Questions on Kagan Article

I know I said I’d pose fewer questions than Dr. Russell. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded, but take a shot at some or all of these. Once again, we’ll discuss the Kagan article in class on Thursday.

1. According to Robert Kagan, what is the source of “American self-righteousness”?

2. Broadly speaking, the Bush administration’s foreign policy was initially guided by what underlying principle(s)?

3. In paragraph 10, Kagan quotes Condoleezza Rice arguing, as Bush’s foreign policy advisor in 2000, that “U.S. foreign policy had to be rooted in the ‘firm ground of the national interest,’ not in the ‘interests of an illusory international community’.” The phrase “national interest” is one that is used loosely, liberally, and typically quite vaguely in political discourse? What, specifically, do you think Rice (and by extension the Bush administration) meant by “national interest?” If you were to use the phrase, what, specifically, would it mean for you?

4. As Kagan points out, the Bush administration’s foreign policy changed abruptly after 9/11. But as he also notes, there were obstacles that prevented the U.S. from “returning to the old Cold War style of leadership in a post-Cold War, post-9/11 world. Kagan identifies what two obstacles?

5. How, according to Kagan, did most Americans misread the world reaction to 9/11? What did many opinion leaders around the world see as a “major cause” of 9/11? What is the “gap in perceptions” between America and much of the rest of the world that Kagan speaks of in this context?

6. Kagan argues that “the war on terror has been by far Bush’s greatest success? What does he attribute as the reasons for its success? On the other hand, why does he see the “war on terror paradigm” as an insufficient basis for U.S. foreign policy?

7. Why does Kagan believe many of our allies were willing to overlook U.S. actions in the Vietnam War but not in the Iraq War?

8. Why does Kagan say Europe perceives the problem of radical Islam differently from the U.S.?

9. Under the “Incompetent Hegemon?” section, why does Kagan say “many could only explain the [Iraq] war as a war for oil, or for Israel, or for U.S. imperialism…?”

10. What does Kagan see as the reasons for the post-war failure in Iraq?

11. What is Kagan’s general view of future U.S. prospects on the world stage? What does he see as the structure of the international system for the foreseeable future?

12. Why does Kagan say it’s more difficult today to have the kind of U.S. leadership and cooperation with alliances that we had during the Cold War?



On an autumn night November 4, 2008 Senator Barack Obama became President elect Barack Obama, in front a compacting crowd of thousands of his supporters in Chicago, IL. He recited a speech of hope and change that touched and invigorated not only his supporters on hand but millions of others abroad this nation. Many cried, many cheered Barack’s win over McCain that night, but was it in fact really a win worth cheering for? Many celebrated this win as if it was like your favorite team winning game seven of the World Series.  After getting past my initial happiness for Obama I now view his win as more of a say game five of a best of seven victory in which you still trail the series three games to one. Yes a victory, yet and still you have to win three more games before you won it all, and might I add do not lose one more game because then it you will be eliminated.  America won a minor victory that night in my opinion. Indeed we have a president whose proposals look to point the country in the right direction, however he has so many issues ahead of him that one crucial mistake could send the country in a catastrophic state. In this essay I will dissect some not all, of the issues Obama will face going into the next four years.  Overseas issues that stem from the current Iraq war, Iran Nuclear Program, the ever growing Taliban in Afghanistan, and the emerging super powers that are China, Russia, and India.  Of course not to be forgotten the enormous quagmire right here on the home front known as the Economy.  We all know the proposed plans from Obama; from the” Iran Sanitation Enabling Act” to the “New Energy Plan for America”.  Also I’m sure we are aware of Obama’s plans to reach out to the Taliban and to Iran in negations rather than use military force. The plans for the economy, and other countless proposals, however in my paper I did not just simply want to write a paper dissecting these proposals and what have and could be’s  instead I want this paper to really reflect and emphasize the issues that Barack Obama really has to face in 2009. This paper will really make you question if indeed it is even possible for one man to solve all if any of the problems this country faces in the coming years, and it will also make you question, is this indeed worth wild victory for Barack Obama?

                Let’s get the traveling out of the way and begin overseas with Iran and its Nuclear Program which is continually growing unpopular with the United Nations by the day.  Lead by hostile Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran as we know continues to go forward with their creation of nuclear weaponry despite sanctions and threats already implicated, and the threat of even more severe Sanctions by the UN that would tap into the trade of Iran’s prized petroleum reserve with other nations.  These weapons put not only the likes of India and Israel; our allies in harm’s way but they also endanger America itself as you already gather.  Now Obama has proposed not to use military force against Iran but rather negotiate or enact tougher sanctions a la Iran Sanctions Enabling Act.  Now obviously as we all know sanctions and negotiating has not been effective in this situation.  Having Ahmadinejad speak on US soil about the situation in front of a hostile crowd of Columbia University Students only made the situation worse off than it already was.  I believe the only option is to use military force, however Obama plans to use military force for Afghanistan a perfect segway into yet another issue that should cause eminent military conflict.  The Taliban has been said to have gotten even stronger with the US military shifting focus on Iraq over the past eight years at the orders of President Bush and his administration. Obama plans to root out the Taliban as he claims we should of done in the first place following the 9/11 attacks, however is it wise to use our military personal to attack a group that has not attacked us in over seven years, should we move personal to go after Osama bin Laden, whom has not surfaced going on five years,  and when he does he looks malnourished and as if he is dying, who knows if he is even alive today. This could be Iraq all over again. Another great segway into, yet another problem Obama will face ahead of him.  The Iraq War; a war that has cost us close to 30,000 casualties and near 60,000 injuries, that is a depletion of nearly 90,000 soldiers. We all know that Obama has plans to withdrawal troops at a responsible rate, but what will be the outcome of this.  Will Iraq continue to function as democracy or will the absence of US troops cause a backlash that can be detrimental to not only Iraq itself but the United States.  As I mentioned before Obama plans to use military force in Afghanistan in the future, and should expect to do the same in Iran if he wants Nuclear situation to come to a head, but with a depleted military; near 90,000 soldiers we will have to implicate a draft to enroll more soldiers in the military, because I am sure that 18-29 year old men and women are not rushing to their local military enrollment centers to  sign up to join the Army, Navy, or whichever service branch of the military.  What about Korea and Russia? Korea and there missile ambitions, how can that be countered? How will America answer to Russia brutally attacking Georgia our ally? That cannot go without being addressed.  The issues with Korea and Russia can very well turn into ware fare.  Do we have enough military personal to fight four actually five wars counting the one we are in currently? Is that even possible?

                Now I will shift focus to the home front, if you think those foreign affairs are mind boggling really think about the absolute mess we have here in America, the economy.  There is so many things wrong with the economy right now I am not sure where to begin. I guess I start with the high cost of fuel, with the emergence of the likes of China, Russia, and India, dependence on oil is huge in the world.  It is becoming obvious that there is not enough for everyone, hence why the price of gas has sky rocketed. I remember the days when my parents asked for $5 gas, now $5 gas probably will not even get you home God forbid you stop and get something to eat.  Expect to shell out at least $30 a week in a normal vehicle and upwards to the likes of $60 if you are driving a SUV.  Up with the price of fuel goes food, clothing and the other necessities, but what is worse is that people cannot even pay for such expenses because their out of jobs.  The unemployment rate has gone up to it’s highest in 15 years. Companies are cutting back and laying people off.  Which in turn has the housing market plummeting because without a job how can you make your house payment?  Foreclosure is at a record high, people are losing their houses which mean that, the mortgage companies are not receiving payments which in turn has Real Estate giants going out of business, which now as we see the stock market dropping each and every day. When the market drops people lose money.  401k, pensions, retirement’s savings gone, and savings in general gone and where are all these savings held?  in banks.  No money in the banks, banks close as we have seen. It seems like every day a bank merges or is being brought out.  This country’s economic value is in shambles no doubt.  Yet and still there are people out there still bickering about poor education the price of healthcare and etc. Those issues must take a back seat to the economic woes of today, without money you cannot fulfill the needs of schools in America; books, pay to teachers, lunch, classroom maintenance etc, and into college; tuitions, up to date relevant technology without a strong economy you cannot even have a functioning health care system; Doctors and Nurses, facilities to practice in, equipment etc. Americans need to recognize what is important and learn to prioritize. You cannot build a house without a foundation.  The Economy is this Nations foundation and it sorely needs repair right now ahead of anything else.

                So do you see what President Elect Barak Obama has ahead for himself? It’s amazing to really sit back and take in all the mess that we are in right now. Can one man have the fortitude to fix all of this? One human with the same five to six liters of blood running through his body as you and I; one heart, all together  10 fingers and toes, one brain, a normal individual as you and I.  Do you honestly believe he can fix this? Can any human being fix this problem? In my opinion I don’t think so.  I was and still am a Obama supporter but the phrase having his work cut out for you has just taken a whole new meaning.  Jump for joy cheer Obama won, we did it, and what did we really win? Most likely Obama and his supporters one another chance to fix this the United States of America, with the least amount of lead way for failure as it has ever been before in history.


Rivals Unite

By: Leon Wallace

Remember that eposide of Larry King Live when guest George W. Bush went on and on about how Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 was his all time favorite movie?  Or how about that time the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox each rushed out their dugouts charging towards eachother at full speed just to embrace in joyous hugging and laughter at the mound? Or how about that time you were at Apple bees and you looked over at the booth next to you and saw Batman, Joker, Superman, and Lex Luther on a double man date sharing an appitizer of mozzerella sticks. 

You probably never recall any of these events happening and would not expect them ever to happen, just like I’m sure you did not expect this:

Yes, that is right Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton once fierce political rivals now together as part of the same administration. Who would have ever thought? especially after a debate like this….

As you can see Obama and Clinton clashed on numerous issues in just this short clip. From the likes of it one can assume there is going to be a lot of raised voices and slammed doors in the oval office over the next four year. Do you think that the two can co-exist for the greater good of the country? Will Clinton be able to submit to authority of President elect Obama? Will Obama be able to swallow his pride and take into consideration Clinton’s proposals? That remains to be seen Although Obama critized Clinton’s judgement in voting for the Iraq war, and Clinton stating Obama lacked the experience to be President.  Advisors in the Obama administration, say Obama envisioned Clinton as his top diplomat, and even invited her to Chicago to discuss the job just weeks after his historic victory. Advisors to the Obama camp have even complimented Clinton saying she will bring statue and credibility to US diplomatic Relations.  However Democrats question whether Clinton is too independent and politically ambitious to serve under Obama.  I question the exact same thing. I am still shocked, even more shocked than the time I came up to a red light on my way home and the Incredible Hulk pulled up next to me driving a smart car. I heard it was spacious but wow lol…all jokes aside, I am shocked and eager to see if Obama and Clinton can really make this thing work. Again what do you think?

Ay Dios Mio!!!

By: Leon Wallace

If you live in a heavily populated Hispanic area I am sure you have heard the phrase “Ay Dios Mio!” Which in English translates to, oh my God.  According to an Article published by Politico (popular Latino news outlet) many Latinos are saying ay dios mio to the recent appointments to the Obama cabinet. The article reports

“Obama promised hope and change, Hispanics hoped for the usual two Latino in cabinet, and…why not three or four…early stage appointments trickle disappointment through the Latino community.”

 The Latino community played a key role in Obama victory over McCain just a month ago. To be exact exit polls showed that 67% of Hispanics voted for Obama, and were the deciding factor of many of Obama’s victories in battle ground states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida. Latinos disappoint of Obama’s cabinet selections stem largely from Hispanic Leader of New Mexico Bill Richardson; who seemed to be a shoe in for Secretary of State to Obama being snubbed by non other than Hilary Clinton,  of which whom Bill Richardson had a hand in helping Obama defeat in the primary. In the article Director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (who comes up with these titles…lol) Arturo Vargas states

“There is nobody more prepared and experienced for the job than Richardson…he served as energy secretary and ambassador to the US during the Clinton administration and helped free hostages in North Korea, Cuba, and Iraq.”

Since selecting Clinton, Obama has appointed Hispanics to cabinet but to none to any prestigious positions such as Secretary of State. Is this the first sign of Obama reneging on his promises of change, just 30 days after being elected? What do you think?




I just had to put this video on the blog to show the bullet this country dodged by voting for Obama. For those who haven’t seen this yet: Sarah Palin appeared in Wasilla, Alaska to pardon a local turkey in anticipation of Thanksgiving. After the pardon she gave a TV interview while some guy was slauthering turkeys and draining them in the background. Palin obviously oblivious to what’s going on keeps talking about her life after the election, future goals for Alaska, Oil,… Than in the end they ask her about her Thanksgiving and she says that she is in charge of the turkey.

I just thought this was very ironic and I just wanted to share it with everybody.

I am thankful for many things this year first of which is the privledge to be in the same classroom with you all of you. My eyes have been opened to different points of view foriegn to my own. I am grateful to have the opportunity to view the issues from an immigrant’s, an exchange student’s, a New Yorker’s, and hardworking American’s perspectives.

I am thankful for the hope that our new president has inspired in this country.

I am thankful for those who believe in me and who have gone out of their way to help me succeed.

Lastly but not leastly, I am thankful to Union County College a place where I discoverd my potential and abilty to overcome the ghost from my past. A place where I felt at home.

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I thought this fits nicely with last weeks topic on education. The Freedom Writers Foundation is in my opinion an example of improvements the government should make to fix public education, and not private non-profit organizations.

FWF was founded in 1997 and it’s main mission is to positively impact communities by decreasing high school dropout rates. They work on the belief that every child can learn if provided with engaging material, encouragement and support.

“1 out of 3 students who start public education do not complete high school. Every 9 seconds a student drops out of school in the US” (www.freedomwritersfoundation.org).

Here are their main objectives:

  • Increase involvement of students and teachers.
  • Boost teachers motivation and confidence to avoid them changing professions.
  • Encourage acceptance and embracing of diversity among students.


The popular opinion is that “at risk” problem kids can’t learn until problems with society are fixed (poverty, gang violence, broken families,..) àFWF promotes that these problems can be fixed over time by making an effort to educate those kids so they can break the cycle for themselves.

Their main effort goes into training teachers and to “encourages the use of innovative techniques, a teacher support network, and connections between teachers and local businesses and community leaders”.

“It’s time to give students the opportunity to reach their full potential and aspire to higher education. It’s time to remind them that they can deeply impact their communities and the world”.

 I think that their approach is a good one which the government should pick up and further develop. There are many more aspects of the educational system that need improvement but changing the attitude of students and teachers is an important step into the right direction.