The Ostrich of Pennsylvania Avenue
Although much has been written about the collapse of the administration's foreign policy, of equal importance has been the parallel collapse of the foreign policy consensus in Washington. Per David Rohde:
Our political elite was so deeply divided in 2013 that we could not define a common enemy. We turned a blind eye to the revival of Mideast authoritarianism. And we fashioned no plans for how to respond to Syria becoming a new Afghanistan.
Washington is drifting like the Flying Dutchman. The year 2014 threatens to be a disastrous one for the administration, and it cannot make port. Its woes will get worse not only domestically, as it becomes evident that taxes -- and premiums -- must be raised to support Obamacare; they are everywhere on the defense. Democrat Mary Landrieu is campaigning on reforming Obamacare. The Washington Post predicts it will be a year of "shrunken ambitions" on both sides of the aisle.
But it is overseas, as the consequences of failures in Afghanistan and the Middle East begin to directly affect the first world, where the headline-grabbers lurk. Already the tide of trouble is lapping at European shores: the Italian navy plucked 1,000 refugees from the sea in a single day as swarms of people fled from the benefits of the Arab Spring and Geneva 2, many to drown in the Mediterranean:
The Italian navy rescued more than 1,000 migrants in the 24 hours to Friday from boats trying to reach Europe, authorities said, as an immigration crisis that killed hundreds in the last year showed no signs of easing.
Navy helicopters spotted four overcrowded boats struggling to stay afloat south of Sicily on Thursday and ships were sent to save them, the navy said in a statement.
The 823 men, women and children aboard the four vessels were from countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.
The navy rescued 233 migrants from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan in a separate operation and took them to a port near Syracuse on Sicily's eastern coast.
Also, some months ago:
Deep sea divers "unpacked a wall of people" [mostly Africans] from the hull of a smuggler's trawler on the sea floor near this Italian island on Monday, gingerly untangling the dead would-be migrants in the latest and most painstaking phase of a recovery operation following their ship's fiery capsizing.
Things are likely to get worse. Knowing this, the administration is planning to lean against the ropes and blame the Republicans. Salena Zito writes that the class warfare which has worked wonders in the past for Obama is being redeployed again in 2014 as the cornerstone of his strategy:
As we head into the 2014 midterm elections, one thing is certain: Class warfare will be the campaign stage again -- it is the only way this president knows how to win, by dividing and conquering -- with the tea party, Main Street and businesses large and small cast as the villains.
Democrats and the media have done an effective job of demonizing the “tea party” brand and detaching its followers from their original aspirations.
The logic of class warfare is simple. It relies on convincing the public that even if the the administration has screwed up, the "teabaggers" will do worse. If the administration can demonize their rivals sufficiently, voters will stay home and desist from kicking them out. Here's how it worked in the past:
The lifelong Democrat, who runs a five-man machine shop, regrets not voting for president in 2012.
He admits President Barack Obama's assault on Mitt Romney's character cast just enough doubt in his mind that he believed the Republican nominee would favor Wall Street over Main Street, put Washington into political deadlock and keep the economy stubbornly at a standstill.
He also believed he could keep his health-care plan -- the one he liked -- under Obama.
“For me, the class-warfare slogans were just enough to keep me at home,” he explained, adding that he'll never do that again.