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Why 'not being Bush' will not be enough (Ian Bell / The Herald - UK)

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 10:38 AM
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Why 'not being Bush' will not be enough (Ian Bell / The Herald - UK)
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 10:39 AM by struggle4progress
January 24 2009

... American presidents occupy a narrow ideological range in any case, no matter how radical they sound on the campaign trail. Few are actually progressive by European standards. If Mr Obama strikes a note of liberal decency, this has more to do with the aberrant, incompetent radicalism of his predecessor than with the new President's "socialism". Even by American standards, Mr Bush was an extremist. His successor is closer to the historic norm, and the norm is conservative. It abhors torture as an attack on America's founding principles, but it does not quibble greatly with free-market capitalism. Those are the facts of American discourse ...

So the new President aspires to a world free of nuclear weapons. He wants to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He hopes that the world's existing nuclear stockpiles can be secured. Well and good. But while repeating words familiar to almost every statesman, Mr Obama recommits America to a "strong deterrent" for as long as anyone else has nukes. The defence establishment he inherits is, meanwhile, spending $53bn a year on such devices. Will he, can he, call a halt?

Had he promised to do such a thing during the campaign, he would not now be the 44th President. "Weak on defence" is, and always will be, a gift to the Republicans, who can still summon almost half the electorate. Even Mr Obama's pledge to engage with Iran without preconditions - still intact, mercifully - was a calculated gamble last year. Talking to "terrorists" is not the modern American way.

But then, even as he shows a determination to restore decency, Mr Obama does not intend to end, or even question seriously, the war on terror. He may dispense with the phrase, given its associations; he may ensure that laws and human rights are observed in its prosecution, but the "war" will be prosecuted. The new President intends only to return the focus to Afghanistan, and to fight more effectively. So more villages will be levelled and, inevitably, more civilians killed ...

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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 01:00 PM
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1. Not enough, maybe, but a very good start
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