Friday, May 2, 2008

Letter to the Washington Post, #1

This one was sent to the Post on 10/29/07:

I read Sebastian Mallaby’s story, “Foreign Policy Grown-Up,” Oct. 29, with interest. Mallaby’s position that sanctions are preferable to war is inarguable, I believe. But everything else Malaby says seems eminently debatable.

Hilary Clinton is an apparent grown-up because she supports sanctions against Iran, says Mallaby. “Bush hatred,” has driven John Edwards to the point that he sees sanctions as a first-stage war tactic rather than a peaceful alternative. Barack Obama’s critiques of Clinton’s support for sanctions are similarly driven by Bush hatred, Mallaby writes. Further, Clinton was correct in supporting military action against Saddam Hussein because sanctions weren’t working, Saddam was out of “his box” and “it was worth taking the risk of unseating him by force.”

Had Mallaby based his support for Clinton and criticism of Obama and Edwards on a set of uncontested historical facts, perhaps I could agree. But there is ample evidence (including from Iraq) that sanctions can be murderous and affect the innocent most severely, substantial debate about whether Saddam was out of his box or otherwise, and skepticism about virtually all the claims of the Bush administration about the danger presented by pre-war Iraq.

As an Obama supporter, I am disappointed with Barack, too. I want to hear more substantial policy positions. In particular, I want to hear Barack say that no nation, including the United States, can be trusted to unilaterally decide what actions will be in the best interests of all countries. I want to hear that the Iraq War and its consequences are a perfect example of the failures of unilateral policy making and action and that an Obama foreign policy would proceed on the principle that action with global consequences will be based on decision-making that occurs in the most democratic and global forums available. And I want to hear Barack say that his administration will do everything possible to create and strengthen such forums.

Jeff Epton
807 Taylor St., NE
WDC 20017

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