I’ve been commenting, elsewhere. My apologies for neglecting NPJ. But sometimes a change of venue can help me get going. So here’s a “mega-post” that compiles things said in other places…
From the very beginning this has been a bad faith presidency. In fact, take it back to 2004, at the Democratic Convention, with Obama’s “racial reconciliationist” One America speech, made while he was a participating member of a racialist, black nationalist church based in the revolting “black theology” of James Cone. Bad faith hardly gets near what this is.
I argue that any attempt to grasp this president within the normative terms of American politics is a serious mistake. It cedes to him ground that he does not hold and supports his deception that he does.
When the media laid down for candidate Obama, that was a signal that something remarkably odd was happening off-stage and I think we still don’t know exactly what that was. I don’t know which is more troubling, that it was a deliberate project (of which the JournoList escapade was but a faint echo) or that it was some sort of reflex response to the new prince of liberals. (Though he’s their prince, he is hardly anything as innocuous as a liberal.)
All that the mid-term election just past did was staunch the arterial bleeding. This man, who I think is far from likeable but is perhaps something of a cultivated charismatist, must not be re-elected. He has already laid in a generation’s worth of damage, and he is far from done in this term. Losing control of Congress he has now turned to the federal agencies, the permanent government, where he will lay in even more damage.
I dispute any claims that this man wants what he thinks is best for America. I know too well the crowd and the ideology he springs from, and that crowd and that ideology detest America. And I have to say that he is working their agenda at every point he can, and I say there is no way he could believe that it is for the benefit of America. So, not just a bad faith presidency, but a fifth columnist presidency, and I think that just how bad the intentions are remain to be seen. Even though they are already observably well beyond the grasp of the normative terms of American politics. (3/1/11 at NRO)
The Bush Doctrine is a broad approach to the threat of asymmetrical warfare from either rogue states or non-state actors that identifies friends and foes based on their cooperation in dealing with terrorism and, programmatically, over time, supports liberal democracy as the most stable and least aggressive form of government. The usual carrots and sticks are in play, and by and large it has been successful.
But it is a doctrine that rests on the role of the U.S. as the status quo superpower and guarantor of strategic peace. Weaken that element of the American geopolitical presence and the grand strategy of the Bush doctrine, which includes a willingness to act before an enemy does, loses its effectiveness.
Obama is basically following the Bush doctrine, superficially at least and despite campaigning against it, but has undermined the more important and underlying posture of America as status quo superpower and guarantor of strategic peace.
That’s just another reason he has to be defeated for re-election. (3/4/11 at NRO)
“I think that when Obama was younger he romanticized the liberal movement which had radical elements. He viewed his work as a continuation of the Civil Rights movement, whose members were radical, but also on the right side of history.”
In fact, when Obama was younger he was committed to full-blown Marxist-Leninist revolution augmented by the anti-colonialist vision of Frantz Fanon. His “mellowing” consisted of a pragmatism that would allow him to bring that revolution up through the streets, as a community organizer, who proceeded with stealth, introducing Marxist concepts at the grass roots level without directly using Marxist language.
If you follow the language of the demented “theologian” James Cone, whose teaching is central to the church Obama chose and dedicated himself to and attended most of his adult life, then it’s logical to think that Obama sees America itself as an oppressive colonial enterprise created on the backs of blacks and native Americans, among others.
In fact, Cone teaches that blacks are the “chosen people” and that whites are “devils” and that racial reconciliation is only possible if the latter submit to the former.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that if you think that Obama is some sort of mellowed out former radical who is now just your ordinary liberal, you would be hard pressed to find much evidence for it other than his say so.
When he gave his famous “One America” speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, heralding himself as the candidate of racial reconciliation, he was a full-fledged member of that church and would remain there for another four years, until it became inconvenient to do so, after Wright opened his mouth at the National Press Club and the media was finally forced to report something about it, though it never told the real story. (3/9/11 at NRO)
This is another attempt, by [Victor Davis Hanson], to grasp Obama’s behavior within the normative terms of American politics. VDH sees indecision, contradiction, inversion of principles. But that pattern, taken in normative terms as “not good,” rests on premises such as “a person runs for president with an intent to lead America so that she will improve and be safer and more prosperous, etc.”
If those premises are wrong, then the normative terms that rest on them don’t apply. And if you drop those premises and those terms and substitute an opposite premise, that the intent is malicious, then another agenda emerges about which there has been no indecision, which is purposely incoherent, and for which the applied principles are perfectly “upright.” (3/17/11 at NRO)
When the presidential steroids kicked in right after his inauguration, Obama went on a rampage against the American economy and laid in enough damage for a generation. Same thing with foreign policy. I don’t think you want him near the military steroids. He inherited Afghanistan and Iraq and was constrained by his own campaign conceits about them and by the pre-existing status of the engagements, but now he has his nose under the tent of his own war [in Libya]. He is a walking, talking catastrophe for America, and it was a mistake [for conservatives] to encourage anything like this. (3/18/11 at NRO)
There’s insufficient reason for the U.S. to get involved in Libya. Very surprising that the Security Council more or less went along with it, with the Russians and Chinese both sitting on their hands, if they weren’t actually rubbing them together at the prospect of America being suckered in.
Your take on Afghanistan and Iraq, about the length of those engagements, is superficial. It’s very difficult to say it out loud, but couching it in the most euphemistic terms, they have both served as disposal units for the jihadist demographic. Invaluable to have them coming to overseas locations where you have concentrations of lethal force. Very taboo to say so. (3/18/11 at NRO)
The Libyan insurgency seemed to me to rise on the contagion of upheaval in the region, some of that encouraged by Obama or not encouraged by Obama depending on the day. He did urge Qaddafi to give up power, perhaps making the Libyan rebels more determined to overthrow the tyrant, but not initiating the rebellion.
This intervention by the U.S. strikes me as more Obama/Hillary Bosom State busybodyism and about as well thought out as ObamaCare. They’re adding a third war the way a third massive entitlement program was added to two existing and effectively bankrupt massive entitlement programs.
There’s no national security threat from Libya (all the big national security threats are in Washington), so it’s portrayed as a humanitarian mission. Did the Libyan rebels think that trying to overthrow Qaddafi was a risk-free endeavor? Whether they did or not, here comes the universal care. (3/20/11 at NRO)
This is an exceptionally clear analysis (perhaps lost today amid the Libyan furor) based on historical outcomes in post-WWII Egypt and the current influence of the dominant political factions.
It looks like a deal is coming between the military faction and the Muslim Brotherhood where the military will trade its secularism for a continuing strong hand over the government and the Brotherhood will prescribe the Islamist ideology for both the military and Egyptian society at large. Both factions are socialist in an end-stage socialist economy, so sharia will come in handy to batten down expectations.
The potential for a liberal democracy in Egypt (which is what Westerners mean when they use “democracy” as a naked term) is about zero. But there will be more voting; that much is probably true. (3/21/11 at NRO)
[The Libya intervention] is a catastrophe of risk management. Is everyone not aware that we have established the predicate for a revanchist asymmetrical reprisal? Does Qaddafi have the capability to outsource an asymmetrical strike or not? (I’m asking. Surely DIA has an answer to that question.)
If Qaddafi does have that capacity, then let’s hope that somewhere in our vast national security apparatus someone is right on top of it.
But if our agencies are now rolling as smoothly as this intervention…?
As bad as he is, Qaddafi did give up his nuclear program in exchange for a degree of normalized relations. Should he have expected that a few years down the road the U.S. would help a rebellion to overthrow him? And what is that going to tell other adversaries who might look for a deal to get them off the nuclear or WMD ledge? (3/22/11 at NRO)
“Any post criticizing Obama’s foreign policy should note that it is nearly identical to that of George W. Bush.”
That, of course, is something of a running joke, but it’s not true. Obama’s actual foreign policy probably (and I say probably because it is seriously cloaked) does not have American interests at its center.
Specifically on Libya, in the context of post-WWII American foreign policy in both its pre- and post-Cold War periods, there are some reasonable guidelines that apply. And a murky, undefined intervention in a civil war in an Arab country during a period of general tumult in the Middle East falls outside those guidelines. To put it mildly. (3/22/11 at NRO)
“I don’t think Obama has a clue as to what he’s doing.”
Understanding the competency question is key. Perhaps Stanley Kurtz would disagree with me, but the normative terms by which competency is defined do not help in understanding Obama. We can stipulate that he is incompetent by those terms, but that doesn’t mean that he is not aggressively pursuing his goals. I really don’t want to engage in shock and awe here, but if you’re not looking at the possibility that Obama, at the very least, doesn’t care if things get worse, then I don’t think you’re looking at Obama. (3/22/11 at NRO)
Qaddafi was a fossil and Obama has breathed new life into him. Now he’ll be dangerous even after he’s dead.
The least damage can be had by letting Libyans who want to fight Qaddafi do so, at their own risk and peril, and helping Libyans who want to flee to get to some sort of refugee zone (let the Euros manage it) and then the U.S. should head to the exit.
Humanitarian mission accomplished. Hail to the conquering Nobel Peace Prize winner.
What this adventure proves is that while it’s a nice idea that Qaddafi should fall, it’s much more important to have a new American president two years from now.
In the meantime the U.S. will suffer less of a hit to its prestige if the current president’s attention is directed away from the military. (3/23/11 at NRO)
If you want to turn this Libya exercise sideways and bracket its face value presentation, the first thing to do is to hold the “American [inter]national interest” appearance to the side. That’s not saying it’s not in play, of course it is, by definition. But what else is in play?
Next, take a look at the crowd in charge and at their purely ideological concept of “state interests,” something very different from foreign policy concerns. The first priority there is the preservation of ObamaCare (Cf. Kurtz). It is the key to all of their observable aims (and I use the word ‘observable’ carefully).
On the first anniversary of ObamaCare, a building disaster, the news is dominated by Libya. Very reminiscent of Operation Desert Fox on the cusp of impeachment, and something Hillary Clinton was also involved in. Also reminiscent of the action over Serbia-Kosovo, which came in the midst of a building Chinese scandal (see, I forget whether it was the money or the espionage scandal, if those can even be separated), and Hillary was involved again.
Now, one of the assumptions of critics of Obama’s mishandling of Libya, including those who seem to support it, is that he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing. That assumption (about competency) is based on the premise that, as an American president, conserving American prestige in foreign affairs is central to his thinking. Where’s the evidence for that?
Start with the notion of domestic “state interests” and think of significant anniversaries and the attention they draw. Not a happy first birthday for ObamaCare. Not something happily anticipated either. (3/24/11 at NRO)
Gen. [Jack] Keane: “If [Qaddafi] stays in power, and we have some kind of a stalemate, that’s a totally unsatisfactory outcome.”
That could be true, but first you have to know what sort of regime will follow him, who they are, and what sort of payback they plan. It’s quite possible that Qaddafi remaining in power would not only be the best outcome, starting from where we are now, but that it has been the best outcome since the beginning of the insurrection.
That’s not based on Qaddafi being a good guy. But he, in fact, might be the least bad guy.
This thing about “American prestige” being at stake if Qaddafi does not go strikes me as very thin justification for this action. What’s our real interest here? I don’t think that it’s getting rid of a fossilized tyrant without knowing what comes next. (3/25/11 at NRO)
My initial reaction is that George Weigel is describing the dead virus form of what is manifesting itself through this president.
Some of these eight premises do echo, deceptively and to a lesser extent, attitudes of classical American isolationsism, which were in fact an important element of American exceptionalism, the “we don’t do European wars” wisdom that kept us busy with our own growth and industry.
But to the greatest extent these attitudes are not simply artifacts of the Vietnam “peace movement” and its academic intellectualization. They are in the main Cold War propaganda straight out of the KGB laboratory as transmitted into American society through our indigenous Left. Reach through the academic sediment that has accumulated through time on “peace” and you’ll find this Cold War core. It was part of the Soviet strategy to demoralize and defeat the United States by destroying its national will.
Now, I wrote that Weigel’s list is the “dead virus” form of what manifests through this president. We are not seeing the dithering of Cy Vance or Warren Christopher struggling with essentially corrupt and ineffective ideas. We’re seeing a new actor working the original impulse behind the ideas, in their “live virus” form.
This president is not dithering in Libya; he’s working his method and his program. He baits conservatives with the declaration that Qaddafi must go. (Among the NRO team, mainly Andrew McCarthy and Stanley Kurtz resist that bait, raising the question of who and what takes Qaddafi’s place.) And he gets many conservatives here and elswhere telling him that he must act. When he does, his principal effort is to diminish American prestige and in the midst of an initially successful military action manage to signal, again, American weakness. If you look at this as simply the misty reflection of these bad ideas, you’re missing the point.
This is a case of original intent. George Weigel only has to add what he already knows about the origins, and he knows a great deal about them. (3/25/11 at NRO)