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Obama's Middle East Recessional
Part 1: What Instability Really Looks Like

Self-proclaimed Middle East “experts” have long bemoaned the instability of the region. They didn’t know the first thing about real instability.

Published on: January 21, 2014
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  • Anthony

    “You can lead a political partisan to knowledge but you can’t make him think.” That is a wonderful turn of a phrase – now on to the other three essays to fully grasps content.

    • Kavanna

      Yes, especially when that partisan is a “weak ideologue,” which is what Obama is.

      A weak ideologue is someone who’s latched on to bad ideas devised by others but did not produce them himself. When the bad ideas inevitably fail, the weak ideologue cannot rethink the bad ideas, because he didn’t come up with them in the first place and probably was never able to. So the weak ideologue doubles down on the bad ideas instead, beating his head against the wall harder and harder in the hopes the wall will break.

      We saw this to an extent with Bush Jr. and Iraq. While the “democratization” idea (a terrible one in the present ME context) seemed to be working elsewhere in 2004-7, it was submerged in a sea of blood in Iraq. Some level of common sense must have kicked in around early 2007, however, with the Republican losses in the mid-term elections and the struggle against al Qa’eda in Iraq hanging in the balance. Bush turned over the strategy to Gates and others who knew what they were doing, and the result was the successful “surge.”

      (BTW, Obama has already thrown that success away. And Afghanistan is about to fail as well. Most of the US casualties in Afghanistan have occurred under Obama, not Bush. This is less Carteresque and more Nixonian — except you’ll never hear about it in the mainstream media.)

      Maybe something like that will happen with Obama and his bad ideas, but I doubt it. This is an isolated White House, run by other ideologues like Obama and, like him, disconnected from reality and unchallenged by a largely flunky news media. To expand on that point, the “news” media will get special condemnation from historians of this era.

      • Anthony

        Someone once told me that we humans generally live in two worlds – the outer world of appearances and the second world not so captivating (the how of “how things actually function”). I am not into Obama bashing (full disclosure: Obama has been my state senator, U.S. senator, and neighbor before becoming President) and catch all labels (weak ideologue) may have their place in random political diagnosis/discourse but your thought requires more; While I concur President Obama, like many before him, may indeed reflect ideas, beliefs, points of view, etc. inculcated based on what others thought/taught, however, in that regard he differs little from predecessors. Indeed I am quite cognizant of your bad ideas and ME reference; yet, I am not prepared to believe (for country’s sake) that the young man (our President) is incapable of deep reflection and appreciation of awesome responsibility that comes with being President of United States; and if not the nation will still be whole upon swearing in of new President January 2017.

        • TommyTwo

          Neither Kavanna nor I are big Obama fans, but I wouldn’t dismiss this comment of his as Obama bashing. It has been said that presidents spend their term drawing on the intellectual capital they have accumulated, as their job is too demanding to build up same. From everything we know about Obama, his pre-presidential focus was almost entirely domestic (differing from some of his predecessors). These days, his brain cycles are consumed by things like Obamacare. Granting him great good will and intelligence, it still beggars belief that Obama will be able to develop an overarching strategic framework for the Middle East on the fly. Garfinkle’s current essay(s) is a heroic attempt to methodologically analyze a decision-making process that appears to be glaringly devoid of methodology.

          • Anthony

            No dismissing nor assumption to contrary; my intent and it remains is that I am not into human bashing generally (as I would not bash TommyTom or Kavanna because our world views differ). President Obama has people on payroll I assume making $$$$ to defend him; that has not been nor ever will be my function. I wanted Kavanna to know honesty of my reply – other speculations I can’t speak to.

          • TommyTwo

            Oh, anyone who follows the comments here should be well aware that you do not tend to the polemical. Similarly, my comment was not intended as a criticism but to further the discussion.

          • Anthony

            Thanks TommyTwo and well acknowledged (your last sentence that is).

  • El_Al

    The US administration is very disorganized. Both Chambers are a disgrace for every Nation. But I’ll show you from a European Perspective how it looks like_

    US / Switzerland For a period of 9 months at least, there is no formal US Ambassador for Switzerland. A Country in the Top 6 US Investors with at least 210 Billions investments !! A Russian Ambassador would have a maximal open time of two weeks to one month. OK if you think you can afford that. Think again in the long run.

    US / Norway The Norway People get a new Ambassador without any knowledge an Obama Supporter. I’ll not interfere this procedure – but when you send one to one of the Top Allies especially for the NATO send one with a proper understanding.

    That the Administration in the Foreign relation Sector get some problem was anticipated. As Hilary Clinton wasn’t able to communicate whit Russia. Most of the time she sends her Vice.
    But the change in the Administration Samantha Power and Susan Rice is very troubling. But should have been removed a quite a while ago. Both lead the President to this Syria debacle. Unilateral Hardliners – which in North Africa burnt whole countries with their Democracy efforts.

    The positive Part plays John Kerry but he could use internal support. John Kerry tries to get contacts in Order with Russia and the Iran. The relationship with Mr. Lawrov is build on a good relation and some trust.

    Obama the coward

    That was the biggest surprise since 2011. Obama is hidding in the White House. He lacks very good personal relation with most of the European Presidents. He doesn’t visit Russia or the WEF. To be a President needs Leadership. President Putin on the other side is regularly in Japan, Vietnam, etc besides his part time Job as Sotchi Controller.

    US lacks Mid east Analytics

    Their analysis was inferior in North Africa to Syria. Not to mention Iran. The Idea to find the places in a County which has the size of the Top 5 European Countries together is and won’t be smart. 80 Mio Iranians are a prime Top Market for decades. All Revolutions have been cut back from Ukraine to Tunisia. Instead of Democracy we have Anarchy.

    Thats not good for the People there – and not for the West Economies too. Egypt’s imports lost at least 40% since Mubarak stepped down.

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