Wednesday, May 21, 2014


John Updike said that America is a vast conspiracy to make one happy.  Today the Americans are realizing that if hummingbirds can fly, they cannot walk!

President Obama's spell from the early days of his administration has reached a dead-end....Veterans, National Security Agency, Benghazi, Health care, human rights  a la carte...Better intentions need to pass the "stress test"... they fail !
Non-Americans (among them, myself) and Americans alike were happy that the dark Bush/ Cheney years were over.  A new era was supposed to bring change and closure as well as a creative foreign policy which was to reach out rather than be divisive.

Today, however, America seems out of its wits and the President seems unable to grasp the elementary rules of diplomacy.  Under his administration's watch, the Middle East has become a total disaster. There is hardly proof yet in the Iranian pudding.  Allies in the EU or the Gulf feel ignored. The Asia 'pivot' appears destined to follow the Russian 'reset' on the way to irrelevance. The Monroe Doctrine is mothballed and the Chinese raid South America. Africa is a basket-case of civil wars, terrorism and genocide.

Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry are seen all over the planet but they are left to their own devices. Without a comprehensive doctrine they lack a safety net and credibility.  Lately only France seems to have some type of "special relationship" with the United States.  It is the story of the blind entering into matrimony with the crippled.  It will be interesting to see what Paris does when the time comes to decide to deliver to the Russian Federation the two warships built in its shipyards.  

For the time being, other players than the United States have a free pass almost in the absence of any tangible American counter- or interaction.  The problem is less one of loss of might than of loss of self-confidence. American exceptionalism is not disappearing because "others" are at the gate.  It is becoming an illusion because the user-manual seems to be lost.  The President of the Nobel Prize has become the prophet of broken and half-baked promises. Negative energies are unleashed and dysfunction gets a free ride. Where lies the soft power in the administration? Where are the Kissinger, Brzezinski, Showcroft heirs? What happened to the Reagan/Clinton magic touch? 

Americans are in a mid-term election rush and will be in full pre-presidential frustration mode next year. The President might lose the majority in the Senate which will become a shark's killer frenzy overnight. The Republicans will continue their internal onslaught between the Old Guard and the Tea Party crusaders.  The lame duck President will be shunned by his own party and will resort to White House 'Alice in Wonderland' parties, cherished by the First Lady. The scenario will be welcomed by the Chinese who will stubbornly proceed on their own selfish path, making a historical and strategic gas deal with the Russian energy behemoth.  Putin can be counted on to continue to make trouble while abstaining to create havoc (he noticed the crocodile tears over Ukraine). The BRICS & Co will follow their interests without any pretense of "purity".

President Obama certainly had the opportunity. He looks as if he lacks the capacity after all. 
From Theodore Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson, from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln, decisions were made which punctuated the story of a country that presumed to make history. Maybe the pendulum had to make a correction after the over-activist Bush years, but the swing has been too brutal and the machine has become unhinged.  As a result the world, which liked or disliked American leadership in equal terms, feels orphaned.  Obama speaks often of the necessity to repair America's failing infrastructure.  His successor will have to bridge the gaps which have appeared lately with the outside world, both in conciliatory and offensive terms.  I fail to see who this heroic "persona" might be since Clinton fatigue has set in and the Republican Cains and Abels are too busy fighting it out.

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