Tag Archives: nixon

Clinton clinches nomination after 24 years as national political figure

Hillary Clinton isn't the first woman to run for president in the United States, but she is the first to be nominated by a major party. (Facebook)
Hillary Clinton isn’t the first woman to run for president in the United States, but she is the first to be nominated by a major party. (Facebook)

This is a very good piece, and Hillary Clinton’s nomination is of course a milestone that means that, long after many other democratic countries in the world, the United States has, for the first time, a real chance to elect its first female president.USflag

From Victoria Woodhull in 1872 (whose running mate was Frederick Douglass) to Shirley Chisholm in 1972 to Pat Schroder in 1988 to Carol Moseley Braun in 2004, there’s a long line of credible women who have challenged for the presidency, and Clinton’s accomplishment builds upon the stepping stones that they laid down (not least of all her own run for the presidency in 2008).

But without denying this moment’s importance, what’s even more fascinating to me is that someone who has been at the center of American political life for 24 years (I’m not counting over a decade as Arkansas’s first lady), with a record, warts and all, in the first Clinton administration, eight years in the US Senate and four years at State has won a major-party nomination.

The trend, increasingly, has been rapid-fire rises to the top from people who seemingly come out of nowhere. Barack Obama. In a way, George W. Bush, too. Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton. Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico, Justin Trudeau in Canada, Tony Blair and David Cameron in Britain. There’s just something undeniably attractive about a ‘shiny new toy’ in electoral politics.

Whatever else, Hillary Clinton is not a shiny new toy. Continue reading Clinton clinches nomination after 24 years as national political figure

Obama doctrine: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’ Or, as we call it, ‘realism.’


Foreign policy analysts are fawning over US president Barack Obama’s commencement address today at West Point, many of whom argue that it marks the most definitive summary of the ‘Obama doctrine,’ whatever that may be, of his second term — and maybe even his entire administration.USflag

Max Fisher at Vox proclaimed it one of the most anti-war doctrines in US history in decades. I don’t mean to focus on Fisher in particular but is that really true?

Obama outlined many of the themes that have long marked his approach to foreign policy:

 “America must always lead on the world stage,” he said. “But U.S. military action cannot be the only – or even primary – component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.” Under pressure from critics who say the United States has been rudderless amid a cascade of crises, the president said that those who “suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.”

Obama also announced a new $5 billion fund designed to help allies in the Middle East and Africa fight radical terrorists, and he pointed to the ways in which the United States can assist countries deal with the burdens of the influx of refugees in countries like Lebanon and Iraq. He defended the notion that the United States could provide a constructive role in solving some of the world’s most vexing international hot spots without necessarily committing to military force — including Syria’s ongoing civil war and Ukraine’s recent turmoil.

Despite the polished address, The New York Times reports a clearer version of Obama’s vision on the basis of private conversations and previous addresses:

On a trip to Asia last month, Mr. Obama described his foreign policy credo with a baseball analogy: “You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.” But, he added, the overriding objective is to avoid an error on the order of the Iraq war. In private conversations, the president has used a saltier variation of the phrase, “don’t do stupid stuff” – brushing aside as reckless those who say the United States should consider enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria or supplying arms to Ukrainian troops.

There’s already a name for what Obama has described: realism, or if you like, neorealism. And it’s nothing new. It’s been a pillar of mainstream US foreign policy since at least World War II. You could easily imagine the same themes from Obama’s speech today in any speech from just about any US president, Republican or Democratic, in the last seven decades. Continue reading Obama doctrine: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’ Or, as we call it, ‘realism.’

Photo of the Day: Henry Kissinger meets Li Keqiang


So this is pretty amazing.China Flag Icon

Henry Kissinger, the U.S. secretary of state and national security adviser who paved the way for U.S. president Richard M. Nixon’s historic visit in February 1972 and thereafter, the normalization of U.S.-Chinese relations, met with Li Keqiang (李克强), the new premier of the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday:

[Li] said China is willing to work with the US to develop an unprecedented type of relationship in order to allow both sides to benefit from bilateral cooperation and play their due roles in maintaining world peace.

Kissinger highlighted the vital importance of US-China relations in promoting world peace and development, suggesting that both sides should work on long-term planning and strengthen communication to foster ties.

It must have been quite a stunning chat, considering that the current ‘Fifth Generation’ of leadership is essentially four generations of Chinese governance removed from the generation that Kissinger and Nixon encountered — Chinese premier Zhao Enlai (周恩来) and Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong (毛泽东).  Like him or love him, Kissinger remains one of the top old-school Sinologists in the United States, writing at age 89 a new book, On China, just last year.  When Nixon visited China, Li was just 17 years old.  The change that China has seen in the ensuing 41 years is one of the most amazing transformations of any human society in such a short period of time.

More background here on Li from my seven-part series from November 2012 on the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (中国共产党).  Li speaks fluent English; unlike many of his colleagues on the Standing Committee, he is a protégé of Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) and unlike Chinese president Xi Jinping (习近平), Li is not a princeling.  An economic reformer, Li served as the Party secretary of Henan province previously, and he’s emphasized since becoming premier that his chief tasks will be to roll back Chinese government spending in favor of private sector development, corruption and the massive size of Chinese government bureaucracy, and tackling the growing gap between China’s rich and poor.