Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Obamafication of Great Power Arms Control

Conservatives knew Barack Obama lacked gravitas over two years ago. And now we're starting to see the rest of the country catch on. Folks are getting hip to the Democrats' epic electoral fail of 2008.

Recall, during the first Democratic debate, in April 2007, "
Obama failed to cast himself as a forceful commander in chief." As one headline reported at the time, "Lightweight Senator Overwhelmed By Grown-ups at Adults-Only Function." And who can forget Obama's Berlin speech last summer? Der Spiegel asked, "Is Obama Speech Site Contaminated by Nazi Past?" And we saw this from Michelle Malkin, "Next Stop, Germany: Ich bin ein beginner!":

So, let's just consider President Obama's U.S.-Russia summit this week. It's one more indication of the woeful unseriousness of this man and his administration. The highlights are at
Memeorandum. CNN has a story on Sasha and Malia Obama, "Obama Girls Take Russia by Storm." Plus, the New York Times follows up with, "Family Night for Obamas Miffs Some in Moscow."

It turns out that the Russian people haven't lost their faculties over this American president. As
Fausta indicates, "The Russians ...having lived with centuries’ worth of narcissistic egotists passing as heads of state, were underwhelmed by Obama..."

The president himself remains inside
a narcissisitic bubble and the rest of the world can only watch dumfounded as this administration sleepwalks through history.

Compare that meme to this article on earlier eras of superpower arms control, "
U.S.-Russia Talks Yield No Breakthroughs":

There was a time when an American president would travel to Moscow for a summit and the world watched intently to see if history would be made.

These days, most people seem prepared to settle for more modest outcomes.

That was the ambiguous result of Barack Obama's first trip as president to meet with his Russian counterparts. Obama came away from two days of talks with important, if not momentous, agreements to renew nuclear arms talks and allow U.S. warplanes to fly through Russian airspace on their way to Afghanistan.

But long-standing differences -- on U.S. missile defense plans, human rights and the response to Iran's nuclear ambitions -- remained unbridged.

Nor was it certain that Obama succeeded in his attempt to overcome years of deteriorating relations and alleviate wider Russian mistrust of U.S. aims by speaking over the heads of the country's elite to those outside the realm of power.

In a bit of characteristic stagecraft, the president took his message to a large assembly of the young and educated, speaking at the commencement ceremonies of the New Economic School. He reminded Russians of their nation's shared sacrifice with the United States in defeating fascism in the mid-20th century, and said that 21st century America was not trying to hold the country back.

"Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia," Obama said. "This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition."

But none of Russia's domestic television channels carried the speech live. And the event was more heavily attended by Western-leaning intelligentsia and business community representatives than by members of Russia's ruling elite. News programs later played clips of the speech -- with newscasters adding pointedly that Obama's arrival onstage interrupted the distribution of diplomas to the school's students.
Behold the Obamafication of great power arms control.

The Russians don't care about this man, despite the president's displeasure at not being feted like a Victorian-era European head of state.

Meanwhile, the enduring logic of international politics continues its unavoidabe grind: "
Russia Itches for Another Georgian War."

Election 2012 can't come fast enough, especially for those who called this a massive presidential fail before the Democrats sealed the deal.


Anonymous said...

Fausta writes, "Obama’s foreign host, be it Sarkozy, Dmitri Medvedev, or whoever the next dignitary may be, naively considers the office and duties of head of state to be the top priority during state visits. They simply don’t understand that the endless self-promotion and apology tours are mere background opportunities for Obama to showcase himself as above all such mundane concerns."

I don't know about Sarkozy, but I'm sure the Russians see that. I think Angela Merkel sees it too. She's not a dumb lady, and of all the current European establishment politicians she is the best statesman by far. Obama, in his posturing, does not understand that the real Victorian era European heads of state were feared, not loved by foreign rivals and preferred it that way. Across the Atlantic they're laughing at him behind his back.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Douglas: There's an echo in paragraph 3, viz:

"Plus, the New York Times follows up with, "Family Night for Obamas Miffs Some in Moscow." But the best of these, also from the Times, is "Family Night for Obamas Miffs Some in Moscow."

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Tim said...

Doctor, I do think you are out of whack here again. Not really a surprise. I guess what I'm continually amazed at is your willingness to listen to airheads like Malkin, rather than use your own intelligence. But so be it...

In the real world of politics, it's always interesting to listen to someone who knows, by experience, a bit more. Turns out Kissinger (yes, a man to be admired, and hated) has different feelings on Obama's moves.

Re: Russia...

"Obama is like a chess player who is playing simultaneous chess and has opened his game with an unusual opening. Now he's got to play his hand as he plays his various counterparts. We haven't gotten beyond the opening game move yet. I have no quarrel with the opening move."

Kissinger sees a bigger picture than the nitwit neocons, a discredited and mostly despised group around the world...

"The belief in democracy as a universal remedy regularly reappears in American foreign policy. Its most recent appearance came with the so-called neocons in the Bush administration. Actually, Obama is much closer to a realistic policy on this issue than Bush was."

Donald, this is a man who has been there, done that, bought the album. Your posts show a weak-kneed response that seeks to hide under the guise of the past. It's fear-based, and weak intellectually.

Kenneth Davenport said...

I think it was telling that reports from the one-on-one meeting between Putin and Obama made it clear that "Putin did most of the talking". Sounds a bit like the dressing down that a young JFK got from Khruschev in Vienna in their one (and only) meeting. It was clear then that the Kremlin thought JFK was weak, and would further test him in Cuba the following year. The irony, of course, is that Kennedy's was a hawk compared to Obama -- who had the mettle to back the Russians down over Cuba, bail out Berlin and move to match Russian efforts in South East Asia.

One suspects that Putin knows that Obama is a weak leader, and that he will not move strongly to counter aggressive Rusian moves -- either in South Ossetia or in the Middle East.

Like most things that Obama does, this was all about image and style. The substance (such as it is) gets pushed aside by the media, and slowly we are further weakened.

It's death by a thousand cuts.

Tom the Redhunter said...

You quote Kissinger, Tim, but you are without substance. Just because someone with a big name says something doesn't make it true.

For example, you tell us that Kissinger says that "Obama is much closer to a realistic policy on this issue than Bush was." but don't say why.

So for you to call Donald weak is the pot calling the kettle black.

Rich Casebolt said...

Tim, all I have to look at is ...

... which approach to foreign policy has done more to push tyrants back and liberate pepole from oppression ...

... which approach to foreign policy has produced more REAL reduction in nuclear arms stockpiles ...

... which approach to foreign policy has done more to establish rights-respecting governance and its derivatives: prosperity and sustainable peace ...

... to discern the approach we need to be using.

Mr. Kissinger may understand a lot about specific leaders and regimes ... but I think he does not assign enough weight in his analysis to the basic principles of human nature that both drive, and can be driven against, them.

I think he, like many in the realist camp, sells the effect of credible confrontation and efforts to expand rights-respecting governance short, when it comes to establishing and expanding sustainable peace.

Let's face it ... by the calculus described above, a plain-speakin' cowboy actor did more for diplomacy and peace than this sophisticated intellectual heavyweight.

That is not to discredit the accomplishments of Mr. Kissinger, who was, among other things instrumental in pushing China away from the Maoist paradigm ... but if we are going to effectively utilize diplomacy for the good of mankind, we have to be honest.

And not relativist.

Bob Belvedere said...

'It is madness for sheep to talk peace with a wolf.' —Thomas Fuller

Quoted from and linked to at:

Unknown said...

In Obama's mind he's a great leader bringing the world together based on his sheer brilliance. He's not fooling many, especially people like Putin and Merkel.

Tim said...

Rich, as you know, my approach is not conservative and thus unchangeable. My approach is to look at each situation differently, and judge on current climates, economics, etc. What myself and others are saying is that this is NOT 25-45 years ago. It's today. Kissinger gets this. Obama does too.

Read the whole interview.

It's refreshing to read a more nuanced, historically referenced approach than what Donald presents here based on some blogger(s).

Rich Casebolt said...

Tim ... so in other words, there is no need to learn from history?

Human nature ... and how it affects, and is affected by ... human governance does not change, Tim.

There is nothing new here ... Mr. Obama is bringing a mouth to a mixed-martial-arts-with-weapons fight, just as Carter did before him ... and before that, Chamberlain.

And the results will be the same ... the strongman gets stronger, and his need to respect the rights of others diminishes.

And without that respect for freedom, peace is just an illusion.

Tim said...

Rich, take it up with Kissinger then, not me. You merely recite your tried and true lines like they are some kind of gospel. I suspect you don't really have that much of a grasp of that time period. Even if you lived through it. It's far more complicated than your anecdotal, Rush Limbaugh-verified version of history.

Rich Casebolt said...

Tim, the problem with you and your fellow-travelers is that you almost always think that it is not Just That Simple ... when history has shown us that it very often is.

I think that such stuckness-on-stupidity happens, because the simple answer -- no matter how accurate -- doesn't give y'all a big enough stage to parade your intellect upon, so you go looking for detail where none exists.

It's like some of my fellow Christians, who analyze/analyze/analyze Scripture in an attempt to wring out every bit of meaning ... and "find" things that, from what I see, aren't really there.

Being unable to end the Cold War with progressive diplomacy vs. liberating Eastern Europe as a result of cowboy diplomacy is a pretty big "andecote".

I repeat myself, only because history shows what I am saying to be the truth ... often, the whole truth, with nothing more to be added by further intellectual "enhancement".

BTW, you repeat yourselves, as well ... as I say, the current Administration is CHANGE BACK, not CHANGE.

As I have said before, a man's gotta know his limitations. I wish all you Best and Brightest would know yours ... and not go beyond them, letting your nuance take you on a retrograde path back to less peace and less prosperity as you repeat yourselves through policy. Don't you even learn from history?