Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Is Obama showing cowboy diplomacy?

On April Fools day, the Christian Science monitor published a serious piece by Howard LaFranchi on the Obama Administration’s diplomatic approach to recent North Korean rhetoric. The point of the story is essentially that the US is showing strength to the international community by not saying much. LaFranchi points out that American military exercises with South Korea continue despite Kim Jong-un’s provocative statements, and that “nuclear-capable B-52s in US-South Korea military exercises and a reinforcing of missile defense batteries in Alaska” are American actions made as a reminder to North Korea that the US does have the military might to defend itself against the sensational attacks North Korea has threatened. And I point out this is exactly the sort of thing the Obama Administration should be doing. The last thing the international community should be doing is placating a bully like Kim Jong-un.

However, there is no reason to believe these actions would be interpreted as “showing strength” were they done by the previous US president George W. Bush. Since Bush is still being blamed for problems in the United States, even four years after leaving office, and reporters find it worth their time to do stories on this fact, there should be no problem in comparing this contemporary situation to a Bush scenario.

While in office, Bush’s approach to diplomacy was largely characterized with derogatory terms like “cowboy” and “unilateral” and such. Criticisms like this, and worse, were intended to portray Bush as simple-minded, unprepared, a bully president, who didn’t understand how diplomacy is supposed to work. Were president Bush to respond to North Korea the way president Obama is now, it is far more likely the actions taken would not be spoken of in terms of “showing strength” but instead criticized as foolishly and needlessly escalating a potentially tense situation.

But the reality is, Obama’s actions are the right thing to do and they are escalating a potentially tense situation. The American response to North Korea is provocative. It is also necessary. But where Bush’s actions against Iraq were both provocative and necessary, we instead got nearly 8 years of criticism, selective history, and outright distortion of the facts by his critics to make the case that military action against Iraq and against terrorism were unnecessary. Lies and misrepresentations about Bush and his administration’s arguments were turned into relentless accusations that it was Bush and his administration who lied.

Is a lie still a lie if it’s years old and perpetuated by willful ignorance?
Reasons for War: things you might have forgotten about Iraq
Why Did We Invade Iraq?
The subsequent acrimony derives from the general amnesia over why we invaded.

culture, foreign affairs, government, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, iraq, lies, politics, president, propaganda, saddam hussein, terrorism, wmd

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Filed under: culture, foreign affairs, government, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, iraq, lies, politics, president, propaganda, saddam hussein, terrorism, wmd

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