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View Diary: Michael Lewis/Vanity Fair: Obama's Way "The controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine." (70 comments)

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  •  I read the article over the weekend (14+ / 0-)

    It gives me a great deal of comfort to have seen Lewis' description of the calm, reasoned and confident way that President Obama makes these sorts of decisions.  In the Libya situation, he was given an option to do nothing, or to do something that would not achieve anything at all except to quiet critics who were calling for us to show our strength.  He refused to accept those options, and demanded an alternative that would actually permit the US to help in a meaningful way.  THAT is precisely what I want a Commander-in-Chief to do before he puts American lives at risk.

    Romney is so out of his league, it's pathetic.

    •  He refused to accept those options (10+ / 0-)

      Yeah, that was stuck out for me in Lewis's Maddow appearance. The fact that he was give an easy out and threw it back, saying, (approximately)"try again. You've got two hours".
      Experienced Foreign Policy hands ran two models, do nothing or CYA, through the political calculator and presented them as the only options. The Politician rejected the political expedient and called on their real expertise to come up with a real plan.
      And the fact that it was done so low key, so consensus, so cooperatively, even with the Russians in the loop, that is the essence of diplomacy, the high point of handling foreign affairs. Where does a community organizer/state senator/Jr Senator come up with that kind of Foreign Policy chops?
      Compare and contrast: Rmoney in England, Poland and Israel last month.
      We can not let Rmoney be elected.

      •  i think there is more to the decision than lewis (1+ / 0-)
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        let's on...

        What do you call it when the full force of a US/NATO aerial bombardment is coupled with political support for a ragtag rebel group that, when victorious, promises to hand over its oil resources to its Western backers? A war for oil.

        Don’t believe for one moment that the US backing for Libya’s opposition was about freedom.

        Flouting international law and going far beyond the UN resolution that permitted a limited military effort to protect civilians in Benghazi, a decision that was promoted by human rights advocates inside the White House and by certain misguided liberals such as Juan Cole, the Obama administration is in the final stages of imposing forcible regime change against the Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi. It was an operation gleefully backed by the kleptocrats of the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, none of whom like freedom very much, but who engineered the Arab League endorsement of the attack on Libya.

        Robert Dreyfuss writing in The Nation
        U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the former chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, told MSNBC, however, that a primary reason for intervention was oil.

        "We're in Libya because of oil," he said. "And I think both Japan and the nuclear technology and Libya and this dependence that we have upon imported oil have both once again highlighted the need for the United States to have a renewable energy agenda going forward."

        Markey earlier said U.S. President Barack Obama was right to back the Security Council resolution permitting the use of force in Libya. This, he said, was consistent with U.S. commitments to helping the people meet their political aspirations.

        "But it all goes back to the 5 million barrels of oil that we import from (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) on a daily basis," he told MSNBC.

        The International Energy Agency said it could be "many months" before Libyan crude returns to the market. Libya before the war was responsible for slightly more than 4 percent of the OPEC's output.

        (Democratic Senator James Webb made similar points in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.)

        Glenn Greenwald's take on this is, as always, instructive.

        No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

        by No Exit on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 09:09:11 AM PDT

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        •  so Lewis is lying for the President (3+ / 0-)

          he left out the President's discussions with his advisors on how we didn't need to save a million people as much as five million barrels of oil?

          That may be the truth, but you can't quote people not in the room to refute what someone else experienced in person and expect that to carry the burden of persuasion.

          •  I wonder if that's what President Obama (4+ / 0-)

            saw on the cable news when he walked into the room?

            On the leather sofa beside me were the five newspapers that are laid out for him every time he travels. “In every one of those someone is saying something nasty about you,” I said to him. “You turn on the television and you could find people being even nastier. If I’m president, I’m thinking, I’ll just walk around pissed off all the time, looking for someone to punch.”

            He shook his head. He doesn’t watch cable news, which he thinks is genuinely toxic. One of his aides told me that once, thinking the president otherwise occupied, he’d made the mistake of switching the Air Force One television from ESPN, which Obama prefers, to a cable news show. The president walked into the room and watched a talking head explain knowingly to his audience why he, Obama, had taken some action. “Oh, so that’s why I did it,” said Obama, and walked out. Now he said, “One of the things you realize fairly quickly in this job is that there is a character people see out there called Barack Obama. That’s not you. Whether it is good or bad, it is not you. I learned that on the campaign.” Then he added, “You have to filter stuff, but you can’t filter it so much you live in this fantasyland.”

            I'm old enough to remember the days when television news reported facts, not a bunch of talking heads interpretation of the facts. Oh, the good ole days.

            “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

            by hungrycoyote on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 10:43:38 AM PDT

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            •  i agree with him that cable news is toxic (0+ / 0-)

              i never watch it myself.

              i absolutely do not buy the argument that oil played no role in this decision.  there is too much circumstantial evidence of a strong desire amongst western oil companies to remove qaddafi.  it benefited too many of the usual suspects, too greatly, and obama's too smart not to know it.  plus, we already know he's largely adopted a militaristic approach to terrorism, like bush, and like bush, he's shown himself willing to be aggressive in the military sense.

              there's a lot of injustice in africa these days that i'm not seeing any us military action on...

              so forgive me if i don't take michael lewis's new, and very opportunistically timed, hagiography to obama as the final word.  between lewis and my own lying eyes...  it's simply too convenient and one sided.  if i'm wrong, i'd love for someone to post excerpts.  as you can imagine, i won't be buying it.

              i think our standing army has proven itself too tempting to our lords and ladies and i'd feel better if we took it away and let'em try to draft an army as needed.

              No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

              by No Exit on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:25:23 PM PDT

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            •  i think obama is skilled enough to feed lewis (0+ / 0-)

              whatever narrative he wants to come out and that lewis may be enamored enough of access journalism to take it and run with it.

              I very much approve of this;

              Says another person at the meeting, “He seems very much to want to hear from people. Even when he’s made up his mind he wants to cherry-pick the best arguments to justify what he wants to do.”
              but it cuts the other way if you are suggesting that we would have intervened in Libya had it been contrary to the interests of Big Oil or our own geopolitical interests.

              No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

              by No Exit on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:56:11 PM PDT

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              •  just to be clear, i'm not saying there weren't (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                legitimate concerns about genocide and perhaps a genuine desire to do something "good."  it just so happens, it's also in the perceived personal interests of many a plutocrat.

                lewis's article seems to be written very carefully and argue largely from anecdotes, much of appearing on the surface to be self serving.

                i can't believe no one brought up geopolitical interests at any of these meeting, yet, Lewis fails to include any discussion of anything other than noble purposes as if by not mentioning them, they weren't persuasive to the president.

                there's no discussion relayed by Lewis of the fact that intervening in Libya was in contravention of the War Powers Act as stated clearly on the record by Candidate Obama.

                i don't think the evidence supports the thesis that this was solely a humanitarian mission motivated from the deep love of democracy harbored in the bosom of our ruling class...

                it was an interesting read nonetheless and consistent with my already warm feelings towards him as a person.

                No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

                by No Exit on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 02:11:24 PM PDT

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