March 5th, 2013

Now it can be told: Obama’s Afghan policy

Vali Nasr has written a book, a portion of which has been excerpted in Foreign Policy. His piece represents another curious effort to discredit Obama from the left, and is far more hard-hitting than Bill Keller’s.

Nasr is a Tehran-born American academic mover and shaker, writer and expert on the Middle East. Nasr was brought into the Obama administration at its outset by the late Richard Holbrooke, who was appointed by Obama as envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan at State despite his earlier support of Hillary Clinton rather than Obama. Nasr signed on, too, with high hopes of helping to implement a different—and better—kind of diplomacy for the region. He doesn’t feel that either he or Holbrooke was treated well, or even decently, by Obama and especially his closest advisors, the inner circle.

The pattern of these exposés seems to be: wait till Obama has been safely elected, because you’re a Democrat. Then tell all the bad stuff about him.

Nasr qualifies as that familiar type, the disgruntled former employee. In this case, part of his motivation seems to be to champion his old mentor, Holbrooke, as well as to further the narrative that Hillary was the only other good thing about Obama’s foreign policy.

Whatever Nasr’s motivations, a great deal of what he is saying about Obama in terms of style and process rings very true with what has been demonstrated over and over before. The pattern is that Obama hires advisors either to be his weak and sycophantic toadies without a thought of their own, or as window-dressing to foster the appearance that he has strong and knowledgeable advisors and then to ignore them almost entirely, leaning instead on his more trusted alter egos such as Jarrett and Donilin, neither of whom are foreign policy experts but both of whom are political operatives.

Here’s some of what Nasr has to say:

But my time in the Obama administration turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience. The truth is that his administration made it extremely difficult for its own foreign-policy experts to be heard. Both Clinton and Holbrooke, two incredibly dedicated and talented people, had to fight to have their voices count on major foreign-policy initiatives…

Time and again, when things seemed to be falling apart, the administration finally turned to Clinton because it knew she was the only person who could save the situation…The president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics. Their primary concern was how any action in Afghanistan or the Middle East would play on the nightly news, or which talking point it would give the Republicans. The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy has less to do with its accomplishments in Afghanistan or the Middle East than with how U.S. actions in that region have been reshaped to accommodate partisan political concerns.

Bingo. I have to say that I have no idea whether Nasr was correct about what should have been done about the Middle East, but he shows a remarkable naivete about Obama himself if he thought he’d encounter anything different.

Some tough words here from the liberal Nasr:

By September 2012, when violent anti-American protests swept the Muslim world, claiming the lives of four members of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya and dozens of demonstrators, it became clear that we had gotten the broader Middle East badly wrong.

The American people are tired of war — rightly so — and they welcome talk of leaving the region. The president has marketed the U.S. exit from Afghanistan as a foreign-policy coup, one that will not only unburden America from the region’s problems but also give the country the freedom it needs to pursue other, more pressing national security concerns.

This is an illusion. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the broader, ill-defined “war on terror,” is a very good idea, provided it is done properly and without damage to U.S. interests or the region’s stability. But we should not kid ourselves that the rhetoric of departure is anything more than rhetoric…

Gee, he almost sounds like—us.

Here’s how Nasr describes Obama’s decision-making process on Afghanistan. After Nasr and others had prepared and submitted almost endless folders and reports and Obama had read and read and read them:

Obama was dithering. He was busybodying the national security apparatus by asking for more answers to the same set of questions, each time posed differently. Holbrooke thought that Obama was not deciding because he disliked the options before him, and that the National Security Council (NSC) was failing the president by not giving him the right options. What Holbrooke omitted from his assessment was that Obama was failing to press the NSC to give him other options.

In other words, he was dithering because he wanted to dither rather than make a decision and go on record.

Nasr describes a chaotic, political White House, confusing and ineffective, disjointed and meandering. Really, he describes a lack of what one might call foreign policy at all. This rings true, as well; and it’s been largely covered up so far–even by Nasr, who waited till now to write this:

Afghans and Pakistanis were not alone in being confused and occasionally amused by the White House’s maneuvers. People in Washington were also baffled. The White House encouraged the U.S. ambassadors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to go around the State Department and work with the White House directly, undermining their own agency. Those ambassadors quickly learned how easy it was to manipulate the administration’s animus toward Holbrooke to their own advantage.

Obama showed not the most rudimentary notion of tactics or strategy in the conduct of war (unless you call politics “war”):

The Obama administration’s approach to reconciliation, however, is not exactly what Holbrooke had in mind for a diplomatic end to the war. Holbrooke thought that the United States would enjoy its strongest leverage if it negotiated with the Taliban when the country had the maximum number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan. He had not favored the Afghanistan surge, but once the troops were there, he thought the president should use the show of force to get to a diplomatic solution.

But that did not happen. The president failed to launch diplomacy and then announced the troop withdrawal in a June 2011 speech, in effect snatching away the leverage that would be needed if diplomacy were to have a chance of success. “If you are leaving, why would the Taliban make a deal with you? How would you make the deal stick? The Taliban will talk to you, but just to get you out faster.” That comment we heard from an Arab diplomat was repeated across the region.

Yet it was exactly after announcing the U.S. departure that the administration warmed up to the idea of reconciliation. Talks with the Taliban were not about arranging their surrender, but about hastening America’s departure.

This rings true, as well–Obama has a long history of voting “not present”:

The White House seemed to see an actual benefit in not doing too much. It was happy with its narrative of modest success in Afghanistan and gradual withdrawal — building Afghan security forces to take over from departing U.S. troops. The goal was to spare the president the risks that necessarily come with playing the leadership role that America claims to play in this region.

It will be interesting to see whether this article has any effect at all. It will also be interesting to see if other “now it can be told” books and articles written by Democrats start coming out, and if they end up mattering, either.

[Hat tip: commenter "expat."]

47 Responses to “Now it can be told: Obama’s Afghan policy”

  1. chuck Says:

    if they end up mattering

    I think they will. I’ve been surprised how much leverage the President appears to have lost since the election, he is beginning to quack with a limp. Articles like this add up and I expect to see many more, each breaking the path a little further. Having his power to do wrong circumscribed at the national level is a good thing and anything that drags his incompetence out in the open is a plus. Especially if it comes from Democrats.

  2. southpaw Says:

    Neo what will be equally interesting to me is if you modfify the narrative that Obama is a genius who knows exactly what he’s doing.
    I have never believed it, and as more of this stuff comes out, I predict it will show he doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s doing about anything – except if you consider voting present or not making a decision to be an act of calculating genius, and not a life-long habit he’s learned to keep from being discovered as a fraud. His whole life he’s offered excuses (like racism) for shortcomings, and when given the opportunity to lead, has instead passed on making decisioins, hiding behind an aura of thoughtful contemplation, when in reality, he had no idea what the right thing to do was, nor did he care. One exception :heath care – which ironically called Obama Care, hasn’t a word or idea from Obama in it. It’s all somebody else’s works.
    The narrative the media has created is that he’s deeply thoughtful and calculating. He might be thinking and calculating, but it’s not with an intent or purpose to solve anything, or the ability to come to a conclusion.
    I would argue on most subjects, he has neither the aptitude nor the interest to solve anything, and is only calculating how to cover his ass for whatever ends up happening — and his strategy — to blatantly lie, would be idiotic for any other politician if the media didn’t allow it. It’s not clever at all and wouldn’t work for anybody else.
    He’s ignorant about almost everything except politics, and has demonstrated it in every foreign and domestic “policy”. The ONLY reason he’s gotten away with it is the media pertuates the lie that he is everything he is not. These things have been assigned to him since he started into politics; they are not earned. He’s a creation of the media, by the media, for the media.
    Maybe self perservation and promotion is a form of intelligence, but it hardly qualifies as brilliance in the sense that it’s nomrally used.
    Sorry for repeating myself, but he’s a phony and I cannot understand how it can be passed off as anything but a good con job.

  3. blert Says:

    Buraq is going to find out why all presidents quit after two terms — the second one is brutal.

    The lone exception – the American dictator – FDR – was so lucky he was able to ‘run against war in Europe.’ (while lining things up for 1941)

    This time around, Buraq is ‘running against racism’ — even as his maladministration runs the m o s t racist policies in generations. (You’d have to go back to Wilson to find his equal.)

    One reason for his war on coal: it’s a White man’s industry. Of course it is: it’s a northern/ Yankee enterprise.

    Now that’s irony. It was coal power that freed the (southern) slaves — in both military and economic senses.

    Coal powered trains created the first, extensive, elite Black economic class: the porters. They were the backbone of Black social advancement in their era. They really got around.

  4. artfldgr Says:

    the difference between politics and war as a strategy tactical thing is that the pieces you have in politics are not destroyed and removed from the board, so the mistakes you make or dont make, do not necessarily change the formula of pieces and so, outcomes.

    but what if, with every failure or odd thing, the people involved were gone and could not be reused someplace else?

    the political failure can be repaired, and at worst, usually only results in shifting things around.

    but if he were fighting a war, he could not kick boehner around after the first win. he would suddenly find that his most effective pieces are not there because his moves result in their negation IF outside politics.

  5. carl in atlanta Says:

    I never understood why in the world the president could possibly think it wise to announce in advance the dates and details regarding his plans to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Even little kids playing “capture the flag” at summer camp know better.

    However, I’m beginning to catch on and I think Rush is really onto something with his “Limbaugh Theorem”: Obama really doesn’t care a flip about foreign policy or even domestic policy. His only concern is to be seen as being engaged in a perpetual fight against “Them”, aka “Those who say”, aka “There are some who say”, etc., etc. The strategy he’s hit upon is to never govern, make decisions, manage, or even compromise, but to stay engaged in a permanent political campaign. In the context of foreign policy I wonder how many Americans have died as a result. And how many more will die as a result.

  6. bill Says:

    I particularly like your closing sentence. Very rarely do people have the guts to speak up when it matters, and even less often does it have an effect. We need more of this, and we need it in a more timely manner. Whether you’re an Obama fan, like me, or not, like others, neither side should shrink from the truth. No matter what Jack Nicholson’s character said in A Few Good Men, we have to learn to handle the truth.

  7. Jennine Jones Says:

    I just found you yesterday after a link to a PJMedia article from Roger Simon on Twitter. Spend hours reading your posts on transformation. Then more hours just reading random posts. You are now on my favorites bar. About this post, a trickle of truth is better late than never. And can’t help but think that there will be more maybe even a small stream or truth now they have him safely re-elected. Can’t help but think with more truth there will be more soul searching and remorse about his reelection. Maybe even more transformation. Thank you for being here!

  8. M J R Says:

    neo writes, “It will be interesting to see whether this article has any effect at all. ”

    I disagree with chuck, 2:55 pm: I do not see that it will have any effect at all. At all.

    But! I will make allowances for chuck’s possibility, “Articles like this add up and I expect to see many more, each breaking the path a little further.”

    ^IF^ we “see many more”, okay, I can conceive of that possibility. A path will be broken, but it would not be a path to exposing the sorry truth about the incumbent. It would be a path of excuses and arse-covering, a path more to Hillary’s election than to any truth about the incumbent.

    Not cynical, just realistic.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Obama really doesn’t care a flip about foreign policy or even domestic policy. “ carl in atlanta summerizing the ‘Limbaugh Theorem’

    Yes, that’s close to what’s going on. But Obama definitely cares about domestic policy, it is in fact his entire focus. How can that be, given his apparent disinterest? The conundrum evaporates once the idea that Obama doesn’t want to make things better is considered. He doesn’t want to improve things, he wants to destroy the ‘old’ America, to “fundamentally transform” America and, the greatest transformation is most possible during crisis.

    “Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace… Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison

    Why does Obama not care about foreign policy? The Western left’s mission is to subvert the West, not resist Communist, collectivist aggression. He is where possible, colluding with Russia and China.

    Obama has indicated in past public interviews, a deep awareness of the danger that Jihadist aggression poses to the West, his attempts at appeasement are cover for his cooperation with Russia and China’s use of Islamic terrorism to reduce American hegemony. Russia is the foremost facilitator of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. China has threatened to respond militarily to any military attack by the US upon Iran. Both Russia and China block and veto in the UN any effective International sanctions against Iran and have done so repeatedly and consistently.

    “Rogue states never turn out to be quite the pariahs they are deemed. They are only able to cause, or at least threaten to cause, mayhem because they enjoy the covert support – usually by means of technology transfers – of one or more major powers within the charmed circle of global ‘good guys’.” — Margaret Thatcher

    “the region will be far less stable and far more threatened if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon. It will spur a nuclear arms race. It has risks for greater terrorism. It will be destabilizing.” “Kerry said the threat extends beyond the possibility that Iran could actually use the weapon on its enemies, specifically Israel. Iran simply having a nuclear weapon would “spur a nuclear arms race” in the region and could be used to support terrorists groups like Hezbollah, he said.” Interview with SecState John Kerry – March 5, 2013

    In that interview, Kerry strongly iterated that it is Obama’s foreign policy that he represents, not his own. Obama knows…without a doubt his behavior is intentional.

  10. vanderleun Says:

    “because it knew she was the only person who could save the situation”

    Oh gag me with a Cuisineart!

  11. southernjames Says:

    “Both Clinton and Holbrooke, two incredibly dedicated and talented people, had to fight to have their voices count on major foreign-policy initiatives.”

    Hi-f–king-larious. I have descended into the pit of cynicism to the point where I half expect this guy to have been paid to write his stuff by the Soros funded Clinton 2016 team, and has been promised a plum position in that administration.

    Saint Hilary to the rescue!!

    “Dedicated?”….”TALENTED”?

    Ah well. It was a great country for a couple of centuries, and we had a nice run…..”What does it matter anyway,” as an oh so dedicated and talented Sec of State once said.

    To be filed under: “This is why I drink.”

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    southernjames: but the point is not whether you agree. It’s the description of the way in which Obama appoints people, then ignores them, and makes decisions based almost solely on domestic politics. Also, the fact that some Democrats are daring to criticize Obama.

  13. Eric Says:

    Neo: “It will be interesting to see whether this article has any effect at all.”

    It will move the needle, but not to critical mass. Because the Dems have discredited the alternative.

    Their defense to any criticism of Obama’s foreign policy is a shrug and, hey, anything we do is better than the alternative of Bush and by extension the GOP. And if you (the critic) are willing to ostracize yourself by joining the beyond-the-pale demons by endorsing the alternative of Bush, then be ready to be stigmatized yourself. Dissent cowed.

    Note that the recent left-of-center critics of Obama’s foreign policy have brushed up to it, but have been careful about drawing a line at actually endorsing, by name, the rationales of Bush’s foreign policy. They’ve criticized Obama without advancing an alternative. So, the status quo remains unchallenged, no matter its problems. We can impute an implied endorsement of Bush-era rationales in their critiques, but that kind of academic nuance is not going to penetrate the bright lines of the not-Bush popular narrative that shields Obama.

    Obama is President less because of his merits than the calculated demonization of Bush and by extension the GOP. That same basis of his election is inoculating Obama from being actually penalized for his poor decisions. Because he’s not held accountable, both cynical common sense and pragmatic idealism have been removed from our foreign affairs.

    Marxists and their offspring, New Left and political Islamists alike, practice that he who defines history, controls the future.

    Republicans, notably McCain in 08 and Romney in 12, have tried to leave the stigmatized Bush behind in history and that has been a profound mistake. The GOP, by not upholding Bush’s legacy, has been complicit in undermining the GOP and protecting Obama from accountability.

    As long as the GOP continues to concede the demonization of Bush rather than counter the Dems’ narrative by rehabilitating Bush’s legacy, they will concede the Dems’ definition of history and thus control of the future.

    Not-Bush needs to be stripped away from the Dems in a national campaign that’s as calculated and dedicated as the campaign that demonized him.

  14. Eric Says:

    Neo: “Also, the fact that some Democrats are daring to criticize Obama.”

    And, except for Nader, they waited until after the election to do so. Again, if there’s no viable alternative being advanced, then these criticisms are just farting in the wind.

    The viable alternative to Obama is the rational bases of Bush’s foreign policy. Rehabilitate Bush’s legacy, then the criticisms can be armed and the not-Bush shield protecting Obama can be disarmed.

  15. southernjames Says:

    Neo – if my cynicism about his motivations is correct, then – since obviously our foreign policy has been a disaster these past four years, and getting worse – he has an incentive to distinguish Hillary from Obama as much as possible. Lay as much of the blame as he can on Obama’s ineptitude, WH infighting, and anything else he can think of — while pristine Hillary (a/k/a his future boss?) is over there to the side, trying to do her very level best to have the bestest and awesomest foreign policy we could have had, if people had just listened to her!

    I don’t doubt that the foreign policy was and is a disfunctional clusterf–k. But since the Saint Hillary twist to the narrative is a bit suspect to me, it kind of taints the entire narrative. Is he overstating the WH disfunction just a bit to make her look better? I don’t know.

    Of course, it could be that I am just in a pissy mood today. :)

  16. Richard Aubrey Says:

    It all makes sense if you think the dems think their swing vote is some version of the people who can tell the Kardashian sisters apart. Or how many there are.

  17. Eric Says:

    Add: Regarding the power of history, that’s why Clinton is lionized by the Dems despite his spotty record. It disappoints me that the GOP have failed to make the same calculation about burnishing Bush’s legacy, not for his sake but for empowering the GOP.

  18. James Says:

    “Also, the fact that some Democrats are daring to criticize Obama.” It’s the opening salvo of Hillary 2016.

  19. Eric Says:

    Richard Aubrey,

    Smart educated people follow pop culture, too. You may as well make fun of people who know which MLB player achieved the triple crown last season, and plenty of smart educated people can answer that question.

    People don’t only vote for things. They also vote against things. Smart educated commenters here have said they voted against Obama more than they voted for Romney.

    On the other side, the Dems convinced enough voters to vote against the GOP candidate – no matter who it was – based on their successful demonization of Bush and by extension the GOP. The GOP only has itself to blame for not countering the demonization of Bush. On that foundation, by accepting the demonization of Bush, they opened the door to further demonizations of the GOP.

  20. DonS Says:

    Obama dithered in Afganistan on the Surge there, with little communication with the general in charge, taking many months to reach a decision that should have taken weeks. That’s to say, Obama’s weakness on foreign policy was in evidence in the first half of 2009.

    Now, Clinton isn’t much better. She has been a weak SoS, her major accomplishment seems to be involvement in the war in Libya. I rate her higher then Obama, but not by much.

  21. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Eric.
    Among other things, defending a republican politician requires a modicum of truth in the media. See Sarah Palin.

  22. southpaw Says:

    Eric “The GOP only has itself to blame for not countering the demonization of Bush. On that foundation, by accepting the demonization of Bush, they opened the door to further demonizations of the GOP.”
    Well stated and true; only problem is the GOP were (are) unable to articulate any message, much less get it out. Watching these guys fumble about trying to explain anything is painful.

    Southern James : Does this mean you’ve already forgotten the superb way Hillary handled Bengazi and the fallout? Your lack of appreciation for the Center of Excellence that was her State Department is very troubling.
    I’m sure that any shortcomings on the part of Hillary were 100% attributable to Obama. Is any of this starting to sound familiar?

  23. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Actually, I think that Barack H. Obama is a genius. His number-one goal was to get elected President, in spite of having done absolutely nothing of value, and he succeeded in that — twice.

    Yes, he had the press helping him. Yes, the debates were slanted. The details don’t matter. He’s a genius at recruiting people to his side to push him over the top. It doesn’t matter that he treats his own people like dirt; what matters is that he had them on his side for the crucial moment in time that was the 2012 election.

    This President has had scandals that would have sunk nearly anyone else. Benghazi should have finished him. His outright barefaced shameless lying should have done it. His long list of broken campaign promises should have done it. His known tendency to be a thin-skinned bully should have done it. The sealed records should have done it. The corruption should have done it. The blatant voter fraud, protected by the freaking Justice Department, should have done it.

    I believe he will be remembered as a genius at the one thing that mattered to him — getting elected. It doesn’t matter now if he knows absolutely nothing about how to govern; he’s the President, and he will be for the next four years. I don’t even see impeachment as an option; what exactly would it take to impeach him? Being caught red-handed committing murder, perhaps? No, not even that; he’s got more to protect his good name than Ted Kennedy ever did.

    He may leave the Presidency in 2016 with the lowest approval rating in history… but I don’t think he’ll care. He wanted to be President, and he got it. End of story.

  24. M J R Says:

    2017 (January 20th around noon) to be exact, but who’s counting? [smile]

  25. thomass Says:

    “It will be interesting to see whether this article has any effect at all.”

    What article?

  26. G Joubert Says:

    Truth be told, Hillary! is every bit as hapless as Obama. Nasr is so careful to praise her likely so as to preserve his bona fides for an appointment in a future Hillary! administration.

  27. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    Terrible, terrible. Obama is just as bad as I always thought but could never prove. This is where I hate to be vindicated.

  28. expat Says:

    thomass,

    I don’t think there will be any one big article. That would cause cognitive dissonance and denial among Obama’s supporters. What I hope will happen is a bunch of little articles that slowly erode belief in him while giving supporters time to adjust their opinions and give themselves credit for seeing through him. We want them to say he changed, he is selling out–not that they were wrong about him from the get go.
    This article and the book will probably affect Hillary supporters and feminists, reporters, and perhaps others who have felt the weight of the Valerie Jarrett machine. They, in turn, will pass on (hopefully in the MSM) their disallusionments.

  29. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

    .

    }}} The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy

    Don’t you have to demonstrate competence before you can have a reputation for it?

    Or is this reputation officially awarded by the Nobel Peace Prize committee?

    .

  30. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

    }}} written by Democrats start coming out, and if they end up mattering, either.

    How can they matter? President Tiger Beat isn’t attempting to get re-elected any more.

    Short of a landslide shift to the GOP in both houses, allowing a full-court press to impeach him (and what, really, would that accomplish? Other than looking vindictive, I mean), what possible significant change is going to occur over the next 3+ years?

  31. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Thinking about some relations–and somd friends–who voted Obama with obvious relish.
    Since then, in oblique ways, I think I’ve picked up that their view is to vote against whatever conservatives promote.
    Not because they dislike whatever it is–they’re usually clueless–but because it makes them superior.
    They can hardly admit being wrong, and since they’re usually statists with a reflexive opposition to anything forthright the US does, and a disdain for standard culture–although benefiting mightily from it and spending pretty good money to live away from diversity–I don’t see that reality will have much of an impact.
    I can think of a couple of people who, if I asked what was good about Obama, would respond with what he said he’s going to do as if he’s done it, and with what he’s done as if it worked out. Sort of like the climatefreaks who think their models are more accurate about what happened last year than what happened last year.
    And, if pressed, would say, At this point, what difference does it make?
    But reality cannot possibly make an impact. No way in hell.
    They identify as superior because they vote Obama. Or because they vote against conservatives.

  32. Eric Says:

    Richard Aubrey,

    That tells me the political priority shouldn’t be principle or even real consequences.

    The priority needs to be winning the popular contest of Narratives, including defining the good guys and bad guys.

  33. thomass Says:

    expat Says:

    “I don’t think there will be any one big article.”

    Big, small, whatever… what article? Hillary? What?

    Oh look, someone made a gun with their fingers!!! AGGHH!

  34. neo-neocon Says:

    southpaw: you have NEVER heard me say Obama is a genius.

    What I have said is that he is intelligent, especially at the things he’s intelligent about, which is politics and political strategy, propaganda, and being a con man.

    And even in the Afghan situation that has been borne out, as this Nasr article amply demonstrates. Obama has done what he intended to do there. His priorities are political, just as Nasr has written. Also, another goal was to marginalize the influence of people such as Holbrooke and Nasr, “experts” about whose opinion he could not care less. He accomplished that as well.

    It works for him, doesn’t it? He’s done what he wanted to in Afghanistan and he got re-elected. Note that last quote from Nasr; has Obama not accomplished these goals handily?:

    The White House seemed to see an actual benefit in not doing too much. It was happy with its narrative of modest success in Afghanistan and gradual withdrawal — building Afghan security forces to take over from departing U.S. troops. The goal was to spare the president the risks that necessarily come with playing the leadership role that America claims to play in this region.

    One only perceives Obama as unintelligent if one doesn’t understand his goals.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    southernjames: I think it’s crystal clear that Nasr is supporting Hillary for president in 2016, and that’s one of his motives for writing the piece.

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    Daniel in Brookline: I wouldn’t use the term “genius,” but otherwise I’m in complete agreement with you.

  37. Bob From Virginia Says:

    I second Daniel in Brookline’s opinion. In the business of getting elected Obama is a genius, helped of course by the fact the electorate has the insight of a four year old and Obama has the principles of a psychopath, which he probably is.

    As for the article, it and a million other revelations won’t effect a thing because there is nothing significantly new or dramatic about them. The public has been exposed to the debt crisis, Benghazi, Honduras, the blaming of others, the lawsuits over Obamacare and they do not care. Obama is a religious figure, his support is based on faith, not performance. Imagine a primitive tribe praying for rain; when it doesn’t rain they don’t stop believing in the gods but rather they blame themselves. Figure out how to logically talk someone out of their religion and then you may overcome Obama by argument or exposure. Until then he will remain popular unless his policies produce large scale physical pain.

  38. beverly Says:

    Genius? I think it’s what we used to call “low cunning.”

    I agree that the pinko crowd vote as much out of hatred/disdain for what they imagine “conservatives” are, as out of a luuuve for Hussein.

    Next up: a little leftie “documentary” called “The Eternal Republican.”

  39. Bob From Virginia Says:

    note to those who may have missed it: Beverly’s comment about “The Eternal Republican” was a reference to the Nazi hate flick “The Eternal Jew”.

  40. expat Says:

    Bob From Virginia,

    I’m still not sure that if the economy is still bad and if the MSM starts expressing doubt, the people won’t also begin to doubt. And if Ben Carson and the Brooklyn minister with his 35,000-member congregation as well as the head of the Black Chamber of Commerce can start to be heard and raise questions among blacks, both the black vote and the white guilt vote could be a bit diminished.

    I would love to see people like Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangel, and Shirley Jackson Lee challenged by tough black Republicans and in a way that the MSM would have to cover it.

    I’m not making predictions, only suggesting possibilities. One other factor: how long can he remain cool? Dampening enthusiasm among the young could be a factor.

  41. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    expat: Obama lost his cool, visibly, a number of times during the 2012 election. It affected neither his re-election prospects nor his popularity.

    They used to say that a politician was so secure, the only way he could lose would be to get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. I truly doubt whether even that would be enough to sway the Obama True Believers.

  42. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Eric,

    Not sure about winning the narrative. The narrative isn’t the important thing. As has been suggested about Jews voting liberal/dem, their interests, or presumed interests–Israel, anti-Semitism in this country, the problems of poverty, etc.–notwithstanding because Christians, particularly conservative Christians, are voting a certain way. Thus liberal Jews must vote the other way. Not being Jewish or having been to a temple in more than forty years, I can’t say. But it is certainly what I get from my friends and relations.
    The best idea in the world, no matter how clear, would lose to these folks if proposed by conservatives. Voting against conservatives is the controlling dynamic.
    You should hear them desperately fighting the retreat of the global warming hoax. They NEED it to be true because conservatives claim it’s false. No other reason. The cannier among the hoaxers–they like the subsidies, the power cession to the State–but the ordinary folks voting lib are voting against conservatives. Period.
    What to do? I have no idea. Teach thinking for yourself, I suppose, like they do in public school. No, wait. What? Never mind.

  43. Armchair pessimist Says:

    We don’t have a president; we have a Chicago style city hall in charge. Its sole business is to stay in power by handing out favors to its constituent voting blocks. “All politics is local” said a lesser practitioner of this black art.

    To the extent that we have a foreign policy, it is to satisfy the influential America-last crowd in the Dem Party.

  44. G Joubert Says:

    Two things the Republican Party can do to begin rebuilding itself:

    1. Rehabilitate Bush’s legacy. Inexplicably, Bush/Rove wouldn’t defend Bush in real time, i.e., during Bush’s presidency, and the left fully exploited the opportunity to treat him, and Republicans generally, as a punching bag for 4+ years. As long as low information voters connect Repubs and conservatism with the 8 years of Bush, and as long as they continue to see Bush as a total failure, the Republican brand will stay in the loo. So, it’s late and after the fact, but they’ve got to do what they can.

    2. Go back to the basics. And I mean the very basics. The starting point is with the fact that the very reason the Republican Party was formed in the first place –it’s very reason for existence– was to stop and end slavery. And it was the Democrats who were fighting to keep slavery. How many low information voters even know this history? From there they should go on to show how the conservative approach is empowering to all people on an equal opportunity basis.

    Rather than spending the next 4 years in a negative posture, criticizing Obama, bewailing what he’s doing, expend some energy and capital in a positive way, building up Republicanism.

  45. southernjames Says:

    A poster above asked…”what possible significant change is going to occur over the next 3+ years?”

    Oh, if the Chicago machine manages to demonize a few GOP congressmen, who may be in close races and therefore susceptible, with t.v. ads flooding key markets and costing sums of $$ unheard of EVER in congressional races (just as the presidental approved hate attack ads on Romney broke new ground); and, manages to (Al Franken come to mind?) stuff a few ballot boxes in a few key places (early voting, absentee voting, late voting, No ID voting and racist to even suggest it, etc etc etc – see a pattern?? Hmm?), and wrest control of the House……

    Well hold on to your hats if that happens. You think what has happened since the 08 elections is jaw droppingly surreal?– such as: the 2400 page transformation of our entire health care system that was rammed through without being read or vetted and with no public support…..

    Oh we ain’t seen NOTHIN yet, if the one remaining obstacle to the Transformation of America – a GOP House, is castrated and San Fran Nan is back in charge.

    Too many people don’t seem to understand that THAT is IMO the SOLE objective of the Chicago crowd right now. The true second term won’t begin until after the 2014 mid-terms. Right now it is all campaigning, all the time, with the end game of getting control of the House front and center.

    This week? The REPUBLICANS want granny to STARVE rather than ask Thurston Howell the Third to pay a few more dollars in taxes. The sequester is ALL their fault (especially Representatives XX, YY, and ZZ – who just by pure coincidence reside in a targeted district! Funny how that works!).
    Too many people I know, especially those who try to insist that there is “no difference” between the parties, don’t seem to understand, that for the Chicago crowd, (unlike Dems of old, and current Pubs)…..POLLS DON’T MATTER. In other words, there is nothing dumber that somebody saying (to use just one example) “Oh, Feinstein’s gun ban bill will never pass, it is too UNPOPULAR.” This is a sign of somebody that JUST DOESN’T GET IT.

    If they have the POWER, they will pass legislation for “our own good,” because “think of the children” and also because shut up you homophobic racist – regardless of how it may poll in flyover land. The flyover rubes didn’t want Obamacare. The flyover Catholic rubes didn’t want the HHS mandate. The flyover rubes don’t really feel like paying for Sandra Fluke’s birth control. The flyover rubes like their ammo to be actually, um available, and at a cost less than $1.85 per cartridge. The flyover rubes don’t really like Homeland security to be buying 2500 tanks for domestic use. And on. And on.

    It doesn’t matter.

    If they have all three houses, and with a Pres who doesn’t need to worry about re-election – and with the lap dog palace media in his back pocket providing cover every step of the way………it is lights out.

  46. Ymarsakar Says:

    Obama’s just grinding up the US military until it becomes a hollow shell, merely for his own entertainment. Remember that in 2008, some people started thinking that Obama actually enjoyed American deaths, especially the ones caused by him.

    All the Leftist talk about defense is merely smoke and mirrors, designed to hide their own enjoyment at US casualties and their own bank accounts growing due to US defense contracts.

  47. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “If they have all three houses, and with a Pres who doesn’t need to worry about re-election – and with the lap dog palace media in his back pocket providing cover every step of the way…”

    Agreed. If Obama and Congress start implementing executive orders and passing legislation that are undeniably unconstitutional; such as gutting the 2nd amendment, overturning the 22nd amendment and outlawing home schooling and private schools, nationalizing entire industries, etc. etc… and, a liberal SCOTUS upholds it, either directly or by refusing to hear pertinent cases, what shall we do?

    What would be left but submission or revolution?

    If we choose submission in hopes that liberal Americans will awaken (which arguably we are already doing) and they consciously choose “bread and circuses” (which some are already doing) what shall we then do?

    If we choose revolution, we will most assuredly find out the purpose of the 2700+ light tanks, 1500 fully automatic assault rifles and 1.6 billion rounds of hollow point ammo that the DHS has now bought…

    If such comes to pass, will the military defend the Constitution or the “lawfully elected” federal government?

    Lights out indeed.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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