With apologies to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King: Ten Things I Think I Think…

The one blog I read every week is Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” at Sports Illustrated. King aficionados might recognize my weak (if unattributed) shout-outs to him which come in the form of not really worrying so much about the length of any post, covering a variety of subjects, and liberally blending in the pop ...

579943_091005_rothkopfb2.jpg
579943_091005_rothkopfb2.jpg

The one blog I read every week is Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” at Sports Illustrated. King aficionados might recognize my weak (if unattributed) shout-outs to him which come in the form of not really worrying so much about the length of any post, covering a variety of subjects, and liberally blending in the pop culture references. They will also recognize that I am not in his league and that the subject about which he writes, football, is significantly more interesting than most of the subjects about which I write.

One of the things he does frequently is offer lists of rapid fire opinions which often come under the rubric of “Ten Things I Think I Think.” Consider the following yet another tribute to him … because that is a much nicer way of thinking of it than concluding I simply stole his title and format. 

  1. Jim Jones is coming into his own. He was just what Obama needed this weekend: Solid, thoughtful, and immune to Republican taunts that this administration doesn’t get the military.
  2. Good as Jones was, frankly, I am surprised General McChrystal has gotten off so easy for his comments last week about why narrowing our objectives in Afghanistan wasn’t a good idea. It was totally out of bounds and bordering on insubordination. He is trying to play political hardball with his Commander-in-Chief … a game he is always going to lose. Jones put it to rest elegantly however, with his pointed comment that gracefully reminded everyone where McChrystal sits in the chain of command.
  3. As good and skeptical as the administration seems to be about the advice they are getting on Afghanistan, we seem to be on the verge of once again allowing ourselves to be played on Iran’s nuclear program. Teheran creates the illusion of dialogue and simulated openness … but they are proven liars who have every incentive to have a long-process and with each passing day, less to ultimately play by international rules. (They are Lucy with the football. We are Charlie Brown. When will we learn?)
  4. This kerfuffle about Chicago is nonsense. The president went and promoted his home city for a few hours. It’s not like he was out of touch. It’s not like he didn’t use the time to achieve other things.  Imagine the press if he hadn’t gone and the results were what they were. A non-story.
  5. I am from New Jersey. I hate the Washington Redskins. I love that they are condemned to wander aimlessly through the Swamps of Snyder testing the limits of their own mediocrity. But their lousiness only makes it a greater insult to Native Americans that the team continues to cling to a name that is a repulsive relic, an ethnic slur that would not be tolerated if the group being insulted were more politically powerful. Enough. Change the name.
  6. Rumor has it the administration is — at the highest levels — trying to figure out a way to get the Panama and Colombia trade deals done. That’s good news. To the extent it is the only trade liberalization that gets done on Ron Kirk’s watch, that would be a bad thing. Remember folks, these are measly little deals.  Do them…but let’s not buy into some twisted logic that argues that if you do them it will excuse a raft of protectionist measures (Chinese tires, anyone?) as counterpoint in a “balanced” policy.
  7. Speaking of balance: The problem with U.S. foreign policy is that more often than not the true Secretary of State of the United States is yesterday’s newspaper. That’s what determines what today’s policy will be. We achieve balance in complex relationships through cyclical inconsistency. Slam China on tires … tiptoe around them on Tibet … hope that gives you some room to make nice with Taiwan on arms transfers. Too often the countervailing measures are out of whack in terms of real importance to us or to them. 
  8. The Times has a piece today headlined “The G.O.P. Campaign Message in a Word: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” While it might be argued that’s three words, it’s right on point. This is what campaign 2010 will be about, especially with growing certainty that the unemployment rate will pass 10 percent. But I worry we are missing a bigger problem: the jobless recovery. Who’s to say the six million jobs we lost come back or come back fast enough to keep up with demand for work? Look at the auto industry: rapid shift of well known brands to China, India and Korea. New brands rising. Same story elsewhere. I think we need to prepare for a future that is actually rather different from the past.
  9. The Pew Research Center releases a study today saying that most of coverage of the economic downturn focused on problems on Wall Street and government issues and that how average folks were hit got short shrift. Hope they didn’t spend too much money on the study … because as worthy as the intent may be and as important as the message is, we already knew that, right?
  10. I can’t tell whether the picture of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mohammed El Baradei on the cover of today’s Wall Street Journal struck me because it reminded me of Wallace Shawn and Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride or because I think it may end up being used as a model for the little plastic statuettes to be used on wedding cakes for gay men of a certain age, but it brought welcome absurdity to the front page of the Wall Street Journal (as opposed to the editorial page where it is usually found).

Win McNamee/Getty Images

David Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017. Twitter: @djrothkopf

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