For years people have been claiming that Democrat candidates and office holders are so intelligent, largely on the basis of their Ivy League credentials. Hillary Clinton was never he smartest woman in the world and Barack Obama is now proven a charismatic dunce.
I have always been astounded by the accolades heaped upon members of the political left touting their supposed intelligence. Jimmy Carter was the first I encountered while of age to appreciate the phenomenon. He was a dismal failure as a leader, who had no appreciation of international affairs, as attested to his mismanagement of the Iranian crisis that resulted in the current militant theocracy running that country. He couldn’t get the embassy hostages home but the supposed “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan’s election was enough for the Iranians to give them up voluntarily. The differential was, and remains, striking.
But the adoration that accompanied Barack Obama’s candidacy was like nothing ever experience before in the USA. Mostly it resulted from a fawning press that refused to vette the man while acting as if he was a manifestation of the second coming. This continued while he made verbal gaffe after verbal gaffe during his campaign. No one seemed to find it reasonable to question his ability, even when he seemed unable to recall the correct number of states in the Union.
But the ultimate glory seemed reserved for Obama’s pronouncements on foreign affairs. Allegedly, because he had spent a few years in Indonesia during his youth, he was the world’s greatest expert on international relations. He was supposedly going to restore America’s credibility and reputation abroad and bring peace everywhere. Based on these bogus representations, backed by nothing except hot air he was granted the Nobel Peace Prize, in a vote of confidence that was totally misplaced. It wasn’t long after that his supposed ability in diplomacy was proven a failure when he was unable to secure the Olympic Games for Chicago. It wasn’t a major matter, but it was a sign of things to come.
There were several miscues that occurred since then. The infamous reset button that wasn’t; his inability to influence other nations as he wished, and the apology tour that made America look like a paper tiger to its opposition. It set the stage for his appearance as a weakling on foreign affairs in the 2012 election, and led to his irrational red line declaration. The obvious problem to anyone who understands strategic thinking is that by making such a statement you generally surrender control of your own actions and place it in the hands of another party; in this case, Assad and his colleagues.
The wild card in all this was Vladimir Putin. It was widely known that Putin had no respect for Obama. He is a survivor of the deadly political games in Soviet Russia and a former head of the KGB. By virtue of his survival and success, he must be a master strategist. Obama, probably figuring that Putin would sit up and beg on command neglected to figure in his support for Assad, and threatened military intervention in Syria over the alleged use of poison gas by Assad’s forces.
There is, of course, a question of whether Assad was guilty, or framed by jihadist forces, whom Obama has favored in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt; people who place zero value on human life and would gladly sacrifice a few thousand people for their goals, but that is a lengthy topic for another time. What matters is one simple fact: Obama did not realize that he had put his foot in a trap had stupidly placed a year before and forgotten about.
Vladimir Putin jumped on the opportunity as a chess master seeing a sudden weakness will move to win the game. He saw primarily three things; first, a chance to embarrass the US and its political leadership; second the ability to claim a greater level of influence in the region; and third, the opportunity to reduce American influence in the Middle East and elsewhere. Obama does not play chess. In Russia chess has been a major competition event for decades, if not centuries. It is no small wonder that Russians have dominated international chess play for decades. Putin plays politics as Garry Kasparov plays chess.
Russia has always found it advantageous to wage proxy wars. There were credible suggestions that the Great Mutiny in India was inspired by Russian agents seeking to displace England in the subcontinent. The entire Cold War era consisted largely of proxy wars in the Middle East, Southern Asia and Central America. The Syrian incident is simply another iteration of the same strategy. Putin knows that he can be more influential in the Arab street because his is willing and able to use force. A strong man is much more respected there than a bumbling appeaser.
Of course, when Obama grabbed on to the fortuitous appearance of a supposed diplomatic solution provided by John Kerry’s misstatement, Putin turned that to his advantage, too. He stonewalled the negotiations, knowing that Obama did not have popular backing; something Putin doesn’t need. Obama is now faced with the prospect of a military strike without popular support and the possibility of sparking, thereby, a major conflict, or backing down and looking like the fool he is.
For years I have heard many credible people, even those on the political right touting how smart and what a great orator Obama is. In fact, he isn’t smart. He is manipulative, and when he has a ministry of propaganda (the press / media) to convince others, he can look like pretty much anything he likes. The same is true of his speaking skills. Sure, he can read a teleprompter with the best of them, but take it away and his skills disappear. Ronald Reagan spoke with a few 3×5 cards to remind him of the topics to hit. Newt Gingrich scrawls a few notes on a napkin before going on stage. Rush Limbaugh speaks totally extemporaneously; no notes at all.
In my years in the legal professions I’ve encountered people who graduated from top law schools, but who couldn’t practice their way out of a legal paper bag. They could read a book and recite what a professor wanted, but couldn’t develop evidence or a legal strategy to win a case. Anyone wonder why Obama never really practiced law?