Archive for April, 2009

The Emerging Obama Doctrine

Every President has a doctrine regarding foreign policy. As we mark President Obama’s first 100 days, I am thinking of this today, since it has been a subject which has fascinated me because of the legacy it leaves behind. It’s created by initial, overt actions and later formalized by statements and then long after their term however it tends to haunt the President’s entire reputation far beyond their term in office. Of course, Obama has not quite yet defined his doctrine but it is taking shape and I am sure it will be one of engagement and negotiation.

I think it can be best imagined by this quote posted on The Prospect which began evaluating what his foreign policy doctrine might look like one year ago.

“I don’t want to just end the war,” he said, “but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.”

By contrast, the Bush Doctrine was defensive as could be, focused on “preemptive strikes against potential enemies and promoting democratic regime change”. This got us into big trouble in the past because it was too idealogically focused on myopic American Values. Bush Doctrine.

The Clinton Doctrine seems to be less formal, and of a different sort of intervention, a humanitarian one. Perhaps meaningless today in the retrospective view of our lack of response to Rwanda.

It’s easy … to say that we really have no interests in who lives in this or that valley in Bosnia, or who owns a strip of brushland in the Horn of Africa, or some piece of parched earth by the Jordan River. But the true measure of our interests lies not in how small or distant these places are, or in whether we have trouble pronouncing their names. The question we must ask is, what are the consequences to our security of letting conflicts fester and spread. We cannot, indeed, we should not, do everything or be everywhere. But where our values and our interests are at stake, and where we can make a difference, we must be prepared to do so.

The G.W. Bush Doctrine was clearly one of containment.

The policy of containment, first outlined by diplomat George Kennan in “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” represented the second pillar of U.S. foreign policy. It argued for the use of diplomacy backed by sufficient strength in conventional military forces to protect U.S. interests and prevent the USSR from expanding its realm of influence. (See Thematic Essay: History of American Foreign Policy.)

Today it is not that different a world with N. Korea and Pakistan pushing the envelope regarding nuclear proliferation and we still have exposure in Dafur.

So far, Obama hits somewhere in-between. How to help people without starting a war with a country who aims to exploit the situation for their own benefit and who does not value its own citizens. On top of these sparks, places like Iran and N. Africa which are unstable, we must consider the impact of China as a member of the U.N. Security Council. I don’t think this helps anyone with humanitarian intentions since they are behind the times, as a rapidly and squirrely developing nation and whom we treat with preferred nation status.

Yet, I am confident because Obama is not cowering from these issues, and he is aware of them. He’s not gettin’ all Texas on them either. I just hope what he has done so far in outreach prevents a reactive desperate default regarding his doctrine, like some in the past, and that he can continue to shape it gradually and diplomatically so that it accurately reflects the work he intends to do and seems quite equiped to handle.

If Nagin had a Doctrine it would be be, “Pull one over on the people of New Orleans, collect a huge salary, run up a lot of floral delivery bills and high-priced lunches, sign on all my unqualified friends as contractors for no documented outcomes, while travelling to other cities and embarrass residents with my racist comments and do as little as is humanly possible to actually help rebuilding.”


Jazzfest 2009

Can I just say? Most hilarious JazzFest photo I’ve seen so far. In fact, it’s hilarious with or without jazz. [via my friend Jeremy]

Nagin asks Bush to let "Big O" off the hook

Well now New Orleans and America knows the reason New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has been fighting the public release of his work e-mails.  Or maybe one of the reasons. WWL-TV reported Tuesday evening the Mayor Nagin sent former President Bush a letter in December 2008 asking the President to consider a presidential pardon of former New Orleans City Councilman and convicted criminal Oliver Thomas.

Mr. Thomas was convicted of malfeasance in office for accepting a bribe dealing with ciy parking contracts. The total sum was said to be $15,000. In Mayor Nagin’s letter, he states that was a relatively small amount of money. Hmmmm I think many people would consider that more than a small amount.

Of course, Mayor Nagin can ask former President Bush for anything. Pardon’s or whatever. But it becomes a problem when the Mayor of a city with as many issues and problems as this city has, is asking for relief for a guy who stole money. While he was a elected official in the same city you are supposedly rebuilding. It would seem to be just a little crass to try and get a guy out of jail who accepts bribes and kickbacks when the city you were elected to run is receiving millions upon millions of dollars from the federal government. But that’s just me and I like to think I have some moral compass that tells me what is right and what is wrong. Maybe Mayor Nagin’s compass is stuck on S as in stupid.

Louisiana Oyster Jubilee


C’mon down to the Quarter this weekend for the Louisiana Roadfood Festival. Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 7pm on Royal Street, tons will be going on including the World’s Longest Oyster Po’Boy. Music of course will be on hand both days, up and down Royal Street, including Loose Marbles, Lee Floyd Trio and the Doreen Letchens Jazz Band.No charge for the event, but bring some cash cause you will want to taste some of these offerings:

Meat Pies, Crawfish Pies, Fried Catfish, White Beans, Creole Hot Sausage Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Shrimp Remolaude Po’Boys, Gumbo, Smoked Turkey Legs, Cochon de Lait Po’Boy, Red Beans, Alligator Ettoufee, plus tons of sweets, think pralines, snowballs etc…

Proceeds from the food go to the participating restaurants, including Cafe Reconcile

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