Archive for the ‘foreign policy’ Category

Obama Throws Britain Under the Bus: Relationship “Reset” and “Regime Change”

March 10, 2009

Remember when Donald Rumsfeld made the remark about “Old Europe”?  Eeryone howlded, including Democrats.  Now Barack Obama has thrown Britain under the bus and nobody has said a thing….There is real “regime change” ongoing….at the White House…..What’s next?  A “special relationship” with Hamas and the Taliban?

Our fear here that barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and others just don’t get it….In their haste to change everything about everything since moving into the White House, Team Obama may be doing irreparable harm to U.S. foreign policy, strategic alliances, along with the economy and everything else….

Primum non nocere

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/10/am
ericans-apologizing-to-british-pm-gordon-brown/

Donald Rumsfeld

By Frank Geffney
The Washington Times
.
The British are understandably mystified. Long accustomed to a “special relationship” with the United States, they are trying to figure out why the latter’s likable new president would go to such lengths to distance himself from the country that has for generations been America’s closest ally.

First, there was Barack Obama‘s decision to return the Churchill bust that had graced the Oval Office since then-Prime Minister Tony Blair gave it to George W. Bush as a post-Sept. 11, 2001, gesture of solidarity. Then, there were the successive affronts during the visit by Mr. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, to Washington last week: A seemingly thoughtless official gift (a set of DVDs of popular American films); a painfully chilly and brief press availability before the start of the two men’s private meeting; and no formal joint press conference of the kind George Bush afforded Mr. Blair on all but one of numerous visits to Washington (the exception a hastily arranged trip right after the September 11 attacks).

The British press has offered several face-saving explanations for these serial rudenesses. Perhaps Mr. Obama is “exhausted.” Alternatively, he is simply “focused elsewhere” in the midst of cratering capital markets, collapsing automakers and skyrocketing unemployment.

The real answer, however, was supplied by an unnamed State Department official whom London’s Sunday Telegraph reported on March 8 “reacted with fury” when asked by the paper why the Brown visit was so, er, “low-key.” According to the Telegraph, “The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship. ‘There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.’ ”

Such a comment by a representative of the State Department – an institution that never saw a foreign government it wanted to offend – is a sign of how serious Team Obama is about “resetting” the U.S.-U.K. relationship. Of course, as that term applies to friendly Britain, it means something very different than when used to describe the administration’s desire for improved ties with America’s enemies, actual or potential, like Russia, Iran and “Palestine.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news
/2009/mar/10/farewell-to-britain/

Related:
Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?
.
Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations
.
Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)

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Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

March 10, 2009

Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Monday that he is seeking a sign from President Obama as to whether the U.S. will uphold its agreement to deploy missile defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Mr. Klaus, an advocate for the deployment, told The Washington Times that he is eager to learn whether Mr. Obama will be as committed to the U.S. defense system as was President George W. Bush.

By Betsy Pisik
The Washington Times

Mr. Obama is due to visit Prague after a summit of major industrial nations in London early next month.

 ASSOCIATED PRESS Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who will meet with President Obama, said, "I hope that will be a good opportunity to understand better his views."

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who will meet with President Obama, said, “I hope that will be a good opportunity to understand better his views.”  Photo: AP

“We’re looking forward to having him in Prague,” Mr. Klaus said. “I hope that will be a good opportunity to understand better his views.”

In New York for an environmental conference, Mr. Klaus said the Obama administration’s position on missile defense is “unknown.”

“I understand all presidents have their domestic priorities, and I understand the economic problems are more important to him now,” the Czech leader said.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
09/mar/10/prague-looks-for-obamas-miss
ile-stance/

Related:
Various Views On Obama Foreign Policy: “Just Like Bush” Or Radical Change?

 North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means”

 White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

 Russia, U.S. Missile Defense Dispute
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Russian Relations With U.S., Europe Improve: But Putin, Medvedev Understand Strength, Power More than Diplomacy

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
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Israel Ponders War on Iran; Obama, Russia HaggleRussia Testing Obama: Just as Biden Predicted
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Russia building anti-satellite weapons

 Russia: Medvedev Pushing Putin Out?

Russia Verifies “American, Western Weakness”

 

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

Mr. Obama and Russia
NYT Editorial: Russia only understands strength….

 Chutzpah: Admire Russia’s Arrogance

Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Russia’s “power couple.” Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

Various Views On Obama Foreign Policy: “Just Like Bush” Or Radical Change?

March 10, 2009

Opinions vary on the initial reading of Barack Obama’s foreign policy.  I tend to view it as misguided, weak and inept.  Robert Kagan wrote in the Washington Post March 9, 2009, that Obama’s foreign policy was “Bushian” because it has changed so little from George W’s time.  Anthony Faiola writes in the Washington Post on March 10 that Obama’s trade policy will emphasize global warming and displacement of American workers  — using social issues as a reason to promote or slow trade during a global economy Obama has called a “catastrophe”….

Related:
Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Obama Throws Britain Under the Bus: Relationship “Reset” and “Regime Change”

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?
.
Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations
.
Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/
09/photoshop-flashback-of-the-day/

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President Obama’s foreign policy team has been working hard to present its policies to the world as constituting a radical break from the Bush years. In the broadest sense, this has been absurdly easy: Obama had the world at hello.

By Robert Kagen
Washington Post
.
When it comes to actual policies, however, selling the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand — and a helpful press corps. Thus the New York Times reports a dramatic “shift” in China policy to “rigorous and persistent engagement,” as if the previous two administrations had been doing something else for the past decade and a half. Another Times headline trumpeted a new “softer tone on North Korea,” based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that the United States would have a “great openness to working with” Pyongyang — as soon as it agrees to “verifiable and complete dismantling and denuclearization.” Startling.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2009/03/08/AR2009030801493.html?h
pid=opinionsbox1

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The Obama administration is aggressively reworking U.S. trade policy to more strongly emphasize domestic and social issues, from the displacement of American workers to climate change.

By Anthony Faiola 
Washington Post

Even as world trade takes its steepest drop in 80 years amid the gobal economic crisis, the administration is preparing to take a harder line with America’s trading partners. It will seek new benchmarks before supporting already-written trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea and is suggesting that it will dig in its heels on global trade talks, demanding that other countries make broader concessions first.

“I believe in trade and will work to expand it, but I also know that not all Americans are winning from it and that our trading partners are not always playing by the rules,” Ron Kirk, President Obama’s nominee as U.S. trade representative, said in confirmation testimony last night before the Senate Finance Committee.

The shift underscores the mounting pressures confronting any effort to expand trade during the economic crisis. Even before the global economy went code red late last year, talks aimed at expanding global trade stalled as Western countries warred with emerging giants like China and India over how to further open markets.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d
yn/content/article/2009/03/09/AR2
009030903157.html

Brit View of Obama on Inauguration Day

January 20, 2009

“‘Only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now.”

By Toby Harnden, US Editor in Washington
The Telegraph
.
An economic crisis and a collapse of confidence in American capitalism.

The departure of a reviled predecessor who bequeathed an unpopular war.

These were the challenges faced, respectively, by presidents Abraham Lincoln in 1861, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 and Gerald Ford – the last United States commander-in-chief to arrive from Congress – in 1974.

President Barack Obama will have to deal with not just one of these situations but all three. Not only that but the expectations of him in some quarters, which aides are now frantically trying to manage, border on the divine.

Like John F. Kennedy in 1961, he arrives as a former Senator with an attractive young family who has just broken through a historic barrier and upon whose shoulders the hopes and dreams of Americans now rest.

Of these four former presidents, two were cut down in their prime by an assassin’s bullet and have been judged reverently by historians. Mr Roosevelt completed two terms and is judged as a great president. Mr Ford, however, was rejected by voters and only in death was accorded a verdict of grudging, and limited admiration.

While great challenges present the opportunity for a president to make his mark on history, falling short in testing times is a quick route to ignominy.

The signs for Mr Obama are propitious. His predecessor George W. Bush departed office with an approval rating of just 22 per cent, making him the most unpopular outgoing president since polls began after plummeting from record poll support after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

As the first black president of a nation founded by slave owners, Mr Obama has a deep well of goodwill from which to draw. Already, he has enough political capital to act boldly and risk making some mistakes.

During the 77-day transition of power, the former Illinois senator has drawn praise even from his detractors for a deliberate and well planned organisation – helped greatly by gracious co-operation from Mr Bush – that avoided the pitfalls and chaos that so many incoming presidents fell victim to.

Mr Obama himself has hailed his post-election efficiency, highlighting another potential problem – a self-confidence that occasionally borders on smugness.

“Early on, maybe we made it look too easy,” he said last week. “I think people should just remember what we accomplished here. We put a cabinet and White House staff in place in record time in the midst of the biggest emergency since World War Two. That’s a pretty good track record.”

Mr Obama’s most significant move has been to enlist his campaign opponent Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. But while this may have neutralised a potential enemy, he also runs the risk of allowing the former First Lady – who still harbours presidential ambitions for 2012 – to build up a rival power base from within.

He might also have sowed the seeds of disillusionment among some of his more idealistic activists, who took him at his word when he said he would change politics and draw a line under the Bush-Clinton White House years stretching back to 1988.

Now, Mr Obama is filling his administration with former Clinton advisers and it is an open question whether this strategy is clever magnanimity or folly.

Invoking a spirit of bipartisanship, Mr Obama has kept on Robert Gates, Mr Bush’s Pentagon chief, and assiduously wooed Senator John McCain, his general election opponent and a foreign policy hawk.

Mr Obama has been lauded for dining with conservative columnists in Washington. But this olive branch might owe more to a concern about shaping elite opinion as it does to a genuine desire to take heed of opposing viewpoints.

In his career thus far, Mr Obama’s bipartisanship has seldom extended much further than the rhetorical flourishes of his speeches.

Already, Mr Obama has tempered some of his more liberal campaign pronouncements, even praising Dick Cheney, who has a public approval rating of 13 per cent and was branded by his successor Joe Biden as “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had”, for advocating caution over changing legal and intelligence rules.

After Mr Cheney said tartly that “before you start to implement your campaign rhetoric you need to sit down and find out precisely what it is we did and how we did it” Mr Obama responded: “I think that was pretty good advice.”

Although Mr Obama intends to issue an executive order directing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp after seven years, his aides concede that it may take at least a year to achieve this. Freeing inmates, he concedes, could put America at grave risk.

In his November 4 victory speech, Mr Obama proclaimed “to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world” that “a new dawn of American leadership is at hand”.

The reality might not be quite so simple. Israel used the transition to mount a ferocious assault on Gaza in a blatant attempt to change the facts on the ground before the new president was sworn in.

Nothing Mr Obama said on the campaign trail indicated he would depart from America’s traditional staunch support of Israel. The domestic financial crisis, moreover, not to mention the weakening of Israel’s peace lobby, is likely to limit the chances of a serious attempt at negotiating a Middle East peace in his first term.

Elected on the basis on ending the Iraq war, Mr Obama will need to safeguard the gains the Iraq troop surge – which he opposed – if he is to keep the US on the path to victory.

In Afghanistan – the “good” war for which Mr Obama has pledged his own troop surge – the dangers of troops becoming bogged down and facing an ever-fiercer insurgency are acute.

Among Mr Bush’s greatest achievements has been to prevent an attack in the more than seven years since al-Qaeda struck the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, slaughtering more than 3,000.

While Mr Obama’s pledge to outlaw torture and follow international law have earned him international plaudits, American opinion could turn swiftly against him if he is blamed for leaving his country vulnerable to Islamist extremists.

Mr Bush’s unpopularity abroad has tended to mask the extent to which many of his policies have been fairly standard approaches to promoting enduring American interests. The world might well be disappointed to find out that Mr Obama might not adopt a radically different foreign policy.

During the campaign, a loose-lipped Mr Biden warned that Mr Obama would face an early test by terrorists or a hostile foreign power. In 1993, President Bill Clinton has to respond to an attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre in New York and deal with a failed American humanitarian mission in Somalia.

Mr Bush’s aversion to “nation building” and plans for a “humble” foreign policy were shelved after the 9/11 attacks. Mr Obama is likely to face challenges that could knock him off course and make him question his foreign policy instincts.

Asked by a homeless shelter worker on Tuesday whether he was sweating, Mr Obama – a supremely fit 47-year-old who is devoted to the gym and basketball – responded: “Nah, I don’t sweat. You ever see me sweat?” Keeping his cool in government might be more of a challenge than he imagines.

As Christopher Hitchens, who voted for Mr Obama put it this week, “there’s an element of hubris in all this current hope-mongering”.

While many presidents have entered the White House with similarly thin foreign policy experience, few have been as green as Mr Obama.

A United States Senator for a mere four years, he has never held executive office and it remains to be seen how his calm, deliberate manner will translate into dealing with the hurly-burly of governing and unexpected events.

Mr Obama prides himself on his normality and his ability to relate to ordinary Americans. As recently as 2000, he made an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles in which he had his credit card rejected and failed to gain admittance to the Democratic party convention. Four years ago, he could shop in Washington unmolested.

Already, Mr Obama is chafing against being inside “the bubble”, insulated from life beyond his inner circle. Against the advice of his lawyers, he appears poised to keep his beloved BlackBerry, a link to the outside world.

But power and security – already at unprecedented levels for Mr Obama – can be distorting. Mr Bush was mocked for declaring himself “the decider”, as if it did not matter what anyone else thought.

Responding In November to claims that his appointment of Clinton associates was an abandonment of his campaign slogan of “change”, Mr Obama seemed to say that he was the personification of change and his very presence should be enough to reassure.

“Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” he said. “It comes from me.”

The comedian Chris Rock has compared Mr Obama to a celebrity who is beyond mockery. “There’s no Brad Pitt jokes. You know, what are you going to say? “Ooh, you used to have sex with Jennifer Anniston. Now you have sex with Angelina Jolie. You’re such a loser. There’s nothing to say about Brad Pitt.”

Mr Obama was similar. “It’s like ‘Ooh, you’re young and virile and you’ve got a beautiful wife and kids. You’re the first African-American president.’ You know, what do you say?” As president, however, this sweet spot cannot last and one of Mr Obama’s biggest tests might come when his poll ratings slip and, as he inevitably will, he occasionally looks a little foolish.

Mr Obama’s inauguration speech contained clear echoes of Mr Kennedy’s 1961 address. The former Massachusetts senator called for patience, telling Americans: “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days.

Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime… But let us begin.”

Mr Kennedy also called Americans to service with the famous exhortation: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country… My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

But Mr Kennedy proved to be a cautious even timid president and, buffeted by events and slowed by a desire to remain popular, Mr Obama might yet be slow to match the fineness of his words with effective action.

Recognising the daunting task ahead of him, Mr Obama told crowds on Monday: “‘Only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now.

“Our nation is at war, our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes. They’re worried about how they’ll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen tables.

“And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future, about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what’s best about this country to our children and their children.”

The fact that the economic crisis erupted in the final days of the Bush administration will allow Mr Obama some respite. The nearly one trillion dollars he will be able to release in economic stimulus funds could pay for many of his campaign spending promises.

But Wednesday, which new White House aides are calling “day one”, will mark the moment when Mr Obama’s uncommon eloquence and ability to encapsulate America’s ills will become mere prologue.

If can overcome the huge challenges that he spoken of so lyrically then greatness awaits him. But other new presidents who have promised to change Washington and usher in a new era have found that events and the limits of the power of the White House have conspired to stifle their dreams.

China May Have Mafia View of Obama Stimulus: “Someday We Break Your Legs”

January 18, 2009

We can learn simple truths from the way the mob or Mafia view things.

That is probably why Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman proposed a $60 million mob museum be included in the Obama stimulus plan.

School economics is one thing.  Street economics is sometimes the same and sometimes different.

The New President and the Congress are now talking about the biggest “rescue” or “stimulus” or “bailout” of the economy in the history of the world.  The deal is financed by “government spending” which is really borrowed money which is debt.

Or we just print more money which means inflation and the money is worthless.

A bank employee counts US dollar bank notes. The euro fell sharply ...

When America borrows, who pays?  First, I guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, China lends the money to the U.S.

China already “owns” as of October, 652.9 billion dollars in US Treasury bonds.

Now President-elect Barack Obama has proposed a stimulus bill expected to total at least 775 billion dollars that he has acknowledged would drive the US deficit significantly higher — and require financing from overseas.

Actually, as  David Gregory said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, the total “bailout” is going to be $2 Trillion from late 2008 until the end of 2009.

And China has already signaled that is may slow the rate of funding U.S. debt, stimulus, rescue and other shenanigans by any name.

Why?  China wants to solve its own economic problems first and China is starting to doubt that American can repay.

Why?  To repay the debt, the average U.S. worker, at some time in the future, will have to earn a lot more and pay a lot more in taxes.  The tax debt per family will exceed $20,000.

But what will Americans DO to earn more?  Make cars at GM?  Hardly. About 70% of our American economy is consumer spending.  So we tax store clerks more?

So, to put this in the most basic terms: the U.S. is borrowing huge amounts of dough from the mafia.  There is some doubt that it can be paid back.  If it doesn’t get paid back the pay-back price will increase.  Finally, if it doesn’t get paid back, “they own you” or “they break your legs.”

So China will own the U.S.

Or break our legs.  Or balls.

Someday, maybe, America will have to make a concession.  Give up some oil?  A chunk of land?  Taiwan?  Guam? Something we really think is important….

Read the rest:
Obama, Congress, Stimulus Mix Overlooks: China’s Slowing US Bond Appetite
.
 U.S. “Bailout” Results Uncertain; But China Says Its Stimulus is Working Already
.
Can The U.S. Pay Back This Huge Debt?
.
 Europeans Deplore Huge Debts, Spending to Solve Current Economic Crisis
.
 Obama Offered Republicans ‘Input’ On Stimulus: But “Oh My God” Is Response To Pelosi Bill
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Obama’s Stimulus: Routine Repairs; Lacks “Power to stir men’s souls”

China’s “Grand Strategy”: U.S. Out Of Asia?

 Will China Play By Global Rules? Maybe Not….

Don’t forget the “toxic bank assets.”

Addressing these assets was the original purpose of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the formal name of the $700 billion bailout plan the Bush administration unveiled as the credit crunch spun out of control. It was later abandoned in favor of taking equity stakes in banks, which was seen as a more direct and rapid way to help.

But as the economy worsens and banks continue to rack up multi-billion dollar losses, the incoming Obama administration will face tough choices in deciding what to do with the $350 billion remaining in the bailout plan. There are many who want a piece of the pie, and there may not be enough money to go around.

From CNN:
http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/16/news/econo
my/Tarp_take2/index.htm?postversion=2009011716

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One critic of the stimulus is Rep. Jerry Lewis from California.
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“We have serious concerns about its size, scope, and astronomical cost,” said Representative Jerry Lewis, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee. “This legislation appears to blanket government programs in spending with little thought toward real economic results, job creation, or respect for the taxpayer.”

The spending plan would add to the $1.2 trillion deficit the government was already projected to run this year.

See:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/2009
0115/pl_bloomberg/atvv00bkoyg

Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, the Godfather.

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From the Associated Press

Barack Obama and his congressional allies are gambling that the largest public spending program since World War II and a new round of tax cuts will pry the economy from the recession’s iron grip and avert another Depression.

But what if they’re wrong?

Some conservative economists say the additional stimulus might only prolong the grief at best, triggering runaway inflation down the road and resulting in an even more bloated bureaucracy.

“I think the economy will recover regardless of what Washington does. But the long-term effect here will be to reduce the standard of living of the next generation because they will be saddled with all this debt,” said Chris Edwards of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

Even without the new spending proposed by Mr. Obama, the U.S. has a $1.2 trillion budget deficit this year, he noted. “If that isn’t already enough of a Keynesian stimulus, what is?”

Early 20th-century British economist John Maynard Keynes argued that government should intervene to avoid depressions by increasing its spending and controlling interest rates. President Franklin D. Roosevelt based many of his New Deal spending initiatives on Keynesian theory.

The skeptics offer this as Exhibit A: The trillions hurled at the problem last year by Congress, the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve have yet to yield many tangible results.

In short order last week, Congress cleared the way for a new $350 billion installment of bailout cash for the financial industry while House Democrats rolled out details of a $825 billion two-year stimulus package.

Allen Sinai, the president of Decision Economics, a financial consulting firm, said even with Mr. Obama’s aggressive spending program, the economy seems unlikely to show a true recovery this year in terms of sustainable gains by consumers and businesses.

“There are forces going on that are 1930s-like,” he said. “There is incredible asset deflation, a huge loss in wealth by households. In the ’30s, even when funds became available from the financial system to borrow, the pessimism by consumers and businesses was so great that no one wanted to spend.” He wouldn’t rule out a repeat of that mind-set.

Some economists who are not fans of Keynesian economics or stimulus packages argue that FDR’s New Deal, highly touted today as a model for job creation, did little to spur a U.S. recovery.

“It was finally World War II that finally ended the Great Depression,” said Bruce Bartlett, a White House economist in the Reagan administration and a top Treasury official in the first Bush administration. He is the author of a study that says nearly all postwar stimulus packages passed by Congress came too late to be of much help, and just increased the deficit and fueled inflation

Mr. Obama shrugs off the skepticism and casts his stimulus package as the right formula for creating long-lasting, well-paying jobs, despite its big cost.

Iran May Be Obama’s Biggest Challenge, No Pakistan, No Hamas and Israel

January 7, 2009

Israel and militant Palestinians are locked in deadly battle in the Middle East, but Iran poses the biggest challenge in the region to the incoming Obama administration, President George W. Bush‘s national security adviser says.

At the same time, the Mideast offers President-elect Barack Obama the greatest opportunity to put his imprint on world affairs, Stephen Hadley said, referring to the need for a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that eluded both Bush and former President Bill Clinton.

Outside the Mideast, it is Pakistan that should command Obama’s keen attention, said Hadley, who has been senior foreign policy adviser to the president for eight years.

By DEB RIECHMANN and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

Hadley, who is always in the shadows and rarely seen by the public, discussed Bush’s two terms and the international challenges — ones he says will not pause for America’s transfer of power in January — during a nearly hourlong interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in his West Wing office. He was also delivering a speech Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He said the Taliban remains a serious threat in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is getting ready to dispatch at least 20,000 extra troops.

“Its fighters have found safe haven across the border in Pakistan, and if the extremists succeed in destabilizing Pakistan, the chaos will threaten peace and progress throughout the region,” he says in remarks prepared for Wednesday. “Stabilizing Pakistan must be the first priority for the new administration.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090107/ap_on_g
o_pr_wh/hadley_interview_4

Biden Chairing Economic Transition Meeting

December 23, 2008

Vice President-elect Joe Biden is on center stage today as his boss is at a much deserved rest in Hawaii….   Biden is chairing an economic transition team meeting….Biden is now defining his role day by day….

Vice President-elect Joe Biden, right, listens as President-elect ... 
Vice President-elect Joe Biden, right, listens as President-elect Barack Obama’s National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers, left, speaks during a meeting in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Vice President-elect Joe Biden will chair a meeting of the presidential transition team’s top economic advisers on Tuesday, as the incoming administration tries to craft and sell an expected $775 billion economic recovery package to Congress, CNN learned.

By Ed Henry at CNN
.
Two Democratic officials told CNN the meeting at the Washington transition headquarters will include Lawrence Summers, President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to chair the National Economic Council — a key policymaking arm within the White House that will formulate the new administration’s financial crisis response.

Biden’s prominent position as chair suggests he will take a leading role in trying to pass the stimulus package. His low profile in recent days had sparked speculation he would be sidelined in the new administration, especially since his strongest asset — foreign policy — will be largely handled by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton.

During the presidential campaign, Biden said he was not seeking any specific task, and would not cut as wide a swath as Vice President Dick Cheney. During a debate, Biden said he would focus as vice president on using his four decades of U.S. Senate experience to help Obama move legislation through Congress.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/2
2/biden.economy/index.html

Related:
 Obama: “Arbiter in Chief”

Joe Biden To Lead White House Task Force on Working Families

December 22, 2008

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week,” Biden said he believes the vice president’s role is to provide “the best, sagest, most accurate, most insightful advice and recommendations he or she can make to a president to help them make some of the very, very important decisions that have to be made.”

On Sunday, Obama’s transition team announced the new “White House Task Force on Working Families” — a major initiative targeted at “raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America.”

Vice President-elect Joe Biden will chair a new task force aimed at helping working families.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden will chair a new task force aimed at helping working families.

Other members of the task force will include the secretaries of labor, health and human services, and commerce, as well as the directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Domestic Policy Counsel, and the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Biden said it’s a “discrete job that’s going to last only for a certain period of time.”

“The one thing that we use as a yardstick of economic success of our administration: Is the middle class growing? Is the middle class getting better? Is the middle class no longer being left behind? And we’ll look at everything from college affordability to after-school programs, the things that affect people’s daily lives. I will be the guy honchoing that policy,” he said.

Biden said he will have the authority to get a consensus among the task force — but will use his relationship with the president if a consensus isn’t reached.

“If in fact there is no consensus, [I’d] go to the president of the United States and say, ‘Mr. President, I think we should be doing this, cabinet member so-and-so thinks that. You’re going to have to resolve what it is we think we should do.’ ”

From Ed Hornick and Josh Levs
CNN

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12
/21/transition.wrap/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Related:

Obama Creates Task Force for Working Families

Biden: “Working Families Czar”
http://atimetochoose.wordpress.com/2008/12/21/bide
n-working-families-czar-how-appropriate/

Obama’s Careful Triangulation

Obama’s New Vision for Vice President Joe Biden

Obama: “Arbiter in Chief”

December 21, 2008

With several senior, experienced foreign policy people at his side, President-elect Barack Obama has done what many of us might do: he has sent two out of the room, kept one and made another a domestic policy chieftain.

Vice President-elect and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joe Biden will run middle class education, training and jobs programs…..

Biden is now a “domestic.”

Former Obama rival Hillary Clinton will be out of the U.S. Senate where she could harass Obama from the sidelines and she is now working for Obama from Foggy Bottom.  This gets Clintons out of the Senate and out of the White House too.  And one false move and Hillary is jobless without even a shot at the Senate again for some time.

The Governor of New York might just replace the experiened Mrs. Clinton with a newby Kennedy; which shouldn’t worry the White House.

And Susan Rice, one of the most experienced and liberal Obama foreign policy aides will be in New York at the U.N. and not in the Oval Office.

Who will be in the Oval with President Obama?  Former Marine Corps General James Jones, the National Security Advisor.  And Rahm Emanuel.  Maybe.

All this will make President Obama the “Arbiter in Chief.”

As Vice President-elect Biden said of his role as an advisor:

“If in fact there is no consensus, [I’d] go to the president of the United States and say, ‘Mr. President, I think we should be doing this, cabinet member so-and-so thinks that. You’re going to have to resolve what it is we think we should do.’ ”

President-elect Barack Obama takes questions from reporters ...
Above: President-elect Barack Obama takes questions from reporters during a news conference in Chicago, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, with, from left to right: Attorney General-designate Eric Holder; Homeland Security Secretary-designate Janet Napolitano; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Vice President-elect Joe Biden; Secretary of State-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; National Security Adviser-designate Ret. Marine Gen. James Jones; and United Nations Ambassador-designate Susan Rice.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Iran: We Have Best Plan for UN Consideration

December 15, 2008

An Iranian lawmaker said here [in Tehran] Sunday that the talks on Iran’s proposed package is the best solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

“Negotiations within the framework of Iran’s proposed package is the best solution to Iran’s nuclear dispute,” head of Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi told reporters.

“Recognized principles of the UN nuclear watchdog and the Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the framework provided by the two sides’ proposed packages are the best possible solution,” Boroujerdi was quoted as saying.

He made the remarks when asked about the European Union (EU) Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana’s statements concerning the hope to meet Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in near future.              

Solana in mid-June presented to Iran a new package of incentives proposed by six major powers, including Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, suggesting that Iran get a temporary reprieve from economic and financial sanctions in exchange for freezing its enrichment activities.

However, Iran’s government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said that the country would reject any nuclear deal offered by major world powers that demands a suspension of its uranium enrichment.

Iran’s failure to answer the new package in a way expected by the West, reasoning that Iran’s answer will be based on logical and constructive answers to Iran’s already-proposed package to the Westerners which is aimed to help resolve regional and international problems including Iran’s nuclear issue, disappointed the West.

The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program.

Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

–Xinhua