- The annals of smart diplomacy - npt edition
- Carnival of maryland begins again
- Why should I believe you when you say there's nothing there?
- Council speak 05/30/10
Posted: 30 May 2010 11:43 AM PDT
President Obama has done much to distance himself and his administration from the Bush administration. However In some ways he has persisted. And when he has chosen a different path, it hasn't always been successful. President Obama summarizes his approach to international relations like this:
Obama acknowledged that the U.S. is "clear-eyed" about the shortcoming of the international system, but he said America had not ever been successful by "stepping out of the currents of cooperation."
Surely President Obama considers the recent conclusion of discussions of the NPT as an example of his approach. The New York Times reports:
While rejecting a deadline, for the first time the main five nuclear weapons states accepted vague language referring to a new, stronger international convention on eliminating nuclear weapons, and the idea of a "timeline" was introduced.
The Washington Post offers a few more details in its conclusion:
The U.S. delegation at the NPT review in New York had fought to excise all mentions of Israel in the final document. But on Thursday evening, as delegations prepared for a last round of talks, the conference president informed them that the latest draft of the text was a take-it-or-leave-it document, officials said. Final NPT documents require a consensus.
And this mention of Israel, of course, is why the NPT was controversial.
A good merchant - unlike Gen. Jones - knows the value of what he's trying to sell and what he's trying to get in exchange. As the Post observes, a final version of the NPT document was the highest priority of the administration. It's ridiculous for Jones to "deplore" the singling out of Israel. That was the cost of getting what the administration wanted. If it had placed a greater value on protecting Israel, the administration wouldn't have minded seeing the conference end without an agreement. The merchants who offered the administration the "take it or leave it deal" correctly read the values both of what the administration wanted and what it was willing to agree to, to achieve its goal.
How did Iran, currently seeking to join the nuclear club, view this?
The final statement of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference has called for the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
In this case the administration didn't steer anything, it was steered. Here's how Meryl put it:
The Obama administration threw Israel under the bus again. The NPT conference ended with all 189 countries--the U.S. included--issuing a statement that names Israel, and only Israel, when calling for a nuclear-free Middle East. It does not name Iran or Syria, two nations that were on the nuclear weapons track. It calls on Israel, and only Israel, to join the NPT, which Israel has never signed. Iran is a signatory. The document does not call on Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons.
Meryl emphasizes that if the United States reallly opposed the language singling out Israel, it had an option: not to sign.
Bottom line: With the possible exception of Iran, it is difficult to see how Obama or anyone got anything out of this exercise but regret.
Crossposted on Yourish.
Posted: 30 May 2010 04:59 AM PDT
Clark's brought back the Carnival of Maryland. I have two weeks now to come up with a Maryland related post.
Posted: 30 May 2010 04:23 AM PDT
Andrew Alexander shows us what an ombudsman is supposed to do:
There was quite a noisy scene in a peaceful Chevy Chase neighborhood two Sundays ago. The midafternoon calm was shattered when 14 buses showed up without warning and about 700 protesters descended on the home of Gregory Baer, a deputy general counsel for Bank of America.
Though he isn't harsh, Alexander makes clear that his paper missed the story. The one sour note was this:
In fairness to The Post, all local media seemed unaware. George Goehl, executive director of the Chicago-based National People's Action that spearheaded the protests, said, "We didn't call any media in advance."
A few months ago, the Post hired David Weigel to report on conservatives. In the past week this was one of the big political stories in the political blogosphere. Weigel, however, last week did what liberal critics of conservatives do: blasted Sarah Palin. He seems less like a serious reporter than an anthropologist.
It didn't require being plugged into a union to be aware of the story. It required being concious and watching Fox News. At the end of his column Alexander makes some good observations:
Beyond that, there were numerous ways The Post could have gotten back in the game on the story. For example, how did Chevy Chase neighbors react? Did protesters break trespass laws? When does First Amendment expression infringe on residential privacy? Does President Obama, who enjoyed SEIU electoral support, sanction these types of protests? And is a blitz on private residences a new protest tactic?
The Post's negligence here is important given its coverage of the Sestak scandal. Notably there's yesterday's editorial which opens:
OKAY, if all the facts are out, then we would agree: Nothing inappropriate happened. On the basis of the memorandum issued Friday by White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer, the Joe Sestak job-for-dropping-out-of-Senate-race scandal is a non-scandal -- except for the White House's bungling of the episode. The unnecessary coverup, it turns out, is always worse than the non-crime.
So when a protest by a union that supported the President is ignored, how can we accept your assurance that in the Sestak matter nothing untoward happened?
JoshuaPundit, for one, isn't convinced by the administration's account.
Ummm...I seem to remember that Sestak originslly said back in February that "somebody in the White House" contacted him about the post. And when asked about the job ( not a term customarily used to describe a post on an 'advisory council) in response reiterated that yes, it was a high position.
Well, the lack of transparency makes it look exactly that way. And when the details don't add up, it makes things look a whole lot worse. The Post's incuriousness in this story is pretty amazing.
Don Surber points out that adding Bill Clinton to the story doesn't help the administration:
Guess what? This does not let the White House off the hook. In fact, it helps sink the hook deeper in the lip of the administration. Bill Clinton spoke for the White House oat the request of the White House. He is their agent. At some point, the White House asked Clinton how it went and he told them.
What is without question is that this looks awful. The best defense for this White House is the claim that this is done all the time. That may be true but in fact, Obama promised to rise above all of this. Even if no laws were violated, this goes against every bit of the soaring rhetoric that Obama made in the campaign. There's nothing inspiring or transparent about any of this. At best, there was no direct quid pro quo but just an implied one. That wouldn't be illegal, just scummy. That said, this first broke in February and now it's almost June and we still don't know much. No one will explain exactly what was said and why this isn't illegal. The reality is that this is politics as usual. Obama had no accomplishments coming into the presidency. He won largely on his soaring rhetoric, and this episode is another example that the soaring rhetoric is NOT backed up by action.
So even if there's no scandal as the Post concludes, doesn't it at least make the administration look overly cynical and political? That the Post won't even entertain this thought is even more damning.
The fact that a protest that could have been politically damaging to the President was ignored by the paper, makes me less willing to believe the Post when it tells me that there's nothing to the Sestak scandal.
Posted: 30 May 2010 02:37 AM PDT
The council has spoken:
Non Council Submissions
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