NYT: Obama overruled Hillary Clinton, foreign-policy advisers on Mubarak

posted at 1:21 pm on September 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

How did we get to the point where neither a US President nor Egypt’s head of state can tell whether the two nations are allies?  It all started in February 2011, according to an in-depth look by the New York Times — or perhaps the summer of 2009.  Obama missed an opportunity to get behind the Green Revolution in Iran to avoid “meddling,” and later regretted his decision to play it safe in case the mullahs wanted to talk.  The next time out, Obama insisted that the US had to act to support unrest.

Unfortunately, the next time out involved a long-time American ally, as Obama’s own team tried to explain without success:

If this were Hollywood, the story of Barack Obama and the Arab Spring would end there, with the young American president standing with the protesters against the counsel of his own advisers, and hastening the end of the entrenched old guard in Egypt. In the Situation Room, Mr. Gates, Admiral Mullen, Jeffrey D. Feltman, then an assistant secretary of state, and others balked at the inclusion in Mr. Obama’s planned remarks that Mr. Mubarak’s “transition must begin now,” arguing that it was too aggressive.

Mr. Mubarak had steadfastly stood by the United States in the face of opposition from his own public, they said. The president, officials said, countered swiftly: “If ‘now’ is not in my remarks, there’s no point in me going out there and talking.”

John O. Brennan, chief counterterrorism adviser to Mr. Obama, said the president saw early on what others did not: that the Arab Spring movement had legs. “A lot of people were in a state of denial that this had an inevitability to it,” Mr. Brennan said in an interview. “And I think that’s what the president clearly saw, that there was an inevitability to it that would clearly not be turned back, and it would only be delayed by suppression and bloodshed.”

So “now” stayed in Mr. Obama’s statement. Ten days later, Mr. Mubarak was out. Even after the president’s remarks, Mrs. Clinton was still publicly cautioning that removing Mr. Mubarak too hastily could threaten the country’s transition to democracy.

However, there were consequences to this decision, as well as the decision to pressure the military into early elections.  That meant that the only group well organized to contest elections was the Muslim Brotherhood, which now controls both the government and the military.  Instead of having a friendly nation keeping the peace and a military aligned with the US, we now have a questionable ally controlled by a group that wants to capture Jerusalem for Islam.  That’s why Mohamed Morsi didn’t do much to stop the rioting outside the embassy in Cairo until the US finally and publicly demanded some action.

Perhaps that’s because of Obama’s style of diplomacy, which the Times describes as rather aloof.  Jim Geraghty picked up on this as well:

  • The tensions between Mr. Obama and the Gulf states, both American and Arab diplomats say, derive from an Obama character trait: he has not built many personal relationships with foreign leaders. “He’s not good with personal relationships; that’s not what interests him,” said one United States diplomat. “But in the Middle East, those relationships are essential. The lack of them deprives D.C. of the ability to influence leadership decisions.”
  • Arab officials echo that sentiment, describing Mr. Obama as a cool, cerebral man who discounts the importance of personal chemistry in politics. “You can’t fix these problems by remote control,” said one Arab diplomat with long experience in Washington. “He doesn’t have friends who are world leaders. He doesn’t believe in patting anybody on the back, nicknames.“You can’t accomplish what you want to accomplish” with such an impersonal style, the diplomat said.

This same criticism sparked a heated debate between Joe Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe today.  Scarborough lost patience when Brzezinski tried to dispute the NYT’s point, while Scarborough connected the dots:

“I’m not sure what your criticism is,” Brzezinski said.

“My criticism is that he hasn’t done the job that a commander-in-chief needs to do,” Scarborough replied.

“So he’s weak on foreign policy?” Brzezinski added. “You’re really going to say that?”

Scarborough immediately dismissed Brzezinski’s defense of Obama, and pointed out that even the liberal-leaning New York Times was willing to criticize his diplomatic abilities.

“Mika, I didn’t say that,” Scarborough shot back. “If you’re going to jump in to try to defend a defenseless president, please get it right. What I’m talking about right here is what this New York Times is writing, he doesn’t build personal relationships. That’s hurt us in Washington. It’s why we have gridlock in Washington and it’s why we have a mess in the Middle East. Whether you’re talking about Bill Clinton, the guy who was the master — he was the master, Bill Clinton. George H.W. Bush. They weren’t afraid to talk to other politicians and leaders in the way that built relationships. So, when there was time of crisis, you know what?”

The results of Obama’s diplomacy are on display for all to see. Even the New York Times is now reaching the obvious conclusion.

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If Mitt wins in 2012, don’t you think Obama will run again in 2016?

Paul-Cincy on September 25, 2012 at 1:55 PM

The SCOAMF loses by 4 – 6% on November 6th, the Clintons & the LSM start the smearing him big time on November 7th.

The SCOAMF losing by that much likely flips the Senate, holds the House Republican and the Pelosi/Reid reign comes to an end.

The SCOAMF has not built the personal relationships with ANY politicians to support a 2016 run.

If the SCOAMF loses in a landslide, which I believe is possible, on November 7th the LSM will turn on him like a school of piranha because he will literally have destroyed the Democratic Party with down ticket losses.

PolAgnostic on September 25, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Wow! Two “Bishops” on one thread. I have never done that before.


PolAgnostic on September 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Again a topic from a position of naivete. Obama ‘can’t tell’? Nonsense. He’s most deliberately cast Egypt loose to serve as a seed crystal for the resurrection of the Caliphate. Abdel Nassir’s dream of pan-arab nationalism coming to fruition ~60yrs later, aided by a marxist deconstructionist President busily and DELIBERATELY tearing down all the status quo ante power structures, so the ‘victims’ can get on top.
When is the punditsphere going to pull their heads out about the motivations and methods of the collectivists?

rayra on September 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Ultimate Bob, yes, I fully agree. Obama is a classic case of NDP, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

He probably moved into this as a young boy, and by now, has only narcissistic tactics of relating to the world; namely, by misinforming others (he’s a pathological liar) and by emotional manipulation. And he’s a master at both; he’s learned that he can say anything – all he has to do is say it with that ‘aw shucks tone and mega-smile and people swoon in front of him. Oh, and if they don’t, Obama will turn his back and walk away from them. You are either His, or you don’t exist. Literally.

Obama, as a narcissist, must feel in control. He is unable to interact with the external world of hard facts and other people because these facts, these people, might ‘overpower’ him. He must feel that he controls this world outside of him. So, he long ago moved into a virtual world, an imaginary world, where reality exists only as he says it. Got that? Obama’s world is defined within the Words Obama speaks.

So, if he says there is no terrorism, or refuses to use the word, both of which he now does….then, terrorism does not exist! By changing it to ‘man-caused disasters’, terrorism does not exist!If he says that ‘the private sector is doing fine’, then…

Obama speaks to an audience with one purpose only, to manipulate them into adulation, into his control. His words have absolutely no reference to reality and therefore, what he says one day, he will contradict the next day.

Obama has no problem with these contrary statements; if you object, then, you’re the one with the problem. So, if you object to the high unemployment, he’ll shrug and say that ‘it could be worse’; if you object to the high price of gas’, he’ll tell you to put air in your tires or travel less or walk to work. In other words, the onus is on you. Not him.

Obama is not ‘cool’ or cerebral. As a clinical narcissist, he is unable to feel empathy with others. He literally cannot feel with them because he cannot reduce his need to control to be equal to them and thus, feel with them.

All you have to do is check out his past history, the minimalist amount that is known and not sealed from the public, and you’ll see how he never ‘got into reality’. Just as he, as President, doesn’t involve himself with developing policies and programs (he leaves that to others), all his previous jobs were similar.

He was not involved in the realities of the work, whether as editor of the Harvard Law Review (no editing, no articles); or as a lecturer (no mentoring of students, no research articles); or as community organizer (you just order the minions to work); or as a member of Senate (voting present). And as President, missing most of the Intelligence Reports – and privately skimming the report on an Ipad is not the same as asking questions of the administrators; or passing the buck to Bill Clinton to explain the policies; or leaving all policies to Pelosi, Reid and others..

A narcissist won’t accept blame. Obama will blame Congress, ignoring that the Democrats controlled it for four years, the last two of Bush and the first two of his); blame Bush, blame the tsunami, the Japanese, the EU, the…whatever. He’s great at dividing the population; they are easier to control – so, women, ethnics, class divisions are a major manipulative tactic.

And, heh, there’s always, always, that handy manipulative tactic of Race. Obama is never shy of using that, whether it be to inform you that he doesn’t look like the faces on US currency, or that he grew up ‘not feeling that he belonged’.

The problem is, it’s hard to confront such a pathology in a political manner. How do you deal with someone who is a pathological liar and yet, is the POTUS? What about during a debate? Do you constantly rebut every sentence he says? What do you do when he spends all his time campaigning, going on pop culture shows…and smiles that mega-smile, as he tells you that he can’t remember the amount of the US debt (Letterman show)?

ETAB on September 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Obama’s approach to personal relationships is typical of the narcissist.

crosspatch on September 25, 2012 at 3:15 PM

That John Brennan guy is a hot mess. He’s the one who said the Muslim Brotherhood is secular. He seems to causing a lot of harm in his position.

juliesa on September 25, 2012 at 3:16 PM

I agree with pretty much every post on this thread so far.

Some good insights.

SparkPlug on September 25, 2012 at 3:17 PM

ETAB on September 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Well done.

SparkPlug on September 25, 2012 at 3:20 PM

This what you get when your CEO has never run a lemon aide stand, much less a small business, much less a country.

Experience, what you need right before you get it.

Kind of sad that I believed the Libyan President over our president about the consulate attack…and am proven right.

jukin3 on September 25, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Obama is not cool; Obama is not an intellectual. Obama is a clinical narcissist. That means that he’s unable to have personal relations with others; he can’t deal with other people as equals.
ETAB on September 25, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Agree in spades.
This is why I always wonder why people insist they’d like to sit and have a beer with Obie.

marybel on September 25, 2012 at 3:24 PM

“But in the Middle East, those relationships are essential. The lack of them deprives D.C. of the ability to influence leadership decisions.”

Spot on. The culture is completely different. You attack problems in their fashion, not ours, IF you want to succeed.

The “Smartest Man in the World” is a conceited idiot, and will accomplish nothing in the mid-east.

GarandFan on September 25, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Yep, Obama pulled a Jimmy Carter on Mubarak.

I’m sure Obama is very proud of the up-evil he has fomented in the Middle East.

Axion on September 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM

It all started in February 2011, according to an in-depth look by the New York Times — or perhaps the summer of 2009

It started November 20th, 2009.

Youngs98 on September 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

ETAB on September 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Nicely put.

CorporatePiggy on September 25, 2012 at 3:35 PM

“What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.” – Lord Melbourne

TeresainFortWorth on September 25, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Yup, it’s the narcissism. Remember his comment about China and how much easier it would be for him to get things done if he were a dictator?

Remember his complaining about being expected to interact with congressmen from Podunk?

Remember various sources describing him as always thinking he’s the smartest guy in the room?

This guy doesn’t DO relationship-building. He doesn’t need anyone else. In his mind, he is the be-all-and-end-all, and the entire world should just crown him its Forever King and be done with it.

And yet there are still people (some here at HA) who believe there is no difference between Romney and Obama.

At least Romney is sane.

Meredith on September 25, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Here’s my theory, he doesn’t build relationships because he knows he’s in way over his head and he also figures, the more time foreign leaders spend with him, the sooner they’ll figure it out also. I’m sure Hillary, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have figured it out also, but they didn’t care because they knew they could play him when they had all the power.

The biggest fear I have is that he’ll play the same game with a world leader as he did with John Boehner, only with great consequences. Can November come soon enough?

bflat879 on September 25, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Let me be clear Barack …

You built that.

And thus it’s your hot mess to defend. Nice record, for bollixing it all up.

notta_dhimmi on September 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Obama’s biggest foreign policy accomplishment was to turn Egypt over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Axion on September 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Obama’s biggest foreign policy accomplishment was to turn Egypt over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Axion on September 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

And even that will be EASILY overshadowed if Israel does not destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

riddick on September 25, 2012 at 6:31 PM

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