Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Obama's Flip-Flop LeadershipStyle
By Dilip HiroPosted on May 27, 2010, Printed on July 27, 2010http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175254/
Note for TomDispatch Readers:
Several past TD posts might be of interest for those delving into Dilip Hiro’s provocative piece on American power in the Obamaera: Tony Karon’s “Israel Won’t Change Unless the Status Quo Has a Downside,” Ira Chernus’s “Blood or Treasure? Obama’s Crucial Choice in the Middle East,”and my own recent piece, “Obama’s Flailing Wars.” Note as well a small victoryin the Arctic -- and Washington. On Tuesday, TD posted Subhankar Banerjee’s“BPing the Arctic.” It was at the leading edge of a rising tide of warnings about Shell Oil’s plans to drill for oil this summer in Alaska's Arctic waters, anecologically rich but particularly extreme off-shore environment. Now, the Obamaadministration is reportedly announcing a suspension of exploratory oil drillingthere until at least 2011. The next TomDispatch post will appear on Tuesday, June1st, after the Memorial Day weekend.
]What do you make of it when Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystalnow refers to the only significant offensive he’s set in motion -- the attempt to drivethe Taliban out of Marjah, a collection of villages in Helmand Province -- as “ableeding ulcer”? Or what about his upcoming summer “offensive” to drive theTaliban out of the second largest Afghan city, Kandahar, which has recently beenverbally downgraded from an “operation” to something called “Cooperation forKandahar,” now also referred to as a “military presence” so as not to offend localsensibilities with a hint of the coming violence. What do you make of it when DionNissenbaum and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy Newspapers report in mid-May thatthe American non-operation in Kandahar, scarcely beginning, is already showingsigns of “faltering,” while Karen DeYoung of the
describes it as a“go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed,” adding: “There isno Plan B.”Or what about when Gareth Porter, who has been doing top-notch reporting on theAfghan War for Inter Press Service, points out McChrystal’s striking recentKandahar flip-flop. Back in March, his team was talking about getting rid of AfghanPresident Hamid Karzai’s half-brother Wali Karzai, Kandahar’s major powerbroker,a man reputedly deeply involved in the drug trade, and an asset or former asset of the CIA. (“The only way to clean up Chicago,” said McChrystal’s intelligence chief General Michael Flynn back then, “is to get rid of Capone.”) More recently,however, they have executed a 180-degree turn and decided not only to leave him inplace, but to intensify their work with him. “The reaffirmation of ties between theU.S. and [Wali] Karzai,” writes Porter, “ensures that the whole military effort in theprovince is locked into Karzai’s political strategy for maintaining his grip on power.”Consider this but a brief snapshot of Obama’s flailing war in Afghanistan. AsTomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro makes clear in his latest canny analysis, thepresident of what was, until recently,
global power is losing his grip not just onAfghanistan, but on the planet. Hiro, whose latest book, After Empire: The Birth of A Multipolar World, offers a deep look into international power shifts, has beenwriting about the downward slope of American power at this site since 2007.
The American Century Is So Over
Obama’s Rudderless Foreign Policy Underscores America’sWaning Power
By Dilip HiroIrrespective of their politics, flawed leaders share a common trait. Theygenerally remain remarkably oblivious to the harm they do to the nationthey lead. George W. Bush is a salient recent example, as is formerBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair. When it comes to foreign policy, weare now witnessing a similar phenomenon at the Obama White House.Here is the Obama pattern: Choose a foreign leader to pressure.Threaten him with dire consequences if he does not bend toWashington’s will. When he refuses to submit and instead respondsvigorously, back off quickly and overcompensate for failure byswitching into a placatory mode.In his first year-plus in office, Barack Obama has provided us with