Barack Obama

Obama Five Years Ago: "Without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands, America will lack…legitimacy"


I'm Barack Obama, and this message will unintentionally, if 100% predictably, indict my future presidency. And don't even get me started on the Armenian genocide!

This quote of the day brought to you by the Washington Post's fact-checker, Glenn Kessler:

The fact is, close to five years after 9/11 and fifteen years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the United States still lacks a coherent national security policy. Instead of guiding principles, we have what appear to be a series of ad hoc decisions, with dubious results. Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?…Are we committed to use force wherever there's a despotic regime that's terrorizing its people—and if so, how long do we stay to ensure democracy takes root?…Perhaps someone inside the White House has clear answers to these questions. But our allies—and for that matter our enemies—certainly don't know what the answers are. More important, neither do the American people. Without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands, America will lack the legitimacy—and ultimately the power—it needs to make the world safer than it is today.
–Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope (2006), page 302.

Kessler also flags the "don't get very hung up on this question of precedent" quote I pointed at yesterday, presenting the two statements "as another example of how things can look very different from inside the White House than from the outside." Quite.

More Reason on the "kinetic military action" here.

NEXT: This Post Won't Make Sense to Europeans Who Believe That "Africa Begins at Rome."

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  1. yea and 5 years ago i said that we’ll find those iraqi nukes any day now.

      1. yea go figure. i thought lil w & his playmates actually knew where the nukes were. things change big time in 5 years.

        1. Military adventures with public money are okay when Team Blue does them!

          Fuck yeah!

        2. You were still expecting to find WMD’s in 06?

          1. certainly NOT the 25 yr old sarin gas used in the iran/iraq war. but i still had small hope we’d find (& disable) the nukes bush et al said were there.

            1. In 06?

              1. yea since the thinking changed to buried in the desert or sent to syria. in 06 i didnt know bush et al were lying. i hoped those nukes would be found & disabled.

                1. Wow. When Bush claimed Mission Accomplished without finding a single WMD, I knew they were lying. That was like May of ’03, dude.

  2. Sigh. Are we in danger of beating this shit to death?
    Suggest you try spacing out the Libya threads a little more. I got Barrack fatigue.

    1. Tim|3.30.11 @ 10:50AM|#
      “Sigh. Are we in danger of beating this shit to death?”

      No, we’re bombing *them* to death.

      1. But we’re bombing them humanely.

        1. Republican bombs are filled with gunpowder and spite. Democrat bombs are filled with sunshine, unicorns, and lollipops.

          1. ” Democrat bombs are filled with sunshine, unicorns, and lollipops.”

            The Naval Research Lab is working on a way to add hugs and rainbows.

          2. The problem isn’t the unicorns, its after the explosiion and the horn when it hits at 900 miles an hour.
            Also, I had a friend who was bending to pick something or other up, and got a lollipop in the south facing orifice…one in a billion shot.

    2. I got Barrack fatigue

      Me too! Can we save Cleveland again?

      1. How about a nice ‘isolated incident’?

      2. Gah! Not that. How about: ” Drew Carey Saves Tripoli “

        1. Drew Carey For President of Tripoli. He would make a great dictator-the wheel of death? would be fun; just spin and find out your punishment

      3. I want to talk about Jared Loughner.

        Or mosques.

  3. Without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands, America will lack the legitimacy?and ultimately the power?it needs to make the world safer than it is today.
    ?Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope (2006), page 302.

    “It’s not wrong to change your opinion, especially when expediency dictates it.”

    Old Statist Proverb.

    1. By the way, BHO will not remeber saying that as he did not write T.A.O.H.

      1. He can’t be held responsible for everything the ghostwriter puts into his crappy books.

        1. Re: Otto,

          He can’t be held responsible for everything the ghostwriter puts into his crappy books.

          Yes, he should not blame Ayers and he should not blame Jon Favreau for what they put on the books that Obama “wrote himself.”

    2. old mex keeps the same opinion on wednesday that he had on monday…no matter what happens on tuesday. now that’s some notable consistency!

      1. Re: OO,

        old mex keeps the same opinion on wednesday that he had on monday

        You unintelligently (or stupidly, to be more succinct) confuse “opinion” with “principle.”

        1. ur quote above at 10:56am says opinion.

  4. Holy shit, give Obama a break on this, will you? It’s pretty hard to appear Reaganesque without at least trying to bomb the fuck out of Gaddafi.

  5. Their is no contradiction. Obama stated that America needs a “well-articulated strategy” that the “world understands”, not the UN.

    Nations need strategies, but an all knowing, all seeing, multinational mega-bureaucracy can just make things up as they go along.

    Obama only said the world needs to understand the strategy. The UN represents the world, or in their view, the only countries in the world that matter. So if THEY understand the strategy, they will tell the people what they support and don’t support.

  6. I find it interesting that the H&R take on this is leaning more heavily towards “Obama is a hypocrit” rather than just emphasizing that this is a bad decision.

    It’s like a bad habit that’s hard to break or something.

    1. Well, to be fair, I think the point is that if many voted for him because of his anti-war stance. . .why did anyone vote for him again?

      1. why did anyone vote for him again?

        The specter of John McCain with the nuclear football?

        1. Like I’m just swimming in a sea of confidence right now?

      2. Bagge:

        McCain is simply too incompetent these days to be president


        The Republicans must be punished and punished hard.


        he is not a Republican and not John McCain, who is temperamentally unfit to be president.


        For not a single “liberal” reason, I am voting not only for Obama, but for the GOP to be utterly spanked and sent into exile, where, perhaps, sincere men and women may remember Barry Goldwater and resurrect some kind of healthy, libertarian Conservatism.


        Anybody but McCain/Palin.


        Barack Obama. All my life I’ve been waiting for a black president; Obama’s not monumentally unqualified, and his solid-if-boring book at least had some unkind words for teachers unions. Also my kids like him.


        for two main reasons: The Republican Party, which has jettisoned its best inclinations and indulged its worst for the last eight years, richly deserves exile from the White House, and 2) because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically?the best that can be hoped for from a Democratic president.

        Newark (Craiglist guy):

        since he’s a genuine leader, with a good program for cleaning up Washington, and will be very good for business.


        he most exemplifies Reason and Free Minds (sorry, the country is in no mood for Freer Markets). The contrast between his discernment and eclecticism and the Republican ticket’s impulsiveness and idiot populism is vastly more important than any differences in their adherence to libertarian first principles.


        I am voting for Barack Obama, because I believe in hope and change and unicorns. Also, John McCain is dangerously mentally unfit to be president and has decided, with his choice of Sarah Palin, to complete the transformation of the GOP into a southern-centered party based on social division and cultural resentment.


        I’ll be voting for Obama, because I think as a nation we’re about to descend into a pile of hurt, and I want someone who is smart, pragmatic, and not prone to temper tantrums working to get us out of it as quickly as possible. Also, the possibility of a President Palin makes me want to prepare a bolthole in New Zealand, and as a patriotic American, I should never have to feel that way. Finally, I think the GOP need a moment or two in the Time Out corner, don’t you?

        RU Sirius:

        I could give 100 reasons, but I’ll just say civil liberties. He’s not perfect, and yes, he sold out on warrantless wiretapping, but on the whole, he’s been better in this area than any presidential candidate in my voting lifetime.


        I will vote for Obama on behalf of everyone watching in the world, because he’s the coolest to watch on television.


        I’ve got the luxury of a guilt-free, zero-impact vote in the District of Columbia, which I would cast for Bob Barr if he was on the ballot. Since he’s not, I’m voting for Barack Obama, the only remaining candidate whom I trust not to run the country (further) into the ground with stupid and erratic decisions, and who (miraculously for a Democrat) has run a less brain-dead, faux-populist campaign than the Republican.

        1. The one from Weigel is particularly high-larious.

      3. Because McCain would definitely have used military force against Iran.

        Or something.

    2. The hypocrisy makes it a bad decision.

    3. @ Neu Mejican

      A) It is a bad decision.
      B) There will be lots of blowback.
      C) There is no evidence that Barry O has a f*****g clue where this is going.
      C (2) There is very little evidence that Barry O has a f*****g clue about ANYTHING.
      D) Our side is killing people who haven’t attacked us. (Well, at least not in the last 10 years.)
      E) The decision to bomb Libya is hypocritical, but that is minor.


      1. D) Our side is killing people who haven’t attacked us. (Well, at least not in the last 10 years.)

        To be fair eventually we will have a JDAM go off-target and hit an anti-Kadaffey element. When that happens there is a chance we will kill someone who was trying to kill Americans within the past 10 years.

    4. I agree, NM.

      Put me firmly in the “this is a bad decision” camp, because I only see a couple of outcomes likely here:

      (1) Gaddafi stays, we look like fools, Libya is partitioned, and there is a long-term presence by “the West” to police the partition and nation-build in eastern Libya.

      (2) Gaddafi leaves, and Libya either becomes a radical Islamist state, or there is a long-term presence by “the West” to nation-build in eastern Libya.

      The utter inability of this administration to think even two moves ahead is depressing.

      1. Scratch that second “eastern”.

      2. Bad decision. I don’t think Quaddafi is going to be running for the hills when the President makes comments like this:

        “I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners.”

        1. Agreed, which is why troops will land.

      3. I object to a lot of things about this move, principally not getting Congressional authorization (at the very least) and seeming to just jump in because the Europeans want us to. I’m all for close ties with the EU, but let’s be honest: Their foreign policy sucks ass on levels we can only dream of achieving. Following their lead is a stupid, stupid policy. Why else do you think half of Europe relies on the U.S. for its defense?

        1. But following the Europeans in everything else had worked out wonderfully, why should we stop now?

        2. Half? How about 75-80%? I leave out Switzerland, Sweden, and Russia. The rest are NATO freeloaders to a man.

          1. Well, France and the UK have some military, and they have nukes.

            1. I nominate Basil Fawlty to be in charge of the UK’s nukes.

              1. That could have, er, consequences.

                1. “Manuel pressed the button! He did! Honestly darling, if you want to blame someone for world armageddon, you only need to look right over there at that little brown menace, huddling in the corner.”

                  1. Wars Lefty Two.

            2. But they’re the French. They haven’t won a battle since Napoleon.

              1. I like Frog-bashing as much as the next guy, but this is simply wrong. Try the Marne, 1914.

                1. Hilarious: I checked it out and this is on the Wikipedia page:

                  Field Marshal Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), blamed his heavy losses on French vacillation and uncoordinated French withdrawals.

                2. I agree. The French did pretty well in WWI. Unfortunately, the nature of that war being what it was, “pretty well” meant not losing.

                  WWII is a different story.

                  1. Yeah, people always forget the French were pretty hard-core in WWI. They participated in the Somme campaign and took more area with massively fewer casualties than the British, because they didn’t get up and walk across no-man’s land in a straight line like out of a fucking Kipling poem. They also won Stalingrad-lite at Verdun, which is no mean feat.

                    1. Well, anything from Sir John that gets quoted on Wikipedia must be dispositive, surely.

                      I always thought the Germans had something to do with it.

                    2. Of course, they got stupid pretty quickly under Nivelle the next year.

                      But the point is, there’s not a single English-speaking population in existence today (with the possible exception of the descendants of the Southern Confederates) whose ancestors paid anything close to the price the French paid from 1914-1918. Not even close.

                    3. That said, the French picked the absolute worst time not to fold. If the Germans had won quickly, they’d likely have seized some land and gone back home. Millions would’ve lived, Russia likely never goes Bolshevik, and no Nazis.

                      Can they do nothing right?

                    4. Oh, and I think you may be wrong about the French setting any records. Russia, more than once, I bet.

                    5. The official record is the Japanese Army, against whom the Russians advanced 62 miles in two days in the closing days of WW2.

                    6. I’m not sure this is in reply to my comment, but if it is, please reread what I said: English-speaking.

                      And for the record, it was more dangerous to be a French soldier in WWI than to be a Russian one (many of whom weren’t actually Russian-Russian in the first place). The horrendous losses of WWII sometimes get recast backward as if the WWI experience was the same.

                    7. That’s pretty much Niall Ferguson’s conjecture, but it seems a bit naive to me: the Germans (from whom I am 50% descended) are pretty insufferable as losers; imagine how much more insufferable they’d have been after another win.

                    8. Not Nazi insufferable.

                      Missed your “English-speaking” bit, but we’ve collectively been lucky enough not to have been invaded too often.

                      The French endured some horrific losses in WWI, and I think their collapse in WWII had a lot to do with the trauma of that war.

                    9. Also, don’t forget the Franco-Prussian War, if you want a good example of German victory. The Prussians won in a huge way, but they didn’t wipe France off the map or take on the rest of Europe. And that was 1870. Granted, the Prussians did seize and keep territory, but, to be fair, that was land that was in many respects “German.” Not that I’m advocating that sort of thing.

                    10. I never forget the F-P War. I also don’t forget that Bismarck was a statesman, not an ADHD loose cannon like Willy II, and certainly not a maniac like You Know Who.

                    11. I absolutely agree with the 1940 collapse having a LOT to do with the 14-18 experience.

                      As to “not Nazi insufferable,” imagine a German regime pumped up on victory and Kaiserism that has all the German Jews working patriotically for it. Gives me the willies.

    5. I think it’s that he’s a hypocrite AND it’s a bad decision.

      The best thing you can say about Chimpy McBushitler is that he wasn’t a hypocrite.

      1. *cough* *cough* *cough*

        You mean Shrub’s promises in 1980 not to engage in ‘nation building?’

        1. “2000” not “1980”.

          That’s the second time I’ve done that in a week.

          1. In W’s defense, he never said anything about ‘nation leveling.’

        2. Well, you can’t argue that he actually built any. Tore down a few….

    6. It’s like muscle memory. We’ve had to point out he’s a hypocrite so much that it’s an involuntary response at this point.

      I don’t think Obama is a hypocrite exactly, but he is a grinning jackass that has involved us in yet another war of choice after riding a wave of anti-war sentiment into office. It’s a violation of the spirit of his campaign, even if not the letter.

      But I’m not really all that angry at Obama. It’s the nature of corrupt power to find a way to exercise itself. The real hypocrites are the “anti-war” Democrat partisans who aren’t saying a peep now and making excuses for bombing a country that has not attacked us.

      1. The real hypocrites are the “anti-war” Democrat partisans who aren’t saying a peep now and making excuses for bombing a country that has not attacked us.

        This. I was so agitated over this at lunch yesterday that I had people at other tables looking over at us.

        1. Agreed. The only ones who aren’t hypocrites are the ANSWER types, and they think we’re at war just to be all corporation-y…

        2. course there are other anti-war dems saying words.

      2. “We’ve had to point out he’s a hypocrite so much that it’s an involuntary response at this point.”

        You can say that again.

    7. Uh…he is a hypocrite. It’s also a bad decision. Pointing out both is appropriate. Hypocrisy is an unbelievably obnoxious trait that both TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE engage in constantly, and should be beaten about the head and neck for it every time.

      1. and should be beaten about the head and neck for it every time.

        Pre-emptively? You know they’re going to do it anyway.

        1. Figuratively. And yes, you might as well make it ongoing, because it’s not going to stop them. It’s what they do.

        2. Say, that’s an idea. Preemptive impeachment.

  7. Perhaps this is a notably rare exception kind of thing……..xceptions/

    1. Yup, all of us around here say that “if there were free markets, there would be NO MAL-INVESTMENT, EVER.”

      We certainly don’t say things like “when misinvestment occurs, the free market is the best method for correcting and adjusting capital flows, on both a moral and practical level.” Nope. You sure got us there…

      1. Re: Neu Mejican,

        Alan Greenspan is back as free market evangelist, and it’s rather wonderful.

        We’re off to a bad start when a person who seems to have lived under a rock all this time calls Alan Greenspan a “free market evangelist.”

        “Today’s competitive markets, whether we seek to recognise it or not, are driven by an international version of Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ that is unredeemably opaque. With notably rare exceptions (2008, for example), the global ‘invisible hand’ has created relatively stable exchange rates, interest rates, prices, and wage rates.”

        Note that the blogger makes no attempt to analyze what Greenspan is saying and comparing it to his own record, or pointing out the fact that the Fed has been creating huge market disruptions through a loose monetary policy for 100 YEARS, so forget about the “invisible hand.”

        No, he simply misrepresent Greenspan as a “free market evangelist” to misconstrue whatever he says as free-market encyclical.

        1. OM…

          You misread. This is about the irony of Greenspan’s statement. It is not about the free market at all. It is about the arrogance of those that think they know “how it works.” It is an attitude that permeates the thinking of many.

          With notably rare exceptions, the world is consistently explained by our axioms.

          1. Here’s another post by the same blogger…


            This one is interesting as well.


            it suggests that we will observe a broad empirical correlation between (a) the extent of disagreement among economists, and (b) the involvement of economists in political disputes. ‘Eat your greens’ propositions that are popular among economists, but more or less equally uncongenial to all political actors in a given system will, as in Blinder’s formulation, be systematically ignored. But economists’ influence will not be particularly high when they disagree with each other, since different economists arguing for different sides of the political debate will at least partially cancel each other out. It will be far higher on those rare and fleeting occasions when economists unite in favor of the one or the other side actively participating in a political debate.

  8. The view didn’t change, the eyeballs did. And really I don’t believe that, he was (is) just a liar.

  9. Guiding principles are for ideologues.

    Pragmatic realists have no principles because every situation is different.

    Even if the situation is the same the people are different.

    Therefor Obama is not a hypocrite because he has no principles to violate.

  10. I want to know why the Italians aren’t in charge of this shindig. Isn’t this their part of the fucking desert?

    1. You don’t understand Europeans. In WWI in the Middle Eastern theater, the British and the Arabs did all of the heavy lifting. After they won, the French, who helped hardly at all, demanded “their” old Crusader lands as their right.

  11. We should stop quoting Obama from “Audacity.” Or someone needs to ask him if he wrote it or if it was written by committee, as Ayers states in a recent interview where he also stated he wrote “Dreams from My Father.”

    Wasn’t there a media uproar when “Going Rogue” came out about it being ghost-written?

    1. palin’s a has-been so nobody cares anymore…’cept those who spilled the koolaid on their bibs

  12. a notably rare exception kind of thing…

    What the fuck is your point?

    I hope you’re not trying to insinuate some sort of Greenspan fanclub around here. Greenspan is a senile doddering idiot.

    The last remnants of Greenspan’s rotting corpse should *still* be hanging from a lamppost in front of the Federal Reserve HQ.

    1. I hope you’re not trying to insinuate some sort of Greenspan fanclub

      Certainly not. I like the underlying silliness in Greenspans quote. And I like the way the blog expands it…

      With notably rare exceptions, Russian Roulette is a fun, safe game for all the family to play

  13. I want to know why the Italians aren’t in charge of this shindig.

    Maybe we should tell Berlusconi there are teenage girls in dire need of “liberation”.

  14. Simple: The priority for intervention in a despotic regime falls as the inverse square of its distance from Greece.

    OK, maybe that doesn’t explain Afghanistan, but it makes as much sense as anything else I’ve heard.

  15. Ayers is jerking people’s chains.

    It is odd though: If you read Dreams or Audacity – especially Dreams – they are extremely well written. The prose flows and the metaphors and imagery jump off the page.

    And I don’t see – or haven’t seen – elsewhere in Obama’s life where he has written such excellent prose.

    Maybe he’s female Harper Lee.

    1. Say, Harper Lee is a female.

  16. Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?…Are we committed to use force whe

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