The Day Obama's Presidency Died
Worse was to follow. America's premier intelligence organization, the National Security Agency, was taken apart in public and the man who took its secrets, Edward Snowden, decamped to Moscow with a laptop full of secrets. But it was all just a curtain raiser to the dismemberment of Ukraine and the disaster in Eastern Europe:
Ninety percent of voters in a key industrial region in eastern Ukraine came out in favor of sovereignty Sunday, pro-Russian insurgents said in announcing preliminary results of a twin referendum that is certain to deepen the turmoil in the country.
Roman Lyagin, election chief of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, said around 75 percent of the Donetsk region's 3 million or so eligible voters cast ballots, and the vast majority backed self-rule.
The Ukraine has now been effectively partitioned. The Obama administration talk about inflicting "consequences" and "costs" on Russia turned out to be empty. Almost as if to add insult to injury, Iran has declared victory in Syria over Obama. "'We have won in Syria,' said Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee and an influential government insider. 'The regime will stay. The Americans have lost it.'"
And still there's no acknowledgement of anything being fundamentally wrong.
As with the Japanese at Midway, we've all felt a change in the beat of the engines; a difference in the progress of the hull. One person who might understand why the Obama boat is sputtering is fleeing the scene while avoiding an explanation: Hillary. Slate notes that she just had a fundraiser with a virulent critic of Obama:
De Rothschild is a multimillionaire who was reportedly introduced her husband, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, by Henry Kissinger. She became nationally notorious during the 2008 election cycle as a Clinton supporter who refused to throw her support to Barack Obama after the primaries, vocally backing John McCain and calling Obama an "elitist" without any apparent sense of irony. She later said the president is "a loser" who "is going to bankrupt America" and observed that "being half black" did not qualify him to be president.
The Washington Post teasingly suggests there is a reason why Hillary is broadening her circle of friends. "Why Hillary Clinton will be rubbing elbows with a major Obama critic this month," they ask. But they don't say. But the New York Times has a theory: Hillary's problem is Obama. The public is tired of seeing Obama's mug, and ergo they want to see Hillary's.
The latest investigation into the Benghazi attack reminds us that the issue isn’t going away any time soon. Pundits are already speculating about potential damage to Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects, but don’t believe the hype: Scandals rarely matter much in presidential election campaigns:
A far more significant threat to her potential candidacy is Americans’ desire for new leadership after eight years of the Obama administration. A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll found this week that 65 percent of Americans would “like to see a president who offers different policies and programs.” Only 30 percent said they wanted ones “similar to those of the Obama administration.”
Note the reappearance of Benghazi once again in the familiar New York Times "nothing happened" mode. Just move on and remember that what the voters want is Hillary's fresh face. But since the NYT is offering a conjecture of surpassing thinness, why not offer another, so long as it is understood that it is merely guesswork. Here goes: the day the Obama presidency died.
Benghazi had its roots in an alternative theory of foreign policy formed in Obama's team at around the time of the Surge in Iraq. From that experience, Obama's advisers persuaded him that it would be possible to "turn" America's enemies by taking control of them instead of fighting them. It was a dazzling prospect which offered victory on the cheap.
It was to be built on three pillars: covert action, targeted assassinations and diplomacy. The idea was simple, instead of relying on the regular military, the Obama administration would take over the most dangerous jihadi groups through intelligence agencies. Through this mechanism they would become their patrons and cement the relationship with diplomatic deals with their Gulf funders. Drones and hunter killer squads would be employed to promote chosen intelligence assets -- American agents -- to positions of responsbility in the terror cells. The drones would clear the way for designated jihadis to rise within the ranks. Eventually America would own the jihad and neuter it from within.
America would out ISI the ISI.
But of course there had to be a genuine political component as well. A bone needed to be thrown to genuine Muslim aspirations. Why not give the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt and hand over Syria to al-Qaeda? And why not use American diplomatic muscle to force a deal between Palestine and Israel. That way al-Qaeda could have their own countries and presumably be satisfied with that.
This scheme has a certain superficial attractiveness. It sounds wildly daring, incredibly smart and its formulators must have felt like Cortez on a Peak in Darien. "Boy are we cool to have thought of this."
There is only one problem with this scenario. It could never be sold to a public who had given their sons to fighting the Jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could never be peddled to crusty old guys who'd see it as a crazy-ass scheme. The solution to meeting the objections was simple. Don't tell anyone and conduct a secret foreign and counter-terrorist policy, which when it succeeded could be unveiled as proof of Obama's genius.
All of this is conjecture, but conjecture in the same way that the New York Times argues there is nothing to Benghazi. Absent testimony and the disclosure of records, Benghazi remains a null value, something unmeasured. We don't know what it is, any more than a blank address field in a database; we only know we don't know what it is.