Soren on the future of Republican foreign policy

I wrote a piece on the future of GOP foreign policy for Conservative Home, the UK’s leading grassroots blog. The key part is:

In many ways, the US is building a global trading system based on our rules – and our energy. In 2012, the US produced more than 60% of its own oil domestically, a number that increases every year, while our consumption falls. Meanwhile refined and petroleum products were our #1 and #2 exports. Domestic production of natural gas has become a major enterprise as well, leading European countries like Germany (which refuse to frack or use nuclear) to choose between US coal or US natural gas. Just this week, the UK energy company Centrica signed a 20-year contract for US natural gas.

In all likelihood, Republican foreign policy will be driven by the necessity to defend this new trade pattern and the shifting interests that this entails. Whoever ends up buying energy from the Middle East may have to be more invested in its stability, a task that has been a primary U.S. focus since World War II. Another is that Russia may not have the leverage over eastern and central Europe that it has exercised in recent years.

 And concludes with:

In other words, the DNA of American foreign policy has always included defending economic and security interests. The days of guns and butter may well be behind us. But, undoubtedly, the US will go out of its way to defend the butter business, wherever our customers may be found.

 

Fast forward to Obama’s next failure in Copenhagen

Obviously, Barack Obama had a bad day in Copenhagen today with the failure of Chicago’s bid for the Olympics. Of course, many Chicagoans were mixed. (I was negative for a variety of reasons including the inability of the South Side, where I lived for 8 years, to handle the infrastructural requirements)

But it is worth pointing out that this story will not go away. In two months, Obama will be heading back to Copenhagen for another failure, the UN Climate Conference. He will be going to Copenhagen empty handed, with no climate change bill to show. Indeed, the top story right now at the official site notes that “the honeymoon appears to be over” and compares Obama to former President George W. Bush. Indeed The Economist echoes this language, in a story dated yesterday entitled “The honeymoon between Europe and Barack Obama’s America is over.”

European Union politicians and officials are dismayed that, with a poisonous debate over health reform chewing up his political capital in Congress, Mr Obama may not secure legislation fixing binding emissions targets for America before the climate-change summit in Copenhagen in December. They also think the health-care impasse explains the lack of progress on the Doha world-trade talks. Nor did Europeans enjoy the G20 meeting that Mr Obama hosted in Pittsburgh. Despite hogging a ludicrous number of seats at the table, the EU came away with only one big Europe-specific agreement: alas, for them, it was a plan to cut their voting power at the IMF.

Today, we saw that Obama’s international celebrity is not matched by his international clout. And this message is going to get nailed home with issue after issue, whether it is Afghanistan, the next Copenhagen meeting, or whatever else happens.

It must be tough having to live with a persona and a rhetoric that has nothing to do with reality.

What the German elections teach us

 This weekend’s German election has some lessons for our political context. Der Speigel sees a new German political pattern emerging from this:

After Sunday’s election, Germany’s political landscape has been shaken up, perhaps for ever. Angela Merkel’s conservatives will be able to form a coalition government with the business-friendly FDP, but the balance of power between the two parties has fundamentally shifted. And the once-powerful Social Democrats may never recover from their defeat.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has probably saved her chancellorship — but the price that her conservatives will have to pay for it is high. The election result for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is lower than in 2005. Nevertheless, she can form a coalition government with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party because support for the FDP has increased in a way that until recently pollsters would scarcely have thought possible.

Just as in the European elections, we are seeing a splinter of the political scene. On the left, the far left gained, the Greens gain, the centrist-left collapsed, the center-right shrunk slightly, and the liberal party gained massively. The right (center-right + liberals) has grown, but not hugely.

Several things to take away from this in the time of an economic downturn:

First, the appeal of libertarian positions has grown. Even in Europe and Germany there has been an anti-government, anti-entitlement, pro-reform movement that is growing massively. We see this here in the tea party movement.

The response to the economic crisis has been more freedom and less government. Somehow government is getting the blame, at the ballot box, for the downturn.

Second, the center-left has lost credibility, but the numbers on the left are still large if you include the far-left. It is hard to imagine a victory of the German left without the Left Party, but it is also questionable whether this turns off swing voters between the center-right and center-left. Some on the American left will try to learn the lesson that they need to move to the left — isn’t that always the lesson? — but one wonders if, like the SPD, the Democrats would suffer from highlighting their relationship with the far-left.

All in all, we are in a situation in which right-leaning parties are sweeping elections or performing at historic highs. These things happen in response to global events. It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues into the next year. 

 

 

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What the German elections teach us

 This weekend’s German election has some lessons for our political context. Der Speigel sees a new German political pattern emerging from this:

After Sunday’s election, Germany’s political landscape has been shaken up, perhaps for ever. Angela Merkel’s conservatives will be able to form a coalition government with the business-friendly FDP, but the balance of power between the two parties has fundamentally shifted. And the once-powerful Social Democrats may never recover from their defeat.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has probably saved her chancellorship — but the price that her conservatives will have to pay for it is high. The election result for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is lower than in 2005. Nevertheless, she can form a coalition government with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party because support for the FDP has increased in a way that until recently pollsters would scarcely have thought possible.

Just as in the European elections, we are seeing a splinter of the political scene. On the left, the far left gained, the Greens gain, the centrist-left collapsed, the center-right shrunk slightly, and the liberal party gained massively. The right (center-right + liberals) has grown, but not hugely.

Several things to take away from this in the time of an economic downturn:

First, the appeal of libertarian positions has grown. Even in Europe and Germany there has been an anti-government, anti-entitlement, pro-reform movement that is growing massively. We see this here in the tea party movement.

The response to the economic crisis has been more freedom and less government. Somehow government is getting the blame, at the ballot box, for the downturn.

Second, the center-left has lost credibility, but the numbers on the left are still large if you include the far-left. It is hard to imagine a victory of the German left without the Left Party, but it is also questionable whether this turns off swing voters between the center-right and center-left. Some on the American left will try to learn the lesson that they need to move to the left — isn’t that always the lesson? — but one wonders if, like the SPD, the Democrats would suffer from highlighting their relationship with the far-left.

All in all, we are in a situation in which right-leaning parties are sweeping elections or performing at historic highs. These things happen in response to global events. It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues into the next year. 

 

 

5
Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

What the German elections teach us

 This weekend’s German election has some lessons for our political context. Der Speigel sees a new German political pattern emerging from this:

After Sunday’s election, Germany’s political landscape has been shaken up, perhaps for ever. Angela Merkel’s conservatives will be able to form a coalition government with the business-friendly FDP, but the balance of power between the two parties has fundamentally shifted. And the once-powerful Social Democrats may never recover from their defeat.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has probably saved her chancellorship — but the price that her conservatives will have to pay for it is high. The election result for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is lower than in 2005. Nevertheless, she can form a coalition government with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party because support for the FDP has increased in a way that until recently pollsters would scarcely have thought possible.

Just as in the European elections, we are seeing a splinter of the political scene. On the left, the far left gained, the Greens gain, the centrist-left collapsed, the center-right shrunk slightly, and the liberal party gained massively. The right (center-right + liberals) has grown, but not hugely.

Several things to take away from this in the time of an economic downturn:

First, the appeal of libertarian positions has grown. Even in Europe and Germany there has been an anti-government, anti-entitlement, pro-reform movement that is growing massively. We see this here in the tea party movement.

The response to the economic crisis has been more freedom and less government. Somehow government is getting the blame, at the ballot box, for the downturn.

Second, the center-left has lost credibility, but the numbers on the left are still large if you include the far-left. It is hard to imagine a victory of the German left without the Left Party, but it is also questionable whether this turns off swing voters between the center-right and center-left. Some on the American left will try to learn the lesson that they need to move to the left — isn’t that always the lesson? — but one wonders if, like the SPD, the Democrats would suffer from highlighting their relationship with the far-left.

All in all, we are in a situation in which right-leaning parties are sweeping elections or performing at historic highs. These things happen in response to global events. It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues into the next year. 

 

 

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A signal that the European Parliament can govern from the right

And now for a little bit of European news on a day that may he packed with it due to President Obama abandoning our allies in Eastern Europe for the Russians. Yesterday, the European Parliament re-elected Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission. Not a big deal right? Not exactly. You see, this is the first time that the leadership of the European Union has been elected without a “Grand Coalition” of the right and left. Instead, the center-right European Peoples’ Party joined forces with the right-leaning (aka econmic) Liberals and Euro-skeptics.

Here’s what Bloomberg reported:

Barroso’s victory in the EU Parliament stemmed from support by the Christian Democrats, the biggest faction, and the pro- business Liberals, the third-largest group. The vote was 382 to 219, with 117 abstentions.

Socialist and Green members, still unhappy that Barroso supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when he was Portuguese government leader, refused to back his reappointment while failing to present a rival candidate. The Socialists, the second-biggest faction, said Barroso could pick up their support when putting together his next team of commissioners, who will need Parliament approval as a whole.

The leadership of the European Parliament has an option for the first time in history. They can decide to govern from the center-right. This vote was the first example of this coalition actually working. This follows after a crushing defeat of the left in the European elections and the right governing in the leading European countries: Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and others, and David Cameron all but certain to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This gives the right the control of the European Council, in addition to the Commission and Parliament.

Let’s see if the leadership of the European Parliament learns this lesson.

What Obama’s tire treatment teaches us about his administration

 At 9:18 Friday night, I got an alert from the Washington Post. Barack Obama had slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Barack Obama’s handling of this issue shows several things. First, it shows a real contempt for China, trade policy, and his international relationships more broadly. As one of my liberal friends likes to point out, this action demonstrates how the Democrats really cannot be taken seriously as the internationalist party.  And it shows the implicit contradictions in much of Obama’s economic policy.

Let’s start with the time of its announcement: 9:18pm. Really? Saturday morning in China? This tells us who the audience for this policy was: the United States. It tells us that Obama is willing to subordinate trade policy — just before the G-20 meeting no less — to domestic politics that he is embarassed about. Why else release this late on a Friday night?  (note that by statute, he didn’t have to release a response to International Trade Commission recommendations until the 17th. He picked this timing)

By Saturday afternoon, China issues scathing remarks. By Sunday, they announce counter-tariffs against US chickens and auto-parts. We have a full scale trade war.  And Asian and European markets open the week down. Thanks Barack…

So Barack Obama started a trade war for entirely domestic reasons, jeopardizing the recovery, and is afraid of the headlines here, why he doesn’t care about international opinion. How does that sound?

Now, why chickens and auto parts? I don’t immediately understand the chickens, although I suspect it is a pretty good business for us, but I understand auto parts. 

US auto parts are made by the United Autoworkers, the same union that Obama bailed out when he bailed out GM and Chrysler, two companies that had becoming wards of their union pension funds. In addition to hurting the unions, this could hurt the auto manufacturers themselves, which Obama owns and which opposed the tire tariffs because it will raise their costs. First he screwed the car companies for the UAW, now USW. Perhaps this is a lesson for when he takes over the health care sector. 

So where was the logic in this? He helps his allies, with one hand, but hurts them with the other. He hurts the economy. He hurts the government run companies. And he opens a trade war just in time for the G-20 to create real structural damage to the US economy.

Furthermore, this is how he is celebrating the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. By sticking the knife in the economy.

That’s change I can believe in.

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Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

What Obama’s tire treatment teaches us about his administration

 At 9:18 Friday night, I got an alert from the Washington Post. Barack Obama had slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Barack Obama’s handling of this issue shows several things. First, it shows a real contempt for China, trade policy, and his international relationships more broadly. As one of my liberal friends likes to point out, this action demonstrates how the Democrats really cannot be taken seriously as the internationalist party.  And it shows the implicit contradictions in much of Obama’s economic policy.

Let’s start with the time of its announcement: 9:18pm. Really? Saturday morning in China? This tells us who the audience for this policy was: the United States. It tells us that Obama is willing to subordinate trade policy — just before the G-20 meeting no less — to domestic politics that he is embarassed about. Why else release this late on a Friday night?  (note that by statute, he didn’t have to release a response to International Trade Commission recommendations until the 17th. He picked this timing)

By Saturday afternoon, China issues scathing remarks. By Sunday, they announce counter-tariffs against US chickens and auto-parts. We have a full scale trade war.  And Asian and European markets open the week down. Thanks Barack…

So Barack Obama started a trade war for entirely domestic reasons, jeopardizing the recovery, and is afraid of the headlines here, why he doesn’t care about international opinion. How does that sound?

Now, why chickens and auto parts? I don’t immediately understand the chickens, although I suspect it is a pretty good business for us, but I understand auto parts. 

US auto parts are made by the United Autoworkers, the same union that Obama bailed out when he bailed out GM and Chrysler, two companies that had becoming wards of their union pension funds. In addition to hurting the unions, this could hurt the auto manufacturers themselves, which Obama owns and which opposed the tire tariffs because it will raise their costs. First he screwed the car companies for the UAW, now USW. Perhaps this is a lesson for when he takes over the health care sector. 

So where was the logic in this? He helps his allies, with one hand, but hurts them with the other. He hurts the economy. He hurts the government run companies. And he opens a trade war just in time for the G-20 to create real structural damage to the US economy.

Furthermore, this is how he is celebrating the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. By sticking the knife in the economy.

That’s change I can believe in.

4
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

What Obama’s tire treatment teaches us about his administration

 At 9:18 Friday night, I got an alert from the Washington Post. Barack Obama had slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Barack Obama’s handling of this issue shows several things. First, it shows a real contempt for China, trade policy, and his international relationships more broadly. As one of my liberal friends likes to point out, this action demonstrates how the Democrats really cannot be taken seriously as the internationalist party.  And it shows the implicit contradictions in much of Obama’s economic policy.

Let’s start with the time of its announcement: 9:18pm. Really? Saturday morning in China? This tells us who the audience for this policy was: the United States. It tells us that Obama is willing to subordinate trade policy — just before the G-20 meeting no less — to domestic politics that he is embarassed about. Why else release this late on a Friday night?  (note that by statute, he didn’t have to release a response to International Trade Commission recommendations until the 17th. He picked this timing)

By Saturday afternoon, China issues scathing remarks. By Sunday, they announce counter-tariffs against US chickens and auto-parts. We have a full scale trade war.  And Asian and European markets open the week down. Thanks Barack…

So Barack Obama started a trade war for entirely domestic reasons, jeopardizing the recovery, and is afraid of the headlines here, why he doesn’t care about international opinion. How does that sound?

Now, why chickens and auto parts? I don’t immediately understand the chickens, although I suspect it is a pretty good business for us, but I understand auto parts. 

US auto parts are made by the United Autoworkers, the same union that Obama bailed out when he bailed out GM and Chrysler, two companies that had becoming wards of their union pension funds. In addition to hurting the unions, this could hurt the auto manufacturers themselves, which Obama owns and which opposed the tire tariffs because it will raise their costs. First he screwed the car companies for the UAW, now USW. Perhaps this is a lesson for when he takes over the health care sector. 

So where was the logic in this? He helps his allies, with one hand, but hurts them with the other. He hurts the economy. He hurts the government run companies. And he opens a trade war just in time for the G-20 to create real structural damage to the US economy.

Furthermore, this is how he is celebrating the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. By sticking the knife in the economy.

That’s change I can believe in.

4
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The closing argument: Experience versus management

It is clear that in Iowa, the debate is not  about experience. It will be a fight between Mitt Romney’s money and Mike Huckabee’s churches. There are real doubts that Huckabee can sustain a challenge to any mainstream GOP candidate. Ultimately, his foreign policy and other flubs might create real problems. One imagines the pressure of the establishment and the media turning on him in a big way.

The fight in New Hampshire seems increasingly the decisive one on the GOP side. (Of course, if Fred Thompson were to come in 3rd in Iowa, that might shift to South Carolina) There, the fight is between Romney and John McCain. Especially in the context of the Bhutto assassination, McCain is trying to frame the debate as around experience, as is Hillary Clinton. Romney is focusing on judgment:

“If the answer for leading the country is someone that has a lot of foreign policy experience, we can just go down to the state department and pick up any one of the tens of thousands of people who spent all their life in foreign policy,” he said. “That is not what a nation needs in a president. The person that is president of the United States we look to have leadership skill. Which is the ability to assemble a great team of people, to be able to guide and direct them to understand what decision has to be made on the basis of data and analysis and debate and deliberation. An individual who knows how to make difficult decisions.”

Romney is focusing on his ability to "manage", something long-time campaign-mouthpiece Hugh Hewitt has focused on. There is a reason that Hewitt and Romney focus on management skills. He doesn’t have much in terms of experience. As Hugh says in his book on Romney:

And Romney knows the war. He he worked to learn its complexities and the nature of our diverse enemies, constantly reading the sorts of books that must be absorbed.

McCain contrasts this "book-learning" with his knowledge. From the Des Moines Register:

"I knew Benazir Bhutto. I know Musharraf very well," McCain told an audience of about 200 at the Elks Club in Urbandale. "If I were president of the United States I would be on the phone right now and I would be meeting with the National Security Council."

Seemingly a contrast between book-smarts and street-smarts. McCain knows the actors (thus his thoughts about Putin, which President Bush seems to have gotten wrong and McCain right) and operates from that position. One gets to argue from data though. How have people argued in the past from the input of experts? Ronald Reagan, of course, rejected the experts on "tear[ing] down that wall" and the SALT Treaty. He even created a new intelligence agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency because he wasn’t satisfied with the experts at the CIA.

Of course, if you rely too much on the experts, you run into the problem of being "brainwashed by the generals and the diplomats," to quote Romney’s father.  (National Journal/MSNBC notes that Romney is closing on, in part, his father) It seems that if you take Romney’s "judgment" answer, you are trapped by your advisers, a problem that Reagan transcended.If you have your own experience, you have something to work with.

I think that I know where I would prefer to be. I wonder where the people of New Hampshire will land.