Friday, March 27, 2015

Obama is Beau Geste's Sgt. Markoff

Remember the movie Beau Geste (1939)? I barely do. However I do remember the sadistic Sgt. Markoff of Fort Zinderneuf. I particularly recall Markoff's good fortune to have the Arab attackers appear when he needed them, and then flee when they no longer served his purpose. His line from the movie reminds me of President Obama's political career: "Look at them [the Arabs besieging Fort Zinderneuf]. They come when I want them, and they go when I don't need them anymore."

Such was Obama's good fortune both instances he ran for president. The press would magically appear to cheer when it served him, but disappear when no longer needed, or when Obama wanted time on the links.

Just as Markoff's good fortune ran out, so has Obama's. The press is questioning his ability to conduct foreign policy, and the real Arabs besieging Iraq and Syria, and the Russians menacing Ukraine and the Baltic states are showing little sign of decamping to suit Obama's golfing commitments.

Zinderneuf is now the whole Middle East. From Syria and Iraq struggling with ISIS, to the proxy war in Yemen between Iran and the US, and the precarious situation along Africa's Mediterranean coast, events have plainly outstripped Obama's abilities.

This is what happens when you grow up having everything magically go your way. In the past, Obama could count on people working to advance him. It worked all the way through law school, and his whole political career. Even the Nobel Committee did their part.

Unfortunately for him, the wider world doesn't exist to help him with either his plans, nor to help lower his handicap.

Expecting a Deus ex machina solution is not a foreign policy.