Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Senator Barack Obama On U.S. Foreign Policy @ Chicago Council on Global Affairs - NY Times

Obama Outlines His Foreign Policy Views
NY Times | April 23, 2007

By Jeff Zeleny

CHICAGO, April 23 -- Senator Barack Obama said today that even though the global image of the United States has been sullied by the war in Iraq and a "foreign policy based on a flawed ideology," America must repair its standing in the world and resist the temptation to turn inward.

"America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America," Mr. Obama said. "We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission - we must lead the world, by deed and example."

In a speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Mr. Obama presented himself as a presidential candidate "who can speak directly to the world." After a sharp critique of President Bush, Mr. Obama called for increasing foreign aid to developing countries, expanding and modernizing the military and rebuilding fractured alliances.

"This president may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open," Mr. Obama said. "And it's time to fill that role once more."

Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat elected to the United States Senate two years ago, delivered the first major foreign policy address of his Democratic presidential bid to hundreds of supporters in the ballroom of a downtown hotel here. It is the first of several policy speeches he is scheduled to deliver in the coming weeks as he works to define his candidacy with specific proposals an Obama administration would pursue.

"This election offers us the chance to turn the page and open a new chapter in American leadership," Mr. Obama said. "The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it."

He added: "This is going to require a new spirit, not of bluster and bombast, but of quiet confidence and sober intelligence, a spirit of care and renewed competence."

In the opening three months of his presidential race, Mr. Obama has solidified his role as one of the leading contenders for the nomination, raising more money than any of his rivals for the primary campaign. But Mr. Obama is also striving to expand his appeal beyond that of a best-selling author and political celebrity as he tackles questions of substance and policy.

The United States must build a 21st century military, Mr. Obama said, in addition to "showing wisdom in how we deploy it." He called for expanding American ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines. But less than 1 percent of the military can speak Arabic, Mandarin or Korean - a shortcoming he said needs to be corrected through training and recruitment.

"We know what the war in Iraq has cost us in lives and treasure, in influence and respect," Mr. Obama said. "We have seen the consequences of a foreign policy based on flawed ideology, and a belief that tough talk can replace real strength and vision."

The Bush administration, Mr. Obama said, "squandered that opportunity" to unite the world after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The war in Iraq, he said, "was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies, a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset."

"And after all the lives lost and the billions of dollars spent, many Americans may find it tempting to turn inward, and cede our claim of leadership in world affairs," Mr. Obama said. "I insist, however, that such an abandonment of our leadership is a mistake we must not make."

If elected, Mr. Obama said he would lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and materials across the world within four years. In addition to securing stockpiles of nuclear material, Mr. Obama said the United States should work to negotiate a ban on producing new nuclear weapons material.

To discourage countries from building weapons programs, Mr. Obama endorsed the concept of providing reactor fuel through an international nuclear fuel bank, proposed last year by former Senator Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat who now advises the Nuclear Threat Initiative. As president, Mr. Obama said he would provide $50 million to get the fuel bank started and urge Russia and other countries to join.

Mr. Obama also called for the United States to rebuild its alliances, reform the United Nations and strengthen NATO.

"We have heard much over the last six years about how AmericaĆ¢€™s larger purpose in the world is to promote the spread of freedom - that it is the yearning of all who live in the shadow of tyranny and despair," Mr. Obama said. "I agree, but this yearning is not satisfied by simply deposing a dictator and setting up a ballot box."

Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, dismissed Mr. Obama's criticism.

"Senator Obama started his career with a tone of hope, but has quickly turned to one of blame," Ms. Miller said. "Obama has no foreign policy experience; therefore has no record of having done anything - wrong or otherwise. His comments today blamed others and failed to detail his own plan for success."

Signposts On The Zeitgeist - David Halberstam Passes - SF Chronicle

Signposts On The Zeitgeist - Paul Erdman Passes - SF Chronicle

I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Erdman only once, and was struck by his kindness and willingness to engage in conversation. He's one of those popular economists who's ideas and words were always part of popular culture and certainly a part of my intellectual awareness.

Paul Erdman -- expert economist and prolific writer

Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paul Erdman, a world-class economist and banker who used his knowledge of economics and politics to write best-selling novels, died at his Sonoma County ranch Monday after a long illness.

He was 74.

Mr. Erdman was a renaissance man -- an expert on high finance who once was the CEO of a Swiss bank, wrote 10 novels and two non-fiction books, was an Internet and newspaper columnist, and was a man of charm and culture who could talk on nearly every subject.

His opinions on professional football were published in newspapers, he held baseball season tickets, and he admired the Georgetown University basketball team.

One of his greatest achievements, said his daughter Constance Erdman Narea, "was inspiring intellectual curiosity.''

"Knowledge was something very, very important to him,'' said Hernan Narea, his son-in-law.

Mr. Erdman had the rare gift of being able to communicate his knowledge in a clear and entertaining manner.

His first book, "The Billion Dollar Sure Thing,'' published in 1973, received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His second book, "The Silver Bears," was made into a movie starring Michael Caine and Jay Leno.

His books have been translated into 32 languages and spent a combined 152 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His other books include "The Crash of '79", published in 1976; "The Panic of '89" in 1987; "The Palace"; "The Swiss Account"; and his last book, "The Great Game," to be published this year.

His books were entertaining and got excellent reviews. "I gave 'The Palace' a read,'' San Francisco author Peter Delacorte wrote in 1988, "and I want to tell you, I was floored."

His genre was what reviewers called "financial thrillers,'' with complex plots and carefully researched settings.

"I never write about a place unless I've been there," he told Metroactive, an online book publication. His last novel -- "The Great Game'' -- is set in Uzbekistan, where Mr. Erdman traveled in 1991. He was intrigued at first by exotic places like Samarkand, but the book is a cautionary tale about power politics and oil in central Asia.

Mr. Erdman's books were more than entertaining -- "The Swiss Account," a 1992 novel, has been credited with triggering worldwide investigations into the role of the Swiss in connection with Nazi Germany during World War II.

Paul Emil Erdman was born in Ontario in 1932. His parents were Americans and his father was a minister. He was educated in U.S. prep schools and earned a degree from Georgetown's foreign service school. He later received a doctorate in economics with the highest honors from the University of Basel in Switzerland.

He was an international economist from 1957 to 1961 in Europe and at the Stanford Research Institute. Later, he founded and was the CEO of a Swiss bank.

Mr. Erdman visited San Francisco years ago and became enamored of the city.

"He could have lived anywhere in the world, but he chose San Francisco,'' said his daughter Constance. "He was a San Franciscan first and foremost.''

He lived on Nob Hill for many years, and also maintained his Sonoma County ranch, near Healdsburg, where he did a lot of his writing.

Mr. Erdman had strong loyalties. One was to Georgetown. He appeared frequently on campus and on the 75th anniversary of the foreign service school he was one of 12 alumni to be placed in the school's Hall of Fame. Another was former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Erdman also made a point of always mentioning San Francisco or San Franciscans in his novels. One of his favorite spots, the Big Four restaurant on Nob Hill, appeared often.

Mr. Erdman is survived by his wife, Helly , of the family home in Sonoma County; two daughters, Jennifer Erdman of Healdsburg and Constance Erdman Narea of Greenwich, Conn.; and two granddaughters.

The funeral will be private.

Bush Greets Colts at White House

Bush Greets Colts at White House
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON -- Even when football season ends, superstar quarterback Peyton Manning is hard to miss on TV. He has become such a marketable pitchman that his commercials -- a sports drink here, a credit card company there -- seem endless. Apparently, President Bush has taken notice while flipping the channels.

"So a lot of people here in the White House compound have been really looking forward to seeing Peyton Manning," Bush said Monday on the South Lawn. "They wanted to see a guy who gets more air time than I do."

The good-natured poke came as Bush welcomed another championship team to the White House: The Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in a pounding rainstorm last February to become Super Bowl champs. On Monday, players basked in the sunshine below the South Portico, as Bush hailed them for ignoring naysayers and playing as a well-balanced team.

As he usually does at these events, Bush played up the theme of perseverance. He liked that the Colts fought through ups and downs.

"Isn't that what life is about, isn't it really?" Bush said. "Through the ups -- it's easy to fight hard in the ups. It's when the downs come that you've got to be a fighter."

The team's coach, Tony Dungy, became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. Long one of the most respected figures in the National Football League, Dungy coped with the suicide of his son, James, in late 2005. Bush alluded to that.

"He is a man who has used his -- a position of notoriety to behave in a quiet and strong way in the face of personal tragedy that has influenced a lot of our fellow citizens," Bush said of Dungy, who stood next to him on stage. "And I want to thank you for your courage."

The Colts are used to getting showered with attention. More than 93 million people watched the Super Bowl. Yet the team's players and executives seemed awed to be at the White House, and they didn't hide it.

Players pulled out personal cameras to get photos with Bush. They did the same with another political star and football fan who showed up for the ceremony -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Earlier, players visited injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Manning, Dungy and a handful of others also got a 20-minute tour of the Oval Office from Bush.

"Winning the Super Bowl a few months ago was probably about as special as you could get," Manning told reporters after the White House ceremony. "But I'm not sure you could actually beat what's happened here today."

As for all those commercials, Manning said he's used to getting ribbing from teammates. All Bush did, he said, was provide "more ammo for the offensive line to have some fun with me."