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Feebleness in the Executive?

Jack Hays

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[h=3][/h] [h=2]Feebleness in the Executive[/h] BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Sometimes politics is just “one damned thing after another.” But sometimes not. Sometimes those damned things constitute a trend and form a pattern. So it is today, with President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
*Our defense capabilities are being slashed. As the editors of the Washington Post pointed out two weeks ago, funding for the Pentagon “is on track to fall tens of billions short of what it needs to fulfill the strategic mission that President Obama has articulated for national defense.” The Post noted that “Mr. Obama told congressional Democrats that the Pentagon should get no more attention than many other areas of the budget also subject to the punishing automatic spending cuts known as sequestration,” and commented, “That can’t be the final answer from the commander in chief.” But it is. The Post further remarked, “Mr. Obama ultimately ...
 

iliveonramen

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[h=3][/h] [h=2]Feebleness in the Executive[/h] BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Sometimes politics is just “one damned thing after another.” But sometimes not. Sometimes those damned things constitute a trend and form a pattern. So it is today, with President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
*Our defense capabilities are being slashed. As the editors of the Washington Post pointed out two weeks ago, funding for the Pentagon “is on track to fall tens of billions short of what it needs to fulfill the strategic mission that President Obama has articulated for national defense.” The Post noted that “Mr. Obama told congressional Democrats that the Pentagon should get no more attention than many other areas of the budget also subject to the punishing automatic spending cuts known as sequestration,” and commented, “That can’t be the final answer from the commander in chief.” But it is. The Post further remarked, “Mr. Obama ultimately ...
Actually taking on the military industrial complex is anything but "feeble"....
 

Paschendale

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I always like how the right declares that Obama is both a tyrant who usurps power and is ruining everything, but is also an ineffective leader who can't accomplish anything. Just like he's devoted to fundamentalist Islam but also to discriminating against heterosexuals as part of the gay agenda. Or he's a socialist who wants to destroy American business, but just takes his marching orders from crony capitalists who paid for his campaign.

It's very impressive doublethink.
 

Jack Hays

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I always like how the right declares that Obama is both a tyrant who usurps power and is ruining everything, but is also an ineffective leader who can't accomplish anything. Just like he's devoted to fundamentalist Islam but also to discriminating against heterosexuals as part of the gay agenda. Or he's a socialist who wants to destroy American business, but just takes his marching orders from crony capitalists who paid for his campaign.

It's very impressive doublethink.
When you use a term like "the right" you set up an easy strawman since you can draw on multiple different sources that espouse different views. That's a child's argumentation. In my own case, you'll find that I've said BHO has all the qualities of an effective POTUS except courage.:peace
 

opendebate

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[h=3][/h] [h=2]Feebleness in the Executive[/h] BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Sometimes politics is just “one damned thing after another.” But sometimes not. Sometimes those damned things constitute a trend and form a pattern. So it is today, with President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
*Our defense capabilities are being slashed. As the editors of the Washington Post pointed out two weeks ago, funding for the Pentagon “is on track to fall tens of billions short of what it needs to fulfill the strategic mission that President Obama has articulated for national defense.” The Post noted that “Mr. Obama told congressional Democrats that the Pentagon should get no more attention than many other areas of the budget also subject to the punishing automatic spending cuts known as sequestration,” and commented, “That can’t be the final answer from the commander in chief.” But it is. The Post further remarked, “Mr. Obama ultimately ...

Sorry, but your Obama hate speech make me question your motives.
 

Morality Games

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When you use a term like "the right" you set up an easy strawman since you can draw on multiple different sources that espouse different views. That's a child's argumentation. In my own case, you'll find that I've said BHO has all the qualities of an effective POTUS except courage.:peace
It all comes from the same blogs, radio programming, opinion columnists, and talk show hosts. When one meme stops drawing attention they switch to another and then go back to the old one when they've used that one up.

If people aren't mad, scared, and uncertain 24/7 then right-wing media personalities don't get to eat.
 

opendebate

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Really? The speech is actually that of William Kristol, so I'm not sure what conclusions you can draw about me.
Not referring to this post alone. I try not to judge that quickly. Just seems like after looking at several of your posts, you seem to despise the man.
 

Jack Hays

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Not referring to this post alone. I try not to judge that quickly. Just seems like after looking at several of your posts, you seem to despise the man.
Well, I think I'm just disappointed by a POTUS who has all the qualities of a leader except courage. If you think I'm hard on him, wait until you see tomorrow's Washington Post editorial.
 

Jack Hays

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It all comes from the same blogs, radio programming, opinion columnists, and talk show hosts. When one meme stops drawing attention they switch to another and then go back to the old one when they've used that one up.If people aren't mad, scared, and uncertain 24/7 then right-wing media personalities don't get to eat.
What a handy little diatribe. Useful as a substitute for thought, and as a shield to ward off difficult issues.
 

opendebate

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Well, I think I'm just disappointed by a POTUS who has all the qualities of a leader except courage. If you think I'm hard on him, wait until you see tomorrow's Washington Post editorial.
I see him as a bit of an intellect and in the current political climate you get trampled. Why do you think he lacks courage?
 

Jack Hays

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I see him as a bit of an intellect and in the current political climate you get trampled. Why do you think he lacks courage?
Because he has never been willing to run a political risk on behalf of anything he claims to want.
 

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I don't know if the suboptimal foreign policy outcomes are so much the result of a "feeble executive" as they are the result of a lack of larger purpose on which each aspect of his foreign policy is built. The lack of a foundation has made it difficult to tie together policy vis-a-vis the world's great powers in a fashion that would give the U.S. greater leverage in the world's more challenging areas where large American interests are at risk.

The popular narrative is that the "reset" with Russia has failed on account of the return of President Putin to power. The reality is that the "reset" never really took hold, because it was largely built on atmospherics not concrete substance. The latter was missing, because an underlying foreign policy mission was not present. There were real opportunities to reach a mutually beneficial pact on missile defense, to elaborate a mechanism for dealing with the world's flashpoints in which the critical interests of the U.S. and Russia were not fully compatible, making further progress in the area of nuclear arms, etc. None of that was accomplished even when Dmitry Medvedev was President of Russia. Instead, the U.S. made it difficult for Russia to gain full WTO status (not exactly a signal of wanting a warmer relationship). When it came to Libya, the U.S. chose to intervene in a civil conflict that involved few American interests and gained Russian support for a no fly zone aimed at safeguarding civilians, only to make an ad hoc decision to change the purpose to regime change. Trust was shattered. As trust is the currency of diplomacy, one should not be surprised that the U.S.-Russia relationship continued to deteriorate even during the era of "reset."

When it comes to the Mideast, what is the overriding U.S. foreign policy goal? None has been articulated publicly. Is the goal a stable order aimed at safeguarding critical U.S. interests? It couldn't be, otherwise the U.S. wouldn't have embraced uprisings with little understanding as to their nature, much less the motives of the actors. Is it democracy? That's questionable, too, as the U.S. has made little effort to probe the motives of those involved in uprisings much less provided technical support for proto-democratic experiments. Is it maintaining a balance of power consistent with U.S. interests? That is questionable, too. If it were, the U.S. would have been prepared for a range of contingencies, as instability in the region is far from unknown. The result has been a foreign policy that has been mostly reactive, not proactive, and one that has zigged and zagged as situations unfolded, leaving the region's actors confused as to U.S. intentions and goals.

Today's remarks on events in Egypt provide a typical illustration. The violence was condemned. The U.S. called for a lifting of the state of emergency. Entirely absent was any mention of how the U.S. would be prepared to mediate a crisis that, quite frankly, is magnitudes of order more important than the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to which so much attention is being devoted. Furthermore, there was no expression of understanding of how Egypt's transitional government could be expected to try to maintain order if the other side decides to resort to violence and/or refuses to compromise. In other words, there was rhetoric and little else.

That fell far short of an adequate response. When a critical ally and one of just two Arab states to make peace with Israel is in turmoil, some concrete ideas and offers to help should be in order. Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel should have been sent to Cairo, with one helping mediate and the other helping devise appropriate rules of engagement to minimize the risk of what took place while assuring that Egypt had the ability to provide for the safety of its citizens. Talk about suspending a biannual military exercise does nothing to alleviate the very real needs of Egypt's government and its people. It does nothing to tell Egyptians that the U.S. believes Egypt's fate is important to American interests. Egypt deserved more. Far more.

Not surprisingly, not too long afterward, Egypt's transitional government publicly authorized the use of live fire to try to impose order. In part, that decision is based on fear of what might happen if order disintegrates and insurgency emerges in its place (scenarios ranging from Iraq to Syria). In part, it is on account of the White House giving Egypt's government no meaningful incentives to pursue any alternative course, no real means of trying to mediate a diplomatic solution, and no shelter from the extreme risks confronting it.

Had the U.S. had a larger purpose, let's say stability consistent with protecting/advancing its interests, it would not have pulled the proverbial rug from under President Mubarak. Instead, it would have articulated a message that the issue belonged to Egyptians to resolve, urged non-violence, while making clear that it would not be indifferent were its interests threatened by any of the outcomes. Then, a smoother transition might have been feasible and a more gradual process that could have led to sustainable representative governance just might have been among the scenarios.

When President Morsi began issuing decrees to override Egypt's Supreme Court, even as he lacked constitutional authority to do so--the first "coup," if you will--the U.S. should have privately but forcefully conveyed the message that it expected Morsi to respect the rule of law. Absent that, there would be adverse consequences. Had that happened, Morsi might have taken a more constructive and inclusive path and the events that led to protests and military's removal of his government might never have unfolded.

Had the U.S. sent a senior diplomat to work continually with Egypt's transitional government, offering ideas for compromise, trying to bridge differences, working to create a step-by-step path out of the political conflict, some diplomatic progress might have been achieved. Moreover, it would have become very clear what parties were interested in working for Egypt's future. Then, the transitional government might have had greater confidence that it had the time to carry out its difficult work and that the U.S. remained a reliable partner during the current period of adversity. A more confident transitional government might never have made a disastrous tactical move to try to break the protest movement. But with a muddled approach devoid of purpose on one hand and reckless comments from Senators McCain and Graham on the other hand (especially following so closely on the heels of the decision to suspend delivery of military aircraft to Egypt) leading the transitional government to believe it was at imminent risk of losing U.S. support (or seeing the U.S. shift sides), the odds were probably stacked in favor of panic and a throw of the proverbial dice to try to break the deadlock.

None of that required uncommon prescience. What it required was a clear conception of U.S. interests and goals and attention to events that put those interests and goals at risk.

As noted many times, events are not entirely accidental. They are not fully random. They are, often in very large part, the result of internal and external factors, one external factor being lack of effective U.S. policy, coming together. Choices, actions, and words have consequences. Yesterday's choices help shape today. Today's choices help shape tomorrow. That's why it is so important that foreign policy have an overriding purpose. What happened and is continuing to unfold is, in part, the result of actions, choices and words already undertaken or spoken.
 
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CanadaJohn

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I always like how the right declares that Obama is both a tyrant who usurps power and is ruining everything, but is also an ineffective leader who can't accomplish anything. Just like he's devoted to fundamentalist Islam but also to discriminating against heterosexuals as part of the gay agenda. Or he's a socialist who wants to destroy American business, but just takes his marching orders from crony capitalists who paid for his campaign.

It's very impressive doublethink.
Actually, you can be a tyrant who usurps power and is ineffective at the same time - just ask Kim Jung Il. The vanity, bluster, idle threats, etc. are remarkably similar. Fortunately, in the US, you have a history of ignoring and ridiculing such leaders.
 
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sangha

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Actually, you can be a tyrant who usurps power and is ineffective at the same time - just ask Kim Jung Il. The vanity, bluster, idle threats, etc. are remarkably similar. Fortunately, in the US, you have a history of ignoring and ridiculing such leaders.
Actually, you can't

KJI was very effective
 

specklebang

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I have no shortage of issues with Obama. However, I'm tired of the World Police powers of the Pentagon. I'm pretty confident that nobody will attack us and how many countries do we need to threaten? We do have some bitter enemies like Iran and North Korea but I think we have them seriously out-gunned.

If we are ever going to stem the deficit, our super-sized war machine can make some sacrifices.
 
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