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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

UTRIKESPOLITIK | President Barack Obamas verkar inte ha ett lika stort intresse för utrikespolitik som för inrikespolitik. Och detta skadar honom inrikespolitiskt.

Time 9 september 2013

Detta är i och för sig inget nytt för en amerikansk president. Vare sig Bill Clinton eller George W. Bush blev primärt valda för sina utrikespolitiska ståndpunkter.

Annat var det under kalla kriget när det förväntades att presidentkandidaterna kunde visa upp en gedigen förståelse för hur världen fungerar.

Till skillnad från väljare i många andra demokratier har amerikanarna varit mycket väl medvetna om att amerikanska presidenten har en unik position i världspolitiken.

Detta inte minst för att presidenten aldrig är långt ifrån avfyrningskoderna till landets kärnvapen.

Men vad som verkar vara unikt för Obama är att kritiken inte bara kommer från republikanerna i USA.

Som Michael Crowley påminner om i Time så hoppades t.o.m. president Assad i en tidningsartikel 2009 att Obama skulle ta aktiv del i utvecklingen i Mellanöstern.

Assad påpekade att det i realiteten inte fanns något substitut för USA i världspolitiken.

Some of Obama’s problems have a familiar ring. Early in his first term, Bill Clinton–who, like Obama, focused on domestic matters–also faced charges of timidity and weakness. ”We simply don’t have the leverage, we don’t have the influence [or] the inclination to use military force,” a senior State Department official complained in 1993. And much as Obama is facing pressure at home and abroad over Syria, Clinton was castigated for not intervening in the Balkan wars. ”The position of leader of the free world is vacant,” French President Jacques Chirac lamented in 1995.

Obama has likewise developed a strangely broad coalition of critics: humanitarians who want to stop the war in Syria; hawks who want a bolder U.S. foreign policy; democracy and human-rights advocates appalled that Obama isn’t tougher on Egypt’s generals. Meanwhile, U.S. allies in Europe complain that America isn’t showing leadership, and a senior Arab government official tells TIME that friendly states in the region don’t feel they can count on the U.S. ”There’s no perception that we’re engaged in issues in the Middle East right now,” says Christopher Hill, a veteran diplomat who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq.

Obama’s defenders say he has done the best with a poisoned inheritance–from anti-Americanism abroad to tight budgets and rising isolationism at home. And his White House predecessors have often heard cries from overseas that the U.S.’s will to power was faltering. But it’s also true that the public is tired of paying in blood and treasure to solve faraway problems that often look unsolvable. ”At the end of the day, the U.S. cannot impose its will on every problem in the world,” says Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

The blunt instrument of military power may be especially useless when it comes to untangling the Arab Spring’s social upheavals. ”Frankly, the U.S. is not good at resolving another country’s political implosion,” says Mieke Eoyang, a national-security analyst at Third Way, a Washington think tank. ”It may be that the U.S. just doesn’t have the tools.”

[…]

But to his critics, Obama does hesitate, and trouble follows as a result. With more than three years left in his presidency, he has the opportunity to reverse that impression. Success in Syria and then Iran could vindicate him, and failure could be crushing. ”The risk is that, if things in the Middle East continue to spiral, that will become his legacy,” says Brian Katulis, a former Obama campaign adviser now with the Center for American Progress.

Some Democratic Presidents have been crippled by foreign policy: Carter by Iran, Lyndon Johnson by Vietnam. But there is another model. Clinton doused the fires in the Balkans and demonstrated the nobility of American intervention. Obama has time to find a path through the current chaos to a successful legacy abroad.

As he charts his course, he might consider a thought from an unlikely source. In a 2009 British newspaper interview that struck a moderate tone, Assad said he hoped Obama would take an active role in the Middle East peace process because only Washington could broker a lasting solution. He said, ”There is no substitute for the United States.”

Tidskriftsomslag: Time den 9 september 2013.

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IRAK | I år är det tio år sedan invasionen av Irak som avsatte diktatorn Saddam Hussein. Beroende på hur man räknar var 49 länder involverade.

Foto av Charles Ommanney-Contact-Getty

Inför invasionen skrev David Frum 2002 de delar av president George W. Bushs State of the Union tal som handlade om Irak.

Som talskrivare var det hans uppgift att förklara rationaliteten bakom vad som skulle komma att bli presidentens beslut att invadera.

Frasen ”axis of evil” lyftes fram av alla som rapporterade om Bushs tal. Frum har i boken The Right Man (2003) skrivit att frasen i ett tidigt utkast hade formuleringen ”axis of hatred”.

I Newsweek skriver Frum om de omfattande ansträngningar som krävdes för att kommunicera presidentens budskap och lyckas övertyga kongressen och befolkningen. 

The order to begin work on the Iraq sections of the 2002 State of the Union address—what became known as the “axis of evil” speech—was delivered to me in the form of a conditional: what might the president say if he decided … etc. That speech provoked a furor with its claim that state sponsors of terror cooperated with terrorist groups, and its warning that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea were arming to threaten the peace of the world. Critics insisted that it was impossible that Shiite Iran would support Sunni Hamas or that Islamic Iran could share technology with Stalinist North Korea. We now know all those things to be true, and many more besides. The founder of the Pakistani nuclear program did attempt to sell bomb-making technology to al Qaeda. The North Koreans did sell Syria materials for a nuclear facility destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.

Some critics claim that the speech blew up a promising U.S. diplomatic overture to Iran. That’s pretty hard to believe, especially after seeing what has happened to U.S. overtures to Iran since 2009. As a description of the strategic challenge facing the United States, the speech has been corroborated by events. No apologies on any of those points.

The speech did mark a point of no return on the road to war with Iraq, although debate continued inside the administration for many more months. The famous Downing Street memo makes clear that as late as July 2002, Tony Blair’s government remained uncertain of U.S. intentions.

 […]

Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke eloquently about Saddam’s appalling crimes against the Iraqi people. But countries rarely fight big, expensive wars for the benefit of others. Everything depended on the evidence that Iraq was acquiring a dangerous arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. How solid was that evidence? Those of us without high security clearances could never truly know. We had to rely on those we trusted—like National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who warned on January 10, 2003, “There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly Saddam can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Such assurances by the leading figures in the Bush administration won the support of a broad array of Americans, not only conservatives but “liberal hawks” in Congress and the press, and not only in this country but around the world.

[…]

Brits sometimes question how crucial Blair was in the run-up to war. My own sense, for what it’s worth, is that it was Blair, not Bush, who swayed Democrats in Congress and liberal hawks in the media. Without Blair, the Iraq War would have been authorized with only the smallest handful of non-Republican votes.

Bild: Charles Ommanney/Contact/Getty.

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TOP DOG | Barney Bush, First Dog i Vita huset under George W. Bush, har vandrat vidare till de sälla jaktmarkerna.

Barney Bush (2000-2013) målad av George W. Bush

Beskedet kom i ett uttalande från Bush:

Laura and I are sad to announce that our Scottish Terrier, Barney, has passed away. The little fellow had been suffering from lymphoma and after twelve and a half years of life, his body could not fight off the illness.

Barney and I enjoyed the outdoors. He loved to accompany me when I fished for bass at the ranch. He was a fierce armadillo hunter. At Camp David, his favorite activity was chasing golf balls on the chipping green.

Barney guarded the South Lawn entrance of the White House as if he were a Secret Service agent. He wandered the halls of the West Wing looking for treats from his many friends. He starred in Barney Cam and gave the American people Christmas tours of the White House. Barney greeted Queens, Heads of State, and Prime Ministers. He was always polite and never jumped in their laps.

Barney was by my side during our eight years in the White House. He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal.

“Barney did bite a reporter back in 2008, though Bush White House alums might tell you that attests to his judgment”, skrev Alex Altman i Time.

Bild: En tavla föreställande Barney Bush, målad av George W. Bush och signerad ”43”.

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INTERVJU | Michael Bloomberg, New Yorks borgmästare, är en av dessa politiker som lyckas vara både kontroversiell och populär på samma gång.

The Atlantic, november 2012

I en intervju med James Bennet, editor in chiefThe Atlantic, delar han med sig om sina tankar kring bl.a. politiskt ledarskap, förtroendeundersökningar och politikers öppenhet gentemot media.

Mycket av detta handlar om att våga tänka själv och våga leda. Här finns en hel del även svanska politiker borde kunna ta till sig.

[W]hat leaders should do is make decisions as to what they think is in the public interest based on the best advice that they can get, and then try and build a constituency and bring it along.

The public, I believe — and I’ve always thought this — is much more likely to follow if the public believes that you are genuine. I’ve said this before, and yesterday in this economics speech, I gave a kiss to George W. Bush. But that’s true. George W. Bush, who I don’t agree with on a lot of things — I think he got elected and reelected because the public thought he was genuine. They think his father was genuine. Jeb — I know [him] very well; he’s on the board of my foundation — he is genuine, they believe.

And Al Gore and John Kerry tried to be on both sides of every issue. ”I voted for the war, but not to fund it.” And that’s Mitt Romney’s problem, I think. He walked away from everything he did. He actually was a pretty good governor of Massachusetts, where I come from. I think that’s a losing strategy, to not have values. I think the public wants you to have them and will respect you for them. They may carp a little bit, but in the end, that’s the kind of person they want. They want somebody who has real conviction.

[…]

I said one time that if I finish my term in office — at that time, we were talking about eight years, or four years — and have high approval ratings, then I wasted my last years in office. That high approval rating means you don’t upset anybody. High approval rating means you’re skiing down the slope and you never fall. Well, you’re skiing the baby slope, for goodness’ sakes. Go to a steeper slope. You always want to press, and you want to tackle the issues that are unpopular, that nobody else will go after.

[…]

The president — how often does he talk to the press? His press secretary talks to the press every day, okay. But I happen to think the public should demand he should. I think he should; I think that’s his job. But regardless, it is in an election year, just before the election, maybe I cut you a break. Where I don’t cut you a break is the day after the election. I believe you do the tough stuff first. Why? Number one, you have an obligation to those who voted for you, to do what you promised. Number two, if you believe they’re the right things, you need some time to let them work out, adjust them, explain them, maybe cancel and change them — or whatever — before the next election.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är The Atlantic, november 2012. Intervjun fanns med i samma nummer. En längre variant finns på nätet.

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Information: American Crossroads är en super-PAC som leds av Karl Rove. Rove var en av president George W. Bushs strateger.

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KAMPANJ | Newsweek slår ett slag för Barack Obama i senaste numret genom att definiera Mitt Romney som en “mes” på omslaget.

1987 publicerade Newsweek en artikel som kom att förfölja George H. W. Bush långt efter att blivit president. Titeln var ”Fighting the ’Wimp Factor’”.

Nu gör man det igen med Mitt Romney.

Michael Tomasky skriver:

In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned … French.

[…]

Harvey Mansfield, the Harvard political philosopher, is a godhead to conservatives. He wrote a book while Bush was president called Manliness. It was a self-parodic volume, but conservatives loved it. In 2006 an interviewer asked Mansfield his definition of manliness, and he said: “confidence in a situation of risk.”

By this definition, the conservative definition, Romney is a total bust. He’s the most risk-averse major politician to come along in ages.

[…]

The catalog of Romney flip-flops is lengthy and by now famous: abortion rights; support for Planned Parenthood, to which he and his wife once wrote checks, now in his gun sights; Grover Norquist’s “no tax increases” pledge, which he admirably refused to sign as a gubernatorial candidate but since 2007 has taken up with gusto; on immigration, where he once supported a path to citizenship; on guns (he supported the Brady Bill in the 1990s); on “don’t ask, don’t tell”; and, most famously of all, on health care.

[…]

All politicians undergo a tuck here and a trim there. Comparatively few turn outright somersaults on big issues, let alone half a dozen or more of them. What gives? Most pols in Romney’s position would think: OK, I’ve got to change some stances, but I’d better keep one or two, just to show I stand for something, and accept the consequences. But not Romney.

Politicians change positions for three main reasons: financial ambition, political ruthlessness, and political cowardice. Romney already has the big money, so that’s out. Ruthless? Not really—a ruthless change of position is one designed to please one group of people but equally to piss off another group. Romney’s flip-flops are solely about making a group of highly suspicious voters like him. That, folks, is door No. 3.

Att detta är rena rama julafton för Obamakampanjen är uppenbart. Trots detta lyckades Romney låta ganska avslappnad när han skulle kommentera omslaget i en intervju i programmet Face the Nation.

Att det inte lät likadant bakom kulisserna kan man förstå när man läser hur George W. Bush reagerade när han fick beskedet att Newsweek hade stämplat hans far som ”mes”.

Barbara Bush placed a furious call to her son, future president George W., who had vetted journalist Margaret Garrard Warner. “Have you seen Newsweek?” Barbara Bush growled, according to her son’s recent memoir, Decision Points. “I quickly tracked down a copy and was greeted by the screaming headline: ‘Fighting the Wimp Factor,’ ” Bush 43 wrote. “I was red hot. I got Margaret on the phone. I. . . told her I thought it was part of a political ambush. She muttered something about her editors being responsible for the cover. I did not mutter. I railed about editors and hung up. From then on, I was suspicious of political journalists and their unseen editors.”

Läs mer: Michael Tomasky on Wimpy Mitt Romney’s Missing Backbone” samt ”Answering Tomaskyav David Frum. (Bild: Tidskriftomslagen är från den 6 augusti 2012 respektive den 19 oktober 1987.)

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USA | Karl Rove har kallats George W. Bushs hjärna. Han är också hjärnan bakom Crossroads som är en av valets viktigaste organisationer.

De organisationer som av skattemässiga skäl i USA har beteckningen ”527” (s.k. super-PAC:s) eller ”501(c)(4)” kommer att inta en framträdande plats när man snart skriver historien om valrörelsen 2012.

Organisationerna får lagligen inte samordna sina aktiviteter med presidentkandidaternas egna kampanjorganisationer.

Men alla utgår i realiteten ifrån att det finns tysta strategiska överrenskommelser kring vilka politiska budskap organisationerna skall driva för att det skall gagna den egna favoriten i valet.

Dessutom kan dessa organisationer attackera motståndaren på ett sätt som knappast någon av kandidaterna skulle våga för att inte riskera att stötta bort väljare.

Och i år är det de organisationer som attackerar Barack Obama – och därmed indirekt gynnar Mitt Romney – som drar in mest pengar.

Men vad som ofta glöms bort när det rapporteras om organisationerna i media (inte minst i Sverige) är att det var liberala grupper, sympatiskt inställda till demokraterna, som drog igång vad som idag har blivit en gigantisk penningslukande verksamhet.

Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek, skriver:

In the strange realm of campaign finance, the Internal Revenue Service classifies Crossroads GPS as a nonprofit, nonpolitical “social welfare” organization—a 501(c)(4) in tax code parlance—that does not have to identify its backers. Crossroads GPS channels money into “issue” advertisements, which implicitly, but not very subtly, attack Obama and other Democrats.

[…]

To maintain its supporters’ anonymity, a social welfare group like GPS must not have a “primary purpose” of a political nature, and it cannot coordinate strategy with candidates. In an election season, however, only a very naïve or obtuse viewer would miss the point of the organization’s prolific ads.

For conservative donors willing to reveal themselves, Rove designed a sister group, a “super PAC” called American Crossroads, which operates from the same offices as GPS, with some of the same executives, employees, copywriters, and consultants. It, too, is technically independent from the Romney campaign. Known as a 527, it does report its donors to the Federal Election Commission, and it can indulge less coyly in pushing Romney and other Republicans.

[…]

Back in the 2000s, Rove says in an e-mail interview, it was Democratic-leaning labor unions and liberal plutocrats such as hedge fund financier George Soros and insurance tycoon Peter Lewis who provoked the unlimited-outside-money boom. Whoever started the gonzo fundraising wars—and in 2010, the Supreme Court played an important, if misunderstood enabling role with Citizens United v. FEC—the Crossroads operation is way out in front this election cycle. Along with the billionaire Koch brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other conservative allies, the Crossroads-led offensive is collectively poised to spend more than $1 billion on the 2012 elections, according to Republican operatives. That’s roughly twice—repeat: twice—what Democrats expect to spend by means of their super PACs and social welfare groups.

[…]

It irritates Rove that Obama has succeeded in crafting the conventional wisdom on Citizens United. According to Obama’s account, a 5-4 conservative judicial pronouncement liberated a cabal of zillionaires and corporations to launch a hostile takeover of American politics.

[…]

“The left,” Rove notes, “pioneered the use of 527s and 501(c)(4)s years ago, spending millions of dollars to influence public opinion and the policy landscape, on issues spanning the environment to the Iraq War. Drawing on their example, Crossroads was being planned before Citizens United, and would exist with or without Citizens United.”

[…]

In 2004 a 527 called America Coming Together led a $200 million initiative, partly financed by Soros and Lewis, to unseat George W. Bush. One reason many forget this liberal financial surge is that it failed; Kerry, a diffident campaigner, lost by 34 electoral votes. Republicans, for their part, didn’t fully appreciate the advent of outside groups because they were lulled by Bush’s talent for gathering direct-contribution checks with the assistance of “bundlers,” the dedicated supporters and lobbyists who aggregate individual donations.

Rove and his consultant friend Ed Gillespie—now a paid senior adviser to the Romney campaign—had warned from the inception of McCain-Feingold that it would lead to problems for Republicans. Borrowing from the chorus of the classic Sonny Curtis song, Gillespie joked that as RNC chair for the 2004 election cycle, he “fought the law, but the law won.” In 2009, Rove and Gillespie decided it was time for Republicans to stop whining and turn the tables.

[…]

“It’s ironic,” he says, “that many of those who are squealing the loudest now [about Crossroads] are the same people who were mute when groups on the left were pioneering the use of 527s and 501(c)(4)s. … Liberals cheered then but are now quick to try and stop conservatives from using the techniques they used in the past.”

He and his acolytes are clearly enjoying themselves. This is something that Rove’s many psychoanalysts in the media and among Democrats seem to forget: He really loves the fight.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är Bloomberg Businessweek den 30 juli-5 agusti 2012.

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