Posted on 02-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

With the withdrawal of Abdullah Abdullah and the declaration of Hamid Karzai’s victory the United States is now stuck with him.  The usual congratulatory call from the American President appears to have been unusually terse.  In addition to cleaning up his act on all fronts, much also depends on how Karzai reaches out to his opponents.  To the extent any goodwill gestures are made, they will likely be the result of outside pressure.  I am not holding my breath on much improvement on the Afghan domestic front.

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Posted on 02-11-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Time posts about the looming confrontation in Iran on the anniversary of the siege of the US embassy.  Even though the Iranian dictatorship will not face imminent collapse until the men with guns switch sides, it is impressive to see the Iranian youth stand up in defiance.  Particularly one like Mahmoud Vahidnia who rebuked the supreme leader to his face.  Here’s hoping the bloodshed is kept to a minimum.

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Posted on 02-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Yglesias links a post about a surprised neo-con who discovers that the Iranian reformers are patriots not American puppets in the making.  For all the blather directed at President Obama’s alleged naiveté, it is still surprising (even after the debacle in Iraq where they thought that they would magically convert Iraq into a pro-Israel country full of American military bases that spurned OPEC to give the United States cheap oil) that they cannot grasp that the interests and desires of other countries do not neatly align with American wishes.

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Posted on 02-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The National in the UAE has an article about the perils of American allies thwarting moderate Islamic parties that are trying to stay within the system.  It is very similar to the debate that has played out in Turkey over the last fifteen years, where the military backed secular establishment repeatedly thwarted religious parties from coming to power.  Ultimately a commitment to democracy means that you must also be willing to accept an undesirable result.

Jordan and Egypt are headed down a treacherous road.  While their regimes have cause to fear Islamic radicals, excluding such a large portion of the political spectrum will likely lead to a bloody dénouement.

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Posted on 02-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

An amusing read from TNR tracing the political travails of portly American politicians in the past 100 years.  The current gaunt post-bypass physique of Bill Clinton and his two workout obsessed successors have caused some of the memories of the chubbier 42nd President (referred to in the article) to fade somewhat.

The article also questions whether a candidate built on the proportions of a beached whale like Taft would be electable today.  Just as media types joke about broadcasters with faces made for radio, the downside of the television age (starting with the infamous Nixon-Kennedy debate) has been the propensity to bring out telegenic empty shirts over perhaps more qualified candidates (a tendency that unfairly seems even more pronounced for female candidates).

In the interest of fairness it must be noted that not all the made for TV candidates are intellectual lightweights or shallow cads, and this sentiment was not entirely absent before television. The Republican Party bosses in 1920 gave this country Warren Harding who “looked presidential”.

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