Home / General / Is Obama Tough Enough To Show the Leadership To Lead? With Leadership?

Is Obama Tough Enough To Show the Leadership To Lead? With Leadership?

Comments
/
/
/
580 Views

Mike “pay for play” Allen’s daily newsletter, as widely read among political elites as it is terrible, identifies its PARAGRAPH OF THE DAY. Can you guess the source?

The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and … [Republicans’ Sunday-show] advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin? … Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality … ‘In another world,’ she said.

If you guessed that this inane foreign-policy-as-pissing-contest logic came from the Fred Hiatt editorial Paul spotted earlier, you’re sensible but wrong. Sadly, it comes from Peter Baker’s alleged straight news story in the New York Times. I think you can see why so much of the “liberal media” rolled over and died in the run up to Iraq. Say what you will about Bush, he never lacked toughioisty and resolvitivity!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Mudge

    Speaking of fantasy. In what fantasy world does invading Afghanistan and Iraq have any equivalence to an actual war with Russia? Paul Krugman often calls the US an insurance company with an army. Putin is functionally Chris Christie with an army. I am not sure Putin could afford a war, especially if the US and EU supplied Ukraine.

    • DrDick

      I for one am delighted that Obama has so far decided not to lead us into a war that would make Iraq and Afghanistan look like an imminently sensible walk in the park.

      • Helmut Monotreme

        What could possibly go wrong with getting into a slapfight with a nuclear-armed aggressor over the Crimea? It’s not like Vladimir Putin is an ex KGB agent with the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world and a self image problem that he tries in vain to conceal by acting as macho as he can in every public endeavor.

        • DrDick

          Pretty much.

      • W

        Obama does not have a tax cut to pass so there is no hurry.
        Just hope Putin refrains from insulting his mother.

        • ExpatChad

          good point on mother. Otherwise, obama has no lack of experience rolling over.

    • BigHank53

      If Chris Christie had nuclear-armed ballistic missiles there would have been a lot less sniveling from those loser Democrats, amirite? Huh?

      The downsides of getting into a shooting war with Russia are a bit more substantial than our average conflict.

  • Boots Day

    I would like to see a Venn diagram of the people who want Obama to take action in Crimea combined with the people who want to impeach Obama because he took action in Libya. It’d be pretty much one complete circle, wouldn’t it?

    • Gwen

      Not exactly. I think there’s two different things at play here:

      * “Captain Jerk”: Among the rank-and-file (mostly rank) Republicans, of course, it’s just the Obama-bashing soup-du-jour.

      * “Captain Kirk”: But there’s also a bunch of people who have a romantic/heroic view of American intervention (my initial reflex is generally this) who supported Libyan intervention, and want to personally challenge Putin to a duel. John McCain seems to fall in this camp, also.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Obama should immediately appoint McCain as commander of a Light Brigade, to charge the Russian invaders of Crimea.

        Poem’s already written, that’ll save time.

        • somethingblue

          And the speech practically writes itself.

          For over four decades, when his country called, John McCain has answered. And today we call once more on this great man, whose love of America withstood years in a North Vietnamese prison (I mention this because many people may not be aware of it; John himself doesn’t like to talk about it). Anyway, when I called to tell him of this appointment, John made only one condition: that Lindsay Graham should go with him as his aide-de-camp. Like a twenty-first century David and Jonathan, these two heroes will sally forth, armed only with the justice of their cause, to extend the blessings of liberty to …

          • postmodulator

            I’m a rat bastard for saying this, but can we call them a latter-day Alexander and Hephaestion?

            • Gwen

              Why must you assume that we know enough history to have any idea what you just said?

              Please, for the love of god, use cartoon characters for archetypes. That way we all understand each other.

              For example, I am the Grape Ape of Freedom.

              • postmodulator

                I’m not a historian, I didn’t think it was that obscure. Also, Google. (I had to look up Hephaestion’s name myself, I just remembered that he existed.)

                But maybe it’s better if people don’t get it, it was mean and I somewhat regret it.

                • rea

                  D&J, who made a covenant and moved in together, are every bit as mean an example as Alexander and his boy toy . . .

                • postmodulator

                  Oh, I don’t think I got that from the original comment. That’ll teach me to be clever, I suppose.

              • Oscar

                so Bert and Ernie

                • Gwen

                  Indeed.

        • Stag Party Palin

          No way. He should appoint “Crash” McCain as latrine orderly, and Lindsey Graham and everyone else in the House and Senate who wants us to fight as buck privates.

          Or, “Jump, you Fuckers!”

          • Stag Party Palin

            Jump Enlist, you Fuckers!”

            • Warren Terra

              To be fair to McCain, unlike pretty much every other important warmonger he did actually have a son in the military, who was deployed to Iraq.

    • postmodulator

      By “took action in Libya,” do you mean “ordered the assassination of a US Ambassador under directions from his Al Qaeda paymasters?” That action?

      Or whatever they decided the scandal was with Benghazi. Didn’t use transporter beams to rapidly evacuate the embassy or something, or didn’t illuminate the Batsignal. I forget.

      • joe from Lowell

        By “took action in Libya,” do you mean “ordered the assassination of a US Ambassador under directions from his Al Qaeda paymasters?”

        They strangled him with Susan Rice’s talking points. Damn you Obama!

    • GHayduke (formerly lojasmo

      Pretty much

    • Mike G

      It’s confusing for their little minds — they know they hate Obama, but they’re still sorting out the excuse.

      • BigHank53

        Sentence first, trial later.

  • snarkout

    Kevin Drum nailed it, although that’s a foot-high hurdle.

  • catclub

    I think Liquified Natural Gas terminals will start sprouting on the East Coast of the US.

    • Davis X. Machina

      If by ‘sprouting’ you mean ‘entering a three-to-five year planning and permitting process, while shipyards actually make the not-yet-existing tankers, then, yes.

  • wengler

    It seems like these new Ukrainian government officials are giving the press every single incendiary quote they can handle. Today we have stories of an ultimatum to Ukrainian troops in Crimea to surrender, that has been officially denied by Russian officials.

    There are things that governments lie about and things that they don’t. You don’t lie about an ultimatum for obvious reasons. It feels like a Georgian situation where the interim Ukrainian government wants some other power to come in and sweep away their problem in Crimea.

    • postmodulator

      Sure, wouldn’t you? “Let’s you and him fight” is a pretty good solution if you can pull it off.

      • wengler

        McCain is already getting into a jet that he can go crash into the Crimea.

      • witless chum

        Lets you and him fight on my front lawn with flamethrowers is little dicey, though.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      Yeah, if there’s one government we can trust to keep their word, its Russia!

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Dubya “looked in Putin’s heart” and all that stuff.

        So let’s send Dubya as a special envoy! If we’re lucky, they’ll keep him.

        • postmodulator

          If presidential candidates ran solely for the office of “ex-President” the Democrats would have most of the really good ones and the Republicans would have most of the really awful ones, going back easily a century.

          You’ve got Reagan, who went on medical leave in 1985 and didn’t tell us; Bush II pretty much announcing that he’s got no intention of doing anything useful; Nixon scrabbled rather pathetically to be rehabilitated; Hoover agitated against the New Deal…

          • postmodulator

            Oh, right, I had a point to that. See, there are ex-Presidents of whom it could be usefully said, “Hey, this guy had a good relationship with that leader so maybe he could go talk to the guy.” It’d actually be kind of nice if we could leverage Dubya’s relationship, there. We can’t because the relationship was an artifact of his impressively low IQ.

        • Mike G

          I’m sure Putin was thoroughly intimidated by Bush’s resolve-y resolve at Showing Resolve when Bush publicly declared that he had “looked into [Putin’s] soul” and seen that he had a good heart. Tweeners at Justin Bieber concerts are less of a pushover than The Smirk was.

      • catclub

        What is the McDonalds status of the two countries?

        • postmodulator

          They both have them.

        • Mike G

          That meme (no two countries with McDonald’s have ever gone to war) was obliterated when NATO bombed McDonald’s-equipped Belgrade in 1999. Thomas Friedman no doubt had a sad that one of his Globalization-Is-Awesome-For-Everyone fantasy stories fell flat.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            I somehow doubt Friedman ever noticed that

            • DrS

              Give him six months

      • wengler

        That’s not a point I made. I said ultimatums only work if the people issuing them agree that they exist.

  • Ian

    Ask not whether the President is a bad enough dude to fight Putin in the Kremlin. Ask whether you are a bad enough dude to rescue the President.

    up-down-up-down-L-R-L-R-B-A-START spells yes.

    • Anthony

      This was my first thought reading that too, because I am a child apparently.

    • mike in dc

      I prefer Down-Up-L-L-A-R-Down myself.

  • Ronan

    A President McCain would have this sorted

    • joe from Lowell

      Cripes, if we’d had a President McCain, first we’d all be Ukrainians, then we’d all be Poles, then we’d all be Hungarians, and we’d be lucky if we didn’t end up all being Portuguese.

    • Malaclypse

      McCain would tell them to cut out the bullshit. Well, maybe he wouldn’t do that until after he got off the stage with the fucking neo-Nazi. Point is, if anybody gets that leading with leadership needs to be done, it is people who believe in the führerprinzip.

    • Medicine Man

      If McCain were president the whole northern hemisphere might be dead by now.

      • Ronan

        That actually seems an overly optimistic take

        • Ian

          New Zealand has an official wizard, they’ll be fine.

          • Malaclypse

            Yes, but he’s got blue robes, and long ago went into the East, and is forgotten.

            • Lee Rudolph

              The “going into the East” convention only applies in the northern hemisphere. Down under, he’d have gone into the West.

              That’s right: now he’s the Wizard of Oz.

              • Ahuitzotl

                Lee for the win

          • herr doktor bimler

            New Zealand has an official wizard, they’ll be fine.

            Coincidentally, another Ian.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte

    It’s just Russia, what’s the big deal? Pop up the road to Moscow and the whole thing’ll crumble.

    • Adolf Hitler

      Yeah, I don’t see the problem, and as a bonus we get all that Lebensraum.

      • Darius

        Scythians? Feh. We’ll blow through them like they’re not there.

        • Karl XII

          Piece of cake.

        • The Livonian branch of the Teutonic Knights

          I think “cakewalk” is the word you’re looking for.

          • postmodulator

            Nobody could have predicted that the ice would break.

            (I remember an anti-Dubya bumper sticker that started to pop up around 2005. It just said NO LAND WARS IN ASIA, DUMBASS.)

            • Stag Party Palin

              ROTFL for this subthread.

            • ‘General’ Midwinter

              Nobody could have predicted that the ice would break.

              • Alexander Nevsky

                Well, not exactly no-one …

                • So-in-so

                  For bonus points, what nationality was Nevsky?

                • herr doktor bimler

                  All of them, Katie.

              • Warren Terra

                I missed earlier that the link was to The Billion Dollar Brain. Not actually a good movie, though you can’t go very far wrong with 1970s Michael Caine, but it had some important and overlooked messages for American foreign policy in the Bush years, about listening too much to people who tell you whatever you want to hear.

                • herr doktor bimler

                  The key point to enjoying Billion Dollar Brain is to treat it as a Ken Russell movie rather than a Len Deighton adaptation.

          • SamR

            Will be also be greeted as liberators?

        • Rob in CT

          Nicely done.

    • Napoleon

      been there. done that.

  • dome doofus

    Who is the source supposed to be for what Merkel told Obama about Putin, anyway?

    • postmodulator

      I wouldn’t hate finding out, actually. Anyone who’d leak that is too stupid to be allowed near the levers of international diplomacy. Or, really, anything sharp.

    • Chris

      An article I read with the quote stated it originated from an American official.

      • stickler

        “An American official?” Like the American official who told the German foreign minister in 2006 that “… the Germans have to learn how to kill?” ‘Cause what the world really needs now is for the Germans to learn how to kill again.

        Link: from Spiegel, 2006.

        • Chris

          Well, I think it was an obvious ploy through the anonymous American official to undermine the Berlin-Moscow dialogue that is going on. Berlin, Paris, and London are all against doing anything rash.

          • joe from Lowell

            Oops.

            BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders called a special summit for Thursday, where they are expected to freeze visa liberalization and economic cooperation talks with Russia if Moscow hasn’t taken steps to calm the crisis in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

            EU foreign ministers said they also have stopped preparation for the G8 summit which is set for June in the Russian resort of Sochi.

            EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU would give Russia until the Thursday show clear signs of goodwill, including a willingness to open talks and a withdrawal of Russian troops to their barracks in the Crimea.

  • 4jkb4ia

    At some point, maybe when it comes out in paperback, I will read Peter Baker’s book on Bush and Cheney because I read “Angler” and it is only fair. However, Baker is so clearly and patently an example of Washington CW that I will severely discount anything he writes for the paper. This belongs in Aimai’s category of automatic assumptions that this person comes with an agenda.

  • StrangerDanger

    This is happening because Putin has weighed and measured President Obama and he believes he can do this with impunity.

    The weakness Obama has shown in earlier issues such as the ‘red line’ with Syria shows Putin that there are no consequences.

    In all fairness, I don’t think Romney would be much better. I long for a strong leader like Kennedy or Reagan. What we have now is just dangerous

    • Warren Terra

      Lest we forget, Reagan’s “strength” consisted of bugging out of Lebanon after 241 marines died; funding death squads throughout Central America; and invading Granada.

      To the extent Reagan faced a directly comparable crisis, it was in his response to the continuing Soviet occupation Afghanistan, begun a year before he took office. Reagan copied and extended Carter’s policy of covertly supporting forces in opposition to the occupation, except that he (1) scaled it up with the help of Wahhabi allies in Saudi Arabia, resulting in Osama Bin Laden; and (2) showed no interest in the creation of a viable Afghan state when the Russians began their withdrawal towards the end of his Presidency, resulting in the civil war and the conditions that provided a home for Al Qaeda in 2001.

      Oh, and Kennedy? His “stength” consisted of 1) backing down from invading Cuba with the Bay Of Pigs; 2) finding a way for everyone to back down after war was threatened in The Missle Crisis; and 3) miring us in Vietnam. To the extent his record is an advertisement for “strength”, it’s demonstrated in his ability to back down, not to escalate.

      • herr doktor bimler

        [Kennedy’s] ability to back down
        All that backing down, with his back injury, no wonder the guy was whacked out on painkillers half the time.

      • SamR

        Also Soviet forces were occupying Afghanistan on day 1 of RR’s presidency, and were still there on the last day.

        So RR didn’t succeed in getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan during his Presidency despite 8 years of trying (they did leave shortly thereafter).

        • Darius

          Old people do that sometimes. Reagan just forgot to tell Gorbachov. Like he did in Berlin with the Wall. Which then came down.

          Even then, he was slipping. Sad, really.

    • witless chum

      If nuclear weapons were pancakes Canada would control the world.

    • simple mind

      I would say Russia can do pretty much what it wants with impunity. There is an historical record showing what happens to would-be punishers.

      • Warren Terra

        Well, there is one clear method of retaliation: the EU could stop buying their heating oil from Russia. It’s completely unclear what the EU could possibly do to keep their citizens warm without it, though.

        Ukraine could also turn off the pipeline, but if they did Russia would presumably invade the rest of the country.

      • agorabum

        It’s only 1 for 2 in wars with Japan and 1 for 2 in wars with Germany.
        And the last Crimean War was a bit of a draw (which meant a Russian loss, since they started it).
        So it can’t do whatever it wants with impunity.
        But it can do what it wants to small provinces with majority Russian populations.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Covers the point spread, though, Russia does.

    • This is happening because Putin has weighed and measured President Obama and he believes he can do this with impunity.

      You mean like when he invaded Georgia in the eighth year of George Bush’s presidency?

  • Steve S.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality

    Funny, isn’t it, that when any world leader takes an action not in accordance with western dictates he is reflexively deemed irrational, delusional, etc. Fine, Russia is being run by their own version of General Ripper. Good times ahead. Add the new Cold War with Russia to the current ones with Iran, China, Venezuela, two-thirds of the rest of the world, and let’s not forget that the GWOT is spiraling out of control. At least we can pass Chained CPI to pay for it all.

    • Steve S.

      Please God, somebody pay attention to me!

      Do I have to use the n-word here?

      Hellooooooooooooo!!!

      • Lee Rudolph

        NKVD?

        • witless chum

          Novgorod?

          • BigHank53

            Nixon?

            • Chocolate Covered Cotton

              Nader.

              • DrS

                Gross

  • Warren Terra

    Given all the undesirable associations with balaklavas with various insurgent and terrorist groups, I think everyone should show their solidarity with the Crimean crisis by wearing a cardigan.

    Or maybe by carrying around a lamp.

    • herr doktor bimler

      I have a nice Raglan sweater. Will that do?

      • sc

        hey, what’s wrong with baklava?

        damn pancake pushers at LGM…

      • Warren Terra

        Well, after some quick Googling: right Raglan, wrong war. Raglan sleeves were an innovation named in honor of the mode of dress Lord Raglan adopted after abruptly becoming a lefty at the Battle of Waterloo in 1812.

        But, hey, I’ll compromise. We can all learn to play the balalaika, poorly. It’s not quite from the Crimea, but it sounds a lot like ‘balaklava’. Well, the word does; the instrument sounds a lot like agony, so far as I’ve encountered.

        PS I’m still open to everyone going around with lamps.

        • herr doktor bimler

          I can report in passing that Faroes Island sweaters are hideously itchy, earning themselves the name “Curse of the Faroes”.

        • Darius

          I’ve tried to play the baklava, but my fingers get too sticky…

          • Warren Terra

            Have you tried sticking baklava to your face before braving the cold?

        • herr doktor bimler

          Who doesn’t laikabalalaika?

          • junker

            Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out…

  • brewmn

    Even the liberal NPR just announced that they are going to examine the question of whether “Obama has weakened america’s standing in foreign policy.”

    Haven’t heard the piece yet, but I’m guessing some say hell yes and other say mmmmm…maybe.

    • StrangerDanger

      “Obama has weakened america’s standing in foreign policy.”

      When your own cheerleaders start criticizing your foreign policies, you know you’re pretty well fucked.

      • joe from Lowell

        The New Republic, cheerleader for Barack Obama.

        Lol

      • witless chum

        Obama is allowing a pigs in the blanket gap with the IHOP.

      • joe from Lowell

        Then again, when has the New Republic ever led me wrong on a foreign policy question?

      • Walt

        Christ, this is stupid. You mean to tell you think if the US had gone to war with Syria that Putin wouldn’t have sent troops into Crimea? Putin sent troops into Georgia, with a government considerably closer to the American government, not long after the US had gotten in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

        Why do people have to make such goddamn stupid arguments when it comes to foreign policy?

  • Lee Rudolph

    Even the liberal NPR

    I believe that, to give the phrase its full flavor, all the words must be capitalized.

    • Gwen

      also put scare-quotes around “Liberal.”

      “Even The ‘Liberal’ NPR”…

    • Tyto

      Internet tradition actually demands Teutonification: EvenTheLiberal NPR

  • jkay

    That’s because the media elite have LONG understood that war’s GOOD for biz. Or why the New York Sun’s owner called the Spanish American War “My war.” That’s why NYT had disgustingly similar ‘tude pushing war in dissolving Yugoslavia on TV. That’s why most of the media holds a formally neocon position on war today.

    And you’re forgetting that in Libya, the neocons felt oppressed because Obama didn’t go Shrub-stupid, aww. Sure that counts as support?

    • stickler

      Remington to Hearst: “There is to be no war. Request to be recalled.”

      Hearst to Remington: “Please remain. You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war.”

    • witless chum

      You don’t have to go back to the 90s to find the New York Times shamelessly shilling for a war.

  • anon

    Say what you will but the simple fact remains: When the Ukrainian people looked to Obama…Obama looked away. Perhaps from a purely political perspective, that’s for the best, but let’s not pretend it’s a sad for human rights and democracy when the United State either can’t or won’t defend the democratic aspirations of a people.

    • junker

      So assuming Obama doesn’t look away. What do you want him to do? Please be specific.

      • anon

        An boycott of all Russian fossil fuels would be a start. But given that won’t happen.

        • herr doktor bimler

          “Boycotting Russian fossil fuels” would seem to be the purview of the EU. And if US consumers want to boycott the 5% of US petrol imports which come from Russia, it’s up to them to negotiate with the petroleum industry.
          I suspect that if any Ukrainians are hoping for outside pressure, they’re looking to Western Europe rather than to the US.

        • Hmm interesting. I agree, he should nationalize all oil companies on American soil.

    • herr doktor bimler

      When the Ukrainian people looked to Obama

      “Help me Obama Kanobi you’re my only hope”!
      Come to think of it, I can’t remember the mass outcries from “the Ukrainian people” — does that include the Romanian, Hungarian, Tatar and Russian portions of the population? — all looking to Obama to rescue them.

      • “Help me Obama Kanobi you’re my only hope”!

        That really does seem to be the belief, that eyes around the world lift toward the United States as savior. And, of course, there are just a tad too many Americans who believe we SHOULD be the world’s savior. Never mind reality. Wasn’t it Cokie Roberts who said, “It’s already out there,” so we have to act as if it were real.

    • Walt

      And what about the democratic aspirations of the Crimea? What about the democratic aspirations of the people who voted for the Yanukovych, before he was forced out by street violence?

      I’m not happy with what’s happened in Crimea and I think that Yanukovych is a crook, but don’t act like this is a simple story of “democratic aspirations”.

It is main inner container footer text