Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to an uneasy future.

When I spent a year (1994/95) studying International Law at Aberystwyth, I remember a lecturer asking students whether International Law was anything more than a case of 'who carries the biggest stick'. At the time, I thought he believed that it was indeed much more. He believed that we had moved into a new world, where international boundaries would be respected. Must admit that I wasn't so sure - never been an idealist. After today's announcement by Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia, that it was recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, there's a case for arguing that 'big stick diplomacy' is back. This looks a fairly straight forward case of the Russian Bear baring its teeth and swallowing a big chunk of its neighbouring independent state, Georgia. I've just watched Newsnight and been struck by the brazen 'doublespeak' of the Russian spokesman, and the apparent impotency of the Western powers. Its the most blatant example of international two fingers that we've seen for a very long time.

Coincidentally, the other big item on Newsnight was the Democrat's Convention in Denver. Not many weeks ago, Obama looked unstoppable - but not now. And the reason that McCain is right back in the game is international affairs. The Americans are famously insular to what's happening overseas, and if it stays that way, the problems with the economy would probably turn many Republicans towards Obama. But the Russians have changed the rules of engagement - and McCain is a war hero. He's been there. And he was right on 'the surge' in Iraq, when most people disagreed. Obama has the glamour, but McCain has the respect. It looks as if Dimitry Medvedev did one hell of a favour for John McCain today

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glyn> not just international affairs ... helping McCain; the German speech of Obama did Obama a hell of a lot of harm back in the USA. Americans don't like Europeans or anyone else getting involved in dictating who should be their next President. McCain didn't have to do anything than get out of the way of Obama's German whoopsee.

Of course Putin (via Medvedev) is a major cold war factor. McCain is turning into the President that America needs in these dreadfully unpredictable times. Wisdom from experience is not something that Obama has - and Americans vote for the President, not the VEEP (VP).

Glyn Davies said...

anon - and Joe Bidan is about as far from 'change' as you can get - which undermines Obama's strongest card. It could be a close run contest.

Valleys Mam said...

Hilary's speech may well have saved BO's bacon, she was amazing
He has a fight on his hands for sure
I just dont see him as a strong candidate at the side of Mccains much more statesmanship

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

Far from it for me to buck the trend and actually profess my support for the 'lefty' but in this case, I prefer Obama, for if McCain were president today - the chances of any of us seeing next year would be dramatically reduced. Life is about reality not ideals. Law of the big stick is here to stay, lets hope we don't need to use it.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Sorry I had connection issues, sorry if this post comes more than once ...

I agree with your comment that "Joe Biden is about as far from 'change' as you can get - which undermines Obama's strongest card. It could be a close run contest."

I've had the opportunity to listen to Biden - he's a nice man, even a kind man. But a leader he is not. His brain does not function well under pressure - he drops clangors like a military ship drops depth charges.

Obama is the same, he is wonderful at giving speeches from a teleprompt - but in real time he is also next to useless. Under real time pressure he says the daftest things. His comments in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Georgia were nothing short of alarming if not pathetic and have done Obama great harm (and deservedly so). Obama's 12 point lead evaporated

The Democratic Convention in Denver is not going to give Obama the bounce he's looking for because many Americans who liked his flash style are realizing that he's not fit for purpose (i.e., would NOT make a good President).

Biden said as much earlier this year when he said that the Presidency does not lend itself to on the job training, as evidenced here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAaLEJwkh9c

Glyn Davies said...

VM - trouble with Hilary and Bill's speeches are that they reinforce the anger that her supporters felt in the bruising battle to win the nomination. I felt their performances were more about Hilary in 2012 than Obama in 2008.

Roman - I'm not overly committed either way. But there must be a serious questionmark about Obama's experience. He's a beautiful man with a lovely voice, but the President of the US has to be made of steel. I'd probably go for McCain, and I've a sneaking feeling that the Americans will as well. In Britain Obama would win by a landslide.

Christopher - I generally agree. In Britain, we are not electing the leader of the most powerful country in the world. I don't think that the Americans are goping to be impressed by 'spin' and 'style' which Obama has in spades. They are looking for a 'Leader' - and at this stage that looks like McCain to me, despite the best efforts of our TV channels to portray otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Hillary's speech at the Denver DNP Conference has not even come close to saving Barack Obama from the jaws of defeat. Clinton wants to run in 2012 - she can't if Obama wins the national election.

Obama is so weak that he picked a DC insider as his 'VEEP' instead of picking someone that speaks to "Change".

Even now American voters are puzzled about what Obama stands for.

Obama's points lead over McCain has evaporated - and for good reason. Those Americans who are looking at Obama as the next US President are worried that Obama is not up to the job. Obama has to have a scripted speech to come across well.

Look at how badly Obama came across to Americans at Saddleback. See, e.g.,
http://www.xianproject.com/2008/08/17/poor-obama-saddleback-performance/

Obama went for the Christian vote and messed up big time - what’s more, the Speaker is not helping Obama. Pelosi managed to offend Catholic Bishops on the issue of abortion – a fight Pelosi could have easily avoided but for some strange reason decided to take on the Catholic faith by trying to say abortion is compatible with Catholic teachings.

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/08/27/pelosis-abortion-comments-provoke-catholic-criticism/

Anonymous said...

PS I am very disappointed with Obama, I thought he was the guy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Glyn, the issue is not how Brits “saw” Hillary’s speech, but what Americans saw when they watched it; it’s not so much the words Hillary used, because what Hillary said was scripted and met with the approval of the DNC.

Yes, Hillary mouthed the words. Yes, Hillary said the right words. But it is clear as Mt. Everest to Americans that she hated what she was saying, didn’t agree with what she was saying.

Hillary clearly wants a second shot in 2012. Nothing that Hillary has done conflicts with her ambition to run in 2012. Brits can live in a dream world if they want, but it’s the American perception of what Hillary is about that counts, and the message from Hillary is crystal fresh water clean glass diamond cut sparkling gemstone CLEAR – Hillary plans to run in 2012. Therefore, Hillary does not want Obama to win – it doesn’t matter how many times Hillary says she wants Obama to win – many of her supporters can read though the DNC stage show – Hillary wants Obama to loose because Hillary plans to run in 2012.

eric said...

glyn, explain to me in laymans terms ho the current situation is so different to kosova? a majority ethnic people with an armed militia and with backing by a near neighbour, but without any real indepndent history declare they want independence? why are we supporting kosova, yet not these two regions that for all intents and purposes have been indepndent for over ten years?
where were our diplomats when georgia were going in guns blazing strating this crisis a few weeks ago.....where were the words of restraint?

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn> this is ELECTRIFYING - looks like McCain is going to pick a woman as his VEEP!!!!!!!!!!!

Obama can kiss goodbye to any 'after-glow' he was expecting following his acceptance speech last night. What utter perfect timing on McCain's part; McCain's pick will also help to reassure die hard Republicans who fear Hillary so much that they were tempted to vote Obama to block Hillary running in 2012. Now with such a DYNAMITE pick as his running mate, McCain has performed a DOUBLE WHAMMY – McCain’s pick has blown Obama into the wilderness and will superglue die-hard conservatives in the Republican ranks to McCain!

This woman is a strong conservative – she is PRO-LIFE, and has executive experience – something that Obama-Biden lacks. McCain is so very clever – he’s outfoxed every fox! There are levels of complexity and experience inside McCain that Obama-Biden can’t possibly match.

As you so correctly observed Glyn, Obama is going to be hamstrung by his Biden pick.

Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton must be totally STUNNED at McCain’s ‘so clever’ VEEP pick. It’s going to dawn on Hillary Clinton that while Hillary wants McCain to win thus clearing Hillary for a Presidential run in 2012, Hillary doesn’t want to run against a woman who by 2012 will have both 4 years of VP experience plus executive experience of running a state (Alaska).

With all this excitement, let’s not forget Glyn Davies – a vote for Glyn Davies is a vote for common-sense. Glyn Davies, the sensible candidate.