Three Pundits on President Obama’s 2014 West Point Address : some thoughts by Political Observer part 3

Mr. Leslie Gelb in his essay at the Daily Beast titled Old Flaws in Obama’s New Foreign Policy begins his piece with these four paragraphs:

At West Point, Obama takes the U.S. out of the Afghan frying pan only to leap back into the Mideast fire, where a crucial shift in Syria policy may be in store.

The surface reason for President Barack Obama’s West Point speech on Wednesday was to reiterate his commitment to pull out all the remaining 33,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2016. But, according to senior administration officials, he had two critical underlying purposes:

One was to begin sketching out his new national security strategy for the post Afghan/Iraq war era as the United States faces the need to combat terrorists in the Middle East and Africa while checking Russia and China.

The other was to counter-attack against domestic critics while reassuring uneasy foreign leaders.’

We learn that an unnamed sources tells Mr. Gelb that the President stayed up late Tuesday polishing his speech (palace gossip reassures the reader that Mr. Gelb is connected to power) : ‘Officials said’. Then Mr. G. switches to his own voice with this speculation:

‘It seems he knows well that his potency as commander-in-chief and chief foreign policy maker hangs by a thread at home and abroad—and that he must fix his standing now or, inevitably, slide downhill.’

Then this lament :

Alas, Obama’s “new” strategy sounded much like the old one. Look at his Wednesday words: “In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We must broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law and—if just, necessary, and effective —multilateral military action. We must do so because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, and less likely to lead to costly mistakes.”

Mr. Gelb fails to look at president’s profession of faith in American Exceptionalism, that might very well be the cause leading to this:’ “new” strategy sounded much like the old one.’ What the President is saying is that a bellicose imperialism is not at an end, but that the Drone, used in tandem with the subversion of other nation states, will follow the model so effectively used by Victoria Nuland, with war as the very last resort. Mr. Gelb does not make the obvious connection between that faith in exceptionalism and the unchanging policy, when it seems glaringly obvious, even an elementary fact that belief shapes rhetoric and action. Mr. Geld is a sophisticated policy thinker but is too busy instructing the President that he loses focus on these words:

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.

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.'
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