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17 March 2016


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Borg = "Foreign policy establishment." pl

Patrick armstrong

He's polishing the turd. "Don't blame me for the Juliet Foxtrot, I wasn't there".

David Lentini

I'm still trying to find Obama's "genus" that the press loves to talk about. In foreign policy, he has been very much the emperor without clothes; the man the Borg love to pet and coo at while they do their own bidding at our expense.

David Lentini

What's a "Juliet Foxtrot"? I know about Charlie Foxtrots, but this is news to me.


Obama's desire to be accepted by the Washington establishment was the hallmark of his every policy from his first day in office, leading to abdication of his mandates on economic stimulus, banking reform, health care reform, and foreign policy. The situation called for a head-knocker, not someone who hoped that by waving the magic wand of his personna he could undo the entrenched dysfunction. We've had two "reformers," Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who were at best competent caretakers for the Washington establishment when the situation called for a transformative challenger. Now there's a potentially transformative, head-knocking challenger coming and we're seeing what REAL panic on the part of the Washington establishment looks like. Thought Obama took some cheap shots in 2008? Ha!


A very confused Virgil, who forgot that he was supposed to be Augustus; and this self-pitying whine is his Aeneid.


Though I am in no way giving Obama a get out of jail free card. (Both him and his predecessor should be in jail) I think the author does need to bone up on the role that congress plays in budgeting, appointments and passing laws. The president may be the most powerful man on earth. But is subservient in a lot of ways to Congress. A congress packed with hacks,flacks and idiots from both sides of the isle.


Affirmative action doesn't look very noble when its recipient is under 24/7 public scrutiny.



This sheds light on a dark subject. With Nancy Regan’s passing the stories of her tiffs with the White House Chiefs of Staff were recounted. Then I suddenly realized I had no idea who the current one is.

The only reason that I come up with is that Denis McDonough is no longer in the center of the decision making system. The White House is a scripted Information Operation directed by outside powers.

“A kingdom for a stage, princes to act. And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!”

Ken Macaulay

Obama polishing his credentials to become the chief lobbyist for the TPP when he leaves office?
Will the forthcoming Obama foundation be able to eclipse the Clinton foundation as the go to for dodgy corporates & dodgy foreign political aspirants - if she gets the gets elected?
This I believe will be one of the big stories in the future...


The Clinton Foundation was an investment not payback. Obama won't be penniless, but the Clintons weren't bringing in the big bucks until after Kerry lost in 2004. We are 10,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 away from who will challenge President Edwards as he seeks a second term. Hillary might be a trivia question in that world.

Michelle isn't running for office. Obama never built his own patronage program, relying on too many Clinton retreads, Rahm, Podesta. There are no big bucks to be had.

Kyle Pearson

It has seemed to me, at many times in Obama's presidency, that the cabinet members are leading and Obama is simply following the best of a lot of very bad recommendations.

That was true during G. W. Bush's tenure as president, and also as Reagan's tenure - at least during his later years, when his mind was pretty much gone.

I suspect it was also often true during Bill Clinton's term -

I think it's wrong to say that these three or four presidents "set" foreign policy. How much does anyone here think that Clinton knew the first thing about Yugoslavia? Colonel Lang has made it quite clear that Cheney and Rumsfeld (but mainly Cheney) purposefully distorted the intelligence that the public received on Iraq and its purported WMDs - why is it such a stretch to think that these presidents, each of whom lacked any or had only minimal experience in the Executive or Federal branches, could be expected to formulate a foreign policy that is independent of the people who are feeding them the information they must base their decisions upon?

Obama basically fired Clinton, and brought in Kerry to take her place - with that shift, we have seen a relatively large shift in foreign policy.

It seems to me that Obama's speech, when couched in the third person, is indicating that his own ability to influence policy is strongly limited by the government institutions atop which he has been placed.

I myself can understand if a President who regularly orders drone strikes on compounds half-a-planet away might be worried about what could happen to him (or her) should s/he deviate too greatly away from DC's proffered solutions.


I continue to believe that the presidency simply isn't as influential at this stage of empire as it was in the past. And whether cause or effect (probably both), we aren't the beneficiaries of having a good selection of quality political leaders participating at any level - from local school boards to the WH. There's more for individuals having drive & talent to accomplish elsewhere. I suspect this has dawned on Obama. He may realize that rather than affirmative action that positioned him to become president, it was lousy competition. Let the Borg & Wall St & Congress have its way... "I'm getting out alive". Given the tenor of our polity and elites these days, that may be a real accomplishment.


Didn't Lincoln speak of himself in the third person?

Charles Michael

"Obama's desire to be accepted by the Washington establishment..."

Yes, I fully agree with that, to say it plainly: it shows a real psychological weakness, IMO largely sourced in its origins.

So when his job was to be the Ring Master (ring, loop, beltway)he satisfied himself to be the iconic first AA president, the blue-eyed boy of the harpies even if in some occasions he cunningly deflected USA Foreign Policy from some more disasters.


Honest question here - are there lots of non-neocons available to advise the President, or have the neocons intellectually captured the foreign policy apparatus?

William R. Cumming

Thanks for all participating in this post and thread. Perhaps a short hand for evaluation of candidates and Presidents? What decisions have they made, and how and when did they make them?

I would argue that the legal profession by training is an observer class that does all it can to avoid accountability. The Obama Administration may be the high point for one lacking accountability.

As to FP [foreign policy] and foreign relations the U.S. allows key Ambassadorial slots to be purchased so what can be really expected? And since most painted in SECRECY its inhabitants allowed to construct visions of their role that are largely non-factually based.

Patrick Armstrong

Same thing. JF may be more Canadian Army slang than CF.

Seamus Padraig

"He is not a constrained Doge of Venice under strict surveillance by the Great Council of aristocrats."

Oh, but what if he is? For some years now, I have strongly entertained the notion that the US president is not a sun-king at all, but rather a mere corporate CEO who answers to a board of directors. The question is, who are the directors in this case?

"It is the neo-cons and their hard-line companions in arms who, he believes, are the cynosure of core American beliefs about the world and our place in it."

The neocons seem to act like sheepdogs, herding one president after the next--both Democrat and Republican--towards pre-planned policies and objectives. Thus, they do not so much work for our presidents as work them over! But if they do not really work for the president, whom do they work for? Again, who comprises this mysterious board of directors?

Peter Reichard

Obama was a tool of Wall Street and the foreign policy establishment from the get go.His role was to put a new more friendly face on the empire after the Bush administration burned through all its international political capital after 9-11 and alienated the entire world with its blatant aggression, incompetence and Texas swagger.So successful was he initially that the Europeans were even bamboozled into giving him the Nobel Peace Prize.I expected a kinder and gentler imperialism as R2P replaced neoconservatism as a rationale for US intervention but it certainly hasn't been so. R2P is a fraud, its proponents don't have a humanitarian bone in their bodies. It is just neoconservative aggression repackaged in a way to be sold to liberal dupes. Temperamentally Obama might have made a great labor mediator or UN ambassador but not a President. He is indecisive, listening to both sides then steering a middle course between his hawk and dove advisers satisfying neither and producing an ineffective policy. This is not leadership. He feels constrained by the establishment to operate within narrow confines. This too is not leadership. I often wonder if his policies are limited by him being subject to some kind of blackmail and/or intimidation. His background is very mysterious and untransparent even to the extent that the continent of his birth has been in question. Who knows what might lurk in his past? His personal security has been compromised by numerous Secret Service failures. Is it just incompetence or is a message being sent to him by the powers that be? One wonders.

David Lentini

The Clintons have proven that "caretaking" can be quite profitable. I suspect the same will be true for Mr. Obama.

David Lentini

True, but in 2008 Obama had a very unique public mandate that he could have used like a trump card (no pun intended) like the last Democrat to confront a major stock market crash, FDR. Obama chose instead to install himself in the WH with a fawning entourage.



IMO the neocons and R2P neoliberals have bred non-neocons and non-neliberals out of the system through selections, non-selections and retirements. pl


I read some time back that Obama had only made two decisions in his life -- to stop smoking (a resolution that didn't last) and to buy his house from the felon Rezko.

Reading the article I didn't get much to suspect that indecisiveness had changed much.

I notice no one took on the whole question raised about the syncophant who painted the portrait. As I read, I couldn't believe the amount of koolaid he drank to slake his thrist. Just a tarted up version of People magazine article really. Who knew you could portray the Commander in Chief as Top Celebrity. Who knew? Not much more than the Paris HiltonKim Kardashian fashion paraade. Or is it merely the Manchurian Candidate has a summer fling with another chickenhawk?

Great critique. I thought maybe only I was seeing the distancing Obama engages in. Very astute comments.


"I think the author does need to bone up ..."

sounds close to my inner response to Michael Brenner, and I am quite pleased he picks up on the issue.

"(Both him and his predecessor should be in jail)"

I can understand the impulse concerning Bush jun's court. But I assume that the trouble is that whoever shaped matters ending in "Operation Enduring Freedom" can claim they were indeed true believers. ... Curveball, wasn't that the German's fault?

What should get Obama in jail? Ideally it should be something into which he wasn't thrown, so to speak. The drone war? ... If so, Jeffrey does not give us much evidence. ;)

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