Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama caves to Saudi pressure (what else?)

April 19, 2016

It was only to be expected.

Saudi Arabia did not like proposed legislation which would have allowed the government of Saudi Arabia to be sued in US courts for possible 9/11 involvement and would, in turn, have allowed US courts to attach Saudi accounts and assets in the US. So they made some threats of selling off their US assets. And the President of the United States, in good democratic style, caved in to the demands of a dictator. President Obama wasted no time in telling the legislators that he would veto any such legislation.

The HillThe White House on Monday signaled President Obama would veto legislation to allow Americans to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for any role officials played in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. ……

The legislation drew widespread attention after Saudi officials reportedly informed the Obama administration that they would sell off $750 billion in U.S. assets if the bill became law, a threat that carries widespread economic consequences if the Saudis follow through.

Earnest appeared to strongly caution the Saudi government against taking such a step.

“A country with a modern and large economy like Saudi Arabia would not benefit from a destabilized global financial market, and neither would the United States,” he said.

The fierce debate over the legislation has bubbled up at a precarious time for Obama, who is set to land in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to meet with King Salman.


Obama opposition to Trump could increase the anti-establishment wave in his favour

March 17, 2016

My theory is that Trump has activated and is riding an anti-establishment wave. Whenever an establishment figure (politician or main stream media) comes out against Trump, it increases the anti-establishment support for him. Therefore – my theory says – the only way to defeat Trump is by taking his ground away from him, not by attacking him from an establishment position. So Sanders, in my opinion, would have had a better chance against Trump. Hillary Clinton is the epitome of establishment.

Obama image: Sean Gallup-Getty

Obama image: Sean Gallup-Getty

Now it is reported that Obama and his advisors are strategizing against Trump and will likely come out, not just in favour of Clinton, but aggressively against Trump. Firstly there can hardly be a more establishment figure than the POTUS. Secondly, Obama and strategy don’t really go together. He will likely over-analyse the problem and try to make rational arguments against Trump. Which would be futile. It will be far too easy for Trump to counter-attack after Obama’s strategic and tactical fiascos in Syria against Putin. That added to Hillary Clinton’s own Benghazi fiasco will just be playing in to Trump’s narrative.

Washington Post: ….. President Obama is plunging into the campaign fray, not only to help Democrats retain the White House but in defense of his own legacy in a political climate dominated by Trump. ………

….. Obama and his top aides have been strategizing for weeks about how they can reprise his successful 2008 and 2012 approaches to help elect a Democrat to replace him. And out of concern that a Republican president in 2017 — either Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) — would weaken or reverse some of his landmark policies, Obama and his surrogates have started making the case that it is essential for the GOP to be defeated in November.

Assuming it becomes a Clinton / Trump election, Clinton would be far better off with Obama being silent. She does not need his support to become a visible confirmation that she is the establishment candidate. Obama being openly and vocally against Trump will only cement the anti-establishment wave behind Trump. It could even convert the wave into a tsunami.


The Obama is the cabbage to Putin as the King .. and pigs indeed have wings

March 17, 2016

Lewis Carroll

The Walrus and the Carpenter
    Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
    Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
    And waited in a row.

`The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
    `To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
    Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
    And whether pigs have wings.’

Putin started his Syrian intervention on 29th September, 2015, much to to the astonishment of the Obama and his overpaid, idiot advisors. “It won’t work” cried the Obama. “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire …” They were even more astonished when, less than 6 months later, Putin ordered a withdrawal of Russian troops (while still maintaining his air bases and air-defense systems and enough troops to protect Russian assets).

cabbages and kings (Northern Echo)

cabbages and kings (Northern Echo)

But pigs have wings in Syria and Putin is proving himself to be the King to Obama’s cabbage.

Why — and how — Russia won in Syria

A day after Putin announced a Russian withdrawal from Syria, it’s clear that his gamble has turned into a major win for Moscow. Here’s what Russia achieved — and why it was so successful.

First — and most importantly — Russian bombing turned the tide of the war in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor. When the Russian military deployed to Syria, Assad was in serious trouble, …….. Five months later, …. Assad clearly holds the military upper hand. ……“the Russian reinforcement has changed the calculus completely.”

……. Second, Putin recently achieved an important diplomatic objective by forcing the United States to acknowledge that Russia plays a key role in determining Syria’s future. …… The most recent ceasefire beginning on February 27, however, was negotiated in Geneva directly between the United States and Russia. Both sides agreed to act as equal guarantors for the ceasefire, and Obama concluded negotiations by speaking directly to Putin. As icing on the cake, Moscow recently forced Washington to renounce its position that “Assad must go,” with Secretary of State John Kerry stating “the United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,” and that the focus was “not on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad.”

Third, Putin responded to Turkey’s shoot down of a Russian jet by humiliating Ankara, an emerging rival in the Middle East and Central Asia. Russia deployed advanced S400 surface-to-air missiles near Turkey. ….. Putin also grievously wounded Turkey’s key rebel allies and close ethnic cousins, the Syrian Turkmen. Turkmen rebels reportedly killed the Russian pilots shot down by Turkish jets, and bombing the Turkmen allows Putin to both avenge these deaths — thereby playing to Russian public opinion — while degrading the effectiveness of one of Assad’s enemies.

Putin also hit Turkey where it hurts by playing the “Kurdish card” against Ankara. ……… Russia, though, plays on Turkish fears by providing air support for YPG efforts to fully control the Turkish-Syrian border, ….

Finally, Putin’s Syrian campaign has contributed to weakening the European Union. …….. Russia “weaponizes” refugees by bombing civilian targets and supporting Assad’s troops, thereby causing a substantially greater inflow of refugees into Europe — up to 100,000 from the city of Aleppo alone. Meanwhile, resentment toward Germany’s open-door refugee policy produces rising anger across the EU, ……….

……. Washington’s Syrian policy, meanwhile, remains a hopeless muddle. At various points the Obama administration insisted that “Assad must go” — and that Assad can stay. ……. The United States’ search for moderate rebels led it to support the Free Syrian Army. But FSA militias sometimes tactically ally with al Qaeda’s Syrian branch — effectively putting Washington on the same side at times as the perpetrators of 9/11.

Washington’s Sunni allies have not exactly been trouble-free either. Vice President Joseph Biden publicly accused the Turks, Saudis and Qataris of arming Syrian militants, ………. 

The Obama administration’s proxy strategy epitomizes this confusion. One Pentagon program spent $500 million on a train and equip program …… and even then, the few trainees actually sent into Syria promptly turned their weapons over to al Qaeda.

……….. As Moscow exits the Syrian morass, the five-month-long military campaign represents a clear geopolitical win for Vladimir Putin. 

At least Obama will not be called upon to deal with ISIS in Libya. That is going to be left to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is more likely to be another cabbage and Donald Trump could be a total disaster but he has a tiny chance of turning out to be a King.


Six months of Russian intervention shows up 5 years of Obama’s ineptitude in Syria

March 13, 2016

Russia began its current intervention in Syria on September 30th last year, whereas the US began its anti-Assad campaign in 2011:

……… with the financing, training and encouragement of selected “moderate rebels”. They have no doubt weakened Assad but have also been instrumental in creating ISIS.

The Russian intervention has had a focus and an end-game in mind, both of which were missing from the US/NATO “strategy”. The “ceasefire” that is currently in place allows Russia (and Assad) to continue operating against the “terrorists” (ISIS, Al Nusra…) who are not party to the ceasefire. The US is now just following Russia’s lead much to the chagrin of the many Sunni opposition groups and of Saudi Arabia.

The only objective which Obama and Kerry ever had in Syria was to remove Assad but they had no strategy either for that or for what would follow. In Syria, Vladimir Putin has highlighted Obama’s ineptitude.

Canada Free Press:

On February 27, 2016, a ceasefire went into effect in Syria between the forces of the Assad regime and the opposition. The ceasefire was achieved after the United States and Russia reached understandings regarding the terms of the agreement; Bashar al-Assad and the representatives of the opposition who took part in the contacts accepted its terms; and the ceasefire was grounded in a UN Security Council resolution.

The Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other jihadist rebel groups are not party to the ceasefire, and Russia and the United States have agreed that they would continue fighting them in cooperation with one another. In actuality, the ceasefire was reached as a result of the combined efforts of the two superpowers currently engaged in leading the campaign for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. All the other actors are dependent on the assistance of these two powers and are subject to their influence.

In order to translate its military achievements in the Syrian arena into achievements in the realm of international politics, Russia worked intensively to advance the ceasefire along two parallel channels. The first channel was operational – specifically, a joint air and ground offensive against rebel forces aimed at exhausting them, carried out by a pro-Assad coalition including Iran, Syrian military forces that are loyal to Assad, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias. The severe damage sustained by the rebel forces is what brought them to the negotiating table. The second channel focused on advancing a political process, primarily vis-à-vis the United States, but also Saudi Arabia.

Moscow sought to promote the political dialogue while it enjoyed the upper hand on the military battlefield and was able to dictate the outcome of the process. Russia translated its achievements on the ground into a political roadmap for a cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a transitional period toward a solution to the conflict within 18 months. Russian policy with regard to the Syrian crisis was also motivated by Russia’s aspiration to promote its standing within the international arena and reduce the Western foreign and economic pressure leveled against it following its actions in Ukraine. In this context, Moscow led the joint offensive of the forces of the pro-Assad coalition in an effort to demonstrate its determination and to create pressure on the West and on Turkey by means of a massive flight of refugees toward Turkey from the embattled areas. It is unclear whether Russia received anything in return from the contacts that took place behind the scenes between Washington and Moscow, such as an easing of the Western sanctions.

Syria conflict map 13th March 2016 Carter Center

Syria conflict map 13th March 2016 Carter Center

The Russian intervention has seen the ISIS expansion halted and reversed. They have secured breathing space for the Assad regime though they expect to have him replaced in an orderly manner in time. ISIS will shift (is already shifting) to Libya which is in chaos (for which Obama passes the buck to Cameron and Sarkozy). The EU with its shambles of a refugee policy is providing the sink which swallows the bulk of those displaced.

The real Middle East end-game is a very long way away but Russia is reaching its immediate objectives of supporting the Syrian regime, halting the march of Sunni- groups, restraining the ambitions of Saudi Arabia and of getting in the good books of Iran.

The US and Europe will still have to handle ISIS in Libya but here they will not have the Russians to rescue them.


Pots & kettles as Obama criticises Cameron over Libya

March 11, 2016

It seems a bit rich for Obama with his utter shambles in Syria to be criticising David Cameron for the shambles in Libya. Not that Obama (and Hillary Clinton) didn’t mess up in Libya as well but the UK and France were taking the lead there.  And while it may have been the fall of Libya which unleashed the weapons and fanatics who morphed into ISIS, they would not have expanded as they did without Obama and Kerry dropping the ball in Iraq and Syria.

The Russian strategy seems to be actually forcing ISIS back, but plan B for ISIS seems to be to setup headquarters in Libya if they are eventually squeezed out of Iraq and Syria. The UK and France have to take their share of the blame for their sanctimonious but ill-thought out “regime change” in Libya, but the real frustration for Obama is that he has compounded the failed end-game in Libya and multiplied it in Syria.


David Cameron became “distracted” after the 2011 intervention in Libya, US President Barack Obama has said. Speaking to the Atlantic magazine, he said the operation went as well as he had hoped, but Libya was now “a mess”. The article also said he had warned the PM the UK would have to pay its “fair share” and spend 2% of GDP on defence. …..

…. BBC North America editor Jon Sopel said the unsolicited statement put out by the White House suggested Downing Street had reacted angrily to the article. “It’s like we’ve seen a curtain drawn back on the unspun thoughts of President Obama, complete with frustration as well, and what we’ve seen tonight is the White House trying to close the curtain as quickly as it can,” he added. …….

……. The toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya – following UN-backed air strikes designed to protect civilians – led to a power vacuum and instability, with no authority in full control. The intervention was led by the UK and France – and in his interview, Mr Obama reflects on “what went wrong”, saying: “There’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.” Mr Cameron, he said, became “distracted by a range of other things”.

He also criticised former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying he had tried to claim the spotlight. The former French president, he said, “wanted to trumpet the flights he was taking in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defences and essentially set up the entire infrastructure” for the intervention. President Obama said the intervention “averted large-scale civilian casualties (and) prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict”. But he added: “And despite all that, Libya is a mess.”

Trying to pass on some of the blame onto Cameron and Sarkozy is not unjustified but it does not put Obama’s utter fiasco in Iraq and Syria into any better light. It really does not help the pot when it calls the kettles black.


7 years on, 20 years older

January 14, 2016
Image Time magazine

Image Time magazine

Obama’s goodbye elevates Trump

January 13, 2016

I didn’t stay up to watch Obama’s final State of the Union address live, but have just read the transcript and a few reports.

It was a goodbye speech. He came in hope and leaves still counselling hope. Though the country’s economic position is inevitably better now than it was in 2009 in the valley of the financial crash, he leaves, as I perceive, a country with a much higher level of fears than of hope.

I was a little surprised that he attacked Trump (though not by name) as much as he did. I suspect that being elevated to the level of being the subject of a State of the Union address, by a sitting President, can only benefit Trump. Especially as Trump was being written off as not worthy of any consideration, of any kind, just a few months ago. His playing down of the monsters of Al Qaida and ISIS, born of twisted interpretations of Islam, but nurtured largely by US policy (including Obama’s), also fuels Trump’s narrative.

Obama has not lived up to the expectations that his own rhetoric had engendered. “Yes, we can” has morphed to “Well, we could have”.

History may remember Obama, vaguely, for his Syrian misadventures. He may even be remembered as having attempted to introduce universal health care. History may also record that his tenure was characterised by an aversion to risk and some paralysis-by-analysis. But he will primarily be remembered as having been the first half-black President of the US and of having served for 8 years, but without special distinction.

A passing grade then for the speech, a C+ and maybe even a B-, but not much more.


If Executive Action is the President’s prerogative, why has it taken 7 years?

January 6, 2016

If the theatrically announced Executive Actions yesterday by Barack Obama have always been available to him, and if he feels so strongly about background checks on those buying guns, why, then, has it taken him 7 years to implement?

If gun control is the objective then it is very little and much too late. Personally I think that the issue of gun control is just an excuse used to avoid having to deal with the much greater malaise. The availability of guns may be of some consequence, but is not the root cause of the existence of the mass killers. I see that as the inexorable rise of permissiveness – the doctrine that encourages bad behaviour to be excused (not just explained) for “extenuating circumstances”. And upbringing, culture, laziness, lack of intelligence and poverty are all considered extenuating factors. Just being a member of a “minority” is taken to be extenuating. The incompetence of parenting is considered extenuating but the genes of the parents are not. The mass killings in the US are not going to stop with cosmetic gun control measures. My point is that the blind, almost religious, deference to political correctness has contributed – and may be the primary cause – of a permissive society generating mass killers. It is the same religion which has led to the failed doctrine of multiculturalism in Europe.

“Deference to political correctness” occurs when a theoretical dogma overrules evidence and reality. It starts with the belief that “I know best what is good for you”. It includes increased government regulation to protect groups and individuals considered to be “disadvantaged” from being held responsible for their actions. It is 50 years (3 generations) of “affirmative action” where one unfairness is imposed to try and correct some other perceived unfairness. It is the illogical belief that the poor are poor because the rich are rich which makes a god of “wealth redistribution”. It focuses on levelling down rather than levelling up. It tries to impose a lack of values. Individuals are no longer allowed to – or even considered able to – decide what is “good” or what is “bad”. It is a denial of the fundamental ability of a human to be able exercise judgement on the basis of his values.

I am more than a little suspicious of Obama’s “tears on demand” especially when it was at a carefully stage-managed performance which took weeks in preparation.

Mail&Guardian:Obama’s executive order is an attempt to bypass this legislative deadlock.

The executive order has been carefully crafted to survive a court challenge. It does not erase the distinction between business and private firearms sales. Rather, it broadens the definition of a business and provides for stricter enforcement of restrictions on business sales by hiring additional personnel to conduct background checks.

Yet, even the president has admitted that the executive order is “not going to prevent every mass shooting”.

There is evidence that unregulated private sales – over the internet and at gun shows – are a source of guns for individuals who are ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm. However, the weapons used in recent mass shootings in San Bernardino and Umpqua Community College in Oregon were acquired legally at federally licensed gun stores or through private transactions that likely wouldn’t be affected by Obama’s new rules. In other words, the president’s executive order would not have stopped these shooters.

The president’s executive order and its focus on the “gun-show loophole” is largely political theatre. Act II will be his upcoming town hall meeting on CNN.

Assuming Obama’s actions are of some value, why have they taken 7 years?

Obama has become the best friend the gun manufacturers have

December 7, 2015

Beyond my previous post, this needs no comment.

Market Watch:

Shares of the two publicly traded gun makers rallied on Monday, a day after President Barack Obama gave a prime-time address calling for a modest reduction in the availability of firearms. Both Smith & Wesson SWHC, +7.64%  and Sturm Ruger & Co. RGR, +5.78%  rose over 7% on Monday. 

Smith & Wesson has climbed 116% this year and Sturm Ruger has jumped 69%.

Gun stocks spike after Obama’s speech (graphic – MarketWatch)

Obama’s empty speech should increase gun sales

December 7, 2015

Obama’s much heralded Oval office speech said nothing very much. He made it standing up rather than sitting down to show that he was a man of action. But then he didn’t mention any actions of any significance. Perhaps somebody should tell him that symbols of action are not the actions themselves. He was more concerned that innocent Muslims not be discriminated against, rather than that virulent, Muslim terrorists already embedded in the US be rooted out. If I lived in the US I would have to conclude that

  1. the State could not – and would not – protect me by preventing future San Bernardino events, and therefore
  2. I should acquire a weapon, some training on how to use it and take to carrying it.

I watched some extracts from his speech and have just read the transcript. What struck me was all that he didn’t say. He didn’t say

  1. that he would get Turkey to stop trading in ISIS oil,
  2. that he would get Saudi Arabia to stop sending funds to radical Sunni groups in Syria and Iraq,
  3. that he would get Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to stop exporting funds and sick ideologies to mosques and madrassas abroad,
  4. that he would, and how he would, find the ISIS sleepers and the radicalised Muslim youth already embedded within the US,
  5. that he called on the Muslim communities in the US to themselves cease protecting such people hiding within their communities,
  6. that he would get the social media giants to use their undoubtedly, sufficiently capable algorithms to apply some ethical standards to radicalisation rooms,
  7. that he would work with Russia and Iran – even if Saudi Arabia or Israel opposed it – to leave ISIS with no territory in Iraq or in Syria,
  8. that he would prevent ISIS from developing an alternative base of operations in Libya.

But I heard none of that.

Instead he presented his empty,  already bankrupt, do-nothing, four-part “strategy”

  1. “First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary”. (but not apparently in the US)
  2. “Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens”. (and we have seen how $500 million managed to train a handful of fighters and provided ISIS with the weapons of a whole brigade).
  3. “Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations”. (but not if Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Israel disapprove).
  4. “Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process — and timeline — to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian war”. (we are prepared to have a ceasefire with ISIS but we will not talk to Assad).

In other words, “we will continue not doing what we are already not doing and which we are so good at not doing”. And then he waffled on about gun control. Does he really think that an ISIS, terrorist kill-squad would have any difficulty in obtaining clandestine guns and explosives?

There was one paragraph he got right.

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

But then he even ruined that by shifting direction and emphasised the “avoiding of discrimination”

But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination.

He ends with the ridiculous statement “Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear”. 

The country was I think looking for Obama to show them that they could enjoy freedom without fear. Instead, he just provided all Americans with the freedom to fear. And with a perfect reason to go out and buy a gun.

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