State prosecutor Thomas Vecsey confirmed a report in the Austrian weekly Profil about the investigation of Khalilzad, who played a key role in the political transition in Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and the fall of the Taliban.’
‘Stephen Hayes, a senior writer at The Weekly Standard and a regular Fox News contributor, was informed Tuesday that he had been placed on the Department of Homeland Security’s Terrorist Watchlist.
Hayes, who spoke to POLITICO by phone on Tuesday, suspects that the decision stems from U.S. concerns over Syria. Hayes and his wife recently booked a one-way trip to Istanbul for a cruise, and returned to the U.S., a few weeks later, via Athens. “I’d be concerned if it was anything more than that,” Hayes said.’
Editor’s Note: Stephen Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War‘. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.
‘Missing from the chorus of outrage… has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).
Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.’
‘The United States’ official policy in the Middle East is now perpetual war. What has been known for some time, including by those of us who have served overseas, by the millions who have suffered through our bombs and our bullets, and, of course, by the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been ripped from their families and from any promised futures, President Obama solidified last night.
The United States, by agreeing to airstrikes without end in support of a corrupt and sectarian government in Baghdad; by championing a Shia and Kurdish invasion of Sunni lands; and by promising arms, munitions and money to rebel groups in the middle of the Syrian Civil War, the same groups that sold Steven Sotloff to his beheading, has adopted a policy that will exacerbate the civil wars in both Iraq and Syria and deepen the nightmare existence of their people. President Obama’s speech will be remembered as a mark of moral shame on the United States, so very opposite and so very contradictory to the courage shown by the president five years ago in Cairo, Egypt.’
- U.S. weakens al-Qaeda groups around the world but hasn’t wiped any out
- Rachel Maddow Wonders If We’re Going To Be In Perpetual War, Forever
- Obama: I Was Against the Authorization for War Before I Was for It
- Glenn Greenwald: The ‘war on terror’ – by design – can never end
- Glenn Greenwald: Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent
Editor’s Note: Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He is also the author of a number of books including ‘The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq‘ and ‘Guantanamo: What the World Should Know‘.
‘Fear was the word of the day at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday, as former Vice President Dick Cheney talked about the nearly infinite number of grave threats he sees confronting the United States. Greeted by a standing ovation from the attendees, Cheney spent the bulk of his roughly 30-minute remarks listing those threats and championing a much more hawkish American response to all of them.
[...] Cheney suggested at various points in his speech that America ought to commit substantial military forces toward countering threats in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan, with no particular sense about which of these should take priority over the others. Oh, and maybe in Ukraine as well; that part wasn’t as clear.’
‘In the weeks ahead of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Egypt warned the Bush administration repeatedly about an imminent large-scale terror attack to be carried out by al-Qaeda operatives on US soil, but the message was ignored, a former high-ranking Egyptian government official said
Habib al-Adly, who served from 1997 to 2011 as minister of the interior for the Mubarak government, said in court testimony that Egypt received intelligence “from inside the al-Qaeda den” that “America would be subject to a huge terror attack.” In testimony last month that was translated and posted online Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Adly said the intelligence was verified and analyzed, and then president Hosni Mubarak gave the order to pass it on to the US in May of 2001.
The information was passed to both the CIA and FBI several times, Adly said, as Egyptian intelligence received word that the terror attack was moving from the planning to operation stage.’
- They Tried to Warn Us: Foreign Intelligence Warnings Before 9/11
- 911 Timeline: Foreign Intelligence Agency Attack Warnings
- 911 Timeline: Government Denials that It Was Warned
- 911 Timeline: The Warning Signs
- Two Days Before 9/11, Military Exercise Simulated Suicide Hijack Targeting New York
- PNAC Members Appointed to Bush Administration
- Ron Paul: The U.S. Government Knew 9/11 Was Going to Happen
‘We have developed the scientific technology to reach outer space, but have yet to discover the empathy to reach each other. We have learned how to walk on the moon, but remain unable to walk in each other’s shoes. We now control the heavens with drones that instill fear in the human heart, but lack the humanness to transform our own hearts. We profess faith in the goodness of “God,” but trust in military power as the real “force for good.” We pledge allegiance to “liberty and justice for all,” but the bottom line for many is “American exceptionalism.” An “exceptionalism” that allows our government to commit horrible war crimes against The Other in our name. An “exceptionalism” that also excludes The Other in America’s white-controlled hierarchy of access to political, economic and legal power. We profess the power of love, but practice the love of power.’
‘[...] It is good to remember that the policy that led to this mess was initiated under the Bush Administration, with full cognizance of the possibility that it could result in severe terroristic and destabilizing blowback. It was in 2007 that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia launched what Seymour Hersh, who broke the story in The New Yorker, called “the Redirection.” Under this policy revolution, the U.S. and the Saudis (with Israel’s blessing and prodding) began trying to bolster Sunni radicals in an effort to “contain” the “Shiite resurgence” brought about by the U.S. empowerment of the Shiites in Iraq. It all started in Lebanon.
[...] As reported by Patrick Cockburn, not all of the Saudis embraced such a blowback-inviting policy, so it would be more accurate to call it a victory for the Prince Bandar bin Sultan line. The fact that U.S. policymakers concluded that beleaguered Iran, with its long track record of not attacking a single country, is more of a danger than Sunni radicals, like the ones responsible for 9/11 and every other Al Qaeda attack, is an indication of just how little our overlords care about actually protecting us, as compared to pursuing regional power politics.
[...] Some of the radical Sunnis the U.S. has bolstered in Syria (namely, ISIS) have now crossed over into Iraq, conquered much of the northwest, and may soon take Baghdad, Maliki’s capital. I imagine this has put plenty of “fear” into his government: mission accomplished. Although, I don’t know how much “incentive” they’ll have to “cooperate” when they’re all dead or in exile.
[...] They have indeed outsmarted them, and it has indeed been ugly. Obama and the Saudis ramped up in Syria the same policy that Bush and the Saudis started pursuing in Lebanon, and the result was the same but worse. Salafi psychos in Syria, as in Lebanon, were able to get their hands on plenty of U.S. and Saudi aid. And through the course of the U.S.-supported bloody rebellion in Syria, ISIS acquired experience, recruits, arms, and territory, which they used to launch their conquest in Iraq.’
‘When President Obama announced US airstrikes in Iraq, most observers understood that the US would be bombing members of ISIS. What many did not know was that, in a twist of such bitterly symbolic irony that it could only occur in the Middle East, the US would also be bombing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment.
Here’s why: in the decade since the 2003 US-led Iraq invasion, the US has spent a fortune training and arming the Iraqi army in the hopes of readying it to secure the country once America left. That meant arming the Iraqi army with high-tech and extremely expensive American-made guns, tanks, jeeps, artillery, and more.
But the Iraqi army has been largely a failure. When ISIS invaded northern Iraq from Syria in June, the Iraqi forces deserted or retreated en masse. Many of them abandoned their American equipment. ISIS scooped it up themselves and are now using it to rampage across Iraq, seizing whole cities, terrorizing minorities, and finally pushing into even once-secure Kurdish territory. All with shiny American military equipment.’
- U.S. “Humanitarian” Bombing of Iraq: A Redundant Presidential Ritual
- Washington Opened The Gates Of Hell In Iraq: Now Come The Furies
- Hundreds of Militants Killed As U.S. and Iraq Conduct Airstrikes
- UK planes to drop emergency aid to Iraqi refugees
- Britain will not join air strikes – for now
- Thom Hartmann: Bombing ISIS – Cleaning up Bush’s Mess
- Dahr Jamail: How America’s Policies Sealed Iraq’s Fate
- If at first you don’t succeed in Iraq, Surge, Surge again
- Blowback in Iraq: The Petraeus Legacy Comes Home
- ISIS Captured 52 American-Made Artillery Weapons
- Nation Editorial: Against Intervention in Iraq
- Defiant Cheney accepts no blame for Iraq
- The Farce of Dick Cheney Giving Foreign-Policy Advice
‘The War Party in American politics is beating its drum and once again, mobilizing hawkish politicians and policy experts of both parties to wage a high-minded war of words. Hawks are salivating because they see the world’s current turmoil as a chance to rehabilitate themselves and the virtues of US military intervention. Three hot wars are underway and the United States has a client state in each of them. Civil wars in the Ukraine and Iraq plus Israel’s invasion of Gaza give Washington’s armchair generals fresh opportunity to scold President Obama for his reluctance to fight harder. They are not exactly demanding US invasions—not yet anyway—but they want the dovish president and Congress to recognize war as a worthy road to peace.
“In my view, the willingness of the United States to use force and to threaten to use force to defend its interests and the liberal world order has been an essential and unavoidable part of sustaining the world order since the end of World War II,” historian Robert Kagan wrote in The Washington Post. “Perhaps we can move away from the current faux Manichaean struggle between straw men and return to a reasoned discussion of when force is the right tool.”
“Reasoned discussion,” that’s the ticket. By all means, we should have more of it. But please don’t count on it from Professor Kagan. What he neglected to mention in his stately defense of American war-making is that he himself was a leading champion fifteen years ago in stirring up the political hysteria for the US invasion of Iraq. Why isn’t this mentioned by The Washington Post when it publishes Kagan’s monthly column on its op-ed page? Or by The New York Timesin its adoring profile of the professor? Why doesn’t the Brookings Institution, the Washington think tank that employs Kagan as a senior thinker?’
- Obama Slams Russia Over Plane as GOP Hawks Beat War Drums
- Crash changes equation for Obama Ukraine policy
- Who Shot Down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Why? Interview with Stephen Cohen
- Stephen Cohen: Downed Malaysian Plane Raises Risk of War Between Russia and the West
- The Economist: Russia Has Effectively Invaded Eastern Ukraine — The Question Is How The West Will Respond
- NATO Official: Russia Now An Adversary
- NATO chief to move forces from U.S. to Europe to respond to Russia in Ukraine
- US Pushes NATO Allies To Boost Defense Spending
- NATO and Europe at odds over defense cuts
- NATO Black Sea War Games End
‘Politico’s live stream of an interview with Dick Cheney and his family cut to black on Monday just as a protester with handcuffs accused the former vice president of being a war criminal.
[...] For a moment, the camera panned to the audience, where a woman wearing a pink sign and holding up a pair of handcuffs was being detained by security. Seconds later, the video went to black.
“And we are having some problems with the feed coming to us from the Politico Playbook lunch,” a C-SPAN announcer eventually explained.’
‘As the exploding crisis in Iraq spotlights once again the tragic record of American policy in the Middle East, Bill speaks with investigative journalist Charles Lewis, whose new book, “935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity“ details the many government falsehoods that have led us into the current nightmare. Lewis details the deceptions and illusions that have caused “most Americans and their elected representatives to completely ignore facts, logic and reason in the rush to war.” A complicit partner, he says, is a media intent on preserving the status quo and never offending the ruling elite.
Lewis tells Bill, “An outrageous thing happened. We lost $2 trillion. More than 100,000 people died. Folks are going to be maimed for life in the tens of thousands… And no one has ever acknowledged that this was a war on a lark. It was a complete war of choice, because a certain little faction wanted to do it and they orchestrated it… Did they make statements that weren’t true? The answer is yes.” This week’s show begins with an essay by Bill on the foresight of the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, who, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, predicted the trap in which the West would fall attempting to interfere in the Middle East.’ (Bill Moyers)
Kent Conrad’s phone hasn’t been ringing very much over the past few weeks, as Iraq, and the debate over America’s future in the country, has once again dominated the news. The architects of the Iraq war are back in TV studios and on op-ed pages, as are journalists and pundits who promoted the Bush administration’s ultimately bogus case for invading. But Conrad, a former senator who was one of only 23 to vote against authorizing the war in October 2002, hasn’t heard from CNN, MSNBC or any other TV outlet. “Not once,” he said, when asked if anyone in the press had reached out regarding the current crisis in Iraq.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, offered two possible explanations. The first, he said, is “simply the incompetence of the media.” The second is “the shrillness of those trying desperately to rewrite history to cover their own devastating failures.” Despite catastrophic misjudgments — that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators, that the war would pay for itself with oil revenues — the Iraq war boosters keep getting booked, while those politicians and journalists who were skeptical of the Bush administration’s “slam dunk” case for war remain largely on the sidelines.’
Neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz planned regime change in Iraq more than 20 years ago … in 1991.
But the goal wasn’t just regime change (or oil). The goal was to break up the country, and to do away with the sovereignty of Iraq as a separate nation.
The Guardian noted in 2003:
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. “We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,” he said.
…They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the [Pentagon] hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr Mubarak believes that would be bad.The hawks, though, believe it would be good.
For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.
…The “skittles theory” of the Middle East – that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes – has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the “war against terrorism”.
- US planning to split Iraq
- Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”
- Is Open-Ended Chaos the Desired US-Israeli Aim in the Middle East?
- The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq
- Will the Neocons Get Away With It Again?
- The Neocons Have Weathered the Storm
- Imagining a Remapped Middle East
- From 2006: Biden: Split Iraq into 3 different regions
- From 2005: Is the CIA Behind the Iraqi “Insurgents”–and Global Terrorism?
- From 2004: Iraq War launched to protect Israel says Bush adviser
- From 2002: Playing skittles with Saddam
- From 2002 US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy
- A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
- The Zionist Plan for the Middle East
‘Following the bulk of western reporting on the Iraq crisis, you’d think the self-styled ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) popped out of nowhere, took the West completely by surprise, and is now rampaging across the Middle East like some random weather event. The reality is far more complex, and less palatable. ISIS’ meteoric rise is a predictable consequence of a longstanding U.S.-led geostrategy in the Middle East that has seen tyrants and terrorists as mere tools to expedite access to regional oil and gas resources.
In the run-up to the 2003 invasion, oil was of course center stage. While the plans to invade, capture and revitalise Iraq’s flagging oil industry with a view to open it up to foreign investors were explored meticulously by the Pentagon, U.S. State Department and UK Foreign Office – there was little or no planning for post-war reconstruction. Opening up Iraq’s huge oil reserves would avert what one British diplomat at the Coalition Provisional Authority characterised as a potential “world shortage” of oil supply, stabilising global prices, and thereby holding off an energy crunch anticipated in 2001 by a study group commissioned by vice president Dick Cheney.
Simultaneously, influential neoconservative U.S. officials Cheney and deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz co-authored a hair-brained plan to re-engineer the region through the sectarian partition of Iraq into three autonomous cantons for Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites. The scheme was described by U.S. private intelligence firm Stratfor, which observed in October 2002: “The new government’s attempts to establish control over all of Iraq may well lead to a civil war between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish ethnic groups… The fiercest fighting could be expected for control over the oil facilities” – exactly the scenario unfolding now as ISIS rampages across Iraq.’
- Dick Cheney Should be Rotting in The Hague, Not Writing Editorials
- Cheney slams Obama for Iraq, starts new group to oppose him
- Iraq War Boosters Get Second Chance In Media Spotlight
- U.S. Ignored ISIS Threat to Hype Endless War On Terror
- Iraq: Will the Neocons Get Away With It Again?
- David Cameron: Islamist insurgents in Iraq plan UK attack
- Dennis Kucinich: Stop Calling the Iraq War a ‘Mistake’
- Andrew J. Bacevich: The Duplicity of the Ideologues
- Robert Kagan Strikes a Nerve With Article on Obama Policy
- Robert Kagan: Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire
- Glenn Beck admits: Liberals got Iraq right
‘How would you like to spend a week in an exotic locale with “The Boss”? No, not that “Boss,” the other “Boss” – as in the Bruce Springsteen of Neo-Con crooners, the silver-tongued frontman of the rockin’-shockin’-awe-inspiring band that gave America and the world some of the greatest hits on Iraq. Folks, put your hands together for Bill “The Boss” Kristol.
That’s right, America. If you’re planning early for the upcoming holiday season, the travel bugs over at the Weekly Standard invite you to “…study with the boss in Jerusalem this winter at a weeklong seminar” appealingly titled “The Case for Nationalism.” And what a dream vacation it will be, with up to three daily seminars featuring the historical and political stylings of a man touted by the week’s host – The Tikvah Advanced Institutes – as “one of the leading public intellectuals in America.”’
- Iraq War Architect Paul Wolfowtiz Goes on ‘Meet the Press’ to Argue for Endless War
- Senator Lindsay Graham: ISIS held territory in Iraq will be the next 9/11 “staging area”
- Will ISIS plan a 9/11-style terror plot against the U.S.?
- Destruction of Iraq Provides Stage for Bush Neocons
- U.S. weapons shipped to Syria now being used in Iraq
- Iraq crisis: Sunni caliphate has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia
- So Many Jihadists Are Flocking to Libya, It’s Becoming ‘Scumbag Woodstock’
- FBI Director: Radicalization Of Westerners In Syria Is Of Great Concern
- War on terror will last a generation, warns Tony Blair
- The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
- The fight against terrorism could go on indefinitely unless the U.S. adopts imaginative new strategies
‘So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.
From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.
Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks?
The story of Iraq and the story of Syria are the same – politically, militarily and journalistically: two leaders, one Shia, the other Alawite, fighting for the existence of their regimes against the power of a growing Sunni Muslim international army.
While the Americans support the wretched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his elected Shia government in Iraq, the same Americans still demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his regime, even though both leaders are now brothers-in-arms against the victors of Mosul and Tikrit.’
- Owen Jones: The Iraq invasion has led to bloody chaos
- Journalists: U.S. Failures in Iraq Helped Fuel Current Sectarian Crisis
- Home Minister: ‘Iraq chaos is Tony Blair’s legacy’
- The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
- Trail of jihadist victories in Iraq could force renewed military action from US
‘Amidst howls of “whitewash” from media commentators and interested observers of all political hues, it seems the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war are finally to be published by the end of this year.
The Inquiry, Chaired by Sir John Chilcot, ran from autumn 2009 to February 2011. The Report is expected to run to several thousand pages with the total cost incurred from the date of the establishment of the hearings “on 15th June 2009 up to 31st March 2012 — £6,129,000.” As of 16th May this year, “On the present timetable, the Inquiry may incur further costs of some £2 million.”
From June 2013 to November 2013 the Inquiry “submitted ten requests covering some two hundred Cabinet-level discussions and twenty five Notes” from Tony Blair to President Bush “and more than one hundred and thirty records of conversations between either” Tony Blair or subsequent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush.
Finally, on May 28th, Sir John published his letter to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood recording their “agreement on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet level discussions between the (former) UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States which the Inquiry has asked to use in its Report … My colleagues and I judge that this material is vital to the public understanding of the Inquiry’s conclusions.” In the letter he also recalls some of the hurdles that have been put in the Inquiry’s path by the British government, past and present.’
- Tony Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes – not just judged by history
- White House lawyers ‘unable to find’ critical Iraq letter from Tony Blair telling George Bush: ‘I’m with you whatever’
- Chilcot inquiry into Iraq war could report this year, says David Cameron
- Iraq inquiry delay very serious, says senior Tory
- Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq war will not be ‘very kind’ to Tony Blair
John Bolton is confused. After spending years berating the Obama administration for failing to take action in Syria’s bloody civil war, he has come out against such an intervention…kind of.
In a piece in the New York Post, Bolton criticizes the administration for “vacillating for three years on whether to arm ‘moderate’ opposition forces, by failing to uphold his ‘red line’ on chemical weapons and by indulging in rhetoric unaccompanied by action.” At the same time, he is coming out of the closet as against supporting the rebels or bombing Damascus: “Washington’s ability to affect the outcome in Syria is decidedly limited; aiding the rebels mainly increases the chances of an al Qaeda regime in Damascus — hardly preferable to the current bloodshed.”
Bravo! This is what non-interventionists have been saying since the beginning. But then, Bolton’s piece trades restraint in Syria for overthrowing the Iranian regime.
‘The just-retired long-time NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, recently traveled to Australia to give a remarkably long and wide-ranging interview with an extremely sycophantic “interviewer” with The Australian Financial Review. The resulting 17,000-word transcript and accompanying article form a model of uncritical stenography journalism, but Alexander clearly chose to do this because he is angry, resentful, and feeling unfairly treated, and the result is a pile of quotes that are worth examining, only a few of which are noted below:
AFR: What were the key differences for you as director of NSA serving under presidents Bush and Obama? Did you have a preferred commander in chief?
Gen. Alexander: Obviously they come from different parties, they view things differently, but when it comes to the security of the nation and making those decisions about how to protect our nation, what we need to do to defend it, they are, ironically, very close to the same point. You would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions about how to defend our nation from terrorists and other threats.
The almost-complete continuity between George W. Bush and Barack Obama on such matters has been explained by far too many senior officials in both parties, and has been amply documented in far too many venues, to make it newsworthy when it happens again. Still, the fact that one of the nation’s most powerful generals in history, who has no incentive to say it unless it were true, just comes right out and states that Bush and The Candidate of Change are “very close to the same point” and “you would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions” is a fine commentary on a number of things, including how adept the 2008 Obama team was at the art of branding.’
‘During the Bush years, people all over the world were horrified by America’s aggression, human rights abuses and militarism. By 2008, only one in three people around the world approved of the job performance of U.S. leaders. The election of President Obama broadcast his message of hope and change far beyond U.S. shores, and Gallup’s 2009 U.S.-Global Leadership Project (USGLP) recorded a sharp rise in global public approval of U.S. leadership to 49 percent. As in the U.S., the reality of Obama’s policies has gradually eroded global approval of his leadership, which dropped to 41 percent in 2012 before rebounding to 46 percent in 2013. The 2013 USGLP report includes a caveat that Europe and other areas were surveyed in early 2013, soon after Obama’s reelection and before revelations of NSA wire-tapping, so the improved 2013 figures may reflect a fleeting revival of hope rather than a favorable response to U.S. policy.
A closer look at the U.S.-Global Leadership Project report reveals an erosion of approval for U.S. leadership in countries all over the world since 2009. The specific question Gallup asks is, “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?” Large numbers in some countries refuse to answer or express no opinion, masking unvoiced disapproval behind fear, deference or politeness. I don’t believe that 71 percent of Vietnamese really have no opinion of U.S. global leadership. But the approval figures are probably not as flawed as the disapproval ones. In 2008, a majority of respondents approved of the job performance of U.S. leaders in only 30 out of 109 countries. After Obama’s election, this jumped to 54 out of 112 or almost half the countries surveyed. But, in the 2013 report, only 37 percent, 48 out of 130, still had majorities who approved of U.S. leadership. Overall, the number of people who approve of U.S. leadership has declined in 93 countries since 2009, as the impact of Obama’s policies has gradually displaced his iconic image in people’s minds.* In 31 countries, Obama’s leadership approval figures have sunk below Bush’s.’
Editor’s Note: When there’s a government to overthrow or a war to be had, you can bet someone else’s life that John McCain will be there, somewhere. Whether it’s on TV salivating or down on the ground posing for questionable photos, you can count on John McCain.