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Belmont Club

We Are the World

April 27th, 2014 - 12:49 am

President Obama told an audience in Malaysia that the US will be in a better position to stop Putin once he had the world behind him. According to the Associated Press, “Obama is pushing back against suggestions the U.S. should levy sanctions on its own against broad sectors of Russia’s economy. He says the U.S. and Europe must act collectively.” Obama maintained that he would not go it alone, according to CNN, and that Russia needs to see that “the world is united against” its actions in Ukraine.

Rather than going with sanctions alone and making it a United States vs. Russia issue, “it’s important for us to make sure that we’re part of an international coalition in sending that message and Russia is isolated, rather than (the perception that) the U.S. is trying to pull Ukraine out of his orbit.”

There seems no other way to see this other that Obama is awaiting reinforcements. If the cavalry doesn’t show up then too bad.  While the president may have meant to galvanize the world he has undoubtedly also sent Moscow the signal that nobody’s riding to the rescue any time soon.

Perhaps the truth is that nobody is particularly interested in stopping Putin, whatever they mumble in public. At least, nobody cares enough to go first. Often in history the prize goes to the party that wants it most. One reason Lincoln won the Civil War was largely because he willed it, a circumstance that found expression in his determination to let nothing stand in his way. Lincoln and his Generals describes how he went through commander after commander, through Winfield Scott, McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Meade until he found Ulysses S. Grant.

Churchill too had that quality and tried everything to stop Rommel in north Africa, working through Generals Alan Cunningham, Neil Ritchie, Wavell and Claude Auchinleck until he found his Bernard Law Montgomery. Churchill not only looked the bulldog. He was a bulldog.

And when the fault lay at the grand strategic level rather than in the military theater change was also possible. Britain could replace Chamberlain with Churchill and would have replaced Churchill too, had he failed to produce.

Early in his career Obama was actually compared to Churchill for his willingness to steamroll. Difference being, as the Churchill Center wrote at the time that Obama would steamroll anyone who offended against his magnificence.

What can we learn by comparing President Obama’s dismissal of General McChrystal to Churchill’s dismissals of Generals Wavell and Auchinleck, two distinguished commanders in World War II? I hope it will not be another reminder of how standards of conduct have deteriorated.

Differences first. Churchill’s generals were removed for not sufficiently opposing Irwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. McChrystal was not underperforming, and his situation bears more resemblance to that of General Douglas MacArthur, the Korean commander relieved in 1951 by President Truman for insubordination. …

Wavell and Auchinleck, having been sacked, placed themselves “at the disposal of His Majesty’s Government.” … Apparently the President offered no alternative military appointment to General McChrystal, as Churchill-safe in his own skin and disdaining opinion polls-did with Wavell and Auchinleck, believing their continued service vital to the war effort. We must assume it was not Obama’s opinion, as it was Churchill’s, that “We cannot afford to lose such a man from the fighting line.”

But the one card that most needs shuffling, that of the president himself,  is the one that can’t be.

What the British electorate, Churchill and Lincoln had going for them was that all the contenders for the relevant job were white. Race or gender did not play a constraining part in finding the best man. There were no Sacred Cows in the sense that after pre-selection by the Old Boys Club is was a meritocracy thereafter.

By contrast, in the modern Democratic Party system of identity politics there are nothing but Sacred Cows from one end of the pasture to the other. Obama and Hillary are concessions to their racial and gender constituencies. Once installed they can’t be changed for any reason whatsoever, however incompetent on pain of political civil war, because each constituency, like the Lebanese religious factions, must have its turn to control the government.

As compared to the freedom accorded to Lincoln or the British electorate to find the most qualified person the modern American political system is sticky. The system is saddled with special interest quotas and that’s it.  People are not selected for their competence but by category: “the wise Latina”, the “native American Harvard law professor” or the “single mother who became a lawyer”.

The system of identity politics dampens the rise of individual talent and elevates mediocrities to positions far beyond their level of competence.  The current Democratic party leadership is ossified, hackneyed and old.

Immovable

She Will Have Her Turn

So it’s a fixed menu.  The world is mired in the spectacle of two damaged personalities who somehow got to the international stage, the Russian irreplaceable because he’s authoritarian and the American because of political correctness. The social media man versus the unreconstructed KGB agent.  No substitutions allowed.

In this contest, Obama has mysteriously declined to resist though Putin has certainly tried his best to humiliate Obama. Is Obama too cool or just scared?  Either way, nobody gets to change nothing. It’s Mr. We are the World vs the Volga Boatman. Come as you are.

Obama’s problems may eventually force the Democratic Party’s to modify the system of identity politics.  No party can ignore disaster indefinitely; eventually the Dems must find a way to restore mobility to the party or degenerate to the point where the worst man wins. That may change under the pressure of events. Ironically Obama’s final gift to Hillary may be to doom her candidacy.

Identity might remain an important part of a Democratic Party political “legend”, but it can no longer be the sole criterion for elevation to high office.


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Top Rated Comments   
I think the Russians have a very good grasp of US domestic politics and have done the equivalent of focus group testing in their talking points. They are going to attack along the political seam which is particularly effective because the US system has so flexibility in it right now. It's polarized.

The natural advantages of a democracy over a totalitarianism have been greatly reduced by this infernal identity system. By humiliating Obama, Putin simultaneously provokes an leadership crisis while it makes resolving it even more difficult. An Obama resignation -- in the unlikely event it would ever happen -- would be almost as traumatic as his clinging to office. Basically Obama's a cut over the political eye that Putin is targeting with jab after jab.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was correctly argued that color bars in the bad old days excluded otherwise qualified people by reducing the available talent pool. Nazi Germany suffered for their antisemitism in that it drove all the Jewish scientists to America.

Yet the restrictive mathematics are the same and worse for identity politics. Once it is decided to elect an historic "woman" president, for example, the talent pool shrinks dramatically because candidates are recruited from a minority pond even more confined than selection from a majority.

In the case of Obama the pool is even more restricted. The talent pool is restricted to the people who made it up the peculiar Democratic Party ladder, which is perverse. People like Al Sharpton are not the best talents in black America. If anything the best black leaders will have nothing to do with a system that elevates the Jacksons and Sharptons. They will be in business or the science professions and they're not even looking there.

In a situation where the president is incompetent the natural fix would be to replace him. In the case of Nixon and Johnson, they could be replaced by another white man from the same party. Neither was a sui generis. White men were commodity.

Obama -- and Hillary potentially -- create an unusual stickiness in that even the Democratic party could not find a suitable replacement from the same identity group in the event that either wanted to resign. Obama cannot be persuaded to resign by Democratic party people because they have a 'pact' to deliver the presidency to this identity group.

The consequences will be a serious lack of flexibility. Suppose Churchill could not fire Neil Ritchie because he was a Sacred Cow. Then Rommel would have taken Cairo and the Suez Canal cut.

12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, Wretchard, we certainly see the difference between the cowboy buffoon Reagan and the Lightworker, don't we? Reagan, whatever you may think of his specifc policies and actions, provided honest leadership. He said what he wanted to do (cut taxes, rebuild the military, restore US leadership, increase human freedom) and he did those things. He put military and economic might behind his words, and was honest both with the American people and foreign countries. Some (Poland, the Baltic states, Romania, etc) admired him, some despised him, but friend and foe alike knew where they stood with him. While he preferred to work with US allies and partners he was prepared to act alone (Grenada, Libya etc) when necessary. He also had a strategy to win the Cold War and carried it out successfully. He led in front, not behind.

Obama, of course, is the polar opposite. He has gutted the military and basically is rolling the economy towards a train wreck in order to turn the US into a one party state. He has lied to the American people - "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan. The aveerage family will save over $2500 under Obamacare." And so on.

Why, exactly should any foreign leader, friend or foe, belive a single word Obama says? Even if he were trustworthy, by his own actions he has massively degraded the economic and military power he could use. Except to Republicans and white american male heterosexuals, Obama is a harmless enemy. And he is a trecherous friend who will say or do anything as long as it benefits him, even temporarily. Nor does he have any loyalty to those serving under him, as our ambassador to Libya found out.

Why should Putin bother talking to him? Why should anyone anywhere believe a single word he says? Asking other countries to go first simply means under Obama the US will go last - or not at all. Obamas word means nothing. Why should anyone anywhere stick their necks out for him?
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (154)
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Remember too that Churchill rode in the last cavalry charge of the British Empire, under General Kitchener in the Sudan.

Oh dear, the Australians I know would take very stern issue with that formulation. Allenby's ghost is stirring, and not happily.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Beersheba?
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
First Wipers?

http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/allenby.htm

(features links to Allenby's reports on taking Jerusalem from the Ottoman)
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
How does the world get behind a man that keeps his pack against a tree?
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
One doesn't.

One makes like a tree and leafs.

The World, otoh, is stuck.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hero below is 104 years old...
Interesting times beyond comprehension for most, but not for him.

FDR was asked to accept some refugee children.

FDR said, Nope.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
A different sort of man:

This man is still alive!

SAVING THE CHILDREN (for real, for once)
http://www.podcastone.com/downloadsecurity?url=aHR0cDovL3d3dy5wb2R0cmFjLmNvbS9wdHMvcmVkaXJlY3QubXAzL3d3dy5jYnNyYWRpb25ld3NmZWVkLmNvbS9leWVjYXN0L2Rpc3RyaWJ1dGlvbi9wb2RjYXN0cy8xNTc2OTY3Lm1wMyoqfDEzOTg2ODUwOTA1NjIqKnw=.mp3

Briton Nicholas Winton helped save hundreds of mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the war

The following script is from "Saving the Children" which aired on April 27, 2014. Bob Simon is the correspondent. Harry Radliffe, producer.

Now, an extraordinary story from the Second World War -- a humanitarian story that didn't come to light for decades.

It concerns a young Londoner named Nicholas Winton who went to Prague, and ended up saving the lives of 669 children, mostly Jews, from almost certain death.

His story begins at the end of 1938, with Europe on the brink of war. In Germany, violence against Jews was escalating and the infamous Munich Agreement paved the way for Hitler's armies to march unopposed into Czechoslovakia.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/saving-the-children-during-world-war-11-60-minutes/
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
More:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/saving-the-children-during-world-war-11-60-minutes/

An idyllic childhood.

"You're making a big mistake, don't send your children."
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
re: 60 Minutes link:

At around a minute and 20 seconds is some really bizarre behavior in support of Hitler.
...even for Nazis.

On closer examination, the guy is cranking up a gate across the road to let Der Fuehrer pass.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
One might have assumed they'd have had an infrared remote, at least, if not a Bluetooth link.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember too that Churchill rode in the last cavalry charge of the British Empire, under General Kitchener in the Sudan.

http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/biography/the-soldier/lt-churchill-4th-queens-own-hussars

He truly was a dux bellorum.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Best Cavalry charge music ever written: the first three minutes of this. (Listen for the trumpet call at 1:40):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmDEuFaoSC0

Written in the darkest days of the Stalin tyranny.

12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lone Ranger used the William Tell Overture, sez me, archly
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
oops --i meant to reply to Walt way upthread --o stupids me
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
You have every right to say that again.

...however, I agree that the thread is upside down, so perhaps we's not stupid, they is.
(avoiding the apostrophe s, s apostrophe conundumb)
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's just call it a 'prepostrophe' since the idea you'll ever punctuate with rectitude is preposterous
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
According to a report linked by National Review, the east Ukrainian city of Slovyansk has been cordoned off by Russian and Russian allied forces, and non-Russians have been forced to leave the city. I know nothing about the bonafides of this site, but as hard news is so scarce, I thought I'd post the url.
http://20committee.com/2014/04/26/slovyansk-is-the-center-of-the-bermuda-triangle/
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"President Obama told an audience in Malaysia that the US will be in a better position to stop Putin once he had the world behind him"

Hold your breath, Barry. No, really, hold your breath...
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard
An addition to your Volga Boat Men
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jrg0X9H6FGU
The Red Army Choir should stick with show business the seem pretty good at what they do.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNv5ZvzTGJw

Possibly the most beautiful sound you will ever hear.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
If Obama were asked the question: "what disease did cured ham actually have?";

he would blather on about making sure that we’re part of an international coalition in ham medicine and do not want to create the perception that the U.S. is trying to cure ham all by itself.

In other words he would be no more able to understand the joke than he is able to understand anything else. Therefore he would make a complete fool of himself.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure, but what are you going to do about the cured ham problem that was created by Republican obstructionism and money brought in by the Koch brothers? Hmmm?
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where's the League of Nations when we need them?
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
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