Obama’s West Point Speech-Rhodes Scholarship?

Dan Drezner is now at the Washington Post: ‘The Two Things That Need To Be In Obama’s West Point Speech:’

Transcript of the speech here.

Drezner on Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser:

‘I’m not going to lie — whenever Ben Rhodes starts talking to the press, I get worried about the Obama administration’s foreign policy trajectory.  Rhodes tends to have a few simple international relations memes that he likes to get out into the public square’

He finishes with:

‘So if this speech says: a) military action is risky; but b) we have no positive economic agenda; and c) no plan for what to do if matters get even worse — then this is not going to be a very good speech at all.

Am I missing anything?’

Well, having read Obama’s speech, I don’t think he’s missed much.

As for the economic agenda, I’m guessing when you’re far enough Left and ideologically rigid as Obama often appears to be, not much is going to change.  He’s consistently brought the concerns of peace activists, environmentalists and labor unions to the fore at home, while investing in some of the dysfunction of the U.N. and hashtag diplomacy abroad.


‘You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else. We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it is taking place’

Does leading by example involve waiting on the U.N in Syria, emboldening Putin and Tehran’s interests by hedging on a redline, and sitting back while terrorists fill in the opposition? Does leading by example involve avoiding hard decisions and watching a long, protracted Civil War unfold, with Assad still hunkered down in power, using chemical weapons, while over a hundred thousands Syrian are dead? Does leading by example involve a humanitarian crisis in full bloom, destabilizing the region many times over, and posing new security threats for all of us?

Is that the kind example we want to set, even for ourselves?

Adam Garfinkle offered the Rhodes hypothesis‘ a little while back:

Rhodes is the main one, I believe, who either convinced or strongly reinforced the President’s intuition that the United States is vastly overinvested in the Middle East, that we need to pivot to Asia at the expense of our investments in the Middle East and Europe, that in the absence of traditional American “Cold War-era” leadership benign regional balances will form to keep the peace, and that the world is deep in normative liberalism and well beyond the grubby power politics of earlier eras.

All of this is very trendy and sounds “progressive” and smart, but, of course, it is mostly wrong.

What am I missing?

Addition: More from David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy here.

‘Further, as Obama has shown, the problems we face today cannot simply be addressed by undoing the mistakes of past American presidents. Genuine new thinking is needed. Precious little, unfortunately, was offered in the president’s West Point remarks.’

I’ve been referred to Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech to show the framework upon which he hangs his foreign policy. He’s been called a realist, or one who generally deals with the world as it is, not as he’d like it to be.  In the speech, Obama sets an expectation of using force against evil in the world if necessary. He’s willing to part company with Gandhi and MLK in the face of a genuine possible evil and the grim choices events may require.

Naive foreign policy is naive foreign policy.

I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which is the whole premise of this administration’s approach…blunt American power and incentivize Muslim societies to drive the extreme elements out through international cooperation: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Art & War-Detroit & Homs: Two Links

From The Detroit Free Press:

Notice the argument is still over how to divvy up the remains:

‘But others, including David Skeel, author of “Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America,” argue that Orr’s plan so clearly favors pensioners over other groups of creditors that it qualifies as unfair discrimination. “Giving pension beneficiaries nearly 100% of what they are owed, and bondholders less than 20%, is obvious discrimination,” Skeel wrote in this week’s edition of the Weekly Standard magazine’

A great nation deserves great art, and great unions, and public pension pay-outs, and more money and top-down solutions for schools, and more fairness and equality, and new New Deal programs, and more discussions about race, and a higher military budget, and more farm subsidies, and immigration reform, and more Clintons and Bushes and…

Your interest here:  _____________

Poor Detroit:


It looks like that Syrian Civil War is tipping back in Assad’s favor at the moment.  It’s a good thing we allowed Assad to buy himself some time, emboldened Putin, and sat back while  Islamists from all over the Muslim World and even from the West have filled-in.

From The Washington Post:

‘Syrian rebels began to evacuate their last footholds in the central city of Homs on Wednesday, departing under a deal loaded with poignancy for the opposition.

Hundreds of rebels boarded buses for the countryside north of the city after being allowed safe exit in a deal confirmed by both sides. Each fighter was allowed to carry one weapon and a bag of belongings.’

***A pretty damned good overview of Syria for the non-initiated, including what’s been going on since 2011 and the backstory at the thehowardbealeshow. Recommended. Really.

Related On This SiteMore Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

From the Daily, ‘cheap’ paper: How did Detroit get here?

Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.

More from Megan McArdle on the behavior that comes with pension bonuses.Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself?  See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’


More On The Washington Post, Technology and The Role Of The Media-Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘How The Post Was Lost’

Full piece here.

Is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post going to allow him to place the paper in your living room, or on your Kindle, or some other mobile device?


Bezos could attach the brand (if not the institution) to his ‘free cash flow‘ model, one which aims to be where you are and win your loyalty with great service and ease of use.   You may already be streaming movies online, downloading books to your Kindle, and having groceries shipped to your home.   With logistics, constant innovation, and by eschewing percentage margins, he’s kept Amazon elastic, and focused on you, the customer.

On the other hand, Bezos may also not be all that interested, or even able, to merge what he does best with the Washington Post and its obligations.  It could end up little more than a vanity purchase, one with a rather minimal $250 million price-tag, ending-up on the ash-heap like Newsweek.

The Post’s acquisition is apparently part of a longer, slower process, an old media model that’s been dying, and just about to die, for quite some time.  The more the old revenue streams and the old models dry-up (the online streams haven’t replaced them), the worse the journalism tends to be.  It’s been a death-spiral for many with skin in the game.

Ross Douthat’s answer is to suggest that the new technology has helped create a nationalized market for media outlets, and thus, the Washington Post couldn’t compete with Politico:

‘Today, though, it’s Politico rather than The Post that dominates the D.C. conversation, Politico rather than The Post that’s the must-read for Beltway professionals and politics junkies everywhere, and Politico rather than The Post that matches the metabolism of the Internet.’

He finishes with:

‘What Bezos can deliver, in other words, is a newspaper war, with clear and pressing stakes. For The Post to thrive again, Politico must lose.’

Is Politico the Post’s real competition?  To some degree, perhaps. 

Here’s Bill Virgin, discussing the failure of one of Seattle’s two dailies:

‘To put all the blame, or even the bulk of it, on those factors is not only too convenient, but also downright deceptive. It obscures a long-standing truth about this business: American newspapers have been and continue to be, as a sector, the worst-run of any industry in this country.

The Internet may have helped weaken the precipice upon which the newspaper industry was standing, and the recession may have given it a helpful stomp to send us into the chasm. But it was the industry itself that walked out onto a ledge of crumbling shale and stood waiting for it to collapse.’

What is it that journalists create of real value to people?  Facts and information?  Checks on politicians, local events, and corruption? Reinforcement of a political ideology and a worldview?

What is it that journalists’ seek?  Truth?  To practice their craft of writing and offer a public service? Career advancement?  Influence?

Addition:  Douthat has a follow-up here.

***Douthat mentions the British comedy ‘Yes, Prime Minister‘ as a source for who reads the Newspapers.


Here’s a good American version.

Related On This Site:  Jeff Bezos, Founder Of Amazon, Acquires The Washington Post

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

From The Washington Post: Charles Krauthammer-The Fierce Urgency Of Pork

Full article here. (Via RealClearPolitics)

Krauthammer was not impressed with how the Stimulus Package was looking as of Feb 6th:

“The product, which inevitably carries Obama’s name, was not just bad, not just flawed, but a legislative abomination.”

Why?  Because of all the pork.  As for Obama’s idealism, and his request that the American people give him a chance, Krauthammer points out the contradiction between the influence peddling and self-interested politics that Democrats piled on the bill (nothing new there)…

…with the lofty and perhaps naive idealism of their supporters.  But is that all there is to it?

“So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared “we have chosen hope over fear.” Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill.”

Apparently so.   He’s not much interested in getting on board the Obama express…:

“I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.


I have a friend who as the Iraq war publically soured, would periodically look out to the right to see how far away Krauthammer was…

Also On This SiteFrom Bloggingheads: Noam Scheiber And Matt Welch Discuss Obama’s Appeal To George Will And The RightHow Would Obama Respond To Milton Friedman’s Four Ways To Spend Money?Barack Obama President Elect: A Few Hopes From An Independent

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Francis Fukuyama At The Washington Post: They Can Only Go So Far

Full post here.

He responds to the recent edisode in Georgia, Russian and Chinese nationalism, and evaluates other global forces at work.

He also keeps distancing himself from the neocons and this adminstration’s missteps, and seems to now be acknowledging a more liberal, Fareed Zakaria-ish type of global liberal nationalism, but without the declinism: 

“We need a much more nuanced conceptual framework for understanding the non-democratic world if we are not to become prisoners of an imagined past. And we shouldn’t get excessively discouraged about the strength of our own ideas, even in a “post-American” world.”

See AlsoSo, Is America In Decline?Mikhail Gorbachev In The NY Times Op-Ed: Russia Never Wanted A WarEric Posner At The Volokh Conspiracy: The Bear Is Back!

New:  Charles Krauthammer From March 2006: Fukuyama’s Fantasy

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