Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Clinton has just 20% chance of winning against any Republican says incumbency model

October 14, 2015

According to a model based on how an incumbent fares in an election from 450 elections in 35 democratic countries, any Democrat has only a 20% chance of beating any Republican for the US Presidential election.

Clinton's chances

Clinton’s chances

The model shows that Barack Obama’s current approval ratings are not high enough to allow a successor to get elected, though he would, as an incumbent, have an 80% chance of being reelected himself. With his current approval rating of 45-47%, any successor would only have a 20% probability of winning. Even if Hillary Clinton is an exceptional candidate, it will not be enough to overcome the inexorable hand of this incumbency effect.

Clifford Young and Julia Clark in Reuters:

Elections are not mysterious events subject to the whimsy of unpredictable candidates and voters. They’re actually highly predictable, with a set of variables that influence outcomes in familiar ways. Because of that, we can say, with reasonable confidence, that a Republican will be moving into the White House in 2017.

That conclusion is based on the results of a data model we created, and is primarily the result of two factors, both related to the challenges faced by “successor” candidates — candidates from the same party as the incumbent. First, a Republican will win because voters typically shy away from the party currently in power when an incumbent isn’t running. In fact, a successor candidate is three times less likely to win. Second, President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are too low to suggest a successor candidate will take the White House.

At this point in the election cycle, poll data asking the “horserace” question (“Who will you vote for in November 2016?”) can be very misleading. This far from Election Day, published poll data is off by an average of 8 percentage points compared with the true election outcome. That’s an enormous number when we’re used to elections where candidates win by two to three points.

Time Before Election

Average error of polls (compared to final results)

One week


One month


Two months


Three months


Six months


Nine months


Twelve months


Source: Ipsos analysis of 300 polls across 40 markets from 1980 through current

So we created a much larger database of elections by looking beyond the United States to hundreds of presidential and parliamentary elections in democratic countries around the world. This exercise gave us far more data to work with: a sample size of more than 450 elections from 35 countries.

The most important finding from our model is the power of incumbency: if you already hold the office you seek, you are far more likely than not to retain it. Our model showed that incumbents have a threefold greater chance of beating their opponent. When no incumbent is running, successor candidates (in this case, Democrats) are three times less likely to win.

From our database of global elections we also learned about the importance of knowing where the public stands on the direction their country and leadership are going. Are they generally happy or unhappy with the government? There are a few ways to measure this, but the most universal (and therefore the one we use) is approval ratings of the sitting leader or president.

Our model proves the power of presidential approval ratings. It determines that in order for a successor candidate to have better than even chances of winning, the sitting president must have an approval rating of above 55 percent. Because Barack Obama’s average approval rating is now at 45 percent, a successor candidate (i.e. Democrat) is unlikely to win. …….

…… In the coming months, Obama’s approval ratings may tick up. But they would have to pass the 55 point mark to give the Democrats even odds of keeping the White House. This is extremely unlikely, given the fact that presidential approval typically declines over time, and Obama’s ratings are no exception.

Some will argue that Hillary Clinton is special; that her chances are significantly better because, given her popularity and status as a “legacy” candidate, she seems more like an incumbent. But if we go along with that hypothesis and run it through our model, at Obama’s current approval ratings, Clinton’s chances of winning the general election are still less than half.

The Democrats have quite a mountain to summit to retain power past 2016.

The best strategy for Hillary would now be to stop throwing any money down the election drain until Obama improves his approval rating to at least 55%. That would at least give her a 50% chance of being elected.

Obama still has no strategy for ISIS

September 17, 2015

Last year Barack Obama admitted he had no strategy, “yet”, for ISIS. By the latest admissions, he still doesn’t. He is pouring money into “fighting ISIS” but it would seem that there are many expensive but ineffective actions ongoing – but there are few signs of any coherent, comprehensive strategy with any real goals.

The latest example of money down the drain, with nothing to show for it, is revealed by the testimony of Gen. Lloyd Austin to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The $500 million program to train 5,400 Syrian fighters against ISIS started off by training and sending 54 well-armed fighters. Only 4 or 5 remain. The others have been captured or killed by Al Qaida or ISIS or have abandoned the fight.

CBS NewsOnly four or five U.S-trained Syrian fighters remain on the battlefield against militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East acknowledged Wednesday in the face of withering criticism from senators who dismissed the training program as a “total failure” and demanded a change of strategy. Gen. Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is looking at better ways to deploy the Syrian forces, but he agreed that the U.S. will not reach its goal of training 5,000 in the near term. ….. 

The first group of 54 U.S.-trained Syrian fighters was sent into Syria in late July. But a Syrian affiliate of al Qaeda attacked the group, killing several of the fighters and taking others hostage. A number of the remaining fighters fled. Officially called the New Syrian Force, the contingent was trained by the U.S. military at a base in Turkey and sent across the border into Northern Syria, ……..

The committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. John McCain, called the U.S. strategy against ISIS a debacle. He said assessments by Austin and the Pentagon that the U.S. strategy is working is “divorced from reality.” And other senators focused directly on the stumbling training effort that takes months to identify and screen Syrian rebels for the program and has lagged far behind original goals. “We have to acknowledge this is a total failure,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said about the training. “I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the fact.”

Congress has approved $500 million to train Syrian fighters. Officials have said fewer than 200 are going through training now.

Last week we heard how Obama and Kerry missed the opportunity in 2012 to work with Russia to arrange for Assad to step aside in an orderly transfer of power. Was it just ego that stopped that? Was it the wishful thinking that the support being given to the splintered Syrian rebels by the US and the Europeans, would lead to a complete defeat of Assad.

I certainly have the perception that the US (and their European partners) have been more than a little incompetent in their efforts at regime change – whether in Iraq or Libya or Syria or even the Ukraine. Like it or not, it is the lack of a coherent strategy and the incompetence of  implementation of ad hoc actions, which has provided the space for ISIS to flourish. While Saddam and Gaddafi and Assad were in place, many were throttled, but so was ISIS.

S & W gun sales have boomed since Obama became President

August 28, 2015

From Business Insider:

S&W says business boomed after Obama became president


Obama blames Congress of course. But the reality is that he has not shown much initiative on any gun control policy which he could even try to carry through Congress.

And just gun control would not address behaviour.


A Guantanamo in Chicago?

August 5, 2015

I have a perception – from the other side of the Atlantic – that race relations and especially the relations between the police and the black community in the US have deteriorated under Barack Obama. The number of  black people reported killed by police seems much too high. Deaths of black people in police custody seems also unnaturally high. Again my perception is that Obama is dangerously risk averse both domestically and in foreign policy. He has not addressed this issue forcefully. I suspect a certain lack of capability and an undue fear of action.

Chicago is as close to Obama’s “home city” as any. Moreover the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is a close friend of Obama’s and was his former Chief of Staff (2008 – 2010). So one would expect that Chicago would lead the way in race relations under the first “black” president of the US. But it seems that Chicago has been running its own Guantanamo-style facility (Homan Square) in plain view. It also seems that during Rahm Emanuel’s term the use of the facility against black suspects has been maximised.

Chicago Homan Square arrests via The Guardian

Chicago Homan Square arrests via The Guardian

Of course The Guardian leans very heavily to the left and has a tendency to be rather sanctimonious, but their report – even after being discounted for their “goody-goody” bias – is rather disturbing. It does not speak well of what Obama and his friend have achieved in their “home city”.

It seems a real shame that under the first “black” president of the US, race relations, especially between the police and the black community, have apparently deteriorated quite badly.

The Guardian:

At least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal.

Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.

Despite repeated denials from the Chicago police department that the warehouse is a secretive, off-the-books anomaly, the Homan Square files begin to show how the city’s most vulnerable people get lost in its criminal justice system.

The Chicago police department has maintained – even as the Guardian reported stories of people being shackled and held for hours or even days, all without legal access – that the warehouse is not a secret facility so much as an undercover police base operating in plain sight. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is no different at Homan Square,” the police asserted in a March statement.

But an independent Guardian analysis of arrestees’ records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Homan Square is far from normal: 

  • Between September 2004 and June 2015, around 3,540 people were eventually charged, mostly with forms of drug possession – primarily heroin, as well as marijuana and cocaine – but also for minor infractions such as traffic violations, public urination and driving without a seatbelt.
  • More than 82% of the Homan Square arrests thus far disclosed – or 2,974 arrests – are of black people, while 8.5% are of white people. Chicago, according to the 2010 US census, is 33% black and 32% white.
  • Over two-thirds of the arrests at Homan Square thus far revealed – at least 2,522 – occurred under the tenure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former top aide to Barack Obama who has said of Homan Square that the police working under him “follow all the rules”. ……….

Read the report

The Obama legacy will certainly show that he was the first half-black president of the US. More than that, history may only record that “he was one who could have, but didn’t”.

Wanted! A leader in the White House

June 8, 2015

After 7 years as President, Barack Obama’s Iraq strategy is still ” not complete”. His Syria and Ukraine “strategies” are only conspicuous by their absence.

Once upon a time and a fairy tale or three ago, I had very high expectations of President Obama. He had set the expectations himself with his rhetoric. There was nothing he couldn’t. But all that he will have accomplished by the end of his two terms is to have been the first “black” President of the United States – and he can’t even take credit for that.

I have a theory that world development proceeds in steps and that these discrete steps are dependent upon the number of “leaders” available at any time in the world to work together. With “leaders” I mean those who take people along with them towards some vision of the world and are not mere “followers”. For the last 150 years the “leader” of the US has been, is, and must be a necessary – but insufficient – ingredient. The world stagnates or even moves backwards in the time when the political leaders are “followers”. A critical mass of “leadership” is not possible when the President of the US is a follower. It would seem that for the last 7 years we have had a “follower” in the White House whose actions are subordinated to his fears. It is paralysis by analysis which reigns. The closest to a leader in Europe has been Angela Merkel but even she has  not communicated any vision of Europe – let alone the world – to chase.

The clarity of a vision is important for leadership. A “consensus” vision is diffuse and muddled – almost by definition. My hypothesis is that real “leadership”, if existing simultaneously in 5 key countries/regions of the world, can provide the necessary and sufficient conditions to create new wonders. If the “leaders” of the US, Russia, Europe (whichever of France, Germany or the UK qualifies) together with China and India actually shared a vision of what could be done and “led” their people along that path, there would be a paradigm shift and a step-change to a level not ever seen before.

BBCThe US does not yet have a “complete strategy” for helping Iraq regain territory from Islamic State (IS), President Barack Obama has said.

Business Insider: “When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people,” Obama said. “We don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well.” ………. Obama said in September that the goal was to “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL,” but that goal still seems far off.

ISIS Islamic State Iraq Syria control

Graphic Business Insider / Reuters

The development of proportional representation in democracies is a natural inhibitor of “leaders” and “leadership”. The focus on consensus politics means that, very often, it is the “lowest common”  standards and goals that apply. This turns even very good leaders into mediocre followers. The coming together of a critical mass of “political leadership” in the world cannot be predicted. But it will surely happen some time.

It might even happen in my lifetime, but looking at the field of Presidential candidates in the US, the next President of the US is likely to be another follower, and it will not happen anytime soon.

Obama deals with imaginary threats while “in denial” about ISIS

May 25, 2015

I would have said that Barack Obama is not just “in denial” but living in a bubble of his own making. If one needed an example to illustrate a “clear and present” danger, there couldn’t be one better than the advance of ISIS and the lack of resistance from the Iraqi Army. It is the danger of advancing barbarism and the lack of resistance from the “civilised” world represented by the US and its allies. The risk now is greater than that imagined to be posed by Saddam Hussain’s imaginary WMD. It is greater than the risk posed by Gaddafi in Libya.

And instead Obama is blathering on about the imaginary immediacy of the imaginary risk of imaginary global warming. “An immediate risk to our national security ….and we need to act now” he proclaims. He stopped just short of ordering air strikes against global warming.

The Guardian:

Senator John McCain on Sunday attacked the president for citing climate change as a threat to national security, suggesting that the Obama administration’s focus on environmental issues was detracting from the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The comments by the Senate armed services committee chairman were part of a rotating blame game over the Memorial Day weekend about who is responsible for recent gains by Isis fighters, who last week took control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

“There is no strategy, and anybody who says there is, I’d like to hear what it is,” McCain said, appearing on CBS News. “Because it certainly isn’t apparent. Right now we are seeing these horrible reports, in Palmyra, they’re executing people and leaving their bodies in the streets.

“Meanwhile the president of the United States is saying that the biggest problem we have is climate change.”

In a commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy last week, President Barack Obama said climate change posed an “immediate risk”.

“I’m here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security,” Obama said. “An immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act, and we need to act now.”

Bolton was just as blunt, accusing the White House of being in denial.

Washington Examiner:

White House officials are “in denial” about the threat posed by Islamic State fighters in the Middle East, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Sunday.

“They just simply will not acknowledge that ISIS is a threat,” Bolton told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace. “I think they’re blinded by their own ideology.”

Bolton said countries in the region, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, “need American leadership” to fight the rising extremist movement that has swallowed up cities in Iraq in recent weeks.

“Are we really saying we are going to put American security in the hands of the Saudi defense ministry?” Bolton said.

And the spin doctors are out again to divert attention from the lack of US strategy and instead to blame the Iraqis. The Iraqis are now nothing more than what has been created by the US. If they lack the will to fight it is because the US “divide and rule” policy has sapped their will to fight. And the artificially created Iraq, without the Shia element will always be incomplete. But to bring the Shia into a position of strength – and thereby favour Iran – is ideologically impossible for Obama. He is stuck with his religious commitment to Saudi Arabia. Maybe that will change when the nuclear deal with Iran has to be struck.

On Sunday the US defense secretary, Ash Carter, blamed the fall of Ramadi, in Anbar province west of Baghdad, not on a lack of American commitment but on Iraqi forces, who he said lack the “will to fight”.

“What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Carter told CNN. “They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight [Isis] and defend themselves.”

The simple conclusion I come to is that merely stating that he has a strategy does not mean that Obama actually has any strategy. His actions (or lack of action) actually demonstrate that he does not.

The fall of Ramadi: Is it “very serious” or just a “tactical setback”?

May 22, 2015

What is clear is that 2,500 soldiers of the Iraqi “army” entrenched in Ramadi ran away when faced by 200 ISIS fighters. They left their heavy weapons behind. They did not even make any sustained effort to evacuate the city.They left the civilian population to flee as best they could. Today there are reports that virtually all those left behind have been slaughtered by ISIS.

But the spin doctors are in full flow. The Iraqi forces were not driven out. They drove away – of their own free will.

They were just tired of being in Ramadi.

BloombergObama Dismisses Fall of Ramadi in Iraq as ‘Tactical Setback’

The fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to Islamic State was only a “tactical setback” and not a sign the U.S. and its allies are failing in the fight against extremists, President Barack Obama said in an interview published Thursday in the Atlantic magazine.

“I don’t think we’re losing,” Obama said in the interview conducted by Jeffrey Goldberg Tuesday at the White House. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.”

Nothing to worry about then. Obama the brave has all under control.

CNNU.S. calls fall of Ramadi ‘very serious’

A senior State Department official acknowledged Wednesday that ISIS’s seizure of Ramadi, Iraq, over the weekend was major blow in the fight against the terror organization.

His comments came, however, on the very same day that the Chairman of the Joint Chief Staffs Gen. Martin Dempsey insisted Iraqi forces chose on their own to leave.

“The ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) was not driven out of Ramadi. They drove out of Ramadi,” he told reporters while on a trip to Brussels.

Just as with Tikrit, Obama will do little beyond making token gestures about retaking Ramadi. He is waiting for the Iran -backed Shiite cavalry to come riding in to redress the situation

Iran to the rescue as Obama’s moribund ISIS “strategy” stalls

May 19, 2015

Back in September last year, Barack Obama first admitted he had no strategy “yet” for ISIS and then announced his “hands-off” air-strike strategy

“Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy,”

But what his strategy has achieved so far is an ISIS which hunkers down during air-strikes and then rolls over new strategic targets whenever the opposition is the Iraqi army or other Sunni opponents. Resistance and attrition only occurs when ISIS faces Assad or Iran-backed Shiite groups. If and when ISIS is stopped it may be enabled by US led air-strikes, but it will actually be achieved only by Iranian-supported boots on the ground. ISIS will not be stopped by a Sunni force. And that does not make Saudi Arabia very happy. I have a hypothesis that Barack Obama’s strategies both in domestic and foreign policy are driven primarily by the avoiding of his fears. In Iraq and Syria his strategy plays into Iran’s hands.

Foreign Policy: To date, the Obama administration’s claims of progress in the campaign against the Islamic State (IS) have been accompanied by qualifications and caveats. In January, the Pentagon claimed to have killed 6,000 IS fighters since the September start of “Operation Inherent Resolve,” a statistic that became less impressive when later that month it was reported that roughly 5,000 foreign fighters had joined IS since October. At the Munich Security Conference in February, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed the anti-IS coalition had “taken out half” of the terrorist pseudo-state’s senior leadership, a boast that was subsequently discredited as inexact at best. In early April — a month before the Islamic State captured Ramadi — Vice President Joe Biden declared: “ISIL’s momentum in Iraq has halted, and in many places, has been flat-out reversed. Thousands of ISIL fighters have been removed from the battlefield. Their ability to mass and maneuver has been greatly degraded. Leaders have been eliminated.” Add to this the analytical disputes over the Pentagon’s claim that the Islamic State has lost 25 percent of its territory since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, and it is easy to see why skeptics believe the current strategy is insufficient to achieve the president’s stated goals of degrading and defeating the terrorist proto-state.

Now Ramadi has fallen to ISIS after it was abandoned without resistance by Iraqi Sunni forces. The US has been sending very confused messages with, on the one hand, increased air sorties against Ramadi while, on the other, sending diplomats (including John Kerry) to spin the story that Ramadi was not very important anyway. In the meanwhile Iran, through its Shiite Prime Minister, has called in the Shiite militia to retake Ramadi. The Shiite militias will now probably succeed in retaking Ramadi – as ISIS melts away to open another front, somewhere else, against the Iraqi Army.


Thousands of Shi’ite militiamen on Monday prepared to fight Islamic State insurgents who seized the Iraqi provincial capital Ramadi at the weekend in the biggest defeat for government forces in nearly a year.

A column of 3,000 Shi’ite militia fighters assembled at a military base near Ramadi, preparing to take on Islamic State militants advancing in armored vehicles from the captured city northwest of Baghdad, witnesses and a military officer said.

The decision by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is a Shi’ite, to send in the militias to try to retake the predominantly Sunni city could add to sectarian hostility in one of the most violent parts of Iraq.

Washington, which is leading a campaign of air strikes to roll back Islamic State advances and struggling to rebuild Baghdad’s shattered army, played down the significance of the loss of Ramadi, the capital of the vast western Anbar province.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was a “target of opportunity,” that could be retaken in a matter of days, and U.S. officials insisted there would be no change in strategy despite a failure to make major advances against Islamic State.

Warplanes in the U.S.-led coalition had conducted 19 strikes near Ramadi over the past 72 hours at the request of the Iraqi security forces, a coalition spokesman said.

The Shi’ite militia, known as Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilization, “reached the Habbaniya base and are now on standby,” said the head of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhout.

It may only be a temporary alliance between the US and Iran for retaking Ramadi, but it will only reinforce my view that Iranian strategy is a relatively low-cost, proxy strategy which has succeeded in absorbing and diverting Obama’s strategy to its own advantage.

Noted while visiting Delhi

February 6, 2015
  1. Returning through Munich, the airport security staff reminded me of automated robots. They once again demonstrated that their jobs required them to suppress the one key behavioural factor which makes them human. They were not rude by any means, but they were required to provide pre-determined responses to given stimuli. They had no freedom to deviate from their trained responses and were required – under all circumstances – not to think for themselves. Of course, this is not the only job which requires humans to refrain from exercising their minds. But it begs the question – Are we still human if /when we suppress the differentiating ability to think?
  2. During my week in Delhi I noticed no signs of the new “Clean India” campaign supposedly underway. The piles of rubble and the 95% syndrome were all too clearly visible. Even in the areas visited by Barack Obama (he left Delhi on the day I arrived), the “clean-up” was as superficial as it usually is. The winter gloom and choking dust in the air were essentially unchanged.
  3. There is a new “gender game” which is catching on among middle-class, spoilt, educated girls in India. The game consists of accusing some middle-aged male – preferably in a crowded place – of having groped her and filming the accusation and the response on a smart phone. Of course the film is uploaded on You Tube along with any hulabaloo created. The winners are those who cause the greatest outrage and get the greatest number of hits. I note that poor and oppressed girls who have the greatest reason to complain about real harassment are not players. I note also that many of the players are not particularly attractive and speculate that it is a new way of seeking and getting attention. It is part of the global wave of narcissism promoted by the social media and selfies.
  4. The winter weather in Delhi is entirely unaffected by any global warming. Even the Urban Heat Island effect provides no respite for those who live on the street.
  5. Driverless cars should be tested in Delhi. If they can survive here they can survive anywhere! The protocol to be programmed in for the use of the horn could be particularly challenging.
  6. Obama’s visit was – for most Delhiites – a non-event. A small diversion and a small inconvenience providing some photo-ops for some politicians. It was largely forgotten within 2 days. (It is my theory that the inherent racism in most Indians leads to the negatives for Obama as half-black being greater than his positives for being American).
  7. Street stalls in Delhi were selling a “standard meal” for Rs 20 – 30 (30 – 50 US cents). This consists of a thali containing a portion of rice, 4 – 5 chappatis, two vegetable dishes, a portion of dal, one papad and a portion of yogurt or raita. The number of chappatis on offer was the competitive factor being used by two adjacent stalls. The same meal at a subsidised factory canteen costs about Rs 70 and around Rs 250 at a clean dhaba with plastic chairs. And at the Bukhara restaurant a the ITC Maurya Hotel (where Obama stayed and where we had our last dinner in Delhi), something similar would set you back Rs 3,000 – $50.
  8. The ubiquitous TV news channels – which are very Delhi-centric – were drooling over the State elections due tomorrow. They were never of any quality but they seem to have deteriorated even further. The news anchors and journalists running the “reality news shows” who I had some respect for once upon a time, have completely prostituted themselves to the perceived ratings. I am afraid that journalistic integrity is something that Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt and Shekhar Gupta   – among many others – have long since abandoned.

I returned to a snow blanketed landscape and spent over an hour breaking and scraping frozen snow off my car before I could move. It was round 10ºC at night in Delhi, but it felt colder than the -6ºC I have returned to.


Obama (or his advisors) are too scared to visit the Taj Mahal?

January 24, 2015

Unlike during Bill Clinton’s visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal in 1997, when Agra was turned into a ghost town, this time the Indian government has declined to have the entire city vacated of people and animals just so that Barack and Michelle Obama can visit. It would seem that the security team of the “most powerful person in the world” relies so heavily on only allowing Obama to move into empty spaces that his visit to the Taj Mahal, planned for Tuesday 27th January, has been reportedly cancelled! The US President is not up to making a visit that is made by around 12,000 visitors every day (on average), by around 4 million every year and by up to 300,000 during a long holiday weekend.

It occurs to me that every new security measure introduced – whether for the “ordinary man” or for Barack Obama – is a victory for the terrorists. The bottom line is that if Barack Obama does not visit the Taj Mahal on Tuesday it will be because he (and/or his advisors) were too scared to do so. You could say that they have been well and truly “terrorised”Airport security is primarily driven by the lobby for the manufacturers of security and scanning equipment. They have enjoyed a bonanza since 9/11. It is fairly obvious that the supposed benefits for passengers (which can never be demonstrated) are dwarfed by the benefits to the manufacturers.

The Hindu:

U.S. President Barack Obama is believed to have cancelled the Agra leg of his India visit. The President, who will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, was scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal with his wife, Michelle, on January 27.

Official confirmation of the cancellation of the Agra leg of his tour is still awaited. “It’s possible that he might leave India earlier,” a government source said, adding that no reason had been given for the cancellation of the Agra visit.

Obama’s security team and the Indian government have been at odds over his 3 day visit.

FirstPostAs the date of the United States President Barack Obama’s India visit nears, disagreement between the security agencies of US and India is getting sharper. ..

…… a number of special requests made by the US secret service to the Indian security agencies and the Indian government have been turned down. Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs in India confirmed that some of the demands made by the secret service are rather unrealistic.

Here are five areas that the US agencies are disappointed with the Indian security arrangements:

  1. Extended outdoor time

The American president has never been on an outdoor event for more than 45 minutes. However, the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi last for almost two hours. The secret service had requested Indian agencies to either cut short the event or ensure that Obama will not be attending the event for more than 45 minutes.

But the Indian government has refused to oblige, according to a source in the Home ministry. To make things worse between the agencies, the number of tableaux participating in the parade could be increased from 20 to 25. It means that the event may end up extending the function further, beyond the usual two hours. This has not gone down well with the US Secret Service, but the Indian government too is not willing to budge.

  1. No Fly zone over NDMC area

The US security agencies had earlier asked the Indian government to clear airspace over Delhi on January 25 and 26, according to sources in the MHA. In this case too Indian agencies refused to oblige. Following this, it was decided that commercial planes will be kept clear of the airspace over the New Delhi Municipal Corporation area during the event.

However, the US Secret Service had more recently asked the government for a five-kilometre radius no-fly zone (both commercial and the Indian Air Force) imposed around Rajpath during the event. That has also been turned down by the government as it is tradition for the Indian Air Force to do a flypast on Republic Day.

  1. Airspace security over Yamuna Expressway

The Americans are also unhappy about the fact that while the airspace over the 165-kilometre long Yamuna Expressway to Agra, has not been declared a no-fly zone for commercial aircraft while the US President’s convoy is travelling on it. We have restricted the highway from public use for as long as the US President’s convoy is travelling through it. They have two F-35 raptors doing surveillance of the sky and will be flying on top of the President’s convoy. In addition to that, there are a number of security measures taken to ensure that any threat is detected beforehand. I don’t see why they should be upset,” an official at the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

  1. Indian anti-terrorist squad unsatisfactory

Sources also revealed that the US secret service officials said that the Indian commandoes gave unsatisfactory results in the aptitude test on security along with surprise checks conducted by the agency. As a result, the Central Intelligence Agency is bringing their Concealed Anti-Terrorists (CAT) squads to the national capital.

  1. Agra visit

Former US President Bill Clinton called Agra a ‘ghost town’ after his visit to the city on March 20, 2000. But that’s because city was cleared of people for his security. The US Secret Service wanted the same measure extended to President Obama, but the Indian agencies have denied that request as well.

Obama, during his earlier trip had reportedly skipped visiting the Taj due to the fact that the city did not pass the security scanner. “This time around we had issued directions for security arrangements to the state government way in advance,” a senior administrative official at the Ministry of External Affairs said. “But, we want to avoid clearing the city completely. It is an inconvenience for the general public and we wish to maintain an ‘organic’ look of the city rather than it feeling like a deserted town,” he added.

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