It seems that the Russians offered to dump Bashar Assad in 2012. The Obama administration refused the offer because they were sure the Assad would fall soon without Russian assistance.
It seems that the Russians offered to dump Bashar Assad in 2012. The Obama administration refused the offer because they were sure the Assad would fall soon without Russian assistance.
The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a [expletive],” this official said. . .
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. . .
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)
The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
Which is to say that Netanyahu is unwilling to make any more pointless concessions to an enemy who has no interest in peace. Begin had a legitimate partner (Egypt). Rabin’s Oslo accord seemed like a good idea at the time, but turned out to be a historic blunder which, by allowing the PLO to take charge of Gaza and the West Bank, incalculably harmed Israeli security. Sharon unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and southern Lebanon. The jury is still out on whether that helped or hurt. If Netanyahu had “guts”, he’d be willing to damage Israeli interests.
For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.
There’s some projection going on here. Israeli settlements have fatally undermined Kerry’s peace process (note: if it were working, it would be Obama’s) because Obama unwisely and unnecessarily decided to link negotiations to his demand for a settlement freeze.
And finally this:
This official agreed that Netanyahu is a [expletive] on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”
Way to bury the lede! The Obama administration pressured Israel not to act against Iran’s nuclear program? This isn’t surprising, but I don’t think it’s been confirmed before.
And Netanyahu is a “coward” for yielding to the administration’s pressure. Let this be noted by everyone who deals with this administration: If you do what Obama demands, you will only earn his contempt.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker makes an important observation that actually casts this in an even worse light:
But consider: the “senior Obama administration official” made the comment in a conversation with a reporter, Goldberg, who was working on a story about the strained relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu governments. He must have known that the “chickenshit” characterization would be quoted, albeit anonymously. He must have wanted it to be quoted. He must have known that it would garner a great deal of attention.
Stupid [expletive] indeed.
UPDATE: David Bernstein has an insightful post on how Obama severely misjudged Israeli politics:
The Obama Administration came in to office thinking it could either force Netanyahu to make concessions, or force his government to fall. Both the Shamir and the first Netanyahu governments made concessions and ultimately got tossed out by the voters after tensions rose with the U.S., so this was not a completely unreasonable assumption. . .
The very popular (in Israel) Bill Clinton confronting an only mildly popular Netanyahu in 1998 played very differently in Israel than a very unpopular Obama confronting a popular Netanyahu over the last several years. . .
Instead, Netanyahu has managed to stay his own course, and still is in no danger of losing his parliamentary majority. Hence administration frustration and “[expletive].”
Why is Obama so unpopular in Israel? Because Israelis have paid attention to a lot of things that Americans have not. Bernstein lists lots of examples. It’s not for no reason that Israeli opinion on whether Obama is friend of Israel is within the margin of error of zero.
After the British House of Commons refused to support President Obama’s ill-considered action in Syria, the US military is shutting out the British from US military planning.
I guess these fools really don’t understand that this sort of pettiness can have long-term geopolitical consequences. I just hope that the British government is more grown-up than we are.
Barack Obama wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons. A laudable goal, perhaps, but his strategy for achieving that goal was for America to show weakness. The idea was that our weakness would set a good example for other countries to emulate. Obama’s critics said this was dangerous nonsense; weakness never breeds conciliation in our enemies, but aggression.
Well, we now know who was right. Sigh.
One of the many lies we were told about Barack Obama is that he would be good at diplomacy:
US President Barack Obama’s description of a Nazi German Holocaust site as a “Polish death camp” shocked Poland, whose leaders insist the record be set straight 67 years after World War II.
Obama on Tuesday labeled the Nazi facility used to process Jews for extermination as a “Polish death camp.” The White House later said the president “misspoke” and expressed “regret”.
President Obama isn’t stupid, but he might as well be. The kind of intelligence it takes to navigate the corridors of corrupt power in Chicago is entirely different from the kind it takes to conduct a competent foreign policy.
The Obama administration pushed for early elections in Egypt even though they knew they would likely put the Islamists in charge. That worked out great, guys, thanks.
Is there any way we could have played the Arab Spring worse than we have?
The White House describes Russia’s invasion of Georgia as a trade dispute.
The White House confuses South Korea with Japan. Thank goodness we have the smart kids running the country again.
More of the Obama administration’s “smart diplomacy”:
The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of “dark and dirty” Indians, calling the comments “inappropriate”. US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, according to Indian media — referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The US ambassador to the United Kingdom skipped an official event commemorating President Reagan:
What could the Ambassador to England have on his schedule that is more important than attending a celebration and commemoration of a US president? Isn’t this, in part, part of the job? When a foreign country goes out of its way to honor your country, doesn’t that give you a unique leverage that should be capitalized on? Doesn’t it follow that the only way to capitalize on it is to actually be there?
From all reports, Susman was not sick, stricken with illness or involved in a really intense game of Farmville. He simply didn’t show up, as the representative of the United States, to an event honoring one of the greatest presidents in US history.
Glenn Reynolds adds:
A political hack, he acted in accordance with his nature — politically. He couldn’t imagine that this could matter to anyone serious. In that he showed the narrow worldview and lack of imagination that characterizes the Obama Administration’s diplomacy.
That sounds right to me. Susman got the job by being one of Barack Obama’s top fundraisers.
The Czechs have run out of patience with the Obama administration:
The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday. . .
“I’m not surprised by the decision,” said Jan Vidim, a lawmaker in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. “The United States has been and will be our crucial strategic partner but the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously.”
Vidim’s remarks reflected concern by many in Central and Eastern Europe that the U.S. interest in resetting ties with Moscow could come at their expense.
(Via Hot Air.)
The anti-Qaddafi coalition is collapsing due to lack of leadership:
Deep divisions between allied forces currently bombing Libya worsened today as the German military announced it was pulling forces out of NATO over continued disagreement on who will lead the campaign. A German military spokesman said it was recalling two frigates and AWACS surveillance plane crews from the Mediterranean, after fears they would be drawn into the conflict if NATO takes over control from the U.S.
The infighting comes as a heated meeting of NATO ambassadors yesterday failed to resolve whether the 28-nation alliance should run the operation to enforce a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone, diplomats said.
. . .
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested that air strikes launched after a meeting in Paris hosted by France on Saturday had gone beyond what had been sanctioned by a U.N. Security Council resolution.
‘There are U.N. decisions and these decisions clearly have a defined framework. A NATO operation which goes outside this framework cannot be legitimised,’ he told news channel CNN Turk.
Adding pressure to the already fractured alliance, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has also reiterated a warning that Italy would take back control of airbases it has authorised for use by allies for operations over Libya unless a NATO coordination structure was agreed.
. . .
In the U.S., Obama has made it clear he wants no part of any leadership role in Libya.
As the leader of the free world, leadership is our job. If Barack Obama doesn’t want it, he has no business being president of the United States.
The Obama administration was warned of instability in Egypt nearly a year ago:
Early last year, a group of U.S.-based human-rights activists, neoconservative policy makers and Mideast experts told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that what passed for calm in Egypt was an illusion.
“If the opportunity to reform is missed, prospects for stability and prosperity in Egypt will be in doubt,” read their April 2010 letter.
The correspondence was part of a string of warnings passed to the Obama administration arguing that Egypt, heading toward crisis, required a vigorous U.S. response. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s 82-year-old dictator, was moving to rig a string of elections, they said. Egypt’s young population was growing more agitated.
The bipartisan body that wrote to Mrs. Clinton, the Egypt Working Group, argued that the administration wasn’t fully appraising the warning signs in Egypt. Its members came together in early 2010, concerned that the Arab world’s biggest country was headed for transition but that the U.S. and others weren’t preparing for a post-Mubarak era.
This makes the administration’s flat-footed response to the crisis even more inexcusable.
UPDATE: The US and British governments are denying this story.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Legal Insurrection has a good theory about what’s going on.
It’s been months since our administration screwed the British, so I guess we were due. This one is a doozy:
Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.
Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.
The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website. . .
A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.
Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.
Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.
We sold out our closest ally in order to strike a useless (indeed harmful) treaty. Our administration truly is astonishing.
(Via Power Line.)
Tensions between the White House press corps and Indian security boiled over on the third day of President Obama’s visit, prompting press secretary Robert Gibbs to threaten to pull President Obama out of his bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. . .
At one point, according to Wilson’s pool report, Gibbs had his foot lodged in the door to the meeting as Indian security officials pushed hard to shut it. In an angry shouting match, Gibbs asked the officials if they were going to break his foot as he repeated his threat to pull Obama.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley sent a birthday greeting to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urging him to release the two American hikers they have been holding since July 2009. He conducted this delicate foreign diplomacy over Twitter.
In the Obama administration, amateur hour never ends.
When the United States and European Union first signed their Open Skies aviation agreement in 2007, the U.S. airlines got the better of the deal, winning immediate access to European markets in return for promises for concessions in the future. European airlines, such as British Airways, warned that this made them hostages to fortune. As it turns out, they were right. The U.S. once again is giving in to protectionist tempation. President Obama should quickly change course and move toward truly free skies.
President Obama’s approach to foreign policy is now clear. The open hand of friendship is just for our enemies; friends get screwed. The list of countries we’ve screwed was already pretty long (Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Poland, and the UK), and now we can add Georgia:
Forty-seven world leaders are Barack Obama’s guests in Washington Tuesday at the nuclear security summit. Obama is holding bilateral meetings with just 12 of them. . . One of those left out was Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, who got a phone call from Obama last week instead of a meeting in Washington. His exclusion must have prompted broad smiles in Moscow, where Saakashvili is considered public enemy no. 1 — a leader whom Russia tried to topple by force in the summer of 2008. . .
Saakashvili’s exclusion from the bilateral schedule is striking considering his strong support for U.S. interests, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Georgia sent as many as 2,000 troops from its tiny army to Iraq. It will soon have nearly 1,000 in Afghanistan; 750 are being sent to fight under U.S. command. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke noted last month that Georgia’s per capita troop contribution would be the highest of any country in the world.
Obama thanked Saakashvili for that help in their phone call last week. But according to a Georgian account of the call, Obama didn’t say anything about Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO, or about Georgia’s interest in buying defensive weapons from the United States.
(Via Hot Air.)
Victor Davis Hanson tries to figure out President Obama’s foreign policy. He also predicts what will happen next (nothing good).
The London Times reports:
UK diplomatic sources confirmed there had been a major setback after China took huge offence at remarks by President Obama over the need to independently monitor every country carbon emissions.
In his speech President Obama said: “Without any accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page” – remarks the Chinese interpreted as an attempt to humiliate them, prompting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to return to his hotel.
President Obama will now hold a second round of talks with Mr Wen in an attempt to patch up the disagreement.
So who haven’t we offended yet?
(Via the Corner.)
The LA Times reports:
In China, Obama’s hosts show no signs of budging
President Obama is leaving China without any definable concessions on things such as support for tougher sanctions on Iran or currency exchange rates.
Reporting from Beijing – When it came to China, President Obama’s famous powers of persuasion failed to persuade.
He came bearing a long shopping list, including Chinese support for tougher sanctions on Iran and more flexibility by Beijing on currency exchange rates, but Obama was met with polite, yet stony, silences. . .
Not only is the U.S. president coming away without any definable concessions, but the Chinese appeared to be digging in their heels.
At what point do we admit that the Obama administration’s new approach to diplomacy simply isn’t working?
(Via the Corner.)
ABC News’s Jake Tapper reports:
An old friend — an academic with expertise about the Japanese Empire, and in general a supporter of President Obama — sends me the following note, relating to photographs of President Obama bowing to Emperor Akihito of Japan. . .
“Obama’s handshake/forward lurch was so jarring and inappropriate it recalls Bush’s back-rub of Merkel.
“Kyodo News is running his appropriate and reciprocated nod and shake with the Empress, certainly to show the president as dignified, and not in the form of a first year English teacher trying to impress with Karate Kid-level knowledge of Japanese customs.
“The bow as he performed did not just display weakness in Red State terms, but evoked weakness in Japanese terms….The last thing the Japanese want or need is a weak looking American president and, again, in all ways, he unintentionally played that part.
(Emphasis mine.) (Via Hot Air.)
My general thoughts on presidential bowing (I don’t really care all that much) are here.
Perhaps tapping a complete novice for Secretary of State based on her political connections wasn’t such a great idea after all:
It was supposed to be a charm offensive, but as the day wore on she put away her charm and went on the offensive. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public dressing down of Pakistan during a three-day visit there, including virtually accusing the country of complicity with al-Qaida, has shaken Washington as much as it stunned her hosts.
“Her inner voice became her outer voice,” Martha Raddatz, a veteran NBC correspondent said on the network, explaining that while many in the administration believed what she said to be true (that Pakistan is coddling terrorists), it was rare for America’s top diplomat to say it publicly. Officials in Washington were trying to keep a straight face, but there were a few gasps, she added.
(Via the Corner.)
The Obama administration’s effort to “reset” relations with Russia and its decision to renege on missile defense in Europe are finally starting to pay dividends, with Russia beginning to cooperate with the west on the Iran problem.
Secretary of State Clinton visited Moscow, but Putin wouldn’t see her. (He was coincidentally out of town.) But he did warn against western powers trying to “frighten the Iranians” and said that talk of sanctions are premature.
(Via the Corner.)
UPDATE: John Hinderaker wonders, “Could Obama possibly be that inept a negotiator?” Don’t answer that.
The London Times reports:
Barack Obama has at last granted Gordon Brown a formal one-to-one meeting as the two men try to play down reports of a rift in their relations.
The Prime Minister will be given his meeting at 4pm today (9pm BST) following the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. . .
The two men put on a show of friendship for the cameras in New York yesterday as part of the damage limitation exercise after the White House described reports of a snub as “totally absurd”. . .
Neither side denied, however, that British officials made repeated efforts to secure a formal meeting before Mr Brown arrived in the United States this week, nor that Mr Obama and the Prime Minister had held a private conversation in a UN kitchen.
The British PM shouldn’t have to plead for a meeting with the president. Was the president “too tired” again?
POSTSCRIPT: More on the 15-minute kitchen meeting that wasn’t at all a snub here.
During the past administration, we were frequently told that our foreign policy was losing us friends and influence. In the end, however, there was no real evidence of that. Certainly no one stopped taking our calls!
On the geopolitical stage, nations look out for number one. If they disagree with our policy toward a third party or the environment or whatever, they might issue a communique or try to obstruct us at the UN, but that’s usually where it ends. They don’t risk their relationship with the United States over something like that.
We lose friends when we screw them directly. Sadly, after just eight months of the Obama administration, the list of nations we have screwed is already pretty long: Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Israel, Mexico, Poland, and the UK.
President Obama calls this “smart diplomacy”.
The Obama administration is snubbing the Polish remembrance of the start of World War 2. Once again, the world is seeing how we treat our closest friends.
The latest world leader to be snubbed by the White House is the President of Brazil:
When Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva becomes the first Latin American leader to sit down with President Barack Obama this weekend, he brings undisputed clout. . .
Still, the White House made several moves interpreted as snubs by the Brazilian media.
Silva aides said the trip was pushed forward from Tuesday because of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday — making Latin America once again look like an afterthought. Then, the White House announcement misspelled his name as “Luis Ignacio” and put “Lula” — a nickname that decades ago became a legal part of the Brazilian leader’s name — in quotes.
(Via Power Line.)
Maybe this is actually really clever. In order to patch things up with the UK, the White House is snubbing everyone, in order that that its treatment of the British PM will be nothing out of the ordinary. But if that’s the plan, they dropped the ball with Ireland; the teleprompter breakdown with the Irish PM was more of a screw-up than a real snub.
Obama to Drop Shield if Russia Helps with Limbaugh
(2009-03-05) — President Barack Obama has reportedly written another private note to his Russian counterpart offering to halt deployment of a defensive nuclear missile shield in Europe, this time in exchange for Russia’s help in dealing with U.S. talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.
The White House immediately denied the existence of the letter to President Dmitry Medvedev, but acknowledged “ongoing internal deliberations over a measured response using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy.”
Dealing with Mr. Limbaugh has taken the Obama administration’s focus off of other global trouble spots like North Korea, Iran and Chicago.
The rift between President Obama and Mr. Limbaugh started in October when the radio kingpin said of Mr. Obama “I hope he fails.” Tension escalated when Democrat pollsters discovered that Rush Limbaugh is the only remaining divisive Republican with name recognition higher than 10 percent.
Charles Krauthammer puts the Russia-Iran diplomatic debacle in a nutshell:
This is smart diplomacy? This is a debacle. The Russians dismissed it contemptuously.
Look, if we could get the Iranian nuclear program stopped with Russian’s helping us in return for selling out the Poles and the Czechs on missile defense, I’m enough of a cynic and a realist to say we would do it the same way that Kissinger agreed to delegitimize and de-recognize Taiwan in return for a large strategic opening with China.
But Kissinger had it done. He had it wired. What happened here is it was leaked. The Russians have dismissed it. We end up being humiliated. We look weak in front of the Iranians, and we have left the Poles and Czechs out to dry in return for nothing.
The Czechs and the Poles went out on a limb, exposed themselves to Russian pressure, and we have shown that Eastern Europe is not as sovereign as it appears if the Russian influence is there, and we will acquiesce in what they consider their own sphere of influence.
This administration has prided itself, flattered itself on deploying smart diplomacy. “Smart diplomacy” is a meaningless idea, but if it has any meaning at all, it is not ever doing something as humiliating, amateurish, and stupid as this.
The latest in President Obama’s “smart diplomacy”:
Seriously, how did people get the idea that this guy was competent to be president?
What do you do with Egypt, a former ally that is rapidly turning into an Islamist hell-hole and is talking seriously of repudiating its peace treaty with Israel? Send them state of the art fighter jets, of course.
I guess they call that “smart diplomacy”.
Egypt hurries down the path toward becoming an Islamist hell-hole:
A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week’s referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians’ worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.
Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be “Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians.” At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.
They made sure to go through mainly Christian districts of the city, where residents, fearing attacks, shuttered down their stores and stayed in their homes, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, our practitioners of “smart diplomacy” are content to watch it happen, without applying even the tiniest bit of pressure.
The Telegraph reports:
Britain told American intelligence agents more than a year ago that the Detroit bomber had links to extremists, according to Downing Street.
The prime minister’s spokesman indicated that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was named in a file of people based in Britain who had made contact with radical Muslim preachers. The file was said to have been sent to the US authorities in 2008.
White House sources disputed the Downing Street account, stating that no such intelligence information was passed by Britain before the attempted Christmas Day attacks. The White House declined to respond officially.
Now everyone is backpedaling, with the US admitting that it did get information and the UK denying that any of it was actionable:
Barack Obama is under pressure to disclose what information MI5 passed to the American authorities about the Detroit bomber after Downing Street disclosed that a file had been “shared” with the CIA in 2008.
After initially denying that they had received British intelligence, senior American sources confirmed last night that they were “reviewing” what British information had been received on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. . .
A US counter-terrorism official did not deny that information on Abdulmutallab had been received from Britain but told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s wrong to think that there was, from any source, information that identified Abdulmutallab as a terrorist, let alone a terrorist who was planning to carry out an attack in the United States.”
Yesterday morning, the Prime Minister’s spokesman issued a revised statement that said: “There is no suggestion that the UK passed on information to the US that they did not act on.”
As far as the intelligence goes, I think the only way to read this is that the UK gave the US some intelligence that included Abdulmutallab. Like most intelligence, it was probably of dubious quality and was dismissed by US intelligence. But given how we disregarded other warnings about the guy, including one from his own father, it seems reasonable to wonder if we should have put things together.
More interesting, however, is what the kerfuffle tells us about relations between the White House and Downing Street. The president snubs of the prime minister and the State Department’s loose talk about ending the “special relationship” with Britain have clearly taken their toll. Don’t forget, this is called “smart diplomacy”.
(Via Power Line.)
More “smart diplomacy“:
A day before President Obama receives his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the president’s treatment of his Norwegian hosts has become hot news across Scandinavia.
News outlets across the region are calling Obama arrogant for slashing some of the prize winners’ traditional duties from his schedule. . . “It’s very sad,” said Nobel Peace Center Director Bente Erichsen of the news that Obama would skip the peace center exhibit. Prize winners traditionally open the exhibitions about their work that accompany the Nobel festivities. . .
Meanwhile, the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet is reporting that the president has declined an invitation to lunch with King Harald V, an event every prize winner from the Dalai Lama to Al Gore has attended. (The newspaper’s headline: “Obama disses lunch with King Harald.”)
Also among the dissed, according to news reports: a concert in Oslo on Friday that was arranged in his honor, and a group of Norwegian children who had planned to meet Obama in front of City Hall.
Maybe Norway should feel honored. All the best countries get snubbed by President Obama.
President Obama has demonstrated his “smart diplomacy” yet again. This time, he snubbed French President Nicolas Sarkozy by writing to his predecessor Jacques Chirac as if he were still a head of state. Jim Lindgren has the story, and speculates:
If we could see the address on the letter to Chirac, it might be clear whether Obama or one of his staff was confused about the identity of the French President. My guess is that this was just a rookie mistake, i.e., bad diplomacy in wording a letter, not confusion about identities. . .
2d UPDATE: As noted by the Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere, the context was the one I suspected. Obama was writing to Chirac as the head of his Foundation for Sustainable Development and Cultural Dialogue.
More smart diplomacy:
Officials in Jerusalem are quietly scratching their heads in wonderment as to why the White House did not release an official statement condemning yesterday’s tractor terrorist rampage here, the third attack of its kind in recent months.
Two police officers were lightly wounded in Jerusalem when an Arab tractor driver overturned their police car and drove it into a bus before being shot by police and an armed taxi driver. The terrorist later died of his wounds in an Israeli hospital. . .
Usually, following any terrorist attack in Israel, the White House like clockwork immediately releases an official statement condemning the attack. But this time, no statement was forthcoming from either the White House or Clinton’s State Department.
Speaking to WND, a White House spokesman would only confirm he was not aware of any statement regarding the attack, but he would not speculate as to why the terrorism wasn’t condemned.
Maybe they were too tired.
Does this official speak for the Obama Administration?
The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.
The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”
Not just a denial of the special relationship, but “fury” at the very idea. Is this the “smart diplomacy” we were told so much about? Is this how President Obama is going to mend fences with our allies?
UPDATE (3/24): Niles Gardiner says the White House should apologize. Maybe, but at the very least, they should repudiate the statement. So far, they haven’t. If the administration won’t do so on its own, the press should ask about it. I can’t imagine why they haven’t, unless it’s out of a desire to protect the administration from embarrassment.
As bad as he is, I never thought Barack Obama would make a serious run at the title of worst American president, with Woodrow Wilson and James Buchanan having staked such strong claims. But then this happened:
That’s Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies bringing in for questioning Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who apparently made the film as the center of anti-American riots throughout the Middle East. A man who, to be clear, is guilty of no crime.
As Glenn Reynolds puts it:
WHY BARACK OBAMA SHOULD RESIGN. Just for the record, this is what it looked like for a man who made a film that made the Obama Administration uncomfortable . . .
When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace. . . By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office.
That’s right. The US government is doing the bidding of Islamist rioters.
Just to make a few points clear: This was not LA County’s doing. It was the United States Justice Department that investigated the filmmaker and revealed his identity. And once the deputies brought him in, he was interviewed by Federal authorities.
The authorities say that Nakoula came in for a voluntary interview. Take another look at that picture. Does that look voluntary to you? Do you think the man really wanted to be perp-walked with a scarf on his head in the middle of the night? They could have interviewed him in his own home during the day, but they didn’t.
Finally, this is not about probation violations. (Nakoula is reportedly barred by his probation from using a computer.) You don’t send five deputies in the middle of the night to pick someone up for a technical probation violation. In fact, liberals generally don’t care about probation violations at all.
Moreover, we should never have even known about Nakoula’s probation in the first place! He has no involvement with the attacks on our embassies and never should have been investigated in the first place. We shouldn’t even know his name.
Is it now US government policy to investigate anyone whom the Arab street hates, to see if maybe he happens to have some outstanding warrants? This is absolutely appalling.
Obama administration officials said Thursday that they have asked YouTube to review the video and determine whether it violates the site’s terms of service, according to people close to the situation but not authorized to comment.
We must be clear. This isn’t the usual self-censorship by mob veto. This is the sovereign power of the United States government being used to censor what the Islamists considered blasphemy.
Of course, all this is exactly what the Islamists want. It ought to be obvious, but apparently is not, that this sort of capitulation only promotes violence and additional demands.
Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t satisfied:
We further call for criminalization of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions. Otherwise, such acts will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loathe the West, especially the USA, for allowing their citizens to violate the sanctity of what they hold dear and holy. Hence, we demand that all those involved in such crimes be urgently brought to trial.
In light of all this, it would be appropriate for the Obama administration categorically to rule out ever criminalizing blasphemy. Unfortunately, less than two months ago, the administration pointedly refused to do so. UPDATE: Given a second chance later in the session, he did seem to rule it out. That’s good. Still, it oughtn’t be hard to get this question right the first time.
UPDATE (9/28): Nakoula has now been arrested and is being held without bond.
According to the latest Fox poll, President Obama’s approval rating has dropped from 50-41 (favorable-unfavorable) at the end of last month to 46-46 today. The average approval rating of a president at this point in his term is 56, so Obama is underperforming by 10 points.
The sharp slide in Obama’s popularity is due to independents. Opinions of Democrats and Republicans shifted no more than a point during the period. Independents, however, went from 49-34 (i.e., +15) to 34-51 (i.e., -17). That’s a staggering 32-point shift in just three weeks.
I think we’re seeing the electorate finally getting wise to whom they’ve elected. In just the last few weeks they’ve watched the president lose the health care debate, dither on Afghanistan, wage war against Fox News, and move the 9/11 mastermind to civilian court. They’ve watched him tour the world, accomplishing absolutely nothing but making an ass of himself in the process. And they’ve seen the reports of jobs created or saved by his stimulus package unmasked as a complete fraud. The bloom is off the rose and it’s not coming back.
POSTSCRIPT: Lest the Fox poll be considered an outlier, the president is actually doing better in the Fox poll than the Rasmussen poll, which has him at 46-53 overall.
UPDATE: Gallup has him at 49 so Fox’s result seems well within the mainstream.
Eric Posner collates various pronouncements of doom made by the NYT and its columnists on the Surge:
- The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 1/8/07
- There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq. — NYT Editorial, 1/11/07
- What anyone in Congress with half a brain knows is that the surge was sabotaged before it began. — Frank Rich, NYT, 2/11/07
- Keeping troops in Iraq has steadily increased the risk of a bloodbath. The best way to reduce that risk is, I think, to announce a timetable for withdrawal and to begin a different kind of surge: of diplomacy. — Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 2/13/07
- W. could have applied that to Iraq, where he has always done only enough to fail, including with the Surge — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/17/07
- The senator supported a war that didn’t need to be fought and is a cheerleader for a surge that won’t work. — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/24/07
- Now the ”surge” that was supposed to show results by summer is creeping inexorably into an open-ended escalation, even as Moktada al-Sadr’s militia ominously melts away, just as Iraq’s army did after the invasion in 2003, lying in wait to spring a Tet-like surprise. — Frank Rich, NYT, 3/11/07
- Victory is no longer an option in Iraq, if it ever was. The only rational objective left is to responsibly organize America’s inevitable exit. That is exactly what Mr. Bush is not doing and what the House and Senate bills try to do. — NYT Editorial, 3/29/07
- There is no possible triumph in Iraq and very little hope left. — NYT Editorial, 4/12/07
- … the empty hope of the “surge” … — Frank Rich, NYT, 4/22/07
- Three months into Mr. Bush’s troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out. — NYT Editorial, 5/11/07
- Now the Bush administration finds itself at that same hour of shame. It knows the surge is not working. — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 5/27/07
- Mr. Bush does have a choice and a clear obligation to re-evaluate strategy when everything, but his own illusions, tells him that it is failing. — NYT Editorial, 7/25/07
- The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 9/14/07
These people don’t actually understand military operations. They have one template, Vietnam. Somehow, that template failed to work in the Gulf War and Afghanistan, but finally they thought they were getting to use it. Now, inexplicably, we seem to have won. What happened?
Despite the left’s love of the Vietnam object lesson, they have never actually understood it. Vietnam was a counterinsurgency. That’s why the Gulf War and Afghanistan never looked like Vietnam, because those wars were not counterinsurgencies. (ASIDE: Afghanistan is a counterinsurgency, now. See below.) Those wars had enemies that we could defeat on the battlefield, and we did, easily. Iraq too had an enemy we could defeat (easily) on the battlefield. Our failure in Iraq was to anticipate that an insurgency would follow and prepare for it.
But insurgencies can be beaten, with the right force applied using the correct strategy. General Petraeus literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency. In the Surge, Petraeus changed our strategy and was given the force he needed. Now we’re winning. It’s as simple as that. The usual rule of thumb is it takes 10 years to beat an insurgency. Iraq isn’t over yet, but it looks like we’ll be done in far less than that.
ASIDE: The Taliban is reforming itself as an insurgency in Afghanistan, and has created a situation where we must employ a sound counterinsurgency strategy there as well. With General Petraeus in command at CENTCOM, I think we can trust that we will do so, if the next president lets him.
There is a lesson to be learned from Vietnam, but it isn’t the one the NYT thinks. The lesson isn’t “America will always lose” or even “America will always lose counterinsurgencies.” Indeed, despite all our mistakes (far more than in Iraq), we didn’t even lose the counterinsurgency in Vietnam. We ultimately defeated the Viet Cong insurgency, and then we defeated a North Vietnamese invasion. We left behind a South Vietnam that was able to stand largely on its own.
But then we made a historic mistake. The anti-war movement took over Congress and cut off all military support for South Vietnam. North Vietnam was still supported by the Soviet Union, and we stood back and watched as the communists conquered South Vietnam. At the eleventh hour we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It was America’s greatest humiliation.
What is the lesson of Vietnam for Iraq? We have (largely) defeated the insurgency in Iraq, and will leave a country that is largely able to stand on its own. Will we cut off all support for Iraq as we did for South Vietnam? The “anti-war” movement would like nothing better. If we do, we will again turn a hard-won victory into a humiliating defeat.