Chip off the ol’ blocks

bush bush bush
Pick a Bush, any Bush.

 

Speaking to Michigan’s party faithful at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference over the weekend, Jeb Bush made his critics’ case for them.

Riffing on his foreign policy credentials, and arguing that the next president will need to foster international peace, he said:

I know how to do this because, yes, I am a Bush.

Jeb has spent a lot of time arguing that despite the family name he’s his own man. Which I guess is plausible if you ignore the family’s big donors and all those holdovers from his brother’s and father’s administrations in top policy positions in his campaign. (For example, 19 of 21 of Jeb’s foreign policy advisers worked for one George or the other or both, including Paul Wolfowitz and Stephen Hadley, chief architects of W’s war in Iraq.)

Having declared in last week’s debate that his brother “kept us safe” while 9/11 happened on his watch, Jeb has apparently decided to embrace rather than run from his family’s legacy, especially on foreign policy, Iraq War I, Iraq War II, 9/11, Afghanistan, and all. This could finally signal that the candidate has figured out how to respond to questions about the family business he’s hoping to inherit.

As campaign communications go, his Mackinac declaration has the virtue of being short, succinct, to-the-point, even kind of high-energy. “Yes, I am a Bush,” will sound great in a campaign ad.

A Hillary Clinton ad.

Iran deal: Now even more official (with an update)

iran-deal-cartoon-luckovich

With four more Senate Democrats announcing their support for the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, Republicans will not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster of their resolution disapproving the agreement.  Not that objections from Congress would have made much of a difference in any course:

For all the drama leading up to this week’s debate, the other five world powers who helped negotiate the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — have made clear they have no desire to return to the bargaining table, and are likely to ease sanctions against Iran and put the agreement in place regardless of the view ultimately expressed by Congress.

Of course none of this stops the political posturing either in Congress (not that the lack of congressional GOP buy-in for any of Obama’s foreign policy initiatives really matters much) or from amongst the ranks of presidential contenders.

Just as Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton (well, front-runner everywhere but New Hampshire …) announced her support for the deal this morning, opponents were making plans for a rally at the Capitol later today featuring such foreign policy heavyweights as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck.

Luckily Dick Cheney has resurfaced to offer a fresh alternative to diplomacy, a new Mideast war, backed up by a master class in how not to learn from the past.

“[T]here are lessons from the past on which we can draw,” Cheney declared. He then cited Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor; the Gulf War, in which the U.S. destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program; the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Cheney said convinced Libya to abandon its nuclear program; and Israel’s 2007 attack on a nuclear reactor in Syria. “In each of these cases,” Cheney argued, “it was either military action or the credible threat of military action that persuaded these rogue regimes to abandon their weapons programs. Iran will not be convinced to abandon its program peacefully unless it knows it will face military action if it refuses to do so.”

Of course Cheney fails to articulate how to make threats of military action — like the ones Obama has already made — any more credible without actually going to war. Nor does he manage to explain how such threats failed to stop the Iranians from advancing to the edge of nuclear capability under his watch.

Perhaps he’ll show up at the rally today to spell it all out for us slow learners.


Update

We may never find out if those 42 Senate Democrats really support the deal now that conservative Republicans in the House have blocked a vote in that chamber. Reuters reports this afternoon:

A rebellion by conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday delayed the first congressional vote on the nuclear agreement with Iran and raised the possibility that lawmakers might never vote on a resolution disapproving of the pact.

The House was supposed to vote on a procedural motion to begin debate on Wednesday, but it was put off after some Republicans said they wanted to push President Barack Obama to provide more information about the deal.

The rebel Republicans, led by Representative Peter Roskam, said the Obama administration had not provided all the information about the deal required under the IranNuclear Review Act. They said it includes “secret side deals” about inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities that have not been fully revealed.

The White House dismissed that suggestion.

“If Congress does not vote, this agreement goes into effect. It’s as simple as that,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

For the life of me I can’t figure out what the Republican game is here.

 

It’s official, the deal will stand

iran deal

This morning Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) announced that she will support the agreement reached with Iran curtailing it’s development of nuclear weapons technology.  With 34 votes in hand, Pres. Obama now has enough support to veto any bill coming out of Congress that would reject the deal.

This is being hailed as a major foreign policy win for Obama. At Politico the headline reads: “Obama prevails on Iran deal.” At Slate, the headline is: “The Iran Deal Will Survive. Now It’s Just Politics.” The New York Times has, “Obama Clinches Vote to Secure Iran Nuclear Deal,” while The Atlantic headlines the story with “Obama Seals the Iran Deal.”

By now, if you are one of the two or three people (shout-outs to my wife and my dad) that read my blog with any regularity, you know that I’ve written before about my support for the agreement with Iran first here and more recently here.  I don’t want to rehash any of that now, but I do want to say a few words related to the cartoon above.

It’s pretty simple: If you want an agreement to stick, if you want the parties to abide by the commitments they’ve made, it is far better for them to walk away from the table thinking they have won than for one or the other to believe that they’ve been taken to the cleaners.

Parties that walk away from the table thinking they’ve won do so with the implicit understanding that the deal satisfies their interests. And a deal that satisfies your interests is a deal that you will hold to. This is a deal you won’t try to subvert or undermine.  As I tell my students when I teach negotiation and bargaining, the win-win outcome is the holy grail of settlements.  These are the agreements that persist and deliver on their promise.

If we’re lucky, that’s the kind of deal that’s been made with Iran.

Scott Walker has a message for the world

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Scott Walker leaves the Citadel after his first major foreign policy speech last Friday.

 

Scott Walker was down in South Carolina last week to give a major speech on foreign policy, an area in which his credentials have been questioned. To be fair, this is nothing new. After all, what governor can claim any real meaningful expertise when it comes to foreign relations?

Ok, besides Sarah Palin and that view of Russia from her front porch. Or G.W. Bush with all that Mexico right next door.

Anyway, while Walker’s speech before an audience of cadets at the Citadel (all members of the military academy’s Republican Society, by the way) was a little light on actual policy specifics, he did deploy the rhetorical heavy artillery:

As president, I will send the following message: The retreat is over. American leadership is back. American leadership is back and, together with our allies, we will not surrender another inch of ground to terrorists or any other power that threatens our safety.

America will not be intimidated. And neither will I.

He continued:

Are we safer now than we were seven years ago? Anyone who believes the answer to that question is yes should vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Sadly, I believe the answer is no, America is not safer. Since Secretary Clinton took charge of our nation’s diplomacy, we’ve abandoned American leadership in the world, forgotten that America is an exceptional country, and lost faith in America’s ability to influence world events.

Stirring words for sure. But it turns out that the version of the speech that Walker, famous for speaking without the aid of a teleprompter, delivered was very different from the prepared draft of his remarks. As luck would have it, I came across the original text.

So, in the interests of no-retreat, won’t-be-intimidated, world-influencing, exceptional leadership, I want to share with you the original. Conveniently set to music …