Clueless in the White House

It was easy to see that President Obama was unhappy from the start in his interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft’s questions.  He was jumpy and defensive, and he interrupted before the first question was even asked:

Steve Kroft: The last time we talked was this time last year, and the situation in Syria and Iraq had begun to worsen vis-à-vis ISIS. You had just unveiled a plan to provide air support for troops in Iraq, and also some air strikes in Syria, and the training and equipping of a moderate Syrian force. You said that this would degrade and eventually destroy ISIS.

President Barack Obama: Over time.

Steve Kroft: Over time. It’s been a year, and —

President Barack Obama: I didn’t say it was going to be done in a year.

Steve Kroft: No. But you said…

President Barack Obama: There’s a question in here somewhere.

President Barack Obama: Over time.

Steve Kroft: Over time. It’s been a year, and —

President Barack Obama: I didn’t say it was going to be done in a year.

Steve Kroft: No. But you said…

President Barack Obama: There’s a question in here somewhere.

Kroft then pointed out that progress was hard to find and that what has changed was the escalating death toll and the number of refugees fleeing Syria.  Obama as he is wont to do, and you can see this in his press conferences, then gave a short history lesson about Syria and ISIS and claimed there was progress against ISIS while admitting the US had been unable to this point change the dynamic in Syria.  But Obama did say, “Over time, the community of nations will all get rid of them, and we will be leading getting rid of them.”  Anyone believe this?  And that led to this exchange:

Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?

President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.

Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?

President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And —

Steve Kroft: And they wanted you to do it.

President Barack Obama: Well, no. That’s not what I said. I think it is important for us to make sure that we explore all the various options that are available.

Steve Kroft: I know you don’t want to talk about this.

President Barack Obama: No, I’m happy to talk about it.

Steve Kroft: I want to talk about the — this program, because it would seem to show, I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody someplace along the line did not — made — you know, some sort of a serious miscalculation.

President Barack Obama: You know, the — the — Steve, let me just say this.

Steve Kroft: It’s an embarrassment.

The president then mentioned the volatility of the Syrian situation with its many players, which is true, adding that he had been very clear about America’s priorities, and he pivoted to Afghanistan. Kroft then interrupted with, “All right. I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.”

By the way, if you haven’t already figured it out, when Obama or anyone in his administration says the president has been very clear, know that it’s just the opposite, and although they like to say the words, “the president has been very clear,” the claim doesn’t make it true.  Does anyone know, I mean really know, what our strategy is with Syria and ISIS and al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and the rebels fighting Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad?

When asked if he thought the world was a safer place, Obama said America was safer.  Aside from the admission by omission that the world is not safer, what realist believes America is safer?  We have had and will have more Islamic terrorist acts committed here in the US.  Do you feel safer?

Obama waited too long to do anything about Syria and ISIS, way too long, and now the whole region is on fire and it’s become more of a seriously dangerous powder keg because of what Vladimir Putin has been doing.  Fire and dynamite, what a lovely mix.  And that brings me to the exchange about Russia’s Vladimir Putin:

Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.

President Barack Obama: In what way? Let — let’s think about this — let — let —

Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II —

President Barack Obama: So that’s —

Steve Kroft: — bombing the people — that we are supporting.

President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine —

Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership —

President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.

Steve Kroft: My point is — was not that he was leading, my point is that he was challenging your leadership. And he has very much involved himself in the situation. Can you imagine anything happening in Syria of any significance at all without the Russians now being involved in it and having a part of it?

President Barack Obama: But that was true before. Keep in mind that for the last five years, the Russians have provided arms, provided financing, as have the Iranians, as has Hezbollah.

Steve Kroft: But they haven’t been bombing and they haven’t had troops on the ground —

President Barack Obama: And the fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.

Steve Kroft: You don’t think —

President Barack Obama: You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?

Steve Kroft: Did you know he was going to do all this when you met with him in New York?

President Barack Obama: Well, we had seen– we had pretty good intelligence. We watch —

Steve Kroft: So you knew he was planning to do it.

President Barack Obama: We knew that he was planning to provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about a potential imminent collapse of the regime.

Steve Kroft: You say he’s doing this out of weakness. There is a perception in the Middle East among our adversaries, certainly and even among some of our allies that the United States is in retreat, that we pulled our troops out of Iraq and ISIS has moved in and taken over much of that territory. The situation in Afghanistan is very precarious and the Taliban is on the march again. And ISIS controls a large part of Syria.

President Barack Obama: I think it’s fair to say, Steve, that if —

Steve Kroft: It’s — they — let me just finish the thought. They say your —

President Barack Obama: You’re —

Steve Kroft: — they say you’re projecting a weakness, not a strength —

President Barack Obama: — you’re saying “they,” but you’re not citing too many folks. But here —

Steve Kroft: No, I’ll cite — I’ll cite if you want me, too.

President Barack Obama: — here — yes. Here —

Steve Kroft: I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East. I’d say everybody in the Republican party. Well, you want me to keep going?

Kroft pointed out for all to see that Obama remains clueless.  He is clueless on what has been happening in Syria and what to do in Syria, and significantly so, what Vladimir Putin wants and does.  Does anyone believe Putin cares one iota about sanctions placed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea and his troop movements along the Ukrainian border?  Do we even hear about Crimea anymore?  Or how about the South Osessian part of Georgia that Russia occupied in 2008 and Russia’s continuous land grab there?  Putin was in the KGB and he still acts that way.

There is this naiveté within the Obama administration, with the president and Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice and others, that bad actors on the world stage will change their ways because well, they are bad, and bad people should and will change.  Because it is bad to be bad and better to be good.  I know this sounds so simplistic but this has been part of Obama’s foreign policy strategy.  ISIS will change, Iran will change.  And so, we can do nothing and in fact, we retreat.  Of course, the retreating leaves vacuums, filled with the bad players.

Obama’s words again, “You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?”  Well, Putin did send pilots and money!  And he is sending more troops!  And he is doing more bombing endangering our allies and us! He is not just complicating the matter, he is putting Americans in danger!  Wake up, Barack!

Putin says what he wants and does what he wants and he doesn’t care if Obama knows or not.  If I were Putin, I would look around at what other countries I would want to invade and/or occupy while Obama is still in office.  Putin knows Obama is a joke and a weak one at that.

As Kroft pointed out, before the interview, Obama said Putin acted out of weakness.  Really?  Who think Putin feels he has been weak?  Raise your hands between the bouts of laughter?  Obama said, “My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”  Who doesn’t think Putin guffawed so hard he nearly fell off his chair when he heard this?  Here is what Vladimir was thinking.  “You keep thinking about climate change, Mr. President, while I start thinking about the Baltics.”

And speaking of laughter, what is it with Obama’s condescending reaction to some of the questions?  It looked like nervous laughter.  Much like Hillary Clinton’s laughter when she is asked something that clearly makes her uncomfortable.  I think in part with both, it’s also a delay tactic, even for a fraction of a second.  With each, I feel they are thinking, “OK stall for an answer by laughing and at the same time showing contempt for the question.”

Watch Hillary when you have the chance.  Other times, she will nod her head up and down in iambic pentameter rhythm to a question, tight-lipped or smiling as she does so, and then she answers being sure to use the word “imperative” in her response.  Obama and Clinton have used these tactics for years, and they are so transparent.  Who coaches these two?

You know what, Mr. President?  Like so many around the world who look for leadership from the United States, I’m not laughing.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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