Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Foreign Affairs

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  • Dinah Dunavan,

    When I worked at the Ministry of Education in the early 90s the story went around that our minister went shopping in London without his wallet and expected his PA to put all his purchases on her credit card. Apparently he was astounded when, eventually, the card was declined as its limit had been reached.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Blair didn't drive a car all the time he was PM.

    Not so surprising..I'd be surprised if many ministers or corporate high fliers drove in the UK. "The Car", complete with driver, is a way of life in many large cities. Few captains of industry or politicans drive in Asia either (or their wives or husbands).

    Here in Indonesia there always surprise that I insist on driving myself. No-one does (and I don't just mean expats or the very wealthy).

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Obviously McCain is - now moaning about media bias.

    The story on Midday Report was simply bizarre -- I had no idea that Berlin was some kind of sacred ground where only Presidents were allowed to open their mouths. But just to add insult to injury, listening to McCain holding his nose like Obama had stood up at a funeral and delivered an eulogy made up entirely of dirty jokes...

    Well, I'm sorry Senator McCain but both you and Hillary have been painting him as some foreign policy lightweight who couldn't even be trusted to pick up the phone. A little rich to whinge because he's trying to counter your own meme -- and doing too good a job for your liking.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I remember when Obama was elected to the Senate - he was lauded as the most liberal of politicians at the time (at least by US standards)

    Well, yes he was -- by people for whom the British Tories, the Australian Liberals and the NZ National Party might as well be Maxist-Leninists on crack.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I also read Kaplan's piece - he's an excellent analyst and writer.

    It's worth reading an earlier and related piece he did in relation to Obama's different approach, compared with the other candidates - Dem and Republican, on the issue of negotiations with "rogue states". It's here. Also, did you see the piece on autism?

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Media bias? No of course not. It's only a 100 to 1, no bias at all.

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=301702713742569

    McCain is running a lousy campaign (no surprises there) and Barry Obambi is such a lightweight he must need 20 lbs of lead in each shoe to stop him floating off into the clouds. He gives a great speech, but away from the teleprompter at a press conference, he is as bad as Bush.

    As far as foreign policy flubs are concerned, Obama's ridiculous suggestions that his policy preference on the surge; don't do it, instead just turn around and withdrawal and who cares about the consequences (he and the NYT both said basically "who cares what happens") is causing him some problems. He has tried to say that the progress that can't be denied would have happened also with his policy which is patently absurd. He is starting to get called on his Iraq position from a number of angles. Even Katie Couric had a go at him on this topic the other night.

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/07/our-view-on-ira.html

    Perhaps this explains why he doesn’t appear to have gotten a bounce out of a very well staged overseas trip.

    Still, with a weak opponent and the wind very much at his back, Obama has to be strongly favored to win. But if he implements his stated tax policy, we will get a very sharp lesson in the damage tax increases cause. He stands a very good chance of making Jimmy Carter look like one of the three wise men.

    Oh well. Life goes on.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    For all the talk of "you broke, so you have to fix it" around the timetable for a US withdrawl from Iraq, I actually can't see any way out America's latest piece of imperial hubris except through fleeing with their tail between their legs. For all the humiliation of running away and leaving a mess for the Iranians to happily inherit, it'll still be cheaper for the USA than trying to hang on. Pity about the Iraqis and Americans who have died for nothing, and trillions of dollars printing their way into world stagflation, but hey - that's George W. Bush's legacy for you.

    Oh, and I long for the day an American president works out that Iran will, in the long run, make a much better ally for the US in the Middle East than Israel ever will.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    He stands a very good chance of making Jimmy Carter look like one of the three wise men.

    I really hate cheap shots at Jimmy Carter. They bring Teh Stupid.

    That is all.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    McCain is running a lousy campaign (no surprises there)

    No , he's a lousy candidate. He doesn't seem to know where anything is. He simply wouldn't be credible in most western democracies.

    and Barry Obambi is such a lightweight he must need 20 lbs of lead in each shoe to stop him floating off into the clouds. He gives a great speech, but away from the teleprompter at a press conference, he is as bad as Bush.

    That's just silly. He's outta sight better than McCain on on his feet; not that that's saying a whole in itself, but It's not even close. I realise the talking point for this month is that he's a lightweight, but it doesn't make it true. The guy was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, for goodness sake.

    As far as foreign policy flubs are concerned, Obama's ridiculous suggestions that his policy preference on the surge; don't do it,

    As others have pointed out, if you give McCain the surge but dock him for all the other things he's been wrong about in Iraq, Obama's still ahead. Maliki's endorsement of his withdrawal strategy didn't exactly hurt Obama either. The McCain camp has variously suggested withdrawal dates of 2011, 2020 and never. I guess if they hold enough positions simultaneously they're bound to luck in some time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Still, with a weak opponent and the wind very much at his back, Obama has to be strongly favored to win. But if he implements his stated tax policy, we will get a very sharp lesson in the damage tax increases cause

    Well, James, I certainly hope McCain's getting slightly better advice on the economic front than when he brought into the gas tax holiday panderpalooza. Bad on "Barry" for actually thinking those pointy-headed elitist academics and economists (from all points on the political spectrum, BTW) who were saying the arguments just didn't stack up might just have had a point.

    And, FFS, I'm economically dry enough that rubbing my thighs together constitutes a fire hazard, but whatever policy differences I've got with Obama the GOP whored away any fiscally conservative credibility a long time ago. A bit closer to home, I'd certainly like to see English and Cullen give a bullshit-free answer to one very simple question: How exactly do you reduce government income (i.e. tax receipts) without reducing government spending, again? And I will require an answer that doesn't involve chanting, exsanguinated chickens and hope.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Well, yes he was -- by people for whom the British Tories, the Australian Liberals and the NZ National Party might as well be Maxist-Leninists on crack.

    Comparing the political compass readings for US and NZ politicians/parties can be very enlightening in this regard. It can't be said often enough: America is really on a different planet politically to the rest of the world.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I really hate cheap shots at Jimmy Carter. They bring Teh Stupid.
    That is all.

    That, along with 'Obambi', is nothing more than the phantom twitchings of a severed dittohead.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    Even Katie Couric had a go at him on this topic the other night.

    Wow, didn't she, like, win a Pulitzer for smiling purty?

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    How exactly do you reduce government income (i.e. tax receipts) without reducing government spending, again?

    Er... improve economic performance? That's what's been happening in the last few years, no? There was an increase in the tax bracket for people earning over 60k a year when Labour first came in, and to be fair there has been quite a bit of fiscal drag on top of that, but the tax receipts have gone up way beyond those factors, simply because of our economic performance. Whether that was a cyclic fluke, or was helped at least in part by smart reform and investment, is of course an entirely different debate.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Matty Smith,

    I imagine the Ford loss is all down to the bad financial times, but it will certainly make all the fundies boycotting the company happy.

    http://www.boycottford.com/

    Wellington • Since Mar 2007 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    American politics is fashioned around that which is now fading:the American Dream-that even if one's economic circumstances and welfare fail to improve,at least those of the next generation will .
    To me Obama is America's best chance on this fundamental point and after his speech in Germany is looking like a commander and chief.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I imagine the Ford loss is all down to the bad financial times

    Renault just posted a net income for the first six months of the year of 2.2 billion dollars.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    That, along with 'Obambi', is nothing more than the phantom twitchings of a severed dittohead.

    Ha, if 'Barry' has got James squirming like that he's gotta be running strong....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Tinshed,

    I think you have it exactly right. It is so hard to imagine America voting as President someone, in the form of McCain, who makes Winston Peters look like the epitome of intelligence, gravitas and sincerity. Very hard. I believe America is in decline: the question is: how much. If McCain is elected, then we will know for sure the decline is terminal. If it is Obama, well, there is some hope. (Look at the pictures at http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/7/24/164149/523/904/556422 and tell me the faces aren't full of hope.) The wise cynics amongst us [e.g. LegBreak], amongst us will gladly point out that Obama is full of platitudes, etc. Well, whatever: he is an order of magnitude better than anyone else on offer. He is an intelligent, articulate and sincere person. We need him. Plain and simple.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Thanks for the pictures link Tinshed. For some reason I was reminded of these, from a hot summer day more than fourty years ago. If you have the time, do click for the larger images, it's almost like time travel:

    http://pictureyear.blogspot.com/2008/06/pictures-from-train.html

    America as personified by Bush - morally bankrupt and contemptuous of ordinary people - may well be in decline, but the sheer hope and common decency in the face of tragedy, so apparent in those old pictures, surely endures. In absolute terms RFK may not have deserved to be the focus of such hope any more than does Obama, but America, in decline or not, deserves better than the smug and soulless cynicism of the past eight years.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    The wise cynics amongst us [e.g. LegBreak], amongst us will gladly point out that Obama is full of platitudes, etc. Well, whatever: he is an order of magnitude better than anyone else on offer. He is an intelligent, articulate and sincere person. We need him. Plain and simple.

    I was going to say that speeches are probably not the place to be looking for hard truths and finer detail, but then I remembered how strong on content some of his others have been. The NY Times reports that Obama has 300 foreign policy specialists advising his campaign (a figure that seems almost comically high) so presumbly there is substance behind the theatre.

    Despite the occassional inevitable mistake Obama has shown good political instincts, right down to the savvy (although sometimes a little CW) positioning in Audacity. Electoral-vote.com has him way in front, but many of the key states remain close.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    How exactly do you reduce government income (i.e. tax receipts) without reducing government spending, again?

    To paraphrase a campaign we are spending money on "It's not what we're spending, it's how we are spending".
    Until someone comes up with a way to run something that isn't a business like a business we will always have inefficiencies. I think we would all agree that waste is endemic in any government department when the only incentive you have is to increase the number of people below you.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    "Oh, and I long for the day an American president works out that Iran will, in the long run, make a much better ally for the US in the Middle East than Israel ever will."

    I can't agree more. Why terrify a generation of Iranian citizens.Let the bridges start being built , its' been so painfully overdue.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    "Until someone comes up with a way to run something that isn't a business like a business we will always have inefficiencies"

    Not all businesses are geared for efficiencies in keeping waste (spending) down.They hide and compensate these inefficiencies by healthy revenue collection.

    Business is not an exact science yet, it could definitely be improved. Both private and public enterprise are run by the same planetary
    species.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    A country viewed from a company/business perspective has far too many intangibles, ie. the good that employment alone contributes to the good of society, meaning that an overblown bureaucracy has a good in that it keeps more members of that society "in the loop".
    The opposite of this is a slimming down of the public sector and leaving more to the private sector and the resultant "Market Forces" ie. lower wages and a profit driven economy.
    Of course, countries have to trade and the more balanced and free that trade is, the better it is for all concerned.
    Well that's politics sorted, what shall we talk about now?
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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