On to matters more glum than getting old. Yes, yes, I did make a quasi resolution to fight pessimistic tendencies for the new year, but I give up. Going around with a moronic smile on my face makes me look like I am going around with a moronic smile on my face: I am not convincing anybody, least of all, me. Just about seventeen days into this new year of 2014, and things are bad, real bad, and not getting better. Can't pretend otherwise, or wish it away into the cornfield.
Before I get to the gist of today's message, let me reflect on the past. Back when I was a useful citizen and had a job, I got a good close up look into how foreign governments actually view the USA and its President. My best time in the foreign service was under Reagan and the Bush father and son presidencies. The worst time was under Obama, followed by Carter, and further back, Clinton. I particularly liked George W. Bush. I had a lot of respect for him as a leader, and as somebody who actually cared about his country, and the people in the field. Some foreign leaders liked Bush, some did not. Some agreed with his policies, some did not. None, however, dismissed him, laughed at him, or failed to take seriously any request or comment coming from him. This was a man not afraid to pull the trigger. That quality, unfortunately or not, is critical in foreign affairs. Working overseas, when I would go see a foreign official and say, "President Bush wants this," those were powerful words, backed up by the demonstrated power of the United States and the willingness of President Bush to use it. As I said, some people did not like Bush, did not like what he tried to do, but he was a serious president who needed to be taken into account.
Those were the Good Old Days. Who takes anything President Obama says seriously? The United States is increasingly irrelevant to major developments in the world. We fritter away our power and influence on nonsense, and on endless lecturing of others on residual issues such as global warming and gay rights. We undermine our network of alliances and disregard our friends' core interests: be it Israel's right to security; the abandonment of of our hard-fought victories in Iraq and Afghanistan; the sell-out of allies such as Mubarak; promoting the Muslim Brotherhood; sabotaging the UK on the Falklands; pushing for mindless regime change in Libya; the Benghazi fiasco; conducting a bizarre zig-zag policy towards Syria; helping make Russia a prominent player in the Middle East; paving the way for Cuba's return to the OAS; acquiescing to Iran's nuclear ambitions; ceding ground to China; and selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. Those are a few examples; I am sure you can come up with more.
We see members of allied governments openly expressing dismay with Obama. Prominent military historian, and senior advisor to the British Ministry of Defense, Sir Hew Strachan, tells the press that Obama is "incompetent." As reported in The Daily Beast,
President Obama is “chronically incapable” of military strategy and falls far short of his predecessor George W. Bush, according to one of Britain’s most senior military advisors. Sir Hew Strachan, an advisor to the Chief of the Defense Staff, told The Daily Beast that the United States and Britain were guilty of total strategic failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama’s attempts to intervene on behalf of the Syrian rebels “has left them in a far worse position than they were before.”
The extraordinary critique by a leading advisor to the United States’ closest military ally comes days after Obama was undermined by the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who questioned the President’s foreign policy decisions and claimed he was deeply suspicious of the military.
Strachan, a current member of the Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, cited the “crazy” handling of the Syrian crisis as the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11. “If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards, Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this. Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world. Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he said.We have Israeli Defense Minister Yaalon saying about John Kerry's obsession with the Palestinians,
"Secretary of State John Kerry – who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling – cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians," Mr. Yaalon was quoted as saying in the country's largest daily, Yedioth Ahronoth. The paper said theLikud member's comments were made in private. He was also reported to have said that "the only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel prize and leaves us alone."That is stunning language for a senior Israeli official to use about the American Secretary of State. It shows you how relations between the two countries have suffered during the Obama misadministration. North Africa is imploding; the Saudis are furious over the sell-out to Iran; the Iranians are gloating about their victory over the USA and the West; nobody knows what is happening in Syria; Al Qaeda has taken Falluja; Iraq is slipping into sectarian war; and the Taliban feels confident of victory. And our ahistorical Secretary of State? Well, he's obsessed with the phony Palestinian issue. As I wrote before,
The whole Palestinian homeland bit is a massive scam. Palestinians are Arabs just like the folks in Jordan and Egypt--Arafat was born in Cairo. When the Arab states invaded the nascent state of Israel in 1948, they did not do so for a Palestinian homeland. They just wanted to kill Jews, drive them into the ocean, and eliminate Western influence from the region. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria intended to take the tiny parcel of land allocated to the Jews by the UN and keep it. No Palestinian homeland, no "two state solution," just another "final solution" which would have seen tens-of-thousands of Jews killed, including those born in "Palestine," yes, Jews were also "Palestinians." That's all. Period.
After the Arab states got their clocks cleaned, we began to hear the baying about a Palestine homeland which just so happened to coincide exactly with the boundaries of Israel. Amazing how that happens! Wherever Jews lived, THAT formed part of the Palestinian homeland. Jordan, of course, had the West Bank from 1948 to 1967; at no time was that then considered part of this definition of the "Palestinian" homeland. It was part of Jordan. There were no international cries to free that portion of Palestine from Jordanian occupation. The West Bank became part of the "homeland" only when Israel took it from Jordan in the Six Day War.
We also saw the amazing phenomenon of Palestinian refugees. Arabs displaced by fighting started by Arabs were dumped by Arabs on the tender mercies of the UN. The Arab countries wanted nothing to do with them. The UN being all about programs, of course, created the monstrosities known as Palestinian refugee camps, and established a massive money-sucking bureaucracy to administer them and beg for ever greater amounts of money--most of it from Western countries, including the USA.And it goes on. I have just ordered the Gates book, so I won't comment on it until I have read it except to say that from excerpts in the press, our former Secretary of Defense does not apparently hold the Obama misadministration in high regard when it comes to foreign policy and national security issues.
As I write this, President Obama is on TV (when is he not?) trying to put out the NSA fire. Much of what he says is blame shifting nonsense but even what he says that is true comes across as nonsense because of the messenger. When Obama tells us we need an intel apparatus to defend our country from real enemies, we can probably all agree with the President. The problem is that we know the President does not really believe it and with his deliberate gutting of our military and economic strength, there is increasingly less we can do about those enemies, anyhow. It's the difference between a threat by Clint Eastwood and one by Don Knotts. The words might be the same, but the message is quite different.
Enough said for now. Off to take my Ibuprofen and rage against old age.