Washington Post editorial editor Fred Hiatt hopes that president Obama will re-think his foreign policy after a series of failures, though deep down he conceded that Obama probably wouldn’t. Hiatt asks the rhetorical question: “defeat can lead to defeatism, or it can lead to constructive rethinking. Which path will President Obama take after setbacks overseas?” And he provides his own answer. Neither. It will lead to complete denial and more wishful thinking.
The instinctive White House response will be to head into the political bunker: to deny that it ever displayed isolationist tendencies while painting critics as wild-eyed warmongers. This reflexive belligerence is understandable given that Obama’s political enemies will happily use overseas setbacks to score points.
No sooner were they uttered than Hiatt’s predictions appeared to come true. “During a press conference today in The Netherlands, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked President Obama if he thought “Mitt Romney had a point” when he said in 2012 that Russia was America’s “number one” geopolitical foe.” But if Karl thought Obama would graciously admit to being wrong, Karl thought wrong. The president said Romney was more mistaken than ever.
My response then continues to be what I believe today: Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.
Obama disparaged Russia as “a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors not out of strength but out of weakness”. Every one of the reported setbacks was only a flesh wound. This line is a part of a long running screed. Readers will recall that Obama told Romney that “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” He ran for re-election on the platform that Osama bin Laden was dead and Detroit is alive, arranging to blame the torching of the US consulate in Benghazi on a video. This time in Brussels he admitted that the War on Terror is over, except for the possibility that they may nuke Manhattan.
Hiatt got it right; president Obama will never admit to error. Everything is unfolding just as planned, despite appearances. During his forthcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, Obama will pooh-pooh well known differences with the Kingdom. “Some U.S. officials privately likened the Saudi outbursts – all but unprecedented for a kingdom that prefers to conduct diplomacy in the shadows – to a temper tantrum that would have little lasting effect on bilateral ties.” The Saudis are just little, malevolent, 80-year old kids who will be soothed by the Lightworker.
Nor will the Russians imperil the administration’s Iranian deal. “Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman … has reportedly insisted that the new bilateral frictions did not factor into the latest round of negotiations in any fashion, and Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi described the latest round of talks as ‘positive and very good.'” Like the Saudis, Obama knows what’s good for the Russians and they will come around.
Of course the pose of omnipotence and omniscience must be helped along by a little smoke and mirrors. Eli Lake at the Daily Beast notes the State Department is hiding what the Saudi’s teach their kids. “The most comprehensive study of Saudi textbooks ever commissioned by the U.S. government was completed at the end of 2012, but to this date the State Department has kept it from the public”, probably because it refers to Christians and Jews as “apes and pigs”.
Michael Posner, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for Obama’s first term said the State Department always had the choice to publish the textbook study.
“We commissioned the study to assess and evaluate the content of the textbooks with the intention of sharing our findings with the Saudi government and with the option, depending on the findings, of making it public if the problems persisted,” Posner told the Daily Beast.
Posner declined to discuss the contents of the unpublished Saudi textbook study in the interview. But he spoke about the problem of Saudi textbooks in more general terms. “Among the references that were most offensive were commentary that linked Christians and Jews to apes and pigs,” Posner said. “If those references are still in some textbooks then the problem hasn’t been solved.”
Gotta keep that under wraps or some reporter might ask Obama about his belief in “Islam’s proud tradition of tolerance … that is the spirit we need today.” Remember, the president is never wrong.
The same sort of cosmetology is being employed in Yemen, where “the Obama administration is poised to give the Yemen Air Force a fleet of two-seater propeller planes — akin to what’s used to dust crops — that have been modified so they can carry laser-guided missiles and a high-tech intelligence system.”
The White House is tired of dealing with concerns and criticisms about its quiet drone war that’s ongoing in the nation, and so instead will provide the Yemeni military with “targeting killing” gear of its own, BuzzFeed reported, citing documents and three sources that were listed as familiar with the administration’s effort.
You can’t say the president is killing people in the nonexistent War on Terror if he ain’t actually pushing the button. The same PR methods are being employed to deal with accusations of the NSA surveillance of everybody. “President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress to end the bulk collection and storage of phone records by the National Security Agency but allow the government to access the “metadata” when needed, a senior administration official said on Monday.” He’s going to move the file cabinet down the corridor to a room that legally doesn’t belong to the NSA, but which they have access to anyway. That will make it Congress’ fault, not his.
And of course he will unleash lots of squirrels to give the impression of movement and purpose. “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is sending about 150 Special Forces troops along with military aircraft to Uganda to help in the search for warlord Joseph Kony, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.”
U.S. personnel were authorized to “provide information, advice and assistance” to an African Union force tracking Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.
“While combat-equipped, they are prohibited from engaging LRA forces unless in self-defense,” the Post said.
Russia’s not a geopolitical threat, but Kony is.
These events suggest that no attempt will made to change policy, but spend money instead on deception operations, in order to mask reality and conduct business as usual under another name. Nothing changes except the make-up. While this will be as effective as renaming Titanic the Love Boat in an effort to keep things afloat, the probable fact is that the president is unprepared to change. It will be denial to the bitter end.
One way to preserve presidential self-esteem in the face of failure is to surround himself in ever more lavish trappings. Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post wrote of the magnificence of Obama’s descent on the Belgian capital. “As President Obama and his 900-person entourage arrived in Brussels for the E.U. summit Tuesday, the Belgian capital braced for the significant expense of hosting him.”
Hosting an E.U. summit typically costs the city about €500,000 ($690,000), the newspaper reports. “But this time round, you can multiply that figure by 20,” Mayeur said.
Belgium is providing an additional 350 security personnel to protect Obama as he travels between sites. Nine U.S. helicopters and 30 armored cars will be used for an Obama visit to a World War I cemetery.
Arriving in a special plane and a special helicopter flanked by attack helicopters serves two purposes. Obama can continue to feel important and thereby transfer the buzz to low information voters watching the spectacle. Sleep well, LIVs, there’s nothing to be afraid of but a nuke going off in New York City.
While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light
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