Obama’s West Point Speech Shows Signs of Smart “National Security Strategy Report”

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obama west point 22 may 2010.jpg
President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point on Saturday may be among the most important he has yet made during his sixteen month old presidency. The speech intimates a number of the key themes likely to appear in the National Security Strategy report to be issued this next week.
As one senior official on his national security team recently said to me, “we are moving past a time when the foreign policy agenda was set by a previous President and into a time when the roster of things to do are chosen and prioritized by this President.”
In his speech, President Obama said that this is a time for “national renewal” and “global leadership”. The entire tone of his speech was confident but humble – seemingly recognizing the vital need for the US to return to its role as a benign, constructive force in global affairs. He seemed to confess that for America to return to a position of global credibility that it needed to work constructively with other powers, not think that power or significant accomplishments can be made independent of other of the world’s key stakeholders.
Obama said that this time in history was on of those “moments of change”, a time of discontinuity in global affairs when America’s global social contract needed to be re-forged. He said that while this time of globalization and individual empowerment created opportunities, we also were seeing the emergence of new powers and the rise of “ancient hatreds and new dangers”.
In other words, the United States no longer has the comfort of a predictable global equilibrium in which what the nation says and does automatically produces the results America wants. America’s place in the world – and its power – need to be re-earned, its mystique as a country with dynamic military, economic, moral and institutional characteristics less constrained than other nations recaptured.
The President made a compelling call for significant reinvestment in the core strengths of the country – in the sources of American innovation, in education, R&D, next generation energy projects, and the like. He said that there is no way that the US can presume global leadership when its home front is deteriorating and in poor shape.
While he did not say so bluntly, Obama is finally leveling with the American public that he inherited national security and domestic portfolios from the G.W. Bush administration that were manifestations of a precipitous collapse in American power.
Obama is declaring his intention to turn these negative trends around – and without simply, vapidly asserting that America is powerful and capable of great feats, he is admitting that it will take tough work, prioritization, and creativity.
I was very impressed with this speech, though there were key elements of it that I think were wrong-headed though certainly not fatal.
On the downside, this is the second major national security address that the President has given at West Point, the first being his articulation of a revised strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in September 2009.
President Obama shoulders the burden of being a war-time President from the Democratic Party. Americans traditionally doubt Democrats to deploy power and to make the hard decisions on military deployments – and thus to compensate, I feel that the President and the entire contemporary Democratic Party leadership tend to over compensate on this issue. They want to speak before soldiers, show they are supportive of the troops, and unveil their national security plans with the military as a backdrop to show that they are tough.
But the time has come for the President to give the kind of speech he gave this weekend at the Oval office, or at a high school, or at a steel plant, or an innovative renewable energy firm because it is not just “hard power” that is in play. If the US is making commitments to fight in other nations at a cost of more than $160 billion a year and the President is saying that the nation needs more competitive schools and technology and workforce, then all of the country – not just those in the military – should feel the responsibility, debate the costs, and be part of the equation.
My second critique is that as the President recognized the wide diversity of talent in the student soldiers sitting before him at their commencement, noting in particular that the two top cadets were women, he should have used this speech – even with a minor nod – to recognize the sacrifice and commitment to the country’s safety and security of gay men and women who cannot publicly acknowledge who they are. There are many soldiers in uniform today, and many gay men and lesbians there in the West Point graduating class, who cannot say “I am wearing a uniform. I am fighting for my country. I am gay, and I want to salute my President.”
President Obama, who has acknowledged gays and lesbians in the military services when speaking before gay rights groups needs to begin acknowledging them when the entire nation and world are listening.
And lastly, the President’s strategy must be more than about Afghanistan. Commending allies that support US efforts in Afghanistan is not necessarily the makings of a new global commons.
The single biggest error of this otherwise excellent speech was linking the ups and downs of Afghanistan to the much more significant revitalization of America’s domestic innovation base and to the vital need to build-in developing powers like Brazil, Turkey, China, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia, and India into the next architecture of global power.
Afghanistan today looks like a sink hole for American power, not a multiplier. In contrast, the nuclear deal making the Obama administration has done has begun to reverse a ‘systemic doubt’ other nations hold about America’s ability to achieve any of the goals it sets out to do.
It would be great if Afghanistan began to move in the right direction, either through progress in reconciliation and reintegration of key parts of the Taliban into some form of acceptable reconstructed political order. It would be even better if the US got Israel and Palestine and regional stakeholders off the narcotic of peace talk paralysis and on to a credible two state track.
Moving the Middle East into a place where Israel might be able to talk over security interests with scores of new Arab states with which it normalized relations – and decreasing America’s military overextension in Afghanistan are two fundamental factors that could and probably would alter the calculations Iran’s leadership is making today about American weakness.
Thus, the President needs to make his National Security Strategy about more than Afghanistan. Afghanistan may ultimately be a failure – but that does not mean that his Presidency is a bust or his chances for resurrecting a new global social contract that restores American leverage in a world of new and old power stakeholders should end.
All in all, the President’s remarks – which I hope are reflected in the National Security Strategy – imply a commitment to creative reinvigoration of America’s national capabilities and purposes.
If Obama follows this up with actions – for instance diverting a large portion of the $100 billion per year going to support a questionable military challenge in Afghanistan and rather divert those funds into a U.S.-led international R&D effort on mass scale renewable energy technologies, or other key, job-creating national infrastructure investment, then President Obama’s legacy on both the domestic and the international front could be truly great.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

45 comments on “Obama’s West Point Speech Shows Signs of Smart “National Security Strategy Report”

  1. btraven says:

    Steve wrote: “the vital need for the US to return to its role as a
    benign, constructive force in global affairs”
    When exactly was this magical mystery period in US history??

    Reply

  2. DonS says:

    drew, for the record:
    dfh = dirty fucking hippy
    I do consume petrochemicals, with an eye out to conservation
    I am not calling you a racist

    Reply

  3. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, I can see that you are a bold man of action, Drew, impatient with pencil pushers and eggheads and bean counters.
    Obviously paperwork alone doesn’t fix anything. But in this case, the shoddy condition of the paperwork, combined with the fact that BP has been unable to plug this leak for more than a month, seems to be pretty good evidence that there was never an adequate and tested plan in place to begin with, whether on paper or off it. And since its was the job of both BP and government regulators to make sure such a plan existed before green-lighting a project like this, I would say that there are at least two important entities that didn’t do their jobs.
    I guess all those engineer heroes didn’t do even the off-paper planning you admire. Maybe they were too busy partying with MMS bureaucrats when they should have been working more on making sure BP didn’t take a month-long dump on Bobby Jindal’s beaches.

    Reply

  4. Drew says:

    What I mean is two-fold:
    a. I don’t believe advocacy journalism, mislabeled as ‘reporting’,
    particularly not when it is as fluffy and lite as the one noted.
    b. I don’t think paperwork makes a complex, experimental
    industrial/scientific exercise safe. I could care less about the
    paperwork, and I am a lot more interested in training and
    planning.
    This is not the Valdez. I am more concerned about the dead
    men and the inability of the state governments to get *their*
    necessary paperwork from the feds in order to try to save their
    beaches. This event is underway and Jindal is handcuffed to a
    putative DMV office, asking for the right to try and safe his
    beaches.

    Reply

  5. Dan Kervick says:

    Not sure what your response means, Drew. But I do know the difference between a real study and a slapdash cut-n-paste job thrown together by some flunky. Doesn’t the reference to walruses, and the absence of a specific response for a deep water blowout, suggest to you that BP just patched together some generic response plan out of a whole bunch of other response plans on the shelf. And doesn’t the fact that this response plan was approved suggest to you that some bureaucrat in MMS just rubber stamped the whole business without adequate and professional consideration?

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Whether BP needs demonizing or not depends on the answer to the following question: Did BP flirt with disaster by cutting corners on safety and ignoring the recommendations of its experts, or was this a freak accident of nature that nobody could have predicted?”
    Do some research, you blithering idiot. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    Reply

  7. nadine says:

    “but in the
    meanwhile, Nadine, could you please explain to us ignorant
    Scandinavians the exact meaning of “The Chicago Way”?” (Paul Norheim)
    What, you never saw The Untouchables? Sean Connery explained it all
    “He brings a knife, you bring a gun. He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue. That’s the Chicago Way!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g0RLyxP13o

    Reply

  8. nadine says:

    “Not good enough. When it comes to environmental protection, prevention is the only acceptable approach. No money damages can compensate for environmental destruction. ” (DonS)
    No, it isn’t. You want total prevention, go live in a hovel but don’t light a fire — you might burn something down.
    A rational approach requires risk analysis. If the risk is bad, you need more safeguards. But you can’t pile on an infinite amount of safeguards. Life involves risk.
    No money can compensate for death either, yet our tort system routinely figures out compensation for wrongful death. And unlike a human life, the Gulf is not destroyed; it is damaged for a period time to an extent yet unknown.
    I remember in 1989 all the cries of a chorus of environmentalists how Prince William Sound would be a lifeless desert forever; yet 20 years later, it is basically fully recovered. Let’s hope the LA coast doesn’t get slammed as badly as Prince William Sound did. This is not to minimize the damage but merely to point out that we don’t know how bad it will be (worse than if Jindal had been dredging his berms for two weeks, that’s for sure), but it won’t be infinite.

    Reply

  9. drew says:

    Ellipsis, I have been paying attention. I worked out there, in the
    Gulf, on the drilling floor. It was a lot less sophisticated than it
    is now, but that is where I was and what I did. I’m trying to
    figure out why everyone thinks it’s possible to drill and extract in
    an environment that hostile (we know more about the moon
    than the ocean bottom in that sector)and score 100.00 on the
    reliability exam.
    DonS, what is a DFH? And if you’re willing to tell me that you do
    not consume petrochemicals and their associated spinoff
    products, why, then you have a point. I have no idea what you’re
    talking about in regard to a ‘white man’s burden’, but I presume
    it means that you calling me a ‘racist’ because I refuse to call BP
    ‘criminal.’ That’s so original. I’m not smart enough to offer
    rejoinder.
    Dan, no. The level of engineering, science and care that goes
    into running a semi-submersible rig is slightly, slightly more
    substantial than that required of a retired college guy selling
    quotations.

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    “I think what Nadine is saying is that people who drive cars and
    fly on airlines (to Chicago?) and heat their homes should perhaps
    discover negligence before asserting fault” (drew)
    Yes, I was trying to say that, drew. My reactions were also driven by hearing Ken Salazar say “Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum”.
    That sounds like something a Chavez would say. I’m not used to hearing language like that from US administration officials, and it makes me very much wonder just who the hell they think they are. I conclude they are ramping up the tough talk because they haven’t the foggiest idea what to do.
    Not only can’t they help BP cap the well, they are totally incompetent at doing things they could do, like supply fire booms according to the Interior Department’s own contingency plans.
    On May 11, Governor Jindal asked for permission to dredge artificial barrier islands to help protect the marshes. It’s May 24 and they haven’t answered him yet. But today the President had photographers photograph him talking on the phone to governors of Gulf states. So that’s supposed to be alright.
    If it were Bush, the press would have been screaming for his impeachment from about Day Three.

    Reply

  11. Dan Kervick says:

    Drew, are you impressed by the following story, which suggests severe negligence by both BP and the government?
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/24/bps-response-plan-was-a-j_n_587846.html
    Part of the story:
    “BP’s official response plan for oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t actually say anything about how the company would stop a blowout, wildly underestimates the worst-case scenario, and lists walruses among the Gulf’s “Sensitive Biological Resources” — leading an environmental group to suggest Monday that no regulator could possibly have seriously examined it.”

    Reply

  12. DonS says:

    Drew, this (Gulf) is not the is not the issue to be picking fights with DFHs. It shows lack of class and , by the way, draws an unjustified inference that DFHs are insensitive to the loss of life involved.
    Moreover, you show a tremendous lack of perspective to be using this issue at this time to trumpet the necessary costs of ‘civilization’ and white man’s burden of stewardship over the land (and sea).

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    ‘discover negligence’…drew you haven’t been paying attention…

    Reply

  14. drew says:

    I think what Nadine is saying is that people who drive cars and
    fly on airlines (to Chicago?) and heat their homes should perhaps
    discover negligence before asserting fault, in this complex
    activity of extracting oil held at tens of thousands of PSI, miles
    beneath the surface of the ocean. Otherwise, they just look like
    hypocritical dopes.
    It’s also quite stunning, just as someone who used to work
    offshore, on a platform, throwing the chain, to see the complete
    lack of interest in the 11 guys who died. There was a time when
    the leftist intelligentsia allied itself with the interests of people
    who actually worked. You know, got up in the morning and did
    shit. So that we all had cars and airlines and furnaces that heat
    houses.
    I mean, if you don’t want a warm house in winter, fine. And ride
    your bike to Chicago (though it’s hard to imagine a bike being
    assembled without torches and forges and stuff like that)
    because getting on SAS is self-indulgent. Make yourself a little
    treehouse (not sure how, without a chain saw). Criminalize
    technology, risk and achievement.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    Amazing how the defenders of the gangster regime in Israel are the same as the ones defending Big Oil, Wall Street, Big Pharma, and Merchants of Death.
    Amazing, coincidence. Truly amazing!

    Reply

  16. DonS says:

    “For our economy to work, we have to take risks. We manage the risks with regulation and civil lawsuits and if need be, criminal prosecutions. (nadine)
    Not good enough. When it comes to environmental protection, prevention is the only acceptable approach. No money damages can compensate for environmental destruction. And in case you hadn’t noticed, restoration an remediation of such disasters is a matter of decades, lost decades of damage, degradation, and elimination that no money damages can compensate for.
    Your attitude is cold, unsustainable, and irresponsible, albeit the big business way.

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    And now these socialist gangsters even demonize Sarah
    Ferguson, a hard working, proactive, freedom loving, charity
    funding British businesswoman just trying to make a profit
    utilizing her connections in a free society. I wouldn’t be surprised
    if Barack Hussein Obama was behind this mean attempt to crush
    the entrepreneurial spirit among the Brits as well.

    Reply

  18. Dan Kervick says:

    The BP defenders are starting to sound a bit like General Buck Turgidson, in Dr. Strangelove: “I would hold off on a judgment like that, sir, untill all the facts are in.”

    Reply

  19. JohnH says:

    Count on Nadine to reflexively take the position of Big Oil, Wall Street, NAM, and AEI: “Did BP flirt with disaster by cutting corners on safety and ignoring the recommendations of its experts?”
    Apparently so. “The BP well ‘is not a design we would use, ‘said one veteran deep-water engineer, who would comment only if not identified because of his high-profile company’s prohibition on speaking publicly about the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon or the oil spill that started when the drilling rig sank two days later…the liner design, used nearly all the time by his company, is more reliable and safer than a casing design by a factor of ‘tenfold.’
    Investigators and Congress have already homed in on a series of suspected instances of recklessness or poor maintenance aboard the Deepwater Horizon — looking, for example, at why the well’s blowout preventer failed. Those instances, taken together, may have weakened the rig’s defenses and fueled the April 20 explosion on the rig, which killed 11 workers and caused the biggest offshore-drilling spill in U.S. history.”
    http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2010/05/oil_spill_postmortem_bp_used_l.html
    Would Nadine now concede that BP should be demonized? Of course not. She’s all for Big Oil, Wall Street, etc.

    Reply

  20. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine’s political instincts are sometimes both amazing and
    amusing to watch. When the SEC started the investigation of
    Goldman Sachs some weeks ago, and Obama delivered some fun
    remarks in his speech at the annual dinner for the press, Nadine
    claimed here that the President demonized Goldman “The
    Chicago Way.” And now he demonizes BP…
    Actually, my brother and his wife will visit Chicago on wednesday
    and report back to me at the end of the week, but in the
    meanwhile, Nadine, could you please explain to us ignorant
    Scandinavians the exact meaning of “The Chicago Way”?
    Secondly, what did you feel during the shameful demonization of
    Enron some years ago? Were these Chicago gangsters somehow
    involved in that terrible act as well?

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    Whether BP needs demonizing or not depends on the answer to the following question: Did BP flirt with disaster by cutting corners on safety and ignoring the recommendations of its experts, or was this a freak accident of nature that nobody could have predicted?
    I don’t think anybody has more than theories to answer that question. What I want is a proper cleanup and investigation BEFORE anybody starts demonizing.
    For our economy to work, we have to take risks. We manage the risks with regulation and civil lawsuits and if need be, criminal prosecutions. If we change to a system where people who have been assigned guilt by a demagogue go to jail or get lynched, whether they are guilty or not, our system will stop working.

    Reply

  22. nadine says:

    “Moving the Middle East into a place where Israel might be able to talk over security interests with scores of new Arab states with which it normalized relations” (Steve Clemons)
    Obama may be making progress on this score, though not in the way he intends to. There’s no chance of Mideast Peace breaking out, but Obama IS driving the Arab states into Israel’s arms by his proud declaration of America’s “doormat” policy with Iran:
    “Your having nukes is unacceptable.”
    “So what do you intend to do about it?”
    “Nothing. Please, please engage with us.”
    “Death to America. Death to Israel. Look at our deal with Turkey and Brazil”
    “Now you’ve done it. I’ll have to pass a some voluntary sanctions at the UN.”
    “Great, now we can buy those S-300s from Russia. We’ll have extra to ship to Hizbullah.”

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    Sorry Nadine. Brain cramp. You were talking about oil *booms*, but I was thinking oil *rigs*.
    Anyway, BP can’t come in for enough demonizing as far as I’m concerned:
    http://motherjones.com/environment/2010/05/oil-spill-bp-grand-isle-beach
    But the White House deserves a very heavy share too for shockingly passive presidential leadership during a national emergency.

    Reply

  24. nadine says:

    What’s the matter with oil booms, Dan, are you against the effort to clean up the spill? You’d rather have the oil sloshing on the coast so you can hear White House officials demonize BP some more?
    I swear, this crowd sounds more like Hugo Chavez every day. BP doesn’t need demonizing; it’s already going to have to settle a million lawsuits for the damage it has caused.

    Reply

  25. ... says:

    war = money… it’s a racket the banking cartel definitely profits from… when things get dicey in the banking world, go for a bailout or better yet (monetarily) – a war…. i’m sure this kind of simple thinking rubs some the wrong way, just like graysons ideas… the alternative is eloquent speeches that don’t amount to anything concrete…

    Reply

  26. Drew says:

    The speech was a curious bowl of mush, if read from the
    perspective of our adversaries.
    It was neither the ‘bear any burden’, idealistic adventurism of
    Kennedy, Johnson and Bush Deux, nor the real politik of Nixon
    (‘bomb the bastards like they’ve never been bombed before; and
    did we say? we’re more interested in being friends with China
    than proxy enemies’); nor the aggressive, ‘let’s go settle this
    outside, punk’ confrontation and constraint of Reagan. (I place
    Bush Un and Clinton in the category of “Do I have to?” foreign
    policy adherents.)
    What was the point? “We’re a superpower but that’s an
    unfortunate accident.”?
    Reread his speech and assume you are Putin, Chavez, Ahma-
    whatever, Kim Jong-Il(l). What causes you to back up a step?
    That’s a very strange speech to deliver to a bunch of
    professional warriors. What does that speech tell a future
    infantry officer? “You will very possibly die while we dither and
    contemplate newer and better forms of coalition warfare.”
    These guys fight wars for a living. Where is the commitment
    and thanks?
    Ideas floating on the either won’t do much about the new Sukhoi
    squadrons being established in Venezuela. Kennedy lost control
    of his foreign policy and his staff because he lofted these
    glorious ideas of the democratic imperative, but then waffled
    and equivocated when it was nut-cutting time. Lately the only
    tough decision I’ve read about was the closing of the TGI Fridays
    at FOB Kandahar.
    I would suggest that the president would better spend his time
    discussing his domestic “social contract” — at the moment,
    exactly 4% of the US population sustains even the idea of a
    political class — than attempting to redefine some global social
    contract.

    Reply

  27. erichwwk says:

    yes Dan, the whole world IS a part of the American union. Not something that started with Obama.
    As Glenn Greenwald writes At salon “The Absence of Debate over War”:
    ‘… war is basically the permanent American condition: war is who we are and what we do as a nation. We’re essentially a war fighting state.’
    And who the governing elitist are at war with is not limited to those that live overseas. The ONE condition that is absolutely necessary to be a part of this governing elite is to make a public declaration that one is not a pacifist.
    http://www.salon.com/print.html?URL=/opinion/greenwald/2010/05/24/wars

    Reply

  28. erichwwk says:

    yes Dan, the whole world IS a part of the American union. Not something that started with Obama.
    As Glenn Greenwald writes At salon “The Absence of Debate over War”:
    ‘… war is basically the permanent American condition: war is who we are and what we do as a nation. We’re essentially a war fighting state.’
    http://www.salon.com/print.html?URL=/opinion/greenwald/2010/05/24/wars

    Reply

  29. Dan Kervick says:

    The speech is fairly unremarkable. Most of its themes have already been developed in previous speeches during the time the administration has been in power. But here is something that jumped out at me:
    “And so a fundamental part of our strategy for our security has to be America’s support for those universal rights that formed the creed of our founding. And we will promote these values above all by living them – through our fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution, even when it’s hard; even when we’re being attacked; even when we’re in the midst of war.”
    “And we will commit ourselves to forever pursuing a more perfect union. Together with our friends and allies, America will always seek a world that extends these rights so that when an individual is being silenced, we aim to be her voice. Where ideas are suppressed, we provide space for open debate. Where democratic institutions take hold, we add a wind at their back. When humanitarian disaster strikes, we extend a hand. Where human dignity is denied, America opposes poverty and is a source of opportunity. That is who we are. That is what we do.”
    Most of this, whether one agrees of disagrees with it, is standard old stuff: the idea that the promotion of American security at home requires the promotion of American values abroad.
    But the weird part is the first sentence of the second paragraph. Is it Obama’s contention that extending and promoting American values abroad is contemplated under the Constitution’s preambular determination to “form a more perfect union.” What, is the whole world now to be considered part of the American union? That’s certainly a novel reading of the Constitution! Even George Bush never expressed such an embracingly hegemonic idea.

    Reply

  30. Dan Kervick says:

    Ah, more oil booms. I see.
    Maybe we should just legislate a Petroleum Protection Act, blast more holes in the ocean floor, drain all the oil into the Gulf, and call the result the George W. Bush Memorial Petroleum Preserve Basin.

    Reply

  31. nadine says:

    “So then, Nadine, you would support more aggressive federal government action on the oil leak?” (Dan Kervick)
    Well, that kind of depends, doesn’t it? on whether the “more agressive action” means more oil booms on the water or more committee meetings and demagoguery? So far we’ve seen a lot more of the latter than the former.

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead
    WASHINGTON

    Reply

  33. Dan Kervick says:

    “Expecting to see real leadership from this suit and tie gumby is a pipe dream.”
    Gumby was a great show.

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Expecting to see real leadership from this suit and tie gumby is a pipe dream.
    As the gusher flows forth, a disaster of unprecedented scale, the other existing BP time bombs in the gulf operate unimpeded, yet equally as free of the burdensome regulations and technological stop-gaps that were supposed to protect the people’s resources and environs. A leader would have called a halt to deepwater gulf operations. A leader would fire Salazar, who has spent nigh on two years IGNORING the KNOWN corruption and ineptitude of the MMS. A leader would not force those such as Jindal to act in defiance of a lackadaisical and ineffective federal response.
    A leader WOULD NOT continue to LIE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, proclaiming that waivers were suspended, WHEN IN FACT DRILLING WAIVERS ARE STILL BEING ISSUED AS WE SPEAK.
    BP has a long history of spills, disasters, and disregard for safety controls. And it is STILL, years later, involved in litigation trying to weasel out of its responsibilities for the Prudhoe bay spills, trying to fuck the citizens of Alaska out of their civil compensation for losses suffered from BP’s disregard for the people’s assets and environs.
    And KNOWING of BP’s dismal history and despicable disrespect for anything other than the bottom line, the Obama Damninistration has ALLOWED the MMS to continue to pimp for the greed of the oil companies.
    These are the actions of someone that Steve sees as a “leader”?? Escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Complete bungling in our “engagement” with Iran. No response or push-back to Netanyahu telling Obama to go fuck himself. Renditions continue. None of the Bush criminals held accountable. Habeus Corpus being wittled out of existence. DADT still the military’s policy. Iraq imploding with no end in sight for our overtaxed military. Guantanamo still operating. Wiretaps continue. Need one continue to list the dissappointments this posturing fraud has handed his supporters???
    And now Deepwater Horizon, a DIRECT RESULT of a failure to actually institute the “change” he promised the American people. A KNOWN corrupt agency, MMS, practicing a KNOWN “cozy relationship” with big oil, has been allowed to maintain its status quo policies of non-enforcement and rubber-stamping KNOWN dangerous and doomed-to-fail drilling practices, EVEN TODAY, during this epic and unfolding disaster.
    “Leader”, my ass.

    Reply

  35. Dan Kervick says:

    So then, Nadine, you would support more aggressive federal government action on the oil leak?

    Reply

  36. nadine says:

    “Carville is right. Obama is treating a bona fide emergency as though it were just some big nuisance. Obama seems like a very organized and agenda-driven man. That’s a good thing on the whole. But sometimes reality drops a world of shit on your doorstep, and you have to change your damn agenda” (Dan Kervick)
    So what else is new, Dan? You could just as well be describing Obama’s reaction to the economic crisis he inherited, which he treated as a nuisance to be thrown a sop (the useless $800 B festival of pork called the “Stimulus”), before getting on to his agenda-driven items of cap’n’trade and Obamacare. Both of these were enormous tax and spend items that really required good economic conditions to be palatable to the public. The conditions weren’t there, but Obama plowed on regardless.
    All of which goes to say: Obama is an ideologue. He is not a practical politician.

    Reply

  37. kotzabasis says:

    America hijacked by a Lemon. This will be the historical caption and history

    Reply

  38. DonS says:

    Steve places a very optimistic reading on Obama’s trajectory. Granted, the opinion is informed by contacts with senior admin people. But what we in the outer world see is a giant supertanker, more following the course of the previous 8 years than not.
    It will take more than one or two speeches and moving the deck chairs to create change. It will take actual actions that we can see and that many, if not most, politicians, Republicans and many Democrats will not like, and will run from.
    It will take recognition the the US is and has been an aggressive force in the world, and plays more than its role in keeping the pot of aggression stirred world wide. It will take recognition and acting on a belief that 911 did NOT change everything, but spawned an acceleration of sick jingoism in this country.

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  39. jonst says:

    I see no reason/s why seeking, or getting, for that matter, “global leadership” is a good thing. Other, that is, than using the term as a would be shibboleth to shake at fanatical, and delusional, nationalists in America who can’t believe the 1950s are over.

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  40. samuelburke says:

    Steve, by now we all know what Obama is about.
    get over it we were all hopeful that he would be different but he is
    owned.

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  41. ... says:

    “””If Obama follows this up with actions”””…. hold that thought, lol
    i agree with john h and dan k… it is long past time for obama to show some action in areas that matter.. of course military spending and a focus on the military matter, but if as a country that is always going to be the number 1 priority and one of the political parties is always going to clobber the other over the head for not showing strength in this same area, someone needs to come along and offer an alternative to that kind of insanity… their is no money for r&d!!!!! it has gone to the bottomless pit called the military industrial complex and obama is giving his speech to it too!

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  42. downtown says:

    “President Obama shoulders the burden of being a war-time President from the Democratic Party. Americans traditionally doubt Democrats to deploy power and to make the hard decisions on military deployments…”
    Ehh, who were the presidents last time we successfully displayed ‘hard’ military power?

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  43. Dan Kervick says:

    I understand that the foreign policy pros have all been waiting for this national security strategy statement for a while. But I think Obama needs to push its roll-out back by at least a week, and spend the upcoming week stepping up, taking ownership and getting his hands dirty with the oil spill in the Gulf. The lack of visible presidential leadership during an emergency of this magnitude, leaving everything to the bureaucracy while he hides, has been shameful.
    Carville is right. Obama is treating a bona fide emergency as though it were just some big nuisance. Obama seems like a very organized and agenda-driven man. That’s a good thing on the whole. But sometimes reality drops a world of shit on your doorstep, and you have to change your damn agenda. Obama can’t treat the environmental trashing of the Gulf of Mexico, something that could well turn out to be the most historically significant event of Obama’s entire administration, just like some minor and annoying headache, all because he already has “Roll out National Security Strategy” on his to-do list.
    He should at least wait to see if the “top kill” BP is supposed to attempt earlier this week works. Because if it doesn’t, he might find that he is going to have to declare a state of emergency and nationalize the effort to stop the spill.

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  44. Steve Clemons says:

    JohnH — I think that the President is laying out a strategic framework, one that could move this presidency from one that is constantly reactive to one that is setting out a new set of real priorities and investments. There are reasons to doubt, for sure, but I have recently spent some time with senior members of his national security team and am convinced that they are pivoting in some positive directions. I have outlined my concern on the Afghanistan front, but that aside, I’m pleased with most of what I have recently learned. best, steve clemons

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  45. JohnH says:

    We’ve heard Obama make speeches before.
    He made one at the Summit of the Americas, and then passively watched a coup in Honduras.
    He made one in Egypt and then let Israel stonewall his efforts at a settlement.
    Obama makes lots of nice speeches.

    Reply

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