130108_richard_nixon_ap_328I still believe that some of Snowden’s disclosures, and his actions, have forfeited his whistleblower status. But if he’d been a bit more circumspect about what he’d leaked and how he had done it–e.g., not brought US government secrets into the range of Russians and Chinese intelligence agents–that would emphatically not be the case. His disclosures have prompted chilling information about the activities of the NSA and forced a necessary public debate.

Still, comparing Obama to Nixon based on current facts? That’s unhinged. Nixon subverted the law and the Constitution in order to destroy his political opponents and secure political power. Despite  tenuous claims by the far right, there’s no indication that the Obama Administration’s drone policy and approach to whistleblowers stems from such Machiavellian considerations.

It isn’t just that The ‘Nixon card’ and its various corollaries in the right-wing bubble are wrong. This line of argument actually distracts us from the nature and the extent of the challenge to liberal democracy in the United States.

In some respects, Obama’s positions are symptomatic of Obama. And they should be approached as such. In other respects, Obama’s positions are symptomatic of the national-security state in the contemporary era. Almost all of the modalities and infrastructure involved date back decades. But  the convergence of technological change and the tools implemented in the aftermath of 9/11 have given even greater cause for concern. Indeed, for a variety of bureaucratic, political, and institutional reasons, no US President is likely to significantly curtain these powers without a major push by other branches of government.

Some linkage below the fold.

  • Joshua Walker on the future of US diplomacy: “The key for American diplomacy is not doubling down on its great-power past, but harnessing the future on the ground.”
  • Piotr Zalewski argues that Turkey’s “Zero Problems” foreign policy has failed.
  • Viz. Patrick Porter’s post on Taiwan’s military defense, here’s Michael S. Chase on the opposition DPP’s Defense Blue Paper. And also Keven McCauley’s discussion of the challenges faced by the PRC and ROC as they transition all-volunteer forces.
  • The National Interest has run a “pro” and “con” article on admitting Georgia to NATO. Which is kind of like running a “pro” and “con” article on the merits of the GOP nominating John Huntsman for President.
  • Lawfare needs your help (via).
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