Which One of Us Is Delusional?

 

I don’t believe that the geopolitical instability we’re seeing now is entirely Obama’s fault. There is a limit to what American power can accomplish. But I found his interview with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes terrifying. If you haven’t watched it, I don’t quite have the right words to describe it, so I suggest you do.

That the administration doesn’t realize how terrifyingly out-of-touch he sounded — and is promoting the most-ridiculed moment of it — is likewise terrifying: Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.40.39 Chris Christie summed up a few — only a few — of the reasons to feel puzzlement about this comment:

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) assailed the foreign policy of President Obama in an interview Friday, calling the commander in chief “delusional.”

“I mean, Syria is on fire, Iraq is on fire, Egypt is under martial law, Yemen is on fire, Lebanon is on fire with Hezbollah and Hamas shooting rockets into Israel, and he has put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons,” Christie said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends.”

“That’s leadership?” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate added. “That’s success?”

“If he thinks that’s successful foreign policy then maybe he should do all of us a favor [and] start building his library now and leave office early.”

Christie added that he finds Obama’s repeated defense of his decisions in Syria disheartening, given the deteriorating situation there. “It’s a success that 250,000 people have been murdered at the hands of their own government?” he asked, citing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fight with rebel factions.

“It’s a success that millions of people are running for their lives to other countries in the Middle East and Europe?” Christie also asked, referencing the ongoing flood of refugees fleeing Syria.

And that’s only a part of it, isn’t it.

“Success” may not be a reasonable way to put things: It’s not at all clear to me that the United States could put all these fires out; it is certainly not the fault of the United States that 250,000 people have been murdered in the Syrian civil war. But Obama’s intimation that none of this is really cause for American alarm — and that we should be glad he’s leading on climate change — really does sound actively delusional.

I’m looking at the news with my hands over my eyes these days. Either I’m out of my mind, or the President of the United States is.

I hope it’s me.

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Current Russian weakness is overestimated.   They suffer from the low price of oil, which inhibits Putin’s ability for even more aggressive adventuring.

    And any real Russian weakness is economic only.   Putin has led a resurgence of Russian resolve and has invigorated the old Soviet enthusiasm for swaggering on the world stage.

    • #31
  2. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Titus,
    From your perch in Europe, you have no idea of the complete lack of trust Obama has among a sector of the electorate. The conservatives here on Ricochet are tame compared to a significant minority on the right. The media doesn’t report it like they did the antiwar left during the GWB administration, but it is just as large and even more passionate. These people own guns, are prepping with food and hard assets like gold, and listen to Alex Jones and frequent infowars.com. The probability of American armed rebellion is higher now than since the civil war.

    • #32
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    5. Is there any doubt Mr. Obama is a gentleman when it comes to old enemies or current enemies? Treating them with kid gloves & all?

    6. Gentlemanship in politics is not about raising one’s hat to the ladies or being careful of one’s conduct so as to not cause offense. It is about presuming on good intentions, to speak very briefly. That explains a lot of the conduct to friends & enemies alike.

    • #33
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Z in MT:Titus, From your perch in Europe, you have no idea of the complete lack of trust Obama has among a sector of the electorate. The conservatives here on Ricochet are tame compared to a significant minority on the right. The media doesn’t report it like they did the antiwar left during the GWB administration, but it is just as large and even more passionate. These people own guns, are prepping with food and hard assets like gold, and listen to Alex Jones and frequent infowars.com. The probability of American armed rebellion is higher now than since the civil war.

    Please, do not presume on my ignorance, if for no other reason, then because we are not on intimate terms. I am aware of the terrible anger on the right. I agree with you–it is accurately described as the sentiment of a significant minority on the right. Whether this even qualifies as a significant minority in American politics is unclear even now. I agree with the terrible comparison with the anti-war hysteria on the left.

    I am aware of the audience of Mr. Jones & would add that radio talk show hosts sometimes resemble him.

    As for the armed rebellion, I doubt it, perhaps fatuously, but that has nothing to do with the foreign policy discussion & the relation of the president to the people.

    Do you believe the American electorate is showing serious signs of anger at Mr. Obama, for his foreign policy?

    • #34
  5. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Titus Techera:In defense of Mr. Obama, he is right about the weakness of the Russian economy & about the risks Mr. Putin is taking. He is a gangster with various abilities, but he is not much of a leader. Anger at Mr. Obama should not transform into this kind of fatalism–as of yet, Mr. Putin has made no solid conquests. I believe we are agreed that if Mr. Putin has any strategy, it is long term with short shocks now & then. That is, to say the least, a vulnerable kind of strategy. A future president with determination & skill could undo the gains of recent years without going to war.

    Mr. Obama is not a leader either, but he has a country behind him, because he is for the most part a decent man & a lawful politician. These advantages matters especially because American public opinion has not turned on him as it did on Mr. W. Bush. That makes a significant difference. The next president of America seems likely to enter office without a crisis or great tumults among the people he will have been elected to lead. There will be serious tumults, lots of them to do with Russia, & the next president will have to face them, but there is no cause for despair.

    Hopefully, your countrymen will elect a better leader–but I look at the GOP field & I am not sure how. If Sen. Rubio is Mr. Foreign Policy, you have party troubles you are not facing squarely…

    –  Russia’s economy was weak when they were known as the USSR also and that didn’t make them less of a threat, possibly more of one.

    – Ukraine may disagree with your assertion that Russia has “made no solid conquests”.  Crimea definitely would.

    –  Putin’s strategy is to set up Russia for long term influence in the Middle East.  I don’t think he is thinking short term shock and awe.  Russia/Syria/Iran controlling the region and opposing U.S interests is the goal.

    –  Obama has alienated at least half of the country and is the least bipartisan president ever.  Maybe it isn’t apparent there how divisive this Obama is.  He doesn’t even attempt to build consensus through persuasion but immediately resorts to belittling and insults.

    –  You would have to show me evidence that Obama is a “decent man” and can still ignore Christians being slaughtered around the globe while proclaiming climate change to be a pressing issue.

    –  “Lawful politician” implies he doesn’t thwart the law at every turn, bypass Congress by going to the UN, and attempt to rule by fiat if he can’t get what he wants.

    • #35
  6. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    This IS success for Mr Obama.  His goals have been obvious all along, to diminish the USA while promoting socialism and Islamic radicalism worldwide.
    So who’s delusional?  Anyone who fails to see this obvious truth.  Considering how well he has done this while keeping his cover and job as POTUS, one has to have a great deal of admiration for his political skills.

    • #36
  7. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Do you think he or the administration realize, deep down, that things aren’t going well?

    His face in that interview certainly suggested that at some level, he knows.

    Things are going well for Obama.  His priority in foreign policy is disentangling America from its disruptive foreign engagements which have caused grave harm and instability.  That is precisely what he has been doing in the Middle East.  While he might prefer some tactically different outcomes (a less successful Russia; correcting the historical mistake around the creation of Israel) his primary strategic goal is being accomplished.  This disengagement is essential towards his most important goal; allowing America to fix its problems at home.

    • #37
  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Titus Techera: Mr. Obama is not a leader either, but he has a country behind him, because he is for the most part a decent man & a lawful politician. These advantages matters especially because American public opinion has not turned on him as it did on Mr. W. Bush.

    The president has the country behind him the way a donkey might drag a travois — over a cliff. The people elected him (twice) because they were so desirous of “ending” war(s), which we’re only likely to have more of now. Pacifism in the face of evil is a foolish, foolish philosophy.

    I strongly disagree with your observations about the two presidents. I’d say Mr. Obama has the appearance of a decent man and lawful politician — to many people. I believe he is the exact opposite of those things. At every turn, he’s used people (intimates — his own grandmother!) and then disposed of them when they’re no longer politically helpful. He exercises a breathtaking lawlessness which would have precipitated constitutional crises and impeachment except that the media very effectively deploys an impenetrable shield of race over him.

    George W actually was and is a decent man and law-abiding politician. America may survive to regret the Obama presidency, but I have no doubt we will regret it.

    • #38
  9. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    References to economic size as strength are misguided.

    Size does not mean robustness. Overall size does not equal the amount of effort that can be mobilized.

    Our economy may be closer to the edge in terms of bubbles bursting, etc. The smaller Russian economy, with much high profit resource extraction may give the Russians more available funds to play with.

    • #39
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I watched the interview last night and felt the same way – I just shook my head when Steve Croft fired his dismal record at him and he brought up climate change – I noted the blazing eyes at Steve Croft along with the statement to him “What else you got?”, like he was in the corner of a boxing ring – his answers were vague and not unexpected – another disturbing segment was the question about the emails – it garnered no more than “she apologized, and no security information was compromised” – like swatting a fly off his sleeve – wow! Yet there is a major investigation taking place, so I guess the fact that she apologized wasn’t enough.

    He has always been surrounded by people who do not believe in America leading with strength – they march to a different drum. No mention of the Christian persecution, the refugees – the Middle East fires started under Hillary, and continue under Kerry. None of this was happening under our last president – and Putin was forced to withdraw from Georgia back then.

    His last statement that he thinks he would be elected for a third term – my husband said “he has a very high opinion of himself”.  No we cannot save the world, put troops into all situations – yet Putin is propping up Assad and he says Assad needs to go? Titus said above, that he’s like Pres. Wilson – sleight of hand – agree – and out of touch.  Claire – what is the opinion of the European leadership?

    • #40
  11. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Titus Techera: Is there any doubt Mr. Obama is a gentleman when it comes to old enemies or current enemies? Treating them with kid gloves & all?

    He seems to me to be a strange delusional combination of narcissism and naivety.

    • #41
  12. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Titus Techera: we were all –except fool me– proud of Nixon opening China.

    I’ve often wondered if that was the US’ biggest 20th-century geopolitical mistake.

    • #42
  13. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Concretevol:

    Titus Techera: Is there any doubt Mr. Obama is a gentleman when it comes to old enemies or current enemies? Treating them with kid gloves & all?

    He seems to me to be a strange delusional combination of narcissism and naivety.

    To some extent, despite technically being a boomer, he really may be our first millenial president.

    His mom was a proto-hippie and had him early.

    His affirmative action free-ride through life may be similar to the self-esteem culture that pervades millenials.

    • #43
  14. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    I’m looking at the news with my hands over my eyes these days. Either I’m out of my mind, or the President of the United States is.

    C’mon, Claire.  You know which clause is true.

    • #44
  15. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Titus Techera: 5. Is there any doubt Mr. Obama is a gentleman when it comes to old enemies or current enemies? Treating them with kid gloves & all?

    Foreign enemies, maybe.  He’s certainly not a gentleman to his political opponents.

    I think it could be argued the kid glove treatment of foreign enemies is less gentlemanly behavior and more naivety and delusion.

    • #45
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Front Seat Cat: Claire – what is the opinion of the European leadership?

    I don’t know what the real impression is. Formally, no European leader is going to say, “We can’t stand him.” I have no sense that any European leader has a big-picture vision. France is busy trying to stay relevant by taking the Wednesday-morning shift on the busy international schedule for bombing one or another faction in Syria. Germany is wondering what it’s going to do with all its new Syrian Germans who aren’t sure how to use a flush toilet. Cameron is trying to figure out a way to get out of Europe but somehow still be relevant to it — not working — and the rest of Europe still doesn’t have a phone number.

    • #46
  17. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Tiberius chose Caligula in the hope that people would look back and miss him as the leader of better times. No matter who succeeds Obama, many will say, ” In His time, we didn’t have so much expense, mayhem, terrorism, unpopular self-assertion. Iran, Russia, China all thought we were nicer…”

    Or, to bend another analogy, the meal was delightful till the check came. That spoiled everything and brought my review of the restaurant down to one star.

    • #47
  18. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    Claire

    It’s funny that you use the word delusional.

    Over the weekend we saw this editorial from the NY Post headlined “Obama will be the only person sticking to Iran deal”. Choice data from the editorial tells us that Iran is so dismissive of the deal that it hasn’t even translated it into Farsi and our European “allies” believe that it is all, and only, about lifting sanctions which they have already done.

    So Obama, and Obama alone, now thinks he has a deal with the Iranians and Europeans.

    He reminds me of King Chunute sitting at the Channel willing the tide not to rise.

    Mention the word détente and you see Nixon and Kissenger, Glostnost and you see Gorbechav, trust but verify and you see Reagan. And now, delusional and you see Obama.

    • #48
  19. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Owen Findy: C’mon, Claire.  You know which clause is true.

    I thought the gaslighting video Seawriter posted was insightful. Yes, I basically do, but I have moments when I think — what am I missing, here?

    • #49
  20. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Seawriter: It’s not you Claire.

    That’s an effective video.

    But it would be much better to think it’s me and that I’m over-reacting.

    It would be pretty to think so.

    Seawriter

    • #50
  21. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Kozak: President Barack Obama: Well– Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in, in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.

    I wonder if he would have said something similar about the Germans going into Poland.

    Obama has to be hoping that Russia’s long term is sooner than the long term of America ceding its leadership in the world.

    • #51
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time:  As far as I know, anthropogenic global warming is real and it’s worth doing something about it.  Nothing that AGW can do to us is nearly as bad as the damage that an Obama will cause, though.

    An anti-science person like Obama is the last person who should be trusted on this issue, especially given that there are all these other issues that you listed.

    • #52
  23. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: But it would be much better to think it’s me and that I’m over-reacting.

    First: I think you are over-reacting.  I think there’s just too much over-reacting these days.  Let’s keep our wittiness about us.

    Number B:  The more interesting thing in that interview is Obama on Trump and Obama on Biden.  His perception of what politics is and what the Presidency is and really Obama’s entire worldview are contained in those answers.

    • #53
  24. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    One of the things that worries me is the news we’re not getting. As bad as things seem right now, I’m convinced they’re actually much worse, and that news is being spiked by a media that’s trying desperately to make Obama look good.

    It’s true that whoever takes office after him is going to have a huge mess to clean up. Obama likes to continue to blame George Bush for everything that’s wrong, but the next President will be fully justified in blaming Obama.

    • #54
  25. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Mark: This disengagement is essential towards his most important goal; allowing America to fix its problems at home.

    And if anyone knows how to fix them, it’s Obama. I understand “Cash for Clunkers” might make a comeback, and solve our fiscal and environmental problems all at once. Or maybe we need a bigger stimulus. Killing a couple more school voucher programs, putting women into combat in the Marines, closing the coal plants, etc.

    I’d rather he spent his time on foreign adventurism.

    • #55
  26. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Front Seat Cat: No we cannot save the world, put troops into all situations

    I think we can put troops into all situations, if we limit it to putting 4 or 5 troops into each and every trouble spot, as we have done with the force that we trained for the Free Syrian Army.

    • #56
  27. Michael Sanregret Inactive
    Michael Sanregret
    @TheQuestion

    Valiuth:I was listening to a PBS interview with Gary Kasparov and some former Obama State Department guy (Sorry I don’t recall his name). Kasparov had through out the show maintained that Obama’s foreign policy actions have been disastrous and have only encouraged Putin’s aggression and meddling. The State Department guy then gave what I considered to be the most insane summation of the geopolitical situation I have ever heard. I will paraphrase it for you all.

    President Obama has been a great strategic thinker, just look at the world. Russia is weak, we have tricked them into invading and annexing the Crimea and Easter Ukraine (this is bad for them). Now Obama has let them invade Syria, which is a brilliant thing because it proves they are desperate to hold on to their empire. They pose no challenge because now they are locked into two war that will be unpopular in Russia and drain their economic resources. We don’t need to do anything differently we are already wining.

    This guy is no longer part of the Administration, but he was part of it and if he is remotely representative of who is left, they are in full denial mode over there. They are trying to spin this all as some kind of master plan. We have another year of this to endure.

    That is in complete agreement with what Obama said in the interview with Steve Kroft.

    • #57
  28. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    I agree that Obama is delusional. His personality defects were on full display during this interview.

    When he has no good answer to why things are falling apart, he changes the definition of success and hopes no one notices. Imagine if back in his “red line” days when asked about what his intentions were regarding Syria and the 200,000 dead and millions of displaced persons he had said, “Not important. I’m focusing on climate change.” “ISIS? They are not helping in the battle against climate change.” “Crimea? Perhaps we can discuss it during a break at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.” “School shootings? I’m so tired of having to talk about this when I should be leading on climate change.”

    Then he engages in a tu quoque. “My critics are the same people who wanted to go into Iraq. They never ask what is in our national interest.” What? Are you delusional? Yes, you are. Not, are they wrong now, but they were wrong (as he sees it) 14 years ago.

    Is the world a safer place? “America is.” Deflection. Not true, but also not an answer to the question.

    “The fight against ISIS will not succeed until all the parties in Syria get together and work things out.”  That is what Putin will accomplish. He will eliminate the other parties until Assad and ISIS are left standing, and then the fight against ISIS can proceed in earnest, with Russia and Iran controlling the region.

    • #58
  29. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Front Seat Cat: Claire – what is the opinion of the European leadership?

    I don’t know what the real impression is. Formally, no European leader is going to say, “We can’t stand him.” I have no sense that any European leader has a big-picture vision. France is busy trying to stay relevant by taking the Wednesday-morning shift on the busy international schedule for bombing one or another faction in Syria. Germany is wondering what it’s going to do with all its new Syrian Germans who aren’t sure how to use a flush toilet. Cameron is trying to figure out a way to get out of Europe but somehow still be relevant to it — not working — and the rest of Europe still doesn’t have a phone number.

    Good grief…..Sounds like our leadership aren’t the only ones fumbling….I’m sorry that upon his election and big bru-ha in Germany afterward, Obama’s version of hope and change wasn’t the definition they were looking for – neither were we.

    • #59
  30. SteveSc Member
    SteveSc
    @SteveSc

    Great article and discussion, Claire.

    • #60
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