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The Mess in Syria
Narcissist in Chief?
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  • Ellen

    True enough, he is a huge failure. But, not one living soul in the Democratic Party is willing to openly criticize him. The criticism is coming from nonpartisan former professionals who had real positions doing real work in his administration and our now gone. What does that tell you about the integrity of the Democratic Party?

    • wigwag

      Absolutely true. Whatever you may think of him, Harry Reid is not stupid. He knows perfectly well that Obama’s foreign policy is a disaster, yet he says nothing. Schumer isn’t stupid; he knows that the President’s Middle East failures are of epoch proportions, yet he is silent as a church mouse. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz actually is stupid, but she’s not so stupid that she doesn’t understand what an enormous failure the Obama foreign policy has been; she won’t utter a peep.

      The one Democrat I’m particularly disappointed in is Steny Hoyer, the House Minority whip. Hoyer has his head screwed on straight, he is very pro-Israel (and he’s genuine about it, its not just for political gain) and he’s sophisticated about international affairs. Sadly he’s as silent as the rest.

      As for Pelosi, my guess is that she genuinely thinks Obama is doing a heckuva job.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Given the treatment accorded to those who dare question the ruling liberal orthodoxy, I am not surprised that the Democrats are silent when it comes to criticism of their own.
        Remember that Nixon fell only when the leadership of the GOP turned on him in August of 1974, I suspect it is impossible to see a similar situation with the Democrats today.

      • Dan

        I disagree DWS is that stupid

    • Dale Fayda

      Whatever else these people may be, they are Liberals first, foremost and always. “Progressivism uber alles!”

    • circleglider

      Professor Mead belongs right at the top of the list of equivocating, “fair enough” Democrats afraid to condemn their sitting President. As this piece demonstrates, even the deluge of mea culpas from Adminstration insiders cannot shake him from his steadfast commitment to President Obama’s goals.

      • Ellen

        I would defend Professor Mead. He is an academic near NYC. This means he lives right in the belly of the beast of intellectual dishonesty, which parades under the title of “political correctness.” YET, he openly and continuously criticizes Obama and calls him what he is – an incompetent narcissist surrounded by liberal sycophants, including most of our media. That takes a certain amount of bravery. Give him praise for that, at least.

  • Arkeygeezer

    “We will never know if President Obama would have had more success had he
    followed the advice of those inside who warned him against his current
    Syria course”

    The only alternative to the policy of containment of the Syrian conflict, is American Military force. Obama rightfully chose not to us ground troops in Syria.

    • Gary Hemminger

      Why is the only policy of containment of the Syrian conflict America Military force? This do nothing or do everything, binary thinking, is not good policy. there are infinite things that could be done. Do nothing and do everything are far ends of the spectrum and I would contend are what is wrong with American politics right now. Either you are far left (do nothing) or far right (do everything). What about us in the middle that believe there are many, many choices that could be made short of going into battle, and longer than doing nothing. I don’t get why people think so binary these days, when they know the world around them is gray. I am very confused about how people are raised to think so black and white. Maybe it is because they cannot express an idea in more than 2 sentences.

      • f1b0nacc1

        OK, I am listening….what do you recommend?

        • Dan

          arm whoever is losing

          • f1b0nacc1

            Aside from the ethical considerations involved, the problem here is how do you determined who is losing, and how do you make sure that whoever you arm doesn’t do things with those weapons that you don’t approve of?
            I understand your point (and hopefully the puckish thoughts behind it), but my question still stands.

          • Dan

            I know, I know, but frankly, I really don’t mind watching them kill each other. Maybe I’m a monster for that, but when it comes to this I’m of a “let’s you and him fight” mindset.

        • JR

          Unfortunately, the way I see it, at least in Syria “Do Nothing” is actually the best choice. Perhaps it wasn’t a best choice two years ago, a year ago, or even 3 months ago. But it is now. The best we can hope for is for US Air Force to remain aggressive enough and not back down from Russians. What gives me hope is that I know a few guys in armed services and I think their enemies underestimate them at a great personal peril. Our military boys are damn good.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I am largely in agreement with you (though if the president were different, I might suggest that an aggressive pushback on the Russians was a good idea….but we have this idiot instead….), my reply was to Gary upthread who seemed to think that there was some sort of happy medium…
            I know many in the military, and they are excellent….I wish we were worthy of them…

      • Arkeygeezer

        This is a fighting WAR with religious and ethnic undertones. If you want to control the situation, you go to war like the Russians are willing to do. If you are not willing to fight a real WAR, without restrictions, then stay out of it. There is no middle ground. Sorry for being verbose; thats 4 sentances.

  • Atlantic

    Obama’s definition of leadership at this point is perilously close to Assad’s.

  • Gary Hemminger

    If you think about it, this makes sense for the administration. Tie this in with political correctness. It is not what you do that matters so much as what you say that is key. I am surprised that this isn’t clearer to folks. As political correctness continues to gain influence as a way to think, then it is only logical that political correctness will become more important than actual outcomes. It is not what you do that matters, it is what you say that ultimately will define you. When Obama was asked some time ago if higher capital gains taxes resulted in less revenue for the government, and lower capital gains taxes resulted in higher revenue, would he still raise capital gains taxes, his answer was yes. This was a clue that most of the media missed, and continue to miss. Words and symbols now have more power that results in our society. Where this leads to I don’t know, but I don’t this leads to a positive outcome. I think we are on this road though….

  • In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Presidential campaign season, and from Trump to Sanders, sounding good is many times more important than doing good. Obama is simply doing what so many USA politicians do: campaigning, for as long as there is breath in his body.

    Anyone who wants to fix that has first to come up with a few million voters who know, or even care, what a politician actually accomplishes, and with so many veto powers in the Constitution, accountability is rarely clear.

    • Tom

      This was happening back in 2013 and 2014. Try again.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    So, the worst President in American History is getting disrespected by his own advisors. Well he is the Worst President in American History, you can’t expect anything else.

  • Matt B

    I think the narcissist label is right, that is the only way I can make sense of Obama’s inability to change course in the face of obvious failure. (Notwithstanding the recent decision to leave troops in Afghanistan)

    After hearing John Kerry give a truly dumbfounding interview on NPR this morning, I concluded that Neville Chamberlain analogies are no longer adequate for this administration. Is there any historic precedent for ineptitude of this scale? Perhaps Professor Mead could dredge up some examples.

    • Jim__L

      It’s common in coffee-table books focusing on profound failures to point out that people usually don’t get into a position to make the huge mistakes unless they’ve got a track record of not making a whole lot of mistakes, which makes the modern historical record a bit unhelpful here.

      Obama, on the other hand, has a very thin track record, except among those who consider identity politicking to be a qualification of some kind (a larger constituency than rational people would hope, apparently.)

      For incompetence and leaders chosen for the wrong reasons who went on to do bad things — Gao Qiu the footy player from The Water Margin, maybe? With the rise of the Title IX Inquisition (not to mention the first stirrings of legal persecution of practicing Christians these days), it’s interesting to think that the narrative of hao han or ren xia might start to appear — those considered criminals by the PC elites, but principled heroes of the people’s values.

  • Episteme

    Hof’s piece is chilling – very well constructed regarding how things came together (or didn’t), but chilling. There are a number of counterfactuals one can imagine. My first thought was something I had half-considered years ago, what if Assad’s forces in Deraa responded to the protests with riot police using batons and tear gas (rather than firing into the crowd with troops)? Given the talks being lined up, the Syrian Administration would still look like bad actors, but the sort where it’s very plausible that the US and Israel alike would consider how separating that government from Iran and Hezbollah could begin to moderate behavior at the institutional edges. Meanwhile, once the country was involved in the mix of intersecting war, that sort of previous moment (which, for all we we might find out in ten years’ time that Deraa WAS a fire order lower in the ranks) consigned Assad to being a public terror and started playing the role.

    The other tragic part, by classical definition, is the Obama Administration’s obsession with narrative such that they’ve gotten trapped with a story themselves while this series of overlapping events – a series of wars that actually aren’t the same war if one tracks them back but converge in the same time and space – in the Middle East, particularly Syria. So we see another madman who we’d hoped was at least a rational actor go full-Gary Oldman-villain, watch ISIS come over from next door (that’s a whole ‘nother story) to borrow a cup of destroying-heritage-and-commiting-genocide, and see an exodus of the population from the entire region because no one knows what going to happen next. America doesn’t need to intervene militarily in these things, but we need to act as sort of guarantor of events, like the super of a building checking in when an apartment starts leaking war. Otherwise, you get this confusion where Iran (who we’ve made confusing deals with), Russia (who we seem to be kowtowing to in the international frame for anyone watching), and the Sunni states (who don’t seem to know if we’re their ally or targeting them next somehow, depending on what odd thing someone in Washington says), all stand around with Enrico Morricone music playing…

  • PoohBear57

    It constantly amazes me that commentators keep talking about Obama’s ‘narcisism’ and ‘incompetence’ for the mess he’s making of our foreign policy. It seems to occur to nobody that his behavior could be the result of a deep-seated ill will toward America, and that his behavior could be deliberate….

  • Yesterday’s press conference (Friday,10/16/15) was genuinely scary. I’ve seen Obama be arrogant in public, and deceptive, and contemptuous before, but I’ve never seen him visibly frightened. Yesterday he looked like a high school kid who’d been caught cheating on an exam and couldn’t think of a way out the situation, knowing that it was going to mess up his college plans. All he could do was recite the talking points over and over, though even he knew that they were empty and ridiculous.

    I don’t like Obama, personally or politically, but I’ve always had a grudging respect for how glibly he could argue his point to his own advantage, and how clever he was at boxing in his political enemies. Yesterday he actually looked like the empty suit that he’s always been when it came to foreign policy.

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