Another Inexplicable Stupidity

Amidst the re-assuringly competent execution of the Obama Administration’s handling of TARP, the stimulus boondoggle, and now health care, all of us doubtlessly draw comfort from Obama’s ringing declaration today that ‘winning’ in Afghanistan is essential because the war (however defined) is one of ‘necessity, not of choice.’ Now, Laurence O’Donnell may call him the ‘greatest orator of our generation’ (O’Donnell was also chief of the Senate Finance Committee staff if you didn’t know. Really). Today, The Greatest Orator droned through what could have been a first draft of a Bush speech before Gerson and Bartlett weighed in.

Just wait. There’s more. These Obama Twitter wunderkind didn’t just send him out to make a speech on Afghanistan in the middle of a health reform melt down. No, they’re far too savvy for that. They’re from Chicago. And Rahm Emanuel won The Mondale Trophy. The Administration orchestrated some heavy meme pyrotechnics in a brazenly clumsy collusion with the Washington Post. True, what’s left of the WaPo is now thin, largely Neocon and when not, mindlessly reactionary (the worst kind). But an orchestrated leak plus the speech? Sure to get people to stop talking about a disastrous August. What better way to seize control of the news cycle than shoveling stale news with useless trivia to create false insider scoop drama about how Gates, Mullen and Obama just *had* to force out McKiernan last April.

Because you know Obama is in it to win it. Just like the public option.

News value? Zero. Old news. McKiernan was bagged and tagged five months ago. All the rationales are known from April. Placement in August? A1. The joint contempt for the American people by both the Administration and the permanent government’s ad circular? Through the roof.

It's A Timebomb, A Ticking Ticking Ticking Timebomb, Stop Now What's That Sound Everybody Look What's Going Down

Pete Feaver over at Foreign Policy calls out Obama. He also wasted more time analyzing the speech than it deserved.

For a concise intellectual critique we refer readers to one of Andrew Bacevich’s recent pieces, “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan and the Limits of American Power.” Col. Bacevich came up conversationally the other week when an acquaintance from SAIS recalled how Wolfowitz forced him out. Wolfowitz unsurprisingly found the civilian Eliot Cohen more congenial. At about this time SAIS as an institution committed to area studies began to wither into the husk it is now. (It’s not all the Neocons’ fault; in the 1990s and 2000s everyone wanted to get to Wall Street and could care less about dirty people in far off places that didn’t speak American).

Per Bacevich:

In the immediate wake of 9/11, all the talk—much of it emanating from neoconservative quarters—was about achieving a “decisive victory” over terror. The reality is that we can’t eliminate every last armed militant harboring a grudge against the West. Nor do we need to. As long as we maintain adequate defenses, Al Qaeda operatives, hunkered down in their caves, pose no more than a modest threat. As for the Taliban, unless they manage to establish enclaves in places like New Jersey or Miami, the danger they pose to the United States falls several notches below the threat posed by Cuba, which is no threat at all.

As for the putatively existential challenge posed by Islamic radicalism, that project will prove ultimately to be a self-defeating one. What violent Islamists have on offer-a rejection of modernity that aims to restore the caliphate and unify the ummah [community]—doesn’t sell. In this regard, Iran—its nuclear aspirations the subject of much hand-wringing—offers considerable cause for hope. Much like the Castro revolution that once elicited so much angst in Washington, the Islamic revolution launched in 1979 has failed resoundingly. Observers once feared that the revolution inspired and led by the Ayatollah Khomeini would sweep across the Persian Gulf. In fact, it has accomplished precious little. Within Iran itself, the Islamic republic no longer represents the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people, as the tens of thousands of protesters who recently filled the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities made evident. Here we see foretold the fate awaiting the revolutionary cause that Osama bin Laden purports to promote.

In short, time is on our side, not on the side of those who proclaim their intention of turning back the clock to the fifteenth century. The ethos of consumption and individual autonomy, privileging the here and now over the eternal, will conquer the Muslim world as surely as it is conquering East Asia and as surely as it has already conquered what was once known as Christendom. It’s the wreckage left in the wake of that conquest that demands our attention. If the United States today has a saving mission, it is to save itself. Speaking in the midst of another unnecessary war back in 1967, Martin Luther King got it exactly right: “Come home, America.” The prophet of that era urged his countrymen to take on “the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism.”

Dr. King’s list of evils may need a bit of tweaking—in our own day, the sins requiring expiation number more than three. Yet in his insistence that we first heal ourselves, King remains today the prophet we ignore at our peril. That Barack Obama should fail to realize this qualifies as not only ironic but inexplicable.

Lest we forget:

If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    McChrystal wants another 45,000. The Westmoreland Offensive will drown the enemy in a sea of blood!

    “I think they (the Obama administration) thought this would be more popular and easier,” a senior Pentagon official said. “We are not getting a Bush-like commitment to this war.”

  2. Comment says

    Tweety (“Obama’s Mom was a Moslem”) says to Joe Klein than bloggers don’t fact check.

  3. Comment says

    Saw tweety with Delay — Tweety was doing his best to fuel the birther movement while maintaining an official anti-birther pose – Total slob and oaf.

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    The John Boorman/Voight nexus perhaps explains much. But is it perhaps asking too much for an actor to be any more educated, literate or coherent than a newsbabe when the teleprompter is off? Consider his claim that if deficits go up and we raise taxes to cover them, *then* we go in default. Contra say under the Warlord when deficits didn’t matter.

    Changing gears, Joan Walsh is getting shrill.

    It’s funny. Her gushing and name dropping reflect a queen bee of a third tier popular clique in high school lunch dictating sitting protocol to her hive. What passes for a ‘Left’ in America (i.e., a non-totally corporatist, middle of the road, non-Movement faction) is weak. Olbermann, self-parody aisde, is a talented natural broadcaster. Neither applies to Tweety or Maddow. Tweety is lodged at MSNBC like a bad tumor.

    At the very least, the ‘Left’ (koff) could do better replacing Maddow. Her giggling, high school slumber partyisms aside, how tiresome to hear to her declaim day after day something as new and earthshaking re matters already known to all. 5 hours a week is valuable air. The final insult? The juvenile ending each night with that plasticine fop and their joint narcissistic patty cake routine. Phil Griffin deserves at the very least self-criticism and banishment to the CW.

    Surely the ‘Left’ [sic] has someone more substantive to make better use of the air time? Or is the bench that thin?

  5. Comment says

    Voight is a good actor – too bad he is insane – like many other actors, on the left and right.

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    “We are witnessing a slow, steady takeover of our true freedoms. We are becoming a socialist nation, and whoever can’t see this is probably hoping it isn’t true. If we permit Mr. Obama to take over all our industries, if we permit him to raise our taxes to support unconstitutional causes, then we will be in default. This great America will become a paralyzed nation.

    “Do not let the Obama administration fool you with all their cunning Alinsky methods. And if you don’t know what that method is, I implore you to get the book ‘Rules for Radicals,’ by Saul Alinsky. Mr. Obama is very well trained in these methods.”

    Jon Voight, Soldier of Freedom and Dad of 1/2 of Brangelina

  7. Comment says

    Leo – we just read Richard Stubbing’s “The Defense Game” -sort of dated, but a pretty good overview history of this big kahuna

  8. Comment says

    Indeed – that’s sort of ironical if you accept on face value the left/right divide that the media validates – Hunter – if you scan back on STSOZ you’ll note some earlier commentary about this regnant “objective” meme

  9. Hunter says

    “Objectively” may have been used by the neocons, but it’s not theirs… it is, has always been, and always will be the Old Left’s. Not that Marxist language hasn’t penetrated most sides of contemporary discourse, but still. That one’s pretty egregious.

  10. Comment says

    If you wanted to lampoon Frum’s shifting political obsessions you could draw a cartoon of some hapless terrorist as Frum’s major threat to Murka’s existing in 2002 and now that’s been replaced by a fatso town hall yeller.

  11. Anon says

    Oh I wasn’t referring to the people…. The ones doing the manipulation are the deeply stupid. See Ticking Timebomb post

  12. Comment says

    In some respects – NASCAR and Whole Foods are perfect opposite symbols for our parched political discourse. Both are — to use a neoconism – “objectively” the opposite of their seeming-image.

    Consider NASCAR – a sport we find fun to watch in an offhand sort of way – NASCAR is objectively liberal because the obviously phony solidarity it compels from conservative opinion class elites.

    Consider Jpod and the others claiming to be part of NASCAR nation – all that wasted fraudulent energy they expend pretending to like Larr
    y the Cable guy or Garth Brooks or that other country western guy who set himself up as the go to guy for anti Dixie Chickism and then made an unwitting fool of himself singing a song blaming Saddam for 9-11.

    Eventually – some like Frum – for commercial and positioning reasons as well as just frustration started to say “enough with this”

    Meanwhile precious libs long lifestyled the right wing Whole Foods – a brutal capitalist store.

  13. Comment says

    We don’t think Americans are dumb or stupid – quite the contrary – It’s just a question of priorities in busy lives – Some people just don’t follow politics and some of them – rightly or wrongly – decided it mattered more to them to follow other stuff – This may suck sometimes — for the public interest – but other times, it has hard to quantify benefits –

    OT – we have longer regards Whole Foods to be too expensive and pretentious and annoying – Esp their in-house literature – So we are very happy to see the shambolic left aesthetic pose ripped off by Mackey the CEO with his anti health care reform op-ed.

    We now can gloat ‘we told you so’ to some friends who shopped at Whole Foods as some sort of secular sacrament, as they weep an organic tear or two upon realizing they were subsidizing a more-right-wing-than-NASCAR business all this time,

  14. sglover says

    “The unbearable lightness of living in a country full of idiots. Sigh.”

    Well…. C’mon, be fair. For one thing — remember your Chomsky! — there’s an enormous and unprecedented apparatus devoted to keeping the plebs distracted. For another, I suspect that the majority of Americans know in their bones that whatever’s going on in the Imperial Center is as remote and uncontrollable as the weather. What evidence is there, from these last 30 years, to persuade them otherwise?

  15. Anon says

    DUH ?

    Afghanistan has defeated empires much more competent than ours. Getting into another war while being at war in there was the height of stupidity.

    Hey maybe the poppy crop will fix the US economy. If not, Iraq’s oil will… right ? Greeted as liberators, slam dunk, etc, etc…

    The unbearable lightness of living in a country full of idiots. Sigh.

  16. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Majority in Post-ABC Poll Say Afghan War Not Worth Fighting

    A majority of Americans now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting and just a quarter say more U.S. troops should be sent to the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Most have confidence in the ability of the United States to meet its primary goals — defeating the Taliban, facilitating effective economic development and molding an honest and effective Afghan government — but very few say Thursday’s elections there are likely to produce such a government.

    News Alert
    05:01 PM EDT Wednesday, August 19, 2009

  17. Comment says

    Yorkshire Ranter goes after Robert Novak’s son in law new book – His Steynian Euro rant

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Sir Alec was destined to play Smiley. One can almost forgive him for ‘Use the Force’. Watching this, one couldn’t help but think what Michael Bey would have done with it. The woman heading to the bus stop played by Megan Fox or LiLo, the Russian having a scar proving he is really from Cobra, and the bus that pulls away explodes as a Soviet 50 foot robot lands fro the heavens. 3 minutes of film costing $7 MM dollars. But it would open number one in South Korea for sure.

  18. Anon says

    Reading the article, it seems to me that McKiernan was right and Obama watched helplessly / cluelessly while his Bush holdouts sacked a good man.

    That’s gotta be demoralizing for people in the military trying to heal and clean stuff post Warlord. Another instance of Obama playing possum. UGH

  19. Anon says

    Aye, wait. Those Blue Norwegian parrots pine a lot for their lost fjords. They’ll be back to flying in no time :p

    No matter… The social forces that brought the end of Warlord’s reign still exist. As long as those idiots in the Duma and WH can manage to fake some semblance of being alive, I still have hope. “Hope for Change” is hilarious indeed.

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