Losing Face.





A friend of mine who moved to France asked me “Why do seem Americans so out of the loop? What happened to Obama?” Ensconced in our thick recliners, devouring buffalo chicken Doritos, lost in the George Zimmerman trial, we sit while overseas, the world is wondering how we lost our way so quickly. Clueless as to the fires raging overseas; the foreign policy meltdown we are experiencing and the easily conspicuous signs of an Empire adrift, this is an administration in out of their depth. The levers of power are exchanging hands, we have to remember that when the Titanic was sinking, at least the passengers looked out the window. The problem is not just our government, it’s our effectively impotent and irrelevant media. Our media that skips over important issues, sides with corporate influencers, and acts as the mouth piece of the US Government. America has upwards of a thousand bases across the world, and none of us could probably name more than five. We are engaged in covert warfare or aiding rebelions across the globe in countries most of us couldn’t find on  map with two hands and a flashlight. The world is watching as the American Empire lurches around, tripping on its own shoelaces, yet continues to exercise military authority with impunity.


We could be the most uninformed and incurious citizens in the world. We have no idea how we come across in a world that increasingly needs our help and finds a languid, tentative leader who has become not just the betrayal of the constituencies that put him in office twice, but a betrayal to our allies as well. We seem to not want to stand up and fight anymore.


In an article by Livio Caputo, the commentator talks about how the Messianic figure that Obama represented has descended in an arc of ridicule and diffidence and outright incompetence to a symbol of an empire in decline. He writes:



“There are holes everywhere in Obama’s foreign policy. He took on the serious challenge of resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict, but he managed only to further alienate both parties. He had promised to improve relations with Russia, but instead they are almost as cold as they were during the war. There are continual arguments that have degenerated into an almost personal conflict. He completely committed himself to coming out on top in the war in Afghanistan, and the result is that, at the conclusion of next year, he will ingloriously withdraw without meeting with the head of the Taliban. He attempted to stop Iran’s progress toward the atom bomb, first through diplomacy, and then with stricter sanctions, but Iran continued on its path and now they are only a few months away from a nuclear weapon. For a long time – for once, acting wisely – he refused to intervene in Syria for fear that the supplies of weapons might fall into the hands of those who support al-Qaida, but he changed his mind at the moment in which the Assad regime appeared to have, once again, gained the upper hand. He decided that Washington, at this point, is more interested in Asia than Europe. However, his attempts, also personal, to establish a good relationship with the new Chinese leadership have not become anything more than good intentions.”


It gets worse. Ron Jager in Israeli National News writes that Obama has not been transparent he has been invisible. While Egypt teeters on the edge of a bloody civil war, while Syria has seen 100,000 deaths since its insurrection, Obama is in Nantucket yachting and John Kerry was thrashing around in Ramallah trying to get the Palestinians and the Israelis to sit down and talk. The Israeli- Palestinian question right now is a sideshow considering the violence erupting in the Levant and spreading through to North Africa. Despite the fact that Kerry came back empty handed, he negotiated without even considering Russia which also invests heavily in Arab affairs.


This last week we saw for the first time Chinese-Russian military exercises very near to the Sea of Japan. This is a public rebuke against American military hegemony in the Western Pacific and there was not even a mention in American media. Russia and China have already sealed deals with Venezuela to secure oil supplies while the US is doing the backstroke trying to explain to our closest dearest allies why we were hoovering up their phone calls. “The Cold War is over,” Angela Merkel reproached Obama. Well, not really. But at least we didn’t grab all our friends phone calls and emails without even asking. The entire “consent of the governed” in the Declaration of Independence has been all but lost. Today in Salon Glenn Greenwald said one of the reasons why the US is pursuing Snowden so frantically is that he has evidence that is far more damning and harmful to the United States than anyone realizes.


While the rest of us surf the vicissitudes of Obamacare challenges, Obama seems uninterested.  While it is being dismantled across the country, while the Voting Rights Act is eviscerated, while Americans are suffering, the world looks upon us with pity, yet increasingly Obama seems like he has rolled his sleeves back down. I understand that Republicans are obstructionists. But at least they get obstruction done. Obama can’t so anything but sputter a well-worded palaver about another promise he has no intention of keeping in long series of obligations unmet.


Barack Obama is a weak President. There is no other word for it. He is weak and has lost credibility with our allies, he has lost the trust of his supporters, and he has lost the fear he once put into Republicans. The stardust that he entered the world stage on, the Nobel Prize he won, the Hope and the Change, it all rings so hollow in the face of cascading security scandals. National Intelligence Chief James Clapper all but admitted he lied to Congress and Obama apparently also did as well. These are felonies. Simultaneously, Europe is disenfranchised with Obama, Russia is disenfranchised with him, China is dismissive, and European newspapers are writing the most disappointing op-eds about him and about us. They are mad not just because he lied to them, but because he is weak. They are mad that he can’t get anything done in Congress or anywhere else for that matter. They are mad that he lost his sense of grace, especially bullying allies to deny asylum to Edward Snowden even though the United States signed the International Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration clearly states that citizens in any state can enjoy the freedom that comes with asylum.


In 2005, I worked on the Kinky Friedman for Governor Campaign. I wrote and produced three TV spots for him. He lost of course because at the end of the day he had nothing. He had no policy apparatus and he wasn’t for real. Until this very moment, I thought I had seen the most hollow legislator in the comedian running for Texas Governor. But Obama seems at the mercy of events he can hardly keep up with much less handle. The result is a worse America. Saudi political commentator Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan writes in a Saudi newspaper lavishing blandishments on Canada, our diminutive cousin north of the border.


“To me both countries are great. But Canada is a blessing in a way no other country is. Specifically, it did not drop atomic bombs on civilian cities, does not dictate to other countries, does not attack countries on the basis of lies (Gulf of Tonkin, weapons of mass destruction), does not launch drone attacks on suspected opponents, funerals and wedding processions, does not topple or assassinate foreign leaders and does not promote militarism, oppression and wars.”


Imagine that. We have fallen from grace so far that our friends across the world wish we were less like us and more like the Canadians.




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