Although I have some rather substantial policy disagreements with President Obama, I don't doubt that he's an intelligent person. Furthermore, I think he's spent a lot of time thinking about his world view--how he sees the world; how he sees others; what he thinks others think of him and, by extension, what they think of the United States.
Unfortunately, I don't think he's subjected that world view to a lot of criticism. My sense is that he is surrounded by people who either aren't his intellectual equal or simply don't think carefully about what their world view is. As a result, the President seems lost when others act in ways he doesn't expect.
I saw this pretty clearly when he tried to rethink his Afghanistan strategy--it took 100+ days to come up with a strategy that didn't seem particularly coherent, and that wasn't sold particularly well. It's almost as if his advisors can't communicate with a military that they think is still living in 1985. In fact, the military leadership today probably understands nuanced diplomacy better than the State Department.
But, we saw a similar incoherence this week, in the wake of the failed Northwest airline attack. The President stayed on vacation--that makes sense; you don't want to encourage the enemy by making this larger than it already is. But, his advisors seemed to stay on vacation, too. It took 3 days for Secretary Napolitano to admit security had failed--seriously? Now a group is claiming credit. Are they involved? We have the terrorist in custody--what does he say? If the group did it, we should've been blaming them first, to send a strategic message that we know. If the terrorist acted alone, we should already be ridiculing the Al Qaeda group's claim. But, we're not doing either. We're letting the other side set the communications agenda.
No one in the administration seems to have thought about what the world is really like, and the fact that the administration is expected to have answers for everything, all the time. That's not fair, and it isn't even reasonable, but it comes with the office. They aren't just a domestic administration; they have to deal with foreign policy, too. And that means more than platitudes about how everyone loves us now that George W. Bush is no longer President. It seems like there are a lot of people who hated us under Clinton, and it seems that they still exist.
Love him or hate him, Bush had a clear world view, that he intended to make "Islamo-fascism" simply unacceptable to civilized peoples everywhere. Pretty heady; maybe arrogant. But, at least he knew what he wanted the world to look like when we were done. Any military planner will tell you that's the first step in outlining a strategy--define the end state.
Time for the Obama administration to start thinking a little more about what they want the world to look like, or some very unpleasant "others" are going to offer their version, instead.
History, Holidays & Observances on December 9
43 minutes ago