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Jimmy Carter

Tag Archives | Jimmy Carter

The Problem with Solving Gaza is that Both Sides are Just Preparing for Another War

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The trouble with war is that it has two sides. Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course. There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect. And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it.

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Chuck Hagel’s Confirmation Hearing: Neocons Search for Relevance

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President Barack Obama and former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

Chuck Hagel’s going over at the hands of Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee was more than an argument over political and policy differences; it was another spasm in the efforts of neoconservatives to define U.S. security policy in their own image.

Chuck Hagel, a Republican former two-term senator from Nebraska, had once been considered one of the neoconservatives’ own, at least for a while. After joining the Senate in 1997, he quickly became one of Republican Sen. John McCain’s more avid wingmen. He helped run the Arizonan’s 2000 campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. Hagel also voted for the 2002 resolution to authorize U.S. action against Iraq, the precursor to the March 2003 invasion.  But the Iraq war changed Hagel, but not McCain and the Republicans’ neocon core. Hagel distanced himself from many of the Bush administration’s failed war policies. When Bush sought to send 30,000 extra troops there in 2007, Hagel dissented, as did the man who nominated Hagel to be the next Defense Secretary, Barack Obama.

Now, as Obama’s nominee, Hagel finds himself in the middle of a more-than-40-year war over control of U.S. military and national security policy. The neoconservatives who fought against Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and now Obama recognize that Hagel’s confirmation would reverse the policies of “peace through strength” that dominated the George W. Bush and Reagan administrations.

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The Ides of March and Hollywood on the Campaign Trail

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Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures

George Clooney’s new political drama, The Ides of March, tells an old story in a predictable, unrealistic fashion. The film portrays American electioneering as far worse than corrupt—here it’s downright moral pestilence. Thankfully, the reality of campaign work is brighter and more entertaining. That is why so many young people seek it out. A key character, missing from The Ides of March, assures an abundance of comedy on the typical campaign trail: the American voter.

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On Timing and Political Leadership

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“Men at some time are masters of their fates.” – Julius Caesar

Winston Churchill with FDR at the White House in the 1940s

Amid the worsening economic picture, political leaders across the globe are under attack for their lack of leadership and failure to inspire confidence in their constituencies in the face of mounting global problems. President Obama especially has been criticized as too aloof and lacking direction, particularly from rightwing commentators. During the recent CNN Tea Party debate, Mitt Romney stated that, if elected president, he would have a bust of Winston Churchill in the White House. The message Mitt Romney attempted to send was clear: strong political leadership could overcome even the most severe political crisis, and that he, Romney, would follow in Churchill’s footsteps. We often forget, however, that it not only takes charisma and extraordinary ability to inspire greatness in a leader, but more importantly, the right timing.

References to Winston Churchill are nothing new. Every U.S. President post-1945 is bound to be compared to him. Churchill, however, did not do very well during peace times. A great wartime leader, Churchill pursued a disastrous anti-independence policy vis-à-vis India in the 1930s and had an insignificant second premiership in the 1950s—not to mention his mediocre term as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s. Nevertheless, Winston Churchill is considered the greatest Briton of the 20th century. He became Prime Minister in June 1940, when Britain alone stood defiant against the Nazi war machine, and in the words of Isaiah Berlin, mobilized the English language for war. He was the right man in the right spot at the right time.

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