Sunday, November 14, 2010
Take a guess. Who wrote this?
Shellacked at home, shellacked abroad. President Obama's Asia trip is extending a losing streak with the latest setback - a refusal by other major financial powers to follow his lead to revive the global economy.
The president's nostrums, which began with a call for stimulus-style pump priming by other nations, had evolved into a plan to ease wild swings in currency values and overboard trade imbalances. But he got next to nothing in showdown meetings with other leaders of the G-20 nations, or major economic powers. U.S. leadership, once taken for granted, has all but vanished, and no one's in charge.
The National Review? The Wall Street Journal? Rush Limbaugh? Hardly! The editorial board of the farookin' San Francisco Chronicle. That's gotta hurt, because when you've lost Nancy Pelosi's hometown paper, you've lost America.
OK, not really, but it does prove that even the mainstream media can no longer both ignore the administration's incompetence and look at itself in the mirror in the morning.
Remember when liberals used to complain that George W. Bush was acting against the wishes of all the really cool foreign leaders and that was a terrible thing? Why are those same liberals silent now? I'm mystified. I'm confused.
I am baffled, even.
Yesterday's Washington Post had a Holy Shit Headline:
One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012 It's an op-ed by outsiders, but still remarkable to find it anywhere in WaPo.
I don't expect this Thursday's Slurpee Summit to go well for Obama. Given that Pelosi still gets to play the Queen of Hearts for another two months, that Boehner-McConnell can't "compromise", and no one trusts Obama as Honest Broker, I'm taking the two touchdown point spread and putting my money on "No tax cuts for anyone." If that happens, Obama will take most of the blame. He'll lose 10% popularity between now and his late January State of the Union. MSM will start jumping off the bandwagon.
Actually, on reflection, it's no mere anomaly, but a serious freak-out for them. Because it means that all the really cool countries and their really cool populaces are infected by the same contagion that has polluted their own electorate. In their nightmares comes the specter of Sarah, Queen of the World, draped in fishnets, her scepter a .338 Win Mag.
Remember when Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership (yes, I know that's an oxymoron) in Congress were preaching away about how we couldn't "win" in Iraq or Afghanistan by purely military means?
What we needed, according to these wise and sagacious souls, was a Diplomatic Surge to accompany the military's Surge.
So far, the Obama administration's idea of "diplomacy" in Afghanistan has amounted to doing their level best to undermine Hamid Karzai without doing anything so plebian as actually getting behind his opponent. Then, having thoroughly pissed off the sitting Afghan govt. (and having failed to topple Karzai) our Glorious Leader continually reminds the Afghans that we're like... so outta there.
Because we all know nothing encourages a distrustful and terrorized people to risk their lives by supporting our efforts to oust the Taliban like telling them you're not in this for the long haul.
Meanwhile back in Iraq, our "diplomatic surge" has amounted to a combination of neglect and ill timed scolding.
If this is smart power, perhaps we need to rethink the advantages of dumb power?
Poor little BArry. He read and believed his early swooning press reviews. He believed them even more than those who wrote them.
The American Left...and Global Leftists for that matter, have several annoying habits. One is the deification of their current fanboy idol, usually with apocalyptic ferver.
Thus we have Obama winning the Nobel Prize for "looking marvelous" and Al Gore winning the Nobel Prize for "best defeated politician to write a fictional disaster film plot".
I guess they need something to replace the void that is left when religion and patriotism are rejected.
I wonder how long it would have been before they discovered that Al Gore was an idiot.
Glad we didn't have to find out.
For anyone still interested, I comment to you this front page article on Afghanistan in today's WaPo.
Compare and contrast the senior military leader on the ground:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, warned Afghan officials Sunday that President Hamid Karzai's latest public criticism of U.S. strategy threatens to seriously undermine progress in the war and risks making Petraeus's own position "untenable," according to Afghan and U.S. officials. Officials said Petraeus expressed "astonishment and disappointment" with Karzai's call, in a Saturday interview with The Washington Post, to "reduce military operations" and end U.S. Special Operations raids in southern Afghanistan that coalition officials said have killed or captured hundreds of Taliban commanders in recent months.
...with the NATO reaction:
"I think it's [Karzai's] directness that really sticks in the craw," another NATO official said. "He is standing 180 degrees to what is a central tenet of our current campaign plan.""It's pretty clear that you no longer have a reliable partner in Kabul," the official added. "I think we tried to paper it over with [Karzai's] Washington visit" in May. "But the wheels have becoming looser and looser . . . since that."
...and last (but not least) we have the administration of President Don't Worry, Be Happy:
In Washington, officials described Karzai's remarks as nothing out of the ordinary and said he had expressed similar views to Petraeus and other officials in private. "While we certainly didn't expect the list that he laid out," a senior administration official said, "the fact that those were concerns to him was not a surprise to us."
The final paragraphs of the article are just priceless:
Many coalition officials said they have grown accustomed to Karzai's provocative statements and think that they are intended primarily for an Afghan audience. But others worry that such comments will erode NATO's resolve to stay in Afghanistan, already challenged by declining public approval of the war in member nations. "It undermines the support and trust of the Western countries," one foreign diplomat in Kabul said. "That's what the NATO summit should be all about. Are we on the same page? Or are we in different worlds?"
"how we couldn't "win" in Iraq or Afghanistan by purely military means"
"already challenged by declining public approval of the war in member nations"
Our commitment to "winning" in Afghanistan can't go on in isolation from our very real fiscal problems back home, I submit. We need to make spending cuts, as taxes won't solve the problem as they'll kill growth. If we can get GDP growth back to a sustained 3.5% to 4.0%, we can afford an empire and the necessary military. If we can't get sustained GDP growth back to 3.0%, we won't have much of a military in 10 years. Reread that last sentence slowly.
If we're serious about cutting spending, defense can't be sacred -- although the brunt of long-term cuts has to be borne by entitlements.
There's an article in Reuters today about how to balance the US budget. It looks "fair and balanced", at least to me. Several of its recommendations involve cutting back on defense, including:
8. Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015 (saves $149 billion)
I've posted here before that we've lost sight of what should have been a limited objective in Afghanistan. I'm also saying that we can't afford to fumble our way through the next few years trying to figure it out. It's a luxury.
I've posted here before that we've lost sight of what should have been a limited objective in Afghanistan.
Ive posted similar sentiment elsewhere. More specifically, how is the threat from Afghanistan (proper) different than that posed from Yemen or Somalia, except in the latter two cases the govt. might actually be more cooperative.
Pakistan is the only really good reason for continuing the expense and effort in Afghanistan that we are now expending. That, and as a possible further base from which to deal with Iran should further trouble warrant.
But I admit there are multiple ways and directions from which to look at the situation. Your mileage may vary.
The overarching questions of what our goals are in Iraq and Afghanistan and whether (or in what numbers) we ought to maintain a presence are above the military's pay grade.
The fact is that Obama has stated that succeeding in Afghanistan (whatever that means) is vital to our national security. To that end, young men and women are dying.
The article says nothing about whether we ought to - or can afford to - maintain a presence over there. What I expect from the President of the United States is some clear indication of our objectives, followed by some attempt to match our strategy to those objectives. IOW, I expect leaders to lead.
When a leader categorically and repeatedly asserts that we can't "win" (however that is defined) a war unless military force is matched by a commensurate diplomatic effort, I expect to him to actually make that diplomatic effort.
After not one but two "comprehensive strategic reviews", I would hope that we might have arrived at some notional goals along with the means required to achieve them.
Letting the clock run out is not leadership.
"Letting the clock run out is not leadership"
During the 2008 campaign, Obama said that Afghanistan was justified and hence "smart", but that Iraq wasn't justified and hence was "dumb." Impliedly, Obama was saying that he was smart... ergo Afghanistan was the good war.
But I believe that Obama's Prime Objective is to be a Domestic Transformative President. Foreign Affairs is secondary to this. This would explain why his handling of Iraq/Afghanistan/Gitmo in practice looks like Bush III, with rhetorical flourishes: He doesn't want to be criticized by the Right/Middle on this during his first term. If you supported Obama over Hillary on these issues, the joke's been on you. After 2012, if he's re-elected, I'd expect Obama to not care very much about Afghanistan. I hope I'm wrong.