Friday, March 18, 2011

Barack Obama, Professor-In-Chief

Remember the words of Joe Biden back in October of 2008, in the final month of the presidential campaign?

“Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here . . . we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Well, it took a while. A failed policy in the Arab-Israeli peace process, a failure to close Guantanamo, a caught-in-the-headlights response to the anti-authoritarianism movement in Iran in the summer of 2009, followed by a similar churning and hand-wringing when it hit in 2011 in North Africa and Arabia, and now a meaningless set of pronouncements on Libya ("[Qadhdhafi] has lost legitimacy and he needs to leave"), allowing weeks to pass as the opposition to Muammar Qadhdhafi was bombed from the skies. Protesters are murdered in the streets of Bahrain and Yemen; Saudi mercenary troops are sent to Bahrain; but since all 3 of these countries are American allies, nothing more than pointless words were offered up. Even as the American President, the great advocate of universal human aspirations, tries to now set in place a no-fly zone over Libya (simultaneously signaling that there will be no mission creep), the Obama administration has done next to nothing in Arabia.

Welcome to a third front for the American military. Relying on contract mercenaries to support the thousands of hunkered down soldiers in Iraq, and doubling down in the now pointless battle for deteriorating Afghanistan, Obama will now send American pilots to crisscross North Africa.

Barack Obama's mettle has been tested, and he has failed, flailing away in many contradictory directions. The dictionary definition of mettle is "courage and fortitude." None of that from the Harvard-trained legal academic turned political naif. In George W. Bush we had the laughable decider. In Barack H. Obama we have the ineffectual professor (how many times have we heard his catchphrase "let me be clear"..."I want to be clear"?). Which is worse is beyond me.

(Update, May 12. 2011: .I want to completely retract this last paragraph. Sometimes you go with the information you have at the time. Now I, and the world, have learned a bit more about Obama and the Middle East. The problems are still quite apparent, the Libya intervention is still in my judgment a mistake, but this paragraph was way too harsh. I was wrong.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

South Sendai Before & After

Fiddling around with Google Earth, I was able to put together a before and after picture set of the tsunami's effect. Unbelievable.