Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/homeland_insecurity.html at November 15, 2009 – 10:19:42 PM EST
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/homeland_insecurity.html at November 15, 2009 – 10:19:42 PM EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA was too busy to attend the celebrations in Germany this week marking the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. But he did appear by video, delivering a few brief and bloodless remarks about how the wall was “a painful barrier between family and friends’’ that symbolized “a system that denied people the freedoms that should be the right of every human being.’’ He referred to “tyranny,’’ but never identified the tyrants – he never uttered the words “Soviet Union’’ or “communism,’’ for example. He said nothing about the men and women who died trying to cross the wall. Nor did he mention Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan – or even Mikhail Gorbachev.
He did, however, talk about Barack Obama.
“Few would have foreseen,’’ declared the president, “that a united Germany would be led by a woman from [the former East German state of] Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.’’
As presidential rhetoric goes, this was hardly a match for “Ich bin ein Berliner,’’ still less another “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’’ But as a specimen of presidential narcissism, it is hard to beat. Obama couldn’t be troubled to visit Berlin to commemorate a momentous milestone in the history of human liberty. But he was glad to explain to those who were there why reflections on that milestone should inspire appreciation for the self-made “destiny’’ of his own rise to power.
Was there ever a president as deeply enamored of himself as Barack Obama?
The first President Bush, taught from childhood to shun what his mother called “The Great I Am,’’ regularly instructed his speechwriters not to include too many “I’s’’ in his prepared remarks. Reagan maintained that there was no limit to what someone could achieve if he didn’t mind who got the credit. George Washington, one of the most accomplished men of his day, said with characteristic modesty on becoming president that he was “peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.’’
Obama, on the other hand, positively revels in The Great I Am.
“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,’’ he told campaign aides when he was running for the White House. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that . . . I’m a better political director than my political director.’’
At the start of his presidency, Obama seemed to content himself with the royal “we’’ – “We will build the roads and bridges. . . . We will restore science to its rightful place. . . . We will harness the sun and winds,’’ he declaimed at his inauguration.
But as the literary theorist Stanley Fish points out, “By the time of the address to the Congress on Feb. 24, the royal we [had] flowered into the naked ‘I’: ‘As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress.’ ‘I called for action.’ ‘I pushed for quick action.’ ‘I have told each of my Cabinet.’ ‘I’ve appointed a proven and aggressive inspector general.’ ’I refuse to let that happen.’ ’’ In his speech on the federal takeover of General Motors, Obama likewise found it necessary to use the first-person singular pronoun 34 times. (“Congress’’ he mentioned just once.)
At this rate, it won’t be long before the president’s ego is so inflated that it will require a ZIP code of its own.
Then again, how modest would any of us be if we were as magnificent as Obama knows himself to be? “I am well aware,’’ he told the UN General Assembly in September, “of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world.’’
In 1860, writes Doris Kearns Goodwin in her celebrated biography “Team of Rivals,’’ an author wishing to dedicate his forthcoming work to Abraham Lincoln received this answer: “I give the leave, begging only that the inscription may be in modest terms, not representing me as a man of great learning, or a very extraordinary one in any respect.’’
Obama has often claimed Lincoln as a role model, but apparently it only goes so far.
|Obama takes heat on Afghan timing
By: Mike Allen
November 15, 2009 04:07 PM EST
|SHANGHAI, China – President Barack Obama made no effort to conceal his irritation when his press corps used the first question of his maiden Far East trip to ask what was taking him so long on Afghanistan.
Jennifer Loven of The Associated Press had asked: “Can you explain to people watching and criticizing your deliberations what piece of information you’re still lacking to make that call.”
“With respect to Afghanistan, Jennifer,” the president scolded, “I don’t think this is a matter of some datum of information that I’m waiting on. … Critics of the process … tend not to be folks who … are directly involved in what’s happening in Afghanistan. Those who are, recognize the gravity of the situation and recognize the importance of us getting this right.”
The cool president’s heated response reflected second-guessing from the press and Pentagon about a process that has spanned eight formal meetings with his war cabinet, totaling about 20 hours.
The White House has been deliberately portraying the process as thorough, emphasizing the opposing views the president has considered, as a way of positing a contrast with President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
But former Vice President Dick Cheney has accused the president of “dithering,” and the military brass has used leaks to push for a quick decision, with the original hope that additional troops would be in place well before the traditional spring fighting season.
In a tough column in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times headlined “Obama must rethink rethinking Afghanistan,” Doyle McManus said the deliberations were “starting to look like dangerous indecision”: “In George W. Bush, we had a president who shot first and asked questions later. In Barack Obama, we have a president who asks the right questions but hesitates to pull the trigger.”
While foreign trips often provide presidents with a respite from a pressing issue, Afghanistan has shadowed Obama during his four-country swing. He has continued to work on his plan on the road. And in their few opportunities to ask Obama a question, U.S. reporters have pressed the president on Afghanistan rather than inquiring about Asian alliances.
Obama will likely have one more war council when he returns to Washington later this week, even though Wednesday’s session had been billed as the last one. The president is said to have most of the information he needs, but is working through some details.
Aides have also begun to express open irritation at the second-guessing.
White House senior adviser David Axelrod, who attends the deliberations but says he does not “have a seat at the table,” told POLITICO that the impatience on the momentous decision is a symptom of today’s “A.D.D. political culture.”
“It’s related to politics,” Axelrod said. “No matter what decision he makes, if he were to send troops, the first brigade would not arrive until next spring. So this notion that he is delaying is simply not true. He’s been strong in asking [questions]. He understands what the parameters are for this decision and he’s not going to be pushed into it in order to deal with any kind of transient political controversy.”
Referring to the previous administration, Axelrod added: “When the lives of Americans in uniform are at stake, when enormous resources are at stake, the president has a responsibility to make a thoughtful, well-informed strategic decision. It’s something that hasn’t always been done, and we’ve paid a terrible price for it.”
At a briefing in Tokyo at the trip’s start, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed his frustration, reeling off a list of news reports claiming to know where Obama was headed.
“First, there were stories that we were coalescing around a certain amount of options, right?” Gibbs lectured. “Then a week later, we were sending 34,000 troops. All of you e-mailed me about that. A day and a half later, we’d settled on 40,000. That was all in about a 10-day period of time, all with the backdrop of the president had already made a decision, despite the fact that I had stood up here many times and said he hadn’t.”
In a further blast, Gibbs added: “I can’t imagine that people who listen to whatever sources said the President had settled on a decision. I would challenge each and every one of you … to call the people. … Ask them why a decision hasn’t been made, after telling everybody and taking up lots of ink and recyclable paper about a decision that’s already been made.”
Axelrod also jabbed back hard at criticism from former (and future) Republican president candidate Mitt Romney, who charged that the president “can’t make up his mind on Afghanistan.”
“I know that Governor Romney has never had responsibility for any decision akin to this, so he just may not be familiar with all that it entails,” Axelrod told CNN’s John King in a “State of the Union” interview from Singapore. “But I think the American people are being well-served by a process that is assiduous and in which every aspect of this is considered. Because, after all, lives of American servicemen are involved here. An enormous investment on the part of the American people, — we ought to get it right.”
In answering the AP reporter, Obama said the decision will be made “soon.”
“I am very pleased with how the process has proceeded,” he said. “And those who participated I think would acknowledge that it has been not a academic exercise, but a necessary process in order to make sure that we’re making the best possible decisions.”
Iran, as we all know, is not sending IED’s to the terrorists in Iraq or infiltrating their own intelligence people there. This is the narrative that has been advanced by the war’s opponents for years, despite gobs of evidence to the contrary.
Now we have Iran doing exactly the same thing in Afghanistan, as this piece in the Asia Times by Zia Ahmadi and Mustafa Saber shows:
Islam Qala, a small border town that forms the gateway between Iran and Afghanistan, is a focus of concern for Afghan officials fighting the Taliban insurgency because some believe Iran is using it to infiltrate guerrillas intent on destabilizing the Kabul government.
“I was working in Iran for about eight months,” said one man, a former refugee, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But I got an offer from the Taliban in Gozara district [of Herat province] offering me a higher salary, so I accepted.”
Once he had crossed the border into Afghanistan, he said Pakistanis and Iranians based in the hills of Pashtun Zarghon district, the site of a growing insurgency, gave him military training.
For four months, the man said he participated in armed attacks on behalf of the Taliban in the Gozara and Pashtun Zarghon districts, and received a monthly salary of 20,000-30,000 Pakistani rupees (US$240 to $360).
“We struck security posts in the villages of Toot, Siyawooshan and Injel, as well as carrying out attacks on foreign military convoys,” he said.
Now he is happily settled in civilian life, having been awarded a certificate by the Peace and Reconciliation Commission – an Afghan body established in 2005 as a mechanism for engaging with insurgents – that records his decision to lay down his arms.
Officials believe that up to 100 “Afghans” return daily from Iran. But most of them have no identity documents so it is very easy for Iranians to slip into the country and attack NATO forces as well as Afhgan police units.
Of course, we’re told that the Iranians would never work with the Taliban, that they hate them and wanted to help us defeat them back in 2001. Just was we were also told that Shias and Sunnis would never work together in Iraq and that the idea that Iran was supplying the Sunni tribal militias with weapons was crazy.
At some point, the Iranian apologists are going to have to face the fact that they have been dead wrong about the regime in Tehran. Until then, they will keep assuring us of the mullah’s peaceful intentions and their eagerness to work with America to stabilize both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/11/while_obama_dithers_iran_makes.html at November 15, 2009 – 03:31:28 PM EST
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