A mess. Yes, a gold-plated, only-Obama-could-manage-it, mess. All because he has absolutely no leadership experience and still hasn’t figured out you have to be careful what you say when you’re the president.
It’s not like he hasn’t had enough time on the job to figure that out, but apparently he’s a slow learner.
This is all about him putting himself in a box. He shot his mouth off, his “red line” was crossed and now he’s stuck trying to back up his words with no support. The problem is then compounded by his not having the diplomatic skills or relationships to put any sort of coalition together. Nor did he really try to put one together. He assumed it would just happen, like with Libya (Europe led that one, he just tagged along).
And, arrogantly, he claimed he had all of the authorization he needed to pretty much do whatever he wanted. He’d just use his army.
Then the UK parliament said “no” to PM Cameron, Russia said “no” in terms of the UN security council and he was left twisting in the wind with … just France on his side. And they made it clear they wouldn’t act alone.
So how to get out of the pickle? Well, of course, he reverted to the only thing he seems to really half-way understand.
It was the parliamentary vote in the UK that brought the idea to mind. After essentially dismissing both “the people” and Congress, Mr. Obama suddenly decided both were critical to policy (or lack there of) on Syria.
So he “took it to the people” in a Rose Garden speech (on a Saturday afternoon, on a holiday weekend and the first weekend of college football) and announced that he was going to ask Congress for authorization to strike Syria. And then he immediately hit the links.
Wow … so much for immediacy. Congress is in recess and won’t be back for another week. The Syrian rebels are hung out to dry (not that I mind that at all, but again he’s the one spouting off about immediacy).
Now he’s set up something that can help ameliorate the total fiasco he’s fostered. At least at home. Sort of a win-win. If Congress says “ok” then he attacks and he can claim leadership (or if something goes terribly wrong, he can point to Congress and try to blame them). If Congress says “no”, then he can back down and immediately politicize the decision claiming his favorite whipping boy, the GOP, doesn’t care about Syrian children … or something.
Not that any of that will change how the world views him … weak, timid, unreliable and incompetent.
I can’t imagine how long it will take to rebuild the image of the US in not only the Middle East, but the world. When you have other leaders openly mocking yours, well, that’s not much of a sign of respect, is it?
The likely answer is “yes” since it appears the administration is of the opinion that if it doesn’t act, it will appear weak and ineffective (yes, France has said it too will strike, but in essence this will still be mostly a solo venture in the region’s eyes). Demagoguery and ego have combined to get us to this point. However, the question remains how effective any strike on Syria will be in reality if it is, as the President has said, short, limited and tailored (just muscular enough not to be mocked).
In recent days, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon have watched with alarm as Mr. Assad has taken advantage of the Western deliberations to spread out his forces, complicating U.S. planning for strikes.
“We know [Assad] has been dispersing assets,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.
U.S. officials said Mr. Assad has moved assets such as military helicopters and artillery pieces around the country, forcing a U.S. recalibration of the possible military response.
If Mr. Obama sticks with what originally was a finite set of prospective military and intelligence targets, officials said, then cruise-missile strikes would cause less damage than originally intended because at least some of the targets have been taken out of the line of fire.
Officials said Mr. Obama could adjust to Mr. Assad’s tactics by expanding the number of strikes to hit more targets, but doing so could increase the risk that U.S. cruise missiles will cause unintended damage, including civilian casualties, officials said.
Another senior official said the dispersal of Mr. Assad’s military assets was “certainly detrimental” to target planning.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, US military officers have deep concerns over a strike on Syria:
The recently retired head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war,” said Mattis, who as Centcom chief oversaw planning for a range of U.S. military responses in Syria.
The potential consequences of a U.S. strike include a retaliatory attack by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — which supports Assad — on Israel, as well as cyberattacks on U.S. targets and infrastructure, U.S. military officials said.
And it also stirs the possibility of terror attacks on US embassies, interests abroad and even the homeland. Gen. Mattis is correct. If the US strikes Syria, then the US takes ownership of this war. By that I mean if Assad then uses chemical weapons again, we’re in a position of having no choice but to address their use again.
Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned this week of “potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel.”
“If President Asadwere to absorb the strikes and use chemical weapons again, this would be a significant blow to the United States’ credibility and it would be compelled to escalate the assault on Syria to achieve the original objectives,” Miller wrote in a commentary for the think tank.
An acceptable risk?
Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (a highly political job) has tried to warn the administration off of this path:
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned in great detail about the risks and pitfalls of U.S. military intervention in Syria.
“As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome,” Dempsey wrote last month in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”
Dempsey has not spoken publicly about the administration’s planned strike on Syria, and it is unclear to what extent his position shifted after last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack. Dempsey said this month in an interview with ABC News that the lessons of Iraq weigh heavily on his calculations regarding Syria.
“It has branded in me the idea that the use of military power must be part of an overall strategic solution that includes international partners and a whole of government,” he said in the Aug. 4 interview. “The application of force rarely produces and, in fact, maybe never produces the outcome we seek.”
But the application of force seems to be the only tool in the Obama bag at the moment. And Dempsey is correct. It isn’t particularly difficult for the US to reach out and swat someone. But what is and always has been difficult is to predict what will follow such an application of force. The law of unintended consequences has a terrible history of rearing its ugly head each and every time force is applied in this manner.
As for the critical question, the question that all military operational planners ask first and then tailor a plan to achieve … well there is no obvious answer. That’s likely because the administration hasn’t an answer and has provided no guidance to those planning this misadventure:
“What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.” The former senior officer said that those who are expressing alarm at the risks inherent in the plan “are not being heard other than in a pro-forma manner.”
Going through the motions of “listening to all sides” when, in fact, the decision to act militarily has been decided. It is down to how big or how small the strike will be. And, as we see above, Assad is doing everything he can to make Obama’s deliberations and decision making as difficult as he can.
The shaky coalition of Western nations promising to strike Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons is getting even shakier. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron is reconsidering:
David Cameron backed down and agreed to delay a military attack on Syria following a growing revolt over the UK’s rushed response to the crisis on Wednesday night.
The Prime Minister has now said he will wait for a report by United Nations weapons inspectors before seeking the approval of MPs for “direct British involvement” in the Syrian intervention.
Oh look … Cameron plans on getting the approval of Parliament before committing British troops to war.
That’s because opposition British politicians apparently play hardball while ours … well they talk and complain a lot:
Senior sources had previously suggested that Britain would take part in strikes as soon as this weekend which meant an emergency recall of Parliament was necessary on Thursday.
However, following Labour threatening not to support the action and senior military figures expressing concerns over the wisdom of the mission, the Prime Minister on Wednesday night agreed to put British involvement on hold.
The climbdown is likely to be seen as an embarrassment for Mr Cameron as he was determined to play a leading role in British military strikes, which had been expected this weekend.
France too is showing signs of waffling:
French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that Syria needed a political solution, but that could only happen if the international community could halt killings like last week’s chemical attack and better support the opposition.
Hollande sounded a more cautious note than earlier in the week, when he said France stood ready to punish those behind the apparent poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in Damascus.
He indicated that France was looking to Gulf Arab countries to step up their military support to the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, after Paris said this week it would do so.
Not exactly the saber rattling that was going on a few days ago. It appears a “political solution” may be code words for “yeah, we’re climbing down too.”
Don’t expect a climbdown here. At least not anytime soon. Not only has President Obama said he doesn’t need Congress’s approval, he’s also decided he doesn’t need to inform the American people of his decision via a televised Oval Office announcement. However he would like the cover of a coalition (my, the shadenfreude here is delicious, isn’t it?).
If one had to guess, however, any strike this week would be sans the British and the French. And that may be enough to delay an American strike (don’t forget, President Obama claims he hasn’t made a decision yet).
Meanwhile in the Med, tensions spiral up as Russia decides to flex a little naval muscle in the area:
Russia will “over the next few days” be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria, the Interfax news agency said on Thursday.
“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.
Interesting. And, if the strikes don’t happen now, who will claim to have helped call the coalition’s bluff?
As with most things concerning foreign affairs that this administration involves itself, this is turning into a debacle of major proportion.
One of the first things any military commander must do is define the mission clearly and succinctly. It must have a goal and that goal must be achievable with the assets the commander is willing or able to commit to the mission.
What it shouldn’t be is some nebulous one-over-the-world hand wave of a mission driven by politics and open to interpretation. Unfortunately, it appears that’s precisely the type mission the Obama administration is ginning up for Syria according to the NY Times:
President Obama is considering military action against Syria that is intended to “deter and degrade” President Bashar al-Assad’s government’s ability to launch chemical weapons, but is not aimed at ousting Mr. Assad from power or forcing him to the negotiating table, administration officials said Tuesday.
“Deter and degrade” are open to interpretation and Syria could and likely would initiate another chemical attack after the US attacks just to point out that they’re neither deterred or degraded.
Here’s the problem:
The strikes would instead be aimed at military units that have carried out chemical attacks, the headquarters overseeing the effort and the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks, according to the options being reviewed within the administration.
An American official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are deployed. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets.
A) We’ve told them where we’ll strike. Since it is a limited strike and it is going to be against specific units, Syria has the option of dispersing them, an option I’m sure they’ll take. They’ll also likely disperse them in to highly populated urban areas where they can.
B) We’ve told them what we’re going to strike. Since they have thousands of artillery pieces capable of firing chemical shells, it is unlikely a limited strike is going to even seriously dent that capability. Moving artillery into the cities would likely deter the US more than the US would deter Syria. Helicopters can be moved as well. They don’t need long runways. Other aircraft will be dispersed And finally, command and control are easily moved and dispersed.
C) We’ve told them how we’re going to strike. It is clear that if an attack does happen it is not something that is supported by the majority of the American people for various reasons. Couple that with a seemingly risk averse commander and you can pretty well define how this will happen – missiles. Specifically Tomahawk missiles. Given our history of their use, you can pretty much guess at what and where they’ll be aimed.
D) We’ve pretty well told them it won’t be much of a strike.
Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site, a far more limited unleashing of American military power than past air campaigns over Kosovo or Libya.
Well even the administration knows this is a recipe for failure so they immediately engage is a classic attempt to lower expectations:
Some of the targets would be “dual use” systems, like artillery that is capable of firing chemical weapons as well as conventional rounds. Taking out those artillery batteries would degrade to some extent the government’s conventional force — but would hardly cripple Mr. Assad’s sizable military infrastructure and forces unless the air campaign went on for days or even weeks.
The goal of the operation is “not about regime change,” a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said Tuesday. Seeking to reassure the public that the United States would not be drawn into a civil war in the Middle East, and perhaps to lower expectations of what the attack might accomplish, Obama administration officials acknowledged that their action would not accomplish Mr. Obama’s repeated demand that Mr. Assad step down.
And what would we accomplish? Well likely the opposite of what we hoped would happen – deterrence and degradation. Assad would be invited to prove the US wasn’t successful in either by doing what? Using chemical weapons once again. His reasoning would be that since he’s being accused of doing so, and supposedly punished for doing so, there’s no reason not to do it again.
There are reports out that while the administration refused to call what happened in Egypt a coup, it has, nevertheless, stopped aid to the Egyptian military.
I’m still in the dark about the administration’s apparent love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least it’s willingness to back it to a point. Here’s an extended excerpt from Roger Cohen in the NY Times giving his analysis:
In Tahrir Square in 2011, at the time of the uprising, nothing was more uplifting than seeing Westernized Egyptian liberals and the Muslim Brotherhood make common cause in the idea of citizenship based on equal rights for all. Here, it seemed, lay the possibility — however fragile — for the largest Arab society to escape the tired, deceptive secular and Islamist labels and so open up the possibility of a representative and inclusive society.
It was not to be — and this failure will have devastating consequences, inside and outside Egypt. Islamist ire has been fed and the perception of Western hypocrisy reinforced at the very moment when ways out of this impasse appeared possible.
In fact the violent splits nurtured over decades under Mubarak — Westernized liberals against backward Islamists — proved insurmountable. By last month, just a year after the nation’s first free election brought the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi to power with 51.7 percent of the vote, millions of decent Egyptian liberals were roaring in the streets for the military to oust him. The army obliged in the July 3 coup that will not speak its name.
Now the Saudi-backed Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s military leader, rails against “the terrorists” who (he insists) constitute the Brotherhood, and has his newly subservient media echo the refrain. More than 1,000 Egyptians are dead. There is talk of banning the Brotherhood; certainly its participation in any future election is impossible to imagine. In its absence no vote will be meaningful. Egyptian democracy was stillborn.
Far from overcoming the divisions of the society where close to 25 percent of the world’s Arabs live, the developments of the past two-and-a-half years have sharpened them. Egypt’s polarizing spiral, evident in Islamist attacks on Coptic Christian churches and the killing of at least two dozen police officers in Sinai, seems unstoppable.
For the United States and Europe, this amounts to a colossal strategic failure. Nothing — and certainly not the outcome in Afghanistan or Iraq — was more important than getting Egypt right. President Obama, who began his presidency with an attempt to build bridges to the Arab and Muslim world through a speech in Cairo, has seen his greatest failure in that very city. Post-Tahrir Egypt stands now as a monument to America’s declining influence in the world, even in a nation receiving $1.5 billion in annual aid.
All that American money translated into no ability to restrain a largely American-trained military (including General Sisi). It translated into little ability to persuade Morsi to reach out beyond the Brotherhood and refrain from railroading through a divisive constitution.
The Obama administration has appeared hesitant and wavering, zigzagging from support for Morsi to acceptance of his ouster. The critical moment came before the July 3 coup (“a violent or illegal change in government” according to the Oxford English Dictionary). A military intervention was almost certain to end badly. It was a terrible precedent. But Secretary of State John Kerry offered the view that the army was “restoring democracy.”
Just as bad, Obama said this: “While Mohamed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians.” Those are dangerous words from an American president. They seem to relegate the importance of a free and fair vote.
So why post all of that? Well there are a lot of things to take issue with in there and some to agree with. But the last sentence is one that stands out to me. Let’s be clear, “free and fair” elections do not equal “democracy” or a democratic society. It’s one of the things which always rankles me. Many seem to think that if a country can only have a “free and fair” election, it is suddenly a Western-style democracy.
No. We’ve talked about that at length. Unless you have the institutions in place which characterize such a democracy, it’s just a freakin’ vote. Unless those selected in that vote actually do represent the best interests of all the people, it’s not going to be a free country or a Western-style democracy no mater how hard one tries to characterize it as that.
All things we pointed out any number of time during “Arab Spring”. Yet, we constantly get these op-eds which essentially express surprise at the outcome given the “free and fair” vote. Really?
And clueless Kerry? Well, if you wonder why, other than Obama being president, our foreign policy is shipwrecked, just turn your eyes to Swift boat Kerry. We all know “weak and wavering” is no way to go in foreign affairs, because it leads to things like this:
The U.S.’s closest Middle East allies are undercutting American policy in Egypt, encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile, U.S. and Arab officials said.
But I’m still in the dark about those with a seeming desire to legitimize the Brotherhood. The op-ed says there is talk of banning it again. And there are apologists which say it is a legitimate movement that should be respected.
Sometimes the wayback machine is a useful thing. Let’s travel back to the ‘50s and remember something concerning the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:
CBS’s Ned Calmer and this reporter (for Newsweek) arrived in Cairo Jan. 25, 1952, acting on a tip picked up in Tunis, that something "big" would soon take place in Cairo.
Next day, Cairo erupted in what became known as "Black Saturday" and the "Big Cairo Fire." It was huge. Some 300 buildings were torched, including the old Shepherd’s Hotel where we were staying.
Martial law was decreed throughout Egypt. Losses to fire included 30 major companies and banks (including Barclays), 310 stores, 117 residential units, 92 bars, 73 coffee shops, 13 hotels, 40 movie theaters, either automobile showrooms, 10 weapons stores and 16 clubs.
Casualties were comparatively light — 26 killed and 552 injured.
It was the handiwork of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The plan was to create maximum chaos as a way of forcing a degenerate King Farouk and a weak coalition government to bow to the "religious saviors."
Three weeks before the big fire, Muslim Brotherhood terrorists torched three Christian churches in the Suez Canal zone, under British control until 1956. The Egyptians blamed the British, always reluctant to take on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nothing has changed. The thin veneer of respectability came off the second the Brotherhood won power. Their intent hasn’t changed one whit since the 1950s. With the fall of Mubarak, but the with solidity of the Egyptian armed forces in tact, the Brotherhood chose what they considered the most expedient means to power – “a free and fair” election. They are, purely and simply, a extremist group bent on taking power and imposing their religion on everyone. The “free and fair” election coupled with the fact that they were the most organized group at the time seemed to bode well for them. So they lied to Egypt’s liberals to get them to back their push for power. As they figured, the Brotherhood could use the liberals backing to grab power without having to forcefully take it. They could use one of the institutions of democracy to take power and begin implementing their agenda.
And they did. The only surprise as far as I’m concerned is that the army stopped them dead in their tracks.
Regardless though, Cohen is right … this has been a colossal strategic foreign policy failure for the US. And, indeed, the administration’s conduct has made it look weak and wavering on the world’s stage.
Some are surprised by that as well. I’m not sure why when you have someone who has never done anything or run anything as president and a pure political dilettante as Secretary of State. They’re doing the very best they can, for heaven sake.
The lie – that central planning and a command economy run by enlightened socialists is superior to capitalism.
As usual, that’s been proven to be false … again … and as irony would have it, capitalism is their savior.
Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.
His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late president and critic of what he called U.S. "imperialism."
I know, you’re just surprised, right? I mean, Venezuela, pre-Chavez, was pretty much self-sufficient. And the new, better way that Chavez promised – *cough* socialism *cough* – was going to make Venezuela the economic jewel of South America. That is, after he stripped the foreign companies of their assets and nationalized or took over the businesses of the home-grown capitalists first, and then put himself in charge of the economy.
And, as usual, the result of that tired old plan played out exactly as it has everywhere else in the world. It failed miserably:
It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez’s self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor.
But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. "The rice industry has been very good to us," Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.
It isn’t just rice. Production of steel, sugar and many other goods has fallen in Venezuela, leading to occasional shortages. Until recently, Venezuela was largely self-sufficient in beef and coffee. Now it imports both.
In this year’s first half, the U.S. exported $94 million of rice to Venezuela, a 62% jump from a year-earlier, making Venezuela the U.S.’s fourth-largest rice market, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Overall, Venezuelan imports have quadrupled since Mr. Chávez took office, to $59.3 billion in 2012 from about $14.5 billion in 2000, according to Venezuela government figures and economists at Barclays PLC. Exports to Venezuela from the U.S. hit $12 billion in 2011, up 16% from the previous year, the latest U.S. government figures show.
I remember the US bailing out the Soviet Union year after year when its wheat harvests again failed to produce the needed grain. Socialism fails again. Command economies have never worked (except in the short periods of warfare). Complex systems like economies do not lend themselves readily to central control and function properly. No central authority is able to a) know all the variables that comprise a healthy economy, or b) how to weight them or c) understand their complex interactions. Healthy economies are true grassroots systems. They are driven by billions upon billions of buying decisions made by individuals – something the socialists would prefer to ignore.
Venezuela is just the latest in a long line of countries and economies who have fallen for the utopian promises of socialism and again proven that it is and always will be a leftist fantasy. Unfortunately, real people end up suffering for the “dream” of something for nothing. But the belief must be ingrained somewhere in the genetics of our species because time and again a new group falls for the promise and ends up flat on their face while the capitalists are thankfully there to bail them out.
You know, the folks who promised us engagement … “reset”, etc. The one’s who told us how bad the other guy and his terrible foreign policy were. You remember. Well, here’s a CNN columnist’s view:
America’s foreign policy has gone into a tailspin. Almost every major initiative from the Obama administration has run into sharp, sometimes embarrassing, reverses. The U.S. looks weak and confused on the global stage.
Hey, if even CNN can’t spin this mess positively who can, and this lady doesn’t even try (well, she tries, but not very hard and certainly not very convincingly). In fact, she hits upon a very concise description of our foreign policy’s state. In fact, they’d like to have the state of foreign affairs George Bush left them.
For instance, recently in The Washington Post recently said, concerning our “reset” relationship with Russia:
U.S. relations with Russia officially settled into a trough this week when President Obama canceled a summit planned for next month with Vladimir Putin, familiar surroundings for two countries that regularly approach each other only to turn away in disappointment.
The White House decision to call off the summit, announced Wednesday, marked the end of Obama’s attempt to revive a relationship that by 2008 had reached its lowest point since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union!? … and some say before its fall. Quite a “reset” – back 30 years. Does anyone wonder why Russia felt froggy enough to keep Snowden? See “weak and confused on the global stage”.
A headline in a major Egyptian state newspaper this week referred to the proposed U.S. envoy to Egypt as the “Ambassador of Death.” Posters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a center of pro-government rallies, depict President Barack Obama with a beard and turban, exclaiming his “support for terrorism.”
Another large Egyptian newspaper alleged Sen. John McCain, who traveled to Cairo this week in an effort to break a deadlock between the government and its Islamist rivals, has chosen sides by employing Muslim Brotherhood staffers in his office.
The moves highlight the depth of public distrust of U.S. policies, and draw from a “reservoir of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial theories,” said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior Obama administration adviser.
America, he says, has few fans in the country after the 2011 overthrow of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak and last month’s military ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi. “We’re caught in a situation of having to essentially try to find a balance between our values and our interests. It satisfies nobody,” Mr. Nasr said. “The Mubarak people are unhappy with the way he was shoved off without a thank you. The military thinks we coddled the Brotherhood and didn’t intervene to control them. And the Brotherhood thinks that we never supported them when they needed support, and then gave the green light to the military.”
Or said another way, this administration screwed the pooch about every way it can be done. And that’s after that fabulous Cairo speech too. Go figure?
Then there’s Benghazi, al Qaeda setting our open and closed times on Middle Eastern embassies, spying on Europe and giving Israel the cold shoulder … not to mention the apology tour.
Yes, it’s an unmitigated disaster.
But don’t worry – when Hillary finally runs for president, my guess she’ll still be haled as the greatest Secretary of State evah!
Just hide and watch.
The old means of changing government is back. The Egyptian military is reportedly staging a coup.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is reportedly under house arrest after the military ultimatum expired Wednesday, reports Al Hayat TV.
Morsi’s spokesman denied the report, according to ABC News, but word of the house arrest provoked cheers in Tahrir Square.
This comes as Egypt’s military moved to tighten its control on key institutions before their afternoon ultimatum expired.
The military stationed officers in the newsroom of state television on the banks of the Nile River in central Cairo. Troops were deployed in news-production areas.
Officers from the army’s media department moved inside the newsroom and were monitoring output, though not yet interfering, staffers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the arrangements.
Apparently, this is the plan:
Under a plan leaked to state media, the military would install a new interim leadership, the Islamist-backed constitution suspended and the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved.
And our position, as reported by ABC?
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is urging Morsi to address the people’s grievances and the White House is also warning Egypt’s military that a coup could jeopardize relations with the United States.
Oh, and where in the world is John Kerry?
You remember the US position when the supposed “Arab Spring” began in Egypt – Mubarak had to go and the Muslim Brotherhood was not a radical organization, but a benign one which had trasformed itself over the years. And their candidate for president would bring democracy to an oppressed people and make Egypt an even better ally of the US.
Yeah, right. If that passes for “smart diplomacy”, then I’d hate to see dumb diplomacy (although, in this context, “smart diplomacy” seems rather Orwellian, doesn’t it?).
So now where are we? Well certainly nowhere near where we’d like to be. And, in terms of the best interests of the US, Mubarak looks pretty good right now. Meanwhile Obama and Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador to Egypt are about as popular in that country as Paula Deen at an NAACP convention.
The demonstrators maintain Morsi has become a power-hungry autocrat who is intent on making the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt’s permanent ruling party.
They also blame the Obama administration and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson for propping up Morsi and facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood’s power grab.
“We are very critical of the Obama administration because they have been supporting the Brotherhood like no one has ever supported them,” Shadi Al Ghazali Harb, a 24-year-old member of Egypt’s Revolutionary Youth Coalition, told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday afternoon during a telephone interview from Cairo.
The White House is “the main supporter of the Brotherhood,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the American support this president would have fallen months ago.”
Al Ghazali Harb specifically dubbed Patterson “the first enemy of the revolution,” claiming “she is hated even more than Morsi.”
Activists hung pictures of Patterson with a red “X” drawn across her face at Egypt’s Defense Ministry during smaller protests Friday afternoon.
“She’s done a lot to harm our relations with the United States,” Al Ghazali Harb said.
Oh. But … we’re the good guys, right?
Well it all depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? Mubarak was bad but Morsi is worse and the coalition that opposed Mubarak now oppose Morsi. But what they know without anyone having to have anyone spell it out is the US went to some lengths to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And now that faction has become as bad if not worse than what it replaced.
I don’t believe the opposition coalition is much better organized than it was when Egyptians were trying to oust Mubarak. But there is no question, given the huge numbers of protesters, that they’re not happy with Morsi or the Brotherhood.
They’ve discovered what we were telling you from the beginning – the Muslim Brotherhood is a radical, Islamist organization with marked totalitarian tendencies. That argument is over. The debate now is whether or not they can hold onto power in Egypt. If I were a betting man, I’d be taking the protesters and give points.
Meanwhile, our rudderless foreign policy boat continues to drift without direction with Swiftboat Kerry and Lead From The Rear Admiral Obama at the helm.
And it has primarily happened under this administration as Bret Stephens outlines in his Wall Street Journal piece. The Snowden chase has been most instructive in how little influence American now has. When your naive foreign policy is to have other countries “like” you instead of understanding the respect is currency you should be dealing in (and also understanding how you earn that), then the results are predictable:
At this writing, Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive National Security Agency contractor indicted on espionage charges, is in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insists his government is powerless to detain him. “We have nothing to do with this story,” says Dmitri Peskov. “I don’t approve or disapprove plane tickets.”
Funny how Mr. Putin always seems to discover his inner civil libertarian when it’s an opportunity to humiliate the United States. When the Russian government wants someone off Russian soil, it either removes him from it or puts him under it. Just ask investor Bill Browder, who was declared persona non grata when he tried to land in Moscow in November 2005. Or think of Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, murdered by Russian prison officials four years later.
Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong, where local officials refused a U.S. arrest request, supposedly on grounds it “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.” That’s funny, too, since Mr. Snowden had been staying in a Chinese government safe house before Beijing gave the order to ignore the U.S. request and let him go.
“The Hong Kong government didn’t have much of a role,” Albert Ho, a Hong Kong legislator, told Reuters. “Its role was to receive instructions to not stop him at the airport.”
Oh … so those freedom loving countries couldn’t do anything? Both just ignored us. That’s right, because they knew what? There’d be no reprisal nor would they suffer any harm for ignoring us. In fact, today it was decided that ignoring the US would have no lasting or negative effect on US-Chinese relationships. In fact, China shot back:
China rebuked the United States on Tuesday for accusing it of facilitating the flight of fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, and said suggestions that it had done so were “baseless and unacceptable”.
Oh, what the heck. We all know a toothless tiger when we see one and the US is perceived as such right now. Don’t believe it? Look at how well our new SecState “negotiated” our position in Afghanistan:
Merely to get the Taliban to the table for a bogus peace process, the administration agreed at Pakistan’s urging to let Mullah Omar come to the table on his owns terms: no acceptance of the Afghan Constitution, no cease-fire with international forces, not even a formal pledge to never again allow Afghanistan to become a haven for international terrorism. The U.S. also agreed, according to Pakistani sources, to allow the terrorist Haqqani network—whose exploits include the 2011 siege of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul—a seat at the table.
Yet having legitimized Haqqani and given the Taliban everything it wanted in exchange for nothing, the U.S. finds itself being dumped by its own client government in Kabul, which can always turn to Iran as a substitute patron. Incredible: no peace, no peace process, no ally, no leverage and no moral standing, all in a single stroke. John Kerry is off to quite a start.
Stunning. Not surprising, given the cast of characters, but stunning in its demonstration of the level of incompetence this administration demonstrates daily.
And Russia – they’re so unimpressed with this administration that they’ve redefined “reset” to mean they can pretty openly cheat on the 1987 missile accord and fear no consequences. That while the Taliban, after getting all they wanted from Kerry, then turned around and attacked the Afghan presidential palace in a brazen attack. Obviously they fear no meaningful consequences for that either.
Oh, yeah, they’re on top of it all aren’t they?
So sure, after doing such a great job in the areas mentioned, and don’t forget Libya and Egypt, by the way, this disastrous crew want to involve us in Syria?