Archive for February 27th, 2012

Daily Glimpse February 27, 2012

Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height

  • Pals to Egypt, Israel: Let’s You And Him Fight
    Strategy Page: If Egypt went to war with Israel, the Palestinians would benefit. Obviously, these folks have ignored the lessons of history. If the Egyptian army goes after Israel, the Egyptians will be defeated. Gaza, caught in the middle, will be seriously damaged. But all that would be declared another Palestinian victory, and that’s what [...]
  • Safire Channeled Nixon. Ledeen Channels Angleton…
    Spengler channels Richelieu.  With a nice Chelm reference at the end.
  • China Leaves Krugman, Friedman Out On A Limb
    Walter Russell Mead: In particular the report calls for a shift away from large state owned enterprises to private firms if the economy is to continue to grow. This will come as a profound shock to so many in the developing world and even in the US who think that the Chinese have discovered a [...]
  • Extend And Pretend Coming To An End
    Zerohedge.  I think he goes wildly over the top, especially at the end.  And I don’t think Armageddon is nigh.  But the numbers are of concern, and his basic point is worth remembering – a lot of these commercial real estate loans are still heavily-leveraged, and we’re operating with a lot less margin, making a [...]
  • Teller Reveals His Secrets
    The neuroscience of magic: 2. Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth. You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from [...]
  • AP IMPACT: Lender’s own probe links it to suicides
    I thought this sort of thing only happened in grubby capitalist assembly plants like Apple’s in China.  Who knew that trendy lefty ideas could be infected by it, too? More than 200 poor, debt-ridden residents of Andhra Pradesh killed themselves in late 2010, according to media reports compiled by the government of the south Indian [...]
  • Iraq’s Lesson for Iran
    Hoping we won’t call their bluff.
  • Chief Justice: Iowa Supreme Court Stronger After 2010 Ousters
    Maybe: “It was quite destructive in many ways,” Cady said during a taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press.” “We got through it. It has made us much stronger, and our resolve is strong.” Cady said the justices have tried to make their work more visible by hearing cases throughout Iowa, which is [...]
  • India’s Global Image: Overseas Investors Tired Of The Unbridled Corruption
    This is one area where India really is an outlier in the Anglosphere. So, if we leave the foreign investment in markets out of the big picture for now, then the answer is no, no foreign investor of the serious kind is very concerned about India’s macroeconomics at the moment. Cutting deficits and balancing budgets [...]
  • Concerning Those Burned Qu’rans At Bagram Air Base
    Captain’s Journal: A second official said that local religious leaders who came to look at the damaged material as part of an investigation into the incident were “shocked by what they saw.” Pages of the Korans contained many handwritten messages and in some cases printed notes were found inside the books. This official described the [...]
  • Democratic Governors Discuss Bypassing Congress With Obama
    According to The Hill: Gov. Jack Markell, the Democratic governor of Delaware and the vice chairman of the National Governors Association, told The Hill that the meeting was “very good” and said many of the governors were responsive to ideas about bypassing Congress. “There was a sense that none of us should wait, we can’t [...]
  • Invest, Innovate, Educate
    Walter Russell Mead on why primary and secondary education have been so resistant to innovation, and what to do about it: Unfortunately, venture capitalists are staying out of the K-12 education market in droves. The world’s central bankers are printing money as fast as they can, there is more capital floating around the world system [...]
  • Boko Haram Suicide Bomber Attacks Nigerian Church
    I’m sure we’ll see a lot about the reprisals, though.
  • Israel To Sell Weapons To Azerbaijan
    Via the new online publication, The Times Of Israel: Israel has agreed to sell Azerbaijan military technology, including drone airplanes, in a deal reportedly worth $1.4 billion. The Caucasus nation, which borders Iran, will receive planes, drones and an advanced missile defense system. The country has recently found itself caught between Israel and Iran as [...]
  • “Gain Peace?” Not As Long As CAIR Is Involved
    Abigail Esman has the scoop: In itself, this is fully understandable and would be laudable — were it not for the fact that among the schools of Islam Gain Peace defends is one which stands against American democratic values. Worse, the organization the Times cites (again) on the issue — and who supports the Gain [...]
  • The Spread Of Dependency
    The NY Times has an interactive graph. The unemployment benefits measure is more cyclical, and 2009 happened to correspond to recovery from a recession, which none of the previous years (1969, 1979, 1989, 1999) did.  But the rest of the chart is both illuminating and depressing.  Colorado remains stunningly less dependent than other places, but [...]
  • These Are The PIIGS; These Are The PIIGS On Drugs
    It’s not just banks who can’t collect: This whole story blows me away. I’m not surprised that the bankrupt PIGS are late payers. But three-years? That’s ridiculous. If the PIGS are stiffing drug companies, who else are they stiffing? Are they paying for the oil they use? Food? How big are these trade IOUs?  
  • Buffett 2012 Annual Letter
    Ira Stoll has some questions: Third, Mr. Buffett announces in a backhanded way that the Berkshire board has chosen his successor. But he doesn’t name the successor, only giving clues to trigger a kind of cutesy guessing game: “Your Board is equally enthusiastic about my successor as CEO, an individual to whom they have had [...]
  • Fairness and Freedom
    Tyler Cowen reads David Hackett Fisher’s latest. From his comments, I suppose admirers of each will find their biases confirmed; DHF is one of my favorite serious historical writers, and while he tends towards the left, he rarely picks and chooses freely or unfairly.
  • The Insanity of Health Insurance
    Employers are just the wrong conduit: It is insane that we get our health care from our employers. That happens because we have given a tax advantage to in-kind compensation such as health care. It’s a horrible idea and it leads people to complain about our employers deciding what health care we can receive. Our [...]
  • Spending on Energy in 2011 Was Lowest Since ’98
    People paying less, and also driving less: The downward trend in both series would also suggest that higher gasoline prices in 2012 would have less of an impact on consumers than in past years. Maybe, but I think people are already cutting vacation driving, and seeing that as a cut in their standard of living. [...]
  • The Renaissance of American Manufacturing
    and The New Reallocation of Global Manufacturing Hal Sirkin of the Boston Consulting Group discusses the rebirth of manufacturing that is underway in the U.S., partly because of the erosion of China’s manufacturing cost advantages, especially for wages, which has started bringing manufacturing production and jobs back to the U.S., reversing a decade-long trend of outsourcing [...]
  • Oscar Night II
    Hollywood Cinemetrics, 2007-2011

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Exactly Whom Is Our Secretary of State Representing?

From the Washington Examiner’s Joel Gehrke, a report on Attempted Public Diplomacy by our Secretary of State the other day in Tunisia:

QUESTION: My name is Ivan. After the electoral campaign starts in the United States – it started some time ago – we noticed here in Tunisia that most of the candidates from the both sides run towards the Zionist lobbies to get their support in the States. And afterwards, once they are elected, they come to show their support for countries like Tunisia and Egypt for a common Tunisian or a common Arab citizen. How would you reassure and gain his trust again once given the fact that you are supporting his enemy as well at the same time?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say you will learn as your democracy develops that a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention. There are comments made that certainly don’t reflect the United States, don’t reflect our foreign policy, don’t reflect who we are as a people. I mean, if you go to the United States, you see mosques everywhere, you see Muslim Americans everywhere. That’s the fact. So I would not pay attention to the rhetoric.

Secondly, I would say watch what President Obama says and does. He’s our President. He represents all of the United States, and he will be reelected President, so I think that that will be a very clear signal to the entire world as to what our values are and what our President believes. So I think it’s a fair question because I know that – I sometimes am a little surprised that people around the world pay more attention to what is said in our political campaigns than most Americans, say, are paying attention. So I think you have to shut out some of the rhetoric and just focus on what we’re doing and what we stand for, and particularly what our President represents.

The first problem, the one where she acts as a partisan advocate for the President, she’s already admitted was a mistake: “My enthusiasm for the President got a little out of hand.”  I’ll say.  I realize the days of politics stopping at the shoreline are long gone, and have been at least since Ted Kennedy tried to cut a deal with the Soviets to defeat Ronald Reagan in the Presidential elections, and Jimmy Carter circulated a letter begging UN Security Council members to vote against President George H.W. Bush’s efforts to liberate Kuwait.  Nevertheless, I was operating under the quaint assumption that the Secretary of State represented the country, not her political party, when she traveled overseas.

The second problem is much more substantive.  Tunisians might well understand a personal loyalty from the Secretary of State, they’re more likely to attach significance to foreign policy pronouncements.  Her answer, roughly translated into English, is, “Don’t worry about what gets said in the campaign.  There’s a lot of pandering to small, specific lobbies.  We’re not really all that supportive of Israel.”

If she felt the need to be non-committal, there are about 100 ways she could have done that.  But what about an answer that defends not only the interests of the United States, but the good sense of the American people, and the interests of our allies, as well?  Something like:

Well, you have to understand that the American people as a whole, not just particular lobbies, feel a sympathy towards Israel, for its democracy, and its success in defending itself against enemies.  Naturally, we hope that that era is coming to an end, and Israel and her neighbors can live in peace.  but

Rather than defining your interests in opposition to Israel, perhaps you should look to them as a model in some ways.  It, too, is a small country, whose primary resource is the creativity of its own diverse population.  After all, your question implies an interest in our own democratic process for how we select leaders and how that affects policy, so it’s clear that Tunisians would like to develop a stable, lasting free system of their own.  And I think the Arab Spring could learn a lot from a close neighbor who also wants close relations.

I realize it’s much more fun to engage in “Smart Diplomacy,” but how about mastering actual, basic diplomacy first.  That starts with not accepting all the premises of a hostile question.

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