January 27, 2010

Obama and his once-in-a-generation opportunity

US President Barack Obama should realize that he ‘has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help make the world a dramatically safer place,’ and that ‘this is his “tear down this wall” moment.’ It’s a fleeting moment, though...

Robert Kagan in today’s Washington Post:

Imagine an Iran whose educated, inventive and highly cultured people were allowed to flourish, fully enmeshed in the global economy and society. Imagine the effect on the Muslim world and the greater Middle East of a modernizing, prosperous Iran that held regular, free and fair elections. Those who have long advocated a "grand bargain" were right to talk about the immense global benefits if Iran could be integrated into the international order. Their big mistake was thinking such a bargain could be had with benighted and virulently anti-Western leaders. But the bargain would be grand if the present government could go the way of the Brezhnevs and Ligachevs.

Regime change is more important than any deal the Obama administration might strike with Iran's present government on its nuclear program. Even if Tehran were to accept the offer made last year to export some of its low-enriched uranium, this would be a modest step down a long, uncertain road. Such a minor concession is not worth abandoning the push for real change.

On-the-job training

“Why does everybody hate me?” Well, he didn’t say exactly this… what “thin Skinned Obama” actually said, according to Mark Halperin (a card carrying member of the liberal media elite), is “The Press is against me.” After all “He hasn’t been in public life very long. . . . He’s experiencing it for the very first time. It’s on-the-job training…”

Never Again

“So I was hiding out in the heap of dead bodies because in the last week when the crematoria didn’t function at all, the bodies were just building up higher and higher. So there I was at nighttime, in the daytime I was roaming around in the camp, and this is where I actually survived, January 27, I was one of the very first, Birkenau was one of the very first camps being liberated. This was my, my survival chance.”
—Bart Stern

January 27 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Mrs. Clinton's rage

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is very angry. “I deeply resent,” she said at a town-hall meeting with State Department employees, “those who attack our country, the generosity of our people and the leadership of our president in trying to respond to historically disastrous conditions after the earthquake.” However, Mrs. Clinton was not surprised by criticism from countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, which have accused the United States of occupying Haiti, but she was shocked by comments from Guido Bertolaso, head of Italy’s civil protection service, who described Washington’s earthquake response as “pathetic.”

Yet, to my mind there is something deeply wrong here. Mrs. Clinton assailed those who “attack our country, the generosity of our people and the leadership of our president,” but, as far as I know, Bertolaso didn’t criticize the US, nor did he question, by any means, the generosity of the American people. Yet, it would be reasonable to argue that he criticized (though implicitly) the leadership of President Obama. So what? Would there have been anything wrong with doing so? Is there anything wrong with questioning Washington’s earthquake response? Honestly, I don’t think so. Furthermore it would be useful to remember that, even if Bertolaso may have been a bit too harsh, he is neither the Italian Prime minister nor Italy’s Foreign minister, neither a diplomat nor a politician, he is only the head of Italy’s civil protection department, a man of action and a talented organizer.

That’s why I can’t understand Mrs. Clinton’s reaction. I find it excessive. At this point one might well ask (no offence meant): Is there still freedom of speech for us common mortals when we dare to question nothing less than the leadership of President Obama?