THE OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY INTERVIEW by Michael Brenner

Hits: 0

Brenner

  The Atlantic has just published a long essay, The Obama Doctrine, by their Washington national correspondent, Jeffrey Goldberg. Based in most part on wide-ranging reflective interviews with President Barack Obama, the article makes extensive use of direct quotes from that interview. Considerable space is devoted to the various American engagements in the Middle East along with Obama’s views on prospects for the region.   It is a remarkable journalistic event insofar as it represents a preemptive attempt by a sitting President to shape the discourse about his record and his legacy. What he says is revealing – less as analysis and interpretation of actions taken, though, than as an ‘exhibit' of all that is peculiar about Obama’s policy-making  style – and what the implications for American diplomacy have been.

Obama's overall stance is one of dissociation from his own administration and its conduct. Throughout, he appears to be referring to himself in the 3rd person. This can be seen as the soon to be memoir writer's attempt to cast himself as detached statesman while distancing himself from errors made. However, this degree of dissociation by a still incumbent President is odd. It suggests that he has been playing the role of participant-observer while in the Oval Office. Moreover, it conveys his sense that somehow the words he utters are equivalent to actions. Indeed, a feature of his Presidency has been a frequent mismatch of words and deeds which never get reconciled. Nor do they in this seemingly candid interview. That raises a cardinal question: is this honest reflection or a characteristic flight from accountability?

Two, this strange attitude is most pronounced in his remarks about the Middle East. For example, he inveighs against allowing the United States to be placed in a position of picking sides in Islam's Sunni-Shi'ite civil war. He is especially adamant about the dangers of American power being used as a tool of the Saudis to advance their cause. Yet, this is exactly what he has been doing in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Bahrain. Moreover, he never has confronted the KSA leaders about the promotion of wahabbism or their concrete support for ISIl and al-Qaeda (in Syria and Yemen – where they fight side-by-side with Saudi troops) – either in private or in public.

Let’s step back and reflect on this. Barack Obama, President of the United States, in telling a journalist that his most important ‘ally’ in the Middle East has been aiding and abetting America’s mortal enemies – and that they should stop. Yet, three years after those hostile actions began he has yet to voice his displeasure directly in numerous meetings. Instead, he gets an interview published in a magazine that the Saudi leaders might pick up in the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic on their next medical visit. If there is any sense or logic to this, it must conform to a mental process never before encountered.

Obama urges that the KSA and Iran learn to co-exist, "to share space," in the region. Yet, in the wake of the nuclear accord, he's gone overboard in denouncing the IRI as the primary source of instability in the Middle East and insists that until they cease and desist, no normalization is possible. As Goldberg quotes Susan Rice in seconding the President: “The Iran deal was never primarily about trying to open a new era of relations between the U.S. and Iran.”   In other words, if the US refuses adamantly to "share space" – as in Iraq – on what grounds does he here encourage the Saudis to do so?  On Turkey, Obama is similarly mealy-mouthed as regards their tangible contributions to both ISIl and al-Nusra/al-Qaeda – although he refrains from the same direct criticism of Erdogan. 

Finally, Obama strongly criticizes Washington's foreign policy Establishment as being overly rigid in their thinking and imposing their views on American leaders. This is baffling – is not the President the head of the Establishment? Has Obama not stocked his two administrations – to a man and to a woman – with members of the Establishment? Robert Gates, David Petraeus and John Brennan were his appointees. Gates boasts in his memoir of the scheme he orchestrated to force Obama’s hand in escalating in Afghanistan in 2009. With his allies Petraeus and Hillary Clinton, Gates planned to expand it further and to make its duration indefinite. Only Stanley McChrystal’s inopportune public insults of the President prevented its success.

 Does he not invite Robert Kagan and Thomas Friedman to intimate Camp David deep think sessions? Did Obama not put Victoria Nuland, Dick Cheney’s principal deputy foreign policy adviser (and Kagan’s wife), in charge of European policy where she helped foment the Ukrainian coup – and from which post she aggressively runs a belligerent policy toward Russia? Hasn't he bowed the knee before the Israeli lobby – going so far as to allow himself to be humiliated by Netanyahu before Congress without any rejoinder? Does he not have the authority to address the country directly and to instruct them about world realities? 

Yet, he whines to Goldberg that he is somehow caught in a web spun by “the Establishment.” What is a reasonable interpretation of this illogic? Election politics? – but nothing has changed since his 2012 re-election. (Anyway, is starting a new war in the Middle East a sure-fire vote-getter?) Was the President fantasizing for seven years, was he blackmailed, did he lack the conviction to take different paths, or was he simply weak and feckless?

Here is the Obama view of where he fits in Washington’s power map of foreign policy-makers/thinkers: “There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow. It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses. Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions. In the midst of an international challenge like Syria, you get judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons why it does not apply.”

The deference and passivity accorded the upholders of the conventional wisdom exposes the critical flaw in Obama’s interpretation of his authority as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief. He is not a constrained Doge of Venice under strict surveillance by the Great Council of aristocrats. He is not just the custodian of some Holy Grail in the sacred custody of a vestal priesthood. He is not the prize student being tested in a simulation exercise by masters of the guild. The Washington Consensus embodied by the head-nodders of the think tanks and op. ed. pages is nothing more than the calcified corpus of failed ideas which have brought the United States nothing but wrack and ruin for (at least) the past 15 years. The Iraq debacle cut the ground from under it – thereby helping to clear the way for Obama's entry into the White House. His historic task was reformation. Instead, he decided that acceptance into the ranks of the Establishment was worth a ritualized surrender.

  All of this is baffling. Part of the explanation lies in the President’s singular personality. Despite his high intelligence, he seems to live with a great number of unreconciled contradictions. Some have to do with his background and upbringing. Some are intellectual. The title of the Atlantic article is misleading. There is no “Obama Doctrine.”  Incoherence is the hallmark of American actions in the Middle East and elsewhere. The interview with Goldberg confirms that.  

II

Barack Obama gave Goldberg many, many hours of his time. The President allowed the writer to accompany him on international jaunts, and accorded him entry to his inner circle. Goldberg has thanked the President by concentrating on the supposed historic error of not bombing Syria when Assad allegedly (if factually mistakenly) was accused of crossing the notorious ’ red line’ by using sarin gas. That is the pivot of the article; it is returned to time after time in positing the hard-line critique of the Obama foreign policy as the one authoritative perspective.  That was predictable. Goldberg is an Israeli who started his career at the Likud megaphone The Jerusalem Post. Why does a President afford such liberties to a tendentious journalist?

European monarchs of old had court portraitists.  American presidencies have Boswells like Bob Woodward and now Jeff Goldberg.  Boswells who are not friends but on assignment.  The purpose seems similar: to immortalize the ruler at the height of his powers.  To show a forceful leader mastering a daunting problem with resolve, sobriety and dedication to the interests of his fellow citizens.  This being America, the subject matter has to be one of action and suspense.  Bush the Younger seeking retribution for 9/11.  Now Barack Obama in a titanic struggle to escape the coils of stifling dogma.

A narrative account that covers a long span of time, though, does have a few drawbacks.  It cannot fix the image at a single moment that will last for eternity. However laudatory, the written account is liable to be viewed differently as time goes by.  And Goldberg’s portrait is not very becoming. A picture wings the flying hour; a story is part of the flow of events.  There is the further drawback that the chronicler may depict persons and things in ways that are not entirely complimentary to the main protagonist in the drama.

Journalistic talents may be available for lease but they do not come with a money back guarantee.  For the exchange currency is not hard cash but access.  The White House gets surefire blockbuster publicity – and, in this case, the chance to set in place the first sketch of his Presidential record.  A  complication is that while the President is the patron, the commission is loosely written to allow the artist unmonitored access to other members of the court.  Their vanities and ambitions are not identical with his.  See the quoted remarks of John Kerry and Pentagon officials.

In the light of the ensuing risks, why does Barack Obama enter into such a pact?  Our celebrity culture provides part of the answer.  Publicity is what it is all about.  A public figure whose meteoric rise is a testament to star power must be acutely sensitive to the imperative of how vital to success is mythic imagery and turns in the limelight.  The stage lights have the special glow when energized by a graphic account of star performance. 

Then there is the simple truth that Presidents want to celebrate themselves.  They are the ultimate celebrity in a celebrity culture.  They in fact feel proud of what they do and how they do it.  Reality is clay in my hands.  A successful leader must never allow the future to be hostage to history – even yesterday’s history.  Except where history can be bent better to serve fresh exigencies – or a post-Presidency career of 30 -35 years.

The selection of a hawk like Goldberg to be his interlocutor demonstrates another truth that also can be inferred from the Obama discourse. Authority on matters of foreign policy is understood to rest with the guardians of the very Establishment that constrains him. It is the neo-cons and their hard-line companions in arms who, he believes, are the cynosure of core American beliefs about the world and our place in it. So it ultimately is from them that he must seek validation. This conviction of Obama’s, of course, becomes self-confirming – as we have observed for seven years.

Obama is a man of reflection, at least as concerns his own identity and self-image. Maybe, the serial interviews with Goldberg were the first try at coming to terms with himself as director of American foreign policy. So he invited Goldberg to join him in an excursion through the Presidential mind  – a Virgil exploring his own psyche. 

This entry was posted in Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

112 Responses to THE OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY INTERVIEW by Michael Brenner

  1. turcopolier says:

    All
    Borg = “Foreign policy establishment.” pl

  2. Patrick armstrong says:

    He’s polishing the turd. “Don’t blame me for the Juliet Foxtrot, I wasn’t there”.

  3. David Lentini says:

    I’m still trying to find Obama’s “genus” that the press loves to talk about. In foreign policy, he has been very much the emperor without clothes; the man the Borg love to pet and coo at while they do their own bidding at our expense.

  4. David Lentini says:

    What’s a “Juliet Foxtrot”? I know about Charlie Foxtrots, but this is news to me.

  5. Thirdeye says:

    Obama’s desire to be accepted by the Washington establishment was the hallmark of his every policy from his first day in office, leading to abdication of his mandates on economic stimulus, banking reform, health care reform, and foreign policy. The situation called for a head-knocker, not someone who hoped that by waving the magic wand of his personna he could undo the entrenched dysfunction. We’ve had two “reformers,” Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who were at best competent caretakers for the Washington establishment when the situation called for a transformative challenger. Now there’s a potentially transformative, head-knocking challenger coming and we’re seeing what REAL panic on the part of the Washington establishment looks like. Thought Obama took some cheap shots in 2008? Ha!

  6. cynic says:

    A very confused Virgil, who forgot that he was supposed to be Augustus; and this self-pitying whine is his Aeneid.

  7. Bob says:

    Though I am in no way giving Obama a get out of jail free card. (Both him and his predecessor should be in jail) I think the author does need to bone up on the role that congress plays in budgeting, appointments and passing laws. The president may be the most powerful man on earth. But is subservient in a lot of ways to Congress. A congress packed with hacks,flacks and idiots from both sides of the isle.

  8. CaliHalibut says:

    Affirmative action doesn’t look very noble when its recipient is under 24/7 public scrutiny.

  9. VietnamVet says:

    MB
    This sheds light on a dark subject. With Nancy Regan’s passing the stories of her tiffs with the White House Chiefs of Staff were recounted. Then I suddenly realized I had no idea who the current one is.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Chief_of_Staff
    The only reason that I come up with is that Denis McDonough is no longer in the center of the decision making system. The White House is a scripted Information Operation directed by outside powers.
    “A kingdom for a stage, princes to act. And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!”

  10. Ken Macaulay says:

    Obama polishing his credentials to become the chief lobbyist for the TPP when he leaves office?
    Will the forthcoming Obama foundation be able to eclipse the Clinton foundation as the go to for dodgy corporates & dodgy foreign political aspirants – if she gets the gets elected?
    This I believe will be one of the big stories in the future…

  11. NotTimothyGeithner says:

    The Clinton Foundation was an investment not payback. Obama won’t be penniless, but the Clintons weren’t bringing in the big bucks until after Kerry lost in 2004. We are 10,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 away from who will challenge President Edwards as he seeks a second term. Hillary might be a trivia question in that world.
    Michelle isn’t running for office. Obama never built his own patronage program, relying on too many Clinton retreads, Rahm, Podesta. There are no big bucks to be had.

  12. Kyle Pearson says:

    It has seemed to me, at many times in Obama’s presidency, that the cabinet members are leading and Obama is simply following the best of a lot of very bad recommendations.
    That was true during G. W. Bush’s tenure as president, and also as Reagan’s tenure – at least during his later years, when his mind was pretty much gone.
    I suspect it was also often true during Bill Clinton’s term –
    I think it’s wrong to say that these three or four presidents “set” foreign policy. How much does anyone here think that Clinton knew the first thing about Yugoslavia? Colonel Lang has made it quite clear that Cheney and Rumsfeld (but mainly Cheney) purposefully distorted the intelligence that the public received on Iraq and its purported WMDs – why is it such a stretch to think that these presidents, each of whom lacked any or had only minimal experience in the Executive or Federal branches, could be expected to formulate a foreign policy that is independent of the people who are feeding them the information they must base their decisions upon?
    Obama basically fired Clinton, and brought in Kerry to take her place – with that shift, we have seen a relatively large shift in foreign policy.
    It seems to me that Obama’s speech, when couched in the third person, is indicating that his own ability to influence policy is strongly limited by the government institutions atop which he has been placed.
    I myself can understand if a President who regularly orders drone strikes on compounds half-a-planet away might be worried about what could happen to him (or her) should s/he deviate too greatly away from DC’s proffered solutions.

  13. ked says:

    I continue to believe that the presidency simply isn’t as influential at this stage of empire as it was in the past. And whether cause or effect (probably both), we aren’t the beneficiaries of having a good selection of quality political leaders participating at any level – from local school boards to the WH. There’s more for individuals having drive & talent to accomplish elsewhere. I suspect this has dawned on Obama. He may realize that rather than affirmative action that positioned him to become president, it was lousy competition. Let the Borg & Wall St & Congress have its way… “I’m getting out alive”. Given the tenor of our polity and elites these days, that may be a real accomplishment.

  14. optimax says:

    Didn’t Lincoln speak of himself in the third person?

  15. Charles Michael says:

    “Obama’s desire to be accepted by the Washington establishment…”
    Yes, I fully agree with that, to say it plainly: it shows a real psychological weakness, IMO largely sourced in its origins.
    So when his job was to be the Ring Master (ring, loop, beltway)he satisfied himself to be the iconic first AA president, the blue-eyed boy of the harpies even if in some occasions he cunningly deflected USA Foreign Policy from some more disasters.

  16. HankP says:

    Honest question here – are there lots of non-neocons available to advise the President, or have the neocons intellectually captured the foreign policy apparatus?

  17. Thanks for all participating in this post and thread. Perhaps a short hand for evaluation of candidates and Presidents? What decisions have they made, and how and when did they make them?
    I would argue that the legal profession by training is an observer class that does all it can to avoid accountability. The Obama Administration may be the high point for one lacking accountability.
    As to FP [foreign policy] and foreign relations the U.S. allows key Ambassadorial slots to be purchased so what can be really expected? And since most painted in SECRECY its inhabitants allowed to construct visions of their role that are largely non-factually based.

  18. Patrick Armstrong says:

    Same thing. JF may be more Canadian Army slang than CF.

  19. “He is not a constrained Doge of Venice under strict surveillance by the Great Council of aristocrats.”
    Oh, but what if he is? For some years now, I have strongly entertained the notion that the US president is not a sun-king at all, but rather a mere corporate CEO who answers to a board of directors. The question is, who are the directors in this case?
    “It is the neo-cons and their hard-line companions in arms who, he believes, are the cynosure of core American beliefs about the world and our place in it.”
    The neocons seem to act like sheepdogs, herding one president after the next–both Democrat and Republican–towards pre-planned policies and objectives. Thus, they do not so much work for our presidents as work them over! But if they do not really work for the president, whom do they work for? Again, who comprises this mysterious board of directors?

  20. Peter Reichard says:

    Obama was a tool of Wall Street and the foreign policy establishment from the get go.His role was to put a new more friendly face on the empire after the Bush administration burned through all its international political capital after 9-11 and alienated the entire world with its blatant aggression, incompetence and Texas swagger.So successful was he initially that the Europeans were even bamboozled into giving him the Nobel Peace Prize.I expected a kinder and gentler imperialism as R2P replaced neoconservatism as a rationale for US intervention but it certainly hasn’t been so. R2P is a fraud, its proponents don’t have a humanitarian bone in their bodies. It is just neoconservative aggression repackaged in a way to be sold to liberal dupes. Temperamentally Obama might have made a great labor mediator or UN ambassador but not a President. He is indecisive, listening to both sides then steering a middle course between his hawk and dove advisers satisfying neither and producing an ineffective policy. This is not leadership. He feels constrained by the establishment to operate within narrow confines. This too is not leadership. I often wonder if his policies are limited by him being subject to some kind of blackmail and/or intimidation. His background is very mysterious and untransparent even to the extent that the continent of his birth has been in question. Who knows what might lurk in his past? His personal security has been compromised by numerous Secret Service failures. Is it just incompetence or is a message being sent to him by the powers that be? One wonders.

  21. David Lentini says:

    The Clintons have proven that “caretaking” can be quite profitable. I suspect the same will be true for Mr. Obama.

  22. David Lentini says:

    True, but in 2008 Obama had a very unique public mandate that he could have used like a trump card (no pun intended) like the last Democrat to confront a major stock market crash, FDR. Obama chose instead to install himself in the WH with a fawning entourage.

  23. turcopolier says:

    HankP
    IMO the neocons and R2P neoliberals have bred non-neocons and non-neliberals out of the system through selections, non-selections and retirements. pl

  24. sumiDreamer says:

    I read some time back that Obama had only made two decisions in his life — to stop smoking (a resolution that didn’t last) and to buy his house from the felon Rezko.
    Reading the article I didn’t get much to suspect that indecisiveness had changed much.
    I notice no one took on the whole question raised about the syncophant who painted the portrait. As I read, I couldn’t believe the amount of koolaid he drank to slake his thrist. Just a tarted up version of People magazine article really. Who knew you could portray the Commander in Chief as Top Celebrity. Who knew? Not much more than the Paris HiltonKim Kardashian fashion paraade. Or is it merely the Manchurian Candidate has a summer fling with another chickenhawk?
    Great critique. I thought maybe only I was seeing the distancing Obama engages in. Very astute comments.

  25. LeaNder says:

    “I think the author does need to bone up …”
    sounds close to my inner response to Michael Brenner, and I am quite pleased he picks up on the issue.
    “(Both him and his predecessor should be in jail)”
    I can understand the impulse concerning Bush jun’s court. But I assume that the trouble is that whoever shaped matters ending in “Operation Enduring Freedom” can claim they were indeed true believers. … Curveball, wasn’t that the German’s fault?
    What should get Obama in jail? Ideally it should be something into which he wasn’t thrown, so to speak. The drone war? … If so, Jeffrey does not give us much evidence. 😉

  26. LeaNder says:

    “with a fawning entourage”
    I don’t keep record. Are there protocols of White House meetings? If so, at what point in time would they be accessible?
    Not too long ago I followed a link here suggesting that Clinton supported help for Libyan dissidents.
    Was the author an Obama fan?
    I somewhat doubt Clinton was a member of something that can be described as “fawning entourage”.

  27. LeaNder says:

    Almost forgot you NTG, Ohio 2004 raised suspicion, that I recall.
    On the other hand I have no idea how it is related to earlier recounts stopped in Florida. 😉

  28. LeaNder says:

    “why is it such a stretch to think that these presidents …”
    agree. Not a “such a stretch” to me.
    ****
    Maybe that’s the reason on a purely theoretical level, I would love witness events with Trump taking power. 😉

  29. A remarkable insight IMO!

  30. altruisticpunisher says:

    Like the congressional appproval he sought for Libya? Oh wait…

  31. Jackrabbit says:

    Don’t forget stuffing academia and think tanks.

  32. LeaNder says:

    WRC,
    “As to FP [foreign policy] and foreign relations the U.S. allows key Ambassadorial slots to be purchased so what can be really expected?”
    And that was one of the changes under Obama?
    “And since most painted in SECRECY its inhabitants allowed to construct visions of their role that are largely non-factually based.”
    Would you please explain?
    ****
    Not really important, but what makes you reduce the “legal profession” collectively?

  33. LeaNder says:

    Hmmm?
    Off-Guardian? Appreciated.

  34. LeaNder says:

    When i read this Jeffrey Goldberg phrase:
    “Obama, ordinarily a preternaturally confident man”
    I wondered if “preternaturally confident” could be used as a synonym or substituted for narcissistic.
    What do native speakers think?

  35. Jackrabbit says:

    What struck me was Obama’s unwillingness to accept ANY responsibility for failures of his Administration and his attempt to redefine “Realist”.
    Such re-defining is not new. He re-defined the problem of inequality (which he exacerbated by making most of the Bush tax cuts permanent! and reneging on his election promise to end the carried interest deduction!) from cronyism to: no child with 2 working parents should grow up in poverty (you can’t make this sh!t up). He has also tried to re-defined other things – race relations (aping MLK’s legacy at every opportunity), climate change, privacy, war, etc. – so as to blunt any opposition to TPTB.

  36. steve says:

    I suspect the plan is to pass the TPP in the lameduck session, unless Hillary really means to renogtiate it if she’s elected.
    That last part is a joke.

  37. steve says:

    Add passive-aggressive to narcissism, if it hasn’t been done already.

  38. Jackrabbit says:

    Has the foreign policy establishment always been Borg?
    In my mind the Borg is a recent phenomena and intimately associated with the rise of the neocons and their fawning media.
    My definition is darker: a cult that runs a protection racket.

  39. Bill H says:

    I was struck by the part where Obama was intending to bomb Syrai for its use of chemical weapons, but persuaded Putin that a Russian/Syrian chemical weapons deal would persuade Obama not to do so. Apparently he uses Putin as his bitch. I wondered, too, why he could not demand the turnover of chemical weapons himself.
    In short, I found the article short on believability. Nice to find out I was not alone and, indeed, that better minds than mine had similar thoughts.

  40. The Beaver says:

    Dr Brenner,
    You will have a chuckle reading this:
    https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/11196
    “In your first term, you were reluctant to make democracy a centerpiece of your foreign policy. However, with revolutions in the Arab world and political changes in Burma that you have supported, it is time to place the United States once again at the vanguard of the global democracy movement. This is not only because democracy is consonant with American values. In the Middle East, in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe, just as in Burma and the rest of Asia, the United States has strategic, political and economic interests in the spread of stable, liberal democracies. Although democracies can be fractious, and in times of transition unstable, in the end they are more reliable supporters of the liberal world order which Americans seek. The United States needs to do more in support of the difficult struggle for democracy in the Arab world”
    written to Pres.Obama by the Neocons Kagan and Indyk

  41. He’s been brilliant at doing as much for the big banks and the M.I.C. as anyone could, while retaining the approval of the voter base he’s screwing over.
    ~

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is my view as well.
    And I ask again, where is EU or Canada or Australia in all of this?
    Why didn’t they chart a different policy?

  43. The Beaver says:

    I just dug up this “old” piece from the NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/are-neocons-getting-ready-to-ally-with-hillary-clinton.html
    “The Next Act of the Neocons
    Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton?”
    [quote]And the thing is, these neocons have a point. Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.[eoq]
    Plus ça change plus c’est pareil, should she become the next POTUS?

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think prior to 1980s CFR was a serious place and reliable and influential place. Not so any longer.
    I personally did not find much use for the American Enterprise or for the Heritage Foundation sites – too doctrinaire and rigid.
    And the Carnegie Foundation for the International Peace, at times, sounded like “Carnegie Foundation for the International War”.
    In England, Chatham House seems to be still somewhat unprejudiced and analytical – but only just so.
    In the rest of Europe – West of the Diocletian Line – I do not find anything – not even in France – excepting a few academic programs in Italy.
    Perhaps the Western governments and peoples believe themselves to be so utterly superior & mighty to the rest of mankind that they no longer need to exert any effort at developing accurate understanding of all those colored peoples of the world.
    All they need is to swear at others and those people would shrivel up and die.

  45. steve says:

    Combining yours and Kyle’s comment, along with the Colonel’s answer below, I am beginning to think that there are very few, if any, people in the foreign policy world who are not part of the Borg who could be considered serious candidates for top level FP advisers. I don’t really expect POTUS to be an expert on every country an every FP situation. To a large extent there will always be some dependency upon the advisers, Criticizing Obama at this point has some entertainment value, but what does it mean going forward? Will any of the remaining candidate be able to choose non-Borg advisers if they want? Would any of them even want to do that?
    Steve

  46. HankP says:

    Col. Lang –
    Thanks for that answer. I know it’s pretty fashionable to knock Obama for lots of things – some of which I agree with – but in this area it seems he’s been pretty good at resisting the worst impulses of the neocons. It kind of reminds me of the Bush admin – following the establishment lead in the first term, turning down more and more of their proposals (and overall world view) in the second term.

  47. Thomas says:

    “I somewhat doubt Clinton was a member of something that can be described as “fawning entourage”.”
    You are correct she was a Team of Rivals member, with the fawning entourage being led by Sammy and Sue.

  48. Thomas says:

    “What should get Obama in jail?”
    The official cover up of a certain commercial airliner cruising across a conflict zone on a bright Summer’s day is one such thing.
    Though it would be wiser to grant immunity for him and deal appropriately with the willing participants below.

  49. Patrick Armstrong says:

    I think we have three impulses that all come together to push in the same direction. 1) the Brzezinski thesis that Russia is the Eternal Enemy and every effort should be devoted to weakening it and its allies 2) the neocon policy as dictated by Israel/Saudi Arabia 3) humanitarian bombers pushing “human rights”.
    All are joined in a menage a trois in the Obama administration.
    Then we add to this Obama’s knowledge that the MSM will let him get away with anything.
    Then the conviction that Obama is always the smartest man in the room and therefore his advisors are the second-smartest.
    Powerful recipe for repetitive, vengeful stupidity.

  50. A Pols says:

    Obama…The “Good Czar with bad ministers”.

  51. annamaria says:

    It is amazing how the yeas and years of consistent abuse of the readers and listeners by the casually lying and omitting MSM’ “journalists” translates into the readers’ joy over merely the signs of objectivity in the MSM production. Mr. Goldberg is nothing more but a regular opportunist. Here is a paper on Crimea’ reunification with Russia (prompted by the prominent ziocons in the State Dept. via the demented coup d’etat in Kiev), which mentions the “willfully ignorant” Goldberg: “… recently, in Jeffrey Goldberg’s lengthy magnum opus in The Atlantic on Obama’s foreign policy, there were two mentions of how Russia “invaded” Crimea, two allusions to Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, but not a word about the coup in Kiev.” https://consortiumnews.com/2016/03/18/behind-the-crimearussia-reunion/

  52. The Beaver says:

    @ BM
    Wittes must be another R2Per working at Foggy Bottom during HRC’s tenure as SoS.

  53. elaine says:

    “who comprises this board of directors?” Start with George Soros & work your way down the list.

  54. Jackrabbit says:

    “short on believability”
    Responding to a reporter, Kerry said that Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week …. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done.” (http://news.yahoo.com/analysis-kerrys-off-hand-remark-put-deal-syria-011440151.html)
    The State Department … would later walk back those comments, saying they were a “rhetorical argument” and not an actual proposal, adding that Assad “cannot be trusted” to take such action.
    (http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/09/09/syria_chemical_weapons_did_john_kerry_just_accidentally_find_a_workable.html)
    Also note:
    1) Obama has embraced the neocon superiority dogma of “exceptionalism” (“with every fiber of his being”).
    2) Its all good so no one is blamed. No red faces for the setting of a ‘Red Line’ that was either foolish or part of a set-up to justify war. In Obama’s carefully crafted answer, the ‘red line’ was a success: stand up for human rights AND initiate a deal for peace.
    3) Despite Obama’s alleged ability to work with Russia to diffuse the Syrian ‘red-line’ crisis – AND Obama’s stated policy of ‘reset with Russia’, Nuland is handing out cookies on the Maidan weeks later (December) and there is a coup in Ukraine weeks after that (February).

  55. Kooshy says:

    Colonel LANG, now I am losing you, what about the Borgist interior policies who puts them up? As an old timer intelligence professional, you are hard to predicd. A little clearance on interior policy making would be appreciated.

  56. jo6pac says:

    Yep more propaganda to cover his tracks.

  57. Jackrabbit says:

    “resisting the worst impulses of the neocons”
    How’s the Kool-Aid?
    >> Did it make you forget Libya? Syria? Ukraine?
    >> To see Russia’s refusal to allow bombing Syria in 2013 (ultimately proposing a diplomatic solution) as a heroic ‘win’ by Obama?
    >> To believe that Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is a ‘peace deal’? And that the Nobel-prize winner initiated the Iran talks leading to the deal because he wanted ‘peace’ and not because the Iranian sanctions had failed?
    >> To forget how deceitful Obama has been in general?
    – Promised a single-payer option in healthcare
    – “If you like your Doctor, you can keep your doctor”
    – Promised to eliminate the carried interest deduction for hedge fund millionaires
    – Promised to close Guantanamo
    – Promised to end the wars: we are still in Afghanistan and we left Iraq only because we were essentially kicked out
    – Made the Bush tax cuts permanent
    – No prosecutions for Wall Street?
    – “foaming the runway” for Bank foreclosures
    – Benghazi scandal – lying to increase his election chances
    – IRS scandal – using IRS to attack his opponents
    – Fast & Furious Scandal
    – Promised “the most transparent Administration in history” but conducted a war on whistle-blowers
    – Spying: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”
    – and much more.

  58. They all answer to the same board, I’m sure. EU is just the financial arm of NATO, while Canada, Australia, etc., are all with the Five Eyes (or Five Ayes, as I call them).

  59. Kooshy says:

    Yes that’s how I view his presidency, one of the establishment, one who deserves to be allowed to become a member of the club.

  60. Valissa says:

    The EU strikes back… sort of…
    E.U. strikes deal to return new migrants to Turkey https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/europe-offers-deal-to-turkey-to-take-back-migrants/2016/03/18/809d80ba-ebab-11e5-bc08-3e03a5b41910_story.html
    After a day and half of wrangling, European leaders and Turkey hashed out the specifics of a broad agreement announced last week that was the brainchild of the Turks and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Under the deal, which goes into effect Sunday, virtually all migrants who attempt to enter Europe via the Aegean Sea — including Syrians fleeing war — will be sent back to Turkey.
    … At a news conference in Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker described the deal as “fair” and “in accordance with the law” but conceded that implementing it would be “a herculean task.” Four thousand E.U. staff would be involved in the new effort to secure the Aegean Sea, at a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, he said, adding, “It is the largest challenge the E.U. has yet faced.”
    … Under the agreement, Turkey gets cash — 6 billion euros, or $6.6 billion — and other incentives, including jump-started talks on its bid for E.U. membership and a conditional promise of visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe. Such gifts are likely to provide a big boost at home to Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now in the midst of a crackdown on domestic dissent.
    Besides being logistically complex, the deal is filled with conditions that, if left unmet, could prove its undoing.
    ————-
    The timing of this deal is interesting… following closely on the recent spate of negative news articles and polls about Merkel and her (party’s) immigration policies. She is responding to electoral concerns. The question is, will it work?

  61. doug says:

    Goldberg’s article exactly captured my view of Obama. Surrounded by the Borg, and reluctant to challenge it. Occasional, mostly ineffective pushback, but largely just compliant. The Borg (FP establishment as Pl puts it) is so entrenched that when it’s judgment proves faulty no change is made. It is also, I believe, an extremely difficult task for any President to alter entrenched bureaucracies and I don’t expect this to change in the near future. And the longer term doesn’t look encouraging either except that the further out one goes the more unpredictable it becomes.

  62. HankP says:

    We haven’t bombed or declared war on Iran, which appears to be the main neocon goal. We don’t have troops on the ground in Libya, Syria, or Ukraine, which appears to be another neocon goal. You may consider those minor things, I don’t. Especially because most of the GOP candidates have been advocating doing exactly those things if they get elected.

  63. HankP says:

    steve –
    I’ve felt for a while that this is a bipartisan problem, partially due to the lack of alternative recommendations from advisors and partially due to the ever-expanding defense budget.

  64. turcopolier says:

    kooshy
    As a Middle Easterner you yearn for a simple explanation lodged in a massive world wide onspiracy that seeks to control all aspects of life, something like S.P.E.C.T.R.E. or the Protocols of…, or maybe the Illuminati. Well, it is not that simple. There is NOT one giant conspiracy and the foreign policy establishment has many parts none of which is altogether dominant. It is really a giant consensus among those who can punish or reward in terms of media exposure, degree awards, fellowships, jobs in the government, ridicule or praise, hostility or friendliness, etc. American politics contains some of the same people that are in the Borg (i.e., the foreign policy establishment) but although the two circles overlap they are not the same. The US government was created on the basis of the idea that power should be limited and divided to prevent easy domination of the system by individuals and factions. It was never intended that the system should be efficient. It was built to be inefficient. Today there has emerged a political consultant class that exists to subvert the built in limitations of the US governmental system. They make a fine living by renting themselves to people who want to beat the system and achieve more power than was ever intended by the founders and framers in their constitutional experiment. To do this the consultants describe the political system as merely another form of “marketing” as in the business world where; market share, PR and “branding” are all and content is a very secondary matter. If you listen carefully you will hear unending talk on TV of political and individual “brands” and “media markets.”. The “juice” to make this system work is massive contributor money donations, especially from the rich. Contributor money buys access and favors. This totally corrupts the system in favor of the selfish and fanatical. Trump and Sanders do not play by the present rule. they have or raise their own money and appeal directly to the citizenry who believe correctly that the political class abandoned them in the search for personal advancement. Because of that they threaten the existence of the present electoral “industry,” and for that they are seen correctly as a threat to political life as an occupation. pl

  65. Nancy K says:

    “He is indecisive, listening to both sides” excuse me isn’t that called being open minded? Would you prefer the Donald. who listens to himself? I am so sick of people calling President Obama an empty suit, a narcissist, etc. etc. What exactly is Donald Trump, the narcissist of all narcissists, not only an empty suit but an empty head. At least President Obama is intelligent. He has a vocabulary that is just adjectives ie huge, big. He doesn’t demean people or threaten them.
    Why are you even suggesting that he is being limited by blackmail or intimidation. That is so petty and demeaning. You say “one wonders” I wonder about you.

  66. Nancy K says:

    I think if narcisstic can be used against President Obama, then a whole new adjective will have to be coined for Donald Trump.
    As some of my ancestors came from England in the late 1700’s I think I could be called a native speaker.

  67. robt willmann says:

    Please brace yourself.
    Yesterday, Ted Cruz, seeking the nomination to be the Republican candidate for president, announced his “national security coalition” of 23 people. From his press release: “I am honored and humbled to have a range of respected voices willing to offer their best advice,” Cruz said. “These are trusted friends who will form a core of our broader national security team. After two terms of a failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy, our allies are confused and frightened, and our enemies are looking for opportunities. This is the moment for all those who believe in a strong America that is secure at home and respected abroad to come together and craft a new path forward.”
    https://www.tedcruz.org/news/ted-cruz-announces-national-security-coalition/
    Cruz’s “trusted friends” who will form the “core” of his “broader national security team” include the following “respected voices” (I kid you not): Elliott Abrams, Frank Gaffney, and Michael Ledeen.
    The “respected voice” of Elliot Abrams could be heard pleading guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress in 1991, as part of the Iran-Contra affair during the Ronald Reagan administration, which special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh described in his final report: “Independent Counsel was prepared to present a multi-count felony indictment against Abrams to the Grand Jury for its consideration in early October 1991. Abrams, through his counsel, was invited to consider a plea of guilty. Before an indictment was presented, Abrams entered into a plea agreement on October 7, 1991, and pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress.” In 1992, before leaving office, president Bush sr. pardoned Abrams. Then, when Bush jr. became president, Abrams popped up again, this time as a deputy national security advisor, from June 2001 to January 2009. He is now a “senior fellow” for “Middle Eastern Studies” at the Council on Foreign Relations.
    And Michael Ledeen … I think there was some discussion about him and the yellowcake uranium and documents during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
    And Frank Gaffney? The word neocon is almost too mild to describe him.
    If Ted Cruz is such an “outsider”, how did all these people become his “trusted friends”? It turns out that Cruz is not an outsider, but is an insider, and was in fact in the Bush jr. administration, as was his wife, who worked on the National Security Council as one of her jobs there, when Condoleezza Rice was the Nat’l Security Advisor.

  68. LeaNder says:

    Malaysia Airlines flight MH17?

  69. LeaNder says:

    Nancy, from this point on: “His role was …” I had anidea where it would end.

  70. Bob says:

    W may have gotten the ball rolling on starting the war in Syria and the arming of terrorists. But Obama is in it up to his eyeballs. Lets be clear, on these twos watch we have stuck between a quarter to half a million people in the ground, displaced millions and utterly destroyed an entire nation and that is just Syria. This wasn’t an act of omission, these were deliberate acts to to create a war where none existed before and then make it worse. And that was just Syria.

  71. Bob says:

    I can only speak for Canada. But under the Harper regime Canada’s foreign policy was completely out sourced to the US. That doesn’t mean Canada can blame the US for any actions Canada took during that period. We voted Harper in and have to own that decision just like Americans will have to own the vote later this year.

  72. Castellio says:

    She will definitely renegotiate it: a different color page in front, perhaps a larger font, better quotes in the summary.

  73. MRW says:

    and synagogues.

  74. MRW says:

    Goldberg is an uneducated stooge for Israel-First interests. Russia didn’t invade Crimea. Crimea exercised its right to determine its own sovereignty via referendum guaranteed it under the 1992 Ukrainian Constitution.
    If the neocons hadn’t purged the State Dept of the leading and highly intelligent Arabists and Russian analysts, dickheads like ex-prison guard Goldberg would know this.

  75. elaine says:

    Heidi Cruz also worked for the CFR.

  76. A largely self-policing organization ask lawyers what they most fear professionally? All lawyers?

  77. Perhaps proof in the pudding as “mainstream Republicans” line up to support the Senator!

  78. LondonBob says:

    Obama was identified and then promoted by the Pritzker and Crown families in Chicago.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/13/AR2008071301904.html
    To be fair I think he did develop his own independence, and went off reservation a bit. Ultimately though I think he is weak guy who had no real experience of leadership so he let himself get dragged into a variety of adventures overseas that were against his better instincts.

  79. I would definitely agree that Soros is on this hypothetical board, but I still don’t think he’s the ultimate, so I would rather work my way UP the list. Is there anyone in this system that outranks him? The Rockefellers maybe? The Rothschilds?

  80. LeaNder says:

    Nancy, I would need to more seriously reflect my personal resistance against the use of narcissism as something significant in the description of people. … outside impressions versus self-perception? …
    Maybe it gets even stronger when discussing a US president. … Expectations? Desires versus whatever developing reality?
    http://personality-testing.info/tests/NPI/
    The Trump no doubt is a very special animal in the usual personality/brand marketing in US elections.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump#Politics

  81. Jackrabbit says:

    This clueless misreading is actually very dangerous.
    1) Its not called the imperial presidency for nothing.
    Its the OFFICE that is influential, not the President that holds the office.
    2) Obama isn’t a goofball “affirmative action” hire. He is actually very good at what he does (like deceiving people like you) and he was groomed and selected for the position.
    He will be handsomely rewarded for his service so “more [opportunity for achievement/rewards] … elsewhere” is false.

  82. Consensus among blacks I know {many] that Obama has done little for them and probably will not vote in November.

  83. Black’s have a postulate–those who have succeeded largely left other blacks behind. A slavery strategy?

  84. What we do now know is that she openly supported Sydney Blumenthals’ designs on Libya.

  85. The consensus of American scholarship, legal and otherwise, is that the signature drone strikes violate American and International Law. IMO I agree.

  86. Jackrabbit says:

    Astonishingly naive
    1) There are always hawks pushing hardline action. Do you recall ‘red scare’ and ‘better dead than red’? Their belligerence is a tool for calibrating action and makes Presidents look reasonable in comparison.
    2) You are downplaying Obama’s confrontational foreign policy. His Administration simply couldn’t push any more than they did. Cold War II is no accident.
    “We don’t have troops on the ground in Libya, Syria, or Ukraine…”
    This statement borders on delirium.
    We came very close to bombing Syria in what would’ve been a replay of Libya. Only Russia’s determined opposition prevented that. We have a proxy army in Syria composed of extremists (including ISIS) that are supported by our allies and indirectly by USA. Libya is a safe haven for this extremist army. We have a puppet government in Ukraine that was selected by Vicky Nuland (of “f*ck the E.U.” fame).
    USA-KSA-Israeli conspiracy to use extremists as a weapon (a proxy army) was described in Sy Hersh’s “The Redirection” (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection).

  87. LeaNder says:

    Sidney Blumenthal, William, on the other hand remains on one or the other of my synapses (memorytrails) as belonging into the minority group that seemed slightly “saner” then the overall trend in the 9/11 universe. From my own limited nitwit perspective, that is.
    Hmm, odd, around the same time I stored Michael Lind, and dissenter, or repenting former neocon, maybe? I would need to look this up. No doubt I may be mixing up matters. And I am not gonna check it. The above memory trail triggered this one.

  88. LeaNder says:

    Ooops, should I read this as ‘the Off-Guardian, you link to’, has a secret political agenda helping us to understand the diverse dots over the centuries back to the 19th maybe?

  89. Valissa says:

    Always thought that was ridiculous, WRC… do members of other ethnic or racial groups feel obligated to help others of “their kind” succeed? Not that I’ve observed. Family members will get helped but generally not strangers. Though I have seen sports stars start foundations to help those in need in some way or another. But that’s not limited to black sports stars.
    If you replace the word “black” in your above sentence with white, red or yellow does it make sense to you then? Of course you would also have to change the word “slavery” to something more stereotypical for that group as well.

  90. Peter Reichard says:

    Obama is open minded, thoughtful, reasonable, highly intelligent and no more narcissistic than most politicians which is why I voted for him. None of these attributes apply to Donald Trump. His decision making however seems to often split the difference between his team of rivals resulting in a half way policy producing worse results than either doing nothing ir going all in. This is what I mean by indecisive leadership. He is on record as fearing that if he pushed too hard he would end up like MLK. It is neither petty nor demeaning to wonder if some of the Secret Service breaches are not a kind of not so subtle threat on his life to keep him within certain boundaries. He looks to me like a man who is running scared.

  91. kooshy says:

    Colonel Lang thank you for your time to explain, I and many on this forum appreciate your insight. Frankly what you have raised, is concerns of many not only on SST but in entire country. Yes we all hate the political consultants kind that regardless/mindless of the we the people will do and say anything to elect their brand put in front of us on often by foreign interests. I thank you for this words:
    “ Today there has emerged a political consultant class that exists to subvert the built in limitations of the US governmental system. They make a fine living by renting themselves to people who want to beat the system and achieve more power than was ever intended by the founders and framers in their constitutional experiment. To do this the consultants describe the political system as merely another form of “marketing” as in the business world where; market share, PR and “branding” are all and content is a very secondary matter. If you listen carefully you will hear unending talk on TV of political and individual “brands” and “media markets.”. The “juice” to make this system work is massive contributor money donations, especially from the rich.”
    Wondering if you mean the easiest and the least protected way for the Borg to penetrate the system, is the foreign policy? back in college in American history class, we were told the system was setup to protect/defend the nation against the return of Brits ( people’ right to arms, assembly, speech, federalism etc. were thought and granted for the mass mobilization after the Boston events)

  92. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You have omitted his belligerent Iran policy….

  93. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No, but like the Medieval times, a form of siege warfare was waged against Iran by NATO states and affiliates.

  94. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is what I am trying to say, that these leaders are freely elected and their policy choices are constrained by the electorate’s predilections as well as by the policy preferences of their allies.
    Did anyone among US allies urge Obama to do something else publicly to give him political space?
    In case of Iraq War III – in 2002 – Germany and France broke ranks with US publicly but UK, Spain, Poland joined US. And I think the Gulfies and Italy privately opposed the decision as well.
    Mr. Obama is one man, the NATO states, together with affiliates and associates constitute more than one billion souls. They must accept their share of responsibility; in my opinion.

  95. Barish says:

    Well there goes that…
    While I am no US citizen eligible to vote, I used to be mildly intrigued about Monsieur Cruz when he aptly likened “moderate rebels” in Syria to “purple unicorns” a while back. Now we know better.

  96. No, it’s exclusively about current events. It got started last year by a group of people who’d been banned from commenting at The Guardian for pointing out the flaws and biases in their coverage.

  97. ked says:

    I’m easily deceived, while you embrace some kinda Manchurian Candidate conspiracy?

  98. gemini33 says:

    I think your menage a trois is spot on but I would add Scowcroft to #1. They did a hearing together in January that was pretty telling. And Brzezinski did a number of speeches in the past two years on Ukraine, some of which were pretty unhinged, imo.
    Hearing Jan. 2016 “Former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Snowcroft testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on threats to U.S. national security.”
    http://www.c-span.org/video/?323887-1/hearing-national-security-threats

  99. gemini33 says:

    I really appreciated this analysis for the way it challenges the Goldberg piece, for the no nonsense analysis and for how well it was written. Everything I had read on it to date either just accepted Goldberg’s and Obama’s story or was only interested in the juicy bits.
    I’ve noticed lately that Obama seems a little uncomfortable not being in the spotlight, because of the way the election has heated up. I also noticed that in some recent remarks he said that he thinks he could get elected again. I’ve also noticed that many of his public appearances are with alternative media — a podcast interview in a garage in California, a YouTube star who brought her set to the White House to interview the president, a Buzzfeed photo/video article last year, the current visit to SXSW and the “Hamilton” rap at the White House. Being celebrity hip is almost his top priority, in my view.
    I saw this article as a president who was worried that he’ll lose his grip on that “hip” status, given all the anger and fed upness that is apparent across the board but especially among the youth, who got him elected and whom he let down so profoundly and among whom he created such disillusion with the system. And really all the people who had lost faith but decided to believe one more time in this Hope and Change guy, putting aside their cynicism, only to have it reconfirm itself the day after he was elected.
    But I think he’s still confident in his ability to reinvent history and write himself out of the most unpopular bits of it, and that’s what this article was mostly about. Because the Democrats are, at the moment, obsessed with getting the votes of this demographic, and worried, especially because the old method of dominating the media and having the most $$ for ads just isn’t working anymore. I assume that Obama will be expected to bring it home for the Democratic nominee and he wants to make sure he can still do that and not fail on the thing he is most proud of — his popularity.
    I was really glad to find an analysis that called out the way this Goldberg/Obama article just doesn’t match up with reality.

  100. In FOIA lawsuit the courts rules that the calendars of any PAS [Presidentially Appointed Senate confirmed person] must be maintained and subject to FOIA disclosure.
    But FOIA does not aplly to the President, the VP, or the Executive Offices of the WH unless expressly so by law. Has not happened to my knowledge. Visitor meetings not usually transcribed.

  101. Am I correct that Chelsey President of the Clinton Foundation?

  102. Apparently proof exists that the Ohio voting machines hacked in 2004!

  103. If elected HRC will renegotiate it to add China IMO!

  104. RetiredPatriot says:

    COL,
    Your comment here one of the most concise descriptions of our American System and its dysfunction that I have ever read. It alone is a starting point to chart a path forward for our Republic.
    RP

  105. Macgupta123 says:

    Changing the culture of an institution is hard. Even CEOs with very clear goals, measures of achieving those goals, and complete hire-and-fire authority have found it difficult to change the culture of their corporations; and the President is much more handicapped in that regard. Presidents come and go, the huge set of foreign department career bureaucrats, the think-tanks & lobbyists, the subset of the media that deals with foreign policy – they can stifle pretty much any change.
    For a humorous take on the idiocies and dysfunctions of the democratic system of government, the BBC Series “Yes Minister” is worth the time.

  106. Sara says:

    Why do people claim Obama is intelligent? I have never seen him display an iota of intelligence. True can read from a teleprompter, memorize speeches and reply to questions with scripted talking points although it takes him forever just to get the words out of mouth. I don’t know whether he speaks so slowly because he needs to think hard about every word or because he has some kind of conscious that slows him since nearly every word out of his mouth is either an outright lie or contradicts reality not to mention the typical hypocritical rhetoric. In my opinion he is seriously lacking in intelligence and unfortunately makes up for it with an incredible amount of arrogance.

  107. different clue says:

    steve,
    Hillary supports the TPP/TTIP/TISA/ etc. She now uses her very best layerly weasel-words to pretend to have certain reservations about it just now. But she is lying in order to trick Free Trade Opponent democratic Party voters into supporting her in the primaries on grounds of “greater electablility” over Sanders. If she is nominated and then elected, she will sign every Free Trade Agreement reaching her desk with relish and delight.
    Let’s remember, she is a Clinton. And what do Clintons do best?
    They “triangulie”. Here’s a perfect example of basic Clintonite thinking: ” it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

  108. different clue says:

    ked,
    Obama’s mission was to defend and extend the power and wealth of the OverClass while fooling us into thinking he would do otherwise. The size of his revenue-stream rewards after leaving office will depend on the size of the future revenue streams he arranged for his patrons and sponsors while he was in office. And also he will be paid for services rendered beyond the value of all the money in the world. He extended the Bushites functional immunity and impunity for their War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity ( ” look forward, not back”). He and his pro-corporate-power Attorney General Holder carefully avoided any prosecution or even prosecution-investigation against any FIRE sector perpetrator. The HolderBama Department of Justice Obstruction ran out the clock on every Statute of Limitation for every relevant Crime that every FIRE sector operator might have been prosecuted for, thereby giving them functional immunity and impunity as well. They owe him big-time for that, and they will pay handsomely for that gift of their freedom.
    Maybe at least he won’t be invited to all the best parties or invited into all the best private clubs. But he will get his hundreds of millions of dollars. Oh yes.
    But on the plus side, he did force a deal with Iran which might short-circuit and foreclose the ongoing Cold War and maybe Future Hot War with Iran. We must give him that.

  109. different clue says:

    Bob,
    How do those Canadians who voted against Harper in his elections turn around and “own” the Harper election? Why should they? How can they? Who is going to make them?
    It seems to me that strictly and only the people who voted FOR Harper are the people who should OWN the Harper victories. Am I wrong to think so?

  110. different clue says:

    Seamus Padraig,
    Who is on the Council on Foreign Relations? Who attends Davos? Who attends the gatherings at Bohemian Grove? Who attends the meetings of the Bilderberg Society? And who do all those people work for and answer to?

  111. Reading Oxford Classics Prof Mary Beard’s SPQR a new take on ROME.

Comments are closed.