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Online mystery-ak

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As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« on: August 16, 2014, 10:49:25 AM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/world/middleeast/as-world-boils-fingers-point-obamas-way.html?_r=1

As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way

By PETER BAKERAUG. 15, 2014

WASHINGTON — In this summer of global tumult, the debate in Washington essentially boils down to two opposite positions: It is all President Obama’s fault, according to his critics; no, it is not, according to his supporters, because these are events beyond his control.

Americans often think of their president as an all-powerful figure who can command the tides of history — and presidents have encouraged this image over the years because the perception itself can be a form of power. But as his critics have made the case that Mr. Obama’s mistakes have fueled the turmoil in places like Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, the president has increasingly argued that his power to shape these seismic forces is actually limited.

“Apparently,” he said in frustration the other day, “people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on earth, still does not control everything around the world.”
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While as a statement of fact Mr. Obama’s assertion may be self-evident, it was seen by adversaries as a cop-out and even by more sympathetic analysts as a revealing moment for a president whiplashed by international instability.

“At least since World War II, presidents have been unwilling to discuss deficiencies in capability because they’re expected to do everything, and they like that sense of omnipotence,” said Jeremy Shapiro, a former Obama State Department official now at the Brookings Institution. “Obama has been trying to change that in the last year because he senses that the requirements of omnipotence have gotten so far out of whack with what he can actually accomplish that he needs to change the expectations.”

The risk, naturally, is that the president looks as if he is simply trying to excuse his own actions, or inactions, as the case may be.

“It’s become a refrain to the point where I think people are becoming quite critical that that’s his response to everything,” said Daniel L. Byman, a former member of the Sept. 11 commission staff now teaching at Georgetown University. “He’s not differentiating between things he can influence and those that he can’t.”

The bill of particulars against Mr. Obama is long. In the view of his critics, he failed to stanch the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria when he rejected proposals to arm more moderate elements of the Syrian resistance. He left a vacuum in Iraq by not doing more to leave a residual force behind when American troops exited in 2011. And he signaled weakness to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, encouraging the Kremlin to think it could intervene in Ukraine without fear of significant consequence.

“I certainly do not think President Obama is responsible for all of the world crises that have taken place during his time in office,” said William C. Inboden, a former national security aide to President George W. Bush and executive director of the William P. Clements Jr. Center on History, Strategy and Statecraft at the University of Texas. “But he is responsible for actions and attitudes he took that have contributed to some of those crises — and he is also responsible for how he responds, or fails to respond.”

Republicans are not the only ones voicing such sentiments. In her interview with The Atlantic that caused a recent furor, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said “the failure” to build up moderate Syrian rebels left a vacuum for the more ruthless forces of ISIS to fill.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion article on Friday, Gen. James L. Jones, the retired NATO commander and Mr. Obama’s first national security adviser, said the president should have left some troops in Iraq, retaliated against Syria for crossing his “red line” by using chemical weapons, and pressured the Baghdad government to arm the Kurds.

Such criticisms exasperate Mr. Obama and his team. In some cases, they argue, the crises that have emerged were wholly unforeseen. In others, they said, the solutions proffered by critics would not have worked and, in fact, may have made things worse. And besides, they often add, Mr. Obama inherited a situation that was broken when he got it, pointing to Mr. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in the first place.

In his recent interview with Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, Mr. Obama said “it’s always been a fantasy” to think providing arms to moderate Syrian rebels would have helped them against hardened Islamic extremists. And he said if he had left troops in Iraq, “The difference would be we’d have 10,000 troops in the middle of this chaos as opposed to having a much more limited number.”

Former Representative Lee H. Hamilton, Democrat of Indiana, said presidents can influence but not dictate events. “Americans have a very strong tendency to think that whatever we do is the most important thing happening everywhere, and we have so much power and so much clout that we can control events everywhere,” said Mr. Hamilton, now director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. “That’s part of what he’s wrestling with here.”

As it happens, Mr. Obama’s policy of restraint seems to match the public mood — polls find little appetite for robust American intervention in Ukraine, Syria or Iraq. And yet, there is a palpable sense of disappointment with Mr. Obama’s leadership on the world stage as well. Fifty-eight percent of Americans in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll disapproved of his handling of foreign policy, the highest of his presidency.

Presidents often find their popularity suffers when the world seems off kilter and they are held responsible even for events that may be beyond their sway. The who-lost-China debate during the early Cold War has been replicated repeatedly ever since in various forms.

Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and a former deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, said what makes this period different is the diffusion of power from states to nonstate forces, the rapid spread of technology and the rise of Islamic extremism.

“We have an overall contagion of diffusion which makes it much harder to advance the cause of regional and global governance,” he said.

Some Democrats said Mr. Obama’s challenge has not necessarily been his approach to these crises, but his ability to explain and sell it.

“What he’s come up with in Iraq and in Ukraine are sensible strategies,” said former Representative Jane Harman of California, now president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “He now needs to link them with a narrative that explains to the American people why we have to re-engage in foreign policy matters, and I hope he does that.”

Tom Donilon, another former national security adviser to Mr. Obama, said the president has had to exercise leadership in situations he inherited as well as in others that were not of his making, but added that to avoid letting them consume his remaining time in office, he should set the agenda for positive international initiatives.

“With almost two and a half years left in his presidency,” said Mr. Donilon, “it’s important to get beyond the incoming of crises around the world and look to a set of strategic initiatives that the United States can pursue that can bring change of a permanent nature.”

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Offline EC

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2014, 01:07:07 PM »
Listen, fuckhead. I don't give crap one about your strategic initiatives. You killed three of my friends with your red line in Syria bullshit.

Think I am going to forgive and forget that? Think again.
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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2014, 02:59:44 PM »
Listen, bleephead. I don't give crap one about your strategic initiatives. You killed three of my friends with your red line in Syria bullshit.

Think I am going to forgive and forget that? Think again.

He has the blood of many on his hands.  And all he can do is whine that it's not his fault.  He is not fit for the office.
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Offline EC

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2014, 03:04:31 PM »
He has the blood of many on his hands.  And all he can do is whine that it's not his fault.  He is not fit for the office.

He's not fit for janitor.

Look - I am a decent word slinger. I can't even begin to describe how much I detest him.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 03:06:13 PM by EC »
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Online alicewonders

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2014, 03:13:43 PM »
He's not fit for janitor.

Look - I am a decent word slinger. I can't even begin to describe how much I detest him.

Know what you mean.  I never thought I could despise someone as much as I do him - but he'll do something today that will make me hate him more - and I know that tomorrow, I will hate him even more than I do today. 

I don't know the words either, it's revulsion to the nth power. 
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Online musiclady

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2014, 06:56:42 PM »
Quote
Some Democrats said Mr. Obama’s challenge has not necessarily been his approach to these crises, but his ability to explain and sell it.

The ONLY thing this creepy little punk had going for him when he was elected was his ability to sell himself (I mean, consider that he's President and there is NOTHING in him that should have ever had that happen).

And now his lackeys are trying to tell us that he's got good ideas but can't SELL them?

Gimme a break!  Your guy's a worthless loser and he's messed up the country and the world.  Stop defending him, you idiots!
Character still matters.  It always matters.

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Online Oceander

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2014, 07:23:22 PM »
The ONLY thing this creepy little punk had going for him when he was elected was his ability to sell himself (I mean, consider that he's President and there is NOTHING in him that should have ever had that happen).

And now his lackeys are trying to tell us that he's got good ideas but can't SELL them?

Gimme a break!  Your guy's a worthless loser and he's messed up the country and the world.  Stop defending him, you idiots!


Well, he also had his skin color and, according to Harry Reid, was a light-skinned negro who could speak clean English as well as ghetto speak.
Trump does not represent the will of the people.  If we really wanted to respect the decision of "the people," then Clinton would be the president-elect, not Trump, for the simple reason that she won the popular vote.

Offline speekinout

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 08:21:53 PM »
He's not fit for janitor.

Look - I am a decent word slinger. I can't even begin to describe how much I detest him.

He has brought out the worst in us, and pitted us against each other. I detest him thoroughly, and I also have nothing but contempt for the people who elected him - the ones who voted for him both times, and the ones who abstained from voting in 2012.


Offline EC

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2014, 08:35:00 PM »
He has brought out the worst in us, and pitted us against each other. I detest him thoroughly, and I also have nothing but contempt for the people who elected him - the ones who voted for him both times, and the ones who abstained from voting in 2012.

I can sort of understand 2008. It was something new, exciting, different. 2012 though - where were their brains?
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Online musiclady

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2014, 09:43:28 PM »

Well, he also had his skin color and, according to Harry Reid, was a light-skinned negro who could speak clean English as well as ghetto speak.

True enough.

There had never been a "clean, articulate black man" before, so of course half the country (which they insist is racist) voted for him.

Oy.
Character still matters.  It always matters.

May 3, 2016 - the day the Republican party left ME.  I am now without a Party, and quite possibly without a country.  May God have mercy!

Online mystery-ak

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 09:50:40 PM »
He has brought out the worst in us, and pitted us against each other. I detest him thoroughly, and I also have nothing but contempt for the people who elected him - the ones who voted for him both times, and the ones who abstained from voting in 2012.


what you said...

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2014, 09:58:46 PM »
He has brought out the worst in us, and pitted us against each other. I detest him thoroughly, and I also have nothing but contempt for the people who elected him - the ones who voted for him both times, and the ones who abstained from voting in 2012.




agreed
Trump does not represent the will of the people.  If we really wanted to respect the decision of "the people," then Clinton would be the president-elect, not Trump, for the simple reason that she won the popular vote.

Offline massadvj

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Re: As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 12:13:28 AM »
I can sort of understand 2008. It was something new, exciting, different. 2012 though - where were their brains?

I think the low information voters did not want to deny the first black president a second term, and that was all there was to it.  Also, there was tepid right wing enthusiasm for Romney as an agent for reform.
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