Barack W. Obama

#1
From The American Conservative
As August draws to a close, so does the first phase of the Obama presidency. The first months of any U.S. presidency are spent filling key positions and learning the levers of foreign and national security policy. There are also the first rounds of visits with foreign leaders and the first tentative forays into foreign policy. The first summer sees the leaders of the Northern Hemisphere take their annual vacations, and barring a crisis or war, little happens in the foreign policy arena. Then September comes and the world gets back in motion, and the first phase of the president's foreign policy ends. The president is no longer thinking about what sort of foreign policy he will have; he now has a foreign policy that he is carrying out.

We therefore are at a good point to stop and consider not what U.S. President Barack Obama will do in the realm of foreign policy, but what he has done and is doing. As we have mentioned before, the single most remarkable thing about Obama's foreign policy is how consistent it is with the policies of former President George W. Bush. This is not surprising. Presidents operate in the world of constraints; their options are limited. Still, it is worth pausing to note how little Obama has deviated from the Bush foreign policy.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, particularly in its early stages, Obama ran against the Iraq war. The centerpiece of his early position was that the war was a mistake, and that he would end it. Obama argued that Bush's policies -- and more important, his style -- alienated U.S. allies. He charged Bush with pursuing a unilateral foreign policy, alienating allies by failing to act in concert with them. In doing so, he maintained that the war in Iraq destroyed the international coalition the United States needs to execute any war successfully. Obama further argued that Iraq was a distraction and that the major effort should be in Afghanistan. He added that the United States would need its NATO allies' support in Afghanistan. He said an Obama administration would reach out to the Europeans, rebuild U.S. ties there and win greater support from them.

Though around 40 countries cooperated with the United States in Iraq, albeit many with only symbolic contributions, the major continental European powers -- particularly France and Germany -- refused to participate. When Obama spoke of alienating allies, he clearly meant these two countries, as well as smaller European powers that had belonged to the U.S. Cold War coalition but were unwilling to participate in Iraq and were now actively hostile to U.S. policy.

A European Rebuff

Early in his administration, Obama made two strategic decisions. First, instead of ordering an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, he adopted the Bush administration's policy of a staged withdrawal keyed to political stabilization and the development of Iraqi security forces. While he tweaked the timeline on the withdrawal, the basic strategy remained intact. Indeed, he retained Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, to oversee the withdrawal.

Second, he increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration had committed itself to Afghanistan from 9/11 onward. But it had remained in a defensive posture in the belief that given the forces available, enemy capabilities and the historic record, that was the best that could be done, especially as the Pentagon was almost immediately reoriented and refocused on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Toward the end, the Bush administration began exploring -- under the influence of Gen. David Petraeus, who designed the strategy in Iraq -- the possibility of some sort of political accommodation in Afghanistan.

Obama has shifted his strategy in Afghanistan to this extent: He has moved from a purely defensive posture to a mixed posture of selective offense and defense, and has placed more forces into Afghanistan (although the United States still has nowhere near the number of troops the Soviets had when they lost their Afghan war). Therefore, the core structure of Obama's policy remains the same as Bush's except for the introduction of limited offensives. In a major shift since Obama took office, the Pakistanis have taken a more aggressive stance (or at least want to appear more aggressive) toward the Taliban and al Qaeda, at least within their own borders. But even so, Obama's basic strategy remains the same as Bush's: hold in Afghanistan until the political situation evolves to the point that a political settlement is possible.

Most interesting is how little success Obama has had with the French and the Germans. Bush had given up asking for assistance in Afghanistan, but Obama tried again. He received the same answer Bush did: no. Except for some minor, short-term assistance, the French and Germans were unwilling to commit forces to Obama's major foreign policy effort, something that stands out.

Given the degree to which the Europeans disliked Bush and were eager to have a president who would revert the U.S.-European relationship to what it once was (at least in their view), one would have thought the French and Germans would be eager to make some substantial gesture rewarding the United States for selecting a pro-European president. Certainly, it was in their interest to strengthen Obama. That they proved unwilling to make that gesture suggests that the French and German relationship with the United States is much less important to Paris and Berlin than it would appear. Obama, a pro-European president, was emphasizing a war France and Germany approved of over a war they disapproved of and asked for their help, but virtually none was forthcoming.

The Russian Non-Reset

Obama's desire to reset European relations was matched by his desire to reset U.S.-Russian relations. Ever since the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005, U.S.-Russian relations had deteriorated dramatically, with Moscow charging Washington with interfering in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics with the aim of weakening Russia. This culminated in the Russo-Georgian war last August. The Obama administration has since suggested a "reset" in relations, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually carrying a box labeled "reset button" to her spring meeting with the Russians.

The problem, of course, was that the last thing the Russians wanted was to reset relations with the United States. They did not want to go back to the period after the Orange Revolution, nor did they want to go back to the period between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Orange Revolution. The Obama administration's call for a reset showed the distance between the Russians and the Americans: The Russians regard the latter period as an economic and geopolitical disaster, while the Americans regard it as quite satisfactory. Both views are completely understandable.

The Obama administration was signaling that it intends to continue the Bush administration's Russia policy. That policy was that Russia had no legitimate right to claim priority in the former Soviet Union, and that the United States had the right to develop bilateral relations with any country and expand NATO as it wished. But the Bush administration saw the Russian leadership as unwilling to follow the basic architecture of relations that had developed after 1991, and as unreasonably redefining what the Americans thought of as a stable and desirable relationship. The Russian response was that an entirely new relationship was needed between the two countries, or the Russians would pursue an independent foreign policy matching U.S. hostility with Russian hostility. Highlighting the continuity in U.S.-Russian relations, plans for the prospective ballistic missile defense installation in Poland, a symbol of antagonistic U.S.-Russian relations, remain unchanged.

The underlying problem is that the Cold War generation of U.S. Russian experts has been supplanted by the post-Cold War generation, now grown to maturity and authority. If the Cold warriors were forged in the 1960s, the post-Cold warriors are forever caught in the 1990s. They believed that the 1990s represented a stable platform from which to reform Russia, and that the grumbling of Russians plunged into poverty and international irrelevancy at that time is simply part of the post-Cold War order. They believe that without economic power, Russia cannot hope to be an important player on the international stage. That Russia has never been an economic power even at the height of its influence but has frequently been a military power doesn't register. Therefore, they are constantly expecting Russia to revert to its 1990s patterns, and believe that if Moscow doesn't, it will collapse -- which explains U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's interview in The Wall Street Journal where he discussed Russia's decline in terms of its economic and demographic challenges. Obama's key advisers come from the Clinton administration, and their view of Russia -- like that of the Bush administration -- was forged in the 1990s.

Foreign Policy Continuity Elsewhere

When we look at U.S.-China policy, we see very similar patterns with the Bush administration. The United States under Obama has the same interest in maintaining economic ties and avoiding political complications as the Bush administration did. Indeed, Hillary Clinton explicitly refused to involve herself in human rights issues during her visit to China. Campaign talk of engaging China on human rights issues is gone. Given the interests of both countries, this makes sense, but it is also noteworthy given the ample opportunity to speak to China on this front (and fulfill campaign promises) that has arisen since Obama took office (such as the Uighur riots).

Of great interest, of course, were the three great openings of the early Obama administration, to Cuba, to Iran, and to the Islamic world in general through his Cairo speech. The Cubans and Iranians rebuffed his opening, whereas the net result of the speech to the Islamic world remains unclear. With Iran we see the most important continuity. Obama continues to demand an end to Tehran's nuclear program, and has promised further sanctions unless Iran agrees to enter into serious talks by late September.

On Israel, the United States has merely shifted the atmospherics. Both the Bush and Obama administrations demanded that the Israelis halt settlements, as have many other administrations. The Israelis have usually responded by agreeing to something small while ignoring the larger issue. The Obama administration seemed ready to make a major issue of this, but instead continued to maintain security collaboration with the Israelis on Iran and Lebanon (and we assume intelligence collaboration). Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not allowed the settlements to get in the way of fundamental strategic interests.

This is not a criticism of Obama. Presidents -- all presidents -- run on a platform that will win. If they are good presidents, they will leave behind these promises to govern as they must. This is what Obama has done. He ran for president as the antithesis of Bush. He has conducted his foreign policy as if he were Bush. This is because Bush's foreign policy was shaped by necessity, and Obama's foreign policy is shaped by the same necessity. Presidents who believe they can govern independent of reality are failures. Obama doesn't intend to fail.

A Stratfor Intelligence Report.
The bit on Russia is perceptive as to the causes of DC's misreadings of the awakening Bear.

Bush with his reckless first term had greatly constrained DC's foreign policy options and was actually beginning to do a fair job of damage limitation in his last couple of years. The real differences are in tone and Barry does excel at speechifying and spin is important in politics.

You could also accuse Barry of staging a re-run of Bill's first term domestically while unlike Clinton maintaining Bush's bender of fiscal irresponsibility. The health care farce is even more embarrassing for its poverty of ambition. Enraging state dependent seniors by floating the very idea of trying to trim ballooning Medicare costs was one of Dubya's pratfalls as well.

We now have a donnish coffee colored chap rather than a swaggering fake cowboy in the white house and this confuses some identity obsessed folks but in a lot of ways this is Bush's third term. The lack of change we can believe in is indeed startling.
 
#2
It's not just what was mentioned in the article - Barry announced a proposal for dealing with the Mexican illegal immigration problem that was almost identical to Bush's late-term proposal. This plan went overnight from being "Raaaaycist and evil" to "brilliant". That's the postmodernist excuse-for-thought at work, I suppose...
 
#4
Booty said:
He has been somewhat distracted by having to deal with the $8Trillion debt consequences of his predecessor's term.

Booty...get the facts straight, Bush did not run up an $8 trillion debt...it was more like $1 tri...Obama has run up more than $2 tri in 8 months...it appears you can't be bothered with the truth.
 
#5
Booty said:
He has been somewhat distracted by having to deal with the $8Trillion debt consequences of his predecessor's term.
What? BO's budget and congress's spending like a drunken salior since BO took office has exceed all the deficit spending from Bush's 8 years...look it up before you start spouting kak. That doesn't include the added cost of health whatever reform.
 
#6
If you read carefully, I did not say Bush ran up the debt, but the causes of it most definitely happened on his watch. It is a distraction Obama has had to deal with from day one of his Presidency. Bush started his Presidency with a surplus.
 
#7
Booty said:
If you read carefully, I did not say Bush ran up the debt, but the causes of it most definitely happened on his watch. It is a distraction Obama has had to deal with from day one of his Presidency. Bush started his Presidency with a surplus.
But it appears Obama has made a bad situation worse.

I remain to be convinced that the Chosen One is anything more than Tony Blair with a suntan. :roll:
 
#8
Booty said:
If you read carefully, I did not say Bush ran up the debt, but the causes of it most definitely happened on his watch. It is a distraction Obama has had to deal with from day one of his Presidency. Bush started his Presidency with a surplus.
I would say Clinton disabling the Bear Stears watch on finace did the damage?
As here with the useless FSA?
 
#9
ctauch said:
For those that say Barack has made matters worse give the big eared purple lipped nitwit too much credit. He did nothing more then win an election and that is the extent. The real action is out of eye shot and makes the Mafia look like a bunch of light weights.

Soros the bagman
Rahm the enforcer
Geithner the con artist
Sunstein, Jones, Axelrod the brains
Joe Biden the stupid brother ala Fredo

No Obama is to stupid to be anything other then the face they want the public to see. Would explain his jet setting…
Too true--don't forget his troops as well-Americorps, ACORN and SEIU. This is an example:

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=77052
 
#12
alib said:
We now have a donnish coffee colored chap rather than a swaggering fake cowboy in the white house and this confuses some identity obsessed folks but in a lot of ways this is Bush's third term. The lack of change we can believe in is indeed startling.
Given the number, scope and tempo of Osama's--sorry--Obama's administration aided and abetted by his fellow travelers in Congress and a media that continues to be mesmerized into total complicity, I would have to differ with your assertion of a Bush third term.

Given his repeated gaffs when his teleprompter fails him, I am persuaded that he is but a front man for others who are much more capable and Machiavellian. Indeed, if you take him at his own word (judge him by whom he surrounds himself), his coterie of unrepentant yet much more sophisticated 60's anarchists and revolutionaries, black liberation theologians, fascists and neo-eugenics progressives, funded by the likes of the Tides Foundation and George Soros, even a dumb leatherneck like me can see what is coming.
 
#13
redleg6 said:
Booty said:
He has been somewhat distracted by having to deal with the $8Trillion debt consequences of his predecessor's term.

Booty...get the facts straight, Bush did not run up an $8 trillion debt...it was more like $1 tri...Obama has run up more than $2 tri in 8 months...it appears you can't be bothered with the truth.
Just over two trillion I beleave. Obama is on a course to add nine trillion and he will surpass Bush in total amount of debt sometime before spring arrives.
 
#14
Oh please. Don't try telling us that the bible-bashing, war-dodging half-wit would have done a better job of hauling the US out of recession or that he would have managed to do it any cheaper.

jumpinjarhead

At least Obama is sufficiently intelligent to have his own mind. Bush was the dumb front man for the trully Machiavellian gang of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Co.

Every time Bush spoke, it was like a teleprompter gaff:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?"

"They misunderestimated me."

Well actually, George, they didn't .
 
#15
Booty said:
Oh please. Don't try telling us that the bible-bashing, war-dodging half-wit would have done a better job of hauling the US out of recession or that he would have managed to do it any cheaper.

jumpinjarhead

At least Obama is sufficiently intelligent to have his own mind. Bush was the dumb front man for the trully Machiavellian gang of Cheaney, Rumsfeld and Co.

Every time Bush spoke, it was like a teleprompter gaff:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?"

"They misunderestimated me."

Well actually, George, they didn't .
I do not have an especially high opinion of Bush but please provide facts to support your contention. I do not believe you can since Osama-er Obama will not produce much of anything about his personal life. If you respond by merely citing his attendance at Hahvahd, we need to start another thread on affirmative action in higher education.

While we can continue to discuss Bush etc., I think it is time we separate that discussion from the here and now and the future in terms of rationally evaluating Osama, darn it, Obama on his own "merits." It is interesting that so many progressives (I am not saying this includes you) continue to use ad hominem attacks, diversion and obfuscation when the matter of Osama, geez, Obama's bona fides are concerned.

If you still want to focus on Bush's gaffes, let's balance the perpsective with but a few of Barry's:

• Marking the anniversary of the March 1965 "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Ala., Obama, speaking at a church, said his parents got together "because of what happened in Selma." Obama was born in 1961.

• Obama told Larry King on CNN -- asked about that anti-Hillary Rodham Clinton YouTube ad, a doctored version of a spot created for Apple computers -- "We don't have the technical capacity to create something like that."

And who can forget this gem from May 2007?:

(AP) Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died.

The death toll was 11.

"In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser.

Obama mentioned the disaster in Greensburg, Kan., in saying he had been told by the office of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that the state's National Guard had been depleted by its commitment to the Iraq War.

"Turns out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40 percent of its equipment and they are having to slow down the recovery process in Kansas," Obama said, his shirt sleeves rolled up and his head glistening with sweat.

As the Illinois senator concluded his remarks a few minutes later, he appeared to realize his gaffe.

"There are going to be times when I get tired," he said. "There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said later that the senator meant to say "at least 10," instead of 10,000.

He also redrew the map of the United States:
“Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United
States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.”

If instead you want to look at his associates as you mention those of Bush:

Last week, the "conservative mouthpiece" :D New York Times reports that Hassan Nemazzee, an Iranian-American businessman and sympathizer of Iranian regime who raised $500,000 for Obama campaign was arrested today. Here is an excerpt:

"A prominent Democratic party fund-raiser for Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton was arrested in Manhattan on Tuesday on charges that he lied about his assets to obtain a $74 million loan from Citibank, the United States Attorney’s office said.The fund-raiser, Hassan Nemazee, 59, had been a national finance chairman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential c last August."

Also, we learned that Obama was playing golf with his good buddy, Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment bank. UBS is famous for it's banking secrecy laws, allowing people to squirrel money away in untraceable “numbered accounts.” Secret Swiss bank accounts have become a favorite way for wealthy people in the U.S. to dodge taxes!!! Obama spent five hours golfing with this guy who happens to be his early financial backer of Obama’s presidential campaign, raised $250,000 for him back in 2006, and in February was appointed by the president to the White House’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board!!

Of course there ar emany others but I still think it would be more useful to actually evaluate Osama--grr-Obama's actual performance and as he himself has invited us to do if we are to know him, examine those he has surrounded himself with in government and as "advisers."
 
#16
jumpinjarhead said:
Booty said:
Oh please. Don't try telling us that the bible-bashing, war-dodging half-wit would have done a better job of hauling the US out of recession or that he would have managed to do it any cheaper.

jumpinjarhead

At least Obama is sufficiently intelligent to have his own mind. Bush was the dumb front man for the trully Machiavellian gang of Cheaney, Rumsfeld and Co.

Every time Bush spoke, it was like a teleprompter gaff:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?"

"They misunderestimated me."

Well actually, George, they didn't .
I do not have an especially high opinion of Bush but please provide facts to support your contention. I do not believe you can since Osama-er Obama will not produce much of anything about his personal life. If you respond by merely citing his attendance at Hahvahd, we need to start another thread on affirmative action in higher education.

While we can continue to discuss Bush etc., I think it is time we separate that discussion from the here and now and the future in terms of rationally evaluating Osama, darn it, Obama on his own "merits." It is interesting that so many progressives (I am not saying this includes you) continue to use ad hominem attacks, diversion and obfuscation when the matter of Osama, geez, Obama's bona fides are concerned.
Don't you understand that just the fact that you think mixing up 'Osama' and 'Obama' contributes anything to the debate on any level highlights that you are an idiot?
 
#17
parapauk said:
jumpinjarhead said:
Booty said:
Oh please. Don't try telling us that the bible-bashing, war-dodging half-wit would have done a better job of hauling the US out of recession or that he would have managed to do it any cheaper.

jumpinjarhead

At least Obama is sufficiently intelligent to have his own mind. Bush was the dumb front man for the trully Machiavellian gang of Cheaney, Rumsfeld and Co.

Every time Bush spoke, it was like a teleprompter gaff:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?"

"They misunderestimated me."

Well actually, George, they didn't .
I do not have an especially high opinion of Bush but please provide facts to support your contention. I do not believe you can since Osama-er Obama will not produce much of anything about his personal life. If you respond by merely citing his attendance at Hahvahd, we need to start another thread on affirmative action in higher education.

While we can continue to discuss Bush etc., I think it is time we separate that discussion from the here and now and the future in terms of rationally evaluating Osama, darn it, Obama on his own "merits." It is interesting that so many progressives (I am not saying this includes you) continue to use ad hominem attacks, diversion and obfuscation when the matter of Osama, geez, Obama's bona fides are concerned.
Don't you understand that just the fact that you think mixing up 'Osama' and 'Obama' contributes anything to the debate on any level highlights that you are an idiot?


Obviously you do not have a sense of humor. It is interesting that you do the very thing I predicted--call me an idiot. I await a substantive response about Obama (happy now?)that is not cast in Bushisms.
 
#18
Obviously you do not have a sense of humor. It is interesting that you do the very thing I predicted--call me an idiot. I await a substantive response about Obama (happy now?)that is not cast in Bushisms.
I have a sense of humour, it's just that joke was funny for about ten minutes in January 2008. The fact that you haven't moved on from it shows that nothing new has come along, which in turn refects the lack of substance to the arguments against him. And even if an analysis of his early life wasn't available:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_life_and_career_of_Barack_Obama

what difference would that make to anything?
 
#19
parapauk said:
Obviously you do not have a sense of humor. It is interesting that you do the very thing I predicted--call me an idiot. I await a substantive response about Obama (happy now?)that is not cast in Bushisms.
I have a sense of humour, it's just that joke was funny for about ten minutes in January 2008. The fact that you haven't moved on from it shows that nothing new has come along, which in turn refects the lack of substance to the arguments against him. And even if an analysis of his early life wasn't available:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_life_and_career_of_Barack_Obama

what difference would that make to anything?
I am not referring to his early life--did I not say we should discuss the here and now and anticipated future and that as Obama himself told us to do we should begin by anaylzing those around him? Still waiting.
 

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