Quote of the Day: Obama’s Bizarre Syria policy edition

August 31, 2013

I admit it: John Podhoretz got me to laugh out loud. Snark that’s true often does that:

Some people compare foreign policy to a game of chess. Barack Obama is playing 52 pick-up.

Though, really, that’s true of Obama’s foreign policy overall, not just Syria.

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Man-of-the-people President to celebrate Labor his way

August 30, 2013

Because nothing says “fighting for the middle class” more than headlining a fundraiser where a single plate costs more than many people make in a year:

President Obama will travel to Los Angeles on Sept. 9 to recognize organized labor.

Obama will appear at the AFL-CIO convention, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Thursday.

That night the president will also appear at a $32,400 per plate Hollywood fundraiser held at the home of Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of the sitcom “Friends,” according to an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation.

The White House is billing the appearance at the labor convention as the latest in the president’s summer-long middle class economic tour, according to the Los Angeles Times.

I bet the servers at this shindig will feel real honored by all the attention, as they’re passing out plates of surf-and-turf to Hollywood stars, Democratic pols, and union bosses.

The Democratic Party has come a long way since Jackson’s day.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Syria: In which Jonah Goldberg rants

August 30, 2013

And it’s a thing of beauty. I would have included it in the last post, but I didn’t read the Goldberg File (1) until after sending it to press. But, I do want to share it. Far from his usual amiable discourses laced with pop-culture references, it’s clear he’s as disgusted as I:

For the first time since the Brits grew exhausted with the Hurricane of Fists they were getting from the 13 colonies, the British parliament voted against the government on an issue of war. Obviously, this was not directly Barack Obama’s fault. But he’s hardly blameless either. This mess is part of the larger mess he created. Obama follows polls and acts like it’s courage. He mocks and belittles American leadership and then is shocked when no one wants to follow America. We were supposed to be in an era of renewed global cooperation and engagement. Instead, Obama can’t hold the support of our closest ally — because the British Left balked. Forget forging new alliances with “former” enemies — as Obama promised would happen once it dawned on the Arab street that his middle name is “Hussein” and they realized he’s black; Obama can’t even maintain historic alliances with longstanding friends.

Oh, and thank goodness Hillary Clinton gave the Russians a big toy button with the word “overcharge” on it. We’re really reaping the payoff on that now.

Part of the problem stems from the simple fact that Obama can’t sell anything but himself. Even when he tried — and he really tried — he couldn’t sell Obamacare to the American people. When it comes to the Syria intervention — which, if done right, I am in favor of — he’s not even trying to sell. His body language in that PBS interview was that of a husband forced to explain to his wife how he got the clap. He talked like a teenager looking at the floor while telling his parents that he doesn’t know how their car ended up in the neighbor’s swimming pool. The only thing his “shot across the bow” talk did for him was convince everyone that he’s not wagging the dog to boost his poll numbers. A war-mongering charlatan would at least fake commitment better.

But what do you really think, Jonah?

He should have a headache more often.

Footnote:
(1) Email only, sorry. But do subscribe. It’s free and worth every penny.


Obama foreign policy success: Britain says “Thanks, but no.”

August 30, 2013
Obama foreign policy advisers

Obama foreign policy advisers

What was I saying yesterday about the “stunning ineptitude” of Obama’s diplomacy? On top of everything else, he’s failed to convince one of our oldest allies, Great Britain, to join us in “sending a message” to Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Late yesterday, the House of Commons dealt a stunning blow to the political fortunes of Prime Minister Cameron by refusing permission to attack Syria. While British domestic politics played the major role in this, there’s no doubt that Team Smart Power failed to do the needed legwork to make things easier for Cameron. I could rant about it, but Charles Krauthammer does it just fine:

This is a complete humiliation for the Obama administration. Forget about the merits of what Obama wants to do, which I think it’s a bad idea, but let’s assume it’s a good idea. This involves the elementary conduct of international diplomacy, trying to get some allies aboard so you don’t act unilaterally. 

So who’s the main ally in the world who has been with us in every trench for the last 100 years? The British. And now the British have voted against us. The other supposed ally was the French, President Hollande, and now he’s saying we got to wait for the report from the UN inspectors which will be early next week. So here is Obama and the Democrats, who railed against the Bush administration for its supposedly unilateral invasion of Iraq where we had 48 allies for a mission that involved boots on the ground — a real invasion, a real war. And here’s Obama trying to gather an ally or two for a pinprick, and he gets nothing. 

This is just on the basis of thinking ahead, let’s say, a week ahead. When they leaked all this information about exactly what we’re going to hit, where we’re going to hit it, what the reasons are and the objectives are’ and we’re going to have a coalition of the willing, did nobody actually think to check with the allies? I mean, these are guys who couldn’t organize a three car funeral.

In other words, Obama, who likes to be compared to FDR, who himself lead a grand coalition in World War II, wasn’t even skillful enough to put together an alliance less than one-tenth the size of that built by the reviled George W. Bush in 2003.

I guess Parliament didn’t think keeping Obama from being mocked was reason enough to go into battle.

At PJM, RIchard Fernandez looks the isolated state Obama finds himself in and considers his options — none of them good:

Now, with Britain out of the operation, Obama faces the prospect of going into Syria almost literally alone, without the UN, NATO, Congress, or even the UK to back him up. Two courses are now open to him. He can climb down as best he can and pretend he’s changed his mind or he can go forward risking a wider war for nothing. As Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker said in a satirical piece, Obama has tried to mollify the antiwar left by promising the Syria strike “would have no objective.” It would just be a couple of days worth of random drive-by shooting without strategic content and therefore moral.

Yet a climbdown would represent a public and devastating humiliation of the man who once believe he bestrode the world. It would also represent a huge propaganda victory for Assad.

The alternative would be for Obama to double down and order an attack on his own authority despite having, as Professor Goldsmith noted, no apparent legal leg to stand on. He would risk starting a wider war that he doesn’t even want to win, and possibly illegally to boot.

Whichever way it goes, Obama’s plan for a “limited but decisive” attack on Assad is probably over. George Will advised the president to quit talking himself into trouble. “The administration now would do well to do something that the head of it has an irresistible urge not to do: Stop talking. If a fourth military intervention is coming, it will not be to decisively alter events, which we cannot do, in a nation vital to U.S. interests, which Syria is not. Rather, its purpose will be to rescue Obama from his words.

And thus we see again the truth about everything Obama does: It’s all about The O. No rational calculation of American national interests, no attempt to show how humanitarian considerations might affect those interests. Just “doing something” for appearance’s sake because Obama drew the wrong red line.

As the great Strother Martin said in Butch Cassidy, “Morons. I’ve got morons on my team.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama foreign policy success: Saudis want to cut deal with Russians

August 29, 2013
Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

This is truly impressive. Day after day, I can sit back and watch as the American position in the Mideast and North Africa heads into the abyss.

Our Thelma and Louise ride over the cliff began quietly, with Obama turning the key and slapping our allies in Israel and embracing the Islamist premier of Turkey (But what’s a revived caliphate among friends?); he accelerated through his studied silence during the 2009 democratic revolt in Iran, thus emboldening the mullahs; he went into high gear during the Pee-Wee President’s Big Libyan Adventure that ended with the death of a US ambassador and al Qaeda looting Qaddafi’s armories; and he absolutely floored it during the so-called Arab Spring as we found ourselves, after he first dithered like some obscure Illinois state senator,  supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al Qaeda-aligned rebels in Syria.

And now, for some reason, our long-term clients in the region seem to have decided we are untrustworthy (or barking mad) and are looking to make their own arrangements.

Via Walter Russell Mead:

[Prince] Bandar [bin Sultan al-Saud] discussed the potential cooperation between the two countries if an understanding could be reached on a number of issues, especially Syria. He discussed at length the matter of oil and investment cooperation, saying, “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets. … We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas present in the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Cyprus through Lebanon and Syria. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area as well as in the areas of establishing refineries and petrochemical industries. The kingdom can provide large multi-billion-dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market. What’s important is to conclude political understandings on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Iran….

The key to the relations between our two countries starts by understanding our approach to the Syrian issue. So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime] political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”

Yes, you read that right. Our Saudi allies (1), whose patron we’ve been since FDR’s day, now want an “arrangement” with Putin’s Russia. In return for playing along with Saudi policy in Syria, Russian interests will be protected and, oh, the Saudis will cooperate on price-fixing. (Russian oil being expensive to extract, they need high prices to make it worthwhile. The regime is utterly dependent on oil.) And the American role in all this?

[Silence]

Exactly.

WRM’s comment:

This is jaw-dropping stuff, to say the least. Nothing was signed in this closed-door meeting between Putin and Bandar—Putin requested time for both countries to look into the specifics of such a deal. But the mere fact that our allies felt like they needed to go this route signals that something is seriously awry in President Obama’s Middle East approach.

Putin probably requested time because he was too busy pinching himself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. It’s an opening for a return to influence in the Middle East that the Russians have been looking for since the Soviet Union fell apart.

As usual, the gentle Dr. Mead speaks volumes via understatement. We are witnessing the growing collapse of American influence throughout a region crucial to our security, and our rivals will be sure to pick up the slack. This isn’t just the loss of a few years’ work: this is the crumbling of a geopolitical position that’s taken 70 years to build. And it’s all due to the stunning ineptitude of Barack Obama and the Hundred Acre Wood school of foreign affairs. They are leading us toward a major disaster.

And we’ve got three more years of this? I need a drink…

Footnote:
(1) Yeah, I know. Many Saudis donate to al Qaeda and other groups, and the Kingdom itself is an aggressive pusher of Islamic supremacism. But, when it came to Mideast geopolitics and security, they knew which side their bread was buttered on. And now they’re looking for a new baker.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: Dictator executes ex-girlfriend for doing porn, owning Bible

August 29, 2013
"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“She did what??”

I’ve figured it out: North Korea is the only nation founded on a bad acid trip:

Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend was among a dozen well-known North Korean performers who were executed by firing squad on Aug. 20, reports said Wednesday.

Sources in China said singer Hyon Song-wol as well as Mun Kyong-jin, head of the Unhasu Orchestra, were arrested on Aug. 17 for violating North Korean laws against pornography and were executed in public three days later.

The victims of the atrocity were members of the Unhasu Orchestra as well as singers, musicians and dancers with the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.

They were accused of videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos. The tapes have apparently gone on sale in China as well.

A source said some allegedly had Bibles in their possession, and all were treated as political dissidents.

According to reports (and we don’t know how reliable they are), Mun and her colleagues were mowed down by a machine-gun firing squad, which I suppose is merciful compared to dropping a mortar round on top of the condemned. And, really, who among us hasn’t at some time, however briefly, fantasized about doing the same to a pain-in-the-neck ex?

The families of the victims were all sent to North Korea’s hellish gulag, par for the course for the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation.

It is good to be King psycho-dictator.

At first glance, the “porn and Bible” angle made me think this was some sort of fake, but it does make a weird sort of sense. Think about it: you live in a police state that takes most of your income and rations how much food you get. You get more than most, but you want more. Well, porn sells.

Plus, and here’s where the Bible comes in, these are acts of rebellion and defiance. Could it be that the sex-videos and Bibles were some weird equivalent to a teen “acting out” against a parent, giving them a sense, however fleeting, of a bit of freedom and individuality? We’ll never know. But, in an atheistic, puritanical, Confucianist-Stalinst state, both uncontrolled sex and religion threaten the totalitarian rule of the individual by the government — they become thought-criminals, a la 1984, and have to be destroyed.

In this case, instead of being grounded, they were shot and their families swept into non-existence.

Final thought: North Korea has to be one of the most thorough internal-surveillance states on the planet. I find it very hard to believe that no one knew this was going on and that it didn’t get back to Dear Leader III before now. As a friend asked, did Kim know, but tolerated it until the new wife found out and demanded “something be done?”

Again, we’ll never know, but anything twisted is possible in North Korea. Especially if it’s twisted.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Syria: The New York Times goes foaming-at-the-mouth Neocon

August 29, 2013

So, this was the headline in an op-ed in yesterday’s times:

syria NYT hypocritical headline

And speaking as a Neocon… “amateurs!”

I eagerly await the Times editorial denunciation of the Times op-ed writers.

Can one die of an irony overload?

via Instapundit