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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Obama needs

After the James Foley beheading, Obama got a lot of negative press for going off to play golf ten minutes after delivering a perfunctory speech on how ISIS had to be stopped. My reaction was, what difference does it make? It's not as if he would otherwise have convened a meeting of the Joints Chiefs of Staff to order a military assault on the caliphate that afternoon. It's not as if he had a close personal relationship with James Foley and should have spent the afternoon weeping at his Martha's Vineyard vacation house.

Yes, he should have been more careful about the "optics," as he later described the situation. And all that laughing and fist bumping on the course underlined the fact that he couldn't have cared less about Foley. But, people die every day, and it's not as if it deeply affects those of us who weren't close to the departed. Most of us probably went on to laugh and smile at some point during that afternoon as well.

What I was struck by in that widely circulated picture was how thin Obama's forearm looked. He looked positively skeletal.

Then, when he gave that speech about stopping ISIS last week, I was again struck by how gaunt he looked:

His face almost has the look of someone who is anorexic, or has a wasting disease.

The address he gave last week has been characterized as a "bare-minimum" speech; he obviously had been prodded into it by public outrage over the beheadings of the two Americans and the general scorched earth policy of the would-be caliphate.

As much as I despise Obama for being a liar and con man, I actually have no major problems with the general thrust of his foreign policy, which is not to intervene unless absolutely necessary.

Of course, we come at it from different angles. Obama believes that the US has long been a force of ugly imperialism and that we need to have our influence diminished. I believe that it's simply not in our interests to get involved in far-off conflicts in which we have little at stake. I say, let the foreigners kill each other without sending off American boys to fight and die.

But, if the net effect is that our President prefers to avoid foreign entanglements, I'm mostly fine with that.

Nonetheless, the image Obama projects to the world is a little embarrassing. He talks about a red line which must not be crossed and then lets it go by. He promoted a surge in Afghanistan which he never personally believed in. He claims that we left Iraq in fine shape when it was anything but. He reportedly said no to the Osama bin Laden raid three times before he was finally talked into okaying it.

And all this from a guy who looks the way he does -- an unbecoming combination of gaunt and fey.

I'd prefer a leader who projected strength and decisiveness, even if he only used our country's might sparingly.

It was when I was writing the previous post about the juiced up NFL players that it hit me: we need to put Obama on steroids.

Sure, there might be occasional rages, and Michelle might get roughed up a little. But that would be a small price to pay for a leader who actually looked -- and acted -- like a leader.

The next time an American is beheaded, he might actually get angry.

And just think what it would do for his golf game.


Quartermain said...

Though a bit leftish these people predicted what Obama or the manipulators behind him were going to bring about:

John Craig said...

Allan --
I found the post on his acceptance of the Chicago corruption more convincing than the other one. But the stuff about hypnotic content in his speeches was all new to me, and very interesting. It's true, all those phrases like "Change we can believe in" were totally meaningless, but most politician's campaign mottoes, which by necessity are limited to a few words, are.

I'd figured the posts were going to be about what a radical leftist he is, and how they managed to hide that from the electorate at first. I always thought it was pretty obvious, but Obama always had the media running interference for him, and most people don't look too deeply.

Glen Filthie said...

People like you and Obama are setting the stage for the next 911. You think events in the middle east are driven by America when the exact opposite is true.

Moslems pursue and keep score on blood feuds centuries old. They will not let you walk away any more than the Isrealis. They will come after you and strike at you in your own country for stuff that happened years or decades ago.

They will see that correctly as weakness too - and will move to exploit it. You are basically telling them that terrorism works. You will encourage more of it too.

I have a problem with Obama's policy because all he had to do was maintain the status quo and he couldn't even do that. We are headed back to the middle east and in Gulf War Three - we will have pissed away all gains made in Gulf Wars 1&2 and the body count will be that much higher. If things REALLY go bad it might flare up into a world war too.

You may not be interested in world politics, but they are most definitely interested in you.

John Craig said...

Glen --
I do like the way you group me with Obama.

If I were emperor of this country, I'd tell the Muslims, you go ahead and kill each other, we won't interfere. But if you kill Americans, we will bomb your country from the air and kill far more people than you killed of ours. I'd make it real clear that we want to wash our hands of them, but will retaliate tenfold for any Americans who are killed.

Glen Filthie said...

Sorry John - so many of these liberal and libertarian ass hats seem to think that politics is a zero sum game - it is almost reflex. A lot of them think that way with the best of intentions too.

I quite agree. If they attack, bomb them into submission and let them clean up the mess afterward.

John Craig said...

Glen --
Honestly, I pretty much consider myself a libertarian for the most part, and to me, at least, that means in many ways I'm the opposite of a liberal.

Anonymous said...

A review of US involvement in Arab lands under W. Bush and Obama proves a simple point: the US has made a mess with every intervention, while also making the world a more dangerous place for ourselves.

W. Bush: Credit "W" with a sensible thesis - instal western democracy in Arab lands prone to extremism, and the people will support peace and moderation. Unfortunately history tore this thesis into tiny itty bits, it is a total failure.

Results: 2 trillion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan; 8,000 US soldiers dead; 40K US wounded; 134K Iraqi civilians dead; 500K Iraqi widows and orphans. Iraq is now a nation disintegrating, and Afghanistan is still a tribal nation in the stone age. Both wars are utter failures.

Obama thesis (more truthfully, Obama's whims): support any revolution that takes to the streets; topple Arab strongmen / dictators wherever possible.

Results: Egypt - US supports overthrow of Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood wins free and fair elections, USrael doesn't like it, and support military coup. Libya: US participates in air campaign to assist rebels in overthrow of Gaddafi; Libya is now a lawless land in disarray, oil production plummets, and Obama nets one of his biggest scandals - the sacking of the US embassy. Syria: US supports rebels and calls for fall of Assad; ISIS arises in the power vacuum in rebel areas of Syria and connected Sunni areas of Iraq. ISIS is a brutal vicious operation, and raises US public fears by beheading several journalists.

After all the damage the US has done so far, what is the obvious choice:

* fight another, new, war against ISIS?
* realize we have no business warring in Arab lands, and make the world a more dangerous place for ourselves with every new rebellion we support, 'kinetic action' we take, and war we fight?

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
That's a great summary of our recent involvement in the Middle East. And you're right, absolutely no good has come of it. I'd stick to what I said above: withdraw all troops, withdraw all aid to everybody, and tell them all that if they kill Americans we will respond tenfold, from the air.