Obama has a scream-out-loud sit-down with Tom Friedman, fo-po guru to the stars. I cannot, in hindisght, identify the specific passage that redlined my blood pressure, but here are a couple of candidates:
Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret.
I'll quickly agree that Obama has allowed Libya to drift to disaster, but how, in an interview prompted by our return to Iraq, could Obama not acknowledge the failure to negotiate a sensible Status of Forces agreement with Iraq that left a stabilizing US presence behind? FWIW, he does have a rationalization for that:
But wouldn’t things be better had we armed the secular Syrian rebels early or kept U.S. troops in Iraq? The fact is, said the president, in Iraq a residual U.S. troop presence would never have been needed had the Shiite majority there not “squandered an opportunity” to share power with Sunnis and Kurds. “Had the Shia majority seized the opportunity to reach out to the Sunnis and the Kurds in a more effective way, [and not] passed legislation like de-Baathification,” no outside troops would have been necessary. Absent their will to do that, our troops sooner or later would have been caught in the crossfire, he argued.
So our troops left Iraq, tossing Maliki into the arms of his Shiite sponsor, Iran. But had we stayed, our presence would have been so ineffectual and irrelevant that Maliki would still have jumped wholly into the arms of Iran. Hmm - maybe Obama has more self-awareness than I credit him with.
Folks not yet experiencing apoplexy can try their luck with this bucket of insight from Barack:
At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.
“Our politics are dysfunctional,” said the president, and we should heed the terrible divisions in the Middle East as a “warning to us: societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. And the more diverse the country is, the less it can afford to take maximalist positions.”
So to pick an example nearly at random, what about gay marriage versus civil unions? Ah, well, gay marriage is the common sense answer to Barack (now that he has evolved). Nothing maximalist about thinking that civil unions represent a compromise with evil.
Or take Hobby Lobby and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - the US health insurance industry limped along for decades with a perfectly workable compromise in place which balanced acces to contraception with religious principles. But to hear Barack tell it, the people who now want to preserve that compromise are engaged in a War on Women.
And for a guy to lecture us about "no victor/no vanquished, work together" when he is about to shred the Constitution and impose by Executive fiat his vision of immigration reform which he could not push through Congress (and did not attempt to push through Congress when his party controlled both houses) is outrageous.
Well. Enjoy the day.