…and his experience.) to stand up, or be stood up, and be heard.
    yours is the most sensible voice that i’ve come across, on foreign policy and most of the other topics that you address here.
    i just do radical imaginings,not real production. but i’m sure there are
    many here who could organize and maintain a net only, no-cost “lang ’08” campaign that might speak loudly enuf, with loud enuf citizen response, some of the major candidates from one major party or the other might hear and, um, begin to think about reality.
    right now, they all scare me. obama scares me most of all, cuz i think he’s most likely, way things look now, gonna be our next elected (unless, you know) leader.
    ok yes, it’s getting late in the season, this will be my last push. probably.

  11. I’m currently reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and find that it is contributing to the ongoing radicalization of this previously life-long centrist. She asserts that Iraq is just the latest episode in an extended and conscious program of installing the Chicago School’s (Uncle Miltie Friedman, et al) version of fundamentalist capitalism throughout the world. It began in earnest in the sixties and seventies in the southern cone of South America and continues to this day. Many episodes have been the work of right-wing dictatorships and accompanied by great and intentional suffering (i.e. mass arrests, torture, summary executions etc.), including in addition to Chile & Argentina, Suharto’s Indonesia. Other episodes were in emerging democratic countries such as Poland after the collapse of the USSR, South Africa after the fall of formal Apartheid, and Russia. In all cases, according to Klein, the promised wide-spread prosperity has been an illusion, wealth and income has been highly concentrated, and the incumbent elites have become more so. Klein asserts that much of this history is common knowledge abroad, but of course it is seldom spoken of here. And when it is those who have the temerity to speak of it are regarded as beyond the fringe. If Klein is even 10% on target, the longer we wait to change our act the fiercer the blowback will be. All in all it’s a very provocative book.

  12. Will says:

    a must reading for those babes in the woods, and they are all babes: from the obama baby to the hillary infant, to the guliani suckling.
    IS to read the following
    Larry Johnson’s blog where he describes how Col. Pat Lang introduced him to the concept. Just google takfiri salafist. It”ll be the first hit- the No Quarter blog.
    Does the phrase “Christian Extremist” grate on your nerves? or the war against “Christian Extremists?” or the War against “Christianfascism?” Think how similar terms sound to Muslims. It is always better to use refined language and to narrow and sharpen the focus of the opponent.
    Recent posts in Abu Ardvarks’s blog show movement among Egyptian Islamists to redfine the ideological underpinnings that launched the takfiri Salafist movement. This may deal it a larger knockout blow than kinetic actions.

  13. john stack says:

    When the USA talks of stopping by force atomic weapons do they include The USA,Israel, UK, France, China…. . Would you attack your friends in Ireland, Spain, Germany.. if they wanted WMD just to be like you? Some friend..
    Why should ANY country trust the USA after Illegal invasions, tortures etc. Why not concentrate on removing all WMDs.
    Do you understand that you are an Empire that frightens most countries in the world who feel the would prefer a balance of power. How many people across the world are researching for a balancing weapons system. How long before they succed. Why make it necessary???
    “21st Cent military and how to deploy ” You still cannot understand that you may be better and more morally acceptable by not being the strongest. (the catholic Church improved when it lost its military power). Obama and most others still talk of invading where they consider necessary. Is this democracy in a World context?. I think the USA should only be strong in democratic cooperation with the UN.
    The USA can still live up to my expectations. But hurry.Realise how arrogant you sound to the rest of the world. By the way , of course you are tops in so many other things.

  14. Jesus Reyes says:

    When has there not been a non-interventionist president?
    Non-interventionist will be types like Ross Perot, Ralph Nadar, Ron Paul, maybe Ron Paul, Dennis Kisinish,
    The economic system is built on intervention. It’s call neo-liberalism, globalism, military-industrial-media complex
    It’s really an absurd question. The fact that anyone could ask it with a straight face is a tribute to the corporate-commercial media

  15. Jose says:

    Obama reminds me of Kerry, young, inexperienced and fighting an establishment that will place the Ring of Power around his neck to deliver to Mount Doom.
    In the end, the Ring will overtake him.
    All these unilateral statements already show the power of the Ring.
    Hillary is just an awful candidate, reminds me of Gollum/Smegal.
    IMHO, Unless there is a significant change in the Democratic field, the Witch King of Hope, Arkansas will be tough to beat.

  16. lina says:

    PL: “Barack Obama sounds a lot like the neocons.”
    Let me remind everyone who jumped on the bandwagon of the Iraq invasion: HR Clinton, Biden, Dodd, and Edwards.
    Who spoke out against the Iraq invasion: a little known state senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
    Honestly, there would not be a dime’s worth of difference in the foreign policy of any of the Democratic candidates for president. They are all being advised by Clinton I foreign policy experts.
    But Obama was right on Iraq, and he is the best choice to conduct a re-branding campaign for America. And folks, America is badly in need of re-branding. (See latest NIE and U.S. credibility on foreign policy).
    * * * * *
    “American foreign policy is broken. It has been broken by people who supported the Iraq War, opposed talking to our adversaries, failed to finish the job with al Qaeda, and alienated the world with our belligerence. Yet conventional wisdom holds that people whose experience includes taking these positions are held up as examples of what America needs in times of trouble.
    Barack Obama says we have to turn the page. We cannot afford any more of this kind of bankrupt conventional wisdom. He has laid out a foreign policy that is bold, clear, principled, and tailored for the 21st century. End a war we should never have fought, concentrate our resources against terrorists who threaten America. End the counter-productive policy of lumping together our adversaries and avoiding talking to our foes. End the era of politics that is all sound-bites and no substance, and offer the American people the change that they need.
    Barack Obama’s judgment is right. It is conventional wisdom that has to change.”
    [August 3, 2007 memo
    To: Interested Parties
    From: Samantha Power — Founding Executive Director, Harvard University Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
    Re: Conventional Washington versus the Change We Need]

  17. michael savoca says:

    At his news conference today I heard President Bush state in answer to a reporters question that he had only learned about the new intelligence assessment on Iran a week or two ago.
    That statement, if accurate shows that the President of the United States has just lied, again, to the American people.
    The NIE regarding Iran has been read, re-read, and arged about within this addministration for more than a year as they attempted to get intelligence officers to tone down assessments that didn’t support the administrations political will.
    Isn’t this how we got lied into a war of choice in Iraq?
    My guess is that there are un-sung hero’s high up in our Military and Intelligence organizations who fought hard for the release of the truth that Iran had suspended its Nuke arms program back in 03. You can bet the Presidents and the Vice_Presidents staff tried to undermine those who would release he truth to the American people,like this administration retaliated against ambassador Wilson
    Now before the American people the President says he just learned about the NIE-Iran last week.
    If the news media and the People allow this lie to go unchallenged then we are asking for the further erosion of our constitutional rights.

  18. jedermann says:

    On the spectrum from simplistic to utterly confused I think most people find themselves living toward the utterly confused end and yearning for the simplistic. For a politician, appreciating the complexity of politics and the world is not something you want to let anyone know about. Telling folks “not so fast, it’s more complicated than that” will only frighten them by signaling that you might be as confused and paralyzed as they feel or that you are a coward.
    The current, virulent strain of our native anti-intellectualism combined with a carefully nurtured climate of fear is dumbing-down our political discourse (again). Those citizens trying to discern a candidate who is not merely a shill for some ideological con game are reduced to trying to figure out if some of these people are really as simple as they seem or are dissembling for fear of being exposed as thoughtful, curious, knowledgeable and articulate or are just plain dishonest. Not a happy season for the body politic.

  19. rjj says:

    I like what Mo said.
    Do we know what is in this bright sparkly packaging? [FRESH! NEW! LOW-CARB! ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS!] Lawyer, community organizer, state pol, four years in the senate.
    Parochial stuff.
    Other than being ingratiating, charismatic, and a great bullshitter, does this man have any qualifications for the office?

  20. paladin says:

    The idealism which you seem to reject has been a part of the American psyche and our foreign policy since… forever or thereabouts. We’ve been about spreading or encouraging democracy (representative gov’ts), human rights….. Obama is merely another data point on the continuum. Good for him and us and the world.
    Unlike others i have confidence in what we do and what we’re about. We don’t always get it right, no one does. But i’ll take (as would most of the world) what we have on offer over anyone else’s because that’s the choice at the end of the day.

  21. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Not many politicians have foreign policy backgrounds. So it is useful to take into consideration their advisors and speech writers.
    “Key advisers in Mr. Obama’s foreign policy orbit include Ms. Rice; a Pulitzer Prize-winning anti-genocide activist, Samantha Power; a national security adviser to Mr. Clinton, Anthony Lake, and Senator Obama’s foreign policy staffer, Mark Lippert….”
    Take Tony Lake, remember him?. We find he is the co-Chair of the “Princeton Project on National Security” (PPNS) a bi-partisan foreign policy establishment effort to lay out the foreign policy for whoever wins in 08. The other co-Chair is George Shultz, the man who brought us George Bush’s foreign policy team and the war in Iraq.
    IMO, a close read of the Princeton Project’s douments as well as attention to all the “experts” who participated would give an indication of:
    1. where we are headed and 2. who the new players will be.
    I suppose someone could argue it is warmed over British Liberal Imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th century with some sleazy Fabian Socialism tossed in…
    Here is the website:

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