Tag - obama

Breathtakingly Cynical – Obama’s New Proposal

In a breathtaking display of Cynicism, the Obama administration has announced a program to provide tax cuts for the “middle class,” and to increase taxes on the rich.

This is just a cynical political ploy to polish his appalling legacy, characterized by “Look forward, not backward” in prosecuting torture, kidnapping and illegal imprisonment, coupled with his outstanding lack of effort to remove the US “middle class” from under the health insurance industry’s boot.

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Inconvenient Questions

1. What’s the exit strategy? Is anyone discussing what that is? How do we get out? It’s simple to get in. Getting out is the hard part.

2. What are our political goals in Iraq in re: IS(IS)? What do we hope to achieve? And in what time frame? Will our means achieve the ends?

3. These are just some questions that President Hopey-McKill-List™ did not answer last night. He didn’t even come close to answering.

Color me curious.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce

Karl Marx wasn’t wrong about everything.

Tonight, President Hopey-McChange goes on the television to attempt the following (as expressed by Chris Nelson):

The President goes on nation/world TV tonight in what’s being billed as an effort to rally the people, and our allies, to a robust, long-term, strategically and historically essential battle to the death against ISIS and its ilk.  

It’s neither essential strategically or essentially. Why? First, because ISIS can be contained. Second, because ISIS does not pose a threat to our vital national interests. Robust and Long-term? Those can’t mean anything other than wasted lives and treasure.


The only silver lining I can see to this is the following: by our obsessive focus on Iraq we can’t escalate against the Russians. Our military simply cannot do that much at one time and our allies in Europe won’t do it. So, there is that.

City by City, Town By Town in the Ukraine

The Guardian has a city by city guide of pro-Russian takeovers in the Ukraine, here.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainians “have a good message” for the diplomatic talks in Geneva. Yay! They have a good PR team. Such awesome:

“We are going to talk, and we probably will have a good message,” Mr. Deshchytsia said about consultations with Mr. Kerry.

In the same article, it appears as if Kerry and Lavrov while talking about substance, don’t have much of a desire to reach an agreement:

But the four-way meeting began with an enormous gap between the Ukrainian and Russian positions. Ukrainian officials planned to present their ideas on how to decentralize authority so that the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine would elect their own leaders and have more control over local budgets.

But Russia has advocated a far more extensive version of federalism, one that would make Ukraine’s eastern provinces largely autonomous regions that could wield veto power over national issues like foreign policy, in effect increasing Moscow’s influence.

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How’s That R2P Taste Now?

Look: innocent people are going to die. There will be more violence in the Ukraine. It could turn into a civil war. A portion of that blood will be on the hands of the regime running the Ukraine presently. Another portion of that blood will be on the hands of Vladimir Putin. And the last helping of blood will be on the hands of the United States of America in conjunction with its NATO allies.


Simple: we could prevent this. If Obama wanted peace in the Ukraine he’d send Kerry to Moscow today and tell him to get a deal done.

But that would require real concessions to Russia. Exceptional America doesn’t make concessions.

So, innocent people will die because Americans are exceptional.

How’s that R2P taste now?

America’s Grand Strategic Pathway to Catastrophe

This from my buddy Chuck Spinney, by way of prefatory remarks for this post by Yale’s David Bromwich, who has become Obama’s most eloquent and damning critic:

Future historians may well view the 25 year pattern of aggressive behaviour exhibited by the United States since the end of the Cold War to be acts of arrogant triumphalism aimed at humiliating the Russian remnants of its Cold War adversary.  Examples are overwhelming, including America’s promotion of (a) NATO expansion after promises to the contrary, (b) the wars of the Yugoslav succession culminating in the Kosovo War, (c) the neo-liberal looting of Russian state property during the Yeltsin regime, (d) the abrogation of the ABM treaty, (e) the unprovoked aggression in Iraq, (f) the unfocused whack-a-mole’ war on ‘terror’ in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc., (g) the of “colour revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan (h) the war of ‘responsibility-to-protect’ humanitarian aggression in Libya, (i) the quasi alliance with and promotion of Jihadis in the murderous civil war in Syria in the name of regime change, and now (j) the tolerance of neo-fascist conspirators and provocateurs in the active promotion of regime change in Ukraine.

It now seems probable, perhaps inevitable, that a comparison of America’s behaviour with the disastrous triumphalism, vindictiveness, cynicism, and outright lying exhibited by the Allies during the 1919 Versailles ‘peace’ conference lies in the historical offing.

The basic goal of any sensible grand strategy should be to end conflict on terms that do not sow the seeds of future conflict. Yet the United States seems to be careening out of control in the opposite direction.

Barack Obama, a man who likes to compare himself to Abraham Lincoln (a man who understood the nature of a sensible grand strategy), promised to change America’s behaviour.  He came out of nowhere to win the presidential campaign of 2008 with soaring rhetoric centered on the now forgotten slogan: “change you can believe it.”  But as president, the mismatch between Mr. Obama’s words and deeds emerged to cement the status quo, including especially America’s grand-strategic march to disaster.

The attached essay by David Bromwich, a professor of literature at Yale, brilliantly analyzes the central role of Obama’s rhetoric plays perpetuating destructive grand-strategic policies of his three immediate predecessors.

Of course, Obama is merely a bit player in an ongoing drama: the roots of America’s grand strategic pathway to catastrophe reach deeper into the dim mists surrounding the origins of the Cold War and especially the domestic politics defense spending accompanying the rise of the Permanent War Economy that began 65 years ago. The habits and mores of the war economy are now deeply woven into our domestic politics. (See for example, my essay The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War)

Here’s the Browmwich essay link. Do read it in its entirety.  I have thoughts on how the United States morphed from a status quo power to one that is revolutionary, seeking to install or remake regimes across the globe in its image, but it’ll have to wait for another post.

Iraq Not As Bad As Crimea?

Look, I’m not a fan of RT. I was once asked to come on one of the shows and I politely declined, which might have been dumb, but I just had qualms about going onto a foreign propaganda outlet funded by a foreign government that is a rival of my own government to bash my own government. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll go on an American propaganda outlet or TV show any time and complain about the US government, but to do so on RT? That’s just in bad taste in my personal opinion.

All that being said, wow, I’m surprised Obama has stooped so low as to say that what we did in Iraq wasn’t as bad as what the Russians did in the Crimea. That’s just astonishing. Sometimes it’s just better to shut up and not say anything that to say something that baldfaced hypocritical. There are literally thousands of dead Iraqis blood on American hands. How many have died in Crimea? Really, sometimes it’s just better to shut the fuck up. In the annals of shitty justifications this one is pretty close to #1.

Why Was Obama Elected?

Stunning words (at minute 41:10): 

“I think Mr. Obama was the first American president elected by racists. Well meaning racists. People who would be appalled at that thought they were racists. People who went on marches against racism. But they elected him as racists because they looked at the color of his skin and said, “he’s black, he must be on the side of the poor and the blacks.” Why that’s judging someone by the color of their skin!”

Let me add: I think the speaker has the right of it, as well.

Let me also add one last thought: this is precisely why I loathe identity politics. It’s like herpes, the gift that keeps on giving. It keeps blacks, whites, liberals, progressives, women, Asians, Jews, poor, working class, Chicanos and every other possible minority group fighting each other for the meager spoils the elites dole out to them instead of uniting and taking (by force if necessary) what the elites have stolen from them.

By all means, stay stuck in victim politics. One thing is certain if you do: you’ll remain a victim.

Levers of Power

What levers of power will Washington and the EU agree to in punishing Russia for formally annexing the Crimea? Will they induce real pain? Or will they enact face saving measures and then go on with business as usual? Is this the end game for Putin and the West? Or is this just the opening gambit? What powers or levers can Putin utilize to fight back against the EU and Washington?

And where is the Ukraine in all this?

Genuine questions that I do not have the answers to.

Crimea News

The Crimea is holding a referendum today. Many claim it is illegal, or a sham election. Perhaps it is, but I doubt it is any more of a sham than those held under American auspices in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not to mention our actions in the Balkans serve as a precedent for what is happening in the Crimea. Although no one in the American media will dare make that connection.

So, what will Obama do?

Is Russian moving troops across the Ukrainian border? More as it develops.



Buffer States

Remember, this could all have been avoided had the US/EU not gone and played regime change in Kiev. A democratically elected and legitimate (albeit assholish and corrupt) man had 13 months left on his term. Why the hurry?

Had the US/EU let the Ukraine be a buffer state we would not be where we are today, which gets uglier and uglier by the minute and is threatening to turn into a real geopolitical crisis post-haste.

And the infantilizing rhetoric is working: Obama MUST act.

Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Quax Gets Results

See this from tonight’s Nelson Report:

SUMMARY: given that in foreign policy as in love, action speaks louder than words, it seems silly to write that “today Vladimir Putin broke his silence on Ukraine”, but he did give his first public remarks at a Kremlin insider’s press conference in which he managed to sneer at the US and just about everyone while simultaneously flexing his muscles, and seeking to ramp it all down just a bit.

The assumption is he thinks he’s either already gotten what he wants in the Crimea (and Kiev?) or thinks that it’s all coming his way due to a combination of steps already taken, and continued ambivalence in Europe over how tough to be about it all.

We have to run…right now…yikes…to a dinner with Amb. Sasae…will pick up on Ukraine tomorrow except to note that the Merkel “tweet” apparently saying the thought Putin might be nuts actually was a mis-translation by someone…what she actually said is better translated as “Putin has a totally different world view than we do”.


Mega kudos to Quax. Countless policymakers and players in DC get that note tonight. So the question is: was the mistranslation and honest mistake or was it done on purpose and if so, why? My money is on a purposeful mistranslation. After all, why subsequently leak it to the New York Times?

The View From DC on Russia, Putin and the Ukraine

So, below the fold is tonight’s Nelson Report. Honestly, I just don’t know where to begin, what to say, what I could possible add. We’re clearly at a point in the West, including Merkel, where no one, not a single leader, has the power of imagining themselves in another leader’s shoes. Seriously, Merkel’s leak, as reported by Nelson, means this: “fuck it, I’m out. Y’all handle Putin.” This kind of behavior bodes extremely ill for the successful and prudent conduct of foreign policy, not to mention Western civilization.

Addendum, added 9:10 am 3/4/2014:

This comment from Quax makes me feel a whole lot better about Merkel: As a German speaker I can say authoritatively that the word by word translation of “he lives in another world” takes on a completely different meaning in English. When a German says “er lebt in ein anderen Welt” this uses exactly the same words and sentence structure, but it means “he looks at the world completely differently”.

Also, for more on Merkel, see Moon of Alabama.

Further, please, don’t get me started on the whole “Putin’s lost his sanity” thing. That to me is a clear indication that no one is even remotely ready to consider the full spectrum of reality. Calling a leader crazy is a political cop-out. It’s intellectually lazy. It’s an easy way of telling the home crowd: “I can’t deal with this dude, he cray-cray,” and then you get a free pass. That’s bullshit. That isn’t statesmanship. It’s not responsible. It’s cowardly. It’s also a sign you are ethically bankrupt, not to mention strategically incompetent. You engage with the people you must, not the people whom you wish you could. The world is not Burger King, you cannot always have it your way. It simply does not work that way.

I read this stuff and all I see and hear are rationales and excuses for bad Western behavior. There is literally zero ability or willingness to see this from any other perspective. Now, do I need to add that Putin’s a profoundly evil man? Do I need to add that Yanukovich was a deeply odious and flawed leader of the Ukraine? Maybe I should. Apparently all these caveats and conditions are necessary before you can have a “serious” discussion. But, I think you all know that. I don’t think Agonist readers are stupid at all. (Your leaders think you are fools, however.)

And you know what? That’s all beside the point. What concerns me most here is the danger of miscalculation. This is a real crisis now, people. Three weeks ago everyone said nothing like this would happen. Guess what?

It did.

So, how do we manage the climb-down from this crisis? How do our leaders (God help us!) do this? Can they? Can a group of people who are so fundamentally in intellectual lock-step with each other find a negotiated solution to this crisis with someone with whom they believe they are morally superior? Wow, do I need to mention how dangerous a position it is to be morally superior when your interlocutor has nukes.

Why is that important? Well, if the West is to get this done peacefully, the West is going to have to give Putin something in return. They are going to have to give someone they believe they are fundamentally morally superior to what is in essence, from their perspective, a bribe. You see where this is headed? Deadlock. I don’t see any leader in the West capable of making an intellectual leap like that. I don’t know a single one who has the courage to do what must be done, as opposed to flinging cheap rhetorical boogers from the cheap seats. Can Obama? Cameron? Harper? Merkel? Hollande? Are you kidding me?

And you know what’s most important and lost in all this? This crisis could have been avoided. But because it wasn’t innocent people are going to die. I’m really sick of that happening.

So, go ahead, read tonight’s Nelson Report and just weep for the Baby Jesus; then go read this interview of Dmitry Simes.

Who you think is more rational? Or in tune with reality?

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