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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Obama on the World": Israel Must Be Weakened

With the world in flames, US Secretary of State John Kerry, still licking his wounds after a disastrous attempt to mediate Israel's conflict with Hamas, is making himself scarce on a seven-day trip to Afghanistan, Burma, Australia, the Solomon Islands and Hawaii.

Meanwhile, President Obama is expected to leave today for a two-week vacation in Martha's Vineyard, where he will be staying in a "seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, [which] sits on a 10-acre lot and . . . features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court" ( Ah yes, a man of the people.

However, before leaving for Martha's Vineyard, Obama graciously took the time to meet with the captain of his New York Times cheerleading squad, Thomas Friedman, in order to explain away his dysfunctional foreign policy, and in an op-ed entitled "Obama on the World" (, Tom Terrific provides us with Obama's reasoning.

The Ukraine

Friedman writes:

"Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia 'could invade' Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, 'trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.'"

Or in other words, after informing Putin via Medvedev that he would be much more "flexible" toward Russia during his second term in office, Obama is now saying that the US will do absolutely nothing if Russia invades the Ukraine. On the other hand, Obama will no longer be so sweet to Putin over the course of the next two years if Putin misbehaves. Yes, that should have Putin in a cold sweat.


Friedman writes:

"Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret."

Needless to say, Obama does not regret the death of four Americans in Benghazi or his refusal to make any effort whatsoever to save them.


Friedman writes:

"With 'respect to Syria,' said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has 'always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.'"

Providing Syrian "moderates" with a no-fly zone could not have helped them? More to the point, if it was 1776, I wonder if Obama would also be making the argument that "an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth" could not possibly stand up to the British empire.


Friedman writes:

"The 'broader point we need to stay focused on,' [Obama] added, 'is what we have is a disaffected Sunni minority in the case of Iraq, a majority in the case of Syria, stretching from essentially Baghdad to Damascus. ... Unless we can give them a formula that speaks to the aspirations of that population, we are inevitably going to have problems. ... Unfortunately, there was a period of time where the Shia majority in Iraq didn’t fully understand that. They’re starting to understand it now. Unfortunately, we still have ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], which has, I think, very little appeal to ordinary Sunnis.' But 'they’re filling a vacuum, and the question for us has to be not simply how we counteract them militarily but how are we going to speak to a Sunni majority in that area ... that, right now, is detached from the global economy.'"

"Disaffected Sunnis," who are "detached from the global economy"? I suppose that explains why they are so busy crucifying and beheading people. Worse still, it almost sounds as if Obama empathizes with ISIL, which is now threatening the execution of King Abdullah, the leader of another American ally in the region, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (see:

The Kurds

Friedman writes:

"'I do think the Kurds used that time that was given by our troop sacrifices in Iraq,' Obama added. 'They used that time well, and the Kurdish region is functional the way we would like to see. It is tolerant of other sects and other religions in a way that we would like to see elsewhere. So we do think it’s important to make sure that that space is protected, but, more broadly, what I’ve indicated is that I don’t want to be in the business of being the Iraqi air force. I don’t want to get in the business for that matter of being the Kurdish air force, in the absence of a commitment of the people on the ground to get their act together and do what’s necessary politically to start protecting themselves and to push back against ISIL.'"

Stated otherwise, Obama sounds ready to abandon America's second best friend in the Middle East, the Kurds. He is obviously putting them on notice that American support will be minimal in their fight against ISIL. Some 30 millions Kurds in the Middle East still don't have a country of their own or an organized army, yet Obama is letting ISIL know that he is prepared to abandon the Kurds if they don't "get their act together."


Friedman writes:

"[W]e did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.' That only would have encouraged, he said, Maliki and other Shiites to think: '‘We don’t actually have to make compromises. We don’t have to make any decisions. We don’t have to go through the difficult process of figuring out what we’ve done wrong in the past. All we have to do is let the Americans bail us out again. And we can go about business as usual.’'"

In other words, Iraq screwed up in the past, and now they are on their own, even if that means that Jordan is next to fall.


Saving the best for last, Friedman writes:

"Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 'poll numbers are a lot higher than mine' and 'were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza,' Obama said. 'And so if he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement. That’s a tough thing to do. . . . In some ways, Bibi is too strong."

"In some ways, Bibi is too strong"? I suppose that explains why Kerry promoted the demands of Hamas, when he sought to achieve a cease-fire involving the current Gaza conflict. In accordance with Obama's strategy of "no victors, no vanquished," which is repeatedly emphasized over the course of Friedman's discussion with Obama, Israel's negotiating position needed to be undermined in order to achieve peace.

But can you imagine Obama accepting the mediation of North Korea in America's war with al-Qaeda? (Obama demanded that Israel accept Qatar and Turkey as mediators.)

And can you imagine Obama informing Americans that in their struggle with al-Qaeda there can be no victors, no vanquished?

Which leaves us with the question, who will be minding the store while Obama is playing golf in Martha's Vineyard? Given Obama's neo-isolationist, i.e. nihilistic, foreign policy, maybe it really doesn't matter at all.


  1. Is Jarrett on vacations too? She is running the country anyway.
    BTW, Obama must very unhappy today and we might see "A Drama Obama"- the political arm of his beloved Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt. How could they do this to him?
    Jeff, I don't know how you can read this "1984" stuff. Personally I can't.

  2. Jeff, let me check if I understand it correctly:
    An American ally is attacked and American president is concerned that a democratically elected leader of this democratic ally might be too strong to win?