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SEPTEMBER 30, 2013 1:50AM

Barack Obama Is Our Anthony Eden

Rate: 14 Flag

eden

 Nobody really knows who Anthony Eden was back in the 1950s, but this thought came to me after reading Dilip Hiro's latest piece for Tomgram (the Nation Institute), entitled No One Is Listening to the Planet's Sole Superpower. But before we compare POTUS #44 to a now obscure British Prime Minister, let's look at the non-accomplishments of the Obama administration to date.

 It's been a long devolution of Barack Obama from the campaign promise of combining the best of Presidents Lincoln and FDR to the President Rodney Dangerfield we have today.   Here are some extended quotes from the introduction to the article by Hiro:

In the White House, Obama is surrounded by a secretary of defense who ducks for cover, a secretary of state who wanders the world blowing off steam, and a national security advisor and UN ambassador who seem like blundering neophytes.

Obamacare is his only achievement with no prospects of a domestic victory as long as the Tea Party controls Congress.

In my lifetime, we've never seen a president -- not even an impeached Clinton -- so drained of power or influence. 

All in all, Americans have plenty to be disappointed about with Barack Obama, and the situation will probably not improve for the rest of his tenure in office.  Only the long shot of a chance that the Democrats can take control of Congress in 2014 allows for anything except "more of the same" for the shenanigans of Washington, DC.  I would go so far as to say that even the candidacy of Hillary Clinton could be damaged by the legacy of being associated with this president.  Not a pretty picture.

Hiro's article goes over the litany of failures that have afflicted American foreign policy since 2001, and this too, is not a pretty picture. Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been disasters in every respect.  Just about every goal that G.W. Bush articulated as reasons for going to war there have not only proven to be false, but the unanticipated outcomes of those wars have certified not only America's defeat in those areas, but more importantly -- have demonstrated the ultimately toothless nature of both our military and diplomatic policies.  And this failure has continued into the Obama administration's handling of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Israel, to mention but a few of many more countries.

On Obama's watch, we've seen the development of the Arab Spring, but this has turned out to be another exercise in humiliation for American foreign policy. As an imperial power, we've failed totally to steer the outcome of these popular Facebook rebellions in the direction of establishing democratic, representative governments from Algeria to Iran. And the sorry conduct of our recent foreign policy has transcended party control of the White House.  In other words, Obama has done just about as poorly for the American Empire as Bush, except with his own style and direction.

And the latest developments in Syria seem to have taken Barack Obama's ignomy even one step further. * In the "good old days" of gunboat diplomacy, Syria's use of chemical weapons would have been just a quick excuse to send the Marines.  And yet, when Obama tried to take a conventional approach, he was not only unanimously rejected by the international community, but by the US Congress -- which was certainly ready and willing to hand the president a first-time, historic defeat in an executive request for war powers.

And here we come to the mid-20th Century history of Britain.  When I was a little boy, the axiom "The sun never sets on the British Empire." was still an operational concept.  I remember for a class project in the fourth grade, I wrote to the British Embassy in Washington, and got back a map of the British Commonwealth.  Canada,  Autralia,and a whole lot of Africa as well as Asia, was under the Queen's dominion.

Although Anthony Eden's background was very dissimilar to that of Obama's, both came from elite families that gave them every advantage.  Like Obama following Bush, Eden took over the reins after a long period of being the understudy to that old imperialist, Winston Churchill.   Both men tend towards the technocratic, diffident,  and  intellectual frame of mind that keeps a psychic distance between them and the common voter.  But the most important characteristic of both men appears to be their total fecklessness.

Anthony Eden obtained infamy for the British Empire because of his insistence on having Great Britain act as if it were still a global power when he helped precipitate the Suez Crisis of 1956.  To make a long story short, Eden worked hand in hand with Israel and France to wrest control of the Suez Canal away from Gamal Abdul Nasser, maximum leader of Egypt at the time.

The only problem  was that Eden & Co. completely misread the intentions of Dwight  D. Eisenhower regarding the matter.  When  Britain, France, and Israel launched their attack on Egypt, Eisenhower not only lambasted them, but he threatened a massive devaluation of the British and French currencies, along with a cutoff of foreign aid to Israel. Let us not forget that at the time, the USA had the same relationship to those powers as the Bank of America has today  with  some customers having underwater loans on their houses. 

Because of the nature of British government, Anthony Eden quickly resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by Harold McMillan.  That will not happen in the US. Instead, we will be stuck with this awful malaise of corruption, insanity, and inaction that is stinking up everything from DC for quite some time.

Now up until now, you'll see that this train of thought could have just as easily been put forward by the Wall Street Journal or the National Review. I want to reassure you that I have not gone conservative.  And I have not gone conservative because I put the whole sorry episode of American foreign policy since 2001 not only into context with  British history, but with the cycles of decline for all of the European empires that I've studied.

It's axiomatic that Rome wasn't built in a day.  And the Roman Empire wasn't destroyed in a day.  From the death of Julius Caesar to the partition of Byzantium  from Rome was a period of over 400 years. In this current day and age, the shelf life of empire is expiring much, much quicker.

The reason why Anthony Eden has been relegated to the ash-heap of history is his disastrous decision to invade Suez.  Suez in 1956 was important, because for perhaps the first time -- it revealed to the whole world that the empire had no clothes.  To be sure, Britain had given up what is now India and Pakistan in 1947, but until 1956, there was the illusion that the British Empire was still alive and well.

Fast forward to the present day with Vladimir Putin's surprise gambit of saving the US's bacon in not entering  yet another disatrous war despite all of the intentions of the Saudi-Israeli lobby and the Obama White House.  There is a very high degree of congruence between what both Putin and Eisenhower managed to accomplish by their foreign policy magic tricks. In one word, we're talking humilation.

 And that, my friends -- is a very, very good thing. We will only be able to be certain with hindsight that our non-war in Syria represents the real beginning of the end for the American Empire.  But right now (given our recent track record), it's beginning to look like that.

You're certainly free to feel that Barack Obama is a hapless schmuck who couldn't govern his way out of a wet paper bag. But I contend that Barack Obama is merely occupying the White House at that point in history where the full folly of American exceptionalism and empire is shown for what it is.

It will not happen overnight. Rome didnt' fall apart in a day.  But it appears as if the long term trend is for the United States to be in such a weakened position that countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran will have to act like grown up, independent countries on their own (for better or worse), rather than having to look over their shoulders to see what Uncle Sam will be trying to pull on them.

No doubt the chattering classes in Washington, DC and New York will see this as a horrible disaster.  What is to become of world order if the US is not there with all of its military might? How dangerous is all of this going to be for humanity?  I'm sure that George Will and Charles Krauthammer will be able to churn out volumes on the great tragedy of it all.

But what American impotence in Syria portends is enormous for American society in perhaps the next ten years.  Our vast military infrastructure is superfluous! Our NSA/CIA/etc. intelligence structures are superfluous!  Countries all over the world will no longer have to worry about American inspired coups! 

Over time, all of this old, useless hardware will atropy, and eventually budgetary considerations will make us all radically downsize this crap.  Perhaps my dream of the military-industrial complex being replaced by the environmental-industrial complex will at least partially take place. Maybe after a decade, there will actually be a peace dividend!

To all of those empire mongers like Will and Krauthammer, I have a consolation prize.  If America follows an analogous course with Great Britain from 1956 to 1966, we will very shortly see a flowering of American arts and culture that has laid dormant for perhaps 40 years or more.

After all, it was only six years between the Suez Crisis and the Beatles for Great Britain. 

--------------------------------------------------------- 

 *Late breaking developments on Syria indicate that the non-Islamist Syrian forces fighting Assad are actually in positive negotiation with the Assad government.  This would appear to be yet another successful byproduct of the intervention of Vladimir Putin into the situation. No, Putin did not direct FSB operations in Moscow Central to achieve this.  Rather a climate was created by peaceful international co-operation that made events like this (on the ground in Syria) happen spontaneously.

 

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Obama is a casebook study in self-betrayal. Who in their right mind listens to someone like that? Clueless is as clueless does.
How does a 2014 Democratic Congressional takeover change anything? It didn't seem to do much good from '09-'11. Why would it matter in a year?
Although flowers frequently spring out from dung piles it is a bit like waiting for the Easter Bunny to hope for another Beatles era. Random events like that are pure luck.
ONL thanks for the Tea Party infomercial. One thing that irritates me is that none of you EVER use the title President Obama but instead just Obama or Barack Obama. President Obama was elected twice by a majority of Americans and quite frankly you like the others do not want a black man as President just as the Republican and Tea Party make that clear in erroneous propaganda and rhetoric and their desire to remove him from office, nothing more. Like the new plan though can't wait until midnight when they try to send the world economy into a spiral and deny 240 million Americans health care. They have been digging this hole themselves and are about to step into it and lay down and loose again......................o/e

you can delete this Libby always does for the same shit
Hmmm. I certainly detect a healthy dose of skepticism here. You're certainly entitled to be skeptical considering the shit storm of a US government that we currently have on our hands. And the global death star economy that we helped create would appear to negate anything good or positive coming from the hellhole that is called Washington, DC.

The first paragraph is, in fact, my assessment of the current situation. However, the purpose of this blog was to point out some of the longer term dynamics of the decay of empire. And Hiro has done an admirable job of laying out America's sorry record of defeat in this area lately.

If the US foreign policy machine were a football team right now, their record would be 0-9. From an imperial standpoint, America pretty much stinks. And when you go from defeat to defeat like that, it becomes clear that there are deep, underlying structures that are responsible for that string of goose eggs.

In other words, to even an abject idiot, America gives off the undeniable aroma of decay. For those of you actually living in the USA, I want to ask you. How's that local economy and homeless situation working out for you lately? Is prosperity running rampant in your town?

No, it is not. America at this stage is on the glide path to yet more inevitable decay. And pretty soon, something's going to have to give. Lots of scenarios are out there for the path of decay in the future.

I suppose one right wing scenario would be a US military coup, but that's pretty unpleasant. But what if the United States (because of the internal strengths of its national character and institutions) were to decay along British lines? To me, this scenario would be something very worth while.

And with the trajectory of recent foreign policy flops, there is at least hope in the long run that our big nasties of military-industrial complex and Big Unka could in fact wither away on the vine. This is totally possible, given the vicissitudes of federal budgetary policy over numerous cycles.

Bet you dollars to donuts, that if you applied game theory simulation over a ten year or more period, your game outcomes would tend to conform to what I have postulated.
Nice piece. Rated.

What vile nonsense from o/e! The idea that a political blog should recite titles is pure twaddle. I personally prefer to refer to Obama and Kerry as The Boy King and the Ketchup Consort.

More serious is the Beckian notion that anyone with the brains to identify Obama as someone with a unique blend of incompetence and arrogance is a racist. For shame! There's not a single sentence in ONL's post here or elsewhere of which I'm aware that would support such a cheap claim.

Then o/e writes in part, "lay down and loose again" Quite an accomplishment to make two English mistakes in the course of five words.
I cannot but agree that the USA has become something disgraceful although it never was anything but a wild dogfight where the people, for a short interim, did fairly well after WWII while the rest of the world became something pretty bad through U.S. support of some of the worse governments in history.

The basic problem with a thin sliver of the human race grabbing everything and the rest sliding into misery is that it simply malfunctions and collapses in the end.

A report today at the SlashDot site dramatically indicates how brittle technocracy cracks and crumbles when it tries to go against the basic cleverness of humans who will not be crushed. See http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/09/30/0256220/students-hack-school-issued-ipads-within-one-week
I certainly agree with you there on ecological collapse as a viable scenario, Jan. As to the Beatles, however. When a plant begins to think that it's dying, it goes into full bloom. Cultural decay has some pretty bitchin' byproducts. Look at Soviet art during the Brehznev period. Same difference with the Brits. America has been in a cultural deep freeze for decades. And I predict some righteous art coming down the pike -- partly because I've been making it right now (using myself as a "100% reliable?" sample of 1).
Gordon, as much as I love compliments -- we're still in disagreement. I say that because I believe that any POTUS in office right now would be going through a continued series of "blunders" in American foreign policy. The bad is baked into the system right now, and the constellation of global forces beginning to wake up and smell the coffee about our military, etc. overreach is totally beyond our control.

Obama may in fact be so smart as to have gamed out the entire situation as it's currently playing out in Syria. However, as POTUS he can't possibly tell the unvarnished truth about how he was hoping the Russkies would go in the Syrian door first, with us following.

The game in Washington, DC would not allow Obama to lay out plans for leading Russian participation to the Syrian problem. The Repugs and media would have had his head!

So, going along with the smart Obama meme, the only option for him was to play Dagwood Bumstead/Rodney Dangerfield.
So here we go again with Obama as a helpless victim whereas even without Republican opposition he is joyously shredding the Constitution and stumbling into military viciousness worldwide in actions worthy only of his predecessor.
Well I dunno, but I think if the good ole USA _had_ done yet another war by taking the Syrian bait that would have sunk them as Emperor of the World even faster.

America is using up vast quantities of wealth on its wars which it's running by means of a lot of poor folk who look on it as at-least-an-income and who are sent back on tours repeatedly, causing great numbers of post-traumatic and suicides, while starving its people at home, shipping their jobs overseas, featuring a clown congress that has no interest in the wellbeing of the population... Doomed anyway, hollowing itself from within.
But who will herald the second coming of The Rolling Stones?
1) He's been a sheep in wolf's clothing
2) He and the DNC totally underestimated, or capitulated to, the Tea Party
3) He continued the GOP system of rewarding the Banksters
4) He pushed Obamacare rather than fiscal policy
5) 4) was Plan B when he and the DNC blew the 2010 and 2012 congress elections
6) He's just not as smart as he thinks he is
7) He's not as articulate, in office, as he was campaigning
8) He presided over, what currently appears to be, the magnificent expansion of the Surveillance State, in order to "protect" the 1% from 99% -- who gets to decide who/what is a Terrorist Threat?

And so on, ad nauseum
It's an interesting thesis. Well, really, pair of theses: one having to do with Obama's haplessness and the other having to do with failures of American empire. The issues aren't entirely the same.

When Britain lost the American Revolution, they still had many powerful years ahead of them. They got involved in a military action where the public either wasn't behind them or sympathized with the opposition outright. We've been running into that more and more. We started that with Vietnam, where a war of national liberation was portrayed as a Cold War outbreak, but eventually it became apparent that that interpretation didn't wash. The American public didn't support the effort, and that was the beginning of the end.

If America is going to go to war, the public has to understand why; otherwise, the effort will be a tragic waste. When Bush I got us into Desert Storm, there were clearly defined goals: Get the Iraqis out of Kuwait and keep them from trying again any time soon. The war was internationally supported, quick, successful, and we got the Hell out when we finished. When we first went into Afghanistan, when the public knew we were after the guy who had just killed a couple of thousand Americans, the war was all about Shock and Awe. And then Bush II got us into Iraq for essentially no reason, and after he managed to depose Saddam, he went against the advice Thomas Friedman was giving him roughly twice a week in the NY Times and ignored the peace, resulting in our going from liberators to run-of-the-mill invaders. And, of course, Bush's focus on Bin Laden was now lost, meaning the whole point of being in Afghanistan was now gone. Shock and Awe went down the tubes.

With the extreme misuse of American power went its legitimacy, both at home and abroad. Suddenly we're seeing inclinations on the part of the American administration to get involved in various countries but they're not presenting coherent cases for what they even want to accomplish. The administration was acting in an analogous fashion to the people who virulently knock Obama here: We all know what they're against but we don't have a clue what they're for and how the Hell they suggest we get there. You're against Kaddafi? You're against Assad? OK. You used to be against the Taliban and against Saddam Hussein. Somewhere along the line, the second half of the proposition is AWOL and if you don't give it to us, we're not buying this, because we've been down this amorphous road before and all it gets us is dead Americans, dead foreign civilians, and pointless quagmires. And it costs us a bloody fortune at a time where the wealthy in American aren't being taxed enough for us to afford it.

But this isn't really about American weakness. It's about American aimlessness and about a sea change in the nature of the wars we're in. It may turn into American weakness down the road because of our finances. Right now, it's partially about a huge change in the nature of our military enemies. Our forces were built to oppose the Soviet Union, not Al Qaida. They worked on Saddam Hussein but not on a hundred guerilla factions. Unfortunately, the adjustment that this administration (and the last one) is trying to make to meet this new reality involves the whole NSA thing: Let's take on the terrorists by violating the world's privacy. The problem with this is that class warfare in the United States has meant that the US Government isn't sufficiently trusted with resources like that - we just don't buy that Big Brother is going to restrict his scrutiny to terrorists.

In terms of the President's haplessness, that's a different issue. There are a number of factors here. One of them is what Mr. Osmond refers to as a "Beckian notion." Bill Beck is right about one thing: The unprecedented opposition this President has been faced with since the minute he took office has a racist component. There's too much of that in the open at Tea Party rallies. Colin Powell, no liberal by any stretch of the imagination, has noticed this and backed the President on this issue. Obama did not get the usual honeymoon period; instead what he got was a public declaration that making sure he didn't get reelected was job one, and that's before he did a damned thing in office. The degree of opposition he has been faced with and how soon it started are both unprecedented in modern history. When you're faced with an unprecedented President at the same time as an unprecedented reaction to an incoming President, it is logical to look for correlations, and there's one huge one.

That being said, the fact that the President is faced with racism doesn't absolve him from doing things that are well within his power to improve things. Opposition or not, the man has access to media coverage and there are things he could say and do that he hasn't. Some have to do with foreign policy. Why exactly are we still in Afghanistan? As a somewhat politically astute observer, I have no clue. Bin Laden is dead. That's why we went. We all know that bankers took this country to the brink of ruin, and yet we also know that there have been no conspicuous prosecutions of these greedy men who came perilously close to destroying their country. That's an executive branch function, so why not? In the US currently, the poorest 40% of the population has roughly 3/10 of 1% of America's wealth, which is less than the Walton family has by itself. Two out of five Americans can't afford to walk into your average store at a time when taxes on the wealthy and major corporations are at historically low levels, and the President can't be bothered to point any of this out when trying to head off the next nonsensical attempted shutdown of the government by defaulting on our bills? Has the President bothered to tell us that if the government goes into default, that means higher interest rates and a colossal waste of the government's money and, more interestingly, that who stands to profit by these higher interest rates are the very banks that almost took us out in 2008? He can't be bothered to tell us that, given that Congress already passed this spending initially (the debt ceiling is a different vote), all this really amounts to is Republicans selling America out to the same banks? Does anyone think that no one in his administration is capable of figuring this out? Hell, can't the President even be bothered to say something in favor of unions so that we can at least get wages up so people at the bottom of the ladder can afford to shop again and American businesses can make more money? This is all on the President personally. That he has spoken out about little to none of this is 100% on him.

I don't know how this makes him like Eden. It might.
Hey! KS, we've had our differences but not on this.
Jan, we can't disagree on everything.

You even agree with my support of Bill's point?
There is no doubt of a modicum of racial prejudice against the first black president but to lay all criticism of Obama into racism is to discard all the other factors which make him unfit and that is a monstrous mistake. I do not relish being accused of racism when I criticize Obama for his miserable domestic and international agendas.
ONL,

Obama is not passive and he is not hapless. You still want your Obama to be outmaneuvred rather than to see the incredible success he has made of destroying our republic and our economy and the world's.

He is a frontman for oligarchy and militarism. Lots of smoke and mirrors with the amoral media's help. Obama is perfectly willing to play Lucy and the football with anyone, perfectly willing to lie or rather perfectly incapable of honoring the truth. The moral compass needle spins constantly and if you listen hard you can grab a reassuring statement to cling to as he moves on to very unsettling ones that are more accurate as to his will.

1) He went to the UN and he announced that the US was too exceptional to honor international law and we would when we felt like it but Bush's pre-emptive striking was really the way we would keep going. Also the US gets to pick who to label and kill as terrorists. Not the Egyptian army, though they slaughtered unarmed protesters. And not Al Qaeda all the time, since when they are in Syria they are our friends, or when they were in Libya. But when they were killing civilians and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, then they were the enemy justifying US global terror and garrisoning even more of the world. Oh and let's keep on demonizing Iran for its having a nuke in the future and denying evidence that it is not building one or wanting one and is using nuclear energy as it has a right to for fuel. Let's keep sanctioning them with economic hardship which kills the poor people there, because their govt. is not lying down supine showing its throat in surrender which is what the US policy is now (and Israeli). Mug any nation you can using your military, plunder it, displace millions of terrorized people or simply kill them. Obama doesn't even pretend to care about peace. He can't even bullshit well any more. Why should he. His apologists will take care of that piddling stuff.

2) In front of the UN he pretended the US was a bystander nation and not up to its teeth illegitimately enabling a civil war in Syria that isn't a civil war. It has been sustained by CIA, and jihadist mercenaries funded and weapon supplied and intelligence supplied by CIA and SA and other gulf pirating oppressive regimes.

3) Obama and the US have a double standard for terrorism and for the ues of chemical weapons. Okay when US and Israel, say, use them. Then they simply and horrifyingly ignore it and the media lets them get away with it. But when their ex -friends in crime like Assad (whom the US trusted to do its torture for it, and now paints him as a monster when the US wanted him to be a monster on its terms not very long ago but who really seriously cares about stuff like torture and gratuitous killing any more?).

4) Obama lied to a UN audience that the UN report on weapons had a finding that it didn't have. It did not prove Assad used chemical weapons but Obama is blithely saying it did. He will say anything. Nobody walked out on his speech of lies!!! Wow.

5) Obama lied that he was doing all he could to close Gitmo. What colossal and evil bullshit.

6) Obama asserted that his droning never kills civilians. More colossal evil bullshit. Obama is really lying big, but people trust the truthiness of Obama and don't really listen any more or never did, or don't see what he does, as he lies, the horrible things he actually does. He's had so many benefits of the doubt, when is enough enough?

7) Obama asserted the US promotes global stability. The US does the opposite and the globe knows it.

8) Obama congratulated himself for bringing financial recovery to the US and the globe. Oh really?

10) Obama asserted that intelligence gathering, the horrifying invasive scope of it, was simply keeping the balance of our security needs. No biggie and now we were all discussing it and isn't that so very nice. This he slid into the second half of a compound sentence and said no more about it.

Let's give credit where credit is due. Obama's leadership is leadership into destruction and evil and oppression and fascism.

Don't paint him as weak. Paint America as tragically passive as their freedoms circle the bowl.

Obama is not weak at all. He is building fascism in America. He and the millionaire Congress that has done nothing but score big money at the expense of the welfare of average Americans and global humanity. Another election coming up so more big selling out of all of us so they can keep their gated community with the one percenters and we can all eat cake.

I wish I were being hyperbolic. I am just not drinking any partisan koolaid or listening to a lying corporate media.

Obama said it all in his speech, what a rogue and amoral country we are and are committed to staying or worsening, rather.

best, libby
oops, 10 should be 9. I combined 2 of my 10 things.
o/e was banned from my blog for incivility not opinion differences.
Jan,
I certainly do not ascribe all criticism of President Obama to racism. I don't think Bill actually does either, though I think we disagree as to exactly how much criticism of Obama is racist in nature - being more aware of racism than I am for obvious reasons, his estimate is a good deal higher than mine.

There is also the issue of how much Obama could realistically accomplish and how much he couldn't. On health care, for example, I think it's probably accurate to say that he got what he could and wanted more. I'm not sure what the balance is on Guantanamo, though I've heard Congressional opposition has been a major factor. The opposition he's faced is unprecedented and it does have to be figured into the mix.

It's also not true that he has been the unmitigated disaster he predecessor was. Obamacare actually is an accomplishment. His stand on gay rights is a good thing. His recent change in Federal policy on drug charges (announced by Eric Holder) could be massively good for the United States. His environmental policies, while far from perfect, are far better than typical Republican alternatives. The 2009 stimulus saved this country from collapse, though it wasn't big enough to do more that stave off disaster, and it could have been.

He's a mixed bag. Personally, I tend to insist that we treat him as one. I'm a nuanced guy. The one time I posted my assessment of the man as President, I caught flak from every direction. I ended up with more comments on that post than anything else I've ever written, though the feuds the topic triggered tended to be responsible for most of those.

One of the only people who didn't give me flak for that post was this post's author, Old New Lefty. We tend to examine President Obama through somewhat different lenses but we tend to reach similar conclusions, which are:

1. The opposition to the man is insane, and ignoring it isn't honest. And there is some racism included in that opposition.
2. He has actually accomplished some good things, often over pretty steep odds.
3. He has failed to accomplish terribly important things that are within his power to accomplish with or without Congressional approval. He has also accomplished some negative things, or at least tried to.

Mixed bag.
And here I thought that Obama was the cloned bastard love child of Churchill, Hitler, Idi Amin and Osama bin Ladin... too much Fox News. R&R for delving into history. ;-)
Libby, as always, has done a far better job than me of nailing my objections to Obama to exactly where he stands.Not mch more I can say about it.
Obama is a troubled and a tragic figure, for himself as well as America and the world. An overachiever not only in his scoring the presidency when he is clearly not grounded as a leader in wisdom and maturity and intelligence but an overachiever on things like his TOTAL global intelligence surveillance (nothing less will do), presumed righteousness to kill Americans or anyone without due process, willing to cage innocent people forever for political aggrandizement or just not wanting to risk being politically inconvenienced one iota even when he is not running for office again, willing to launch a WWIII to prove his "credibility", willing to ferociously demonize and punish those attempting to tell the truth to their fellow Americans. Obama is a master of impression management. People pushing reality and communication must go. A forever gamesman, addicted to the game, hang whatever consequences.

He is not responsible? No. In the sense that he genuinely is not able to respond because that would require a moral vision and imagination and courage -- real courage not gamesmanship bravado!!!! Incapable of responsibility he is in terms of whatever combinations of disorders he made it through or didn't make it through childhood with. Grandiosity coincides with self-hate and secret shame and when that self-hate is projected outward look out world.

Obama has such little empathy for average non-wealthy and non-uber-controlling Americans, tellingly especially Black Americans (many who are in denial about his projection of contempt outward at them instead of at himself).

Yes, the Republicans are snakes but the Dems are ineffective because they don't abide by a moral compass, either.

Human beings deserve empathy, except when they are blighting the family of men and women with such profound suffering! Then one would hope a sensibility of justice would penetrate the celebrity and authority worship bubble of Americans who handed over the reins for two terms once again to someone of profound arrested development!

best, libby
Enter the age of nobody can lead this country because to do so would require the President to tell the American people what they do not what to hear. We as a nation have kicked the can down the road until we are just kicking it up against a wall with no place left to go. Just a 5% cut in government spending sent everyone into a tail spin, so the 30% needed to make things fiscally right will never happen. We want cradle to grave services, low taxes, no pain, no sacrifice and especially no changes that would fix the problems.

We are to busy watching TV to be bothered with actually participating in the political process. As a result we continue to elect the same people who are beholden to the special interest groups that channel the river of dirty money into their campaigns.

We bitch about congress, but if history is correct we will send 85% of them back to Washington to continue to do the same thing they are doing now. Does not matter if they are labeled democrat or republican they bow to the special interest groups and blame each other for the mess not themselves.
Thanks, Jan. Even I never expected Obama's speech to be filled with such gobsmacking lies and such incredible defiance for the very idea of international law. Such disrespect for the best ideals of the UN and the welfare of the global family of countries. Obama is a gangster in his heart and in his policies, hang the verbal bullshit which he uses less and less since he has such free rein. That is his code, the gangster might makes right ends justifies the means I got mine let them eat cake one. best, libby
onl, I was struck by your assertion that "the Tea Party controls Congress." They certainly don't control the Senate, and whatever control they have in the House is not absolute. At best they have enough leverage to force stalemates with the Senate, but the Senate has the backing of the President, and his threat of vetoes gives the edge to his party.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't get through it. I tried, I really did. It was the word feckless that made it impossible. You're getting more and more ideological and lost in space, innuendo and hyperbole.

You think the T-Party would have the control it does if Obama was white like you? Get off it. You're making a fool of yourself.

You think if Romney had been elected we'd be any better off? Is that what you're saying? Come on out of the fucking clouds. Or are you just trying to convince the other nut jobs that you're right?

You think he can do anything about Israel? Who do you think can? Who will be their constituency?

Feckless, my left nut. At least he's not a fucking idiot and if people listen to you that's who the next president will be.

The best thing that can happen now is that by shutting the govt. down the assholes will make enough enemies to at least return a few moderates to office so Obama can rule and the middle class can benefit.
Ditto what Ben Sen said, only replace "left nut" with "left ovary".
And yet another perfect example of ideology on parade: G. Osmond is on your side!

As I've pointed out numerous times: you have more in common with him, as he does with you, than centrists interested in the preservation of democracy as our form of government.

If nothing else, the distinction between politics and ideology is transformative, and you guys are basically on the same side against the interests of the common good.
An interesting comparison, but I'm not sure it's apt. Only time will tell whether Obama is as foolish and feckless as Eden -- or as brilliant and foresighted as George F Kennan, who had all this pretty well scoped out in 1948. I've given you the lengthy quote from his White Paper before, so this time let me summarize:

(1) By possessing and consuming a hugely disproportionate share of the world's goods, the US will for some time be a target of those far less fortunate.

(2) The peoples of Asia do not have our traditions or institutions, and to try and impose our form of government upon them is foolhardy.

If Kennan were alive today, I'm sure he would point out just how unsuccessful we've been, especially over the last couple of decades, trying to impose our will on other nations. And the ill-fated wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the latest evidence.

Those wars have (or they ought to have) dispelled forever the notion that overwhelming military power is sufficient to achieve political ends. Even worse, rather than proving our military superiority, those wars have proven the efficacy of asymmetrical, low-tech weaponry.

For that , we can thank the stupefying policies promulgated by the dullards behind the Project for a New American Century -- you know, the fellows who told us the Iraq War would be free and the Iraqis would greet us with flowers. The Inverse Domino Theory was as tragically flawed as the original.

To return to your proposition, Anthony Eden strikes me as being of the same stripe as the Neocons. That is to say, advocating the same sort of jack-booted, ill-fated, pig-headed policies that are the very antithesis of the conciliatory, patient, long-view advocated by Kennan and Obama.
Salaami:

You live in North Carolina?

Are you paying attention to your local news, gumpy?

You can't see what happens yet?

You think the Affordable Care Act is nothing?

You still haven't figured out the difference between ideology and politics, but you will, and if your feigned "fecklessness" is real, you will have the courage to admit it.
Saalami:

You think these guys won't come after you next if somebody gives them enough rope?
Tom C:

I'm afraid we keep making the mistake Lefty ain't as mad as Libby the Loon, but sometimes I wonder. You know damn well something is the matter if Osmond and the Geezer start supporting you.

Lefty: why the fuck don't you wake up?
@ Ben
No, I don't think Lefty is as loony as Libby, but I do think he's mistaken in his assessment of Obama. Given Lefty's generally liberal views on matters, I can only attribute his reaction to unrealistic expectations -- but certainly not to racism.

I think a lot of Liberals were expecting Obama to be Moses, but they apparently forget that Moses never made it to the Promised Land -- and neither will we, until we rid our politics of the wingnuts who want to go back to where we came from -- that is to say, back to the Fifties -- the 1850's -- when women and people of color knew there place and kept it.
NEWS FLASH!
Ben Sen makes the dubious claim that he has testicles!
k....i know its hopeless,but just once can the point be debated without the 12yr old snide remarks and 'i'm so much fucking smarter than you' babyshit comments....
Seems as if I've made everybody mad at me. First, let me get personal and talk about my feelings towards Barack Obama. I think he's a nice man. I think the GOP is filled with flaming douches who'd do anything to destroy him. With the Tea Party et. al., racism is sure a factor in a lot of hatred towards the man in this country. But remember what the GOP tried to do to Bill Clinton? The hate and irrationality of the right have been going on for a long time. Perhaps it's more obvious right now. But it's certainly no more extreme than in the 1960s with the John Birch Society. Only difference is that JBS philosophy is almost maintstream (see F*x News). And yes, as a rule -- the Democrats are super-wimps.

Yes, I have a lot of disappointment with Obama. koshersaalami and I have just about the same viewpoints on Obama, i.e. it's complex and multidimensional.

I write this blog because I'm trying to give information to people that they might not otherwise think about. The purpose of writing this particular piece was to talk about the fact that long term dynamics of empire in decay have a lot to do with American power equations these days.

I have always despised the concept of the American Empire, because I believe it represents so many bad things about this country. The military-industrial complex and our little wars are just two things that we could really do without.

I also see myself as a cold-blooded realist. I don't claim to have a superior ideology or belief system. I do claim to have a better knowledge of history, economics, political science, and some of the inner workings of government as compared to the average bear.

One of the basis for political disagreements often revolves around the principle of causality. Case in point: Conservatives demonize Obama because "he's in charge." I disagree with that viewpoint, because to me, there's ample evidence that in a huge percentage of time, politicos are merely finger puppets to the larger economic interests in society.

A lot of the criticism of me misses the mark, since I was posting more about the dynamics of empire at a fairly late stage. Much of my blog was a description of the current situation, albeit perhaps laden with colorful language. But if I wanted to be scholarly, then I should have spent more time trying to figure out how to get into academic publications instead of Open Salon.
ONL
Exactly

Ben
What in Hell do you think I think? I'm not some fool that thinks there is no difference between the parties. If you think I'm a Green, you have me confused with someone else.
To me it's still an open question as to whether any Dem president would have achieved more. Had it been Hillary I'm sure we would have seen the same vast right wing conspiracy that she decried in the 90s. As to whether second tier candidates like Biden or Edwards (yikes!) would have persuaded the Repubs to enable Guantanamo to close and the prisoners there to be tried in the U.S., well, I have my doubts. The same doubts apply to whether any other Dem pres could have rallied enough voters in 2010 to prevent the Repub/TP capture of Congress.
Don't hold your breath. Obama accomplished very little during his first 2 years when he had a Democratic congress. He seems to have wasted all his political capitol on passing a corporate welfare health care bill for insurance and drug companies. One that will leave 30,000 Americans uninsured and hike up insurance premiums by 20-30% for everyone else.

Imagine wasting all that political capital when he could have restored the Bill of Rights, passed campaign financing reform or ramped up public transportation and renewable energy.
There's beginning to be evidence that the smart Obama meme has been operating with regard to Syria. And there are additional developments that I will outline in my next blog that will give more optimism.
It's totally depressing that apparently intelligent informed people can be so gullible.
Quite the gentleman, Cordle. Stay classy.
Dr Steward,

The AHCA does nothing to reform healthcare. If benefits the healthcare industry and continues to suck more and more out of the GNP. It is a waste that President Obama traded away so much just to accomplish so little.

I am writing all congressman and senator and let them know I am not going to forget their actions come election day. But, in reality I know they do not care because most likely they will be reelected regardless.
I think you're being naive. All you have to do is look at the reaction to the Affordable Care Act, such as it is. The attempt to create a government that better serves the interests of the majority is now reason to try to bring down that government, and the left is no better than the right in making Obama the object of their scorn.

You don't need to defend yourself. You need to admit your shame.
"More serious is the Beckian notion that anyone with the brains to identify Obama as someone with a unique blend of incompetence and arrogance is a racist. For shame! There's not a single sentence in ONL's post here or elsewhere of which I'm aware that would support such a cheap claim."

Gordon Osmond, you should be ashamed of yourself. I never said such a thing, nor have I thought such a thing. Your specious claim is easily disproved.

Back before Open Salon lost all hope of being open, or a salon, I took on issues on their elements. I rarely see this done anymore. For starters, I took on the concept of supply side economics. The debate, such that it was, was ended when the right sought a Keynesian solution to the lending crisis. You can't say that government involvement in the economy is conditional while also saying that the free market is absolute. That was a big philosophical question. That huge historical moment passed with barely anyone noticing. The race of the players did not matter in that question, and that is how I discussed it.

On the subject of race, when many are typically are saying "racist", I was talking about privilege. The concept of the perception of wide swaths of the culture are interesting questions to me. The conduct of some bitter old man, and his jaundiced view of the world are not interesting to me. I have advised others to not accuse "racism" because it destorts the larger, more important issue. Usually they ignore my warning. They are idiots to do so. But let's be clear, this "Beckian" concept is your creation, not mine. Some of you get confused in a discussion of privilege. That's your problem, not my theory or philosophy.

This cost makes that particular error. Many posts about Obama have. I think many of you have shock about the person who was elected, and in some sort of tribal superstition, suddenly you foist expectations upon him that I have personally never seen. These analyses are emotional and blind. Who knows what is the cause of that blindness, but it is apparent. ONL is a nice guy. I like him, but this post comparing President Obama to a British PM who quickly resigned is nearly as absurd as Arthur Louis's comparison to Jackie Robinson. These posts do a similar thing every time. They take some out of context element and compare it to the American president, or American politics. The tack is not entirely suspect if it would also include an American President, or politician for balance. They generally do not.

Why was Lincoln great? Lincoln was great primarily because he followed what historians still consider the worst President in American history. The worst President in American history merely failed to do anything to prevent the Civil War. Lincoln is not great because of how he compares to anyone's comparison to their expectations upon his arrival. That metric is absurdly emotional, and profoundly useless. The world does not exist in our imaginations, before, during, or after facts. The world exists within itself. Bad, good, or great are determined by that which is done with that which one has.

Who or what Obama is will be determined by those who pay too much attention to news and politics, those who pay a little, and those who pay none at all. The leverage on history is least by those who watch the most, because we are the smallest group. The group that pays no attention at all exists in the largest numbers, works, votes, and buys groceries. That group, unpolled, will have the greatest impact. You wont find their opinions here. You wont find them in a popularity poll, and you wont find them in periodicals and pulp sold to the public right now. This will be seen through the course of events. Truths play out over time. Syria will or will not be resolved through diplomacy. That may or may not be a departure from the previous President's style. A diplomatic solution may or may not play out to the benefit of the region, and the world. How the President will be seen in either case is intuitive. Economic issues, and Constitutional issues, and the health of the respective major parties will play out in coming months, and those result will have an intuitive effect on the President's legacy. Ultimately, none of that has to do with race. I defy Gordon Osmond's false statement. It will not have to do with his race, and I never said that it did. To demonstrate that, I will provide what I think will happen.

Diplomacy will work, and that will be sustained going forward. Just like Woodrow Wilson's notion of a League of Nations was apparently defeated by domestic politics, and led to a humiliation, the long game will be definitive, as it was with Wilson.

The GOP is self immolating. The Democrats will reap the benefit and the result wont be some resigned British PM. You're free to try to choose some other symbol to define him if your ego requires it, but I suggest you let historians do that. These premature declarations of who the man is follow a distinct and silly pattern. They makes false claims...like Gordon Osmond does.
You have officially lost your mind. You know nothing about politics and your constant bashing of this great man on this site is horrible. President Obama's accomplishments are incredible and have personally made my life better. I just checked the Washington state exchange and I can get good coverage for $85 per month. My sons are able to get insurance until they are 26 which saves me thousands of dollars a year. Mental health parity is now a reality, a cause I have worked on for decades. Your are exactly a mirror image of the Tea Party. What you have in common with them is your belief in authoritarianism- Yeah, you have all the answers and if only people would follow your worldview, right?
Bill, when Gordon Osmond talked about Beckian concepts, I assumed he was talking about Glenn. ;)

Ben et. al., you are mistaken when you think that I'm castigating President Obama on this particular blog. A lot of what I talked about is being bandied about in the lamestream media, and I am describing those reactions. And as I said, don't confuse the issue of causality with the way political reality is being portrayed.

That's why you may all be surprised about my next blog, where I lavish tons of praise on the president.
Let's get one thing straight concerning ONL's opinion of the President. It is quite similar to mine though not identical - I'd never have chosen Anthony Eden - so I think I can speak for him in this.

On the question of

Do you support the President?

our answer is

Depends on what issue.

I think supporting the President in the face of all opposition doesn't make sense. I think vilifying the President in the face of all support doesn't make sense. Because most people I know here tend to fall into one of these two camps, ONL and I end up in opposition to just about everyone at some time or other.

Given our alternatives in 2008 and 2012, we needed to support the President in both elections. Allowing the only possible alternative was simply too irresponsible.

The issue of supporting or opposing the President has nothing to do with whether or not we acknowledge that a lot of the opposition to the President is racist. A lot of the opposition to the President is racist. Not all of it by any means, but a lot of it. Acknowledging this and condemning it doesn't mean giving Carte Blanche to the President; it just means saying that racism is worth condemning where it occurs, regardless of what we think of the President. It also does not mean that all criticism of the President is racist, but it means that some is and that the criticism that falls into that category should be condemned.

If anyone accuses anyone here of automatically assuming that all criticism of the President is racist, please back that up. I know of no one here who makes that assumption.
U lost me kid. I don't think u got the balls to admit how stupid you've been. Good luck. I'm done with you.
Sorry to see the usual degeneration into personal animosity happening here, because the original thesis was worth attending to: the US is in the process of slipping off the top of the power heap, and that is a good thing. Shocking revelation though it is, it is far from unfathomable. All through history, on almost every continent and finally on a global scale, the pattern has been repeated. Yer up, and a century or two later yer down. As highly as we like to regard our intelligence and ability to control our destiny, there are always too many unknowns, obscure movements, and forgotten details that will eventually deny our complacency. I fall in line with ONL, and will welcome the era (on behalf of my children) when the US finally mothballs the last of its war machine and starts fulfilling the aims of real democracy and social responsibility. Grandeur and illusions of power suited the elites of Europe and their fool puppets, but people are happier and better off now without it.

The problem with this dream, as history shows, is that there is an inevitable reaction. We may expect to see the beaten rightwing find its bearings and promote a string of candidates like Adolf Cruz who promise to turn around the decline and return the USA to its god-ordained place at the top. Be prepared for a resurgence of the Tea Party under a more intellectual cover. A coup attempt by the massively wealthy is not a farfetched notion. There is no great gulf between fecklessness and recklessness.
I rthink the "carte blanche" thing is a red herring. Who has ever said, support the President no matter what? I do not think such a category exists. I don't think the category that you place yourself in, Kosh, is any different from mine if that is your qualifier. It just looks like that given what generally stands for the opposition. The opposition usually consists of nonsense, or lack of seeing the big picture.

Compromise is necessary in our form of government. That does not endorse everything that a particular administration does, but it also does not mean that he or his Atty General need to be called an idiot to claim reasonable objectivity. Again, that "carte blanche" category is not real. It does not exist. I can't think of anyone who has that view.
It should be noted that if there is one thing outstanding about Obama it is his powerlessness to carry out many of his agendas. I am not particularly fond of any of his agendas as he has handled them but much of what he promised previous to his first election he has nt been able to carry out and his health plan no doubts ameliorates a bit of the total mess of U.S. health insurance but it leaves millions of people still thoroughly screwed by the rapacious health insurance industry and in no way gives American citizens the health care common in the single payer systems of many of the other Western countries which pay a fraction of their income for health compared to those in the USA.

Many of Obama's supporters here continually thrust that the failures of Obama are due to racial prejudice but there is none of that in his dealing with international problems yet his inherent weakness as a leader starkly stands out there as well as described in detail at http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175753/tomgram%3A_dilip_hiro%2C_the_mystery_of_washington%27s_waning_global_power/#more

and it is closely consistent with his domestic surrenders to the Republicans and their masters in the financial and corporate sectors.

The man has no leadership qualities to be demonstrated. He collapses at the various sneezes and coughs emitted when he makes proposals in any area.
Jan Sand and the much more balanced Dilip Hiro relish the fact that American power is waning in the ME (and so do I, just so it’s clear), but while Hiro offers reasons why he is painted into a corner, Sand et al merely continue to attack Obama for being spineless, feckless, and gutless for not taking effective action. I think in his heart he knows that this is now impossible, and likely never was during his presidency. Hiro appropriately quotes Putin, “…it is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts has become commonplace for the United States... Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan, ‘you’re either with us or against us.,” Yet the Obama-haters derive from this that backing away from total or targeted warfare is a bad thing because it shows that America as weak and indecisive. Hiro make a totally clear case that no outcome other than stalemate is possible without the US having more blood on its hands. Drone attacks (vastly fewer in recent months) not to imagine “boots on the ground” are not having a stabilizing effect… this is a good thing, and so what if it represents the continuation of an ill-conceived policy – fewer is better, and hesitancy is prudent.

Yes, the ACA is a sad shadow of what might have been if there was no powerful health industry and corrupt Congress. So why not blame Obama for that as well? I’ll dig out the old saws about flying pigs and riding beggars, and pit them against how many times I see that tongue-tickling descriptor ‘craven’ in comments on OS. Maybe I should look it up in the dictionary, but I think it is too strong for just another pol who made a lot of promises he probably knew he could not keep.
It is starkly clear that not only does Obama make promises he cannot keep, he does not even try. I have no objection for U.S.Power to be used rationally to better the world but to use it to gain further commercial power for the controlling corporations under the guise of a phony humanitarianism is just plain nauseating. If the president accepts the strictures of the office to support the Constitution and seek the welfare of the nation as a whole and then clearly indicates he is powerless to do so he is simply not worthy of the office.
The two words I learned from my coursework on the presidency are "style" and "direction." For example, I had problems with Bill Clinton's ethics from the very beginning. And yet Clinton did a damn good job of implementing his campaign promises.

On the other hand, Barack Obama is much more like me personally. And yet, Obama has done a far worse job of keeping his campaign promises than any president going back to Bush I.

I think the bad thing about American government the way it's evolved since Ronald Reagan is that the corporatacracy controls much more than it did before. American government has more and more begun to resemble a very expensive telenovela. The political actors that everyone sees are not real. The real players -- banks, defense contractors, and other special interests are more behind the scenes.
There is no doubt that the power of a country and its welfare requires optimum support of all its components of industry, labor, and all the associated qualities of culture accompanying that but the ultimate responsibility of a good government has the highest regard for the nation as a whole even to the neglect of any of its components in order to realize that deal. When benefits of any of its components overwhelms the benefits of the population as a whole those components must be recognized as a danger to the nation and treated as a diseased organ of a living body which requires major readjustment to bring back a nation into healthy harmony. Major components of the functioning of the USA have become sick and are a danger to the survival of the nation. If they have allocated to themselves the basic necessities of the survival of the nation to the detriment of the general population the nation will not survive in its original intent and whatever form the nation assumes will no longer conform to the intents of its originators.
Yes, it's no longer the country of (not my) founding fathers. For one thing, most white people are virtually slaves now too.