"After a debacle such as Iraq, you might expect some of the fundamental assumptions underpinning American foreign policy to be questioned. On the evidence of the presidential election, you would be disappointed." Gideon RachmanDavid Seaton's News Links
For me, finding American democracy a hollow shell is the most disturbing aspect of the war and its aftermath. "Political autism" is the name I give it. It is as if the American political system had set out to illustrate the theories of Herbert Marcuse.
The only positive aspect of the war has been the awakening it is bringing about. The system has been failing the people it is supposed to represent in every area imaginable. Only a micro-financed, grassroots movement that converted the citizens into a pressure group -- which in fact is what democracy is supposed to be -- can ever correct this rot. DS
Gideon Rachman: Many contenders but just one voice - Financial Times
Abstract: On a whole range of issues that remain very controversial even among close American allies in Europe and Asia, there is a broad American consensus. This spans Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards on the Democratic side to Rudolph Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson among the Republicans. All of the main candidates want to build up the American military rather than shrink it. (Senator Clinton wants to add 80,000 troops to the army). They all agree that the US has the right to take pre-emptive military action in the “war on terror”. They all still argue that the US should be promoting democracy around the world. None would accept the idea that the UN could ever constrain America, if vital national interests were at stake. They are all strong supporters of Israel. And they are all talking tough on Iran.Even on Iraq – despite the bitter rhetoric – the mainstream Democratic and Republican positions are closer than either side would care to acknowledge. President George W. Bush announced last week that troops will start withdrawing later this year. The “surge” is over. But none of the main Democratic candidates endorses the anti-war left’s call for an immediate and complete pull-out. So the debate comes down to an argument about the scale and pace of troop withdrawals. This is not an insignificant question. The answers range from Senator Obama’s ambition to get most American troops out by the end of 2008 while retaining a “residual force” to attack al-Qaeda, to Senator McCain’s suggestion that some US troops may stay in a pacified Iraq for decades. But all the candidates are responding to the public desire to wind the war down, in as “responsible” a fashion as possible. The fact that the candidates’ rhetoric and positions are converging does not, however, mean they would govern identically. While everybody says it is unacceptable for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, the candidates have different instincts. All of the Democrats and Mr Romney on the Republican side are disinclined to bomb; but Messrs Giuliani and McCain might well seek to “take out” Iranian nuclear facilities, if Mr Bush has not got there first. And despite the many areas of bipartisan consensus, there are a few important differences between Republicans and Democrats. All of the Democrats talk a lot about global warming. The Republicans – with the exception of Mr McCain – do not seem too bothered. And while all of the candidates have to sound sceptical of the UN, the Republicans are much warier of international institutions and treaties. But, as an outsider, it is still the broad agreement among the candidates that is more striking than their disagreements. After a debacle such as Iraq, you might expect some of the fundamental assumptions underpinning American foreign policy to be questioned. On the evidence of the presidential election, you would be disappointed. READ IT ALL