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Friday, March 15, 2013

A Man With Balance

For John, BLUFWe are undergoing a foreign policy review in this nation, and the Republicans, for their part, are doing it more or less in the open.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On Wednesday of this week the National Defense University Foundation honored former national security advisor and retired Air Force Lt Gen Brent Scowcroft.  It is just and fitting.

Quoting from Foreign Policy Magazine's Blog, "The E-Ring", we have this item to chew over:

Susan Eisenhower told the E-Ring she got to know Scowcroft through her mentor, the late Gen. Andrew Goodpaster, former NATO supreme allied commander and superintendent of West Point. Nearly 30 years later, she said of Scowcroft, “I don’t know what Washington would do without him, frankly. He’s one of those people you can rely on for clear thinking and good sense.” Neither of which, she said, there is enough of these days. “We’ve been suffering from this for a while.”

“Since I’m a centrist, I gravitate immediately toward General Scowcroft’s worldview,” Eisenhower added. “I think he’s a national treasure in the sense that younger people coming along need to look to General Scowcroft and his immediate associates to see that there is a vital intellectual case for the middle ground. You don’t have to be on one extreme or the other to be associated with great ideas.”

What was that all about?  Susan Eisenhower is an Independent who endorsed Barack Obama, twice.  It turns out that the intelligentsia sees a split within the Republican Party on the issue of foreign policy.  It was discussed this AM in an article in The New York Times, written by Reporter Michael D Shear.  The reporter divides the Republican party into "the internationalists who held sway under the elder President George Bush and the neoconservatives who led the country to long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under President George W. Bush."  The fear is that someone like Senator Rand Paul is pushing for a new isolationist approach to US foreign policy.  The essential nation becoming the indifferent nation.

On the other hand, why is it our job to fix the problems of the rest of the world, problems that have festered for centuries and which the participants don't necessarily want our help, especially if our offered solution goes against their self interests.  As both Iraq and Afghanistan show us, it is a complicated world out there.

The article concludes with this comment by General Scowcroft:

"I feel sympathy for them today, because in some ways it's a much more complicated world," he said. "I don't know that it's a more dangerous world, but it's a more complicated world."
I think that the General has hit on a very important point.  It is a less dangerous world than it was 25 years ago, but it is also much more complicated.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In Pentagonese, the E-Ring is the power ring of the five rings that make up the building.  This construction allows for more office windows, since the inner rings actually allow some daylight to filter in.  The E-Ring is the ring where all those with status have their offices, since these are the offices that actually look out across the world, toward DC, Crystal City or Arlington Cemetery.


Neal said...

As an aside, Crystal City is little more than an extension of the Pentagon...probably more Pentagon people in buildings there than in the Pentagon. The beauty of Arlington being right next door is that we don't have to transport the perennial Pentagon princes all that far to put them in the ground. A variation of from "crib to grave."

Jack Mitchell said...

I don't think our Foreign Policy is inclined to 'fix' problems abroad, but merely realign them in such a way that makes them more profitable to our corporate feudal masters.

That's why Ike warned us.

Neal said...

Of course, we mustn't forget the fact that politicians ALWAYS act in their own self interest driven by their personal affinity for this or that agenda. I don't think that Bush had any sort of agenda for war, until AQ presented him with literally a politician's dream come true.....and opportunity to vanquish and enemy that has attacked us. Once he took the first snort of that wonderful drug...he was hooked....and lots of private folks with their agendas made sure he got lots of support.

Obama is no different. He saw undoing Iraq as simply a different side of "defending America" and the continuance and growth of Afghanistan as a grandiose demonstration of our one world was and is an element of political convenience.

In short, the folks who elevate themselves to high office do so to advance their particular and personal beliefs, seeing themselves as a savior pro tem. Once in power, there are lots and lots of private business clingons who are there to fulfill THEIR personal agendas.

Some of them practice politics of convenience attaching themselves loyally to whomever holds the current power card. Lockheed Martin and Boeing and GF and the Big Banks all fit that category. In their view the only mantra is, "The king is dead, the king is dead. All hail the new monarch."

Kinda puts a new spin on "freedom."

C R Krieger said...

OK, I give you the Pareto Principle, but still it isn't just the leader who has elevated himself (or herself) to high office.  We are part of process and thus part of the problem.

Do we all really think that Senator Elizabeth Warren is just a toady of Big Business?  What about Senator John F Kerry, when he was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or now that he is SecState (OK, I will give you that one).  But, there are good people who go to Washington to accomplish good things.  You may think they are stupid, but can't we hope that some of them are good people?

Cynicism stalks the voters, thus suppressing voting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Neal said...

Cliff, hope springs. But then one must mitigate that hope with reality and the reality is that our political system has become so dogmatic and polarized that it is almost always more about the political goals and growth in power over the "opposition" which by definition must be opposed and removed. At the Federal level, decisions are always made today with a view to favoring one class or group over another. Where do you think that the "1%"came from? Nobody wants to understand and advance the MACRO view any more...because the money support isn't interested in altruism. It is no longer about what is good for society. It is only about what is good for whoever yells the loudest or can provide the power players with the money to continue and advance their power. If you give $500K to Obama, you get privileged access to him...well...not really..but that is the marketing lede. The only reason that you part with that kind of money is that you perceive it as a way of gaining something over those who oppose you.

We have given up on the idea of fairness in exchange for what is fair for me. We have given up on the REAL application of freedom and justice for all. Freedom is contingent on your alliance with certain people and programs. Justice is meted out by political correctness and convenience. What was once bad is now normal and what was once part of the fabric of our society is now offensive and disallowed. A massive majority of Americans are today prohibited from praying to God and expressing Christian beliefs because an extreme minority either don't believe in God or just don't like that other people are doing something that they don't like.

I agree that WE the people are most responsible for our current state. And it won't change until WE change....and WE won't change until we rediscover some truths. One truth is that nobody has a corner on "truth." Truth is a collaborative discovery and not one underpinned or otherwise derived from sociopolitical partisanship.

All politics is local is an ironclad axiom. It is because locally, it is not politics. It is civic dialogue, not always pretty or even civil, but always in the end productive. The outcome is not Democratic or Republican....or liberal or conservative. It is what works for that group of folks in that time and place. It is what has made America great....and its absence is what is making America die.

We now cede power to an "elected elite" who dispense their paternalism from on high and from afar. It is a one size fits all rubric in which on either side of the sweet spot are a great number who are eminently dissatisfied or even harmed. The high government elite retain and grow their power via the process of division, picking sides, creating us vs them. The most blatant practitioner that comes to mind IS Sacajawarren.

You will say that local politics is doing just fine thank you very much, but I will say that local politics is allowed ONLY under the approval of non-local politicians. If Lowell could solve its own problems internally (and it really could), why would you need Deval Patrick, or Elizabeth Warren. What do they DO?? They can only "govern" from the perspective of one size fits all. You are no different than Springfield, or Provincetown, or Swampscott, or Lee. And ARE. In the earliest years of our country, the folks who trotted off to Congress were emissaries, and their charge was very clear.

We CAN take back the power by inverting the pyramid. Less Federal government, a little more state government, and a whole lot more "home rule." If I send you off to do a job for our city...and you don't.....I'll fire you before the week ends. It's called "recall."