Belmont Club

If the Phone Doesn't Ring

It gotten harder and harder for the administration to find someone to talk to.  Hillary, Eric and even Michelle have had trouble getting an audience lately.  Hillary Clinton Cancels Appearance Where Benghazi Victim’s Mom, Protestors Await. Then there’s Holder cancels appearance in OKC amid angry protests, and Michelle Obama reschedules visit to Kansas school after protests.

ABC reports that Chuck Hagel Wants to Talk Ukraine With Russia by Phone, But No Response. Maybe he was going to ask the Russians about Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive, but they’re not even bothering to pick up the line. The Russians are just kidnapping the emissaries of the European soft superpower to show how much they fear its wrath.

Hillary wonders why Snowden didn’t call anyone she knows before handing the Crown Jewels to Putin. “I don’t understand why he couldn’t have been part of the debate here at home”.

Because maybe there is no debate; just the pretense of one. And it’s taking its toll: after years of being at the center of attention, people connected with the administration are suddenly finding they are getting the cold shoulder.

Are we seeing a trend? Maybe.

Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Make Friends and Influence People has a rule # 2 which says: “Give honest and sincere appreciation”. That’s a polite way of saying “try not to talk out of both sides of your mouth”. People eventually notice when you’re lying.  Telling the truth’s going to be hard when lying is an ingrained habit. Look at how president Obama draws a line in the water in the Pacific:

At his joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe, President Obama once again stated that the mutual defense treaty covers the Senkaku islands, which Japan administers but which China and Taiwan also claim as their own. He repeated the assertion twice, which Tokyo certainly welcomed.

The president, however, also noted that “we don’t take a position on final sovereignty determinations with respect to Senkakus.” This has been longstanding US policy and thus the statement comes as no surprise. Still, it does introduce a bit of ambiguity into the security guarantee.

If Obama doesn’t even believe the Senkaku’s are Japan’s how can he credibly undertake to go to World War 3, if necessary, to defend them?

Some people think Obama’s problem is an unwillingness to use force. Anne Marie Slaughter for example, who was a former director of policy planning in the US State Department (2009-2011) during the Obama administration writes: “the solution to the crisis in Ukraine lies in part in Syria. It is time for US President Barack Obama to demonstrate that he can order the offensive use of force in circumstances other than secret drone attacks or covert operations … Stopping Russia Starts in Syria”.

Close, but no cigar. Stopping the slide in American credibility starts by telling the truth. It starts by believing in something, not merely pretending to believe in something, but actually holding to something sincerely.

Obama’s been willing to use force, he’s just never leveled about why he does it and who he is ultimately supporting.  Nobody has been more active at changing the calculus of force: cancelling missile defense, debuilding the armed forces, supply arms to nameless “rebels”; or engaging in kinetic military action in places like Yemen, Pakistan and Libya for which no declaration of war exists. The Arab Spring,  Fast and Furious, the Reset, the Palestinian Peace Process — he has an actual Secret Kill List —  who was Obama actually backing? Darned if the public knows.

What distinguishes Obama is that he does these things outside the Constitutional framework of war, by executive action, through secret orders justified by secret findings, undisclosed pacts and “flexibility”.

Obama’s problem is not so much “will you act?” as “who’s side are you on?”

What got Obama into trouble in Syria in the first place was promising to use force (is there anyone who has drawn more Red Lines?) and not meaning it; vowing there would be “consequences” in Ukraine and not being truthful; declaring that he will defend the Senkakus, and then adding no sooner than the cameras were off that he didn’t know who those islands belonged to in the first place.

What really disturbed people about Hillary’s response to Benghazi wasn’t that she failed to save her men, but that she didn’t even try, an issue she dealt with by declaring it moot: “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

People would be so much happier with a president who declared. “I’m a Communist and/or a Muslim and I fully intend to do Commie and Muslim things,” if that’s what he was. The electorate has the right to elect a Marxist or Islamist or a white supremacist, so long as they know what they’re getting. Freedom is wrongly understood to mean that no consequences apply. But it really means the exact opposite: the right to make a mistake, so long as you’re willing to pay the price.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. But in this case, there’s a ticket but no ride. What Obama has done is pervert freedom by being a “blank screen” which means anything and nothing. If the administration wants to know why people are reluctant to take its calls — the Palestinians, the Russians, the survivors of Benghazi — it’s simply this: people, even the enemy, want straight talk. Instead they get nothing but meaningless lies. The noise to signal ratio is too high. Nobody wants to listen to a man with no center, not even when he is billed as the Lightworker.

[jwplayer config=”pjmedia_richardfernandez” mediaid=”36247″]

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe