On Syria: Leslie Gelb to President Obama, Lead from Behind by Political Observer

Mr. Leslie Gelb continues to trade on the shopworn assumption that a reader of his foreign policy essays will find his stance, as outsider, credible. It pushes it to the point of fracture. Consult his impressive C. V. for confirmation of his establishment credentials. Yet he still continues to use this rhetorical pose as the starting point for his latest piece at The Daily Beast titled Kofi Annan’s Exit: Why Obama Should Lead From Behind In Syria. Outsiders don't receive e mail from members of the President's staff, or at the least, don't mention that communication to their readers, if they feel bound to protect their public image as outsider. What does the play of the notion of the insider/outsider duality contribute to an act of advocacy, of argumentative clarification? Perhaps, the political notion of the expert and of expertise has now reached a point of exhaustion in the public mind. Once an article of faith in policy circles, Mr. Gelb trades upon the oscillation between the decline in respect for experts/expertise and the insider/outsider dyad to enhance the reception of his opinionating. Mr. Gelb presents himself in the role of rational political thinker, the mean between two positions and their arguments political and moral, The Neo-Conservative and Liberal interventionists in the matter of the bloody and protracted Syrian civil war. Mr. Gelb advocates a policy of 'leading from behind' for President Obama. The political framing of our exhausted moral/economic/political capital in Iraq and Afghanistan and the myriad fronts of drone 'warfare' are the unmentioned background of this essay. Leading from behind is insider language, the jargon of the foreign policy adept. It describes, in an obtuse way, the very notion and practice of diplomacy. The question of the countries nearest to the war zone having a vested interest in a peaceful resolution to the conflict seems self-evident, to the point of the absurdly simplistic. We can view Mr. Gelb's opinionating as valuable in two ways: as the self-serving political propaganda of a shadow member of the Obama administration,and as the product of one of the architects of a failed foreign policy, that fostered and rationalized the successive Assad regimes as part of an ad hoc defense of Israel.

Political Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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