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    Mideast Media Sampler Tag

    One of President Obama's pitches for re-election was "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive." Or as the President said, slightly more elaborately, in a speech shortly before his re-election:
    Remember, in 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs. (Applause.) The auto industry is back on top. (Applause.) Home values are on the rise. (Applause.) We’re less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years. (Applause.) Because of the service and the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda is on the run, and Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.) So we’ve made real progress these past four years.
    Yes, Al Qaeda is on the run.

    To Yemen:

    Yemen which has been in a state of political turmoil since the ouster of its long time dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is facing two insurgencies in the north: one are the Iran backed Houthi separatists and the other are Salafists. Both groups are fighting each other as well as Yemen's central government.

    Yesterday's New York Times featured an article Obama’s Uncertain Path Amid Syria Bloodshed that is probably one of the most devastating indictments of the President's Syria policy published. I don't think that the reporters set out to critique the President and the tone of the article was always respectful. https://twitter.com/michaeldweiss/status/393101410037821440 Still there are two description that really stuck out. The first was a general critique.
    As one former senior White House official put it, “We spent so much damn time navel gazing, and that’s the tragedy of it.”
    Over the past two years the article describes the various rationales the administration had for not intervening and that sentence turns out to be a very apt theme for the way the administration acted, or, more precisely, chose not to act. Then there was this:
    Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.
    One would have assumed that a Syria policy was one of the two most important foreign policy issues facing the President. (The other is the question of Iran's nuclear policy.) Being "disengaged" during such momentous discussions is worse than being engaged but making bad decisions. https://twitter.com/tobyharnden/status/393025446348349441  

    In a remarkable op-ed last week, Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post excoriated Obama's Myopic Worldview. After noting that the President claimed in his U.N. speech, “The world is more stable than it was five years ago," Diehl responded:
    So: Why, according to Obama, is the world better off than in 2008? Well, the global economic crisis has abated. But that’s not all: “We’ve also worked to end a decade of war,” the president said, by withdrawing U.S. and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and “shifting away from a perpetual war footing.” Here’s where you could almost hear the head-scratching in the Iraqi and Afghan delegations: Violence in both of those countries is considerably worse than it was five years ago, in part because of the U.S. withdrawals. Also, as Obama half-acknowledged, al-Qaeda is more of a threat in more places — Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Libya, Syria — than it was in 2008. And then there is the region stretching from Morocco to Iran, which is experiencing not stability but an epochal upheaval, one that has brought civil war or anarchy to a half-dozen countries and spawned the greatest crimes against humanity since the turn of the 21st century. It’s easy to dismiss Obama’s claim on factual grounds. More interesting is to see what prompted it: a soda-straw view of the world in which only the president’s inauguration-day priorities are visible. His aim then was to bring home U.S. troops, end the “endless war” of George W. Bush, defend the homeland from al-Qaeda and step back from the quagmire of the Arab Middle East. He did all that; ergo, the world is more stable — and from the attenuated perspective of an American who mainly wishes the world would go away, perhaps it is.
    Unlike Diehl, I didn't find President Obama's speech to be that surprising. There wasn't much new in it. President Obama doesn't believe in letting troops fight to win a war but to bring them home and end it. He's said that in slightly different words throughout his presidency. https://twitter.com/JacksonDiehl/status/383563604739379201 What's remarkable about Diehl's column is that Diehl and the Washington Post's editorial board twice endorsed Barack Obama for President despite his myopic worldview. This is as thorough a verbal repudiation of the president as any I've seen. But it isn't just pundits who reject President Obama's foreign policies; it's allies too. A few weeks ago Walter Russell Mead wrote in The Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East:

    1) When all else fails focus on Israel I'm not sure that the editors of the New York Times realized how absurd the title of this recent article on the Middle East sounded, Chaos in Middle East Grows as the U.S. Focuses on Israel. Surely everything...

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