Nevada state Sen. Mark Amodei (R) didn’t wait long after starting his campaign for his state’s unfilled House seat before dabbling in xenophobia. Amodei, the GOP nominee for Nevada’s second congressional district special election in September, launched his three-day-old campaign with a television ad telling viewers China’s debt holdings will soon allow the country to rise up and destroy U.S. sovereignty.
The commercial, which follows in the footsteps of China-bashing ads run by Citizens Against Government Waste and former Rep. Zack Space, depicts a Chinese news anchor in the near-future discussing the U.S. decline in the face of China’s imperial aspirations. “Their President Obama just kept raising the debt limit, and their independence became a new dependence. As their debt grew, our fortune grew, and that is how our great empire rose again,” she reports.
Running in the background are shots of Obama bowing to Chinese president Hu Jintao and a doctored image of the Chinese army marching with automatic rifles in front of the U.S. Capitol building as it flies the red Chinese flag. At its close, the ad cuts to an image of Amodei as he promises to “never vote to raise Obama’s debt limit and risk our independence.” Watch it:
Hyperbolic claims that U.S. independence is at risk from China’s increased ownership of the public debt is a thinly veiled attempt to play on some Americans’ xenophobia. At the end of the 2010 fiscal year, China owned just 9.5 percent of U.S. debt. But not only does Amodei ignore the facts regarding the national debt, the ad’s leap from the national debt ceiling to Chinese troops marching in front of the Capitol is simply preposterous.
But this fear-mongering may not be enough to save Amodei’s campaign once the debate focuses on his support for the GOP plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system.
While House Republicans have spent the past few days threatening to defund the U.S.’s military involvement in the NATO mission over Libya, prominent neoconservative pundits and politicians are taking to the airwaves and oped pages to cajole, bully and threaten the GOP into a return to the aggressive foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), an early supporter of the mission in Libya and an opponent of a withdrawal timetable in Afghanistan, picked up a familiar neoconservative talking point and invoked the history of the Great Depression and U.S. resistance to entering World War II. He said:
We cannot repeat the lessons of the 1930s when the United States of America stood by while bad things happened in the world. We are the lead nation in the world and America matters and we must lead, and sometimes that leadership entails sacrifice, sadly.
And both he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) havesuggested that congressional opposition to the U.S.’s involvement in Libya might embolden Gaddafi.
Indeed the GOP primary field has shown growing ambivalence over the U.S.’ missions in Libya and Afghanistan. And neoconservatives are clearly attempting to reframe the right-wing U.S. foreign policy positon in a manner closer to how the George W. Bush administration operated abroad.
For the United States and NATO to be defeated by Muammar al-Qaddafi would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt — a conclusion that would undermine American influence and embolden our nation’s enemies.
The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens did his best to lay out what a more aggressive GOP foreign policy might look like and offered a laundry list of neoconservative policy prescriptions:
The U.S. would be credible if it desisted from pouring more diplomatic wine into the punctured jar that is the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Or if it took serious steps to help overthrow the Assad regime, thereby depriving Iran of its principal ally in the Arab world and its link to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Or if it abandoned its nascent efforts to negotiate with the Taliban and instead published the names of Taliban leaders on the drone-strike list. Or if it dramatically increased the size of the U.S. Navy to counter China’s naval buildup. Or if it desisted from all rhetoric suggesting that it can solve its budget woes by further cutting Pentagon spending.
While neocons are making a full court press to offer an alternative, hawkish foreign policy that stands in contrast to both the positions expressed by House Republicans and the policies pursued by the White House, war weariness appears to be the dominant sentiment in the U.S. While a handful of neoconservative politicians and pundits will continue to beat the war drums, their efforts are starting to smack of desperation.
New Poll Finds ‘Record’ Support For Withdrawing Troops From Afghanistan |
Ahead of President Obama’s announcement tomorrow about the upcoming drawdown from Afghanistan, a new Pew Poll finds that “for the first time,” a majority of Americans — 56 percent — think U.S. troops should be brought home as soon as possible from the country. That’s a sharp rise from a year ago, when just 40 percent favored removing the troops. Meanwhile, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) delivered a petition to Obama today signed by over 213,000 people calling for an “accelerated withdrawal” from the country beginning next month, according to an email to supporters.
Bolton Attacks GOP Presidential Candidates For ‘Bumper Sticker Answers’ On Foreign Policy |
John Bolton said on Fox News last night that he would make a decision on whether he will run for president “by Labor Day” and expressed his frustration with the recent presidential debate’s lack of focus on foreign policy. “The questions didn’t come until the last half hour they were bumper sticker questions that provoke bumper sticker answers,” he said. Watch:
Ahmadinejad’s ‘Messianic Nationalism’ At Odds With Iranian Regime |
In an article today on the “growing confrontation between Iran’s clerical rulers and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” the Washington Post reports that Ahmadinejad’s “unusual interpretation of Shiite Islam,” which “does not rely on clerics as intermediates between people and God,” has contributed to the chasm. CAP’s Matt Duss over at Middle East Progress notes that “a number of American self-styled Iran experts have spent a lot of time warning that Ahmadinejad’s messianic nationalism was representative of the Iranian regime as a whole. More knowledgeable analysts, meanwhile, have consistently and correctly noted how out of step Ahmadinejad’s beliefs are with those of the ruling establishment.”
Hillary Clinton Praises ‘Brave’ Saudi Women Drivers |
Facing pressure from advocacy groups, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out Tuesday about the campaign by Saudi Arabian women to get equal rights on the road. Asked about the effort, which saw about 40 women drive their cars last week in defiance of the ban, Clinton called the women “brave” and “right” to pursue equality. “I’m moved by it and I support them,” said Clinton, whose longstanding support for women’s rights made her silence a bit awkward. Clinton emphasized that the driving campaign was “not coming from outside” but from Saudi “women themselves seeking to be recognized.”
Two journalists forced to leave Iran because of maltreatment by the authorities spoke out this week about sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who spent four months in jail after the 2009 election unrest and now lives in London, was asked by Fareed Zakaria what he thought the U.S. could do in terms of Iran policy. Bahari responded by decrying the broad-based sanctions, particularly those that hampered Iranian students from traveling to the U.S. for studies or that blocked Western telecommunications firms from doing business in Iran:
I think that they should think have - they should think more about the sanctions. They should lift the bad sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians. They should allow more Iranians travel. I think there was a good development that they’re giving visas to students, that the students can have multiple entry visas.
I think what the United States should do is to provide means to communicate for Iranians. The Iranian people know what to do. Iranian people know how to determine their own destinies. But what they need is to – how to communicate with each other. And that means having better communication infrastructure, for example, satellite Internet that cannot be censored. They need more filter-busters. Companies like Google, Yahoo! YouTube should be able to deal with the Iranian people freely without worrying about being reprimanded by the U.S. administration. They have to try to help Iranian people in general as much as possible.
Watch the video:
Meanwhile, Akbar Ganji, a long-time investigative dissident journalist, wrote on BBC Persian that sanctions that deteriorate Iran’s economy will not facilitate a focus on reforms or changes. He cites historical examples of various revolutions and contrasted them with Iraq, where a decade of devastating sanctions failed to unseat Saddam Hussein or loosen his brutal grip on the country.
The main problem of our society is the existence of a totalitarian regime and the transition to a democratic regime committed to freedom and human rights. If we accept this fact, based on what has been discussed before, an economic crisis will marginalize the process of transition to democracy by wiping out the middle class, as the main player in this process. Humans primarily seek their essential needs such as food, clothes, and shelter, and only in next steps do they chase their ideals. Even if someone is looking for the regime change, he or she should know that poverty does not lead to a revolution and collapse of the regime. Therefore, we should worry about the existing situation becoming increasingly worse.
Ganji added that some advocates of regime change view the economic sanctions — which are, in his estimation, unlikely to work — as a checklist item for attacking Iran. But that, too, he wrote, would fall short of Iranians’ expectations: “We want democracy and human rights for Iran and Iranians, not ruins for a nation and citizens who are awaiting death.”
While targeted U.N. sanctions aimed at slowing Iran’s nuclear progress seem to be working and U.S. human rights sanctions have embarrassed Iranian officials and won international plaudits, there is little evidence that sweeping economic or energy sanctions have done much to change the Iranian regime’s behavior on human rights or its nuclear program. Nonetheless, hawks in Congress began pushing for new rounds of sanctions in May, including ones that would amount to a virtual or “stealth” oil embargo like the one imposed against Iraq. But last week, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg said new sanctions again Iran were unnecessary.
The White House’s plan to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan will result in the withdrawal of 10,000 “personnel” by the end of the year. President Obama will announce the reduction in a speech on Wednesday and is expected to declare that the troop surge has been successful in disrupting Al Qaeda’s ability to launch attacks against the U.S.
The Sudanese government will withdraw its troops from the Abyei area and permit Ethiopian peacekeepers to come in. The announcement is the result of a peace agreement signed on Monday to resolve tensions over the border region between northern and southern Sudan.
American warplanes have struck Libyan air defenses about 60 times since early April when the U.S. shifted control of the air war over Libya to NATO. Drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times.
Libyan rebels told reporters that their financial situation was worsening and, blaming the West for not stepping up support, said they were unable to continue fighting Col. Muammar Qaddafi because of lack of funds.
Syrian opposition activists have set up a “National Council” to bring about the end of President Bashar Al Asad’s nearly 11-year rule. The dissident “council” has met in Turkey and is comprised of “all communities and representatives of national political forces inside and outside Syria.”
Assad delivered a speech conceding some reforms to pro-democracy demonstrators but his Turkish counterpart said it was not enough, calling for a “multi-party” system.
According to some economists, China’s economy is expected to slow down this year due to rising inflation, rising wages and debts incurred by local governments.
Twenty-one people were killed about 100 miles from Baghdad when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the checkpoint outside the home of Diwaniya province’s governor.