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September 24, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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On Campus

Bombs with burton

American foreign policy buff Joe Burton has the world’s most powerful arsenal if you count knowledge bombs. It was shock and awe on a Friday afternoon when he spoke to Salient.

This Iraq thing has gone on for ages, what’s going on there?
US has withdrawn combat forces, but there’s still a lot of diplomatic personnel tasked with trying to help the government stabilise the country and keep on path to democratic reform and to monitor economic relations which are fundamentally important. The country’s still plagued by sectarian violence, which isn’t going away soon.

Villainous bad apples have killed the US ambassador to Libya and violence has erupted around other US embassies in the Middle East. What does this mean for Presidential hopefuls, Mit Romney and Barack Obama?
Obama needs to appear strong and in pursuit of justice. Romney may be presented with an opportunity to attack Obama if he fails to do this. This is one of the most serious attacks on the US since 9/11.

Al Qaeda feels sick?

They’ve been significantly hurt by the War on Terror—Bush was successful in tracking down and killing senior figures. They are on the run since being driven out of Afghanistan and even the Taleban don’t want them around. Al Qaeda are under a lot of pressure and certainly aren’t the force they were. The revolutions of the Arab Spring pose a serious threat to Islamic extremism and groups like Al Qaeda because they are empowering Islamic groups to get political change through legitimate means and without violence.

The Americans are pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014. A case of premature ejection?
Taleban will continue to control parts of the country but general wisdom is that they would be incapable of capturing Kabul and reclaiming all Afghanistan. The government under Karzai as well as various tribes hold too much power for the Taleban to seize power again.

What do you think of the politicisation of Michelle Obama? (What’s love got to do, got to with it?)
The first lady is a peculiar political institution— there aren’t many countries that play it up as much as the US. Some first ladies have had substantive policy portfolios. Hillary tried to drive the healthcare policy, and Michelle’s all over “Let’s Move” (obesity initiative). Michelle is fantastic; hers was one of the best speeches [at the Democratic National Convention]. Whether or not it is an appropriate role, they do humanise their husbands.

My dad said Obama’s got it, so does Romney even stand a chance?

Certainly. Obama has had a poll bounce, but the actual difference when likely voters are asked is only 1 per cent. One Republican tactic is to discourage registration of ethnic minorities and poor people, which is simply disgraceful. In some places they are trying to create new conditions for certain people to be able to vote—e.g. drivers’ licence and registered photo.

Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican Convention showed us not all cultural types gag Obama. Enjoy the antics?
It was worth seeing. I thought he was very funny and did a good job considering it was all improvised. Good on him I think. Eastwood is of a small Hollywood minority not in support of Obama.

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