Putting Lilypads On eBay

Biden’s much awaited remarks on U.S. foreign policy at the Munich Security Conference get perfunctory tap applause. One supposes it can’t hurt to repeat Obama will hit the policy ‘reset button.’

Kristol’s complaint that the U.S. presented no new over arching, intoxicating strategic vision is peevish. A new administration can’t be expected to establish more than atmospherics at this juncture. Kristol surprisingly isn’t gushing how much Bush speak remained in Biden’s debut — including Velvet enthusiasms.

She Told To Walk This Way, Talk This Way

Still, realities intrude. Many are lamenting that a rapprochement with Russia is not on the table. Moscow inadvertently may be doing the U.S. a favor in closing the main U.S. ‘lillypad’ in Krygyzstan crucial for current Afghan military operations — let alone future augmentation. First, it’s a sobering reminder that re-starting a game in co-op mode is not a unilateral decision. Second, Moscow’s action presents a clear moment to rank U.S. strategic priorities — a necessary discipline. To wit:

(a) Russian bi-lateral policy;
(b) American presence in Central Asia/Russian Near Abroad;
(c) the strategic viability of protracted operations, nay, nation building in the Kush;
(d) NATO’s future (Moscow’s calculations are all the more shrewd because it is obvious NATO is unwilling to support an American military surge);
(e) Pakistan; and
(f) Iran

Russia is essential for (f) and a key enabler for (b) and (c). America lacks the power to address these without Moscow. Trading away the absurdly totemistic BMD in Poland and Czecho would be small change for concessions. Besides, the Poles and Czechs want Americans on the ground to die in the event of Russian revanchism – whether they guard boondoggle telephone poles in the ground is beside the point. Think Obama pulling a Kennedy with the non quid pro quo fig leaf of the Turkish Thor missiles. He’d even love the comparison except for the Carolyn thing.

Now consider Afghanistan. Has the U.S. really thought through Obama’s enthusiasm for escalation? Let’s concede Dominique de Villepin is an ass. And his antics in 2002/2003 rooted in the worst of motivations. But did not the essential point of pleading with Bush to stand down remain? The Russians remember the 40th Army. NATO isn’t signing up. Karzai is the mayor of 1/2 of Kabul. If the ‘Stans and Russians see the ineptitude in Iraq and want no part of an American mess on their borders one can’t blame them. Gates can talk down goals still more but what is Obama’s exit strategy?

Finally, NATO’s irrelevancy is a stark truth. The old formulation was to keep the Americans in, the Germans down and the Russians out. NATO is an anachronism. It’s not going to carry a burden in Afghanistan no matter what Obama may plead. As we’ve said before, it’s also an absurdity to think the U.S. would, could or should go to war for Tbilisi or the Vistula.

There’s no need to call the Emperor buck. Allow NATO to wind down with inertia. End the unnecessarily provocative and strategically unsustainable Velvet expansions with lip service if necessary. This reset would advance real U.S. interests. Biden could even continue to mouth that the U.S. does not recognize ‘spheres of interest’.

We submit that Pakistan and Iran are the two most pressing American strategic challenges. Afghanistan is of course Pakistan’s strategic depth contra India and thus linked. Moscow’s recent actions and a truly meaningful re-think of American priorities give the U.S. a chance to realize the real stakes involved. The pot is worth an ante of malfunctioning missiles, an X band radar, followed by a later raise with quiet burial for things Velvet over-extension.

Who knows? It may even save Obama from his own Da Nang.


  1. Andrew Yu-Jen Wang says

    Speaking of George W. Bush:

    George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

    George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

    And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

    Many people know what Bush did.

    And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

    Bush was absolute evil.

    Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

    Bush is a psychological prisoner.

    Bush has a lot to worry about.

    Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

    In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

  2. Anon says

    “This Billy Mays asking you to contribute a small patriotic sum to the George W. Bush Presidential library – You will be entitled to one waterboarding for anyone in your extended family – So send a check now – we have ways of making you pay. As an added bonus, you’ll be entitled to a night of laughter and mayhem with the Cheney daughters …”

  3. Anon says

    We think we’re gonna sell Bernie Madoff commemorative plates – We’ll advertise on CNN, now that the Obama plates are no longer being sold (the die was destroyed).

    We’ll say the Madoff plate (” … his endless smirk and his knowing wink inspire us all …”) are a limited edition from the American Scamming Society

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      The Axe/Xe comparison is hilarious. Axe also famously co-opted the ‘naughty’-but-SNL-Uses-It-So-It-Is-Worse-Than-Benign MILF conceit. “Get your head down Mr. Karzai !! I’m from Xe here to . . . . . well hellooooo, Mrs. Karzai . . .”

      One wonders what the Obama plate commercials really tell us about the fragility of the cable TV financial market. What did that run cost? Probably not much. Yet so patently mocking, almost black face in subliminal tone.

      How much better to have Billy Mays push Kaboom! “Got a war criminal president? Kaboom! And he’s gone! Kaboom reaches into the corners of DoJ others just can’t. Wait, there’s more!”, etc. Far more entertaining.

  4. Anon says

    We just went to the drugstore and saw ‘Axe’ – that was the soap we were thinking of – In a sense, the marketing of ‘axe’ is similar to what it seems Xe is going for – Less of a kinetic vibe of Blackwater and more of half-pipe snowboarding mid 90s phat sensibility

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Prince’s Great Falls estate also could benefit from re-branding. No one wants to buy ‘The Blackwater’ place.

      A fiercely smiling heel clicking broker could brightly chirp, ‘We call this the Zee Mall . . . over there is the Carlo and Connie pavilion. And here we are at the Opus Dei Stables. We’re walking, we’re walking.”

      One has to chuckle thinking that Prince could have simplty purchased the same study recommending Philip Morris become ‘Altria’. Cut & paste and $3 MM. Ka ching.

      Why Prince is bothering is an open question. Does anyone think Xe removes crimes that Wallenstein himself would have punished? Perhaps customers may gave demanded it. But it’s not like Prince needs the dough. And with Holder, Obama et al., it’s not hip to be too open about the Bremer-enabled free billions in Zurich and the Caymans. Divine justice if some of Bremer’s lost billions found their way to Madoff’s mitts.

      Xe is particularly cringeworthy because it (contradicting above snark) also sounds like George Lucas deciding on naming Jar Jar Binks after talking with his 7 year old.

      “Honey, where should Daddy have to go to work? What do you think?”

      “I have to pee, Daddy ! I have to pee!”

      “Oh no. Not in the Hummer! Honey! Wait ! That’s it! Zee! Daddy loves you so much!”

      [ignores impending ecological event in vehicle as he speed dials everyone he knows, ‘It’s Zee! It’s Zee!”]

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    They should burn a copy of the NYT editorial onto a piece of toast. For the serious collector.

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Alex, thanks for that. Per your observation, am planning to re-enter the world of 1991-92 tonight and do light history diving. You make an excellent point.

    Hope to have a separate post on ‘something completely different’ up tonight or tomorrow at the latest.

  7. says

    The Russian general whose opinion I would like to hear is the guy who headed the advisory mission they left in Afghanistan, which did rather well keeping their government in place up to 1992 when they were withdrawn and the Soviet aid cut off, with well-known consequences. I think he was from the deep south himself. Magomedov? I can’t place the name.

  8. Comment says

    IMO it’s fine if Obama talks tough on Afganistan – or maybe surges temporarily. But he has to change the definition of the mission in the public eyes. Afganistan should be allowed to fall apart without it seeming to be an issue for Obama and the US. He has to re-focus away from hopeless nation building and back to the purpose of attacking terrorists and trying to capture UBL.

  9. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Gromov has an axe to grind, but Richard Holbrooke are you listening or seeing Aghanistan through the eyes of your ego?


    A Twitter in two years — ‘Hey, hey, Obama, how many boys aren’t coming home to momma?’

    Too jarring? It was only 3 years from 1965 to Tet. Although Obama has the good sense of not picking dogs up by their ears to giving presidential interviews from the Oval Office head. Or so we hope.

  10. Comment says

    Btw – it’s fascinating that false recent history is still a big vogue in the media.

  11. Comment says

    Bob Kagan said the Russian “attack” on Georgia proved that Georgia should have been put into NATO early.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge