Should Europe call Susan Collins or Barack Obama?
A very good, and very unsettling, point from Matthew Yglesias on the effect relentless minority obstruction has on international cooperation:
The dysfunctional nature of the United States Congress means that essentially all diplomatic intercourse with the American government is worthless. If you were at a G8 meeting talking regulation, why would you take the Obama administration’s positions seriously? Or at a Major Economies Forum meeting talking about climate change? Or at a UN Security Council meeting talking about multilateral nuclear disarmament? Or a meeting about “global imbalances” and the need for eventual public sector deleveraging? A WTO meeting about trade in agricultural commodities? It would almost make more sense at this point for Susan Collins’ staff to represent the US in international fora, though even she can’t deliver the 67th vote needed to ratify something like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.[...]
What’s especially troubling about this is that it’s asymmetrical. A president who “can’t get anything done” still has a wide latitude to conduct national security policy to his liking, but basically only in reactionary ways. Congress can’t or won’t stop a president from launching a war, or detaining people without trial, or surveilling them without warrants. But the progressive view on international policy isn’t merely that we shouldn’t do those things, but that we should take constructive steps to cooperate with other countries on problems of mutual concern. But if the president can’t credibly promise congressional action, then he can’t really undertake cooperative international action.
Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post
January 28, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
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