The American Interest
Essays & Longer Thoughts
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Published on March 3, 2014
Foreign Policy Is Hard Putin Invades Crimea: Obama Hardest Hit?

The foundations of Obama’s foreign policy have taken a serious beating over the weekend, with his desire to see a nuclear-free world perhaps one of the biggest casualties.

As President Obama scrambles for some kind of a response to Russia’s moves in Ukraine, the stakes for the President and his foreign policy could not be bigger. Putin’s Crimean adventure isn’t just a blow to American plans for Ukraine; it shakes the foundations of the President’s world strategy and in a worst-case scenario could fatally weaken President Obama at home.

Behind the scenes, we are told, the White House spin machine is telling friendly reporters (of which there are many, though perhaps not so many as in 2009) that, in essence, Vladimir Putin has fallen into a trap. “I’ve got him where I want him,” as the hunter said when the bear chased him up a tree.

There is a sense in which this is actually true; Putin is leading Russia down a dead end and the creation of a corrupt, authoritarian and brutal state resting on the exploitation of hydrocarbons will over time weaken and marginalize Russia in world affairs. As a further step down that dark road, the Ukrainian invasion deepens the historical crisis of modern Russia and makes positive progress both more difficult and less likely. There are two kinds of state-building autocrats. Some throttle freedom and succeed in building a strong and modernizing state; names like Kemal Ataturk, Augusto Pinochet and Lee Kwan Yew come to mind. Others throttle freedom and have nothing to show for it—people like Juan Peron, Benito Mussolini, and Slobodan Milosevic. Putin is increasingly likely to go down in history as a failed state builder, a man who took Russia down the wrong path and who added to the burden of Russian history.

But those are long term considerations that, unfortunately for the diligent White House staffers working to spin the next news cycle, won’t help the President now.  In the short term President Putin has put President Obama in an ugly spot. President Obama’s foreign policy depends on three big ideas: that a working relationship with Russia can help the United States stabilize the Middle East, that a number of American adversaries are willing to settle their differences with us on the basis of compromises that we can accept, and that President Obama has the smarts to know who we can trust.

Putin’s attack on Ukraine calls all three propositions into question. What Obama’s belief in the possibility of deals with countries like Russia and Iran leaves out is that some countries around the world may count the reduction of American power and prestige among their vital interests. They may not be hampering and thwarting us because we are unnecessarily and arbitrarily blocking their path toward a reasonable goal; they may be hampering and frustrating us because curbing our power is one of their central objectives. This is not necessarily irrational behavior from their point of view; American power is not a good thing if you hate the post-Cold War status quo, and it can make sense to sacrifice the advantages of a particular compromise with the United States if as a result you can reduce America’s ability to interfere with your broader goals.

If that is true, our adversaries might still reach and even keep certain agreements with us, but they would be constantly looking to damage us. Russia’s goals in Syria, for example, might well include the ‘rational’ goals that President Obama thinks could form the basis of a compromise agreement—the defeat of Sunni jihadism, protection of Russian civilians and economic interests in the country and so on—but could also include the goal of using the Syrian war as a method of scoring both propaganda and realpolitik victories against the United States. America is more important to Russia than Syria is; Putin could rationally believe that his interest in weakening America was more important than some of his other interests in Syria. Lucy doesn’t have to be motivated by Iago-like irrational malice when she pulls the football away from Charlie Brown; there can be valid reasons why she wants Charlie Brown flat on his back.

Iran, too, may have rational interests that Obama hasn’t fully taken on board. One of Iran’s objectives in entering talks with the United States over the nuclear issue at a time when the Shiite theocracy appears to be tightening its hold across the Fertile Crescent might be to drive a wedge between the United States and its Sunni allies.

Washington’s flat-footed, deer-in-the-headlights incomprehension about Russia’s Crimean adventure undermines President Obama’s broader credibility in a deeply damaging way. If he could be this blind and misguided about Vladimir Putin, how smart is he about the Ayatollah Khamenei, a much more difficult figure to read? President Obama is about to have a difficult meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he will tell Netanyahu essentially that Israel should ground its national security policy on the wisdom of President Obama and his profound grasp of the forces of history. The effect will be somewhat undermined by President Obama’s failure to understand the most elementary things about Vladimir Putin.

With Hitler-style lies blasting from the well-tuned Russia propaganda machine (attacks on ethnic Russians! mass flight of refugees! fascism!) and armed soldiers backing up thugs in Crimea and elsewhere, President Putin is not exactly looking like a partner for peace at the moment—and Obama’s decision to work with him isn’t making President Obama look like a foreign policy genius.

Prime Minister Netanyahu—and many other world leaders—will be looking at President Obama with cold and calculating eyes. They can see that he turned to Russia for help when his Syrian red line policy collapsed; they can see that he is betting heavily that Russia will help him with Iran, both in the negotiations and at the UN Security Council.  They observe how Washington was flabbergasted and stunned by the events in Ukraine, and they are likely to conclude that President Obama’s Middle East policy is in much worse shape than he thinks.

Both friends and foes are also probably thinking today that President Obama is going to have less control over the future of American foreign policy than he might like. The Republicans seem increasingly poised to capture the Senate in 2014 and unless Elizabeth Warren sprints past Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race for 2016, the next US President, whether Democrat or Republican, will likely take a tougher line on international issues than President Obama does. Obama might hope that this will make other countries more willing to sign agreements with him because he might offer them a better deal than they could hope from his successor, but they are just as likely to draw the opposite conclusion. Deals with Obama, they may think, won’t stick because his successors won’t want to honor them.

Ukraine is a particularly tough problem for President Obama because it points to one of the weak spots in the Wilsonian-Jeffersonian foreign policy synthesis he seeks to build. As a Wilsonian, Obama wants to change the world. He wants international relations to be built on the foundation of international law. He wants nuclear weapons first controlled, then reduced and finally abolished. He wants human rights to be observed around the world. But as a Jeffersonian, he believes, deeply, that excessive American commitments and activism beyond our frontiers endanger both the peace of the world and our freedoms at home. He wants to cut back, he wants to avoid war, and he wants America to meddle less and pay less.

He wants, in other words, to pay less into the international system, and take more out.

There is nothing wrong with this as a goal. It is a perfectly rational thing to desire. But the pursuit of it can lead to some strange places, and President Obama is in one of them today.

Here’s the rub. When Ukraine escaped from the Soviet Union in 1990, Soviet nukes from the Cold War were still stationed on Ukrainian territory. After a lot of negotiation, Ukraine agreed to return those nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for what (perhaps naively) its leaders at the time thought would be solid security guarantees from the United States and the United Kingdom. The “Budapest Memorandum” as this agreement is called, does not in fact require the United States to do very much. We can leave Ukraine twisting in the wind without breaking our limited formal obligations under the pact.

If President Obama does this, however, and Ukraine ends up losing chunks of territory to Russia, it is pretty much the end of a rational case for non-proliferation in many countries around the world. If Ukraine still had its nukes, it would probably still have Crimea. It gave up its nukes, got worthless paper guarantees, and also got an invasion from a more powerful and nuclear neighbor.

The choice here could not be more stark. Keep your nukes and keep your land. Give up your nukes and get raped. This will be the second time that Obama administration policy has taught the rest of the world that nuclear weapons are important things to have. The Great Loon of Libya gave up his nuclear program and the west, as other leaders see it, came in and wasted him.

It is almost unimaginable after these two powerful demonstrations of the importance of nuclear weapons that a country like Iran will give up its nuclear ambitions. Its heavily armed, Shiite-persecuting neighbor Pakistan has a hefty nuclear arsenal and Pakistan’s links with Iran’s nemesis and arch-rival Saudi Arabia grow closer with every passing day. What piece of paper could Obama possibly sign—especially given that his successor is almost certainly going to be more hawkish—that would replace the security that Iran can derive from nuclear weapons? North Korea would be foolish not to make the same calculation, and a number of other countries will study Ukraine’s fate and draw the obvious conclusions.

President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his overall foreign policy. But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works.

While the outcome of crises like this one are impossible to predict and the President could still conceivably turn things around, President Obama’s personal prestige and political authority are balanced on a knife edge. Like JFK after the Bay of Pigs, like Lyndon Johnson after the Tet offensive, like Harry Truman after North Korea attacked the South, like Dwight Eisenhower when the Soviets rolled into Hungary and Ike stood helplessly by, like Ronald Reagan when Iran-Contra blew up in his face, at the moment President Obama has what appears to be a big, fat, ugly, icky and stinky foreign policy fiasco on his hands.

Now as this list shows, foreign policy flops aren’t all that rare; every American president since FDR has had at least one big one. Foreign policy is much, much harder than it looks and only the luckiest of presidents can hope to make it to the finish line without an embarrassing fiasco or two. President Obama is in good company today, and almost every American president must sooner or later learn to cope with these meltdowns. It goes with the job.

Foreign policy flops don’t have to be politically fatal. Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson all either lost re-election bids or dropped out to avoid humiliating losses after big overseas setbacks, but George W. Bush was re-elected long after Iraq had turned sour, nothing could derail Dwight Eisenhower and President Kennedy’s re-election looked to be building momentum at the time of his death.

In looking back at the record of presidential foreign policy misfires, they seem to divide into two categories. Some, as when the Soviets shot down an American U-2 spy plane in Soviet airspace and used the incident to embarrass President Eisenhower, don’t have a lot of impact. These are seen as errors in execution of a policy that is fundamentally sound. As long as there aren’t too many of them and they aren’t too costly, presidents usually manage these reasonably well.

It is the failures that raise basic questions about a president’s ability to do the job, or that appear to demonstrate that his policies are fatally flawed that hurt most. Jimmy Carter’s failure to rescue the hostages cemented the public impression that he was out of his depth and helped open the door to Ronald Reagan. The shock of the Tet offensive, despite ending with a military defeat of the North Vietnamese, convinced a critical mass of the public that Lyndon Johnson’s entire Vietnam strategy was flawed. By 2005/6, the failure to pacify Iraq following the failure to find WMD in the country fatally weakened George W. Bush’s authority and popularity.

This is President Obama’s chief political risk as the Ukraine crisis continues. If the American public comes to see this as just another case of horrible foreigners doing horrible things in a faraway place, Russia’s Crimean romp will only have a limited effect on the President’s authority and popularity. But if the public sees the Russian rampage as decisive evidence that President Obama is too naive, too passive and too, well, Carteresque, then his presidency could be holed below the waterline, and he could lose much of his ability to shape perceptions and policy on a range of other issues at home and abroad.

The specter of Jimmy Carter, temporarily but not permanently banished by the successful raid on Bin Laden, is what has haunted this president’s foreign policy from the beginning. President Obama’s mix of Wilsonian aspirations and Jeffersonian caution is closer to Jimmy Carter’s basic worldview than to that of any other modern president. So far, President Obama and his team have managed to fend off the specter of Carterization, mostly by managing events more successfully than the Carter team could do, but also because American power in the world today is much greater than it was in the Carter years and we enjoy a larger margin of error.

The Obama administration is now being challenged, and not only in Crimea. Both friends and foes around the world (and in the United States) increasingly see a Georgia peanut farmer when they look towards the Oval Office. If President Obama allows that impression to become irremovably fixed, he and the nation he leads have some ugly times ahead.

The question, of course, is what do you do next? I will be back later this week with some thoughts on this difficult subject. Meanwhile, keep your eyes on Ukraine. As I wrote in an essay last year, the events in Ukraine show us world history being made. Unfortunately, world history isn’t always very nice.

  • B-Sabre

    “Now as this list shows, foreign policy flops aren’t all that rare; every American president since FDR has had at least one big one. ”
    So far, Obama is at least 0 for 3 – Egypt, Syria and now Ukraine.

    • ojfl

      More than that B-Sabre. It started in 2009 when president Obama backed the wrong side in Honduras. Libya has also not been a resounding success either. And the failure to side with the protesters in 2009 in Iran was also a problem. Although that is not such a sure thing.

      • Peter Miller

        And also failed the Russian opposition when he kicked out Western NGOs supporting democracy, harassed and arrested opponents, ended adoptions from Russia, cut off Western broadcasts, exerted even more power over the media, etc. In fact, the foreign policy failures, large and small, are really too numerous to keep track of.

        • ojfl

          Did not remember about those Peter. Thank you for reminding us all.

          • jimb82

            Don’t forget being on the wrong side in Venezuela.

    • Dogtown

      I am hard pressed to find a single country that has a better relationship with the USA since Obama has been in office. He’s dissed our friends, encouraged our enemies, surrendered after promising action. Our current leadership is neither trusted nor revered nor respected by the leaders and citizens of other countries.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Nor should it be.

      • Peter Miller

        Unfortunately, outside of Israel and Saudi Arabia, most other countries could care less. Most are not unhappy with America’s weakness and won’t miss its strength until it is gone and Darwin’s laws are taken to their logical conclusion of the strong dominating the weak, when they will come begging for American leadership. Too late.

        • jimb82

          In Africa, he is considered a joke, but most countries there still love us.

        • LizardLizard

          I would be guessing allies that depend on us to one degree or another such as Poland or Japan are very sad (and scared) to see US foreign policy descend to such fecklessness.

          • Peter Miller

            I believe that would truly be an understatement. The calculations being made by our friends, allies and enemies alike are certainly mind boggling. The big question is how much further damage will be done and how difficult will it be to restore the America’s prestige, power and influence in the world once the Joker in Chief is gone.

    • DavidH

      “So far, Obama is at least 0 for 3 – Egypt, Syria and now Ukraine.”
      NO, Obama is 0 for 6 – I’d include IRAQ (where we won, but are now losing cities to Al Qaeda!), AFGHANISTAN (headed towards the same outcome as Iraq, but with the Taliban) and IRAN (who absolutely WILL get nuclear bombs unless Israel intervenes, since Obama is a WIMP).

      • Peter Miller

        Those are the big ones–so far. Does anyone in the Far East really believe we are “pivoting” to counter China’s moves against its neighbors? Obumbles idea of foreign policy is to be an active observer and fail in all instances to act. He thinks that because foreign leaders know what he is thinking they will act in our interests and not those they perceive to be their own.

    • Peter Miller

      You forgot Iraq, where al Queda was defeated and is now laying the groundwork to regain all its losses. Also Iran, where we failed to support those rising against the government while literally appealing to the Ayatollahs to respond to our peace overtures.

      • B-Sabre

        Hey now, I did say “at least three….”

  • qet

    A couple of thoughts re the Goldberg interview–(1) is the Israeli-Palestinian thing still significant in geopolitics today? It seems more and more as if all of the current ME policy crises have nothing whatsoever to do with that old chestnut. It’s like what they say about generals always fighting the last war. It seems to have far more PR value as a domestic political matter in the Western democracies: Obama & Kerry scoring major PR points among academic and media elites for reading the riot act to Netanyahu. Maybe Obama’s impulse is to intensify his efforts in that theater as a compensation for his utter uncertainty about all of the currently significant geopolitical crises. (2) Obama’s statements about fine calculations of rational interest by Iran, for instance, are reminiscent of McNamara’s graduated response strategy. The flaw in Obama’s approach, and this is surprising coming from the first black POTUS in a 2014 America that prides itself on being far more sensitive to The Other, to cultural diversity, than those Neanderthal cold warriors of the 1960s, is that it assumes the other side reasons about its interests in exactly the same manner as we reason about ours. Wasn’t Vietnam enough to disprove that assumption?

    • rambothedrughunter

      Your (1) is an awesome analysis. Ought to be fleshed out more and published separately in some prominent outlet. As soon as I read it, I did the forehead swat thing and thought, how obvious – duh.The Saudis and the Emirates are a lot more worried about the Shiites than they are about “justice” for the Palestinians. But in the faculty lounges of our leading educational institutions and in Europe, the Israelis are the moral equivalent of the Boers in South Africa. The Arc of History is about to consign the “Palestinian problem” to the minor leagues – ciao, bambini!

    • Peter Miller

      Obummer and the left are absolutely committed to the idea that all problems in the ME stem from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. They know it’s true and no set of events or circumstances will alter their view. They know this as certainly as they know that unemployment insurance creates jobs–Pelosi–or that what was needed in the first Gulf War was to continue talking to Hussein while he occupied Kuwait–a majority of the Democratic House and Senate. Results simply do not matter to the left. They have internalized the belief that theirs is a morally correct, rational view of the world and that all other views and opinions are based on ignorance, hate and a desire for violence.

  • Super Genius

    “He wants, in other words, to pay less into the international system, and take more out.
    There is nothing wrong with this as a goal. It is a perfectly rational thing to desire.”

    No, it’s not rational. It’s called magical thinking.

    • circleglider

      More magical thinking – by both Obama and Mead:

      President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his overall foreign policy. But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works.

      What’s clear is that Obama’s worldview is based entirely upon narcissism and simple-mindedness. And like Obama’s sycophants in the media and the academy, Mead confuses language fluency with intellect, thought and reason.

      • Super Genius

        I agree completely. As much as I think Mead can be extremely insightful, he apparently remains a sucker for Obama’s “charms.” (Kind of reminds me of David Brooks in this regard.) The result is that he tries to hold on to two completely contradictory judgments: that Obama is this thoughtful, articulate (clean?), reasonable man; and that Obama’s policies are, well, disastrous (as well as vindictive and mean-spirited).

        • Peter Miller

          Well, you can still be thoughtful, articulate, reasonable–and wrong!

          • LizardLizard

            Not sure how reasonable a policy can be if it is based on a world view at odds with observable reality.

      • Peter Miller

        And the Left, from politicians and pundits to the MSM, will soon be telling us what a great success Obumbles foreign policy has been. But one should always remember that Democrats could not even support the first Gulf War to eject Iraq from Kuwait. Really! Can there be any doubt that if we were invaded tomorrow the first thing Obummer would do is ask to negotiate the terms of our surrender?

      • Nick

        I had thought more highly of WRM. Now after the sentence “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man…” I’m not so sure. Dr. Mead… There is no such thing as Hope and Change. Go back and read your own article on the Jacksonian Tradition. I minored in history, specifically that of warfare. I’ve read a lot since then. I am nowhere near Mead is, but then again, I don’t get into worship sessions with Presidents…

      • S Mack Mangion

        an interview with Goldberg ? ! ?
        Goldberg – when he was with The Atlantic – is one of the reasons I stopped subscribing to The Atlantic. Save me from Goldgerg’s point-of-view… do not quote/cite him

        • jimb82

          Yeah, I stopped too. It became unreadable when James Fallows took over from the late Michael Kelly.

          • Andrew Allison

            Me too. Sad to see a first rate literary magazine with a 150-year history of excellence turn into a progressive mouthpiece. But you misallocate the blamee. Ownership of the magazine was transferred to David G. Bradley, owner of the Beltway news-focused National Journal Group in 1999. Bradley subsequently moved the magazine to D.C, and hired James Bennet as editor, who had been the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. ‘Nuff said.

      • Bob

        I think Professor Mead is saying that Obama is an idiot-savante. The President sees all sorts of wonderful things for the world. Reality is not among them.

    • Kyle Danforth

      I got a used car you might be interested in. People and companies overpay all the time.

    • Gomez38

      It’s rational for the bit players, who want to sit on the sideline and watch someone else foot the bill (i.e., Japan). It will never be rational for the US.

    • Jim__L

      Cost-efficiency is rational. Considering the indispensable nature of the United States in world affairs, cost-efficiency is not likely.

      If the US wants to cut its defense budget yet retain the strength of the international system, someone else needs to start picking up the tab. Europe spends less than half what we do, per capita — they should pay more. Japan should pay more too.

      It would almost certainly be better for us influence-wise if the money went through our hands and the orders went through our military structure, but if all we’re looking for is the strength to sustain the current Westphalian-when-we-want-it-to-be international system, strength for anywhere is better than weakness from everywhere.

      • Super Genius

        Whatever Obama’s up to, it has nothing to do with cost-efficiency, IMHO. He is too grandiose to think in such mundane terms. Obama’s foreign “policy” seems motivated by the usual liberal wooly-headed cluelessness about how the world works, a wholly unwarranted confidence in his charisma and persuasiveness, and a desire to re-situate America’s global role within the safe confines of the various multinational bodies.

        Of course you’re right to point to the crucial role of America in the world, but I would go further and say that that is, in fact, the “international system.” (The Westphalian one died in WWI. The current multinational system grounded in the UN is a joke.It is incapable of dealing with serious aggression in the world.) The apparent relative decline of American power is so destabilizing because there are no candidates currently in view to shoulder the tasks that America has been undertaking, e.g., guaranteeing the safety and functioning of the global commons.

        China could theoretically take up some of this responsibility, given its strong interest in the free flow of goods throughout the world. Yet despite the economic successes of recent years, it does not seem likely to content itself with the role of a predominant commercial entity, if its recent aggressive activities in its neighborhood are any indication. Countries like China and Russia, despite Obama’s dreams, don’t operate in the world from an idealistic base. They see themselves as great powers that, from time immemorial, have exerted hegemony on their weaker neighbors. They intend to do what they can to regain that status. Thus I wouldn’t place to much hope in strength from such quarters.

        • Jim__L

          Obama has his utopian domestic priorities, and he’s willing to castrate the US military to make an attempt at them, world-stability consequences be damned. That’s it in a nutshell.

          The horrible irony here is that those domestic priorities won’t lead to better outcomes for anyone (see: ACA). If (when!) global realignments reach beyond small changes around the Black Sea and the South China Sea, more suffering will result than anything he could solve domestically, even if his policies succeeded (in anything but bankrupting our country.)

          How anyone with an ounce of forethought thinks that Obama’s policies are moral is beyond me.

  • Anthony

    Every American President WRM must via foreign policy contend with the fact that “there is serious evil in the world and hardship and pain.” Can American Presidents eliminate such things; can American Presidents mitigate such things; can American Presidents escape such things abroad/domestically during their watch.

    “Like all postwar presidents, Obama speaks in hallowed terms about America’s global mission. But his actions reveal an aversion to missionary zeal….Obama’s belief in American values isn’t entirely rhetorical; he will sometimes place ideals above interests, though rarely when the two collide. He seems unmoved by the triumphalism that animated George W. Bus’s foreign policy…Perhaps more than any president since Dwight Eisenhower, Obama defines the national interest narrowly and acts accordingly.” Therein, WRM, is partial backdrop/context to Ukraine/Putin/ Russia engagement viewed perhaps from Obama’s world – a world of coordinated global leadership (which is undoubtedly lacking and echoes essay’s point that it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works).

    • https://sites.google.com/site/robinhoodinreversewanbatwist/ robin hood in perverse

      Machiavelli said people remember who ripped them off longer than their loved one. The state is a non-working spouse that has no business hooking up with Daddy Warbucks.

      Where is your Democratic wife?

      Washington is bipolar and trying her best to be the most bloated bureaucracy of all time. She doesn’t get out much.

      People love to give after they have plenty but even a socialist works for himself. When Obama found out that Michelle wants a divorce, he issued a “you can beat your wife period” executive order. Michelle figured out 10% stimulus 2% growth for 5 years is a Brezhnev train that isn’t moving.

      One government job has and probably will always cost about six private sector jobs, related tax revenue, and general happiness. A stable money supply, something we haven’t seen since 1934, creates the innovative middle class. Steps to make metropolitan areas, nation and worldwide, more evenly sized makes sense.

      Eliminate 50% of Washington, cut Federal Taxes 50%, and have a strong dollar policy, two years down the road everyone will forget about all this fascist nonsense but we have to remember to make sure nobody pulls this nonsense again here in the States, Europe, and in Ukraine.

      Fabians have three symbols. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A slow moving turtle that strikes hard. Two guys pounding dirt. When Napoleon rolled into town, Hegel had a big stupid grin on his face. All the Hegelian dielectric isms should simply be call Central Banksterism.

      I can’t taste the difference between Wilson and Barack vegetable oil. The Federal Reserve was created on Jekyll Island and Obama is the Prince of Hyde Park. A famous Central Banker said something like “If I control the money supply, I care not for your laws”. If debt is money that can only be paid off with more money …. someone ends up owning everything and everybody.

      The Federal Reserve and IRS are private and foreign Corporations. There is a difference between the United States and the United States of America. One is a corporation. Thanks to tax and spend democrats we were all born at sea in our mother’s womb because that way we are slaves. The global warming and cooling, etc. began after we went off the gold standard because our masters wanted our land. Private central bankers also created communism. Socialized medicine is a means to get rid of the old. The dirty rotten democrats made all the deals with the devil but wait a minute.

      In 1934, the Exchange Stabilization Fund was created. Right off the bat, the Treasury Department started debasing the currency thanks to Harry Dexter White. Sir John Keynes was just a useful idiot. The ESF has become the IMF, WB, EU, and BIS. There is a central bank in almost every country now but now there is more backlash.

      Putin and the Chinese have said goodbye to the NWO. The EU etc. is behind the non-sense in Ukraine. We should be behind the Putin. The NWO is enslavement.

      • Anthony

        Operational specifics/learning the fundamentals/vectoring resources or what.

        • https://sites.google.com/site/robinhoodinreversewanbatwist/ robin hood in perverse

          $16 Trillion economy, $17 Trillion public debt of which $12 Trillion the government owes itself, $33 Trillion private debt, $80 Trillion in equity, $100 Trillion unfunded liability, $800 Trillion of who knows what, the rest of the western world in the boat, the solution has to make the everyone happy, and the guilty have to sell the solution. hmm

          Second place is the first place loser but a peek is worth ten free market estimators. Reverse auction bid results can be turned into a low bid equation with a variance that looks something like this:

          Low Bid = (95% – 1% times the number of bidders) times the average bid

          Companies play free market basketball on a diving board because a company can’t maximize their profits if the company hits more often than the dummy. A 5% drop in price is usually enough to jump to 15% higher overall hit rate. Government is a slam dunking monopoly that has proven to be 20% more expense than the free market. Socialism, Fascism, Marxism, Statism, etc. is four scarcity leaps backwards and corresponds with Carman’s and Kenneth’s findings.

          A Harvard Professor and previous President of IMF wrote a book called “This Time is Different” . Carman Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff studied fiscal crisis in 65 countries over 500 years. 1% GDP reduction in taxes increases private sector 3% in GDP. 1% GDP increase in Government Spending deceases private sector 1.2% GDP with a -0.2% change in GDP. Obviously a great deal of government debt can put a country at significant interest rate risk.

          If we go from a 38% tax rate to 20% tax rate with a balanced budget the private sector will grow from $11 Trillion to over $16 Trillion. Tax revenue won’t decrease 48%. Tax revenue will only decrease 24%. Half of Washington won’t have to go on a permanent vacation, only one out of four. Employment will increase 25% so displaced bureaucrats will have lots of new opportunities to contribute to society.

          If we get down to a balanced 10%, $20 Trillion – more than a 60% increase in jobs if half of Washington goes on a permanent vacation, each dollar earned buys ($0.90/$0.62) 45% more, and hard America becomes a soft warm place.

          John Nash’s beautiful mind recognized the importance of interactions in which the results of one person’s choices depend not only on his own behavior but also on the choices of another person. There is a related game called Ultimatum. You and your partner split $10. Less than $3 deals disgust and anger. The dealer has a pulpit.

          The Laffer effect is no joke. Charles Adams, an international tax attorney and historian, wrote books on taxes. Once tax rates rise above the disgust and anger point, the expected extra tax revenue never shows up. A flat tax system is part of Constitution. Everyone has to pay taxes to keep as many people’s tax rate below the disgust and anger tax rate or make sure an overwhelming majority is disgusted with high taxes.

          Carman, Kenneth, John, and yours truly believes dealers can routinely get an $8 to $10 deal by getting his or her partner work for a $3 to $5 deal. With each $3 to $5 of earned success the partner becomes a dealer that turns the $3 to $5 deal into $6 to $8 of earned success. Turning $10 into $13 is a win-win systemic solution that creates good people, great outcomes, and durable trust but when it rains, rainmakers show up and turn everything to dirt.

          There will always be zero-sum losers who just accept less than $3 deals and think the key to success is being an abusive dealer. A $7-$3 deal isn’t better than a $6-$4 deal because $7-$3 deals turn into $6-$2, $5-$1, and $4-two bit deals. Rainmakers turn everything to dirt because they feel entitled to $7up and someone else has to pay for the diet $7up.

          Obama and company’s overall 30% to 40% tax and spend policies have systemically increased the public sector by 25% and eliminated 10 million private sector jobs. For the first 150 years of our existence, we were 10% tax and spend country. Present day Switzerland, Russia, and much of Eastern Europe are 15% tax and spend countries.

          I can’t taste the difference between Wilson and Barack vegetable oil. The Federal Reserve was created on Jekyll Island and Obama is the Prince of Hyde Park. A famous Central Banker said something like “If I control the money supply, I care not for your laws”. If debt is money that can only be paid off with more money …. someone ends up owning everything and everybody.

          Our founding fathers promoted the species (Gold and Silver) because a stable money supply is key to creating an innovative middle class and responsive Government. When things are set up right, the wealth disparity between rich and poor is only four fold and a society’s standard of living doubles every decade but there is a great deal of guess work involved. Government being around 45% of GDP appears to be the little or no innovation setpoint.

          With some modifications, Bitcoins can indirectly tax on transaction size (good), proactively tariff (good), turn the down and out into limited central banks (good) and tax on population density (good) and be like an invading army. Bitcoins, that don’t vary in quantity could be the beginning of a wonderful bottom up Milton Friedman world that leaves the elites on top without any change.

          The 10% public sector corresponds to a bottom 20% to top 20% ideal distribution is around $3.50,$4.50,$6.25,$8.25, and $11.25.

          We went off the gold standard 40 years ago. Over that period the average overall tax rate was about 30%. Over the last 40 years relative wealth distribution went from ($2.75,$4.00,$5.25,$7.00,$9.25) to ($1.25,$2.00,$2.75,$3.50, & $18.50). 30% to 40% Obama has taken us to ($1.00,$1.75,$2.50, $3.25, and $16.75). If the dollar is no longer the world currency, ($0.75,$1.31,$1.87,$2.41,$12.19). The above mentioned Bitcoin arrangement would lessen the wealth disparity.

          With some modifications, Bitcoins can indirectly tax on transaction size. After the transaction gets above $700,000 or so the taxes get much higher.

          Bitcoins could proactively tariff. If a 40% nation trades with a 10% nation, the relative tax is 25%. 80% of the tax proceeds go to the 10% and 20% of the proceeds go to the 40% nation thus creating better and better governance.

          Without government or coin clipping distortion, free markets naturally consolidate wealth in larger and larger metropolitan areas around about 0.7% compounding interest. Second place is the first place loser but a peek is worth ten estimators. A 5% to 10% tax difference between low and high population density areas is enough to leap past the first place loser. Over time all the metropolitan or region areas will become about the same size and thus less of a threat to the ruling elite.

          The 10% poor are 3 to seven times better over than the 40% poor. Bitcoins could also turn the down and out into limited individual bottom up central bankers.

          The elite Architects of the bitcoin ponzi scheme can be compensated for creating good governance. If they create a 10% world they get to make $22.50. If we the people create a 40% world, the elite only get $16.50.

          How would you straighten things out?

          • Anthony

            Ends and means/Reflecting on Morality/The eight axioms/ What are we writing to…. (rhetorical ending, let’s end this – thanks).

  • OldHoya

    Article misses the subtle genius of the Obama policy. Sustained, humiliatingly ineffectual foreign policy serves his larger goals. Let things drift and fester, hasten bad outcomes with stupid pronouncements then draw back when the only remaining option is wholly undesirable military action. Obama is training us to detest all engagement with the world so that we will embrace our inward-looking socialist future. Genius.

    • ojfl

      The problem with that thinking OldHoya is that the rest of the world also has a say in the US participation and engagement in conflicts.

    • Skep41

      The arrogant and ignorant ‘Progressives’ make common cause with the idiotic Ron Paulians and the bonehead reactionary isolationists. The world is now without a stabilizing force and chaos will follow.

    • XSANDIEGOCA

      I think Iran, Russia and China may have other ideas and may choose to not cooperate with the Divines O’s Grand Vision. Substitute nuclear weapons for planes on 911 and you see what I mean.

      • Peter Miller

        Yes, what do we do if during O’s term China fully deploys its aircraft carrier group and begins menacing its Far East neighborhood? His biggest threat will be to put Kerry on the Sunday news programs to declare that China is acting horribly, just horrifically!

        • XSANDIEGOCA

          The Barbarians are at the Gate!

    • notfooled

      Well said, OH! What was it The Bum said to Medevdev-”Tell Vlad I’ll be better able to
      work with him after the election” or words to that effect.
      Wonder what they have been chatting about in secret?
      Love to have been a fly on the wall during those chats.
      Vlad sure has gotten a lot bolder lately, hasn’t he?

      • Peter Miller

        He said he could be “more flexible.” He meant he was exercising so he’d be able to bend over more easily.

      • azt24

        Exactly. Vladimir Putin has always wanted to lessen American power and prestige. Since Obama is perfectly fine with that program, Obama thought he could arrive at a win-win arrangement with Putin.

        But Obama is now finding out what Vladimir Putin really thinks of him and his program — a great opportunity! Putin is going to use the opportunity that Obama has given him, while treating Obama with contempt.

      • LizardLizard

        First of all, don’t you think the photo of O talking to P that the White House put out looked fake? First of all, where is the translator? Are there two voices coming through the same phone? Also, do 0′s handlers actually let him talk to P all by himself? Seems unlikely to me but…..

    • Peter Miller

      While I have always resisted the idea that the plan all along was to make America weaker, I am beginning to think it has to be either that or that the man and his advisors really are stupid dumb asses. All the outcomes of his policies, domestically and internationally, were predicted by conservatives in 2008.

  • Richard Douglas

    Step One: NATO occupation of Kaliningrad. Then talk.

    • Skep41

      Is Denmark in? How about Portugal? Are the Spaniards ready to commit BOTH of their tanks?

      • Richard Douglas

        Hmm. Good question. I’ll ask the Danes who were in Iraq with me. I thought I saw you there too, Skep, but I can’t be sure.

        • Skep41

          Are you seriously suggesting that NATO, whose tiny and unco-ordinated forces had to be bailed out by the US in Libya, and the now-depleted and cut-back US military, led by the spineless Obama and Hagel are capable of determined military action against the Russians?
          You should also post at the head of this comment page that comments are closed to anyone without previous military service since yours has imparted a wisdom beyond that of us mere civilians.

          • Richard Douglas

            Don’t worry, Mr. Chamberlain, we’ll take care of you when it gets nasty.

          • Skep41

            I’m not counseling appeasement, I’m saying that that is the policy of Our Dear Leader. We are seeing a shift in the world caused by the US being bankrupted by the welfare state, made powerless by military cutbacks, and led by leftists who consider any US action imperialist aggression.

  • knewshound

    This I think is what will sink Hillary. Average Americans do not like their country to be a second tier actor, they expect, rightfully, that we behave as a superpower should.

    After 6 years of Obama foreign policy, 4 of which were helmed by Hillary, we have nothing but failure to show for it.

    Americans can put up with many things. Being punked by 3 world dictators, insane Jihadis and cold warriors like Putin is against our core beliefs.

    I believe that the democrats will reap the whirlwind in the 2016 elections and beyond.

    Failure leaves a bad taste in Americans mouths.

    • Skep41

      “…that we behave as a superpower should…”
      No, we behave as a slovenly, badly-run welfare state should and not as the superpower we once were.

    • Peter Miller

      No, the MSM and Dems will spin it as Hillary always believed in a more robust foreign policy but was stymied by Obummer and had to play along as a good loyalist. Most Americans only care about foreign policy for the first 5 minutes of a crisis anyway, and usually only when the news is on before the Kardashians.

    • qet

      This is, of course, the crux of the biscuit, as Frank Zappa would have said. Given the results of the last two elections, it is not clear to me that a solid majority still feels that way in a manner that influences their politics. Our media and academic elites may have finally succeeded in their decades-long project of convincing just enough people that any feeling like that, any feeling that the US “ought” be a global power and act like one, is a retrograde racist imperialist etc etc feeling and should be suppressed. This is what I think, anyway [edit: that the left-liberals have succeeded, not that I share their view!]. Just look at that absurd Tweet from Howard Fineman. His is not an isolated belief, lots of people believe the same thing.

    • LizardLizard

      Inshallah.

  • msanta1251

    “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his overall foreign policy. But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works”
    That is Pres O’s problem on a number of fronts. His worldview – domestically as well as internationally – is formed as a result of his limited experience, and his academic and progressive associates. It is not reality based – whether in terms of understanding business, the broader economy, or the fact that countries like Russia (and leaders like Putin) respect strength over short term interests. When the U.S. pulls back from engagement – the leadership vacuum is filled by those with different interests and their own perspectives/goals/ etc. He lives in a fantasy land and can’t understand why the rest of the world fails to appreciate his brilliance.

    • Peter Miller

      What it does, actually, is removes human nature, the idea of good and evil and the calculated pursuit of perceived interests, from the equation. GWB understood this and was derided for it–though he certainly misread Putin as well.

    • jimb82

      Not to mention health care . . . .

  • Skep41

    To say that this crawling, worm-like appeasement is all about Barak Obama or Gigolo Kerry is to ignore the complete and total spinelessness of the left in the face of aggression since the day FDR ignored the genocide in the Ukraine and the slaughter of Russia’s ‘kulak’ farmers and extended recognition to the regime that was engaged in mass murder. Our Dear Leader and his Progressive buddies are acting in the tradition of The Nuclear Freeze and every other Soviet-run ‘peace’ front in betraying our national interests and begging lawless dictators to respect international law.

  • Republiker1

    The Empty suit, the teleprompter and the Empty chair are in a high level cabinet meeting now.

    • Skep41

      Peace will ensue, no doubt.

    • Andrew Allison

      To bad there’s not a Nobel prize for foresight — Clint “empty chair” Eastwood would be a shoo-in.

  • mkegino

    Obama’s foreign policy is to foreign policy what a doughnut hole is to a doughnut.

    • bobw-66554432

      ?!? Them’s good eatin?

  • David

    Sarah Palin is smarter than Obama. And Palin is a moron.

  • David

    But, but, but Obama gives good speeches!!!!

    • Austin Mabry

      Only while the teleprompter is working…

    • Peter Miller

      That’s what is really scaring Putin!

  • Black_Saint

    Affirmative action hires are always expensive because you have to still hire someone to do the actual work but companies just consider it the cost of doing business. Now that we have carried affirmative action it all way to the office of President we are in big trouble at home and around the world.

  • thechicagoway

    “But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works”. Tell me, how can Mr. Obama offer up “an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his overall foreign policy” when his actual foreign policy/worldview does not “mesh” with reality?

    That’s like posing an “intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense” as to why the earth is flat….

    • bobw-66554432

      All world leaders instantly realize whenever they met with Obama that he is “the smartest guy in the room.” They will all genuflect to his will any minute now and the world will once again be back on its path to the Socialist Utopia that Obama has planned for it.

      • rambothedrughunter

        Cue another Nobel Prize!

      • LizardLizard

        I was well into adulthood before I realized that the people who talk the most in meetings are often NOT the smartest people there. But for a long time I operated under the illusion that they were.

  • John_Galt_04401

    This is what happens when Okonkwo is put in charge.

  • glissando

    The Berlin Tea Party

    When I was growing up in West Berlin in
    the middle of communist East
    Germany. Ms. Merkel was living in East Germany as
    was the KGB thug Vladimir Putin. Now that Putin and Obama are in charge, reliable
    sources have it that they have secretly agreed to carve up the world for a
    total communist takeover: Putin gets back the East Block and Obama gets a
    communist United States. The illusion that they are enemies is just that: an
    illusion.

    • mistermcfrugal

      You know Obama has got to love that deal!

    • bobw-66554432

      Are you suggesting that “…I’ll have more flexibility after I am re-elected..” wasn’t refering to Obama’s golf swing?

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      Interesting…….

  • Ishmael Whale

    World events are snowballing out of the president’s control. First Obama reneged on an agreement with Ghaddaffi that guaranteed his security if he gave up his WMD, but that was a Bush agreement; now Obama will renege on the Ukraine agreement, but that was Clinton. The only country that has so far successful stood up too America is North Korea, because they have the bomb. Oh, I forgot to mention Israel. Though obviously North Korea and Israel are not the same, this is not a lesson that our enemies have missed. Let’s see how much of their WMD the Syrians give up.
    When you’re inside a bubble it’s hard to know that you are and what is going on outside the bubble is completely invisible to you. This is where Obama is, inside a bubble of his own making. When it bursts it won’t be pretty for him or for us.

    • Peter Miller

      Just watch Bill Maher on HBO and you’ll realize that you shouldn’t believe your lying eyes. Everything is really coming along splendidly. Really. No, really!

  • http://www.PoliticalPaige.net/ Peps at PoliticalPaige.net

    If Barack Obama is now considered a “Jeffersonian”, then we truly are through the looking glass.

  • mike077

    “Putin’s attack on Ukraine calls all three propositions into question. What Obama’s belief in the possibility of deals with countries like Russia and Iran leaves out is that some countries around the world may count the reduction of American power and prestige among their vital interests. They may not be hampering and thwarting us because we are unnecessarily and arbitrarily blocking their path toward a reasonable goal; they may be hampering and frustrating us because curbing our power is one of their central objectives. ”

    WOW. Great insight and observation! Too many on the left AND right forget that American power let’s Americans do a lot of things — such as sleep soundly at night and do business around the globe with little fear — and that other would-be powers want to reduce America’s power for their own selfish ends. And, they are not as fundamentally benevolent as the United States. The lessening of American power brings chaos, disorder, and death — whether our leaders want to accept it or not.

  • Ronald W. Mann

    What foreign policy, he puts up two losers like Killery and Lurch, the man is totally stupid

  • Remove From List

    Obama will be giving the “Peace for Our Time” speech after his next call with Putin – Obama’s foreign policy has been and will continue to be the appeasement policies of Neville Chamberlain.

    • bobw-66554432

      I’m waiting for the “laundry list*” to come out of his pocket…

      *Yes, I know it wasn’t a laundry list, but “at this point, what difference does it make.”

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      And, the results may be just as disastrous.

    • The Gimlet Eye

      Or obama will make a pact with Stalin’s successor, Putin :

      ” This Time We’ll Get It Reich”, Starring barak obama as Franz Von Papen, Valerie Jarrett as Adolf Hitler, John Kerry as Joachim Von Ribbentrop, Joe Biden as Eva Braun,Eric Holder as Heinrich Himmler, Sheila Jackson Lee as Hermann Goering, David Axelrod as Joseph Goebbels, Jay Carney as Frau Goebbels, Kathleen Sebelius as Reinhard Heydrich, Hillary Clinton as Benito Mussolini, Harry Reid as Ernst Roehm, Chuck Schumer as Rudolf Hess, John Podesta as Lili Riefenstahl, and Kermit Gosnell as Dr. Josef Mengele. Rated XXX

    • jimb82

      Not a phone call. A Peace Summit in place of the G8.

  • bscook111

    Wake up WRM! The simple fact is that Obama just ain’t very bright. Between that and a deep subliminal yet abiding antipathy to all things Anglo, the only culture on the face of the globe that’s working at present; and there you have it.

    • azt24

      I would say that Obama is intelligent, but in a very narrow, narcissistic way. When it comes to charm, to persuading people of his own brilliance, to being a BS artist, Obama clearly has world-class abilities. Obama is also good at political tactics.

      But Obama is utterly incapable of strategic thinking. If he even tries to do it, he is hamstrung by the Leftist ideological fantasy that he has been sheep-dipped in for his entire life.

  • gwgm

    It is no longer in Hillary’s interest to pretend that Obama isn’t an idiot.
    In fact, it makes her look bad to stay quiet / supportive of him.
    At some point, a Dem hoping to win the nomination will throw Obama under the bus and Hillary will be hurt if she doesn’t join suit. There’s no upside to pretending he’s not a putz on all fronts, anymore.
    Obamacare is a disaster. Europe is heading toward war or back under Russia’s thumb. And the economy blows.
    Obama’s empty threats have reduced him to joke status. We might even get to the point where SNL makes a joke about him, although I wouldn’t get the mortgage on it.

    • gcblues

      as if hillary is not too an idiot??? please. step away from the choom.

      • gwgm

        I’m not saying she isn’t an idiot… but Bubba is sharp enough not to stand with Obama now that he’s getting toxic. Obama is a Carter-esque anchor and there’s no prize for holding onto him all the way to the bottom.

        • jimb82

          I disagree. Remember Ted Kennedy’s run against Carter in 1980? (My understanding is that many of the people in the crowds were only there because they wanted to be there when the assassination happened.) But Carter had to work for the Democratic nomination as a sitting President. And of course in 1968 Bobby Kennedy, then Eugene McCarthy, against Johnson. None of them were winners. I think if Hillary were to actively run against Obama it would alienate enough Democrats to deny her the nomination. She needs to distance herself, but be loyal. So she’ll keep her mouth shut. “Reset” policy, after all. She owns it too.

  • mistermcfrugal

    Who would have confidence in that loser in the White House? The only enemy he will stand up to is Republicans. Anyone else in the world can kick his _ss.

  • gwgm

    We are watching – in real time – the sequel to the movie Being There… after the funeral when the power brokers installed an idiot… who has never held a job or had a clue… as President.

  • Crewjobs

    We know more about Vladimir Putin’s college transcripts — he graduated with honors from Leningrad State University then went on to earn a PhD in Economics — than we do about Barack Obama’s grades in college.

    • XSANDIEGOCA

      We do know by Obama’s own admission that he spent too much time in the “Choom Room”.

    • gofishreds

      I’m overwhelmed by the genius’s posting here. Group think at work. First time reader. I thought this was about analysis rather than cheerleading/bashing. Like children griping about their parents. Like pinball machines with frantic arms waving. What brain power at work. No wonder we have a hard time getting the best leaders to run for office.

  • Andrew Allison

    Foreign policy should be hard-nosed. The best description I’ve seen of what we’ve had for the past six years comes from OldHoya below, namely, “Sustained, humiliatingly ineffectual foreign policy”

  • XSANDIEGOCA

    Whoops!! Up Jumped the Devil!!!

  • Enzyte Bob

    “With Hitler-style lies blasting from the well-tuned Russia propaganda machine (attacks on ethnic Russians! mass flight of refugees! fascism!) “

    Dr. Meade has a short memory. This is exactly the pretext that was used for NATO action in Bosnia and Kosovo. Did you for once think that if Anglos wouldn’t treat Slavic nations as their colonies to do with as they pleased, maybe Russia might also act differently? After centuries of Western meddling in the affairs of Slavic nations, from the installation of alien “monarchs” from the house of Saxe Gotha Coburg, to partitioning and sanctioning ethnic cleansing in many of these nations, it is not clear to me who the good guys really are anymore.

    Vlad is acting no differently than we would if China were to take over British Columbia and be right on our doorstep. That’s why I’m with Vlad this time around. The EU has no business turning Ukraine into another colony.

  • gcblues

    1. obamas foreign policy failures began with canceling USA promised missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia. 2. they continued with appointing a rank amateur, hillary, as sec of state. 3. they stumbled repeatedly on the Iranian revolts and Arab spring. 4. they then magnified the stupidity many fold by appointing John Frenchie Kerry the incompetent mouth piece to sec of state. 5. they conclude by setting Israel and Saudi Arabia up for elimination from the planet. hey barry, you built that.

  • bobw-66554432

    “…down a dead end and the creation of a corrupt, authoritarian and brutal state resting on the exploitation of hydrocarbons…” Like the way you associated the use of hydrocarbons with corruption, authoritarianism, and state brutality.

    Great work sticking to the Alinsky method.

  • ShadrachSmith

    The result will be that Putin takes everything he wants, then everybody has a big Treaty signing celebration with Nobel Peace Prizes all around. Then the media will spin it as another victory for Obama’s Smart Reset Genius.

    Then the Media will return to more pressing issues like the minimum wage.

  • tess

    articulate – thoughtful – YOU’VE GOT TO BE DELUSIONAL !!!!!!! the man is an idiot who can’t form two sentences without a teleprompter without saying uh, uh, uh ?!?!?! just another ‘journalist’, and i use the term loosely, trying to mop up after this disasterous POS!!!!!

  • toumanbeg

    This points out that the Entire Foreign Policy of the USA post WW2 is flawed. The UN is a joke as is the Global Commons theory. Politics is moving back to the 18th century. Welcome to the Great Game 2.0
    Only this time instead of a handful of European States there are over 100 players. Instead of wooden ships with cannons there are ICBM’s with Nuclear warheads.
    I doubt that this will end well.

  • carloseg

    When Obama leaned over to whisper sweet nothings into Putin’s ear about how flexible he wanted to be in his second term he lost.

  • Will Icare

    “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg
    at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up
    an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his
    overall foreign policy.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Mead, you magnificent bastard, I read the interview. :-) I read a shallow, unfocused nutcase talking to Goldberg about a fantasy world unlike the one I live in.

    Otherwise, I like your essays, etc. and read one or more per week.

  • moderate Guy

    “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man.” OK, enough with the obligatory deference to Obama’s alleged intelligence; of which he has demonstrated exactly nothing in 10 years he spent in public view, in and out of White house.
    Obama is a far left liberal extremist idiot, driven entirely by outdated views on both domestic and foreign theater. He is a spiteful, childish, chip-on-a-shoulder, shallow thinking lightweight, who happened to capture the prevailing thumb-sucking mood of 50% of American voters at the time America was pre-eminent in the world, politically, militarily and economically.
    The disaster, America is facing, in all three areas, is the result.

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      “Thumb sucking mood” Great description and it’s oh, so true.

  • kindness

    Go Galt folks. Seems a better option than the incessant whining you are doing.

  • Cornhusker

    …and the 2014 Democratic midterms take another hit, courtesy Obama.

    Quick, Hillary, hit the Reset button…wait, that was one of the first things we gave away, wasn’t it?

  • Ernie Musicman

    President Obama is the ‘smartest guy in the room’….until Putin walks in.

    • gommygoomy

      Until Bo walks into the room.

  • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

    “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his overall foreign policy. But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works.”

    In other words, he’s in La La land, right?

    • Locke_in_the_modern_age

      Or you could just say he is an academic.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Yes, like most academics.

  • bannedforselfcensorship

    I’ve been thinking about possible responses, and one thing we probably should be doing is moving some defensive units into the Baltic states and Poland, if only to send a signal.

  • gommygoomy

    He already has a plan. He’s gonna put his Pink Bike Helmet on his head, and ride his Pink Girl’s Bike over to Always Wrong Joe Biden’s House for Foreign Policy Advice from Vice President Never Been Right, not even ONCE, on any Foreign Policy Question since he Voted Against giving South Vietnam the Military Hardware that the Democrats PROMISED THEM, so they could fight their own Civil War.

    Then, he was Wrong on not putting the Pershing Missiles in Western Europe. Wrong on not funding the contras in Nicaragua. Wrong on Grenada. Wrong on Panama. Wrong on the First Iraq War. And, Right on the Second Iraq War (which he Voted for) right up until things got hard.

  • Isa10Ten

    I wonder whymost Western and almost all America media repeat that Ukraine was set to join the movement toward the European Union last November when Yanukovych suddenly suspended trade and financial talks with the EU.
    The real reason that Yanukovych suspended trade and financial talks with the EU was that EU demanded as a condition of the agreement release from prison convicted criminal, former Ukranian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko. Yanukovich refused EU’s intervention in Ukranian internal affairs and turned to Russia. After the recent coup in Kiev Timoshenko was released, but that’s not the point. The point is that had EU not interfere in Ukranian internal affairs and taken sides in Ukranian politics, Yanukovich would have signed the agreement with EU, and nothing that the world has to deal with now would have happened.

  • craigpurcell

    How else to cut defense?

  • Jerome Ogden

    This 5-7-5 17-syllable Haiku sums it up:

    Our thugs rout his thug

    Disorder under Heaven

    We chat Putin acts

  • Gl Remote

    Obama has a plan. He is sending Kerry’s empty suit to help create a larger vacuum in the area.

  • David Goldman

    “Hope and Change”. Hard to believe that 52% of the electorate fell for that — twice.

  • Joe Jones

    Obama blames America for all the worlds problems. A very big part of him likes seeing US power and influence diminished. That’s why he keeps issuing threats when he has no intention of actually backing them up.. He could just keep his damn yap shut – but issuing threats -just to see them ignored – damages America and American interests more than silence – so that’s what he does.

  • Think Free

    Obama is learning a humble lesson. He has been operating with a flawed world view. Just as Bush over reached with nation building in countries not yet advanced for self governance, Obama figured he could do even better with a TelePrompTer. I hope a wiser President emerges to deal with these totalitarian regimes.

  • Rod8

    A few things come to mind.
    1. The EU has shunned nuclear power. France dismantled most of its nuclear power plants. Now the EU is naked in the face of needed power; its source of natural gas and oil is Russia.
    2. The US has resisted energy independence, not approving the XL pipeline and others. Therefore America is in no position to supply the EU.
    3. In case of a general war, the ME will align with Russia and cut off oil to the US.
    4. It was a mistake to dismantle the defense missile shield being built in the Czech Republic. Its probably too late to build one in western Ukraine, but the threat might still be effective.

    • The Gimlet Eye

      You assume obama has a real interest in preserving and protecting American influence in the world. He doesn’t.

    • Locke_in_the_modern_age

      Huh? France has 59 nuclear power plants that supply 75% of their electricity.

    • CFL68

      You need to keep asking your mind questions.

      1. Sure the EU gets 25% of its energy from Russia. There are alternatives that would cost more. France gets the vast majority of its power from nukes.
      2. US energy production has grown more under Obama than any President in recent history. It is skyrocketing and LNG is a real strategic threat to Putin’s trumpt card.
      3. US gets only about 20% from Persian gulf, and more than half of that from Saudis. Add to that other friendly suppliers and there isn’t such a problem. Not sure why you think they would align with Russia. If they ignored major demand centers like US and allies, prices would collapse.
      4. This one is funny. Add up all NATO firepower in men, tanks, aircraft, artillery, ships, etc., that we do have on tap, and you really think that the prospects of 10 ABMs in Poland play a role in Putins calculus.

      I swear to god you people are hilarious. Seriously – partisanship is a mental illness. Get help!

      • MisterH

        I agree with some of what you posted, but point #2 desperately needs a rewrite: 2. US domestic oil and gas production has grown significantly since 2009. However, that growth has come EXCLUSIVELY from extraction on private lands- something Obama has no say in. To understand his position towards domestic production one need only look at his handling of the Keystone XL pipeline .

        • jimb82

          And offshore drilling, which the Federal government does control.

        • CFL68

          Fine. Let’s assign all bad things in the world to Obama because they are his fault, and economic growth in the US energy sector is unrelated (/sarc). We all know there is huge controversy around fracking and honestly I don’t know the scientific answers. I like the idea of energy but not if there is a huge environmental cost. Obama clearly thinks its worth it because he could stop it.

          Keystone pipeline also sensitive and this is a democracy. Let it play itself out. Something that big needs consensus.

  • The Gimlet Eye

    “Barack Obama, the first president shaped by the celebratory culture in which every child who plays soccer gets a trophy and the first whose campaign speeches were his qualification for the office, perhaps should not be blamed for thinking that saying things is tantamount to accomplishing things, and that good intentions are good deeds. So, his presidency is useful after all, because it illustrates the perils of government run by believers in magic words and numbers.” George Will

  • tps

    What?? Mead wrote this: “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man.” Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his overall foreign policy. But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works.”

    How, exactly can Obama be a “thoughtful man” if his worldview, crumbling all around him, doesn’t “mesh well with the way the world actually works?” He may be an “unserious man,” or ” an uneducated man on world events and history,” or a “willfully blind and stubborn man,” or a “an articulate but stupid man,” but thoughtful? No.

  • AlgorithmicAnalyst

    You give him too much credit. Much worse than even Carter.

    • jimb82

      I don’t know. Carter was pretty bad. I’ve yet to see the NY Post headline, “More Mush from the Wimp.”

  • Arup_2

    It may interesting to note that Rand Paul and cooler heads in the Republican Party is toeing the Obama line which is let the other side self-destruct

    • jimb82

      Proving why Rand Paul is not a serious candidate for President.

  • j011254

    Obama, no matter what foreign endeavor he enters, always begins from a position of weakness. This is very obvious to those like Putin who are calculating how much they can get away with. We can be assured that Russia will keep the Crimea, probably take and keep East Ukraine and might decided to take all of Ukraine. Obama is helpless in stopping this. No one in the world today has a high opinion of this President or of his ability to influence world events. Carter probably would have done better than this President.

  • lucienwilbanks

    It is prison rules. You show weakness, you become sombody’s bit@h

  • Bernd_Harzog

    Obama’s fundamental mistake is that he has conveyed weakness and indecisiveness to our friends and enemies alike. No one respects him and no one fears him.

    The last time the Russians got their noses bloodied it was as a result of our CIA arming their enemies in Afghanistan (which in the end created a whole different and at the time unanticipated problems).

    Foreign policy is hard because you have to play chess. You have to play hardball. And you have to keep the trust of the American people without letting them know what is going on.

    This requires a seriously experienced leader surrounded by a world class team who sees the world as it is.

    Obama and his team fail all of these tests.

  • jschmidt2

    You may recall a notorious moment from one of the 2012 president debates when President Obama cited Mitt Romney’s warning about the growing threat from Russia and dismissed it with a snarky one-liner: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”the federalist

  • jschmidt2

    Remember when Obama backed down from putting missiles in Poland? He gave into Putin and this I s what happens when you show weakness. Obama and Clinton thought they reset relations. They were weak, they showed it and this is what happens.

  • danbfas

    “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. Anybody who doubts it should read his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg
    at Bloomberg News, where the President of the United States offers up
    an intellectually serious, robust and closely reasoned defense of his
    overall foreign policy. But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes
    well with the way the world actually works.” And that is a very dangerous position for the President of the United States.

    • VoteLoud

      A controlled interview convinced you?

      Time to learn to read between the lines.

      • danbfas

        Um, no. I was pointing out his statement as being absurd, which it is. And dangerous for the future of the US. Believe me, no reading between the lines necessary.

  • Justjean

    None of this has anyting to do with the President or other World Leaders. It has to do with Russia’s leader making illegal international moves. Because the majority of the Crimean people WANT to be Russian it is basically an impossible situation. It is hardly like Ike’s Hungarian situation.

    • VoteLoud

      Must be a “PROG” professor…

      How can one be so cold, except for an agenda?

  • Poppa

    obama’s lack of leadership ability is now threatening the world, not just America. Sad, very sad.

  • VoteLoud

    How many will see their daylight fade and family memories disappear do to “Leading from behind”?

    Thanks Appeaser in Chief…

    There are human results of your actions… or lack…

    Sad, so very sad!

  • CFL68

    You are all a bunch of lunatic cannibals lol.

    Putin is pursuing vital national interests as he sees it. What he has going for him: geography, motive, opportunity, capability. On this issue, the US and EU have nothing. It could not be another way. There is no magic GOP land where the US over matches Russia on any of these things in this situation. This is Putin’s front yard. Blaming Obama is stupid from every angle. Just partisan dribble.

    All that matters is what we do now that we are in this situation. Perhaps we can slightly influence situation. Beyond what the President proposes (diplomatic and economic pressure), I have seen nothing constructive from the right. This is a very dangerous situation and while Russia does have some significant claims in Crimea, they should not be allowed to take it this way. Letting violence erupt in east Ukraine will create problems orders of magnitude worse and Putin should not assume that things will follow his script. They could spiral out of control as mobs of ethnic Russians inflamed by Russian media propaganda start really hurting people in Kharkov, Donetsk, and elsewhere.

    The only thing we can possibly do is for the west to form a unified front and provide a timeline for pulling out ‘or else.’ The ‘or else’ is brutal sanctions that would hurt everyone – but hopefully Russia more. Slam the door on them. If there is no unified front, and Germany won’t try living without Russian gas, then its all a sham and brutal force wins the day. No point in posturing to protect Europe of they won’t sacrifice to protect themselves.

    • VoteLoud

      To a PROG, there is no good and bad… “The ends justify the means”.

      Buckle your seatbelt Sport…

      For you will learn that the difference and freedom and Communism (130,000,000 millions murdered) is real… and WILL affect you!

      • CFL68

        What are you even talking about? Are we discussing Crimea? If so state your point. If you are on a lunatic rant just spare us please.

        Cheers!

  • http://CharlieLimaKilo.com/ CharlieLimaKilo

    Nice article. Well-written. “Articulate” even. I’m sure the establishment power-elite are shifting uncomfortably tonight, perhaps suffering one of those depressing headaches which they must endure evermore frequently these days, trying to make sense of their dissolving ersatz reality as the faint outlines of a nightmarish apparition slowly takes shape in their stupefied minds.

    Putin is coming. And he’s bringing his army. And, surprise! Putin’s army are not ‘gunman’ at all! But, they are organized, well-equipped and highly disciplined soldiers, sailors, special operators and more. They have tanks. And fighter planes. They have powerful artillery, rockets and splendid helicopters. And they are coming are surely as the sun rises in the east.

    What will Kerry say about the 19th Century and even Genghis Khan when Russian divisions roll across eastern Ukraine? How loud will the shrieks become; how deep will the red lines cut? How grave will the consequences become when thousands of ‘gunman’ riding upon hundreds armored personnel carriers arrive in the outskirts of Kiev?

    Will the Obama cultists shout ever louder about “chicken hawks” and “neo-cons”? Will they don Travon hoodies and wail frantically about the white Putin’s humiliation of the Black president? Will they scream BUSH DID IT?

    What DO the lethally weak and galactically incompetent do when the bully comes? They capitulate.

    • andrewp111

      What makes anyone thinks they will stop at Ukraine. Putin has no obstacle to taking the Baltic States and Poland as well. Even though Poland is a NATO member, Putin knows that Obama would never use nukes, and NATO no longer has the conventional forces to stop an invasion.

      • sandbun

        Because it’s been a disaster for Russia as well. Just because something is harming the US doesn’t mean it’s helping Russian interests.

        “The Kremlin’s own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject it. In phrasing its question posed in early February to 1600 respondents across the country, the state-funded sociologists at WCIOM were clearly trying to get as much support for the intervention as possible: “Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?” they asked. Only 15% said yes – hardly a national consensus.

        From Simferopol, Simon Shuster counts the costs already incurred: $60 billion was wiped off the Russian stock exchange today, and the ruble went into free-fall. Gazprom lost $15 billion in value in one day. Of Putin’s neighbors, almost all have come out against Russian aggression: Kazakhstan wants an end to hostilities right away; China opposes any intervention; Poland would have a strong case, along with the Baltics, for even stronger ties to the West, as do all of Russia’s neighbors with Russian-speaking minorities. And that leaves aside the possibility of cutting off the Western bank accounts of Russian oligarchs and of revoking Russian inclusion in the G-8.”
        http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/03/03/the-best-of-the-dish-today-136/

        • http://CharlieLimaKilo.com/ CharlieLimaKilo

          With a pitiful desperation born of galactic incompetence and lethal weakness in the face of Vlad the Villainous, Washington’s Corps of Liberal Progressives have marched out their special forces unit, the Spinmeister Girls, and are returning fire. Now the Obama cultists and low information citizens are expected to believe that this unmitigated disaster unfolding on the Eastern Front is the work of the crafty politicians and the crony operators running the United States these days. Already the obedient lapdog brigade of the Washington Elite Media Guard has picked up the signal and commenced firing: Putin’s Catastrophic Error in Ukraine by Captain Courageous Ignatious was published yesterday. Or the exact same words published by the nearly defunct Time and carried by administration lackeys at Yahoo! News: 4 Reasons Putin Is Already Losing in Ukraine.

          Today though, Vlad put these puppet operators out of action by declaring, “Russia has no plans to annex Ukraine’s Crimea region” (CNN Online this morning). Hahahaha… of course not. After his ‘gunmen’ riding his tanks roll into Kiev, he will hold “free elections” and let the people of the Ukraine decide themselves to return to Putin’s KGB orbit! You can’t beat that with a stick – or propagandistic rhetoric now can you?

          And, Obama will not act. He will bluster. He will huff and puff. But, he will capitulate.

          • sandbun

            Never claimed anything close to the idea that this whole thing was a honeypot trick by Obama to weaken Russia. A question was asked: “What makes anyone thinks they will stop at Ukraine’. I gave an answer. If you have a problem with the answer, explain why, rather than go on an unwarranted attack on my motives.

  • royw

    The only country where Obama is feared is his own.

    • VoteLoud

      STELLAR!

      But by intent!

  • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

    Sorry, this was Obama’s plan all along to destroy the power of the United States. He has no shame. He hates American and anything bad for America is good in Obama’s eyes.

  • N.I. Silver

    The difference is that Jimmy Carter appeared personally weak. Obama, by contrast, appears to be pursuing a policy of weakness, of accommodation and capitulation. He wants to weaken this country in order to prevent its future mischief.

  • MisterH

    …and amidst this crisis in the Crimea Prez. Obama this week stiffened his spine and unleashed his harshest rhetoric and criticism to date…. towards Israel!

  • lhfry

    “Ukraine is a particularly tough problem for President Obama because it points to one of the weak spots in the Wilsonian-Jeffersonian foreign policy synthesis he seeks to build. As a Wilsonian, Obama wants to change the world. He wants international relations to be built on the foundation of international law. He wants nuclear weapons first controlled, then reduced and finally abolished. He wants human rights to be observed around the world. But as a Jeffersonian, he believes, deeply, that excessive American commitments and activism beyond our frontiers endanger both the peace of the world and our freedoms at home. He wants to cut back, he wants to avoid war, and he wants America to meddle less and pay less.”

    “Those ages which in retrospect seem most peaceful were least in search of peace. Those whose quest for it seems unending appear least able to achieve tranquillity. Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective . . . the international system has been at the mercy of [its] most ruthless member.”
    - Henry Kissinger as quoted by Niall Ferguson (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303945704579391492993958448?mod=trending_now_3)

  • sandbun

    I think that no matter whatever happens in Crimea it’s not going to affect Obama at home very much. People have already made up their minds about him. Either you like him or you don’t at this point, and those opinions are pretty much hardened at this point, and anyhow Republicans aren’t going to work with him one way or another. If he turns this around somehow, it’s not going to suddenly make them more willing to make deals with him. If he doesn’t that isn’t going to suddenly make people that have stood by him for this long suddenly change their minds and start voting for the party that brought us Iraq. Plus people are exhausted talking about foreign wars; there’s going to be the idea that if it doesn’t affect me directly, I don’t care. So I think the concern (or hope for those who feel that way) about this weakening the President at home is overblown.

    That said I’m glad you brought up how this kills the hope for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and specifically tied it to the mistake of becoming involved in Libya. I don’t understand why this isn’t brought up more often. Especially for the hawkish side, it’s the one reason that a military response makes sense in this case. Otherwise the message is clear – nuclear weapons bring security to your country that nothing else can bring. That’s the message Obama has delivered to the world, and it’s a horrible message to send and makes us less safe in the long run. That will be a damning part of his legacy.

    • kateliz46

      I didn’t think anything would affect Obama at home either by this point. I was wrong. Obamacare is bad, but the current foreign policy is disastrous. I am wondering what is going to happen in the next three years. You avoid war through strength, not weakness. Just last week Hagel said he wants to reduce our military to pre WWII levels, a time when our population was much less and the dangers of the world were much less.

  • Atanu Maulik

    These are the kind of questions which will be asked again and again in various capitals of the world in the coming days and months. The answers will decide the future of humanity.
    >> If Russia invades Estonia (a NATO member) or China decides to do something about Taiwan, is US REALLY prepared to go to WAR against Nuclear powers to defend those tiny faraway lands ? I mean REALLY ??? REALLY SERIOUSLY???
    >> Is there anything which US finds worth defending at all costs (other than Washington DC of course) and for which US is ready to risk even a nuclear confrontation ?? Is there REALLY a red line ?? I mean a REAL RED line.

    • wildrover4

      Historically, the U.S. will only risk a direct military conflict with a nuclear power when that country either engages in aggressive behavior near the U.S. (Cuban Missile Crisis) or actually attacks a NATO ally. That’s it. The U.S.S.R. or Russia has invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and Georgia and the U.S. didn’t use the military. That’s four/five Presidents prior to Obama – two Democrats, two/three Republicans who understood that the risk of nuclear war wasn’t worth it.

    • petegross

      Is there anything which the US finds worth defending at all costs….??

      Probably nothing with this zero as prez. . Because the moronic voters put this incompetent idiot in the WH there is really no hope. We just have to ….well hope….. that we can get through the next 3 years without being so damaged there is no recovery.

  • William P Cooper

    Congratulations to the author for a wonderful analysis.

  • William Ockham

    Forget the Carter analogies. You have to go back to pre-Civil War era and yahoos like James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce to see this level of incompetence and mindless damage.

  • Genma+Saotome

    A very, very generous description of Mr Obama’s policies. A delusional description, IMO.

    Crimea itself is not at all important to US interests. The defense of no borders get changed by military force is, OTOH, at the very core of U.S. Foreign policy since WWII. We already blinked at Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia. If we blink again how credible a core element is it really? Is it so irrelevant that we’re sending a green light to anyone with a border dispute that it is perfectly already to resolve the dispute by military force?

    That is, BTW, what Imperialism is all about — just overrun the other guy — and to put an end to that is why the US fought WWI, WWII, and the Cold War.

    So to all you folks out there who don’t think the US should do anything about Russia seizing Crimea from Ukraine, before you firm up that opinion consider that China has a border dispute with every one of the countries adjacent to it. EVERY one of them. If we’re not going to defend a core principle of American Foreign Policy that has guided us for the last 70 years against a piss-ant like Russia what signal does that send to the Chinese?

  • themaskedblogger

    “President Obama’s foreign policy depends on three big ideas: that a working relationship with Russia can help the United States stabilize the Middle East, that a number of American adversaries are willing to settle their differences with us on the basis of compromises that we can accept, and that President Obama has the smarts to know who we can trust.”

    I still find it hard to believe the country elected this geopolitical virgin twice. Team Obama vacillates between Fantasy Island and Xanadu without ever approaching within orbital distance of Planet Reality.

    “But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works.”

    No fertilizer. Tell me something I don’t know.

  • boomerscoutofamerica

    With its heavily Russian population, Russia has legitimate interests in eastern Ukraine. It’s probably better to give them a quid pro quo (using our interests in Iran and Syria as well as sequestration of oligarchs’ money). The U.S., with the nuclear arsenal of the next 10 powers, has little to fear here, and with deft diplomacy, a lot to gain. We need not posture and bully at every regional crisis. It’s bad enough that we have wasted so much blood and treasure in Nam and Iraq, theirs and ours. Oh, and in Korea too, especially since the PRC are now our bankers.

  • sdl701

    “President Obama is an articulate, thoughtful man. … But it’s not clear that his worldview meshes well with the way the world actually works.” That’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. Yes, he’s articulate – though glib is a better word. But thoughtful? It’s hard to imagine anyone less thoughtful than someone who could sit where he has been for the past five years and learn absolutely nothing about the way the world really works, as opposed to the doggerel he picked up at the feet of Frank Marshall Davis.

    That he is an unimaginably arrogant, narcissistic, naive fool was obvious to 48% of us six years ago. The greatest tragedy of this new century is that so many people have apparently still not figured that out.