Friday, August 21, 2015

Robert Parry — The Riddle of Obama’s Foreign Policy

Rather than "the riddle of Obama’s foreign policy," I would say "the enigma that is Barack Obama." In my estimation, the president is a thorough-going pragmatist who doesn't stand for anything, so it is difficult to characterize him. 

Many view this a sign of weakness in comparison with someone like G. W. Bush, whose stood by principle regardless of what others through of his "principles." But I don't see Obama as particularly weak. For example, he took a big chance politically and reputationally on the operation that took out Osama, certainly fully aware of how that kind of move had worked out for Jimmy Carter in the attempt to rescue the embassy hostages being held in Iran and for Bill Clinton in sending Rangers into Mogadishu.

Pragmatism is a strategy just like standing on principle and presenting a strong front is. The difference between someone like W and Barack Obama is W's principles were clear and consistently adhered to, whereas Barack Obama only enunciate principle when it is pragmatic to do so and reserves the right to change his mind when the so-called principle no longer seems pragmatic. To many the former comes across as strength and conviction, and the latter as either weakness or lack of principle as defects in a leader.

As it turns out, pragmatism was what candidate Obama meant by bipartisanship.

Consortium News
The Riddle of Obama’s Foreign Policy
Robert Parry


Dan Lynch said...

@Tom said he took a big chance politically and reputationally on the operation that took out Osama

The operation was not a "big chance" if we believe Sy Hersh's version that OBL was an unarmed prisoner and the "raid" was a cold blooded assassination of a crippled old man.

Otherwise agree that Obama is not driven by principles, though "pragmatic" is not the word I would choose to describe him.

Tom Hickey said...

That may be, Dan. But remember they did crash one of the two helicopters in the operation. It wasn't a slam dunk.

Tom Hickey said...

I was listening to an interview of Jimmy Carter today on NPR while driving and he was asked if there was anything he would to do over differently. He answered that he would have sent another helicopter along on the Iran hostage rescue mission.

Calgacus said...

Greek Left Platform Creates New Popular Unity Party

The new Popular Unity Party will hold up the "NO" Referendum, honor the Anti-Austerity wishes of the people, stop privatization, break up the banking system, build a new economy and exit the Eurozone.

Methinks this deserves a post! Tickled to be the first to note it here.

Random said...

Ha, Cal I noted that first!

Ignacio said...

Will be interesting to see what the people supports. The Greeks don't have any more excuses now that they have a platform and the everything is known.

Hopefully Schauble plan will make a come back and they will this time GRAB IT, as it was actually a decent offer.

Marian Ruccius said...

Obama is not only a pragmatist. A true pragmatist might have more clearly supported many of the middle eastern dictators in their attempts to suppress popular uprisings. In many ways the Arab Spring and its outfall are the result of the deliberate tactical withdrawal of US support for abusive régimes, rather like the USSR's retreat from Eastern Europe in 1989 to 1991. The fights we are seeing are analagous to the wars in the Balkans. However, Obama, in contradistinction to other presidents, seems to have been willing to sacrifice foreign goals for what his administration conceives as domestic "wins" -- TPP, the Ukraine, etc. are sideshows and concessions to a Republican congress in return for moderation of opposition in other areas -- e.g. health care, and immigration policy. One does wonder what dirt Wall Street has on him, though.

Ryan Harris said...

The Obama admin worked hard to ensure policy was consistent with the wishes of his contributors and if possible in the best interests of the voters and industries in the regions where his voters tend to cluster. I don't know about pragmatic, it seems fairly corrupt and populist more than pragmatic. The policy goals as a whole completely reshaped middle east foreign policy and have become neutral rather than pro-Israel and pro-Sunni to better support exports of media, software, pharma and other goods to wide swaths of the globe without alienating current markets completely. Our relationships with Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador have become more constructive in terms of removing sanctions and allowing trade while our support for right wing forces and "pro-democracy" and all that have been maintained. Our relationship with right wingers in places like Mexico and Columbia are maintained and trade has flourished. The US now negotiates and trades with people even when we don't agree on ideology. I'm not sure it is pragmatic as much as delivering bacon to multinational and billionaire contributors. He has been less-preachy and more willing to engage in Africa while filling AirForce one with billionaire contributors on his trips to deliver hundreds of billions in trade deals. He has taken a more assertive role than we have seen in Asia in terms of trade and getting environmental and labor standards integrated with agreements along with big gifts for his contributors in media, software, education, and others. I don't share his ideology and agree with everything he has done, but I think it was an improvement over previous administrations. Our often tense relationship with Japan, even on difficult issues like Okinawa have improved while Europe that has long bullied the US into pushing their policy objectives and neo-liberal ideology have been thwarted though we remain close allies on most issues. The diplomatic cables released on Ukraine this week were interesting, and I'm surprised Tom hasn't posted them. They pretty much contradict everything Tom has claimed to be true about US involvement in Ukraine during the Crimea invasion. The US not only refused to help Ukraine, we urged them not to fight Russia's invasion. Perhaps that is why Putin has warmed up to Obama again in recent weeks?

Random said...

"The US not only refused to help Ukraine, we urged them not to fight Russia's invasion. Perhaps that is why Putin has warmed up to Obama again in recent weeks?"
Maybe. US and Russia need to ally against China.

Ignacio said...

If Russian plays its cards well it will be courted by 3 different power blocks during the next decades.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, if bin Laden had outwitted not only the National Security Agency, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies, all intelligence agencies of Washington’s NATO puppet states, Israel’s Mossad, and in addition the National Security Council, NORAD, US air traffic control, and airport security four times on the same morning, it would be the greatest feat in world history, a movement building feat that would have made al Qaeda the most successful anti-imperialist organization in human history, an extraordinary victory over “the great satan” that would have brought millions of new recruits into al Qaeda’s ranks. Yet the alleged “mastermind” denied all responsibility.
...many Americans have seen post-2001 videos in which a person alleged to be bin Laden takes credit for the attacks. There are two problems with these videos. Experts have examined them and found them to be fakes, and all of the videos appeared after bin Laden was reported by the Pakistan Observer, the Egyptian press, and Fox News to have died in mid-December, 2001, from lung disease.,2933,41576,00.html See also
Bin Laden also suffered from kidney disease. According to a CBS news report on January 28, 2002, Osama bin Laden was hospitalized for dialysis treatment in the Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi on September 10, 2001, the day before 9/11.
Obviously, a man suffering from terminal lung and kidney disease did not survive for another decade to be murdered by a US Navy SEAL team in Abbottabad. A Pakistani TV interview with the neighbor of the alleged “bin Laden compound” exposed the assassination hoax. This sensational interview also went unreported by america’s “free press.” I had the interview translated, and it is available here: See also
...Shortly after the alleged assassination 30 members of the SEAL unit died in a mysterious helicopter crash in Afghanistan, and now we learn that not a single one of the thousands of sailors on the aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, witnessed bin Laden’s alleged burial at sea from that ship. The press reports with a straight face that for unexplained reasons it was kept secret from the ship’s sailors.
...Apparently, it doesn’t strike the media or the public as strange that the US government captured and killed the terror mastermind without interrogating him and without keeping any evidence or presenting any witnesses to support the assassination claim.

Anonymous said...

...Americans are gullible, and thought does not come easily to them, but if they try hard enough they must wonder why it would be necessary for the government to concoct a totally false account of the deed if Washington kills an alleged terrorist. Why not just give the true story? Why does the true story have to come out years later from anonymous sources leaked to Hersh?
I can tell you for a fact that if SEALs had encountered bin Laden in Abbottabad, they would have used stun grenades and tear gas to take him alive. Bin Laden would have been paraded before the media, and a jubilant White House would have had a much photographed celebration pinning medals on the SEALs who captured him.
Instead, we have a murder without a body, which under law classifies as no murder, and a story that was changed several times by the White House itself within 48 hours of the alleged raid and has now been rewritten again by disinformation planted on Hersh.
...Perhaps the release of book titles allegedly found in bin Laden’s alleged residence in Abbottabad is part of the explanation. Who can imagine the “terror mastermind” sitting around reading what the presstitute London Telegraph calls bin Laden’s library of conspiracy theories about 9/11 and Washington’s foreign and economic policies?
Keep in mind that the government’s claim that these books were in bin Laden’s Abbottabad library comes from the same government that told you Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that Assad used chemical weapons, that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and that Russia invaded Ukraine. There is no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden had these books, just as there is no evidence for any claim made by Washington. In the absence of evidence, Washington’s position amounts to this: “It is true if we say so.”
...Other than 9/11 itself, never has such a major event as bin Laden’s killing had such an enormous number of contradictory official and quasi-official explanations, unanswered questions and evasions. And the vast number of evasions and contradictions arouse no interest from the Western media or from the somnolent and insouciant American public.
Now it turns out that Washington has “lost” the bin Laden “death files,” thus protecting in perpetuity the fabricated story of bin Laden’s killing.
Here is Tom Hartman’s interview with David Ray Griffin: Is bin Laden dead or alive:
See also: