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Obama invites Elliot Abrams and Robert Kagan to the White House

[ 58 ] January 31, 2011 |

To discuss what “we” should do about “our” Egypt problem.

The good folks at Commentary are in ecstasy.

What exactly do these people have to do to discredit themselves? Is it even theoretically possible?

Apparently a neo-conservative is a liberal who was mugged by reality, and decided he was never going to visit reality’s neighborhood again.

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Comments (58)

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  1. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Who could have predicted that the Most Progressive President Since Franklin Pierce® would be talking to the same people about Middle East policy as the Worst President Evah® did?

  2. FDChief says:

    Honestly! WTF? Like asking John Wayne Gacy what to do about our problem with homocidal clowns?

    We are SO fucked…

    • joe from Lowell says:

      No, indeed.

      Whatever the shortcomings of neoconservatives – and believe me, I have a list – being too supportive of Arab strongmen is not among them.

      • DocAmazing says:

        Unless you count Saddam pre-1988, the House of Saud, Mubarak…

        • joe from Lowell says:

          No. That’s not even close to true.

          The House of Saud? Seriously? Have you ever actually read anything neoconservatives have written about the House of Saud?

          It’s pretty clear you haven’t.

          • DocAmazing says:

            You have examples of their opposition to the House of Saud? They seemed quite sanguine when Li’l George Bush was squiring the Prince around. maybe you could link to some outrage-filled column that they wrote at that time.

            They also loved them some Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War. They also loved them some Mubarak when he was Israel’s buddy. Perhaps you could link to something that suggests otherwise?

  3. Simple mind says:

    Mr. Obama, the phrase is “Let Freedom Ring” not “Circle the Wagons”. After our record in Latin America, we know what’s coming. What a cruel disappointment.

  4. Kurzleg says:

    Cruel disappointment understates things. These two are “experts” of some sort? Chryste.

  5. Malaclypse says:

    What exactly do these people have to do to discredit themselves? Is it even theoretically possible?

    Yes, it is possible. The Kagan, any Kagan, could point out that many people throughout the world do not perceive the US military as Goodness Personified. That will discredit anybody. Luckily for our intrepid Kagans, that thought is unpossible.

  6. Patrick says:

    You really don’t give Obama enough credit. It’s a failsafe way to get great advice – just ask what they think we should do and do the opposite. Brilliant!

  7. KC45s says:

    Was John Bolton having his mustache waxed?

  8. shah8 says:

    To me, it’s pretty obviously about placating certain donators to the D party who’s rightwing on the topic of Israel.

    I have pretty strong suspicions that Obama and other elements of the State Department has encouraged this “transition” under the table. If I suspect, then I think those rabid Zionist have full out paranoid fantasies…

  9. R.Johnston says:

    Meh. Obama may a kindler and gentler neocon, but that he’s some variant of neocon really shouldn’t surprise anyone any longer.

    Obama’s the bastard child of neoliberalism and neoconservatism with a smidge of conscience thrown into the mix.

    • MPAVictoria says:

      The really sad thing is how much better he was than the alternative. Now there is a thought that makes you just want to crawl into bed with a bottle of 16 year old scotch and refuse to come out till the world starts making sense again.

  10. Ralph Hitchens says:

    More of that bipartisan spirit, I suppose. I harbor the faint hope that this conversation is strictly for show.

    • Davis says:

      That’s what’s keeping me from drinking an entire bottle of Scotch tonight. Elliott Fucking Abrams? Iran-contra conspirator/perjurer??? I do love the image of Obama and Clinton saying, let’s rely fuck with the neo-cons’ and invite the worst ones we can think of. Really get ‘em going for a while.

    • John says:

      It seems pretty obvious it’s strictly for show. Do you really think that Obama is interested in what Elliot Abrams has to say? What could he possibly even say that would influence American policy? This is all about showing the Israelis and American zionist groups how much Obama loves Israel.

  11. Warren Terra says:

    I don’t really get a lot of the comments here. Elliot Abrams should be persona non grata because he conspired to undermine democratic rule of the United States (and was convicted for it), not for his world view or his eagerness to brutally repress democracy in Central America. So I’m not happy he’s invited. But I’m not at all worried about Obama talking to the neocons, and I’m least worried about him doing so in public, so that he can be seen to be talking to them. I hope he doesn’t take any of their advice, but I can’t be sorry he’s being seen to be talking to them. I would only be worried if he isn’t talking to the other side, or if he isn’t seen to be talking to the other side. Wouldn’t you have been just a little bit happier if Bush had publicly consulted some anti-war foreign policy professors/thinktankers/etcetera, even if he ignored their advice?

    • Rob says:

      You don’t talk to arsonists about putting out wildfires.

    • Ed Marshall says:

      Kagan and Abrams seem to want to cut off assistance to Mubarak. If that’s the new neoconservative line, I don’t care, let them talk. Let them claim it’s all their idea. Doesn’t matter to me one bit.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Kagan and Abrams seem to want to cut off assistance to Mubarak. If that’s the new neoconservative line, I don’t care, let them talk. Let them claim it’s all their idea. Doesn’t matter to me one bit.

        While I support not aiding dictators as a general principle, hearing this advice from these two makes me doubt the wisdom of the course.

        • Ed Marshall says:

          It did make me pause for about thirty seconds and try to understand if they had some weird bank shot in mind.

          I’m still *not* sure that’s the sum total of their advice, but I’ll take the cutting off Mubarak part.

    • DocAmazing says:

      If the Obama White House hadn’t been so uniformly hostile to the left–pissing on the “professional left” for being “fucking retarded”, und so weiter–and had invited, say Noam Chomsky for a chat, then inviting far-right wanna-be genocidaires might be a little less galling.

  12. Warren Terra says:

    To clarify: the blood-soaked legacy of our 1980s policy in Central America could also be disqualifying, especially to those intimately involved. But a more generically Neocon outlook shouldn’t preclude someone from being part of the people our President talks to, at least so long as people with a generically Neocon outlook are such a big part of the national conversation.

    • Jay B. says:

      But a more generically Neocon outlook shouldn’t preclude someone from being part of the people our President talks to,

      Why’s that again? What exactly have they brought to the table? Death? War? Ruin? They are utterly discredited globally except by the braindead courtiers who make up our foreign policy establishment. Really, what’s the point? What can they possibly offer?

      I’m sure Juan Cole is there too, right? For a learned perspective that doesn’t begin and end at “We should bomb the fuck out of them just to make sure”.

      • Ed Marshall says:

        Marc Lynch is there. For my money he’s better than Cole.

        • Warren Terra says:

          For me, this is what sells it. If Obama had set up a meeting that was just him and a neocon cabal, that would bother me. If he’d done that and had no similar meeting with a group only of reality-based experts, I’d be really quite upset. But that he invites a group of people ranging across the American foreign-policy establishment, which by the nature of that establishment includes some right-wing headjobs, neither upsets nor even surprises me.

          As always, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. So far, he’s stayed out of it, which seems wise. You’ll note that he also hasn’t tried to take credit for apparently pro-democratic effects nor to assign blame for anti-democratic results, which is a welcome change from the previous administration.

          • mark f says:

            Does anyone actually expect anything more than pictures and/or reports of seriousness and a productive exchange of serious ideas of seriousness to come from this meeting?

            • Warren Terra says:

              I certainly don’t. In fact, I don’t really want anything else: it’s perfectly appropriate to be seen to be paying attention, but any intervention on either side could be disastrous.

              Note however that essentially all of the upthread comments seem to expect some horrific result from Obama meeting with these people.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Note however that essentially all of the upthread comments seem to expect some horrific result from Obama meeting with these people.

                I’d call lending Kagan and Abrams any veneer of respectability a bad result. Not a horrific one, but a bad one. It also maintains the disastrous fiction that, on items that really matter, we need to turn to conservatives, because they are Serious. Thus, two years in to a Democratic Presidency, we have a Republican SecDef and a Republican running the Fed.

              • Ed Marshall says:

                I’m out of replys but if Kagan and Abrams (and I’ll cheer louder than anyone when they descend into hell) want to sign off on cutting off Mubarak, that’s important.

                If everything goes to hell after that, there is no one to blame. Everyone was on the same page.

              • Malaclypse says:

                If everything goes to hell after that, there is no one to blame. Everyone was on the same page.

                You trust people to remember that? If it goes to hell, Obama will get blamed for listening to those Democrats Kagan and Abrams, when Sarah Palin could see de Nile from her back porch.

          • Malaclypse says:

            But that he invites a group of people ranging across the American foreign-policy establishment, which by the nature of that establishment includes some right-wing headjobs, neither upsets nor even surprises me.

            So a foreign-policy Catfood Commission.

            • Warren Terra says:

              You may recall that the “Catfood Commission” delivered a dog’s breakfast of a plan, which Obama notably did not embrace. For all the tsuris, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that Obama either took their advice or paid a price for failing to do so.

              • chris says:

                Or ever intended to do so. It was obvious from the start what the commission was going to recommend, and that it would be both an economic disaster if implemented immediately, and politically radioactive. Do you really think Obama couldn’t foresee that too? He set up the commission in order to reject it.

              • DocAmazing says:

                He also set up the commission to get a horrible idea floated by seemingly respectable people so that it would, Overton-window-style, be that much less appalling when it was revisited.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              No, the Catfood Commission was internally divided.

              Everyone in on this meeting, regardless of their overall political identity, is pretty much on the same page, in terms of pushing out Mubarak.

              This isn’t an effort to find a solution; it’s an effort to cut off at the knees the people who are against the solution that they’ve already agreed on.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

            But these people have no business being a part of the foreign policy establishment. And what keeps them in it is invitations like this.

            Meanwhile, the presence of people like Abrams and Kagan helps crowd out important voices that should be at the table. As Helena Cobban notes over on Salon.com today:

            At a different level, Washington itself is blind (or, rather, self-blinded) regarding political trends in Egypt or much of the rest of the Middle East. This self-blinding occurred as a result of the lengthy campaign — waged enthusiastically under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, and still maintained under Obama — against the incorporation into policymaking circles of anyone who wanted to listen as closely to the non-Israelis who make up the vast majority of the region’s people, as they do to the far less numerous Israelis.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              You go to bipartisan photo ops with the opposition you have, not the opposition you’d like to have.

              Like it or not, these fellows are what the neoconservative community has to offer.

              If Obama wants to showcase the broad, cross-party consensus about pushing out Mubarak, he’s going to have to invite some people you don’t like, Inconsecentia.

  13. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by toootherone, Joshua Holland. Joshua Holland said: Oh, Jesus, these Neocon zombies never die. "Obama invites Elliot Abrams and Robert Kagan to the White House" re #Egypt http://bit.ly/gWkZnA [...]

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  15. joe from Lowell says:

    In the midst of a major foreign policy episode about which the American right is sharply divided, Obama invites two representatives of the faction of right-wingers who agree with him to the White House.

    If this is a political move, it’s a brilliant one.

  16. HMS Glowworm did 9/11 says:

    Is this a meeting with or without preconditions?

  17. WrongfulDeath says:

    Are you saying that President Obama simply is not liber enough for ya’?

    Is that it?

    Really?

    • Malaclypse says:

      This will be the fourth time I have asked you to name five Obama policies that are to the left of Richard Nixon. Are you holding out in the vague hope that Beck will do a chalkboard on this topic?

      Come on, Mr Wrong. Show a little effort and name five policies.

  18. LosGatosCA says:

    That’s serious idiot territory. I’m done with Obama. I don’t blame him for exploiting the change theme in 2008. That’s what politicians do – overpromise and underdeliver. But his economic appointments have been substandard, his sense of urgency set to extremely low, and even his empty, symbolic gestures seem to have no flair for connecting with his mainstream constituency.

    Obama is firmly in Bush I territory, he’s not a menace to society but he’s not doing a lot to help in any meaningful way. He’s either an underachiever or a a complacent mediocrity. I’ll vote for him as the ‘lesser of’ in 2012.

    We’re on our own and help is definitely, nay, categorically, NOT on the way.

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  20. [...] in Washington, as a national security council member to President George W. Bush and as an informal adviser to President Barack [...]

  21. [...] in Washington as a national security council member to President George W. Bush and as an informal adviser to president Barack [...]

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