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International Affairs
  • Barack Obama Learns to Speak Australian

    Australia is one of America's most stalwart allies, holding the distinction of being the only country possessing enough loyalty, friendship, and stupidity to fight alongside the United States in every major conflict since World War II (unlike those "pommy bastards" who sat out Vietnam).

    So when the U.S. had the temerity to inflict a Kim Kardashian visit on an innocent Australian public, there was only one way to make up for it: an official visit by President Obama, who was able say g'day to the Aussies and their Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in their own lingo…

    I know there is some concern here that your Australian language is being Americanized so perhaps its time for us to reverse the trend. Tonight with your permission I'd like to give it a burl ("give it a try"). I want to thank the prime minister for a very productive meeting that we had today, I think she’ll agree that it was a real chinwag ("good chat").

    When Julia and I meet we listen to each other, we learn from each other, it’s not just a lot of ear-bashing ("telling you a thing or two") — that’s a good one, ear bashing. I can use that in Washington. (laughs) There’s a lot of ear-bashing sometimes. That’s been the story of our two nations. Through a century of progress and struggle we have stood together in good times and in bad. We've faced our share of sticky wickets ("difficult circumstances"). In some of our darkest moments when our countries have been threatened, when we needed a friend to count on, we’ve always been there for each other.

    I see a couple explanations for how Obama was able to charm the Australians with a little chinwagging and humor as dry as a dead dingo's donger.  Barack Obama could in fact be an Australian-borne half-kangaroo-half-man human-animal hybrid (it's a complicated theory, here's a starting point)…or, the yabber could be part of a calculated diplomatic-military offensive

    Australia has agreed to host a full US Marine task force in the coming years, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced at a news conference with US President Barack Obama in Canberra.

    She said about 250 US Marines would arrive next year, eventually being built up to 2,500 personnel. The deployment is being seen as a move to counter China's growing influence. But Mr Obama said the US was "stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific", not excluding China.

    2,500 Marines are not enough to counter a 2 million+ strong People's Liberation Army, so I'm sorry Australia, but we're probably coming to take your…what, you don't have oil? Fine, your coal and gold. You've been warned.

    Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Australia, Barack Obama, China, International Affairs, Military
  • Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman Torture GOP with Sane Foreign Policy Views

    I once thought Marxist constitutional law professor Barack Obama was going to abide by the Geneva Conventions and bring back the rule of law, yet Saturday evening found the Republican presidential candidates discussing bombing foreigners foreign policy, so clearly torture is still practiced in the United States. But just Who Would Jesus Waterboard, according to the candidates who participated in the partially-televised, partially-smoke-signaled South Carolina debate?

    According to supposed crazy person Ron Paul, who was allowed to speak for a total of 90 seconds in the first hour of the debate (for how can you allow disagreement in a debate?), not even Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Board deserve torture…

    Well, waterboarding is torture. It's illegal under international law and under our law. It's also immoral. And it's also very impractical. There's no evidence that you really get reliable evidence. Why would you accept the position of torturing 100 people because you know one person might have information? And that's what you do when you accept the principle of torture. I think it's uncivilized and has no practical advantages and is really un-American to accept on principle that we will torture people that we capture.

    Oh, that crazy uncle Ron. Every real Republican knows our government is incapable of providing health care and education, incompetent at regulating environmental pollutants, ineffective at constructing infrastructure, feckless in its attempts at consumer protection, and inept at conducting basic scientific research, but it's constitutionally impossible for the government to make a mistake when it comes to deciding which person to execute, assassinate or torture. This makes perfect sense. Like when I refuse to let my nephew handle a steak knife, because he's a first-grader, but trust him to conduct open-heart surgery, because what's the worst that can happen?

    We diminish our standing in the world and the values that we project, which include liberty, democracy, human rights, and open markets, when we torture. We should not torture. Waterboarding is torture. We dilute ourselves down like a whole lot of other countries. And we lose that ability to project values that a lot of people in corners of this world are still relying on the United States to stand up for them.

    That's the worst that can happen, according to Jon Huntsman. Doesn't sound so bad. Maybe I'll get my nephew that scalpel for Christmas after all.

    Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: CBS, Debates, International Affairs, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, South Carolina, Torture
  • LiveBlogging the GOP Foreign Policy Debate in South Carolina, Sat. 11/12 @8/7c

    After the 14th or 15th GOP debate this season, someone must have pointed out that the candidates had yet to have a thorough discussion about U.S. foreign policy. Or more likely, that they had yet to have a thorough discussion about U.S. foreign policy and how great that Ryan Gosling movie Drive was. So they flipped a coin…

    Foreign policy it is. Join us here and @TheInDecider Saturday, 11/12 at 8/7c for real-time coverage of the GOP debate at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Seriously, though. They can't ignore Drive forever.

    Tags: CBS, Debates, Herman Cain, International Affairs, Jon Huntsman, Liveblog, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, South Carolina
  • Stephen Colbert on Herman Cain's Foreign Policy Expertise

    At least Cain hasn't vowed to put the first man on the moon by 2020.

    The Colbert Report airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30/10:30c.

    Tags: China, Herman Cain, International Affairs, Nuclear, Primaries, Republicans, Sean Hannity, Sex, Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, Wikipedia
  • Republicans Blast Obama on Iraq Withdrawal

    After nine years, a trillion-plus dollars, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed, and  nearly 5,000 U.S. and Coalition lives lost, Barack Obama announced on Friday that the United States would take the flowers, chocolate, and "thank you, liberators" greeting cards, which we were promised by Dick Cheney, in a doggy-bag and get the hell out of Dodge (also Diyala, and Fallujah, and Baghdad)

    Obama's statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the U.S. would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011. He never mentioned the tense and ultimately fruitless negotiations with Iraq over whether to keep several thousand U.S. forces in Iraq as a training force and a hedge against meddling from Iran or other outside forces…

    "I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," Obama said.

    Naturally, the 2012 presidential contenders are standing behind the Commander in Chief. With a shiv in hand.

    Mitt Romney called the withdrawal an "astonishing failure," the result of either a "naked political calculation or sheer ineptitude."  Senator Lindsey Graham said the decision would "haunt our country." Foreign policy maven Herman Cain described Obama's approach as "dumb." But leave it to Michele Bachmann to propose a new Reverse Pottery Barn Rule Foreign Policy Doctrine

    "I believe that Iraq should reimburse the United States fully for the amount of money that we have spent to liberate these people," said Rep. Bachmann in an appearance Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "They are not a poor country, they are a wealthy country."

    Yes, how dare a country with a per capita income of $3,600 not compensate the United States for the privilege of having their nation ravaged by an invasion and mismanaged occupation?

    Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Barack Obama, Herman Cain, International Affairs, Iraq, Lindsey Graham, Michele Bachmann, Military, Mitt Romney, Republicans