Monday, July 1, 2013


The President's Africa trip is lugubrious and off-target.  He should take his cue from the Chinese who know how to avoid "schmaltz."  Meanwhile, the house is on fire.  Since the bungled Benghazi tragedy, we seem to have entered into a serial downturn of Obama's second term. The IRS scandal, the paranoid tapping of journalists, and lately Edward J. Snowden's intelligence leaks have created a fury in the United States and among allies who feel, rightly so, fooled, after discovering they had been treated all those years as targets rather than friends. Will the drone rage equally no longer make a difference between foe or friend?

Meanwhile the Russians and Chinese look as if they were almost sorry for America's clumsiness, while Egypt (remember the Arab Spring, popular with the administration?) might join the ranks of "failed" states.  Upon his return the President will certainly make a sterling speech but he starts to remind me of the priest who is overtaken by sermon,  so that he no longer sees that the church is empty. Far be it from me not to recognize Obama's intellectual qualities or to ignore the hope and the vision he represented.  After the Bush years he was like a breath of fresh air, but  now we want to open the windows again and let this stale accumulated political stench out.
We erred because we mistook the "persona" for the message. Today it becomes clear that this administration has no global policy doctrine, not even a bad one, as was the case with President George W. Bush. There is not even a touch of enlightened empirical grasp Clinton-style. We watch how "disperse" overtook "associate", an accumulative approach which might as well kill the patient. There is no doctrine, only an other red line, while "the action is not suited to the "word."

In this messy situation a lot is at stake between allies. Not since the Iraq war has the political goodwill between allies been so frail. All this happens at a time when the EU and the United States are actively considering a free trade agreement which, if agreed upon, would be a game changer in the worldwide balance of power.  Mr. Snowden and the N.S.A. (National Security Agency) might as well have given the French their cherished exception culturelle "on the house." The President's desultory first comments in Africa show an almost pathological lack of empathy with the furor wildfire which is igniting the European capitals.

The American public looks amorphous, the Republicans prefer for now to look elsewhere and meanwhile the Trayvon Martin sad "soap" further anesthetizes a public opinion left to its own devices, adrift.

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