miércoles, 16 de septiembre de 2009

Obama's law-breaking style of diplomacy, or not

Commentary » Blog Archive » Breaking the Law to “Engage” Iran

Jonathan Tobin has a point here:
Liberals spent most of the past decade decrying what they never tired of describing as the “lawlessness” of the Bush administration. But today’s New York Times brings to its readers’ attention the fact that Obama’s team is just as willing to disregard legalities. But whereas Bush’s people showed a willingness to bend the rules to fight a war against Islamist terrorists, Obama’s minions will do the same in their quest to appease Islamists.

In this case, the Justice Department “has declared that President Obama can disregard a law forbidding State Department officials from attending United Nations meetings led by representatives of nations considered to be sponsors of terrorism.” Thus, rather than obeying laws passed by Congress to quarantine a nation like Iran, which ranks very high on that list of state sponsors of terror, Obama has sent State Department officials to take part in UN meetings chaired by Iran.

His point is of course the hypocrisy of leftists and their media. This is just the latest example of such a thing.

Crying about hypocrisy gets really old after a while. So both leftists and rightist and libertarians are hypocrites? What else is new? Someone once said that hypocrisy is the hallmark of civilization. With so many values to comply with, it's inevitable, after all. Thus, the most civilized cultures are the most hypocritical.

I find it hard to refute this idea. Is it just an excuse and/or a pretext for ethical laziness? Maybe, maybe not. Being ethically lazy, I'll never know.

On the other hand, on the narrow issue of legality, I can't really fault Obama for this.

As far as I know, the Constitution gives the president a free hand to conduct foreign relations in pursuit of his responsibilities as C in C. Therefore, he's entitled to negotiate with anyone he wants to, if it seems like it will enhance US national security. He was elected just for that reason: to use his best judgment to enhance US national security. That's just US-style democracy.

Tobin's conclusion  makes this point obliquely,

Don’t expect many of those who are ready to hang anyone who worked for Bush on any technicality they can find to express much anger over legalisms conjured up to advance the cause of appeasement. As the Times notes, “the new memorandum demonstrated that the Bush legal team’s approach was not as aberrational from other administrations as some critics contended.”

I'd go The Times one more:

“the new memorandum demonstrated that the Bush legal team’s approach was [completely in line with other administrations. No president will ever give up his constitutionally enumerated powers, nor should he. Our democracy is founded on just such a principle.”—ed.]

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