Ten little Republicans, all in a line,
discussing foreign policy one at a time.
They lambaste Obama as socialist slime
inadvertently refuting intelligent design.
They all agree that the Islamic threat
is even more fearful than the national debt.
They couldn’t tell Shia from Sunni, I’ll bet.
But the sight of an imam sure makes them sweat.
Tim Pawlenty is tougher than all of the rest.
He’d take on all bullies at our country’s behest,
like America’s a sheriff in the old Wild West
or a pumped-up version of Father Knows Best.
Jon Huntsman‘s a diplomat, that’s all to the good.
He speaks Mandarin, which all of us should.
But speak Republican? I’m not sure that he could.
He’ll try tilting right to make us forget where he’s stood.
Gary Johnson worries about the money we’ve spent.
He’s proposed cutting the military 40 percent.
Given a chance he’d privatize all government!
Back to the Gilded Age, that’s his intent.
These hawks in doves’ clothing just for the day
only this president’s wars will they ever naysay.
Once in the White House, they’d announce “Bombs away.”
With the victims and taxpayers the ones left to pay.
The president is rightly critiqued from the left
for ignoring huge gobbets of financial theft,
for not cutting away at the Pentagon’s heft,
for wars that leave countries completely bereft.
From this Republican field, there’s nothing to fear.
Their foreign policy is anything but clear.
With the economic recovery yet to appear,
don’t expect much global talk in the election next year.
I’ve rendered my opening essay in verse to celebrate the return of poetry to the Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) website. If you tire of doggerel — either mine or the politicians’ — check out these authentic poems we’ve just published from FPIF contributors. In Persis Karim’s Other Mothers, a mother confronts her son going off to war, “an angry boy with an inkling/of manhood, undeterred/by what I said or didn’t say.” War is also the subject of Normal, by Reginald Harris: “live long enough/with war/and it becomes/normal.”
In The Day Obama Decided, Margit Berman imagines the day when the president declares all wars over and orders all the soldiers come home: “They rode ferris wheels with teenagers from Guantanamo,/passed baklava, pupusas, and mangoes on sticks/down the streets to anyone who wanted them.” And in Rubber Dollie, Scott Hightower imagines Abu Ghraib as a spectacle of cruelty where “there are no flowers,/no curtain. And it’s not a ballet./It’s a macabre charade,/one night in the secret/theater of Abu Ghraib.”
In her review of The Postman, FPIF contributor Alicia Gregory looks at Korean poet Mun Dok-su’s epic, which “addresses some of the largest questions of humanity. What is at the root of war, terror, and destruction? How does one hold on to one’s humanity in the face of modern warfare and technology? As a postman delivers news to the door, Mun Dok-su delivers answers to his reader. At 82 years old, the poet has given the world his landmark work—an epic poem that exudes fire and fearlessness.”
Humala on Top
In Peru, the candidate of the left, Ollanta Humala, put an end to speculation that the House of Fujimori might regain its control over the country. “Humala captured the vote of those who feel left out of Peru’s steady economic growth of the past 10 years,” write FPIF contributors Coletta Youngers and Jo-Marie Burt in Peru: What’s Next for Humala? “Humala moved to the center to win the elections. With a slim majority in Congress and a still-strong conservative opposition, however, he may well find it difficult to implement even his moderate program of change.”
In Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing a revolt, but it’s not from the streets. The Iranian president has squared off against the clerics. “Although it may play out in arguments over obscure religious issues — one critic of the president accused him of recruiting an army of genies – at its heart the fight is over political and economic power: who wields it and to what purpose?” writes FPIF columnist Conn Hallinan in Iran: Turmoil at the Top. “Some of the players, like the president and the supreme leader, perform in the spotlight. Others, like the powerful Revolutionary Guard and an increasingly restive population hammered by economic difficulties, operate in the wings.”
Uganda, meanwhile, is gearing up for a different fight altogether — around the new discoveries of oil in the country. “Hopes are high across the country that the flow of oil will jumpstart development and ameliorate poverty,” writes FPIF contributor Jason Hickel in Saving Uganda from Its Oil. “Historically speaking, these hopes are terribly misplaced, for the discovery of oil in Africa has rarely brought about positive socio-economic outcomes. Indeed, quite the opposite is true: regions with an abundance of non-renewable sub-surface resources nearly always experience declining development and less economic growth than countries with fewer such resources.”
What Ever Happened to Rendition?
The Obama administration promised to turn over a new page in U.S. policy on terrorism. That new page has yet to be turned. “Despite the rhetorical shift that Obama heralded, and the promises made by executive order, the president chose not to dismantle some of the most legally questionable tactics that the Bush administration employed in the conduct of the so-called War on Terror,” writes FPIF contributor Noah Gimbel in Has the Rendition Program Disappeared? “Perhaps most importantly, Obama has maintained the government’s right to kill foreign nationals and American citizens alike, anywhere in the world, whom the president deems ‘a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests,’ evidence of guilt and constitutional rights notwithstanding.”
And now for some good news. The International Labor Organization has approved a convention on the rights of domestic workers. “For most of human history, the work of domestic workers has been invisible, hidden away in private homes,” writes FPIF contributor Ai-jen Poo, who attended the drafting sessions in Geneva, in Domestic Workers at the ILO. “It has been considered ‘natural’ women’s work, and it has been taken for granted. During this ILO process, governments, national trade union federations, and employer groups from every nation have had to think deeply about domestic work as real work that – like any other type of work – deserves basic labor standards.”
Finally, FPIF contributor Katie Thomas visited the Japanese coastal town of Soma, which is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and tsunami. In Postcard from…Soma, she finds a way to help out a kindergarten and gives FPIF readers a way to help too.