Sunday, February 18, 2007

Will He or Won't He?

Former Vice President turned climate guru Al Gore recently told the BBC that he had no intentions of running for president in 2008. Mr. Gore has repeatedly said variations of this mantra over the last 6 years. Will he or won't he? Only he and Tipper probably know for sure.

Mr. Gore is controversial. He is at the same time hailed for his wisdom and work on making us aware of the climatological dangers we are facing from global warming, and reviled as a "huckster" just out to keep his name in the press and make a lot of money. Oh yes, Mr. Gore generates a lot of opinion.

Democrats see him as somewhat of a wronged and noble knight who was defeated by an evil machine during his run for the presidency in 2000. Republicans see him as a sore loser who ran an incompetent and ineffectual campaign against a less than formidable opponent. What's the truth there? Who really knows? Probably a little of both. Mr. Gore has been busy over the last six years however. He started a business "CurrentTV", joined the board of several corporations including Apple Inc. , and has been evangelizing on climate issues with his book and movie: "An Inconvenient Truth". To be sure, Mr. Gore has done some significant rehab on his image. Starting with the gracious concession speech during the 2000 election, the Al Gore we've seen over the last six years was conspicuously absent during the campaign. Who knows why?

Mr. Gore has been coy with his answers on running for president again. But perhaps there is truth to the notion that he doesn't want the job.

Why wouldn't he want the job? Well, for starters, he's in a great place right now, and life is good. If he runs, then he's no longer the wise and good man who "should" been president, he becomes a candidate again. Campaigning is hard, dirty work. Presidential politics is blood-sport. Ask John McCain how he felt when the Republican party was eviscerating him during the 2000 campaign. I think Al's right not to run. He's well regarded, has influence in corporate and governmental circles and is doing something good for the planet. If he runs for president, then he is completely bound by the office. Somethings he can do as a public citizen will not be allowed as President. Consider that he would have to most likely be faced with the continued cesspool in Iraq, growing problems in Afghanistan and also the thought of a nuclear Iran. I'm sorry, but that's not a job I'd want, and if I've been rebuffed once by the American People before all this crap started, why in the world would I want the job after the Chimp in Chief has made the mess he has? This job could kill you, and perhaps he's tired of politics and just wants to go about doing some good. I can't fault the man for that.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What Issues are Facing the Next President - Part 1

It seems we just got finished with the last presidential election. It has only been a little over 2 years. However, we must look forward and begin to consider who will occupy the Oval Office come January 21, 2009. Why? Well, because let's face it folks, we have a host of problems that we need to deal with and we will need to elect someone who can get some things accomplished.

This blog entry isn't about who would be better in the office. That is way too soon to know. What the entry does is start a discussion of what these candidates and all the others who will file must do. You all have an opinion on the major issues. I'll list mine and we can have a discussion on what must be done. Today's entry discusses foreign policy and what the next President of the United States will face.

Foreign Policy - Regardless of your position on the Iraq, it is a problem. No one except for the most delusional would claim that we are winning the war in Iraq and the situation is better than it was before we invaded. Iraq will continue to be a problem for a new administration as will Afghanistan. Iran will be an issue, Africa (particularly Sudan), China, Russia, North Korea, South America, and many other areas of the world will require the attention of the United States. Whoever wins the presidency in 2008 will be faced with foreign policy issues unlike we've seen since the elections in 1968. What must be done here? Well for starters, we need to end the conflict in Iraq. We will continue to pour money we don't have and sacrifice lives we shouldn't on a conflict that will only be resolved by the people living there. As we withdraw from Iraq, we need to turn our attention to two areas: Afghanistan and Africa. The first because we blew the country up and provided little ongoing sustaining support for the fledgling Karzai government. Afghanistan is slowly becoming a Taliban stronghold again. We have in effect "given up" on the country. Heroin production is at an all-time high. What little influence we've had on the warlords has waned. Pakistan has stopped pursuing Al Qaeda into Afghanistan and we've seen President Karzai reduced to effectively being the mayor of Kabul and not much more. If the Taliban gain power again, then the reasons for our invasion of the country in the first place have returned. Not to mention the destruction of human rights due to the religious police's resurgance, the pre-invasion Afghanistan was what Iraq was always claimed to be: A safe-house for terrorists. Afghanistan is problematic because there is little oil for us to secure and the terrain in the country is abominable. The former Soviet Union found nothing but trouble there and we are likely to see the same. However, our primary enemy (remember Mr. Bin Laden, Mullah Omar) is still holed up in this region. We need to find them.

Now, Africa. Genocide has been occurring in the Sudan for several years. Arab Sudanese are systematically killing hundreds of thousands if not millions of black Sudanese. The violence in Darfur has only been exceeded by the other shameful blight on the United States: Rwanda. What is the United States to do? Ethnic hatred and cleansing is occurring all over the world. It's one of the reasons that people like me clamor for the removal of troops from Iraq. Ethnic tensions between the Sunni and Shia in Iraq won't stop until one side has won. Civil War is occurring in Iraq and will eventually decide the matter, and no matter how much effort we put into the war in Iraq, we are only forestalling a blood-bath. So, by that logic, we should stay the hell out of Darfur? Well, yes and no. It's hard to understand why the Sudanese who are killing their countrymen are doing so. It seems antithetical to most people that genocide is a solution to a problem. Nevertheless, the government in Khartoum is doing nothing (or very little) to stop the miltants from killing essentially defenseless people and many people believe assisting their efforts either through not acting or overt support. What will they gain from this? Are there resons religious, political, ethnic? It is hard to say. What's to be done? Even harder to say. Should the United States send troops to end the conflict? I must say no. It is not our fight. Regardless how shameful it is and how terrible the loss is, this is not our fight. The African community must decide to end this and take action. Current engagement from the African Union has been minimal. Decisions to resolve the conflict must come from the Africans themselves. Our efforts should focus on diplomatic pressures to keep outside interference from influencing and promoting the conflict. We need to attempt to understand who gains from the Sudanese governments continued atrocities and focus our efforts on changing their minds on supporting this through either diplomatic means or otherwise. It's a hard decision to make. Millions will die, but I don't want US Soldiers dying for something not of our concern.

I'd like to hear what you have to think,