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The Town Hall Debate: Obama's Foreign Policy Surprise

Though the candidates didn’t break much ground in their discussion of foreign policy last night, I was struck by Barack Obama’s answer when Tom Brokaw asked him whether “Russia under Vladimir Putin is an evil empire.”

“I think they've engaged in an evil behavior,” Obama replied, referring to the August invasion of Georgia. “I think that it is important that we understand they’re not the old Soviet Union but they still have nationalist impulses that I think are very dangerous.”

That embrace of the word “evil” certainly will raise eyebrows in Moscow. Until now many Russians have regarded Obama as a benign alternative to John McCain, who has been strident in his denunciations of Putin and has called for Russia to be expelled from the Group of Eight industrial nations. Obama said last night that he agreed with McCain “on many of the steps that have to be taken”; that was after McCain had reiterated his position on the G-8 and called for Georgia and Ukraine to be admitted to NATO.

Obama’s relatively hawkish position on Russia, which he called “one of the central issues that we're going to have to deal with in the next presidency,” firmly separates him from those on the left of the Democratic Party who rallied behind him last year because of his opposition to the war in Iraq. Many of those Democrats blame the Bush administration for provoking Russia by cultivating close relations with Georgia’s pro-Western democratic government, and say any further expansion of NATO should be put on hold.

European leaders who can barely conceal their hopes for an Obama victory also have taken a much softer line on Putin, condemning the invasion of Georgia but opposing any meaningful sanctions -- or even any serious reconsideration of Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies. “Energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia,” Obama said. “If we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petro-dollars that they have to make mischief around the world.”

It’s widely assumed in Europe that an Obama administration would bring about a major improvement in transatlantic relations -- just as left-wing Democrats once thought that Obama would launch a “progressive” transformation of U.S. foreign policy. Obama’s rhetoric on Russia is one of several indications that, on substance, Europeans will find that their differences with Washington won’t end with the departure of President Bush.

By Jackson Diehl  | October 8, 2008; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
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Comments

It's amazing that nobody has made an issue recently of Obama's sprint to the center in the general election. His new, hawkish stance toward Pakistan and Russia are clear examples. He beat Hillary by running clearly to her left. Does the general public realize what his stated positions were last winter and spring, and how much they've changed? McCain's campaign should draw more attention to this. Either he has betrayed those who gave him his primary victory or he's lying now, and this should be elevated to a more major campaign issue.

Posted by: the_unpopular_truth | October 8, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it was more of a signal to the world to say that I'm not going to be a pushover while in office rather than Bush/McCain/Palin 6-pack cowboy posturing.

Posted by: ehperkins1971 | October 8, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

RE: the_unpopular_truth

I have to partly agree and partly disagree with you. Obama's line on Pakistan has been the same for months - long before he was nominated when he was still in the throes of the primaries. In fact, he was ridiculed by other Democrats for his position on Pakistan during the primaries - remember? To my knowledge, he first enunciated his hard line on Pakistan in the Spring of 2007 at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

I do have to agree with you and Diehl that he's taken a harder line on Russia, but I disagree with you that it's that significant. I think it's just campaign talk he has to talk tough about Russia - there is no other alternative. I don't think it follows that his administration will draw just as hard a line as McCain or Bush would. We need to be tough with Russia and we need to keep an eye on them. But we can't keep putting out this story that somehow the war in South Ossetia was an example of Russian aggression or that it was unprovoked. The Georgians had as much blood on their hands as the Russians, and the fact is the Georgians started the damned thing! Reasonable people can admit to this - presidential candidates can't. So I tend to forgive Obama on this one. He doesn't have much of a choice.

The fact is - his calculated decisions on when to use force to achieve actual US national security objectives (such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan) are worlds apart from McCain's bellicose attempts to pick a fight with Iraq, Russia, and Iran, but "muddle through" Afghanistan, and a give a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to the Pakistani hosts of al Qaeda.

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

As a McCain supporter, I have to consider this a non-issue. The entire world still wants President Obama.

Posted by: forgetthis | October 8, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I fail to see what the_unpopular_truth describes as a 'hawkish' position towards Pakistan. Sen Obama has talked about non-defense foreign aid to Pakistan, focused on shoring up their democracy & building schools. That's pragmatic, not hawkish. The approach v Russia is more understandable. Using energy policy to defang russia is more of a long-term strategy - given that we can't just end our oil based economy on 1/9/9. As McCain stated, saying 'yes' to the evil empire is as unhelpful as saying 'no'. Obama's response was similarly pragmatic. Lastly, comparing views toward Russia to those during the primaries is a bit irrelevant - please recall that in this winter and spring, Russia had not yet invaded Georgia.

Posted by: bsimon1 | October 8, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Change in our foreign policy was supposed to be Obama's chief drawing card. Our disastrous interventionism and pretentious posturing cannot be allowed to continue. But Obama's pitiful comment about Russia's "evil behavior" clearly reveals the mind of another hack politician.

This is another distrubing sign that Obama is not going to be the 'change' candidate he advertizes himself as.

Forget about McCain, as dangerous and out of touch as he is. But Obama looks like a another big disappointment in the White House, once he is elected. He does not deserve a huge turnout or a huge majority. He will be a weak reed at a time of great peril. He and his economic advisors from Wall Street are still mired in the mistaken paradigms of free trade and free market economics. And now on the key foreign policy issues of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and relations with Russia, we can evidently expect more of the same. Really sad.

Posted by: whachmacallit | October 8, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1 -

you mean "please remember that in the winter and spring, Georgian troops hadn't invaded South Ossetia and fired on internationally recognized Russian peace keepers"

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I totally disagree with your putting words in Obama's mouth. He did not say "evil", nor did he declare war on Russia or their allies. They are hurting as much as we are and we know this.

Obama was stating clearing, in my view, that Russia needs to be negotiated with since their incursion in Georgia. I think Sen. Biden will help him on that issue a lot more then Gov. Palin will McCain.

Again, McCain seems to state that our military might is first and negotiations are secondary. So I would suggest that you hypothesis is incorrect in this article.

Posted by: jrubin1 | October 8, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

forgetthis~
The "hawkish" stance by Obama, as suggested by the_unpopular_truth is referring to his statement that he would invade pakistan. If you watched the first debate, you'll remember when McCain pointed out how naive and "dangerous" a statement like that is. And he's right, you can't go around trying to pick up votes by telling voters you'll invade another middle eastern country; meanwhile telling everyone that he's the alternative to a Bush administration. Additionally, he talks about keeping jobs at home and troops out of Iraq, but Obama says he'll simply move the existing troops to Afghanistan, then his efforts in Pakistan will require us moving jobs overseas. You can't have it both ways!

Posted by: jelinville | October 8, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

jelinville -

you're sensationalizing Obama's position. Obama has discussed following al Qaeda into the border regions of Pakistan where Pakistan has no control and no troops. He's not proposing invading anything that Pakistan has sovereignty over, and he's not proposing fighting Pakistani troops - which you and McCain want to make it sound like.

What he IS proposing is actually engaging al Qaeda - a novel idea, don't you think? That IS an alternative to the Bush administration - he's actually fighting terrorism and filling power vaccuums on the Pakistani border, rather than creating new power vaccuums for al Qaeda to use in Iraq and ignoring the al Qaeda stronghold. It's QUITE a change in strategy, and it's a change we need.

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with Diehl's fretting of the word 'evil'. Obama made the clear distinction of describing a 'behavior' as evil and not an entire country--as the question was baited. The idea that liberals are or should be 'morally relative' is an academic fiction. Morally dismissing an entire nation or people, as some conservatives would like it, is foolishly dangerous. But individuals inside these governments are still very capable of taking violent action against the common welfare for personal gain. The word for this, in English, is 'evil'.

Posted by: odinsbeard | October 8, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama betrayed the left! First, he supports FISA. Second, Obama refused Campaign Finance. Third, he approves Paulson's/ Wall Street Bailout. Fourth,
Obama voted in favor of Bush/Cheney's energy bill. Fifth, Obama talks like a political hawk: "Yes, Russia is an evil
Nation" Obama promotes change? No
Vote smart. Vote for McCain/Palin08
Hillary Clinton 2012
Vote for real m

Posted by: mmarii | October 8, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dk11~

Obama said he would be prepared to order U.S. troops into that country unilaterally if it failed to act on its own against Islamic extremists.

So plainly speaking, if Pakistan doesn't abide by our rules, we're moving in... So how is that confusing?

At the Woodrow wilson Center, he said that the first step is to "take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan." So again, when Pakistan disagrees with us moving in, what does Obama suggest we do?

By the way, the "novel idea" you speak of sounds a lot like a high profile effort to take the offensive against Al-Qaida. That's remarkably similar to the surge approach championed by McCain and vehemently opposed by Obama. What do you think?

Posted by: jelinville | October 8, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it might better illuminate your remarks -- and you -- if you were to re-read your Post colleague Murray Feshbach's op-ed piece in last Sunday's (10/05/08) WP entitled "Behind the Bluster, Russia Is Collapsing."

Russia controls a large chunk of ONE strategic resource (one of the most volatile -- excuse the pun -- and price-unstable): oil. Other than that, it is a rotten shell dying from the inside. Scary Russian lunacy in Georgia got the world press in a short-lived lather, but the real telling story -- and of course the American media completely missed it -- was the theft of tons of US military equipment crated up at the port city of Poti, awaiting shipment back to the US after a US Georgia joint military exercise the week before Russia's "liberation" of the "oppressed people" of South Ossetia.

After sinking every 'dangerous' Georgian pleasure vessel in the port, our Russian "allies" then tore into every crate marked as US military property, and stole everything. Everything: from tired old HumVees to -- no joke -- American toilets.

And just to make the action (which the American government has YET to protest) even more humiliating, Pravda -- that righteous party organ of absolute truth-- ran a story that the brave toilet thieves of the Russian military had captured "state-of-the-art" Humvees with "top-secret-classified" surveillance equipment that "laid bare" the highest achievements of American technology.

Of course, the rather elderly Humvees had, as is standard US military practice when leaving equipment behind for third-party shipment out of country, been stripped of every piece of communications, targeting, GPS, and top-secret cigarette lighter technology, all of which the US forces took out with them. Even the toilets were declassified.

The point I'm trying to make is that whatever disgraced President George W. Bush believed he discerned when looking deep into Putin's "soul," he seems to have gotten the gist of it very, very wrong. Putin is no "valiant ally" in the so-called "War On Terror;" he's just another KGB thug, in no way different than Stalin, nor even the Russian Mafia, with whom Putin has a disgustingly symbiotic need-need relationship.

As the Ottoman Empire was before, during, and (briefly) after World War One, Russia is now --figuratively and literally -- the Sick Man of Europe. Pakistan has been sanctioned by GW Bush as off-limits in the hunt for Bin Laden and the trail of nuclear technology to such freedom-loving friends of the United States as Iran and new US best-buddy Libya. McCain has gone along with this treason from before 9/11, and he'd continue to go along with it if elected.

While McCain may be the president YOU deserve, I think enough of us would be appalled at THAT disastrous election outcome that it will not come to pass.

Posted by: bbrown95 | October 8, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

mmarii~

Points well taken. Is it too late for the Democrats to switch Obama with Hillary?

I'm with you for McCain this time and Hillary next election. That would be two smart elections in a row, and a refreshing CHANGE!

Posted by: jelinville | October 8, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

jelinville -

you know, the surge had three important facets:

1. A troop surge of around 20,000 if I'm not mistaken
2. Targeted assassinations, and
3. Putting 100,000 former al Qaeda members and al Qaeda sympathizers on the US government payroll to fight our war in Iraq.

So I'd say that actually prosecuting the war on terror rather than paying off terrorists is a hugely different strategy from the surge. And once again, nobody is talking about invading territory that is controlled by Pakistan. What we're talking about is moving troops into an area that is called "Pakistan" on the map but is really controlled by al Qaeda. We're allies with the Philipines but we moved in there when terrorism cropped up there. How is this different? Nobody is talking about marching on Islamabad or fighting the Pakistani army (like Bush and McCain marching on Baghdad and fighting the Republican Guard). Stop distorting the issue.

Pakistan couldn't "abide by our rules" on the border even if it wanted to. And even if it didn't abide by our rules, the point of moving into the border region isn't to "punish Pakistan" the way Bush punished Iraq for not abiding by our rules. The point would be to address a known terrorist threat. I thought that's what the war on terror was! Have you forgotten 9-11???????????????

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

More surprises:
BROKAW: Senator Obama, let me ask you if -- let's see if we can establish tonight the Obama doctrine and the McCain doctrine for the use of United States combat forces in situations where there's a humanitarian crisis, but it does not affect our national security.
OBAMA: Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake. ... So when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us.
MCCAIN:…. The United States of America, Tom, is the greatest force for good, as I said. And we must do whatever we can to prevent genocide, whatever we can to prevent these terrible calamities that we have said never again. But it also has to be tempered with our ability to beneficially affect the situation.

Posted by: akkashyap | October 8, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I think I’ve actually come up with an angle and comment that no one else seems to have raised in this campaign. I’m not just trying to plug my blog (though I am doing that), I really think this point needs to get out there.
Please check it out and pass it along:

http://23-7.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-friends-stinking-corpses.html

Thanks!

Posted by: levison | October 8, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Good Lord. A rash of fairly intelligent, common sense arguments has broken out in this blog. (Except for you, mmarii. Your's was rubbish).

I have to say that McCain hit the nail on the head - the question posed by Brokaw was nonsensical. It was a no-win: Answer yes, you're an unbalanced hawk that wants to restart the Cold War; answer no, and you approve of the Georgian invasion.

I think bbrown has make a very astute connection; any semblence of economic diversification in Russia has disappeared in the last twenty years. It's a petro-state, and it's a petro-state with a decaying infrastructure and the only major power to have declining life-expectancies.

It's no mistake that when commodity prices collapsed on Monday, Russia's stock market slid 20%. As long as there are hard-liners in power, Russia's aggression is going to be increasingly tied to their lack of domestic stability.

Posted by: strawman | October 8, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

You know, just a little bit of reading might help the right-wingnut commentators. But then Sarah doesn't bother to read, so why should they?
With respect to Pakistan, the areas in which Al Qaeda reigns are "federally administered tribal areas", that is reservations in which the Pakistan government has at best marginal influence. They are also areas whose population is extremely poor, illiterate, socially conservative, and religiously fundamentalist - perfect recipients for an Al Qaeda message. Musharraf and the Pakistan army had absolutely no interest in tracking down Al Qaeda in these difficult areas. So stating that the US military might track down Bin Laden in areas that barely belong to Pakistan in the first place, seems quite reasonable to me.
Then idea that the Iraq surge, perhaps the greatest snowjob ever place on the US media, would work in the tribal areas is a fantasy. The US commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say so because Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan are far less modern and secular than any region in Iraq. The results attributed to the Iraq "surge" can be just as easily attributed to a secular Sunni society in Iraq becoming disgusted with the fundamentalist violence of Al Qaeda (in fact, the Sunni Awakening Councils began before the surge and without US help), But Afghanistan and tribal Pakistan are fundamentalist societies already, societies that produced internally the Taliban. In contrast, Al Qaeda in Iraq was from the start an invasion into Iraqi society by outside fundamentalist groups.

Posted by: jreed11665 | October 8, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Those who think Obama has sprinted to the center never looked into his actual record, let alone read his books. Obama's stance on Russia is exactly as would be expected from the author of The Audicity of Hope. Obama has never been a left-winger. He's much more a Rooseveltian liberal than a true leftist.
As an early Obama supporter, I can tell you that my particular group has no problem with where he now stands: his current stances are almost entirely in keeping with the ideals and beliefs he layed out in his books and repeatedly on the trail.

Posted by: clairen | October 8, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Unless a Palin inspired assasin kills Obama, he will do great things for America.

McCain should concentrate on governing his retirement instead.

Posted by: jfern03 | October 8, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Whoa dk11~

You can't just simply make stuff up!

"2. Targeted assassinations, and
3. Putting 100,000 former al Qaeda members and al Qaeda sympathizers on the US government payroll to fight our war in Iraq."

Do you have a source for this? I've been serving for your right to type whatever you want, and make it up if you will... I have been a military member and part of this surge.

If you do your homework, you'll find that there were no "targeted assassinations," simply put - offensive targeting operations.
Second, we've been trying to get the Iraqi government to take control of their terrain so we can get the heck out of there. Just as there are corrupt politicians in Congress, and there are corrupt police officers in the police force, so too, are there liars and extremists in Iraq that infiltrate the IP forces. This is old news...

Posted by: jelinville | October 8, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I think an Obama administration is going to be full of surprises for us all because I don't see him as liberal at all, but rather more conservative than most conservatives and far more conservative than W has even thought of being. I hope he will talk to our "enemies" so as to effect a change in their policies toward us as well as ours toward them. I certainly could NEVER see him saying, "I looked into his eyes and saw his soul" - he will look them in the eyes, but he will base his scope of them on facts not suppositions!

Posted by: ObamasLady | October 8, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hi ObamasLady~

If he's elected I think you're right; there will be many surprises. Remember the Senate race in Illinois that landed Obama in the Senate? He said he'd lower taxes on middle class folks. Then, to his supporters' "surprise", he didn't even put a piece of legislation forth to lower taxes; and, in fact, he voted in favor of several bills which raised taxes for those very same voters. Well, this time his race is for the White House; would he break his promise again? If so, and I suspect that's what would happen, would you be let down for voting for him like the many folks in Illinois?

Posted by: jelinville | October 8, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I think that Diehl is reading too much into Obama's statement. Any statement regarding foreign policy must be measured against the entire "Obama policy." To do otherwise is to read a meaning into a verse out of the Bible without looking at the whole Bible.

Posted by: EarlC | October 8, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

An interesting thread. But let us remember Obama's response about Pakistan:

If we have Bin Ladin in our sights, and Pakistan is either unwilling or unable to act, then we should move in to take him out.

In other words, we will not blindly go in shooting everyone and everything in sight. If we know exactly where he is, and Pakistan says "it's your move", then we make the move.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | October 8, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

jelinville -

You really have a temper don't you? This is common knowledge - the Post reported it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/07/AR2008090701847.html, I know the Brookings Institution has published on it, as has the NY Times and CNN.

What exactly are you challenging me on? You don't like the word "assassination"? All I meant was there was a series of high profile instances of hunting down and killing key al Qaeda members and insurgents. I'm fine with that - totally fine. If the word "assassinations" affected your delicate sensibilities, I apologize.

As for former al Qaeda fighters and allies on the US payroll now - you're right, this is old news. But it's still dangerous to co-op our enemies and expect their continued loyalty. Besides, how can you tell me I'm making this information up on the one hand and then say "it's old news" on the other... isn't that a contradiction?

I know you guys have been trying to get the Iraqi police force up and running. Where do you get off acting like I'm criticizing your efforts? All I'm saying is that what Obama is proposing to do in Pakistan is nothing like the surge, because one element of the surge was the Bush administration compromising with former al Qaeda fighters. I'm not casting any aspertions on our troops - I'm criticizing the logic of our strategy in Iraq and highlighting the fact that what Obama proposes doing in al Qaeda hits at the problem directly. What McCain wants to do is just damage control in Iraq for President Bush.

And please - get over yourself. Don't act like the fact that you're fighting in Iraq means that anyone who disagrees with you or questions the judgement of the President doesn't respect your service or doesn't appreciate their right to free speech. Give me a break. I'm sick of that logic. I'm glad there are troops out there that are more circumspect and balanced than you, and that there are troops who realize that opposition to the president's strategy in Iraq is NOT some sort of assault on our armed forces.

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

*in Pakistan, not "in al Qaeda"

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thankyou AMViennaVA

Let's be absolutely clear about what Obama said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZDSJN7mVPo

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

DK11~

No temper on my side... I guess you're right, you read it in the Washington Post, so you are undoubtedly the expert. But you've never served, so you don't have the understanding of military strategy, am I wrong?

Posted by: jelinville | October 8, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

jelinville -

First: Nobody on this blog - not even Jackson Diehl - claimed to be an expert. So don't give me that sarcastic crap. You accused me of making stuff up. I just provided you with sources. Do you think Woodward was making that stuff up? Seriously - don't ridicule my citation of the Post unless you have reason to believe that what they report is a fabrication. This wasn't an op-ed - it was solid reporting. Stop being sarcastic when someone provides you with the citation that you demanded.

Second: I haven't served, and I haven't claimed any sort of expert understanding of military strategy. I assume you haven't served in the Illinois state legislature and yet you seem to feel perfectly qualified to expound on Obama's performance there. Here's the deal - I'm an intelligent person, and I can comment intelligently on military strategy even if I can't comment as an expert.

Third: My discussion really hasn't revolved around military strategy anyway. My critiques have primarily been about military priorities. I didn't say "oh the way that Bush conducted the surge was inefficient from a strategic perspective" - what I said was that from the perspective of the national interest I would rather see us hunting terrorists in Pakistan than hiring them in Iraq. That's an issue of priorities, not strategy. And I am every bit an expert as you are in terms of military priorities because I am a citizen of the United States - and if I say it's important to track down terrorists that's not something you can refute - it's my position and my priority, and it's also Obama's priority. I have doubts that it is McCain's priority.

Fourth: If you didn't have a temper you wouldn't have accused me of "making stuff up" that is well cited and well known. And just to anticipate what may be your next question - yes, I too have a temper. I'll freely admit to that.

Posted by: dk11 | October 8, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Jelinville,
Yes, you are wrong, in fact, silly and obscuring the point.

Posted by: goexplode | October 8, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"It's amazing that nobody has made an issue recently of Obama's sprint to the center in the general election. His new, hawkish stance toward Pakistan and Russia are clear examples. He beat Hillary by running clearly to her left. Does the general public realize what his stated positions were last winter and spring, and how much they've changed? McCain's campaign should draw more attention to this. Either he has betrayed those who gave him his primary victory or he's lying now, and this should be elevated to a more major campaign issue.


Posted by: the_unpopular_truth | October 8, 2008 12:09 PM "

You have no idea what you are talking about, he took his position on Pakistan a year ago during the primary. He didn't run to her left, they had virtually the same position on everything. Stop talking about things you don't understand.

Posted by: julian9682 | October 8, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I agree with ThatOne on 98% of his policies but I do not agree with him on everything...Until we solve the Oil problem, I think making treaties with these small unstable countries will lead to WWIII like it lead to WWI and The other thing is the stupid money to faith based organizations...NO TAX MONEY SHOULD BE GOING TO ANY CHURCH and THEY SHOULD HAVE TO PAY TAXES LIKE THE REST OF US IF THEY ARE MAKING MONEY.

Posted by: Beka13 | October 8, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Hi,
Diehl, didn't you see the first debate, when Obama talked about Russia being a greater threat than Iran? What he said last night was not all that new or surprising. And there is a BIG difference in noting "evil behavior" than casting a whole country as an "evil empire". To me that distinction speaks leagues about his judgment, and the care that he'll take to no do foreign policy as Bush has done, should he be elected.

Posted by: ashtonn | October 8, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Everyone noting the various shifts in candidates positions from the primary, specifically Barack's and Hillary's, should not that this is nearly always the case.

Primaries appeal to the party, the general election appeals to the general population, its been that way for decades.

John McCain has also done this, although he relinquished some of his more centrist views to appear more party aligned.

Posted by: ryrob | October 8, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Try to figure out Obama's response to the question about pressuring Russia without starting another "cold war."

He said we need to anticipate threats to our national security, rather than being "reactive."

Apparently realizing that he was contradicting his criticisms of Bush's policy of anticipating threats rather than waiting to react to an attack, he tried to recover -- and misspoke while thinking how he could recover. He said the Bush policies "over the last eight years" had "actually made us more safe."

This was more than a slip of the tongue. Read or listen to what Obama was saying up to that point. It is simply not true to say that Bush's strategy for combatting the terrorist threat has been "reactive."

And, read or listen to what Obama said immediately after the "made us more safe." It is simply not true that we "rushed into Iraq," nor is it true that the preemptory attack on Iraq was "reactive."

Obama's answer was incoherent. He started out advocating one version of "the Bush doctrine," and stumbled as he tried to recover.

Posted by: Micajah | October 8, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Still no comment - or even recognition - among Washington's pro-war media (a redundant phrase these days), among which the Neocon Post is a ringleader, of McCain's startling comment a couple months ago when Russia invaded Georgia, "in the 21st century nations don't invade other nations."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/13/mccain-in-the-21st-centur_n_118759.html

It's right there on video. The man who helped rubber stamp the Bush/Cheney Oil Cartel's premeditated invasion of Iraq, a result of which 700,000 innocent civilians have died, actually said this. The media, naturally, just looked the other way. Incredible. But not surprising. War is great for selling papers, so why report the preposterous things its hypocritical cheerleaders say?

Posted by: B2O2 | October 8, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Diehl

First I find that your comment that you were 'struck' by Mr. Obama's answer to Mr. Brokaw’s question whether “Russia under Vladimir Putin is an evil empire.", quite odd, especially when that was not the question?

The question Mr. Brokaw actually asked was:

Brokaw: "This requires only a yes or a no. Ronald Reagan famously said that the Soviet Union was the evil empire. Do you think that Russia under Vladimir Putin is an evil empire?"

I guess, and I'm stretching here a bit to give you the benefit of the doubt Mr. Diehl, if anyone had just tuned into the debate at that moment, they may have had a 'curiosity' as to what Mr. Obama was trying to convey, but even if that had been the case, I believe your statement that you were 'struck' is still quite a bit over stated.

In a previous question to Mr. McCain and a follow up answer, which I think more appropriately addressed how he would govern, Mr. Obama gives us the more complete picture and may help to assuage your confusion about being 'struck' by his answer concerning ‘President Reagan's statement’. (Coincidentally, I may be wrong here but, even after Reagan's comment, ‘back in the day’, didn’t the cold war end and even though Reagan had made the comment about Russia being an ‘evil empire’ I don’t think that it separated us more from our European allies)?

To continue then here is the previous question:

BROKAW: Senator McCain, this question is for you from the Internet. It's from Alden (ph) in Hewitt, Texas.

"How can we apply pressure to Russia for humanitarian issues in an effective manner without starting another Cold War?"

McCain: "First of all, as I say, I don't think that -- we're not going to have another Cold War with Russia.

But have no doubt that Russia's behavior is certainly outside the norms of behavior that we would expect for nations which are very wealthy, as Russia has become, because of their petro dollars.

Now, long ago, I warned about Vladimir Putin. I said I looked into his eyes and saw three letters, a K, a G and a B. He has surrounded himself with former KGB apparatchiks.

He has gradually repressed most of the liberties that we would expect for nations to observe, and he has exhibited most aggressive behavior, obviously, in Georgia.

I said before, watch Ukraine. Ukraine, right now, is in the sights of Vladimir Putin, those that want to reassemble the old Soviet Union." This was part of what Mr. McCain said.

And then Mr. Brokaw said, "Senator Obama? We're winding down, so if we can keep track of the time."

Mr. Obama said in part:

"Part of the job of the next commander-in-chief, in keeping all of you safe, is making sure that we can see some of the 21st Century challenges and anticipate them before they happen."

"We haven't been doing enough of that. We tend to be reactive. That's what we've been doing over the last eight years and that has actually made us more safe." (Mr.Obama said more safe but, we all know he meant less safe).

"That's part of what happened in Afghanistan, where we rushed into Iraq and Senator McCain and President Bush suggested that it wasn't that important to catch bin Laden right now and that we could muddle through, and that has cost us dearly."

"We've got to be much more strategic if we're going to be able to deal with all of the challenges that we face out there."

"And one last point I want to make about Russia. Energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia. If we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petro dollars that they have to make mischief around the world. That will strengthen us and weaken them when it comes to issues like Georgia."

In your closing paragraph Mr. Diehl you say;

“It’s widely assumed in Europe that an Obama administration would bring about a major improvement in transatlantic relations -- just as left-wing Democrats once thought that Obama would launch a “progressive” transformation of U.S. foreign policy. Obama’s rhetoric on Russia is one of several indications that, on substance, Europeans will find that their differences with Washington won’t end with the departure of President Bush.”

Throughout your entire dialogue here today your premise and inference is what Mr. Diehl, that Mr. Obama is going to further the failed foreign policies of President Bush and John McCain?

Even if I did allow for your fear creating position here today as accounting for just one of “several indications that, on substance, Europeans will find that their differences with Washington won’t end with the departure of President Bush”, and I DO NOT, would you please enlighten me and all of your readers to what the ‘others’ may be?

Look Mr. Deihl don’t you feel that there is already enough FEAR based journalism with regard to Mr. Obama taking place already? Either you tuned into the debate late or you really haven’t been listening and following or honestly ‘tuned into’ Mr. Obama’s message?

Mr. Obama has generously supplied all of those of us who have been truly listening with an overwhelming body of evidence, not only by his words but more importantly by the calm, steady, non-reactive, non-attacking, dignified, decent and above reproach way in which he has exampled himself to all of us at every opportunity to do so to make these observations and decisions for ourselves.

During his primary campaigning, his presidential campaigning, his convention, and in all of his debates, primary and presidential, those of us who have come to honestly know him, have heard his proposals, and NOT his ‘rhetoric’, as you so erroneously opine here today.

I am also quite certain that Mr. Obama has been very well ‘understood’ by many of those of us who are not aligned with you, the‘democratic left’ or any ‘pigeon holed political ideology’.

Hopefully we are all much more aligned with the reality of what these two candidates stand for based in part by what they have conveyed to us, not only by their own words and examples, but more importantly, by our tireless investigations of the many unbiased and unprejudiced resources available to all of us about each of them, and not through the confusions of what others who are more inclined to offer a fear based view, such as yourself today, have brought to us.

What I believe I understand about Mr. Obama and for that matter Mr. McCain, Mr. Deihl, is obviously quite contrary to what you believe.

In the future Mr. Deihl, I truly hope and pray that you will strive to use your incredibly important position at the ‘Washington Post’ to bring us less fear based reporting no matter what it is that you choose to cover.

In the meantime, how about taking just a little responsibility for some of the misguided FEAR, CONFUSION and SEPARATION, which you have helped to continue to flow into this world, by your own irresponsible ‘rhetoric’, here today?

I do hope and pray that this brief note finds you and all of those that you love and hold dear to you happy, smiling and in the very best of health, always.

God Bless and… “Be Peaceful”

Love, Love, Kenny


Posted by: KennyMitchell | October 8, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Many good comments on this thread about the debate and about Pakistan. However, Mr. Obama's comments about Pakistan and Russia did not strike me as a foreign policy departure from his previous statements. Nothing new here.

What struck me were his comments about defending Israel. In the next to the last question of the debate, when many folks were nodding off, a Navy veteran asked if either candidate would use military force to support Israel, without waiting for a UN Security Council resolution, if Israel was attacked by Iran

Mr. McCain answered [I'm paraphrasing here] that he would use force to defend Israel without waiting for a Security Council resolution that might never come. He then proceeded to rehash his position about talking with Ahmedinijad and stated that Iran could not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

When it was Mr. Obama's turn, he replied to Mr. McCains points about talking to Ahmedinijad. Then he agreed that Iran should not be allowed to have nukes, but Mr. Obama never expilicitly stated that he would use military force to support Israel should Israel be attacked by Iran. Mr. Obama did say that we should never take the military option off the table, but it was in the context of preventing Iran from getting nukes.

I am curious if this was intentional, or an oversight on Mr. Obama's part. It was near the end of a long and mind-numbing evening, and in fairness, Mr. McCain had been rambling on for a couple of minutes after the inital question.

Am I the only one who noticed this? I kept waiting for Mr. Obama to say that he would use force to support Israel, but he never did. When the debate ended, a friend asked me how I thought Mr. Obama did. I replied that I thought he may have done well enough to take Ohio, but he may have lost Florida.

I also can't help but wonder why Mr. McCain thinks it is foolish to say that under certain circumstances we might invade Pakistan, but it's okay to say that under other circumstances we should attack Iran.

Posted by: john_g | October 8, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Left wing Democrats should have no fear of Obama not launching a “progressive” transformation of U.S. foreign policy. Obama still rigidly adheres to the anti-Colombian anti-trade stance of Pelosi and friends in Congress.

By killing the free trade agreement with Colombia, Obama and Pelosi are damaging the only anti-Chavez government in Latin America. Both Putin and the Castro brothers are actively supporting the subversion of democratic forces in Central and South America.

Both Bolivia and Venezuela kicked out American ambassadors and Chavez requests Putin's help by sending Russian warships and an AK-47 factory to Venezuela.

Obama silently watches and supports anti-American forces in Latin America.

Posted by: alance | October 8, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

MUST SEE VIDEO OF OBAMA IN KENYA CAMPAIGNING FOR ODINGA!!!

2 minute version:
"Barack Obama and Raila Odinga -- Did the Illinois senator violate the Logan Act in campaigning for his 'genocidist' cousin's bid for the Kenyan presidency?"
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1P_P8lBCsE

8 minute version:
"Barack Obama & Raila Odinga"
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=S8QcpdUtxNQ&feature=related

Posted by: DrRevere | October 9, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

WAKE UP AMERICA THIS OBAMA CONSPIRACY IS VERY DANGERIOUS. THIS IS A INTERNATIONAL ATTEMPT TO TAKE CONTROL OR OUR WHITE HOUSE. OBAMA HAS TO MANY ANTI AMERICAN TERRORISTS AND MIDDLE EASTERN BAD PEOPLE AROUND HIM. 200 MILLION IN CAMPAIGN MONEY FROM SAUDI AND IRAN SLIPPED UNDER THE RADAR TO HIM.

Posted by: DrRevere | October 9, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Obama Held Membership in Socialist New Party
The New Media Journal
Evidence is continuing to surface that indicates Barack Obama was a member of the Socialist New Party, an organization headquartered in Chicago during the mid-1990s. The New Party was formed to serve as a in Chicago by the Democrat Socialists of America in 1992 to serve as a central coordinating body for various Socialist Party activities in the region. It survived until 2000, when it disintegrated into its various factions. The Organization experienced a bump in membership in the late 1990s but was all but defunct by 2000 in part because of a Supreme Court decision that ruled the organizations "fusion" reform platform as unconstitutional.

The document uncovered by a variety of internet publications including Politically Drunk on Power, the Jawa Report, No Quarter, NewsBusters and Libertarian Republican, shows documents, webpages, that had been scrubbed from the New Party’s website but that had been archived by the non-profit Internet Archive Organization, that prove beyond question Obama's membership in the Party. One document states: "Illinois: Three NP members won Democratic Primaries last Spring and face-off against Republican opponents on election day: Danny Davis (US House), Barack Obama (State Senate), Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary)."

The New Party performed activities in addition to political advocacy in campaign activities. Their activities included community organizing efforts and voter registration drives. The New Party members staged protests – along with the radical group ACORN – to demand financial institutions afford unqualified borrowers loans at sub-prime mortgage rates, an action that served as the catalyst for the current mortgage crisis and financial meltdown. They also attempted to manipulate corporations the group viewed as supporting "racist" policies.

The internet publication No Quarter exposed Obama's deep roots with the New Party in that: Obama was an active member in the 1990s, and a direct political beneficiary of the Chicago New Party and, alarmingly, the Chicago DSA, a group of socialists affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America; Obama attended and participated in meetings of the Chicago New Party and the Chicago DSA, the local affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America; Obama sought the endorsement of the Chicago DSA which required rigorous scrutiny by the party’s Political Committee as well as Mr. Obama’s signature on a contract promising “a visible and active relationship with the NP”; Obama actively used the endorsement from the Chicago DSA; Obama won his DSA endorsed and backed campaign to secure his seat in the Illinois State Senate; and that Obama continued his involvement with the Chicago DSA — including directly asking the group to join “his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration” — and received their endorsements in subsequent campaigns.

After allegations surfaced of Obama’s membership in and endorsement by the New Party in the summer of 2008, the Obama campaign, along with the remaining fragments of the New Party and Democratic Socialists of America insisted that Obama was never a member of either organization. The DSA and New Party then aggressively attempted to cover up any ties between Obama and the Socialist Organizations. The evidenced unearthed by the new media in recent days refutes those denials and does it advancing undisputable truth. Barack Obama was indeed a certified and acknowledged member of the DSA's New Party.

Posted by: DrRevere | October 9, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Bruno passed away fro his illness Sunday. He was a great American Hero. Bruno was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery with the President attending. Bruno was a great asset to all of his neighbors and co-workers at Langley Virginia. His words are burning in many hearts. Bruno said the left in this country are the allies of our enemies. He said Sarah Palin was the beginning of a great movement of Main Street America rising up. She will bring this country back from the insane perverted left wing. He said this Fanny Mae crisis is due strictly to the left wing Democrats. America will rise up and realize the corrupt and perverted left wing is a cancer to all. He said the left wing is full of hate critical and anger. Only a miserable person would join. Misery invites company. below was his words to the next geration as he passed his baton over.
Remember what I said. It is true and part of a misinformation plan is to make the truth look paranoid. Just look around and see the media and DNC parroting the party line. The Christian Religion is evil. Homosexual is normal. Patriotism evil. Rebellion and changing the Constitution normal. Disarm the citizens normal. NRA and hunters evil. The Military and heroes evil. Anti military and ridicule heroes normal. Success and hard work evil. The government owes me normal. Shocking this is right out of the handbook of communist and Islamic terrorism guides to revolution and over throwing a country.. Schools teach the government is evil and socialism utopia normal. Divide the races through agitators and media. Destroy marriage and the families. The state is the parent. Call evil good and smear and destroy good. Look at the Hollywood crowd. McCarthy was right and history has proven it. They flock around dictators and tyrants Chavez, Castro, Iranian, and Syrians. Wake up and vote for McCain if you want freedom. After 40 years of Intelligence service I can just say look and watch. Look at Obama’s friend’s Islamic terror operatives. Rev. Wright preacher of Racist William Ayers radical terrorist. Farakhan. Research the hidden years at Columbia University. Also the overseas trips. Victor Marchenco, Ivan Scholos, Gory Machlinsos. Fhaad Hussan these are a few of the KGB friends who financed and open doors here through contacts. I am not long for this earth. A Terminal Sickness has attached to me. I want to warn my beloved country.

Posted by: DrRevere | October 9, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

OPEN CHALLENGE TO THE MEDIA AND PRESS!
Obama’s Hidden Records

1. Occidental College records -- Not released
2. Columbia College records -- Not released
3. Columbia Thesis paper -- ''''not available''''
4. Harvard College records -- Not released
5. Selective Service Registration -- Not released
6. Medical records -- Not released
7. Illinois State Senate schedule -- ''''not available''''
8. Law practice client list -- Not released
9. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate -- Not released
10. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth -- Not released
11. Harvard Law Review articles published -- None
12. University of Chicago scholarly articles -- None
13. Record of baptism-- Not released or ''''not available''''
14. Illinois State Senate records--''''not available''''

Add to that, how did he pay for college? How did he go from Occidental to Columbia, who got him in? How was he made Prez of the Harvard Law Review without witting any laws!!!! Or an article even.

Posted by: DrRevere | October 9, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama trained ACORN members in Chicago and, in turn, ACORN volunteers worked on his Illinois campaigns and ACORN's PAC endorsed his primary bid with full backing. Despite his denials of any association with the group, Obama's political DNA is encoded with the ACORN agenda.

Posted by: DrRevere | October 9, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I am a liberal and a democrat. But, I want the president of my country to be selected based on merits, and not by an overwhelming bias, and propaganda. I don't understand why the media (almost all of them) and liberal-leaning papers like WP, NY Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, etc jump all over, when William Ayers or Tony Rezko's connections with Barack Obama is discussed. After all, if Obama does not have anything to worry, is it not welcome that this thing comes out in the open. Should Obama be protected from any criticism? Didn't the media push us into the Iraq War? They failed us once, and fail us again. In 2000 election, it was painful for me to see the media glowing over Bush as the savior of White House's "integrity" and "morality". We know what we got. Now, it is the media's turn to brainwash everyone into believing Obama has done nothing wrong, and will do none. Please don't push your agenda on us. If there is a story about Obama and Ayers, investigate it, explain it. Don't attack those who bring it in the open. In fact, before Palin talked about it or Clinton brought it, the media should have done that. We don't believe in Hannity. We want YOU to do it for us. Ask Obama why he associated with Ayers, Wright, and Rezko so long and in so much depth. Let the world know what he has to say. Don't push Obama into the White House. Let him earn it. We deserve that, and you (the news media) need to earn that respect, by asking tough questions to Obama too. Don't be a propaganda machine for any party or any candidate. The reason I am a Democrat is because of the dislike I have for right-wing loud mouths. We don't need left-wing cover-up machines. If you believe Obama is good, he'll come out clean. BUT DON'T COVER IT UP.

Posted by: ronniesmith123 | October 10, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Democrats for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008

Posted by: hclark1 | October 10, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama Seeks To Block Discovery in Citizenship Lawsuit
Injury Board ^ | 10/10/08 | staff

Posted on Friday, October 10, 2008 19:53:14 by pissant

In a lawsuit styled Berg v. Obama, lawyers for Barack Hussein Obama have filed a Motion for Protective Order, seeking to block discovery until his motion to dismiss is ruled on by the court. The Motion for Protective Order filed by Obama and the Democratic National Committee, asks the court to issue a protective order stopping "all discovery in this action pending the Court's decision on defendant's motion to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

In his lawsuit, the Plaintiff, Philip J. Berg, a Philadelphia attorney, alleged that Defendant Barack Hussein Obama is not eligible for the Office of the President because Obama lost his U.S. citizenship when his mother married an Indonesian citizen and naturalized in Indonesia. Plaintiff further alleged that Obama followed her naturalization and failed to take an oath of allegiance when he turned 18 years old, to regain his U.S. citizenship status. The lawsuit raises not only the Indonesian citizenship issue but also questions whether Obama was a citizen of Kenya.

The motion to block production of documents is just the latest in a series of filings in the case, but has become a focal point of the suit. According to a web site maintained by the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff requested that three documents be produced by Obama:

1. a certified copy of Obama’s “vault” (original long version) Birth Certificate;

2. a certified copy of Obama’s Certificate of Citizenship; and

3. a certified copy of the Oath of Allegiance taken by Obama at the age of majority.

Mr. Berg asserts that if Barack Hussein Obama will produce the above documents and prove his eligibility for the Office of the Presidency, that he (Mr. Berg) will dismiss his lawsuit voluntarily. To date, Obama has refused to produce these documents to Mr. Berg.

Posted by: DrRevere | October 10, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Een tough I am an ardeent Obama supporter, I think his "evil comment was ill-chosen, however quick-witted, and bespoke the same parochial attitude that George Bush has.
Georgis has been aggressively thumbing Russia for a few years now. Russian, a proud if battered place, has also been getting pushed around the continent rather consistently. It exploded at the last provocation. Russia has been spoilig for its own little Granada and it got it.
I had hope an Obama foreign policy would tone down the needlessly antagonistic behavior and bellicose rhetoric and, instead, focus on solutions rather than tempting future fights.
By the way, our bombing the hellout of Baghdad, then invading Iraq was no act of the angels....in spite of what Sarah `Gidget-Goes-to-Washington' Palin believes.

Posted by: jmf3210 | October 13, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

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