Posts Tagged ‘cautious

10
Aug
11

wednesday

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Ron Klain (Washington Monthly): Among the many misconceptions about Barack Obama is that he is cautious. In fact, it is hard to think of a modern president in recent times who has been more willing to take big risks, not because he is reckless, but because he is willing to suffer potential short-term setbacks to achieve a desired long-term result. It is in that context that the much-maligned debt-ceiling compromise must be understood.

…. One example early in his administration was his choice to “bail out” the automobile industry …. Obama took action by investing substantial funds, demanding important management and strategic changes, requiring bankruptcy filings, and painfully shrinking auto-dealer networks. All were risky steps that could have quickly unraveled.

Two years later, that choice is paying off: Car sales have risen, auto-industry employment is up, taxpayers are getting their money back, and U.S. cars are getting higher consumer ratings than ever.

Health-Care Overhaul: …. many of the president’s advisers urged him to abandon the push for a comprehensive bill, and pursue a far more limited approach. But Obama wouldn’t bend, and took a gigantic risk: He pressed for a House vote on a bill that was passed by the Senate the previous year and was unpopular with many House Democrats.

Obama could have easily, and visibly, lost. Yet, once again, his gamble paid off, achieving a victory that had escaped his predecessors.

Bin Laden Raid: …. the president once again rejected the play-it-safe advice of many advisers, and ordered SEAL Team 6 to carry out its heroic raid to kill Osama bin Laden. The safer alternative – a drone strike – would have minimized the fallout if the al-Qaeda leader wasn’t at the target, or if the assault went awry. But the president believed the bin Laden’s death could only be verified with a manned raid; once again, the risky decision was the right choice.

…. So now we come to the recent debt-ceiling deal … In accepting a deal that swapped an increase of more than $2 trillion in the debt ceiling for discretionary spending cuts that Republicans wanted – without balanced, revenue-increasing measures – the president didn’t give up on his goal, as some progressive critics have alleged. Instead, he gambled that he would be able to reach his objective later.

The key to this wager is the package of contingent cuts that will be triggered if Congress fails to pass additional deficit reduction after a so-called super-committee makes recommendations in November….. the White House should do everything possible to convince the widest spectrum of voters that the consequences of activation of the trigger would be unacceptable.

…Ultimately, the only way that Republicans will accept what they consider unacceptable – revenue increases – is if the alternative is even less acceptable: horrific defense and Medicare cuts.

…. Obama’s willingness to mark his time and double down may be vindicated, and the critics who are betting against him now may be proven wrong once again.

Full article here

Thank you Loriah

25
Mar
11

in defense of ‘dithering’

Timothy Egan (New York Times): Five years ago a young politician who seemed wise beyond his years was asked by Tim Russert what makes a great president … he took a thought breath before proceeding: “Obviously, most of the time it seems that the president has maybe 10 percent of his agenda set by himself, and 90 percent of it set by circumstance.”

Barack Obama: meet your 90 percent. The senator who so accurately predicted how events make the leader now finds himself a president trying to lead through those events.

….Libya ….In his deliberative fashion, Obama ultimately saved countless lives in the short term, and will allow the rebels in Libya to own their revolution in the long term, if they can push ahead….

What Obama wanted to avoid … was the “messianic certainty” that led President George W. Bush to start a disastrous, trillion-dollar occupation of Iraq. In putting together an international coalition, backed by a United Nations resolution and the Arab League — all in record time — Obama also pulled off a nice bit of statecraft…

Still, Republicans can’t cope with a president who tries to think before he leaps. Mitt Romney, who wakes most mornings in a groggy scramble to find his principles, faults Obama for the nuance of his Libya policy. How dare the president see shades of gray instead of black and white!

Newt Gingrich first criticized Obama for not imposing a no-fly zone, but now hits him for imposing a no-fly zone. You read that right…. Obama’s least-thoughtful critics attack him for thinking….

….His 90 percent of circumstances started on Inauguration Day, when Bush handed him the worse recession since the Great Depression, and continued through an oil spill that nearly poisoned an entire ecosystem.

During the spill, it was liberal cable pundits who wanted a president who could shout, emote and point fingers. Instead, he quickly negotiated a $20 billion escrow fund from BP that attempts to make whole those hurt by the spill. Similar success followed with the auto bailout, which saved General Motors, but cost Obama much of his early political capital.

…A poll just published by Reuters/Ipsos found 48 percent of respondents describing Obama’s military leadership as “cautious and consultative.” Another 36 percent chose “indecisive and dithering.”

I would argue that the combined 84 percent are basically saying the same thing — that this president is anything but impulsive. And next year, with an improving economy in a world where the United States is held in much higher regard, most people will probably choose a president who takes time to get it right, rather than one who is afraid to dither for a good outcome.

Full article here

24
Mar
11

cautious & consultative = weak. seriously.

You gotta love the poll Reuters carried out with Ipsos after the start of operations in Libya. People were given just three choices to describe President Obama, these were the results:

48 percent: Cautious and consultative
36 percent: Indecisive and dithering
17 percent: Strong and decisive

Note how they separate ‘cautious and consultative’ from ‘strong and decisive’, like being cautious and consultative are signs of weakness when you’re contemplating sending American men and women in to combat. If weakness is being cautious about taking military action against another country, before consulting widely to get the best advice, and then acting accordingly – then I love weakness!

Reuters’ headline? ‘Few Americans see Obama as strong military leader’!

So, because 48% chose cautious and consultative, instead of ‘strong and decisive’, Reuters seem to interpret this as meaning those 48% think the President is ‘indecisive and dithering’. Okay – but if that’s the case, then, eh, why didn’t they choose ‘indecisive and dithering’?

Could it possibly be that these people just think being cautious and consultative is a good thing, bearing in mind the catastrophic military madness of the Bush creature (and his VP, Dick Haliburton) and all the lives lost during his ‘reign’?

“The survey suggested Americans may see Obama in a very different light from his predecessor, George W. Bush, who launched the Afghanistan and Iraq wars with some allies but was widely seen as a go-it-alone leader.”

No shit Sherlock!

😆

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Thanks to Suzanne for linking this terrific Kevin Drum post in the comments:

Kevin Drum (Mother Jones): I’m not likely to blog very much about Libya, but I have to say there’s an air of unreality surrounding a lot of the commentary that’s starting to get on my nerves. Criticizing Obama for not consulting Congress is one thing. It’s not as if this is some kind of unprecedented break with past practice or anything, but still. I get it.

But the “dithering” complaint? Give me a break. When did it suddenly become a personality defect to decline to intervene in a foreign rebellion the instant it broke out? Isn’t there anyone left who appreciates the fact that Obama still retains a few shreds of anti-interventionist instinct and moves in a deliberate fashion?

Then there’s the “why did he change his mind?” nonsense. Answer: because when events on the ground are moving fast, presidents change their minds. How? Usually by first holding a meeting and getting lots of input. Obama changed his mind last Tuesday in exactly the same way that every president since George Washington has changed his mind.

And then the “following, not leading” complaint. Look: if the only thing you actually care about is showing just how manly the United States can be, this makes sense. But that’s a pretty stupid justification. There’s just no reason why America should be required to take the leadership role in every military action around the globe.

Finally, there’s all the handwringing over why we’re intervening in Libya but not Bahrain or the Congo or Yemen. Please…..

Look: I’m not really happy about the intervention in Libya ….. but an awful lot of the criticism is just so unremittingly juvenile that I can hardly stand listening to it anymore. Time to grow up, people.

Full post here

23
Mar
11

‘obama’s cautious approach is perfectly sensible’

UK Independent: …Think what would have happened if Washington had taken the lead in declaring a no-fly-zone over Libya without UN agreement or Arab backing. The people now criticising President Obama for dilatoriness would be accusing him of being another Bush. And if he’d refused to have anything to do with the no-fly-zone, commentators in Europe and the Middle East would be saying that it was because, at the end of the day, America doesn’t want democracy in the Arab world, that it prefers the rulers of Bahrain and Yemen to suppress revolt than bow before it….

…Obama’s cautious approach is perfectly sensible. Libya is not America’s dogfight. Thanks in large part to Lockerbie, Washington has never favoured Gaddafi. It is, in US eyes, and rightly, a European problem. It was France and Britain – Sarkozy and Blair – who spent their time sucking up so obscenely to the Libyan dictator, just as Silvio Berlusconi embraced him in a Faustian pact to stop illegal migration from Africa. Washington under President George W Bush certainly welcomed Gaddafi’s dramatic (and largely meaningless) gesture of giving up nuclear ambitions – but they didn’t sell their souls to him in the way we (the British), and the French, did.

Nor can Washington be blamed for being forced into military command of the first phase of the Libyan operation by the simple fact that it is only the US that has the hardware and control systems to do it. French objections to this becoming a Nato exercise are just so much hot air. They can’t do it, nor can the British in alliance with them.

Obama is also right to spell out, as he did this week, a clear separation between the objectives of the UN resolution, which is to protect Libyan civilians, and the objectives of American policy, which is to see the back of the Colonel.

…Once Gaddafi had turned the military tide and was openly threatening, by word as well as deed, to wreak his wrath on the rebels in Benghazi, the world couldn’t stand by and watch a massacre. Memories of Srebrenica and Rwanda are too raw for western politicians to allow it to happen again….

Full article here

21
Mar
11

‘smartly played’

President Barack Obama speaks at the La Moneda Cultural Center in Santiago, March 21

USA Today: …. A week ago, virtually no one thought it possible that the Security Council would authorize a no-fly zone over Libya, much less a resolution permitting ” all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

President Obama insisted on this for good reason. It provides a legal basis for the intervention and neuters any claim — useful to Gadhafi and other miscreants — that this is an exercise in American imperialism. It is akin to successful military actions such as the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the mid-1990s peace engineered in Bosnia, and distinctly unlike the 2003 Iraq invasion.

America’s interests are further helped by Obama’s eagerness to reduce the U.S. military profile in favor of others. He demanded that the Arab League not just endorse a no-fly zone but also participate in enforcing one. Several nations agreed.

Obama’s plan to step back within days after the initial attacks and cede substantial leadership to Europeans and Arabs is particularly wise. Both have much more at stake in Libya than the U.S. does. There’s no reason other than hubris that the United States should bear their burden instead.

Against those facts, complaints that Obama moved too slowly look bombastic. Lacking adequate groundwork, he should not have moved at all, and even so, the course of events is disturbingly uncertain.

Military intervention should always be a last resort, and if ultimately necessary, it should be aimed at a clear, attainable goal and fought with total commitment.

Whether the Libyan attack meets that standard remains to be seen. It is a high-stakes gamble, but at least one that appears smartly played at the outset.

Full article here

18
Mar
11

‘caution is obama’s only option. but it’s working’

UK Independent: The United States appears to have been taking a back seat in coping with the Libyan crisis, leaving its European allies and the Arab world to make the running. And that is exactly how Washington wants it.

After Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little appetite on Capitol Hill and absolutely none in the White House for another US-led attack on a Muslim country, at least without the declared blessing – and better still, the participation – of other Arab states.

In the end, the Obama administration had little choice. However much it abhors the slightest risk of another Middle Eastern military entanglement, there was no way the US could be caught, as the well-worn American phrase goes, on the wrong side of history, watching from the sidelines as a dictator unleashed brutal violence against his own people.

With its authorisation of “all necessary force… short of foreign occupation” to protect the Libyan civilian population from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s onslaught, Thursday evening’s Security Council resolution at the United Nations essentially makes the best of a bad job. The mission has been couched in humanitarian terms. The resolution’s wording explicitly rules out an Iraq-style ground war. It follows approval by the Arab League of a no-fly zone over Libya, while White House officials made clear yesterday they expected logistical support from “Arab partners”.

…Like everyone else, the US is scrambling to keep up. And Washington must display an especially delicate touch, given its vast geo-strategic interests in the region, the need to preserve alliances and the importance of making sure the turbulence does not play out to the longer-term advantage of Iran.

Thus far, this cautious approach – one that reflects the instincts of Barack Obama – seems to be working. In Tunisia and Egypt, friendly governments were toppled but their replacements, at least for now, have not sought to break ties with Washington. Nor does radical Islam appear to be moving to fill the vacuum.

The Gaddafi regime’s declaration of a ceasefire after the Security Council resolution is also probably exactly what Washington wants. Whether it is sincere, or merely a ploy to buy time, the next few days will tell. But at least it raises the chance of a peaceful outcome.

Full article here

President Barack Obama talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following a meeting in the Oval Office, March 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

18
Mar
11

‘shrewd caution on libya’

Chicago Tribune: For the Obama administration, the crisis in Libya represents more of a risk than an opportunity. Moammar Gadhafi has always been a tyrant, but in recent years he has given up his nuclear program and stopped sponsoring terrorism, defusing threats to our security. Already fighting two major wars, the U.S. can ill afford to join a new one.

But when armed rebels rose up to fight the regime, provoking a brutal response from Gadhafi, President Barack Obama nonetheless found himself under pressure to take military action. Calls to intervene came not only from Republicans like Sen. John McCain but from Democrat John Kerry. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the president looked “weak and uncertain.”

In fact, he was neither. What he exhibited was shrewdness. Obama was not about to be pushed into a commitment fraught with uncertainty in a country that presented no clear danger to the U.S.

He didn’t affect cynical indifference. He accused Gadhafi of “appalling violence against the Libyan people” and called on him to step down. Obama left open all options. But he let the world know that if military action were going to be taken, other nations were not going to get to cheer on the sidelines while the U.S. did the work.

And what do you know? Someone stepped up. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for air strikes against Gadhafi’s forces. The Arab League, which is historically loath to turn on one of its own, endorsed a no-fly zone.

Britain announced it would deploy warplanes to the region to “take the necessary action.” On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize military steps, including enforcement of a no-fly zone. All this without Washington promising to play anything more than a supporting role.

We’re still skeptical about this mission. In effect, the world has declared war on Gadhafi, ordered him to give up power, but telegraphed that it won’t send ground troops to complete the task.

Hours after the UN vote, Libya announced a cease-fire in an evident attempt to head off an attack, but it pretty quickly became apparent that Gadhafi wasn’t abiding by his own truce.

Best case, the cease-fire becomes real, the bloodshed stops, the rebels get in a position to negotiate. If not, Gadhafi will encounter outside force that could doom his rule. Either way, the U.S. will not be terribly exposed at a time when it is already stretched thin.

All in all, Obama played his cards well. Prudence is an underrated virtue in a national leader. A president like this one who finds a way to advance worthy foreign policy goals without taking big risks is not showing weakness. He’s conserving strength.

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Peter Fenn (Democratic media consultant: Cool, calm, collected and deliberate wins over impetuous and knee-jerk, every time. Presidnet Obama was right not to act precipitously and to get the U.N. and nations around the world to join together.

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Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer (Chairman, Empire Government Strategies; former member, New York State Assembly): The president’s far-right critics were itching for there to be another incursion into a foreign country at a time when the country doesn’t need another war. Their desire for another war has more to do with the president being embarrassed in the next election than anything else. It is obvious that the U.S. government wanted the Arab League to get on board and approve a no-fly zone, which it did. That precipitated a U.N. resolution that also turned up the heat on Qadhafi. It is clear the president’s strategy was totally correct and today’s events prove it.

Sens. McCain and Lieberman were “trigger-happy” for the country to get into another war. Luckily no one was listening to either one. You can score this as a big victory for the president.

18
Mar
11

a thinking president. now, that’s change you can believe in.

ABC: Whatever military action takes place against the forces of Col. Moammar Gadhafi will be in keeping with President Obama’s desire that this conflict be seen as a showdown between the Libyan regime and the international community, senior administration officials tell ABC News. This includes not just NATO forces, but conspicuous Arab involvement.

President Obama expects that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will participate, as leaders from those countries have committed to do, officials say. Other Arab countries are considering participation. The Arab League over the weekend endorsed the idea of a no-fly zone, but getting leaders from those countries to go from talk to action is no small task.

…President Obama has tried hard not to feed into Gadhafi’s megalomaniacal worldview by making this confrontation him versus Obama, or the US versus Gadhafi, officials say. With US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president is also sensitive to not have any pending military action be seen as the U.S. invading a third Muslim country.

10
Mar
11

‘why obama is taking his time deciding what to do about Libya’

Fred Kaplan (Slate): Is President Obama dithering over Libya? In the past week or so, a diverse array of commentators — Republican hawks, the usual neocons, and some normally gun-shy Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry — has called on Obama to take action now. Some have charged Obama with queasiness or lack of principles for not charging the ramparts from the get-go. But one can imagine several very good reasons for the president’s … let’s call it caution.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been outspokenly leery of military options. Some scoff at their hesitation, and it is true that, for the past 40 years, U.S. military leaders have tended, more than many of their civilian bosses, to warn of war’s risks. The thing is, they often do know what they’re talking about.

Take the most popular proposal on the table, the imposition of a no-fly zone over at least parts of Libya, to prevent Moammar Qaddafi’s pilots from bombing or strafing the rebels fighting for his overthrow. As Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the JCS chairman, have said, a no-fly zone is no small matter. It is, for one thing, an act of war and therefore prompts the question: Do you really want to get into this? Do you want to get into another war in another Muslim country in the Middle East?

Leon Wieseltier recently wrote in the New Republic, “I do not see a Middle East rising up in anger at the prospect of American intervention.” Oh, really. Where did we last see that degree of blitheness?

Full article here




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