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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In which I agree with Glenn Greenwald 


Three and a half years ago, Al Gore traveled to Saudi Arabia, of all places, and deliberately undermined American foreign policy. Suffice it to say, I denounced Gore at the time in no uncertain terms.

Whether or not one agrees with Gore on the substance, if he wants to change American policy to let in more Saudis the only way he can do that it is to campaign for that change among influential Americans. It is, however, another thing entirely to travel to a foreign country that features pivotally in the war of our generation for the purpose of denouncing American policies in front of the affected foreign audience. It is especially problematic to mess with Saudi political opinions, which are subject to intensive influence and coercion by internal actors and the United States, al Qaeda, and Iran, among other powers.

Now Mike Huckabee has gone to Israel and denounced American policy under Obama. While I agree with Huckabee on the substance and thought Gore's plea for more visas for Saudis was substantively absurd, Huckabee was wrong to have criticized the United States from Israel and it should count against him should he run for president again.

To be sure, there are differences. Gore made his comments in a calculated and scripted speech for which he had been paid, Huckabee's comments were extemporaneous while walking through Jerusalem. Israel is a land of open and tendentious political argument with a deep understanding of American politics; Israelis are therefore unlikely to be influenced against the United States (as Saudi elites might be) by a single remark from an American politician. And, finally, Huckabee obviously has a small fraction of Gore's stature, here or there. None of that takes away from the basic point, though, which is that there is no legitimate purpose served in attacking American policy in front of a foreign audience.

24 Comments:

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Wed Aug 19, 08:47:00 AM:

OK, but..."I want MY America back!"  

By Blogger narciso, at Wed Aug 19, 09:47:00 AM:

What was that line, "One of these things is not like the other" Gore went to the home of 15/19hijackers,
the majority of the 'martyrs' in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2/3 of the detainees at Gitmo, underwriters of similar campaigns from Hamas to Chechnya, and pandered to them.  

By Blogger TOF, at Wed Aug 19, 10:21:00 AM:

Huckabee is not a contenter for the Presidency. His late night jamming with whoever from Little Rock pretty much says that.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Wed Aug 19, 10:33:00 AM:

Nothing that Huckabee does is extemporaneous. It was cold and calculating and meant to do damage.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Wed Aug 19, 11:15:00 AM:

The Salon article in turn links to the Jerusalem Post:

""It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want," Huckabee had told reporters earlier in the day.

While the reception at the hotel was closed to the press and Huckabee made no formal statement, his participation was widely seen as an endorsement of plans by the Ateret Cohanim organization to build housing units at the site, which was purchased in 1985 by American tycoon Irving Moskowitz and was once home to the pro-Nazi mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini."

If Huckabee is just responding to a reporter's question, I would cut him some slack. In that case he didn't initiate the conversation and would sound silly if he just clammed up. And yes, if Gore or Bill Clinton were critical of Bush policies in a similar situation I would cut them some slack, too.  

By Anonymous miggs, at Wed Aug 19, 01:31:00 PM:

The explicit purpose of the trip was to draw attention to how messed up Obama's policies are. That would seem to undermine your claim that Huckabee's remarks were merely "extemporaneous." Still, kudos for having at least some intellectual consistency on this.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Wed Aug 19, 02:39:00 PM:

I don't The Huckster was the first conservative to attack US foreign policy abroad and certainly won't be the last.

I'll defend him though despite him attacking a policy much more important than visa numbers. I think our democracy can survive disagreement overseas, and if foreigners witness that disagreement, then they're just getting a more accurate perception of American politics.

In the case of the Saudis, I think it's good for them to see Americans speak up in a way that could get a Saudi in trouble.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 19, 04:19:00 PM:

Well at least TigerHawk is consistent. He didn't attach any conditions to his stance, even though he agreed with one and not the other. He simply says it's wrong...period. Black & white, no "shades of gray" here.

Funny to see people who supposedly believe in the principle bending over backwards to excuse it because they happen to agree with the criticism.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Wed Aug 19, 04:35:00 PM:

Random comment: Steve Doocy is a jerk!
Smug, self important jerk. No need for response, he is indefensible.  

By OpenID pwtenny, at Wed Aug 19, 05:34:00 PM:

"In which I agree with Glenn Greenwald "

You only agreed with half of what Greenwald said, and in my opinion the less important point of the two.

Hypocrisy from the right generally when it comes to selective criticism isn't news, that's just kind of expected.

What matters is that a person should be free to speak their opinion regardless of where they are, or which ideological faction gives their statements a seal of approval.

We all give a lot of lip service to the letter of the first amendment, but when it comes time to make it real, few actually pay tribute to the spirit of it. It doesn't matter what Al Gore or Mike Huckabee said, they were exercising their right to speak freely, and in this case, express political dissent to the party and people in power.

The right, so amazingly obsessed with faux patriotism, should be celebrating this, not denouncing it.

Disagree with the content if you wish, but they both have the right to go anyplace they please and say anything they want. That is an essential and inescapable requirement of the freedom we supposedly cherish in America.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Wed Aug 19, 06:24:00 PM:

pwtenny, you rock. As much as I would like run over the guy in the whole foods parking lot with the "nazi" obama pic, it is his right to be an idiot. More power to him. The more people see and hear, the more ridiculous the "birthers" and the "deathers" will sound.And, just to show I am fair and balanced (unlike Fox) The more people will scratch their heads and see that the "public option" is not what they want.

The objection that many of us had was the characterization that what Huck, huck, Huckabee said was extemporaneous. Never, never. Nothing a politician says is EVER off the cuff. It is carefully prepared and meant to convey something. They always have an agenda, no matter what side of the aisle they are from. And, they are not on your side, they are on their side.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 19, 08:18:00 PM:

TigerHawk wrote: "It is, however, another thing entirely to travel to a foreign country that features pivotally in the war of our generation for the purpose of denouncing American policies in front of the affected foreign audience."

The operative word being, "that features pivotally in the war of our generation." Al Qaeda was, perhaps still is, a Saudi proxy. Saudi charities funded Al Qaeda. Fifteen of the nineteen September hijackers were Saudi nationals. The bin Laden family is Saudi. Not only what Mr. Gore said was repugnant but so was where he said it, and to whom.

TigerHawk: "Now Mike Huckabee has gone to Israel and denounced American policy under Obama. While I agree with Huckabee on the substance and thought Gore's plea for more visas for Saudis was substantively absurd, Huckabee was wrong to have criticized the United States from Israel and it should count against him should he run for president again."

I denounced immoral American policy under Bush. Were I in Israel, like Huckabee, I would have denounce Bush's anti-Israel policies in Israel. Huckabee did not criticize the United States. Is Barack Obama and his policies the United States? Governor Huckabee criticized Obama's immoral, anti-Israel policies in Israel. America is at war. Huckabee should be commended for standing by an ally, all the while this US president stands with America's enemies.

Steve Klein  

By Anonymous June, at Wed Aug 19, 09:15:00 PM:

Huckabee should be denounced for what he is, a pot boiler determined to see the present administration fail and he and his racist, sexist buddies forward their uber right wing agenda to an unsuspecting world.  

By Blogger davod, at Wed Aug 19, 11:44:00 PM:

I agree that no-one should be critical of America when they are out of the country.

Lets look at our new Foreign Policy:

What if American Foreign Policy, as espoused by the One, in his Cairo speech, is the antithesis of the America we knowan and is based upon falsehoods.

What if current American Foreign Policy is based upon bringing American exceptionalisn into line with mediocracy.

What if the purveyors of American Foreign policy, when overseas, take every opportunity to downplay, or bellitle America's positive role in the present and world history.

The US just approved a two billion dollar loan to the Brazillion owned oil company for devolopment of Brazil's natural gas finds. Brazil is governed by an enlightened Socialist.

The US, and Obama, contrary to a positive change by the State Department, continues to penalize Honduras for taking a Democratic step to remove a treasonous President.

Much the same as giving a new president some lattitude for a few months after taking office.

The vote on a 1300 page unread stimulus package, the vote on last year's budget. All a result of lattitude and protocol.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Thu Aug 20, 01:31:00 AM:

Other than the fact that you are wrong, wrong, wrong, Davod, you may want to use spell check the next time.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Thu Aug 20, 03:02:00 AM:

"Hypocrisy from the right generally when it comes to selective criticism isn't news"

The left has never been hypocritical, especially during the eight years they were screaming about "Bushitler".  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Thu Aug 20, 03:04:00 AM:

How is davod "wrong"? If disagreeing with vicki is wrong, I don't want to be right.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Aug 20, 08:38:00 AM:

To those who think I am proposing restrictions on speech that would implicate the First Amendment, I am not. It absolutely should be lawful to do what Huckabee and Gore did. But whether something is lawful or not tells us essentially nothing about whether it was right, whether in a free society or a totalitarian one.

Now, if you want to dig further into the point, I have no objection to garden variety Americans sitting around a cafe in Paris being critical of American foreign policy. I have done that. However, I think if you are an American politician or other person of stature and influence, the time, place, and manner of your communication reveals its purpose. In his Jiddah speech, Gore had no objective of persuading American voters to change our policy in the war on terror. He was, quite deliberately, undermining the credibility of the policy of the American government in front of an influential foreign audience. Huckabee was doing the same thing. Both of them need to be called on it. Not prevented from doing it, but denounced for undermining the foreign policy of the United States by means other than trying to persuade Americans.  

By Blogger steve klein, at Thu Aug 20, 09:33:00 AM:

Part 1

TigerHawk, I retrieved the following from Captain's Quarters, Feb. 12, 2006:

I'm stunned almost to speechlessness. We held mass roundups of Arabs? When? Where? What exactly were the "unforgivable" conditions of which Gore speaks? And as far as the visas go, when exactly did Saudis have a right to enter the United States at whim without any consideration of security? Perhaps the former VP has forgotten, but most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.

In truth, Gore sold out the United States and any notion of freedom by appearing after Denmark got barred from attending an economic forum for the publishing decision of one of its privately-owned newspapers. Just showing up was bad enough. To make accusations about some mythical internment program for Arabs in the US just plays into the hands of the conspiracy-addicted Arabian press.

Thanks, Al. You've gone from a respectable politician to a Saudi suck-up in one of the worst political meltdowns in American history.

UPDATE: Tigerhawk notes that "[t]his business of prestigious American politicians attacking the United States from abroad is repellant, because it serves no legitimate purpose. It is one thing to attack our policies in front of American voters -- that's how the system works -- and quite another to do it from deep into the heart of Wahhabism." Read the rest of his scathing critique as well.

For me, that is a major part of the sell-out, but not all of it. Al Gore could have said this in New York and I would still call it a sell-out and a betrayal of his nation. He spouts the worst conspiracy-theory garbage, without any supporting evidence, which feeds into the propaganda of our enemies. The fact that he did it on stage in Jeddah in a forum which had already booted the Danes for daring to stand up to Islamists only emphasizes the craven and self-involved character of the former VP.

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/006329.php  

By Blogger steve klein, at Thu Aug 20, 09:33:00 AM:

Part 2

Again, I do not understand your position. I'm not sure, can we agree on some fundamental truths? I'm a thirty eight year registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000. Following the 9/11 Muslim-terror attacks on US soil, I supported Bush's war on "terrorism." Fifteen of the nineteen September hijackers were Saudi nationals. Osama bin Laden and his family are Saudi. Bin Laden's Islamic principles come from this violent stream of Islam known as Wahhabism. Wahabbism is the official religion in Saudi Arabia. Saudi charities up to the highest government levels funded Al Qaeda. Some of Saudi Arabia's complicity in the September atrocities are believed to been detailed in the Congressional 911 report. President Bush redacted some 28 pages of the report dealing with Saudi complicity. Many on both the political Left and Right argue that not only are the Saudis not our friends as Bush and now Obama maintain, but our enemies.

Al Gore did not attack the United States from abroad. Gore attacked (actually he lied about) administration policy on the soil of America's enemies in time of war. I've been plenty critical of this past administration's policies, particularly where it came to our ally in this war, Israel. What Governor Huckabee did was to stand by an ally while a hostile administration is essentially giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Huckabee stood by our ally while repudiating immoral US administration policy. Condemning immoral US administration policy, even on the foreign soil of an ally is to be commended.

You wrote:

"I think if you are an American politician or other person of stature and influence, the time, place, and manner of your communication reveals its purpose. In his Jiddah speech, Gore had no objective of persuading American voters to change our policy in the war on terror. He was, quite deliberately, undermining the credibility of the policy of the American government in front of an influential foreign audience. Huckabee was doing the same thing. Both of them need to be called on it. Not prevented from doing it, but denounced for undermining the foreign policy of the United States by means other than trying to persuade Americans....."

With all due respect, Huckabee was not doing the same thing as Al Gore. Gore was "undermining the credibility of (a wholly defensible) policy of a US administration in front of an influential (ENEMY) foreign audience." Huckabee was (not) doing the same thing. Huckbee does not need to be called on it unless Huckabee, like you, believes it is wrong to stand with and ally while repudiating immoral, indefensible US administration policy on our ally's soil in time of war. Is this Huckabee's stated position? Has Huckabee stated (in the past) that it is wrong to undermine the credibility of a wholly immoral policy of an American administration on foreign soil, regardless of the policy and regardless of where the foreign soil lies?  

By Blogger steve klein, at Thu Aug 20, 09:53:00 AM:

PS:

TigerHawk, you wrote: "Both of them need to be called on it. Not prevented from doing it, but denounced for undermining the foreign policy of the United States by means other than trying to persuade Americans....."

Two things come to mind.

1)Why do you think Huckabee is not trying to persuade the American people? My neighbor, who is not particularly interested in the Middle East or this war in which we are engaged, told me Huckabee and his statements while in Israel were well-reported on cable news.

2) You say Huckabee is undermining the policy of the United States....

Actually he is undermining a critical aspect of Obama administration policy. I agree with your assertion.

Do you support Obama administration policy with respect to Israel? It would appear from this statement that you do indeed support Mr. Obama's anti-Israel policy. Am I wrong?  

By Anonymous Josef, at Thu Aug 20, 10:55:00 AM:

Well, it's good you're not a hypocrite. But you're wrong. Dissenting from American policy, whether doing so at home or abroad, is one of the most patriotic thing you can do. Trying to silence dissent by insulting or questioning the patriotism of dissenters is one of the most England-under-King-George anti-American things you can do.  

By Anonymous glasnost, at Fri Aug 21, 08:00:00 AM:

"It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want," Huckabee had told reporters earlier in the day.

It wasn't an exterperaneous remark. He's there as part of a camapaign to support the permanent and ever deeper entangling of the Israeli and Palestinian populations of the West Bank, and he sure as heck isn't there to support granting them political equality or equality of economic opportunity.

Al Gore's policy issue, for or against, was trivial, where as this policy not only undermines the US government, but deliberately exacerabates conditions that will ultimately lead to mass coercive displacement.

Still, Tigerhawk's effort to be consistent is admirable, especially since doing so keeps him on the B list.  

By Anonymous Steve Klein, at Fri Aug 21, 12:33:00 PM:

glasnost wrote: "Al Gore's policy issue, for or against, was trivial, where as this policy not only undermines the US government, but deliberately exacerbates conditions that will ultimately lead to mass coercive displacement.

"Still, Tigerhawk's effort to be consistent is admirable, especially since doing so keeps him on the B list."

Tigerhawk, look who are now becoming your best allies. Glenn Greenwald -- apparently no friend to Israel -- and now glasnot says 'your effort to be consistent is admirable'.

Al Gore's "trivial" statement in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (fifteen of the nineteen September hijackers were Saudi nationals) that the American government was "indiscriminately rounding up Arabs" was a lie and it was shameful; treasonous! Not only did Gore undermine the US government in time of war but he undermined our war effort.

That Huckabee showing solidarity with an ally while this US administration is urinating all over our ally is to be commended. Your statement that he deliberately exacerbates conditions that will ultimately lead to mass coercive displacement is purely conjecture on your part. Based on what?  

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