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The Stakes
October 14, 2008 12:34 AM   Subscribe

The Stakes, 2008. Eight of the Washington Monthly's contributing editors "consider the looming challenges that America is likely to face—in the economy, education, the courts, and other areas—during an Obama or McCain presidency, and how, based on what we know about the two men, they are likely to handle them."

Also in the Washington Monthly: The Grand Bargain: Five presidents have treated Iran as a threat. The next needs to think of it as an opportunity.
posted by homunculus (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got this one completely wrong. I read "The Stakes" and incorrectly assumed that this post involved stabbing a wooden stake into the heart of a bloodsucking vampire.

When I found out that the post actually involved global geopolitics instead of vampires I was greatly relieved.

There have been way too many vampire posts lately.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:48 AM on October 14, 2008


It doesn't look like we need to waste time thinking about a McCain presidency.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:06 AM on October 14, 2008


It does look like someone is underestimating Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
posted by clearly at 2:22 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you're feeling confident, please feel free to click here and register to volunteer. They could really use your positive, confident energy to spread the word among the good citizens of neighboring states who might still be on the fence. You can even do it on the phone from the comfort of your own home while scanning MeFi for talking points.

I can assure you that no one in either campaign thinks this is over. Not even close.
posted by ivanosky at 2:25 AM on October 14, 2008


On Obama's technology policy:

"He [Obama] suggested that the government create the post of national “chief technical officer.”

...I would like to nominate Nick Burns.
posted by clearly at 2:31 AM on October 14, 2008


Noonan, York, Toobin And Others Take Aim At McCain
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:39 AM on October 14, 2008


ivanosky: I would love to volunteer! Can you please send me a round-trip ticket? Heathrow only, please. Gatwick is a dump.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:47 AM on October 14, 2008


There have been way too many vampire posts lately.

Sorry to burst your bubble twoleftfeet
posted by mannequito at 3:00 AM on October 14, 2008


US Foreign Policy has constantly treated post-revolution Iran as if they were our mortal enemy — is it any surprise that they don't trust us, that they take action against official US interests to use as leverage? Especially with the way US politicians randomly pile on sanctions to pander to their constituencies.

With the US being such an ass, it has been in Iran's best interest to do things like develop Nuclear capabilities. If they hadn't we'd be fucking with them even more. Hopefully Obama's foreign policy will not continue in the idea that Only America can act in its own best interest.
posted by blasdelf at 3:17 AM on October 14, 2008


From the first essay, How the World Sees Us, and How We Save Ourselves:
I think of it like the scene in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in which Tom gets his friends to help him paint Aunt Polly’s fence. The United States can’t and won’t paint the fence of global problems by itself. We have to charm and manipulate other nations into helping, or we’ll all get a whipping.
Hm. Maybe we could apply this to our economic troubles. "Shucks, I sure do love paying down this crushing debt! Seems durn near a sin to have all this fun by myself. Beats the tar outta havin' a balanced budget, I tell you what."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:22 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


In a slight and uttered passing remark that was on tv (debate) that seems to have escaped many people, McCain noted that what we could use would be a united nations group consisting of friends--friends being, I imagine, those who support American policy in all matters. He was never challenged on this. Seems a nice way to split the world into Them versus Us, and then creating a solid block of those against us--the bad guys--and recreating a still larger Cold War.
posted by Postroad at 3:35 AM on October 14, 2008


McCain noted that what we could use would be a united nations group consisting of friends--friends being, I imagine, those who support American policy in all matters.

Ah, so what he wants is for nations that are willing to kowtow to the US to form a coalition. What a maverick.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:48 AM on October 14, 2008


Ah, so what he wants is for nations that are willing to kowtow to the US to form a coalition. What a maverick.

This idea of his is called the League of Democracies, and he has been challenged on it on numerous occasions. Here's one example of such a criticism, from Richard Holbrooke in Foreign Affairs (where McCain first introduced this idea):
McCain's boldest proposals are neither new nor original: his vague "League of Democracies," for example, sounds like an expansion of an organization, the Community of Democracies, created by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that still exists but is virtually ignored by the current administration. Although McCain says his league "would not supplant the United Nations," he explicitly proposes that it take collective action when the UN does not. "The new League of Democracies," he said last year, ". . . could act where the UN fails to act, to relieve human suffering in places like Darfur [and] bring concerted pressure to bear on tyrants in Burma or Zimbabwe, with or without Moscow's and Beijing's approval." McCain calls this "the truest kind of realism." Whatever McCain says, his "League," unlike the forum created by Albright, would be viewed by everyone as an attempt to create a rival to the UN. Recent conversations I have had with senior officials in many of the world's leading democracies confirm that not even the United States' closest allies -- let alone the world's largest democracy, India -- would support a new organization with such a mandate.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:11 AM on October 14, 2008


The Middle East was important to everyone because it had oil. It still has some oil. But the Middle East is now important to us because it's important to everyone else and it has oil. I call that the "location, location, location" strategy of determining geopolitical importance.

The United States has no better defense against its habits of interference and blunders in the Middle East than kicking the oil habit. As far as I can tell, the trouble in the Middle East has been near ageless, initiated by religious and cultural factors, but now exacerbated by the influx of cash and attention from superpowers. It's like watching someone with Borderline Personality Disorder discover crystal meth. "Everyone, look at me! Woo! Feels great!" They're swinging out on the railing, saying crap they don't really mean, surprised by the half the reactions at the party. And we've been helping it by supplying them.

This goes in general for a lot of American problems. We seem to think we've got things all sewn up back home, so let's go ride around the ranch for a spell. Recent events indicate that the roof is leaking the five days a year it rains, the help's gone missing, we've got weevils in the flour, and the cattle are thirsty. If we want to fix what the world thinks of us, we could probably do little better than stop being seeing bravely patroling the fences and be absent while we fix up the ranch.

Our next President should urge us not to take our guns to town and generally stick to the homestead, because the country has a heck of a lot of work to do.
posted by adipocere at 5:01 AM on October 14, 2008


How Fast You Can Read This Essay Online is terribly written:

The average telecom company resembles Jabba the Hut: it moves slowly and slobbers a lot.

John McCain=AT&T=Jabba the Hutt. Why the double simile? How is it that telecoms "slobber a lot"? Also, the Google/AT&T comparison is derivative of this

The United States created the Internet, but it’s the rest of the world that can really use it.

Some Asian nations have faster broadband than the U.S. does. Does that mean that the U.S. can't "really use" the Internet?

We have become a nation of buffering YouTube videos.

How are we a nation of videos? Is the state the videos? Are citizens?

Etc. I know that snarking from the sidelines doesn't advance the debate at all, but . . . well, this was just poorly written.
posted by andromache at 6:34 AM on October 14, 2008


"...would be viewed by everyone as an attempt to create a rival to the UN."

Is that a bad thing?
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:05 AM on October 14, 2008


andromache: By not 'really using' the internet, it means having to buffer YouTube videos, instead of watching them. It means waiting longer to download a big image file so that you can work on it and send it to the printer. It means running into more lag when trying to do a video conference. It means losing an advantage in productivity compared to other nations where things aren't stuck in the Model T Internet era (relative speaking).
posted by romanb at 8:30 AM on October 14, 2008


Nevermind the last post, I see you're talking about literature. Still, I am what I do -- so right now I could be a YouTube buffering video..
posted by romanb at 8:40 AM on October 14, 2008


As far as I can tell, the trouble in the Middle East has been near ageless, initiated by religious and cultural factors, but now exacerbated by the influx of cash and attention from superpowers.

Well, there was that "Dislocating Palestinians by force and creating the state of Israel" thing a few years back. I have a hunch that has something to do with the current troubles.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:22 AM on October 14, 2008


Seems like no one proofread the entry "The Courts"; it starts "Dhere are..." with a supercapital D. Or do I need to visit urbandictionary again?

On another note, what is it with these writers and Nixon's visit to China?
posted by Gyan at 9:22 AM on October 14, 2008


How is it that telecoms "slobber a lot"?

I used to work for AT&T. You don't know the half of it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:31 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


chuckdarwin: Hang on - are you that Chuck Darwin? Because I'll send you a ticket right now. Lord knows we could use you now more than ever over here.
posted by ivanosky at 5:56 PM on October 14, 2008


The New York Review of Books also asked some of their contributors for their views.
posted by homunculus at 10:42 PM on October 16, 2008


Is that a bad thing?

It is when every democratic country that McCain would like to be in his imaginary club doesn't want to come near it. The point of Holbrooke's statement is a) it's not a new idea, b) it's not particularly unifying and c) no one wants any part of it anyway, so the question is moot.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:06 PM on October 16, 2008


chuckdarwin: Hang on - are you that Chuck Darwin? Because I'll send you a ticket right now. Lord knows we could use you now more than ever over here.
posted by ivanosky 2 days ago


No, he's dead (see other thread). He has ceased to be.

I, however, am a suitable replacement, despite my lack of ocean voyages and penchant for shooting things. I'll take four round-trip tickets from Heathrow to JFK, please.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:10 AM on October 17, 2008


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