Featured Post

Towards a Pro-America, Pro-West Foreign Policy

For years, I have written in this humble blog that Obama and his team have created an unprecedented foreign policy disaster. The disaster be...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

And Now We Dither . . .

In a key scene in "Breaking Bad," the best TV show ever made, conscience-stricken ex-drug dealer Jesse Pinkman finds himself detained by two DEA agents who try to convince him to turn on his former partner, the infamous meth dealer Heisenberg, aka Walter White. Aware that Heisenberg/White is a ruthless, calculating sort out to win, Pinkman warns the two DEA men that Heisenberg/White is smarter than they: after all, they are just "two guys," Heisenberg/White "is the devil." In any plan the two agents make to bring down "the devil," well, Jesse warns, "The reverse opposite will happen!"

That wonderful scene came to mind on hearing that John "Botox" Kerry had flown to Geneva to meet Putin's Foreign Minister, Sergei "No Laugh" Lavrov. I know Lavrov--one day I will write how, it's funny--and Kerry is no match for him. Kerry, a supercilious dope, who wanted the SecState job as confirmation of his status as a celebrity deep thinker, will find Lavrov a humorless, extremely intelligent, worldly, intensely patriotic Russian nationalist with a deep envy of and resentment for the United States and the West. He holds the classic Russian view that the world, lead by the insufferably arrogant Americans, conspires against Russia to deny it the respect and status it deserves. Lavrov, a professional who speaks several languages, and works non-stop, sees his life's mission as restoring Russia's rightful place in the upper echelons of the world's hierarchy. And Kerry? As a callow youth he engaged in treason against the United States. Over time, he became a classic airhead liberal blow-hard, who used his "charms" to marry into money. He found in the Democratic party and Massachusetts an electorate that votes for rich airheads, and doesn't care if they have a treasonous past. Kerry has no discernible view on the world, and certainly has none of the drive to see his country come out ahead that we see in Lavrov. Foreign Minister Lavrov has laser-like concentration, does not speak carelessly--measuring his statements very carefully--and, therefore, is the "reverse opposite" of the goofy, gaffe-prone, lazy, unfocused, and shallow Kerry.

To confirm that things must not be going well for John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry, we see a press account which reports that Kerry has had to emphasize that the negotiations over Syria are "no game." It is, indeed, a sad day when the US Secretary of State has to plead to be taken seriously. But, my friends, what else could this disaster of a SecState expect? What about the Obama/Clinton/Kerry "policy" re Syria should be taken seriously? Not much--except that Obama and his two hapless Secretaries of States haven't a clue about how the world works, how to project American power and defend American interests. Putin certainly has realized that.

All this negotiation, and back-and-forth should have happened months ago, maybe two years ago when the Syrian crisis was beginning to boil and the consequences of Obama's "Arab Spring" were becoming painfully obvious. Instead, of course, the "reverse opposite" has happened. Obama, after months of dithering, presents his muddled end game, a plan for an "unbelievably" small military action of limited scope and duration that has no intention of hurting seriously the Assad regime, a regime Obama labeled as posing a threat to core American interests. Makes no sense. None of it.

So now we have Obama and Kerry chasing after the Russians, who are masters at playing games, to help Obama and Kerry get out of the box they have built. Have no doubt, Lavrov will seek to humble Kerry in ways big and small, much as his boss is humbling Obama in ways big and small. We have, for example, Putin "writing"(I bet Lavrov is the author) an op-ed in the New York Times lecturing the United States on the need to show humility and to stop being so warlike. It appears that Vladimir Putin, as I stated in a Tweet earlier in the day, seeks to take the position once held by Walter Duranty at the NYT : that special slot reserved for overt members of the NKVD/KGB.

We dither as Russia, a country several orders of magnitude weaker than the United States, reestablishes its influence in the region; boldly announces it is helping Iran re-arm and strengthen its nuclear program; and kicks sand in the face of 98-pound weakling Obama on the Snowden affair. Obama, meanwhile, gives vacuous speeches and seeks desperately to have the Syria disaster go away. He doesn't even want Congress to vote on giving him the power to strike militarily--a power which he previously claimed he had by right of being President. The CIA, meanwhile, arms the "moderates" (oh, please) in the Syrian resistance in another half-baked program which gets us the opprobrium for intervening in somebody else's civil war, without any benefits for America, or even an end-plan.

Obama built it. We all are paying for it--and the final bill has not yet arrived.

WLA

57 comments:

  1. Not being from State Department background, I have a complete layman’s take on the real work of diplomacy.

    I just do not understand why talks behind closed doors with the Russians were not ongoing and permanent. Our diplomats should be engaging their counterparts on a variety of matters, often. Building a relationship with them, and gather intelligence about their motives and decision-making processes. This information should be processes up the chain so Sec-State knows whom he is dealing with, and has some idea on what topics to engage and what to avoid.

    Obama and Kerry/Clinton just play it off the cuff, in an amateurish way that is quite infuriating. More so, than just policies I do care for, but in ham handed and tone-deaf manner they choose to deal with other nations.

    It started almost on day one, when the President gifted the Queen of England an iPod with his book, and DvDs to the PM that were incorrectly formatted for use in the UK. This looks like a simple gaffe, but it speaks deeply of not paying attention to or consulting with those who have experience in these things. Is there no state department protocol liaison to the Whitehouse? Couldn’t somebody pick up the phone, and say, “Hello State, the president needs to give some gifts, or is going to travel to… Anything so our country doesn’t come off as arrogant idiots.

    President Bush may have been inarticulate, but at least I think he listened to advisors.


    ReplyDelete
  2. On the bright side (you have to find one wherever it lies) We are being treated to a classic example of the ineptitude of a Kerry POTUS had he won in 2004.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greatest thing George W ever did for America was to prevent Kerry from becoming President.

      Delete
    2. In close running for the greatest thing George W ever did for America... to prevent Gore from becoming President.

      Delete
    3. Can you picture Gore as president on 9/11/2001?

      Delete
    4. Unfortunately, yes. I have a vivid imagination for worst-case scenarios... :(

      Delete
    5. The bad news is that the worst thing GW did for America was make it possible - even inevitable - that Obama would become President.

      Delete
  3. Great analysis of the situation. I will be interesting, to say the least, to see how badly Sergei takes advantage of our erstwhile Secretary of State.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well Mr. Mad,
    There are reports the naval strike force is breaking up and moving off. So much for another moral imperative. It looks like the O team is going to try the old let's talk about something else and forget about this. It isn't going to work. Putin's got a stick and he's going to use it. Then there's Kerry. To think that after the whoring after fame, selling out his country and servicemen all for this moment and have it go so wrong, must be like dust in his mouth. And Putin, it's almost as if the fictional Karla has come alive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karla! Yes, I can see Putin as a super Karla.

      Delete
    2. I was recently joking with friends that, should Putin retire, he would make an ideal Bond villain, complete with the scene where he walks calmly away from a jet while it explodes in the background.

      Delete
  5. David in a newly conservative AustraliaSeptember 12, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    As a complete outsider to American politics, local and international, were there no lessons learned from the "Cold War" in assessing Russian intentions or were the lessons just discarded by your "liberal" power brokers? Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge that others may have something to contribute to an assessment of Russian methods and I find it surprising [if true] that someone in your State Department has not studied the wealth of material available on the British -v- Russian "Great Game" of the 1800's which was played out in the same geographical region for much the same reasons. A different era but Russia's intentions have not changed. I sincerely hope that for the sake of the US and its friends that some sanity and backbone returns to US policy makers. Love your site for the insight it provides on US politics to an outsider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, David, David. Obama and Kerry and their "foreign policy team" are Smart People(TM) who don't need to listen to their lessers, a/k/a long-serving bureaucrats who indeed may know history, protocol, and personalities. They believe that their good intentions will prevail, because their cause is just. ...or something like that.

      Nonetheless, thank you for good wishes from the Antipodes. I sincerely hope that the Anglosphere can survive the next 3+ years of this clown crowd.

      Delete
    2. Nice to meet you, David. Let a pro-Australian American social studies teacher explain something to you: every so often, America goes soberly, seriously, and sincerely out of its collective wits. That's what happened when half of us (?) elected Barry Obama. By the way, I call the guy the O, and with a smattering of Hakka Chinese as one of my family's languages, it is not flattering. Depending on tone, it can mean either "child" or "to defecate".

      Delete
    3. CC your comment on long serving bureaucrats is pertinent. Just prior to the recent election the Labor Party made an accusation that Treasury had funded the Liberal Party Projected budget [our Liberal Party is actually conservative]and found a ten billion dollar hole in it. The two top public servants in Treasury took the unprecedented step of publicly stating that they had done no such thing effectively putting another nail in the ALP coffin. A classic example of what happens when you treat badly the people who are to give you unbiased advice. The conservatives now hold power in our Parliament and two bureaucrats have ensured they still have jobs.

      Delete
  6. Dip:

    I was so disappointed when Kerry was named to replace Hillary as he is such a rotten b*stard with no redeeming qualities at all. (And what Theresa Heinz saw in him baffles the heck out of me.) But all of a sudden I'm thinking "Wow! I get to watch the great unravelling! John Kerry on display as the dishonest, incompetent, corrupt, amoral man he has always been. Bring the popcorn." Karma's a bitch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I agree that Kerry matches your description, the stakes are too high to have this IDIOT as SoS.

      We all pay a price for this...

      Delete
    2. Aren't we lucky that Dubya beat Kerry in 2008! That's all I can think when I watch this administration's abysmal performance.

      But, as for Shrillary Billary Shrew, she was little better than Kerry as SecState, with a record of corruption to boot. And, on top of this, she thought herself clever fobbing off the Benghazi attacks and other anti-American demos in the Muslim world on an obscure video by an obscure Coptic immigrant.

      Delete
    3. F: Theresa Heinz speaks French and John Kerry looks and acts French?

      Delete
    4. LOL! But in truth, there are a lot of people in this world who speak French who are not world-class a**holes! I've worked with many. . .

      Delete
  7. While driving in to work today, I listened to the announced for WTOP (I live in the Washington area) actually sounding miffed about Putin's attack on America's sense of exceptionalism. Yet WTOP itself is quick to jump on American conservatives who advocate American exceptionalism.

    Disclaimer: Uncle Kepha trusts Vladimir Putin about as far as a slowly disintegrating Grandpa can throw the bathtub.

    Believe it or not, Evangelical Rightist Uncle Kepha actually thinks the USA has been and can be just as sinful as other countries, and that some other countries have at least a few things from which we might learn. It's all a matter of our fallen race being the object of God's saving grace through the Messiah Jesus (my religion shows, I know). Hence, we can be aware of our country's flaws while at the same time being patriotic. Didn't Jeremiah and Micah love the nation of Judah while exposing its violations of God's covenant? A similar dynamic is at work with some of us.

    It seems that the Dems trash American exceptionalism when the Republicans are winning; only to turn around and engage in it themselves from time to time. Perhaps I should take heart that WTOP's shock at an attack on AE might show that somewhere in the liberal mindset there remains a spark of patriotism. But, on the other hand, I'm still a little bothered by this shameless exploitation of the emotions of the moment. It's how we got suckered into backing the Qaida and MB types in North Africa and Syria; perhaps how the Democratic Party has gotten us into fiasco after fiasco.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Putin took his measure of Obama with South Ossetia. Obama dithered then as a candidate, and he paid attention. A little less than half of us did.

    ReplyDelete
  9. OT question.

    Back in the 1980s, the price of oil plummeted which hurt the people in the oil patch here in Texas. The current oil/gas/fracking boom is very good for the local economy.

    Back then, I heard something. That the Reagan administration had approached the KSA with an proposition - if the Saudi opened the spigots and kept the price low, the Soviets would be unable to continue to afford to the money to keep its troops in Afghanistan and to match the US in a defense buildup.

    Now the KSA is negotiating with Russia. Could one of the common goals be the manipulation of oil prices? Together, could they force the price down to a level where the new drilling would be uneconomical. Once the jobs are lost, how long would it take for the oil patch to gear back up again?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a strategy would hurt Russia more than the US, as the US economy is vastly more diversified than the one in Russia.

      However that being said, the KSA/Putin play bodes ill for US diplomatic containment of geopolitical issues in the middle east (ME) and Asia. Try this: instead of the US/KSA play on lowering oil prices, KSA unites with Russia to sell more of its oil to satiate an increasing Chinese oil demand. Russia gets more political influence in ME (a region most of the world depends upon for oil price stability) at the expense of US and Israeli interests, and China gets a buddy that allows it to grow unfettered by US policy containment - allowing it to project its influence from Africa into ME.

      Instead of artificially lowering prices, this unholy troika could artificially raise them - benefitting Russia and impacting the US and other Western countries who, like the US, squash oil and gas development at every opportunity.

      I recall Dip reporting on a NATO base off the coast of Spain that was being abandoned (due to the US "refocusing" to the Pacific and shrinking NATO influence), where the Chinese had expressed interest in leasing the island.

      Imagine a world where US influence in the ME is vastly diminished, influence in Africa is non-existent, influence in EU is waning - and Russian influence in ME is on the rise, Chinese influence in Africa is strengthened, and Chinese influence in ME is quietly growing.

      0bama has worked diligently to erase decades of US dominance of foreign affairs in various parts of the world, and now the fruits are beginning to ripen...beware.

      Delete
  10. Apart from the oil I could never understand, and still do not, the attitude of the US, and to be fair the rest of the West, to Saudi Arabia. It is a society/system with a fundamentalist 7th century religion which is the antithesis of everything the US says it stands for [well the conservative side of the US]. It funds fundamentalist Madrassas around the world that preach destruction of the West and will not tolerate any other religion within its borders. Or perhaps I'm just a naïve ex-rifle carrier. What say you Dip?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am waiting for Dip's reply, too, because it is a fundamental question. One thing that I have noticed is that the Saudi regime (and others, such as Qatar) own significant shares of major US media and banking companies, among others. They work an inside game, and see us as mercenaries that will do anything for money. That is why they tried to buy off Putin recently, thinking he was cut from the same cloth. Witness how the Financial Times went AWOL on coverage of the Libya revolution. Sure enough, the Kingdom of Libya owns a part of Pearson, the parent company.

      Dutch

      Delete
    2. Haha, there is nothing aside from The Oil.

      Don't think of it as oil. Think of it as tractors plowing fields, of fertilizer being produced, of trucks carrying the FOOD into the cities. If Saudi oil were to go offline, God forbid, for a month… well let’s just say that the great depression would look like a festival of lights in comparison.

      Sure the Saudi’s are an anachronism, but they keep the place stabile and they will work with us. The picture of Bush holding the kings hand is truly worth a million words.

      Delete
    3. I have written before that we need a serious fracking effort in the US, Canada, UK, Australia that will free the West from any energy dependence on the Mid East. Saudis are valuable only to the extent that they can, because of their huge oil reserves, affect the price/supply of energy in very short order. If we break away from depending on that, we can tell them and their madrases that they are free to go back to the 7th century.

      Delete
    4. The spice must flow.

      He who controls the spice, controls the Universe.

      Delete
    5. The thing that could cause a significant shift away from petroleum, primarily from the Mideast and Russia would be if they significantly raise the price. The other part of the system that keeps Saudi Arabia and, with its recently developed oil resources, Russia in the driver seat are the government regulations that prevent other sources of energy from being used. In the United States, it is only EPA regulations that prevent millions of vehicles from being converted to run on either gasoline or natural gas. Before a series of factory explosions in 1943 and 1944, most of Germany's gasoline was produced from coal using the Berzelius process and that process can be done anywhere there are large supplies of coal like Germany, China or the United States. The one factor that prevents alternatives to petroleum being used is that governments claim environmental reasons to prevent energy alternatives from being used.

      Delete
  11. Yes of course 9/04/2013 was an eternity ago but:

    At 5:48 Rand Paul appears on a clip - B. Hume at 6:32 retorts, "Rand Paul doesn't know JACK about the Syrian moderates. John McCain who's been there with Elizabeth O'Bagy ..."

    Other *highlights* include C. Krauthammer [11:27] then spots at 12:12, 14:03 [O'Bagy's map] & 16:07.

    A mere 32 minutes and 26 seconds - Watch it before FOX takes it down.

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/2650044328001/special-report-online-9413-/

    Arkie

    ReplyDelete
  12. Honestly if you think about it Putin doesn't have to be Mr. Genius to best O. All he had to do was get him out of his protective MSM cocoon call his bluff then start throwing out illusionary lifelines. He's also doing an Alinsky on him by beating on him with the liberal playbook (re: NY Times op ed). This stuff should be bread and butter for Putin and Lavrov.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh Yeah, the latest Kerryism "this is not a game" will make those russkies sit up and fly right. When Lavrov gets finished with him he'll wish he was back in that comfy Senate chair.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Imagine if Carter had been given 4 more years...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It isn't hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too

      Delete
  15. On the one hand, you seem to say, 'don't under-estimate the Russians,' and otoh, in your last paragraph, you...under-estimate the Russians.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If America is being driven out of the Middle East then I say GOOD. What do we get out of all the blood and treasure that we expend on it? Do we need lots of sand? And we don't need its oil.

    If Europe, China, and Japan need oil (or even lots of sand) then let them expend their blood and treasure on it. Even the Christians of the Middle East are sick of our 'help' that always supports the jihadis in the region that are killing them and even Muslims that say No to the 7th century. The Christians in the region are sick of us and want us out. The Egyptians are sick of us.

    So let Russia have it and get indigestion from it. Let the region have its wars and kill each other. Israel without the US can take care of itself and will be stronger by being self sufficient and disentangled from the US.

    US out of the Middle East and Central Asia! We have nuclear weapons. Who can invade the US?

    How much we have sacrificed to maintain the Petrodollar and the US Empire. It is killing us. We need to kill the Petrodollar that ties us to Saudi Arabia before we collapse.

    We need to live in peace and reestablish the best of our Founding principles and the Constitution. Maintaining the US Empire is destroying our center, the heart of our civilization.

    Otherwise we will continue the path we are on to eventual collapse, and then nothing we think or say will make any difference in the end that we are racing toward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Israel without the US can take care of itself and will be stronger by being self sufficient and disentangled from the US.

      Simply being cold-blooded here but:

      As the Russians need Tartus, we need Israel. Or from a simpler perspective, we need their Mossad to keep an eye out.

      Arkie

      Delete
    2. I'm not arguing, just asking. What do we need Israel for? They are the only non horrific country in their neighborhood but what do they do for the United States? Mossad is certainly competent but most of what they do is provide information on the Mideast. If we don't need Mideastern oil to keep our economy thriving, the value of that information is significantly less than if the regular flow of oil from Saudi Arabia and a relatively calm Mideast.

      Delete
  17. You are definitely right that Lavrov would take every opportunity to mock Kerry: http://washingtonexaminer.com/john-kerrys-russian-counterpart-mocks-him-for-talking-too-much/article/2535731

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could see that coming. Lavrov tries to throw off his negotiating rival with that kind of stuff. And Kerry provides so much ammo . . .

      Delete
    2. Many years ago, Mad Magazine did a parody of "Adam 12" called "Boredom 12," wherein the preachy cop bored a would be villain to sleep.

      Perhaps Mr. Kerry read the same magazine article and thought it a brilliant idea. Although, maybe even Lavrov has a breaking point when it comes to the Loquacious Dullard aka John "Seared in my memory" Kerry.

      -Blake

      Delete
  18. Kruschev found out JFK was weak and we got missiles in Cuba. Now that Putin sees how weak Øbama is, what will we get?

    ReplyDelete
  19. The soviets went into Afghanistan and it was the beginning of the end of history... 'Merica!!!!
    The us goes into Afghanistan and it looks like its the beginning of the end of western civ...Long live Putingrad!!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. For a British point of view:
    "Days ago Washington was gearing up to hit hard at the Assad regime because of its crimes against humanity in using chemical weapons. An almost impossible political case to sell (why will it make anything any better?) but at least it drew on some points of decent principle. Now we see the ghastly spectacle of Sergei Lavrov carving John Kerry down to size slice by slice, as the Americans grasp at the hopeless task of removing chemical weapons from Syria as proposed by Moscow. A new UN resolution? In our new spirit of partnership, why not? But only if it does not insult Mr Assad, or contain nasty threats or war crimes allegations against him. New peace talks? Of course. As long as they are not aimed at Mr Assad leaving office.

    It’s obvious to even the dullest pundit that no new international process can bring about the safe collection and destruction of Syria’s sizeable CW stocks over any timescale that matters. Moscow is not interested in this. Rather it means to re-legitimise the Assad regime by making it a prime interlocutor in the whole phoney process. The exercise soon will be bogged down in footling exchanges of diplomatic notes and labyrinths of internationalised technical bickering that ensure that any "progress" occurs only on Moscow/Assad terms. Meanwhile the civil war in Syria will drag on, with Assad emboldened. In due course Washington will have so much credibility invested in Syria’s CW non-disarmament that it will start to need Assad to stay in power to guarantee some crumbs of success.

    This outcome shows what happens when you enter a brutal neighbourhood proclaiming your unwillingness to fight: those who are prepared to fight crush you. The Obama administration knows that it is experiencing unprecedented humiliation. So it proclaims victory. John Kerry emits faux toughness to pretend that Washington is really driving things along. “Words are not enough.” “This is not a game.” “There ought (sic) to be consequences” if Assad does not dismantle its CW arsenal. “We do believe there is a way to get this done.” Such empty mock-heroic phrases are the sort of thing a cartoon character might say as he walks off the edge of the cliff, striding purposefully out into thin air before plummeting to his doom."
    H/T Charles Crawford

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the last few years, some of the best reviews of American politics have come from Britain it seems. Norway and Australia have "righted" themselves. We have a bit over 3 years to do so.

      Delete
  21. Thanks, Mr. Diplomad, for your very worthwhile thoughts. John Kerry is indeed a fascinating character. "Supercilious dope" is a good beginning as a description, but it only scratches the surface of the man. Such a marvelous compound of intellectual mediocrity, ambition, self-regard, and patrician profile deserves a full portrait. I hope you'll find the time to complete this picture.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I was In the Army from 77 to 85. Why does all this feel suspiciously like 1979?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had that same sinking feeling too.

      Delete
  23. "Obama built it. We all are paying for it--and the final bill has not yet arrived."

    Oh how frighteningly true !

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow, diplomad, since we're all about the unsubstantiated ad hominem, sounds like somebody TICed out before he was ready. And I guess that keen analytical mind wasn't all that marketable after the FS, was it? So enjoy your blog. As long as we're talking TV analogies, your blog reminds me of Lisa Simpson, enraged by Springfield's curfew, who says (paraphrasing here) "Let's start a campaign on the internet!" To which Bart replies, "I've got a better idea! Let's tell some people whose opinion actually matters!" Enjoy your anonymity.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, Mr. leftist troll, if WLA's opinions don't matter, why bother to comment?

      Gad, you progressives are so self-unaware it's pitiful.

      -Blake

      Delete
    2. "Enjoy your anonymity.:)"
      signed Anonymous
      Astounding, a modern day Swift!

      Delete
    3. Well, you know my name, and I don't know yours. That means I can't comment on what I am sure is a stellar career of ass-kissing.

      And, I did not TIC out, btw; I left on my own, with the rank of MC and the DG's Award. How are you doing? I would also be glad to compare my financial state and investment acumen to yours any day.

      Do keep in touch.

      Delete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I could probably describe, within a very small margin of error, Anon's career path at DoS, including their personality (risk averse, subscribing enthusiastically to all the latest intellectual fads), how they behave at country team, what they are like during both EER and bdding seasons.

    Why can I do this? Because 97% of DoS is Anon.

    But then I am
    Anon
    also

    ReplyDelete