And it can be said that - for all the talk of "change" - his ever "changing" promises and positions are more typical of the status quo politician... hungry for power and willing to say anything to the electorate to get it, or maintain it. Obama just happens to say it better than most, artfully dodging direct questions while dazzling the more gullible with flowery, lofty phrases of "hope".
Starting first with my favorite foreign policy strategist and analyst, Ray Robison, and his Feb 28th article at American Thinker, "Interventionism, Obama Style".
Of late, Obama has sung a decidedly non interventionist tune. But it wasn't always so. The senator sounded quite hawkish just a few years ago in 2005,when he urged military intervention in the Darfur conflict. Senator Obama coauthored an op-ed piece for the Washington Post in which he lauded the Bush Administration for trying to end that conflict, a fight that has little to do with US national security. He urged an escalation, a surge if you will, of American diplomatic and military support to end the humanitarian crises created by ethnic-religious conflict. He wrote, "It has become clear that a U.N. - or NATO-led force is required" to end escalating violence in Sudan.
However he did not say US forces should be in direct combat roles. So what exactly did he mean?
The Senator continued to push for stronger outside military involvement in the Sudan civil war in late 2006. He told the Chicago Sun-Times "my overarching sense is the great urgency to get a United Nations protective force on the ground."
Gwen Ifill asked the Senator to clarify his position on what the US should commit to in Sudan:
I'll turn this question to Sen. Obama, if NATO gets involved, does that increase the chances that there will be US troops involved on the ground?
Senator Obama's response is just shocking:
Well, I don't think that the issue right now is US troops. The issue is US leadership.
In the interim, having NATO forces there that could be supplied by some of the middle powers, Canada, Australia, others that have experience in peacekeeping would be absolutely crucial.
Evidently, what Senator Obama wanted was for the US to demonstrate leadership by pressuring our allies to conduct a mission to which he wasn't prepared to commit our own forces. It might be understandable if he were talking about just the African or regional forces already involved. But no, he specifically said we should demand that our NATO allies risk their soldier's lives while we were going to sit it out.
Perhaps BHO forgets he is running for the US Commander in Chief. Not the NATO Supreme Allied Commander. Rather cocky are these promises to allocate other nation's military into action.
A few points about Obama, NATO and Darfur. His is an absurd proposition considering that the majority of NATO forces *are* US troops, subservient to UN/NATO leaders. Add to that, the AU has been refusing UN/NATO military intervention in Darfur since the inception of violence. Meanwhile, the UNSC lives up to it's do-nothing reputation by refusing to label the event as genocide - a word that mandates int'l military action.
Lastly, if you ever want a military mission to fail, implementing rules of engagement that are tandamount to "Hours: 9 to 5 weekdays, weekends off, no night shifts and ample snow days", then by all means... DO call UN/NATO. UN peacekeepers have "bugged out" of countless battlefields.... Rwanda comes prominately to mind. Can't blame 'em... Hang, with their rules of engagement, they might as well embroider a bullseye on the back of NATO uniforms.
But Obama often exhibits memory retention (or complete historical ignorance) on foreign policy. Personally I've been ranting about lack of UN/NATO action in Darfur since the fall/winter of 2004 thru Feb 2005. Obama, however, said nothing. But we can perhaps excuse him. He was newly elected to the Senate, and anxious to arrive in DC so that three months later, he could start his "Hope Fund" and pave his way to the Oval Office in 2008. The boy obviously had other things on his mind, and didn't pay Darfur much mind... until it was made the latest trend in celebrity causes later in the year, that is.
UPDATED CLARIFICATION: BHO concern's INRE Darfur becomes visible about the same time the US Congress started paying more attention.. in the summer of 2005. BHO was one of 38 cosponsors to San Brownback's (R-KS) July 2005's S1462, the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. The House version, introduced by Henry Hyde (R-IL) the month before was the bill that became law... eventually... over a year, and the deaths of thousands, later in Oct 2006. Ahhh... the speed at which our Congress moves when people are dying just boggles the mind, yes?
This US legislation has, of course, done nothing to curb the ongoing genocide and tribal battles. I guess those visa restrictions and trade boycotts just don't mean much to Muslim tribal leaders and corrupt governments. Nor has the US law prodded a reluctant int'l community and the UN into action.
For all Obama's Kenya/African roots, it's interesting that both House and Senate versions of the bill that became law were introduced by GOP elected ins. Nor can he lay any particular moral claim to the legislation. 38 cosponsors in the Senate, and 162 cosponsors in the House. One can safely say that Darfur was not foremost on Obama's mind in his first Senate year.
Adding to Robison's interventionism call is my own label of Obama's "cowboy policy" towards Pakistan. A stated unilateral policy with "actionable intelligence" on Bin Laden's whereabouts against a rare Middle East ally where he rejects (or would that be renounce?) the "bomb" word, and prefers to stand on the vaguaries of the word "act".
I'm pretty darned unclear about what "action" constitutes if not military action... meaning bombs or boots on the ground. Perhaps BHO thinks he can entice Bin Laden out with a Mickey D's Happy Meal. Who knows. Then again, I'm pretty darn unclear about most of Obama's stated goals, save his quest for socialism in the US.
Then, of course, there is his "change" about Iraq. Statements there place him about knee deep in his own excrement with his "reserve the right" to go back in if AQ is forming a base there, on the heels of his promises to beat a hasty retreat after being sworn in. Huh? Geez... even Angelina Jolie sees the idiocy of squandering the progress made by leaving the Iraqis before they are stable enough to care for themselves.
Needless to say, for a guy who says the US is in desperate need of winning the hearts of minds of our enemies, he sure knows how to instead fuel the fire of hatred and distrust of our current allies. After thoroughly PO'ing Pakistan with his "cowboy policy", promising to leave the fledgling Iraqi gov't high and dry, he then states his utter rejection (or would that be renouncement?) of NAFTA at the latest debates.
Needless to say, Canada is not pleased with either of the DNC candidates' rhetoric, but one official states an Obama campaign advisor told the Canadian ambassador not to worry... it's just campaign talk. A story that, just mere hours later was officially contradicted and denied by another in the Canadian foreign ministry.
Obama has been notably mum on clarifying the conflicting reports. On Feb 28th, the campaign did a blurb on his "Know the Facts" page on the website, using the story about the Canadian embassy denial of contact (via Politico) as his response. News stories aside, the mud remains. Did a campaign staffer have this conversation with Canadian officials? Or not?
The contradiction and doubt intensifies as today brings news of a memo that surfaced from that meeting with Goolsbee, written by Joseph DeMora (who works for the Canadian consulate in Chicage).
The memo obtained by the AP was widely distributed within the Canadian government. It is more than 1,300 words and covers many topics that DeMora said were discussed in the Feb. 8 "introductory meeting" between himself, Goolsbee and the consul general in Chicago, Georges Rioux.
Goolsbee "was frank in saying that the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy," the memo's introduction said. "On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favour of strengthening/clarifying language on labour mobility and environment and trying to establish these as more `core' principles of the agreement."
Goolsbee is now accusing the Canadian officials of "misinterpreting" his meeting with them about Obama's NAFTA position. In the meantime, Obama is playing down that controversial meeting:
Obama spokesman Bill Burton was also on the line when Goolsbee spoke to the Associated Press on Sunday, apparently to help Goolsbee explain what happened. Burton told the Associated Press that Goolsbee's visit to the Canadian consulate was not official -- that Goolsbee was there as a private citizen, not as an emissary from the Obama campaign.
Let me see if I have this straight...
Version 1: BHO has a campaign mouthpiece attend a meeting on Feb 8th, 2008 at the Canadian consulate in Chicago, in an unofficial capacity, presenting views that counteract his public NAFTA bashing as "political maneuvering" so that they understand he really isn't protectionist? In which case, Obama is playing the US electorate as fools with deliberate lies.
Version 2: Obama really believes NAFTA is bad for the US, and will do something about it. In which case his unofficial campaign mouthpiece was lying thru his teeth to Canada, and Obama is busy burning bridges to allies worse than the Bush WH could ever have done.
Ahhh, the games pols play.
All I can say is the only "changes" we'll be seeing with an Obama admin is a newer, fresher, and far more naive political face with better diction.