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Monday, August 11, 2014

David Brooks, "Clinton, Obama and Iraq": Different Flavors of Democrats

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt


"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

- John F. Kennedy


"Don’t do stupid shit"

- Barack Obama


Obama left on Saturday for a two-week golfing vacation. He wasn't willing to allow a few beheadings and crucifixions by ISIL, ten thousand Yazidis dying of thirst on a mountain, or continued tension involving the Ukraine, to stand in the way of his vacation. But let's not be too harsh on the president. Before boarding the plane for Martha's Vineyard, the president did provide the captain of his New York Times cheerleader squad, Thomas Friedman, with his attempt at explaining away the current global wildfire (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/thomas-friedman-obama-on-world-making.html), while at the same time effectively warning America's friends in Iraqi Kurdistan: You may be under attack by maniacal Islamists, but it's your problem, not ours, and don't be expecting much help from us.

Whether or not by accident, this past weekend, The Atlantic published Jeffrey Goldberg's interview of Hillary Clinton (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/jeffrey-goldberg-hillary-clinton.html), in which she attempted to distance herself from Obama's policies. Hillary declared: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don’t do stupid shit' is not an organizing principle." Ouch.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Clinton, Obama and Iraq" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/opinion/david-brooks-clinton-obama-and-iraq.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region), David Brooks acknowledges that there are "different flavors" of Democratic thinking. He goes on to side with Hillary with regard to her sudden assault upon Obama's neo-isolationist policies:

"In practice, the Clinton approach strikes me as more sound, for the same reason that early intervention against cancer is safer than late-term surgery. In the Middle East, malevolent groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria grow unless checked. Even in situations where our 'friends' are dysfunctional, the world has to somehow check them, using a multitude of levers. Having done so little in Syria and Iraq for the past year, we can end the caliphate or we can stay out of Iraq, but we can’t do both."

The "Clinton approach"? Excuse me, but Hillary spent four years as Obama's secretary of state, circumnavigating the globe and accomplishing . . . nothing. And although, as observed by Brooks, Clinton now "argues that Obama might have done more to help the moderate opposition in Syria fight the regime of President Bashar al-Assad," consider what Hillary said in 2011:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? Yeah, right.

In fact, far more can be understood about the "Clinton approach" from the Blue dress episode. Hillary stood by her philandering husband, confident that she would ultimately reap her just, or unjust, reward, i.e. her turn as president. On the other hand, Obama has now learned not to expect loyalty from his former secretary of state, when his "inept" (I am being kind) foreign policy stands in the way of her lifelong ambition.

"Don't do stupid shit"? Thanks to his former secretary of state, Obama finally has his legacy for which he will long be remembered in the history books.

[See also: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/frank-bruni-hillary-clinton-barbed-and.html]

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