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29 August 2010

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FB Ali

Ingolf, your thoughtful comment deserves a more measured post; my last one was rather flip, with more anger than reflection behind it.

I agree with what you say about Obama. Yet, I feel we should leave open the possibility that he may yet surprise us. For example, it is quite possible that he will start winding down the Afghan war next year. His firing of McChrystal shows that he is not overawed by the generals (as the rest of Washington seems to be). His insistence on publicly citing an exit date in 2011 (on the face of it, counter-productive on many scores) may indicate that he could hold the generals to their bargain that, if they weren’t succeeding by then with the extra troops he gave them, it was time to pull out. Making it easier for him is the fact that the 'perpetual war' brigade has moved on, and is now busy beating the war drums for an Iran attack. Everyone else is sick of the Afghan war already.

CK

It is the usual case that if one wishes the money flow to continue, one does the bidding of the money pusher. It is always possible that Allawi is of sterner stuff and his monetary benefactors are altruists at heart and do not demand his continued obediance.
But the whore that doesn't do the paid for job is rarely called back for a second meet and greet.

judith weingarten

@ CK, what if Allawi is the only whore in town who's available?

CK

@judith:
On the one hand, but then again on the other.
Allow me to suggest that you peruse the writings of the Krugman and others on the "virtues" of free trade among towns.
Allow me, also, to suggest that there are many one horse towns but very very very few one whore towns.
Seriously, do you really think that there is only one quisling in iraq? ...istan? ... Norway? .... USA?
But, granting your hypothesis that Allawi is the only whore remaining to purchase, sometimes it is adviseable to put your money back in your wallet and stroll on down the road to some other place (maybe breakaway Kurdistan, maybe Yemen maybe Somalialand, maybe Somalia.) The world is full of places with Quislings and Vichys and Arnolds with market prices and market availability.

Ingolf

You're right, Furrukh, closing one's mind is never a good idea. And like you, I'd be delighted if he ended up surprising us.

For some time, I've felt Obama is detached, slightly robotic, I'm almost tempted to say depressed. There's none of the fire and enthusiasm that characterised his rise. His words and phrases seem pedestrian now; it's almost like he's phoning it in.

For curiosity's sake, I went back and read a brief 2002 speech on Iraq. What a difference; conviction, passion, intelligence and a great sense of a readiness to act. A couple of brief quotes just as a reminder:

"I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."

[ . . . . . ]

"But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors...and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda."

http://usliberals.about.com/od/extraordinaryspeeches/a/Obama2002War.htm

Where did this guy go? Does the job itself end up sucking the marrow out of a man?

At any rate, I'd be most interested in whether you (or anyone else here, obviously) has a similar impression of the change in Obama. He still puzzles me.

FB Ali

There is a marked change in him, Ingolf, as you note. Interesting you should suspect he’s suffering from “depression”. Wouldn’t be surprising, considering his situation. Tens of millions of Americans believe he is a Muslim/not a citizen/ the anti-Christ/a traitor/worse. Millions of those who elected him are totally disillusioned with his policies, and won’t support him any more. Things aren’t working in the country on his watch. No wonder a British paper wondered if he’d given up, and wouldn’t seek re-election.

That speech you quoted reminded me of the Obama who came into office, and why so many of us even outside the USA had such high hopes of him. I have no idea if he’ll be able to muster the strength and fortitude to overcome all these obstacles, and yet succeed in realising some of that promise. One can only hope.

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

That speech you quoted reminded me of the Obama who came into office, and why so many of us even outside the USA had such high hopes of him.

Or, is it evidence of how deeply empty he might be?

Think of how amoral/narcissistic the man must be if he can be so persuasive (and craven/opportunistic) in his speeches on the way to the top job, and then so completely unconnected to his "promise" once in the job.

I am quite conflicted by the guy and have been almost since I visibly saw the change in demeanor when he walked onto the Grant Park stage 4 November 2008. "Phoning it in" is an apt description. "Not even trying" is one I also like. I know the alternative was unacceptable, but the "con" that seems to be dawning on those that believed in him stings nearly as bad as Cheney-Bush's criminally corrupt administration.

For certain, the promises & hopes are completely mismatched by the performance to date. Is this mismatch unique among politicians or the same-old, same-old story of candidate vs. president? Is it by design or by circumstance? These will be the questions future historians debate.

RP

Ingolf

Yes, Furrukh, it reminded me of the same thing. And you're right; it can't be much fun. Still, I'd have thought the Obama of old would have relished the fight and eviscerated his more idiotic critics with that trademark combination of intelligence, passion and understanding. I guess the change will have to remain a mystery for now, and perhaps forever.

I still can't buy the more cynical explanations, that he was always a kind of Trojan horse for vested interests, chosen because of his political and rhetorical skills. He had such an extraordinary chance to be a true hero, an exemplar, not only but nevertheless particularly for his own race. Even if he'd fought the good fight and failed in the end. Instead, he seems to have frittered away almost everything.

As you say, one can only hope.

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