by Jeff Huber
Another thug bites the dust. Hosni Mubarak’s beautiful wickedness came to a screeching halt on Friday, Feb. 11, when he handed power over to Egypt’s armed forces, just over a year after Barack Obama took office and ceded his power to the American Pentarchy*.
|Obama's National Security Council|
The standard lineup of pro and con artists have flung their opinions across the information highway as to whether Obama did a good job during the Egyptian crisis or not. It was the media’s standard Three-Bears potpourri of opinion. Some thought Obama was too reticent in calling for Mubarak to leave town haste post haste with nothing but the feathers on his back. Others thought Obama betrayed Israel by not standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mubarak. A very few, and I’m one of them, though Obama did just right. For once. Sort of.
If Obama had condemned Mubarak and Mubarak had won the day and remained in power, oof, that would have left a mark. If Obama had lined up shoulder-blades-to-the-wall with Mubarak, he would have wound up sharing a blindfold and a last cigarette with the guy too. Obama took the Taoist approach, and let things happen the way they were going to happen regardless of what he did, like U.S. foreign policy makers should have started doing about 30 seconds before we stuck our national baby maker into World War I. Hopefully, he spent the suspense time figuring out what to do when Hosni hit the bricks. Hopefully, what he’s decided on doesn’t involve sending in the CIA to do what it does best, which is to molest everything they can get their mitts on and make matters infinitely worse than they already are.
Obama’s biggest foreign policy mistakes are behind him. Unfortunately, it will take him two full terms—if he gets a second term—to undo the damage his early gaffes created. And two terms might not even be enough.
President Obama’s first tragic error is the one he made as Candidate Obama, the one where he promised to “get the job done” in the Bananastans so the New American Centurions would get off his back about timelines for leaving Iraq. The Pentarchs made suds like a washtub over that one. As a venue of their Long War, Iraq was beginning to show steel belt. The Banastans, though, boy, now there was a bottomless pit they could pour blood and treasure into until such time, if ever, that brown cows give chocolate milk.
Obama’s next blunder, one that may prove to have been impossible to recover from, was keeping on Uncle Bob Gates as defense secretary, Michael “Moon” Mullen as Joint Chief’s chairman, George “Iraqi Screw Up” Casey as head of the Army, Ray “Desert Ox” Odierno in any authoritative position, and King David Petraeus as High Lord of Central Command and de facto master of the entire known universe.
Obama then compounded his bad decision process by naming Cruella Clinton to be secretary of state. I voted for Obama in the primaries because Hillary was so afraid of the warmongery that she essentially joined it. Come November alternative to Obama was Senator Ex-Prisoner of War, who would have ordered an invasion of the Sea of Tranquility (which his running mate would have explained was the place where Pearl Harbor was before the Germans sank it).
So, at the end of the day, our foreign policy posture looks more like it did under Big Dick Cheney than it would have under McCain because McCain probably wouldn’t have put Hillary in at state. There’s a chance, of course, that McCain might have nominated John Bolton for the job, but the odds of getting Bolton confirmed, even if McCain had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, would be shorter than either Bolton’s or McCain’s temper. Bolton’s got worse political body odor than Larry Craig.
Hillary’s not quite as strident as Bolton, but she’s doing a great job of carrying on his tradition, that of the highly placed diplomat who’s mission is to ensure that diplomacy never takes place. Hillary has been a one-woman whoopee cushion, rushing from one hot spot to the next making loud obnoxious noises and clearing negotiating chambers of their inhabitants from Sind to Cooch Behar.
So it’s little wonder that Hillary’s graceless pot-stirring made life miserable for Obama as he tried to crawl through the minefield of Mubarak’s demise.
As a Feb. 12 New York Times story frames it, “Mr. Obama was furious” that Hillary was skywriting about how any credible transition in Egypt would take time and backed the position of Cairo envoy Frank Wisner that Mr. Mubarak was, as the Times report paraphrased, “indispensible to Egypt’s democratic transition.
The deal with Wisner, according to Foreign Policy, was that the administration sent him to Cairo as a special envoy to tell his old buddy Hosni to start the transition of power “now.” Days later, he told the entire Munich Security Conference that "I believe that President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical—it's his chance to write his own legacy."
The Obamen got so het up about Wisner’s statement, says Foreign Policy, that Hillary was “forced to clarify” on the flight home that “Wisner was a private citizen and in no way spoke on behalf of the U.S. government.”
Jesus in a muumuu, Hillary. If a U.S. special envoy doesn’t speak for U.S. government, who does? Disavowing Wisner is like saying that the U.S. government isn’t responsible when Blackwater mercenaries it sends overseas decide to get liquored up and take target practice on the local produce peddlers.
The Feb. 12 New York Times story bore the needle marks of standard New York Times stenography journalism. It’s “inquiring minds” details are sourced to unknown officials, and it carries an unmistakably White House-crafted signal:
The trouble in sending a clear message was another example of how divided Mr. Obama’s foreign policy team remains. A president who himself is often torn between idealism and pragmatism was navigating the counsel of a traditional foreign policy establishment led by Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Biden and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, against that of a next-generation White House staff who worried that the American preoccupation with stability could put a historic president on the wrong side of history.
This is a bad-trip flashback from June 2010 when the Team O bearded senior Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter to write a book and a series of articles that made sure we all knew Obama was just so darn frustrated with his generals for not doing what he wanted them to and for kneecapping him in the press, and that Obama was going to gather all of them in a big room, and count to ten in a very stern voice, and if that didn't straighten them out he was going to count to a hundred, and then to a thousand if necessary, and if that didn’t work he was going to get ever so cross with them.
What Obama needs to do is direct his entire foreign policy team, uniformed and civilian, to join Hosni in the private sector as of yesterday. But he won’t do that.
*The Pentarchy is that cabal of sandbox generals, bathtub admirals, beltway bandits, AIPAC rats, Warlord Fauntleroys, New American Centurions, Long War legislators, Dr. Strangeloves, G.I. Joe Six-Packs, Pavlov’s dogs of war, patriotic psychopaths and other oligarchs whose narrow self interests and well-funded efforts have made the long dreamed-of permanent American security state a reality.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is the author of the critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a satire on America’s rise to global dominance.