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:: posted by buermann @ 2004-03-31 23:54:22 CST | link


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      (real e-mail: jamesrmaclean[at]hotmail[dotkom])

      I just wanted to say, thanks for the links--there's an awful lot of information there, and I'm reading it still. I think I would draw different conclusions, however. Don't get me wrong--I'm deeply disturbed buy the fact that the USG used its role in the UNSC to dismantle UNAMIR; but I also think it's a bit reductionist to imagine, as many do, that this was all part of a satanic Clinton plot. The reason I bring this up is that there's a huge cohort of the population which has a burning need to demonize Pres. Clinton, and this cohort can be self-identified "left" or "right." (Personally, I don't think these identifications mean very much.) However, because of the binary framework of politics with which we are accursed, the effect is always the same: it favors the right.

      And I think it's more appropriate to consider the limits on what presidents can actually do. There are constitutional constraints, which aren't really that restrictive; and then there are ideological constraints or international constraints, which are. In '93 the incoming administration inherited a mission which was ideologically congenial--defending a humanitarian UN mission to Somalia--but at the administrative level, there was extreme reluctance to tolerate risks. In the Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing contrived to inflict maximum damage on the President, the White House was condemned very stridently for being excessively cautious about killing Somalis (obviously the rep't used different language!). Thereafter, the "cutting and running" was done by Congress. Yes, of course, the WH could have defied Congress, but didn't press the matter to that point.

      Similarly, I think the obsession with demonizing Clinton, rather than the political institutions he had to deal with, is erroneous but popular. What makes this very dangerous is that the debate is being reframed so that Americans are being told that it's up to us to manage the world virtuously, and Clinton was some monster because his administration refused to intervene.

    posted by JamesRMacLean @ 2004-04-06 13:26:39 | link

      "draw different conclusions"

      Not having drawn out many conclusions here or elsewhere on the topic I'm not sure what conclusions you're differing with. I generally think the entire foreign policy establishment in this country is a sort of deranged, multiheaded monster, so far as metaphors go. Aside from that I don't really have any serious disagreements with your comments.

    posted by buermann @ 2004-04-06 14:27:03 | link




    go ahead, express that vague notion
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