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December 06, 2009



I don't know. Afghanistan seems kind of hopeless to me. They all have 8 kids and they are living in a bare desert with one scrap of grass for the whole family. There is always going to be trouble there.

Maybe we should just transfer the people out of that place. 5 mil to Pakistan, 5 mill to India, 5 mill to China, the rest spread out. That is the only solution I think.

Thomas Collins

Friedman can't say so explicitly (it would offend that portion of his readership base who belives that the height of sophistication is ruminating on the ignorance of the pious and the patriotic), but the import of his op ed is that a 2011 withdrawal is not in Obama's cards. There is no way "Poppyfield" Karzai will see the light and push for reform that quickly. Of course, Karzai and cronies will always remain corrupt, so I assume Friedman is talking about reducing the level of corruption to an acceptable level.


I've always assumed that our presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan had to do mainly with two things: 1) Iran, and 2) Central Asian energy (IOW, getting it to the Euro market without going through Russia. I personally cannot think of any other reason for being there at this point in history--doing good to people so resolutely opposed to having good done to them doesn't float my boat at all (aside from questions about the limits of our do-goodism). As for homeland security, there are other effective and needed measures that have yet to be taken, so why not start there?

To my mind, no president has explained those two issues clearly to the American people. That's right--I'm discounting the Israeli inspired scare talk about a nuclear Iran as a reason for being in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'd like to see a larger picture explanation tied to the region as a whole. One that doesn't include us being manipulated by the local players, whether that happens to be Saudi Arabia or Israel or anyone else. Or Iran, either--which seems to have played US administrations like stringed instruments for the past umpteen years. Lets have a clear picture of what this means for America.

And the same goes for Central Asia. What does this mean for America? I'm not saying we shouldn't be involved in the region, but I want a ckear abd convincing explanation of how that includes our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Ras continues as -14 today.


How can a guy from Chicago complain about corruption?

"I shocked. SHOCKED to find out there is corruption in government...... Check with Daley, Rham, to see if that verbage was good for him."


WaPo follies: Cadets left with 'a real clarity about our mission'

The article leads with the occasion of Obama's speech to the cadets, from which combined with the headline one is led to suppose that Obama is the one giving the cadets their clarity.

But reading further into the article, we find:

"You can't spend a day at West Point without being reminded what we're here for," Bernau said. "Everything builds toward that service."

Said Col. Mike Meese, chairman of West Point's social studies department: "There has been an incredible intensity here ever since 9/11. The cadets have a strong belief that this is the defining struggle of their lifetime. Every one of them elected to come here because they want to be a part of it."

In other words, the cadets arrived at West Point with perfect clarity of purpose, which is reinforced by the culture in which they live there. Barry O had nothing to do with it.

I suspect that Obama was the only one in the room confused about the mission.


It was a puff piece, that is belied by the facts within. It is heartbreaking that we have a President unworthy of the efforts of these brave men and women, maybe in three years, that will change. They didn't think it was important to mention that Col. Meese, had been on Gen. Petraeus's staff and as such was a major player in the surge


Smell a Paulbot on the thread.


When you start to lose the high schoolers, you're in trouble long term.

Just had some kids insist I watch the "Government Can" set to the tune of the "Candy Man"

LUN for the link. So accurate it was funnier to them than me.


Hmmm - I almost missed this thread for ever. "in" and "to" were the problem.

Thomas Collins

Anduril, the reason we toppled the Iraqi and Afghan regimes and then kept troops in these countries is relatively straightforward: the Bush Administration concluded that these regimes would continue to give support or provide a base of operations for, or both support and provide a base of operations for, jihadists (it is a constant source of amusement to me that there are actually supposedly intelligent folks who argued that Saddam wouldn't support jihadists because he was secular), and would go back to doing so if we left. Pressuring Iran and other regimes was another aspect (and appears to have had some success in the case of Libya). If one wants to argue against this strategy, fine. It is not only those on the left who have argued against the Bush operations in Iraq. Google "Angelo Codevilla Iraq" to see an interesting critique of the Bush policy in Iraq. However, given what the Bush Administration faced in 2001, I think overall we owe Bush and Cheney a debt of gratitude. It is easy to be a great grand strategist in hindsight. It was not so easy facing the aftermath of the jihadist attacks on NYC and DC, with most folks on the left, center and right micturating in their boxers or thongs about when the suitcase nukes would explode and in what cities the explosions would occur (on the Friday of the week of 9/11, I had my choice of fine dining in Boston at night, because the restaurants, even the ones usually filled to the brim, were virtually empty; there was another exodus out of the city during the week of the 2004 Democrat Convention).

Overall, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al did a better job of confronting Jihadistan than did Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Jamie Goelick et al did, or Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder et al are now doing (for example, it is inconceivable that Bush would ever have considered second guessing the folks who used waterboarding in an attempt to gain information from the Jihadists).


Before clarice breaks out the pistolas, again, I've given up, Po, he has surpassed
the TCO event horizon, whereupon the entire
space time continium comes apart



That made my day...thanks


TC, I can agree with you in part--that Bush had to react in the aftermath of 9/11. He did. It was called Afghanistan. The Iraq invasion came, what, nearly two years later? That was far less reaction than strategic calculation--that's why I link the Iraq invasion with Iran and Central Asian energy. I'm actually open to the notion of Saddam supporting jihadists to get revenge against the US for the first Gulf War. For example, I find the Prague evidence intriguing and persuasive, if not conclusive. OTOH, our "allies" the Saudis certainly did one helluva lot more than Saddam to support jihadis. Simply casting aspersions on hindsight criticism doesn't make the cut--such analysis is a necessary exercise and there was plenty of criticism at the time that we were putting ourselves into a policy box that was unwise. I'll take a look at the Codevilla piece--thanks for the recommendation.


You're welcome.

Maybe we should post to a more active thread when things crank up.

I had shown them the "Hide the Decline" video.


TC, I'll read the Codevilla piece at Claremont later. I read the interview at NRO with Lopez, Q&A: Angelo Codevilla on Iraq and Afghanistan, and he's saying a lot of the things that I've been saying. Some excerpts:

CODEVILLA: The Obama administration's approach is “kinder, gentler" mainly rhetorically. This, however, merely aligns words with deeds. The Bush policy had nothing in common with his words of September 20, 2001: "All who are not with us are against us." In fact, beginning in May 2003, Bush sought to please the UN and the EU. He never confronted Saudi Arabia or Syria for their roles in terrorism in general or Iraq in particular. In Iraq, Bush was desperate to give in to Sunni demands. The "surge" consisted primarily of paying and arming the Sunni tribes who had been shooting at Americans to take over the areas where they are a majority. The Obama folks are accepting Iran's nuclear weapon not one whit more than the Bush team was accepting it.

LOPEZ: Is it wise to be attacking the previous administration so 200 days in?

CODEVILLA: It is as unwise internationally as it is dishonest personally. But it is entirely in the Obama team's political character. It makes sense politically to appear more different than is the case. Both for example, confuse military operations with nation building — a stupidity of historic proportions.

LOPEZ: The idea that the Bush administration was anti-Islam or too negative toward Muslims is ridiculous, isn’t it?

CODEVILLA: George W. Bush bent over backwards — to the point of appearing ridiculous — to show friendliness to Islam. So far did he go that he made it politically incorrect for Americans to point to Saudi Arabia's key role in worldwide terrorism because it is the mother house of Wahhabism, which is rapidly becoming Islam's driving element.

LOPEZ: What is going to happen in Iraq? In Afghanistan?

CODEVILLA: Iraq is breaking into its three constituent parts. The sooner the better. Let us hope that the Turkish government's peace initiative with the Kurds provides Kurdistan with what it needs to hold off whatever united Shia-Sunni assault Prime Minister al-Maliki can cobble together. Other than being anti-Kurdish, Iraq's Sunni and Shia will not agree on anything.

In Afghanistan, things will go from bad to worse, unless and until Pakistan wins its war against the new "Taliban." These are not to be confused with the version that existed up to 2002. The new breed are a product of the juncture between the Saudi-financed Madrassa movement and Nawaz Sharif's party. In Afghanistan itself, the attempt by foreigners to impose central government control will do nothing but increase opposition. We will not be as brutal as the Soviets, and will be less successful. Nation building is another manifestation of liberal hubris.


LOPEZ: Is America in a weakened position?

CODEVILLA: Much weakened. Our armed forces are in harm's way and overworked, without an end in sight. Just as bad, they are being reconfigured chiefly to play a constabulary role. This disables them from serious war.

LOPEZ: If the president would listen to you, what advice might you give him right now?

CODEVILLA: I would advise him to take his job seriously, read some history, and stop looking in the mirror.

A few comments:

1. The breakup of Iraq that we have accomplished will lead to squabbling over its parts among Turkey, Iran and various Arab states--IOW, increased regional instability. If Trita Parsi is correct, however, that could also lead to advantages for Israel, since Israel could end up being an attractive strategic partner to each of the three squabbling factions.

2. His comment re "liberal hubris" and nation building should be placed in proper context: nation building was a Neocon project, but Neocons are almost all "former" liberals.

3. Reading history and taking it seriously is something that Americans have a peculiar aversion for--they'd rather bloviate about "American exceptionalism" and construct sand castles (nation building).

Thomas Collins

Anduril, as to the Israelis, I think the US tilted toward the Israelis in the late 60s because we realized they were the "strong horse." I also think that the US has sat back and watched the Israelis do much of the US's dirty work (for example, Saddam's and Bashir's nuclear programs were the subject of Israeli strikes). As to the neocons, I think the neocons are well within the internationalist thread of US foreign policy. I find Codevilla useful because he questions both the aggressive internationalists and the conciliatory internationalists on the ground that the adherents of both threads don't think through adequately what constitutes victory and how to get there.

In any event, I think the US has obtained far more from its tilt towards Israel thab the Israelis. Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it seems difficult to argue against the notion that the current Administration has both tilted against the Israelis and ticked off the Palestinians. Quite a diplomatic feat.


Encouraging neo Ottoman attitudes doesn't seem a goof idea, there were certainly factions in the administration that took the Iranian Guaed and their clients the
Quazali network seriously. The Salafi neutralists had more influence specially after 2005, specially with the rise of Englund to replace Wolfowitz


TC, I've been scanning Codevilla's longer article, American Statecraft and the Iraq War, and thank you again for the recommendation. It's stimulating reading full of provocative ideas. As I indicated in my previous posts, I disagree with some of his specific conclusions, but I like the principles he enunciates in the main.

He has another article, or rather, he contributes to a symposium on How to Eliminate Iran's Nuclear Weapons. That contribution is also well worth the read. He starts out like this:

Soon Iran will have nuclear weapons. You and I wish it were not so. But making those nukes go away will take forceful, costly acts of war that would surely disrupt, and likely endanger, our own lives. But you don't want to disrupt your life, to set in motion lethal events the end of which you cannot foresee? Then make the best plans you can for living with nuclear weapons in the hands of our Iranian enemies—and the other enemies who, with Iran's help, will likely follow its example.

Then he goes through the alternatives: diplomacy, sanctions, covert action, surgical strikes, before concluding:

The alternative of peace with a nuclear armed Iran should not be discounted. Cheerful acceptance of Iran's nuclear armament would obviate war's pains and hazards. It offers possible advantages, too. First, in a relaxed international atmosphere, the ongoing struggles within Iran may change the regime all by themselves. Then we might not have to fear its armaments. Second, absent Western pressures, Iran would be less tempted by a relationship with Russia that benefits only the latter. Since Iran's long-term interests are with the West, the more relationships its people have with us the more constrained the government will be in the use of its weapons. Friendly relations with Iran would reduce its incentives for exhibiting our impotence by threatening us with high oil prices. Of course, these advantages might not be realized, at least not soon.

Third, abandoning the illusion that cheap talk, pro forma procedures, and token sanctions can exorcise Iran's nuclear force would inject seriousness into the rest of American foreign and defense policy. The current make-believe approach to U.S. missile defense, as well as the dysfunctional abstraction called "war on terrorism," would have to be replaced with something like the 1950s' "containment." A serious combination of accommodation and defense is not a strategy for victory. Nonetheless, it beats talking offensively while acting impotently.


"Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, "

TC, I totally agree.


Re: Thomas Collins | December 06, 2009 at 03:55 PM

Those are issues that I'm open to discussion on. I certainly agree as to the ineptitude of Obama's foreign policy. It seems to me that Obama combines most of the worst in previous administrations' policies. I also fully agree with your assessment, summarizing Codevilla: the adherents of both threads don't think through adequately what constitutes victory and how to get there.

As to benefits that have accrued to the US in supporting Israel, I'm willing to listen. My criticism of Bush in that respect is that his administration seems to have lost perspective and assumed too readily that US and Israeli interests are identical. My view is that Israeli interests will be better served if the US pursues its own interests--Israel may believe that they know best, but will come to appreciate the different approach in the longer term. That, too, goes back to the issue of "think[ing] through adequately what constitutes victory and how to get there."

Whether or not the US has derived benefits from its relationship with Israel is, of course, beside the point when it comes to safeguarding our national security information.

Thanks for the serious and informed comments.


pagar, that went without saying--but you said it anyway. :-)


Doesn't seem terribly reassuring to be hoping for a KHruschev over a Stalin or even Brezhnev regime, considering what happened with the former, and the role of Vahidi, Mottaki, et al in maintaining Hezbollah and other projects


rse, sheer genius.


narciso, generally speaking I don't think foreign policy is a good field in which to look for reassurance.


That was more addressing Codevilla's position, you don't think I more than most would be aware of this


just slightly OT: Tim Hawkins-My favorite Bible verse. I actually cried watching this. Watch it and weep.


I link the Iraq invasion with Iran and Central Asian energy.

I agree with this. Long before 9/11, it was easy to conclude that the radicalization of the Middle East had to be dealt with. After 9/11, the Three Conjectures Richard Fernandez astutely summarized had to be considered, and it's a very small step to the next logical conclusion: that the biggest threats need to be dealt with directly.

Once Afghanistan was neutralized, Iraq was the next obvious target, with Iran the logical ultimate objective. So Iraq was neutralized next. (And let's not forget that the AUMF was approved by a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate; that the vote was requested by Democrats who wanted to go on record in support, with many of them embarrassed by their 1991 votes; and that the 2001 bill didn't only specify WMD as the threat.)

So I don't think it's a coincidence that Iraq and Afghanistan both border Iran. Nor do I think we should be too happy about withdrawing forces from either of these places before Iran is neutralized as a threat.

The smartest thing Obama could have done would have been to support the Iranian protests in June. If Iran could have turned peaceful by a regime change, we could leave there having made a huge improvement for everyone in the world.

But I don't think Obama has our best interests at heart. On the contrary, I question his motivations, and I don't trust his geostratagic vision.


I agree. Obama should have spoken out for the protestors. He was too busy worrying about Zelaya apparently.


I think he is just stupid and surrounded with people who put politics above everything.


I think Jane nailed it.

E. Nigma

Although "stupid" is the vibe they put off to the "other", such as most commenters at JOM, I would hesitate to call Obama and his cohorts "stupid". But they are idealogically oriented to see what they wish to see, and disregard the rest. As do some people on the Right.
Playing the "Great Game", requires at different times part heroic patriotism, pragmatism, idealism, cynicism, skepticism and a big dose of bull**it.
People (that's us) are sometimes appalled at what our so-called "leaders" are doing and saying with respect to Foreign Policy.

Obama and his administration are trapped in an ideological straightjacket that the Media and the Democratic party Left have made over the last few years. They can't escape it except with great pain and dislocation, and I doubt that Obama wants to. He (and his administration) play a lot of clever head games with themselves to prevent themselves from seeing that they are really not departing that much from some of the substance of the Bush Administration foreign policies. What harms them the most is their own obfuscation, which prevents them from sending a clear message where the words and the deeds actually match up.


Why are we allowing these people into our country? Professor slain by Saudi grad student.

Soylent Red

Nor do I think we should be too happy about withdrawing forces from either of these places before Iran is neutralized as a threat.

Much less about withdrawing from a place strategically located between (by that time) two nuclear powers with unstable governments, filled with jihadist problem children.


I just think he's not that bright Enigma. Not enough real world experience. And the people around him are perfectly willing to use that to their own ends. He's tired so he welcomes the interference.

Melinda Romanoff


Between reading "The Great Game" and being routinely schooled by Wretchard, I am amazed that no one even noticed the classic encirclement of Iran as executed by the Bush administration. As soon as it was in place, that's when the shreiking began in Congress.

It's almost as if some were paid to make "all the right noises".

Iran makes me nervous though, any revolution there will be particularly bloody.


Did you read Krauthammer's Decline Is a Choice, Jane? Obama may not be that bright -- and without his grades, SAT and LSAT scores, we probably can't know for sure -- but I don't see any reason to believe that decline isn't the plan, which kind of obviates a "national interest" mindset. Incompetence doesn't refute Krauthammer's premise.


Enigma, I'd like to be convinced that Obama actually understands that some people in the world want to kill or enslave us.


I am not that convinced either, and each statement he makes reassures me less of any such thought. all the legerdermain like that Zaslow piece, can't obscure that fact


Melinda, I noticed it many years ago--contemporaneously with the act itself.

sbw--here's my idea: let's invite those people who want to kill us and enslave us...uh, make that, enslave us and kill us, let's invite those people to come live in America!

Rick Ballard

I believe him to be as cunning as most of the weasels running through the gutters of Illinois politics but cunning is a rather low form of intelligence. The active suppression of any evidence of actual intelligence in his life history coupled with Ayers authorship of his memoir is rather telling. JFK was no big brain but he had a facile wit that this puppet has never exhibited.

"Stupid" may be a bit strong but "dull normal" fits him to a T - which places him in the "very stupid" rank among Presidents.


Puts him right in their with Truman, who was a product of a very similar kind of political machine.


I'm with Jane.

I see nothing mentally sharp about the guy at all. From what I can tell, he is fundamentally ignorant of this country and of world history, a living embodiment of Nietzsche's quote; "He who cannot draw on 3,000 years of history is living from hand to mouth."

Then add in his "57 States", and" Emperor Hirohito surrendering on on the deck of USS Missouri," and "I don't really want a victory", and "I don't know anything about the case but the police acted stupidly", and I think we're simply looking at a not very bright individual.

But he does have a nice crease in his pant leg.


True, Po, Truman was a machine candidate but he was absolute paragon of hard work, common sense and practical smarts compared to ole Barry.


Come on Po, the Pendergrast/Lazio machine's product was much better than the Cook County
one. He seems more like a tanner version of Adlai, for all the intellectual 'tingle up the legs'

Rick Ballard


Truman understood the executive function and was able to take decisions (and take responsibility for the decisions taken) whereas Barry the Buffoon appears to be treating the Presidency as a four year fact finding mission with someone else responsible for writing the final report. I'd rank Truman a bit higher. I believe that you'd have to go back to Buchananan to find a true mediocrity equivalent to Obama and I'd still give Buchanan quite an edge.


Obama and his administration are trapped in an ideological straightjacket that the Media and the Democratic party Left have made over the last few years.

It's called leftism, liberalism, statism, etc, etc.


but he was absolute paragon of hard work, common sense and practical smarts compared to ole Barry.

Still pretty far left, though.


Well the fateful choice was between Truman and Wallace, luckily they chose Truman, more than 60 years later, we ended up with Wallace.

E. Nigma

Dumb and ignorant are two different things.

I definetly think Obama has a vast ignorance of a lot of things that a major American politician should know down in his bones, let along the fact that he is President. He has a world view that was schooled into him by all the major influences in his life, that is probably pretty flawed, but common in a lot of the Academy.

Obama was smart enough to game the system to his advantage for years, smart enough to be raised by pretty well-to-do grandparents, smart enough to get a good academic pedigree and credentials, smart enough to "write" a defining biography, smart enough to get a lot of people to believe in his mantra of "hope and change".

From Obama's point of view, there's one born every minute. So yes, I agree that he possesses a low political cunning (not unlike LBJ and Bill Clinton).

After all is said and done, it's American politics, with all its warts and cankers.

And he could do a lot worse than read what Wretchard has to say. There are days when I learn a lot from him and the better commenters.
Just like JOM.


Truman was a patriot. That's the main difference.



But this should take care of any pesky recovery.

EPA Set to Declare Carbon Dioxide a Public Danger

JM Hanes

"The "surge" consisted primarily of paying and arming the Sunni tribes who had been shooting at Americans to take over the areas where they are a majority."

That's such a crock. The surge was a vast, complex, countrywide operation, carried out in carefully plotted beltways, with an almost complete change of tactics at both macro and micro levels. Sheesh, take a look at the pivotal Diyala campaign, among others. The synergy between Petraeus and Crocker, was of incalculable importance. The tensions on that score, in Af/Pak in particular, and the organizational muddle created by Obama's floating envoys may be terminally counterproductive. I don't discount the Sunni tipping point, but anyone who serves up such simpleminded talking points is no foreign policy guru.

Sure, Iraq could always split up into parts, which is why calibrating our presence there is so critically important, and why abjuring any and all permanent installations in an area of enormous strategic interests is insanity. A strong, allied Iraq could actually become, or rather could have become sans Obama's domestically driven decision making, the only new ace in the hole on any horizon with regard to Iran. The Shia highway alone can run both ways. It could have been very useful during Iran's election protests, a movement that is being brutally ground out existence as we speak.

The cheerful acceptance policy Codevilla outlines is the same kind of pollyanna wishful thinking based on casual assumptions that infect the current administration. I'll cut him a little slack because he was writing in 2006, but lethal events with a whole array of likely lethal consequences had already been set in motion even then. He's perfectly right that none of the preventatives he ticked off would do the trick in a vacuum, but I'm not sure the Obama administration is even capable of undertaking multi-pronged, multi-lateral initiatives, let alone applying effective pressure on any of the bad actors that need to be neutralized.

There was a lot more going on under the hood during the Bush Administration, and a lot more that could have been built upon, than most pundits are willing to acknowledge, if they actually exert themselves enough to deal in something more than superficialities. It would probably take only a handful of fingers to count the pundits conspicuously factoring India into the cross-regional picture -- a relationship Bush attended to assiduously. Obama's self-congratulatory vaunting of the symbolism his first state dinner represented, after sucking up to China, was an insult to Indian intelligence, but never mind.

There are no easy answers to the problem of Iran and never have been, but the events that washing our Af/Pak hands by 2011 would set in motion, and the lethal consequences hardly even cross the radars of all those folks who excoriated Bush for not contemplating worst case scenarios. Afghanistan may be a barren backwash of a country, but it's been a crossroads since time immemorial, and that's not going to change any time soon. Imploding countries on both sides of a nuclear Iran is one of the worst of worst cases.


The one thing that has always stuck with me I saw on the Colbert Report one sleepless night. The Obama advisor who had to quit because she insulted Hillary during the campaign, (maybe Samantha Power) had written a book about foreign policy. And her thesis was, no matter what they do to you, you keep being nice, and after a while they will be nice back and we will have world peace.

And the hero of her story - the guy who kept going back and being nice, was murdered by the enemy.

I think that is what this President is doing for foreign policy. And it scares me to death.


smart enough to get a good academic pedigree and credentials, smart enough to "write" a defining biography, smart enough to get a lot of people to believe in his mantra of "hope and change".

Looks to me like he mainly had good handlers.


I realize that last post made me sound like sylvia.


And the UN pulled out of Iraq, for a time. Powers, is one of those self proclaimed historians of genocide, how you can come to that consequences after Armenian genocide, Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda and Sudan, really defines logic, precedent, reality.


HEH--well..not really, Jane.

JMH--I think anyone unconcerned about the propect of a nuclear Iran is dining on unicorn dust.


Never think that, Jane, but it is easy sometimes to succumb to negativity.

JM Hanes

E. Nigma:

I wouldn't call Obama stupid either -- there are a lot of more and less useful kinds of intelligence. I do think he is an ignorant man -- particularly when it comes to the history which would ideally be informing his decisions. I'm convinced that the biggest problem is that he's just not particularly interested in foreign policy, beyond some fantasy of international kumbayyah, or interested in learning any more about the world than he thinks he needs to handle the distractions from his domestic ambitions. He'd love to be lauded round the world, I'm sure, as long as it doesn't demand much time and attention -- his vehicle has always been popularity, not accomplishments.

As a naïf having essentially, or ostensibly, matured in Chicago, I think his far horizons, and his ambition, stopped at the Atlantic and Pacific. His ignorance of ex-urban America, which doesn't much interest him either accept where there might be grateful downtrodden constituents, is a serious handicap on the homefront too. His biggest conceptual mistake, IMO, is thinking that U.S. and the world are just Chicago writ large, when things just don't scale up that way. Michelle may be emblematic in that regard, thinking she's introducing Americans to home grown vegetables, because city kids are her sole point of departure, or thinking that her Chicago bio would resonate overseas.

JM Hanes


Samantha Powers resumed her charge as Obama's personal foreign policy advisor just as soon as he could pull her out from temporary residence under the bus.

JM Hanes

Actually, I think that should be Samantha Power but I'm too lazy to look it up.


If there is a narrow range where Obama is smart, it is in his ability to cover up what he does not understand. His goal in life is to feed his insecurity and not get caught.

Thomas Collins

I don't think a nuclear Iran is in the cards. The issue is whether we will let the Israelis do our dirty work for us again.

As to Codevilla, I think whether or not one agrees with his specific policy prescriptions, his insistent focus on what we mean by victory and how we plan to achieve it sets a standard that among internationalists, only Reagan really achieved in his battle with Ogarkov and Andropov (although GWB did his best in a fire drill situation left him by the Clinton Administration).


Samantha Powers resumed her charge as Obama's personal foreign policy advisor just as soon as he could pull her out from temporary residence under the bus.

Yeah I know that, which haunts me and bolsters my belief that she is running foreign policy.


And she's in charge of State's policy planning section, which used to have the likes of Kennan and Fukuyama, helming the thing. She's married to that other uber genius Cass Sunstein


--I realize that last post made me sound like sylvia.--

Jane, you are underestimating the sylvia strangeness factor by several orders of magnitude.

Thomas Collins

See LUN for an interesting view on Power and her role in the power politics struggles on foreign policy in the Obama Administration. This article was written earlier this year; I haven't been able to find an update.

JM Hanes

"The issue is whether we will let the Israelis do our dirty work for us again."

The most jaw dropping bit of "diplomacy" I've read about lately, was Obama trying to persuade the Chinese to get serious about sanctions, by essentially warning that nobody knew what those crazy Israelis might take it upon themselves to do. I might not mind him taking that tack, if I didn't think he'd throw them to wolves ex post facto.

I'd bet that he gets up in the morning and goes to bed praying that they'll launch an attack. Alienating Israelis and making it clear that he doesn't have their backs is a twofer. It probably makes them more likely to undertake the dirty work unilaterally, then lets him say, "Who me?" if/when they do, and switch sides at the U.N. when they are accused of war crimes.


I rather think the Chinese and Israelis have taken full and accurate measure of The One.


I was looking through that list, of overrated and underrated and guess who turns up in the latter category, besides
Krauthammer and Bayefsky, which is an outrage by itself.

From that profile of Netayahu and Obama that I did months ago, sort of Plutarch's lives in Cliff Notes form, I would say that is Bibi's intention, and sadly Obama's response


I rather think the Chinese and Israelis have taken full and accurate measure of The One.

Nope, not going to do it... wouldn't be prudent.


I don't think a nuclear Iran is in the cards. The issue is whether we will let the Israelis do our dirty work for us again.

1. I don't believe we're going to take action.

2. I don't believe that the Israeli's have the capability, short of a full scale nuclear attack, to accomplish the full destruction of the Iranian program.

3. For a variety of reasons, some of them touched upon in the Roth article I linked not too long ago, I don't believe the Israelis will take that step.


It's "The Ice Pick"!


We've talked here about Cass Sunstein, Obama's troubling Regulatory Czar, and now Samantha Power and her odd beliefs.

It's frightening to think that they're now married to each other.

Can you imagine those conversations?


"A simulation conducted at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government over the weekend predicts that the United States will fail in its efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and will, for lack of other options, attempt to convince Iran not to use those weapons."


IMO, there is a massive propaganda campaign under way to get Israel to not act in it's own best interest.

"But having an overwhelming majority against Israel isn't enough for Iran, it seems. A report obtained by Israel's Foreign Ministry last week and published by Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper at the weekend accuses Iran of bribing those few nations who up until recently had voted in Israel's favor at the UN."

Old Lurker

"I realize that last post made me sound like sylvia."

Not in a million years, Jane.

Thomas Collins

If Israel views this as a matter of survival, it will do the necessary.

I think Israel views this as a matter of survival because of the regime in Iran. A Shah led Iran was not a natural enemy of Israel, but the mullahs are, and, at the moment and for the foreseeable future, the mullahs are the Iranian regime.

Forget about Israel. If I am the top Saudi honcho, I would want my own nuclear program, or a few nukes from the Paks. I suspect the Saudis realize that a nuclear armed Iran under the mullahs is far more dangerous than a nuclear armed Israel. Israel has shown itself to be a responsible nuclear power.

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