Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hillary Dissing POTUS in the Atlantic: All Smoke & Mirrors


Because more often than not all you are getting is Smoke & Mirrors ...

This is NOT about Hillary Clinton. 

I am focused on Democrats winning in November and, personally, I find it a total waste of my time to even think about the 2016. Further, I especially find it a total waste of my time to think about alleged potential candidates who have not declared their intentions in the context of the 2016 Election.

Having said that, this is about how MSM plays many of us ~ getting us to focus on what they want to talk about and, while doing so, distracting us from what should be our main mission from now until November 4th ~ informing Democrats and getting Democrats out to vote for Democrats.

And what MSM wants to do is talk about Hillary Clinton. To do that they have to keep finding new ways to do it and, oftentimes, that translates into pitting her against anyone they can, leading to a whole lot of misinforming of the electorate.

Sometimes MSM misinformation comes in the form of divining the news, sometimes it comes in the form of ignorance, sometimes it comes in the form of omission and sometimes it comes in the form of outright lying.

And it is up to us to figure out what is Truth and what is BS.

 In the case of Jeffrey Goldberg’s much discussed August 10, 2014 Hillary Clinton piece: “ 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS “ the misinformation is primarily in the form of omission of qualifiers of the complexities, many of which can be found in the transcript the writer did so kindly provide with the story.

As a bit of a brief exercise in how to read and or listen to a media piece very, very carefully let’s take a look at some of the highlights of that Atlantic story…

Start with the headline and the extended tag line:

“Hillary Clinton: 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels L
ed to the Rise of ISIS

The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obama's: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."”

Now ask yourself, is it true? Did Hillary Clinton really say the Commander-in-Chief failed in Syria (causing the rise of ISIL, is the point of that charge, of course)? Did she really confirm that “Don’t do stupid stuff” is the Foreign Policy of a United States President?

I don’t think so.

First, my experience tells me if Hillary Clinton called out POTUS for failure in anything his name would have been in the headline so I'm not buying it from Jump Street; Second, I can’t tell if it is a news article or an opinion piece and that does nothing to boost the credibility of the piece and; Third, using his own opinion juxtaposed with a direct quote from POTUS, the writer contradicts himself in his opening paragraph. I would have stopped reading this piece after the lead if I hadn't decided to dissect it a bit.

He writes, President Obama has long ridiculed the idea that the U.S., early in the Syrian civil war, could have shaped the forces fighting the Assad regime, thereby stopping al Qaeda-inspired groups—like the one rampaging across Syria and Iraq today—from seizing control of the rebellion. In an interview in February, the president told me that “when you have a professional army ... fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict—the notion that we could have, in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces, changed the equation on the ground there was never true.”

NOTE: ACCORDING TO THE POTUS QUOTE THE WRITER CHOSE TO USE, POTUS DID NOT RIDICULE THE IDEA THAT PERHAPS, MAYBE, WE COULD HAVE SHAPED THE SITUATION IN SYRIA. HE SAID WE COULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT IN A WAY THAT DID NOT COMMIT U.S. MILITARY FORCES. THAT IS QUITE DIFFERENT.

He writes, Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the "failure" that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said. …”
NOTE: WHOSE FAILURE? THE UNORGANIZED PROTESTERS? THE UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS? POTUS? HE WAS INTERVIEWING HER, WHY DIDN’T HE ASK HER?

Again, a shout out to Goldberg for attaching the transcript to the piece so I can give you an excerpt or two from his work and you can read Hillary’s words for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Here’s an excerpt relevant to that “failure” thing ~

JG: You go out of your way in Hard Choices to praise Robert Ford, who recently quit as U.S. ambassador to Syria, as an excellent diplomat. Ford quit in protest and has recently written strongly about what he sees as the inadequacies of Obama administration policy. Do you agree with Ford that we are at fault for not doing enough to build up a credible Syrian opposition when we could have?

HRC: I have the highest regard for Robert. I’m the one who convinced the administration to send an ambassador to Syria. You know, this is why I called the chapter on Syria “A Wicked Problem.” I can’t sit here today and say that if we had done what I recommended, and what Robert Ford recommended, that we’d be in a demonstrably different place.

JG: That’s the president’s argument,  that we wouldn’t be in a different place.

HRC: Well, I did believe, which is why I advocated this, that if we were to carefully vet, train, and equip early on a core group of the developing Free Syrian Army, we would, number one, have some better insight into what was going on on the ground. Two, we would have been helped in standing up a credible political opposition, which would prove to be very difficult, because there was this constant struggle between what was largely an exile group outside of Syria trying to claim to be the political opposition, and the people on the ground, primarily those doing the fighting and dying, who rejected that, and we were never able to bridge that, despite a lot of efforts that Robert and others made. 

So I did think that eventually, and I said this at the time, in a conflict like this, the hard men with the guns are going to be the more likely actors in any political transition than those on the outside just talking. And therefore we needed to figure out how we could support them on the ground, better equip them, and we didn’t have to go all the way, and I totally understand the cautions that we had to contend with, but we’ll never know. And I don’t think we can claim to know.

JG: You do have a suspicion, though.

HRC: Obviously. I advocated for a position.

JG: Do you think we’d be where we are with ISIS right now if the U.S. had done more three years ago to build up a moderate Syrian opposition?

HRC: Well, I don’t know the answer to that. I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.

They were often armed in an indiscriminate way by other forces and we had no skin in the game that really enabled us to prevent this indiscriminate arming.

JG: Is there a chance that President Obama overlearned the lessons of the previous administration? In other words, if the story of the Bush administration is one of overreach, is the story of the Obama administration one of underreach?

RC: You know, I don’t think you can draw that conclusion. It’s a very key question. How do you calibrate, that’s the key issue. I think we have learned a lot during this period, but then how to apply it going forward will still take a lot of calibration and balancing. But you know, we helped overthrow [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi.

Also, at some point in the transcript he asks:

JG: Is the lesson for you, like it is for President Obama, “Don’t do stupid shit”?

HRC: That’s a good lesson but it’s more complicated than that. Because your stupid may not be mine, and vice versa. I don’t think it was stupid for the United States to do everything we could to remove Qaddafi because that came from the bottom up. That was people asking us to help. It was stupid to do what we did in Iraq and to have no plan about what to do after we did it. That was really stupid. I don’t think you can quickly jump to conclusions about what falls into the stupid and non-stupid categories. That’s what I’m arguing.

If I wasn’t convinced of the writer wasn’t credible after the first paragraph, I certainly would after these two direct Hillary Clinton quotes from those two excerpts, I can conclude that the story is not true

“… You know, this is why I called the chapter on Syria “A Wicked Problem.” I can’t sit here today and say that if we had done what I recommended, and what Robert Ford recommended, that we’d be in a demonstrably different place.
“… That’s a good lesson but it’s more complicated than that. Because your stupid may not be mine, and vice versa. …”

Here’s another reference to that “failure” thing ~

He writes,  As she writes in her memoir of her State Department years, "Hard Choices", she was an inside-the-administration advocate of doing more to help the Syrian rebellion. Now, her supporters argue, her position has been vindicated by recent events.


NOTE: SUPPORTERS? WHO? NAME NAMES.


He writes,  Professional Clinton-watchers (and there are battalions of them) have told me that it is only a matter of time before she makes a more forceful attempt to highlight her differences with the (unpopular) president she ran against, and then went on to serve. On a number of occasions during my interview with her, I got the sense that this effort is already underway. (And for what it's worth, I also think she may have told me that she’s running for president—see below for her not-entirely-ambiguous nod in that direction.)

NOTE: “PROFESSIONAL CLINTON-WATCHERS..,” WHO? NAME NAMES.  “…I got the sense that this effort is already underway …” THAT IS NOT REPORTING, THAT IS DIVINING BASED ON A FEELING. “…I also think she may have told me that she’s running for president …” THAT IS NOT REPORTING EITHER, THAT IS DIVINING, BASED ONE’S PERSONAL SENSES.

He wrote, Of course, Clinton had many kind words for the “incredibly intelligent” and “thoughtful” Obama, and she expressed sympathy and understanding for the devilishly complicated challenges he faces. But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious, and she made the case that America needs a leader who believes that the country, despite its various missteps, is an indispensable force for good. At one point, I mentioned the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit” (an expression often rendered as “Don’t do stupid stuff” in less-than-private encounters).

NOTE:  “… But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious …” BUT SHE ALSO SUGGESTED IS NOT REPORTING, IT’S GUESSING. WHERE’S THE DIRECT QUOTE?

He wrote,  This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
She softened the blow by noting that Obama was “trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy,” but she repeatedly suggested that the U.S. sometimes appears to be withdrawing from the world stage.

Here’s a transcript excerpt relevant to: “Don’t do stupid stuff”:

JG: So why do you think the president went out of his way to suggest recently that that this is his foreign policy in a nutshell?

HRC: I think he was trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy. I’ve sat in too many rooms with the president. He’s thoughtful, he’s incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time. I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited, both the two wars and the economic front, and he has expended a lot of capital and energy trying to pull us out of the hole we’re in.

So I think that that’s a political message. It’s not his worldview, if that makes sense to you.
During a discussion about the dangers of jihadism (a topic that has her “hepped-up," she told me moments after she greeted me at her office in New York) and of the sort of resurgent nationalism seen in Russia today, I noted that Americans are quite wary right now of international commitment-making. She responded by arguing that there is a happy medium between bellicose posturing (of the sort she associated with the George W. Bush administration) and its opposite, a focus on withdrawal.

“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” she said. “One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”

I responded by saying that I thought that “defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.” In other words, that the U.S., on balance, has done a good job of advancing the cause of freedom.

Clinton responded to this idea with great enthusiasm: “That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned.” And then she seemed to signal that, yes, indeed, she’s planning to run for president. “Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea, but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.”

She said that the resilience, and expansion, of Islamist terrorism means that the U.S. must develop an “overarching” strategy to confront it, and she equated this struggle to the one the U.S. waged against Soviet-led communism.

Clinton-watchers say it's a matter of time before she highlights her differences with Obama. I got the sense that this effort is well underway.

NOTE: “… And then she seemed to signal …” “SEEMED” IS NOT REPORTING, IT’S GUESSING.

He wrote, “One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.”

She went on, “You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union but we made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, but we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.” (This was one of those moments, by the way, when I was absolutely sure I wasn’t listening to President Obama, who is loath to discuss the threat of Islamist terrorism in such a sweeping manner.) 

NOTE: AND, IN THE LAST SENTENCE, THE ONE IN PARENTHESIS, WE HAVE A PERSONAL COMMENT BY THE WRITER WITH NO NAMES PROVIDED ~ WHO IS IT THE PRESIDENT IS “LOATH TO DISCUSS THE THREAT OF ISLAMIST TERRORISM…” WITH?

A transcript excerpt relevant to Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy ~

JG: There doesn’t seem to be a domestic constituency for the type of engagement you might symbolize.

HRC: Well, that’s because most Americans think of engagement and go immediately to military engagement. That’s why I use the phrase “smart power.” I did it deliberately because I thought we had to have another way of talking about American engagement, other than unilateralism and the so-called boots on the ground.

You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward. One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.

NOTE: HE NEVER ASKS HER TO DEFINE “SMART POWER.”  IF HE HAD MIGHT HAVE FOUND OUT THERE IS VERY LITTLE DAY LIGHT BETWEEN HILLARY AND PRESIDENT OBAMA ON FOREIGN POLICY ~ NOT DURING THE ELECTION, NOT DURING HER TIME AS HIS SOS AND NOT NOW.



Mmmm. So. The point of the story was, what? BS...


#StayingFocused:





G.