Note to visitors: please read first our previous two posts.
A Necessary Introduction
Our posts (I) and (II) on why America will not win in Syria, coupled with our series "Peter Kassig and Beyond: New Perspectives on Terrorism," struck a cord around the world. On Friday the 13th alone, the day of the Paris attacks, we received visitors from 32 countries. We welcome you one and all.
An extraordinary number of visitors came from throughout Russia -- Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Rostov, Krasnodar Krai, Saransk, Vorkuta, Ulan Ude, Samara, Komi Republic, Sverdlovsk, Nizhiny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk, Altai Krai, Volgograd, Stary Oskol, Rostov-on-Don, Pskov, Primorsky Krai -- as well as the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Ukraine. In all those nations, chess is a national pastime; the moves Russia is making in Syria are readily comprehensible to them.
This final post in our series on Syria addresses two pressing concerns of readers:
(i) Why is President Obama so mistaken -- make that, irrational -- about Syria?
(ii) What is required to correct the mistakes of the United States and its allies?
Those questions are inextricably related. To be answered, each requires the other to be answered.
Last week, Europe paid a horrendous price for its mistakes -- 130 deaths and over 400 wounded in ISIS attacks in Paris. Each victim should be a wake-up call for a revolution -- that is to say, a change of, not in -- how America and its allies see and combat terrorism. Tragically, prior terrorist attacks on Western nations, e.g., London, Boston, and Madrid, had exactly the opposite effect.
It is now obvious to any reasonable person that, under the international political conditions prevailing today, victory over ISIS in Syria is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the final destruction of ISIS. We have a caveat that will be presented below.
Our prior two posts explain why there is little reason to believe the United States will achieve that victory:
(1) America´s overall war record is poor: one win, two losses, six draws/no contests. See our post "America´s Fatal Flaw: The Belvedere Conundrum";
(2) Washington´s upper echelons -- notably Richard A. Clarke, former White House anti-terrorism czar -- are ambivalent about ISIS. On the one hand, ISIS is barbaric; on the other hand ... It seems incredible but prior to World War II many Western elites evinced exactly the same ambivalence toward Adolf Hitler.
(3) Washington is abjectly ignorant about terrorists and how they are formed, hence is unable to identify and vet them;
(4) the Second American Revolution in 2008-9 changed the political system from the democracy/oligarchy hybrid created by the Founding Fathers to a full-fledged oligarchy that opposes any fundamental change in international relations, including the formation of the Winston Churchill-inspired International Alliance Against ISIS (IAAI) required for victory;
(5) Outwitted and outmaneuvered by Russia in developing the IAAI, America no longer is the go-to nation for defeating ISIS.*
It is long past time for another disturbing reality to be presented and debated publicly. It is why even if the above five negatives disappeared with the wave of a magic wand, America still would not win in Syria.
I take no personal satisfaction in introducing that reality here. I do so only after the Paris massacre led me to conclude that not to lift the prevailing omertà -- taboo of silence -- blanketing our topic would be even more disturbing, indeed dangerous.
* * *
"By what right are you lecturing me?" I see the question
in your frightened eyes. I hear it on your insolent tongue.
You're afraid to look at yourself, little man, you're afraid
of criticism, and afraid of the power that is promised you...
I will tell you who you are.
You differ from a great man in only one respect: the
great man was once a very little man, but he developed
one important quality: he recognized the smallness and
narrowness of his thoughts and actions. Under the
pressure of some task which meant a great deal to him,
he learned to see how his smallness, his pettiness,
endangered his happiness. In other words, a great man
knows when and in what way he is a little man. A little man
does not know he is little and is afraid to know. He hides
his pettiness and narrowness behind illusions of strength
and greatness, someone else's strength and greatness...
He admires an idea he has not had, not one he has had.
The less he understands something, the more firmly he
believes in it. And the better he understands an idea,
the less he believes in it.
-- Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man --
Here is something you won´t find in any book, article, speech, interview, conference, movie, or media report. Forget Ph.D. dissertations, candidate debates, White House memos, CIA briefings. No academician, no politician, no journalist ever mentioned it. Probably, they never will.
It is how things really work ... all too often ...
As you read what follows, you may find yourself wondering what is underneath it all.
In 1721, Montesquieu identified the cause of a syndrome that is rendering the defeat of ISIS so difficult, perhaps impossible, under present conditions. More on his observation in a moment.
* * *
Back when the earth was still warm and I was an independent political consultant, the state AFL-CIO Director invited me to the local political watering hole. He was half-enraged, half-outraged.
"Help us out, Thomas. We gotta win this one."
He was referring to a state House of Representatives race. The Republican incumbent, Agnes,** was ideologically somewhere to the right of Ghenghis Khan. She was making life unbearable for labor, both organized and disorganized.
To get rid of Agnes, the AFL-CIO recruited a challenger for the upcoming elections. Bob was a lineman for the electric company.
The Agnes v. Bob election was a lot more than a election. Everybody knew that a Republican/conservative Democrat coalition was within inches of seizing control of the House. The Republicans would take charge for the first time in almost 50 years.
In this contest for all the marbles, every vote counted.
Agnes had deftly clobbered all past challengers. I asked Mr. AFL-CIO how determined Bob was to win. His answer: the electric company fired Bob for challenging their Girl Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Bob´s campaign was going ahead anyway.
Not only did Bob not back down, he was suing. The company claimed it fired him because his campaign and a potential House position "conflicted" with his lineman job. However, the company already had several of its management personnel in the legislature. The company gave them time off with full pay to attend legislative sessions. ((Note: three years later, Bob won his lawsuit).
The true difference was obvious. Unlike Bob, management´s representatives were bought. More important, they stayed bought.
I agreed to work for Bob. Following a mean-as-snakes campaign, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state electoral history.
On the opening day of the legislature, the all-important vote for Speaker came up. Whoever won would command the House for two years.
The Republican coalition put forth its candidate. Opposing him was a man for whom I was chief of staff, the Majority Floor Leader of the Democrats.
The Leader was from the same town as Bob. J. C. booster baby bake-offs, Lions Club picnics, Saturday night family reunions around Sing Along With Mitch: the place was right out of an Andy Hardy movie.
The Leader and Bob had grown up together. No doubt whatsoever about Bob´s vote for Speaker.
Or was there?
The Chief Clerk read down the roll of law-makers in alphabetical order. You heard collective gasps when Bob first abstained, then voted for the Republican coalition candidate, handing him the House and all the marbles, 36-34.
What on earth (or elsewhere) happened? How could a fire-breathing liberal, a lifelong labor union backer and Democrat Party stalwart, deliver power to -- in Bob´s words -- Darwinian, knuckle-dragging Republican oligarchs? How could he join forces with the very people who weeks earlier had thrown everything they had at him and missed?
Perhaps even more incredible: how could Bob turn his back on his family, friends and supporters who had worked tirelessly for his election, even going door-to-door on weekends?
Speculations sprouted everywhere, like weeds. The electric company promised to give Bob his job back -- even a promotion -- if he voted "right" in the Speaker contest; the Republican coalition let Bob become a backroom power-broker on crucial issues such as committee assignments of lawmakers; a coterie of business cronies met with Bob in a gaslight motel and promised him start-up money for an electrical supplies store; etc.
All those speculations had three things in common. They were (i) completely reasonable and realistic in terms of (ii) Bob´s immediate economic and political self-interests. They were also (iii) totally wrong.
I personally knew quite well both the Majority Floor Leader and Bob. I also knew the truth. To find it, you had to go back 30 years -- to a playground fight in second grade.
What´s that, dear reader? You don´t think a politician would let a petty distant spat between seven year olds decide his political career and determine public policy?
All I can say is: think again. Over decades, I witnessed it hundreds of times.
Our post "´Henery´ Kissinger Debunked" gave an example of the same phenomenon on an international scale:
Using game theory, we showed how Kissinger should have continued America´s World War II coalition with Ho Chi Minh -- yes, there would have been no U.S.-Vietnam War -- and formed an alliance with other Southeast Asia nations against China. Instead, Kissinger sided with China against Vietnam et al.
Last month, the potentially cataclysmic consequences of Kissinger´s Folly roiled to the surface of the South China Sea:
"You -- GO!" China commanded the United States military not to go near China´s man-made islands west of the Philippines, a staunch U.S. ally and vociferous opponent of Chinese expansionism.
During the incident, China revealed for all to see its hidden view of America: contempt. It declared the United States "should not make a fool of itself by trying to be smart." We will return to that comment shortly; it shows more than it says.
Apparently, somebody in Beijing decided it´s time to stop pretending. China skipped all further preliminaries and jumped to the climax, announcing that "China was not frightened to fight a war with the U.S."
As U.S.-China relations deteriorate -- and they will -- this question will emerge:
Why didn´t Kissinger do the right thing when he had the chance -- forge an enduring coalition in Asia for world peace and American national security? Instead of scorn, Washington would have earned Peking´s respect.
Using information from a declassified top secret State Department memo, our Kissinger post gave this answer:
"We now know Kissinger´s innermost secret."
Kissinger "hated North Vietnam for having won the war against America. However, he more than let a personal grudge guide him. He was obsessed with revenge. The tragedy was that America unknowingly tagged along. The ultimate consequence could yet turn out to be among the greatest catastrophes in world history ... "
The hidden core of Kissinger´s foreign policy should come as no surprise:
"Forget the ballyhooed Kissinger realpolitik -- balance of power; spheres of influence; pragmatism; objective practical exigencies. All were covers, rationalizations. In truth, Kissinger sat around all day and hated. For all we know, he still does."
Pettiness and narrowness; fear; envy; spite: the reductio ad absurdum of portentous political decisions to a little kid pissing contest takes us straight to the hidden core of Obama´s policy in Syria.
* * *
Do you believe, dear reader, that Barack Obama is among the last people on earth to let a personal whim, fancy or grudge override rational decision-making?
I think you will agree that in his interviews and speeches, Obama strives to project the image of a great man, i.e., a statesman; a steadfast steward of America´s well-being; of cool deliberation and judgement; of maturity; of mental stability. (November 24 note: for a recent demonstration, click here).
The fact he works hard at them indicates such attributes do not come naturally to him. Our post "Freud -- on Obama" analyzed that subject in depth; it continues to receive visitors from five continents. We will return to Obama´s psychological makeup in a moment.
Was Reich right? Is Obama a little man? I think Reich´s observations go a long way in explaining what Obama is doing in Syria. Elsewhere, too.
I will skip over tales told by insiders of Obama´s petty meanness. For example, his top confident and political consultant, David Axelrod, wrote in his book that when he offered criticisms while preparing Obama for his first debate with Romney, Obama stormed out of the room, calling Axelrod a "motherfucker."
Frightened eyes; insolent tongue; afraid of criticism: those are initial signs of a little man. As do slaves, he mistakes insolence for freedom.
It is possible (although not probable) for someone to be a little man in his private life and still be a great man in public affairs. For that matter, Axelrod and other insiders could be mistaken or lying.
To make a probative case that Obama is a little man requires not rumors or innuendos but public, indisputable demonstrations. I could write a 300-page book on this subject; we present here two cases.
(1) Sometime after bin Laden was killed in May 2011, Obama took a cue from "The Godfather." He grumbled to his White House team, "I want Awlaki. Don´t let up on him."
For readers who don´t know or remember, a brief digression is called for:
Anwar al-Awlaki was a United States citizen. A civil engineer and middle class rebel -- his father was a Fulbright scholar in agricultural economics -- Awlaki became an iman in Virginia and subsequently an al-Qaeda terrorist in Yemen.
On September 11, 2011, Obama realized his dream. Awlaki was killed in an American drone attack, along with Samir Khan, another United States citizen and middle class rebel turned terrorist. Two weeks later, a second drone killed Awlaki´s 16-year-old son.
Why is American citizenship important?
Our post of October 17, 2014 ("Impeach Obama") seconded a motion made by former president Jimmy Carter:
"In an interview on October 8, [Carter] fired a torpedo at Obama´s ship of state: ...
´I really object to the killing of people, particularly Americans overseas who haven’t been brought to justice and put on trial,´ [Carter] said. ´We’ve killed four Americans overseas with American drones. To me that violates our Constitution and human rights.´...
President Obama violates our Constitution?"
A few years ago, before the change of, not in, America´s political system (see below), you would not be reading this post. The reason is Obama would not be president. If violating the Constitution is not an impeachable offense, a High Crime, what is?
Our post "Barack Obama: Romancing The Drone" discussed the principal violation Carter had in mind: Obama´s killing of Awlaki:
"At issue is the 5th amendment to the Constitution. That amendment is part of the Bill of Rights:
´No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...´
The presidential oath of office, administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, outlines and underscores any in-coming president´s obligations vis-à-vis the Constitution:
´I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.´...
Awlaki ... never received due process of law. No judge, no jury, no presumption of innocence, no formal charges, no conviction -- not even the most ridiculous kangaroo court -- ever cranked up.
What on earth (or elsewhere) happened?
´I want al-Awlaki,´ President Obama muttered. He personally ordered the killing. ´nuff said. Case closed.
Now, what made possible such a wanton disregard of the presidential oath and the due process of law ordered by the Constitution?
In 2008-2009, America underwent a revolution -- a change of, not in, its political system. We no longer have a Политей, or polity, the oligarchy/democracy hybrid created by Washington, Jefferson, Madison and other Founding Fathers. The moment Bush-Obama handed over billions of public dollars to the American super wealthy, the polity went the way of all polities. It was replaced by an oligarchy.
The United States Constitution founded the polity. With the polity gone, the constitution is now obsolete. Or rather, unlike before, the Constitution is not obeyed when it is inconvenient, only when it is convenient ...
Strange isn’t it though, how despite everything it keeps coming back. There it is again -- the 5th amendment: No person ... shall be ... deprived of life ... without due process of law ... No need to tell you, Dear Reader, what due process of law is; it is at the heart of America."***
The Second American Revolution of 2008-9 made possible Obama´s blatant disregard of the Constitution without fear of impeachment. What we did not address: why was Obama so obsessed with killing Awlaki?
The reason cannot simply be that Awlaki was a terrorist. Other Americans have turned terrorist and not been placed on the White House hit list. Why did Obama single out Awlaki for special attention?
Since there are no rational reasons for killing Awlaki without due process -- again, even a hurry-up kangaroo court would have filled the bill -- there must be irrational ones.
Nobody doubts that Awlaki´s speeches were influential among actual and potential terrorists. The United States Government so feared his pronunciamientos, it had them removed from the Internet.
In oratorical skill, Awlaki was not alone.
Obama´s speeches -- notably to the Democrat Convention in 2004 -- rocketed him to the White House.
Hypothesis: Obama viewed Awlaki as his top rival in rhetoric and persuasion. Not just a threat -- a deadly threat.
In one crucial sense, speech-making is comparable to chess: only one man can be king of the mountain.
The bottom line emerges. Jealousy, fear, hatred, self-doubt: they account for why Obama had Awlaki rubbed out. Chicago hit man stuff.
Little man stuff.
(2) July 25, 2015. In a press conference in Kenya, President Obama declared: "When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode."
Now, flash backward seven months. On December 19, 2014, Obama gave a White House press conference in which he took questions only from women.
Reporters called it an historic occasion, and they were right. If the female members of the White House press corps would have had one iota of common sense and self-respect, they would have stood up and walked out.
Freedoms begin to erode: Obama got that part of it right. Had the women reporters left the room, they would have given a mighty boost to women´s liberation instead of sticking a knife in its back. As for their male colleagues, forget it; they were their usual styleless and guileless selves.
Note to reporters: please do not write or call to tell me the walk-out is a "neat idea." You will validate our contention that Obama was not the only little man in the room that day. The little man admires an idea he has not had, not one he has had. The less he understands something, the more firmly he believes in it. And the better he understands an idea, the less he believes in it.
To conclude: Obama´s (1) Awlaki killing and (2) discriminatory press conference strongly indicate the little man syndrome.
What does that have to do with Syria?
* * *
Obama announced the core of his Syria policy on August 18, 2011. "The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way ... the time has come for President al-Assad to step aside."
Obama´s sine qua non continues to this day; it was reiterated by Secretary of State John Kerry last October 25 when he suggested a solution to the Syrian crisis was just around the corner. "One thing stands in the way ... it's a person called Assad, Bashar Assad."
Forget entire societies and their power structures; forget economic and national security interests; forget international spheres of influence; forget customs and traditions; forget history. For Obama everything boils down to one person. A guy.
We saw that reductive thinking a moment ago. I want Assad is the redux of I want Awlaki.
That Obama´s obsession with individuals is unconscious is manifested in the fact that its target is free-floating. Yesterday, it landed on one man; today, another. Tomorrow, yet another. Endlessly. Forget reason, logic, thinking -- they have nothing to do with what is going on, as we are about to show.
But why did the obsession land on Assad?
If you ask him, Obama will tell you that Assad is a war criminal. However, in truth the White House quest for moral purity ends abruptly.
(i) As with Assad, the Obama-backed Free Syrian Army has been accused of war crimes as well as being a corrupt criminal operation. For that matter ...
(ii) Obama apologized to Nobel laureate Médecins Sans Frontier for bombing its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. However, MSF says his apology is not enough; it wants prosecution for war crimes. The former Yugoslavia, Rwanda: is a third UN war crimes tribunal on the horizon? A bailiff? Handcuffs?
(iii) Papa Doc in Haiti; Fulgenio Batista in Cuba; yes, even Pol Pot in Cambodia: the list of dictators supported by the United States who butchered and murdered their people is well-known. Nothing new there.
Our second hypothesis:
The reason why Obama is obsessed with Assad is totally unrelated to rationalizations about war criminals and evil leaders. To the contrary, it has everything to do with what makes Obama a little man. Don´t waste your time asking him about it; Obama is totally unaware of it:
Obama´s fixation on Assad as the incarnation of evil is a manifestation of an unconscious psychological complex. It operates autonomously, which is to say it controls Obama, not vice-versa. It is above all personal, not political.
Any unconscious complex usually manifests itself in projections onto the outside world. Projections, in turn, require the receiver of the projections to have a hook, i.e., something that ignites and attracts them. Did Assad make a pass at one of Obama´s daughters? Tell an offensive joke?
We think what triggered Obama´s projections onto Assad was ... nothing at all.
What is outstanding about Assad is there absolutely nothing outstanding about him. His posture, his gestures -- nothing suggests a chief executive. Had his father not been a president, Assad today would be giving eye exams in Pittsburgh.
Precisely because Assad is a little man, he ignites Obama´s unconscious complex. A little man is the perfect hook for little man projections.
To recapitulate: an unconscious complex is what makes Obama a little man. It dictates his thoughts, feelings, even intuitions about Assad and Syria.
That complex -- The Obama Factor -- is the sixth reason why the United States will not win the war in Syria.
To be sure, making conscious an unconscious complex -- one of the goals of this post -- can remove its autonomy, thereby allowing it to be corrected. However, I want to caution readers against optimism:
Montesquieu succinctly gave the reason why change is at worst impossible, at best doubtful. “It is better to treat man as sensitive, rather than to treat him as reasonable.”****
In the cases of Bob and Kissinger, sensitivity explained the otherwise inexplicable. Hurt feelings; fear; envy; rage: we see sensitivities everyday in the world where we live and work. They operate wherever there are people, millions of times hourly, all day every day.
Sensitivity is why to the extent that the following presentation of The Obama Factor is reasonable, our words will not have the slightest impact.
* * *
The Obama Factor
(Note: the following quotes are from our post "Freud -- on Obama")
We do not have to look far to find Obama´s unconscious complex.
"I am sure Russian, Chinese and other intelligence services ... have concluded that Obama has a father complex. Simply put, it is impossible to read Dreams From My Father and conclude otherwise. Obama is (p. 4) up front about it: ´...what has found its way onto these pages is a record of a personal, interior journey -- a boy’s search for his father ... ´
Found its way implies an unconscious rather than conscious process, as if an inner muse dictated the book. I think one indeed did a lot of the writing; we will see who -- or what -- in a moment.
A father complex means Obama is riddled with ambivalent feelings toward authority; he swings back and forth between fear/distrusting and admiration/seeking. I think Putin (among other leaders) is deliberately behaving and speaking in a manner so as to activate Obama´s father complex, thereby triggering unconscious emotions that create ´static´, i.e., that interfere with -- if not subvert -- rational and realistic decision-making on Obama´s part ... "
"Do not try to be smart" fits the interference thesis. Typically, China´s criticism is directed by an angry parent at a child. By invoking it, the Chinese were attempting to light up childhood emotions in Obama that were suppressed decades ago.
China practices the same type of psychological jujitsu I employed during decades of advising political candidates. Over 90% of the time, we started out behind in the polls, behind in money and organization -- behind in everything. We had no choice but to adopt the following strategy:
By activating unconscious complexes and archetypes, the power of the more powerful opponent was turned against him, not by us but by the opponent himself.
People everywhere are constantly told in deeds and words they have no power; it is the message of our times. However, no person lacks the power to defeat himself. Agnes, whom Bob knocked out, was a textbook example.
Where did Obama´s father complex come from? And how is it dictating -- curious word choice -- his policy toward the Syrian dictator Assad?
In our Freud/Obama post we provided but did not limit ourselves to the standard answer: Obama´s father abandoned the family when Obama was three years old. Rather, we ascribed his father complex primarily to Obama´s status as the quintessential middle class man. Not only is he middle class in socioeconomic terms -- his family was neither rich nor poor -- but also, as a mulatto, Obama is racially, visibly and permanently in an intermediate/transitional/marginal condition.
On the one hand, on the other; there´s the good side and the bad side. Whip-sawed back and forth by ambivalent emotions, most of them unconscious, the middle class man seeks relief in an absolute -- because an absolute is the opposite of ambivalence.
How, then, did Obama´s ambivalence manifest itself? And what absolute did it create?
"Obama makes (p. 6) a resounding statement of his own ambivalence/absolute connection: ´At the time of his death, my father remained a myth to me, both more and less than a man.´ Any extreme always testifies to the presence of its opposite nearby, usually in a latent condition. That presence and its tension is what gives the first extreme its energy, i.e., makes it an extreme.
In Obama´s case: my father was a myth, more than a man."
Wilhelm Reich: A little man does not know he is little and is afraid to know. He hides his pettiness and narrowness behind illusions of strength and greatness, someone else's strength and greatness ...
Obama´s absolute, then, is his Übbermensch father. Attributing superman qualities to someone else is both cause and consequence of a dilemma:
"Of course, as a real live human, my father could not but occasionally fall short of a mythological status; therefore ... my father was less than a man. Inferior. A violent drunk? A womanizer? In the extremist dynamics of middle class psychology, it is all or nothing ...
The telltale heart of the consummate middle class man -- the man of extreme moderation -- is something that is not there: no moderating intermediate points to fall back on."
You may be wondering, dear reader, how could Obama get rid of his father complex? That complex, to repeat, is what makes Obama a little man. That little man will not win in Syria.
¨[The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion] holds (p. 394) that the way out of entanglement in ambivalent feelings begins with a simple recognition and hard acknowledgement of them: ´By holding ambiguity and ambivalent emotions surrounding it in consciousness -- by not repressing, denying, explaining away, or otherwise minimizing them...´ Anything less only serves to preserve the autonomy of unconscious ambivalence...
When a middle class man becomes conscious of and admits without reservation his ambivalent emotions, he can begin to control them -- instead of being controlled by them; he can cease to be possessed by an unconscious archetype. In that process, he ceases to be available for manipulation by others who recognize and understand the archetype.
There is something else ambivalence-made-conscious brings to the middle class man: a freeing up of energy that makes available the richness which ambiguity can furnish ...
Where does Obama stand? [In particular, does] he fully acknowledge his racial intermediate/marginal/transitional status and consciously deal with it, or is he doing something else? Who or what is in control?
His book (p. 4) provides the answer:
´They know too much, we have all seen too much, to take my parents’ brief union -- a black man and white woman, an African and an American -- at face value. As a result, some people have a hard time taking me at face value. When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose -- the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds.´
Mixed blood, divided soul, trapped between two worlds: Obama found the door to a full recognition and acknowledgement of his ambiguous black and white, intermediate/marginal/transitional -- middle class -- status. Did he turn the handle, enter? Confront the truth?
This is what happened:
´And if I were to explain that no, the tragedy is not mine, or at least not mine alone, it is yours, sons and daughters of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island, it is yours, children of Africa, it is the tragedy of both my wife’s six-year-old cousin and his white first grade classmates [who would not play with him], so that you need not guess at what troubles me, it’s on the nightly news for all to see, and that if we could acknowledge at least that much then the tragic cycle begins to break down...´
The tragedy is not mine alone, it is yours; Plymouth Rock; first grade; nightly news: Obama blew off the encounter. He turned, walked away from the very acknowledgement he rightly intuited is the key. A momentous discovery went undiscovered. Read his words again: he explained away; he minimized. He repressed. He copped out."
Wilhelm Reich: A great man knows when and in what way he is a little man. The tragedy was Obama had come a long way only to arrive at a precipice, fall off. You´re afraid to look at yourself, little man.
"To this day, Obama attempts to solve his middle class racial status by denying it exists; he says he is Black, period ... [H]owever, his unconscious is telling him something else. Until he listens, it will continue to speak and always in the same way: self-sabotage.
After his words break down, where did Obama go?
He did the only thing he knows how to do. He openly said what it is: hide from himself. He forged ahead in a discordant, hypomaniacal -- almost logorreheic -- torrent of words:
"well, I suspect that I sound incurably naive, wedded to lost hopes, like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns. Or worse, I sound like I’m trying to hide from myself. I don’t fault people their suspicions. I learned long ago to distrust my childhood and the stories that shaped it. It was only many years later, after I had sat at my father’s grave and spoken to him through Africa’s red soil, that I could circle back and evaluate these early stories for myself. Or, more accurately, it was only then that I understood that I had spent much of my life trying to rewrite these stories, plugging up holes in the narrative, accommodating unwelcome details, projecting individual choices against the blind sweep of history, all in the hope of extracting some granite slab of truth upon which my unborn children can firmly stand. At some point, then, in spite of a stubborn desire to protect myself from scrutiny, in spite of the periodic impulse to abandon the entire project, what has found its way onto these pages is a record of a personal, interior journey-a boy’s search for his father, and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black American."
Lost hopes, fringes, hiding, fault, distrust, circle back, re-write, plugging up, accommodating, projecting, blind, stubborn, protect, scrutiny, periodic impulse to abandon. The granite slab of truth -- the absolute -- Obama is searching for is simultaneously hidden and revealed in those words -- his words -- nowhere else ... "
We come to the proverbial bottom line:
"Until Obama acknowledges his ambivalence and strips it of its sovereignty, we will only see more of the same pattern: error, frailty, miscalculation, trespass ... missing the mark. How can it be otherwise when there is on-going manipulation of his ambivalence by others, particularly intelligence agencies domestic and foreign?"
Obama´s problem with Anwar al-Awlaki and Bashar al-Assad is the same as Kissinger´s problem with Ho Chi Minh: obsession. That obsession -- or sensitivity -- prevents Obama from doing what is required to win in Syria, viz., include everyone -- Assad, too -- who wants to join an International Alliance Against ISIS.
The double tragedy is that Obama in his early years constructively used the energy of his ambivalent emotions. That energy was powerful indeed; it propelled him above other men and put him in the White House. Today, having abandoned his original values and the energy that went with them, he is no longer up to the task.
* * *
We conclude by answering our two questions:
(i) Why is Obama so mistaken -- make that, irrational -- about Syria?
Answer: he is driven by an unconscious father complex which is constellated by President Assad.
Assad must go, Obama continues to insist. In case anybody missed it, in September he said it again to the entire world, to the UN. All or nothing. The lack of moderating intermediate points is the giveaway of Obama´s middle class, i.e., intermediate/transitional/marginal, status. I will say it again: the father complex produced and maintained by that status is what is rendering Obama a little man incapable of doing what needs to be done to defeat ISIS.
We are looking at nothing less that Barack Obama´s legacy -- or lack of one. Had he not been a little man he could have united the world in a grand, all-inclusive alliance against ISIS. By that process alone he could have instituted a New World Order to replace the dysfunctional Old World Disorder founded by Henry Kissinger et al. On that score alone, Obama would have been remembered as a great man.
Instead, he divided the world by forming his own private exclusive club of satellites (the Combined Joint Task Force) to fight ISIS. A satellite himself, Obama could not have done otherwise. A little man -- make that, a very little man -- he did not have it in him to do what a desperate situation so desperately demands to be done.
(ii) What is required to correct the mistakes of America and its allies in Syria?
(1) Wait until 12:00, January 20, 2017. That is when the next American president takes office. Obama, not Assad, will step aside. Thereafter, The Obama Factor will no longer have international repercussions. It will shrink back to its root: one person. A guy.
(2) Other nations can stop waiting for a Chicago politician to solve their problems, go ahead and forge the IAAI. The actions of Russian President Putin hint this option is gaining traction.
Putin is not the only chief of state heading toward a broader alliance. Calling the terrorist attacks on Paris "an act of war," French President Hollande is seeking concerted European Union action against ISIS. The EU is a major player; it contains the world´s third largest population after China and India.
We noted at the start of this post that given present international political conditions, the defeat of ISIS in Syria is the necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the final defeat of ISIS. We also mentioned we have a caveat. It comes in the form of an alternative scenario:
Under new political conditions, viz., the reality of an IAAI, there would be no need to defeat ISIS in Syria.
Confronted with a united world, ISIS would not wait to be checkmated. It would implode, turn down its king, resign. Two weeks maximum.
Coming Next. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Leader of The ISIS attacks on Paris, and The 75% Solution to Terrorism.
November 21 Update. Is the United Nations moving in the direction of an IAAI?
Yesterday, the Security Council "unequivocally" condemned ISIS for attacks on Paris and elsewhere. Although the Council called ISIS "an unprecedented" threat, it did not invoke Chapter VII providing for the Security Council to "take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security." New terrorist attacks could change the UN´s nonmilitary posture -- and quickly.
The BBC summed up: "It is premature to speak of a grand anti-IS Coalition, but there are whispers of one in the making." This blog will persevere in creating and increasing those whispers, make them louder. P.S. We are not alone in believing an IAAI would spell the end of ISIS within weeks.
Update: November 26. The United States is hardening its fixation on Assad. Yesterday, it imposed treasury sanctions on Russian and Syrian individuals and businesses designated by Washington to be assisting Assad. Thus, Obama is moving away from, not toward, an IAAI.
The same misguided movement is behind Turkey´s downing of a Russian warplane. If Washington had created an inclusive rather than an exclusive alliance, the incident would not have occurred. Turkey would have (i) required Russian or any other aircraft entering its airspace to seek permission, then (ii) granted permission automatically to any IAAI member such as Russia. A bone of contention would have been transformed into a bone of cooperation.
*To see firsthand America´s impoverished thinking on this subject, watch this interview with the head of the NSA -- Washington´s Number 1 "Spy Chief" -- James Clapper. What you will see is a prime example of buro-pathic reasoning.
Clapper says Putin is "winging it" in Syria, that he has no grand plan. I repeat the fundamental note on chess strategy made in our prior post: you first try to control the center of the board. Nobody can foresee all the chess moves made after that control is established -- something that Clapper insinuates Putin, if he were truly a grand master -- would/could/should do.
The fact of the matter is that in politics there is no need to be omniscient. Once you control the center, the outcome is usually determined. In the Middle East conflict, Putin is well on his way to establishing that control.
As for Putin´s long-term strategy, it is hidden in plain sight. Russia now has a military base in Syria. Go figure.
**Names have been changed -- not to protect the innocent but to avoid unseemly lawsuits.
***The Justice Department´s secret memo explaining why the killing of Awlaki was constitutional is here. The memo was made public only after lengthy legal challenges by the ACLU and New York Times.
Drafted by David Barron, who was later awarded a federal judgeship, the memo´s leaky logic and slab-dab presentation are why Obama was so determined to keep it secret. Beneath criticism, Barron´s memo is a vintage display of the Blivet Trick, i.e., trying to shove 10 pounds of horse shit into a five-pound bag.
I won´t waste my time or yours, dear reader, analyzing it.
****(« Il vaut bien mieux […] traiter l’homme comme sensible, au lieu de le traiter comme raisonnable. ») Charles de Montesquieu, Lettres persanes, Pocket, Paris, 1998, p. 76. (Lettre XXXIII).