Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama Returns to Work

Our president has now returned to Washington to save America after going overseas to save the world. He visited Russia, and Italy to include the Holy See. He polished off the trip with a one-day pit stop in Ghana to try to lift WHITE MAN’S BURDEN off the African continent. The dust is settling from his visits; let us make some judgements.

On Russia, the concrete agreements on strategic arms treaty framework, transit rights across Russia for the Afghanistan/Pakistan war and other national security agreements were pre-negotiated prior to Obama's visit.

Obama was surprised by the Russian indifference to him. His key speech in Moscow was not broadcast on state controlled TV. His effort to accent the importance of Medvedev over Putin flopped. Medvedev even tightened up the language on the Russian objection to US ABM deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic after our president's departure.

By Obama's admission, his meeting with Putin was cold and business like – no mawkish GW Bush sentiment looking into Putin's soul. Obama's unfortunate characterization of Putin as a cold war warrior immediately prior to visit pre-set the personal antagonism between the two of them.

Putin still remembers the US/Israel buildup in Georgia before the Russian invasion and US efforts to penetrate the Ukraine; he remembers VEEP Cheney's speech in Vilnus, excoriating Russian democracy. Putin is convinced the nutty Neocons are still making US strategic policy. Current US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan convince him of this.

His intelligence apparat historically seemed to function, at least on the HUMINT level, better than ours – Russians penetrated key elements of the CIA and FBI for example. And they have a big pile of sophisticated US/Israeli weapons, to include drones, recently taken as war booty in Georgia.

It was not a coincidence that Medvedev went to breakaway South Ossetia near Georgia about the same time Obama returned to the US. The Georgians called the visit a provocation; the South Ossetians called Medvedev a liberator; the Obama administration was silent.

If Obama can detune the tensions between the two countries, he has to deal with Putin who knows where the bodies are buried. If Putin considers Obama weak, he will take advantage of it.

Obama's trip to the G-8 meeting in Italy was mostly pro forma. He did promise over 50 billion US aid to Africa. He brought consensus deploring Iran's suppression of rioters. Iran responded to this by attacking the Italians for suppressing anti G-8 demonstrators with tear gas. He pressured the group to condemn Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons; it responded dutifully. This intended curb on Iran's nuclear weapons would have a better chance of success if the US could eliminate the Israeli nuclear stockpile coincidentally.

Obama with his family visited the Vatican and met with the Pope. After his election bout with Rev. Wright, I was surprised he would involve himself in formal religious links; anyway, he and his family presented themselves with dignity. Unlike GW Bush's visit when he appeared diminished and uneasy, slouching, sitting, legs splayed in the Baroque Italian high-backed gilt Papal armchairs.

Perhaps, ironically, the most permanent impact on Africa of Obama's short visit was the fresh white wash job on the 17thc colonial fortress he inspected. His overall visit was characterized by the rapture of the local population of Ghana. He called on the Africans to reform their corruption and take responsibility for their fate. This plea to African leadership, as many of those before, will go in one ear and out the other. Once the charity checks from the G-8 are cashed, Obama's concerns will be dismissed by the Africans.

The black enthusiasm for Obama surpassed even that of Bill Clinton's visit when he played African war drums and smoked cigars in tents in the evenings. Bill is apparently so peeked by Obama's popularity among the natives that he recently had himself installed as the first white honorary member of the all black fraternity, PHI BETA SIGMA. He is now there in the pantheon with Al Sharpton, Al Roker and Stevie Wonder, having the same honorary status.

Former President Clinton, still smarting from from his faux pas comparing Run Jesse Run Jackson to Obama winning the Democratic primary in the South Carolina, lost his darling status among blacks and with it Hillary's bid for the nomination for the Democratic presidential candidate. Do you think his next step is to confer with Michael Jackson's dermatologist to reengineer himself as a black?

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper while in Ghana, Obama linked the horrors of slavery to that of the Holocaust. The last time I focused on that strained analogy was at a debate between super black Republican Catholic conservative Alan Keyes and super American Jew Alan Dershowitz, on 27 September 2000 at Franklin and Marshal College at Lancaster, Pa.

If you want to view a self indulgent pity party over victimhood, watch it – C-Span carried it. In all fairness to Keyes, Dershowitz, the author of CHUTZPAH, cynically brought up the subject and Keyes demolished him. Dershowitz is a Harvard Law professor and Keyes ran against Obama for the Illinois senate seat and most lately was arrested at Notre Dame protesting Obama visit there.

During his absence overseas, Obama lost control of the domestic debates on unemployment, health care, stimulus, energy and the overall economy. Summers and Biden, guarding his White House, were no help as they were both crepe hangers. Emanuel continues to fumble, sending up lead trial balloons.

Obama's Afghan/Pakistan war heated up with record NATO KIA. Recently assigned US General McCrystal is already requesting more troops... Thought he was assigned because of his economy of force and special operations prowess. My sense is if he could not get the friendly fire Tillman affair straight under his command, his chances of success in the Hindu Kush are problematic. Perhaps the Army should consider removing stars as quick as it awards them.

President Obama, stay home; send VEEP Biden or Hillary overseas. They cannot do much damage since no one pays attention to them. Colonel
Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Photograph: Atropos by Francisco Goya


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Did you see the Russians refuse to shake Obama's hand?



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