Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Not Good

I suppose time will tell, after arguments and counter-arguments, more books, more evidence and spin. But I don't like the implications of this book, if true:

Mr. Nasr said that he refrained from publishing his new book before the United States election in November to avoid the impression that he was trying to meddle in the American political debate. “I did not want it to be a political book,” he said. 
Having returned to university life, Mr. Nasr said he thought it was important to provide his analysis of policy decisions to counter the view that the time for an activist foreign policy has past. 
And his verdict on the United States’ handling of the war he worked on at the State Department is harsh. “The precepts were how to make the conduct of this war politically safe for the administration rather than to solve the problem in a way that would protect America’s long-run national security interests,” he said.
There's a very lengthy excerpt from the book, here. (Requires free sign-up.) My inclination, of course, is to give President Obama a certain measure of doubt-benefit. The wars weren't his initial doing, and each presented nothing but impossible choices. Still, I'd have hoped, at minimum, that he'd have been able to collect a team that would rise above the clich├ęs of para-presidential power struggles and gamesmanship.

On the other hand, Barack Obama has said from the beginning that he'd end the war in Iraq, and he did; and he's said for years that combat will end by 2014 in Afghanistan, and that seems on track. Is the infighting and turf protection just another way of describing legitimate disagreement and back and forth argument? Is it the inevitable accompaniment to finding solutions to the solutionless? Is the writer embittered for not being closer to the center of it? I don't know.

It'd take a lot to convince me we'd have been better off with John McCain as president. But I still don't like reading it.

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