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Professional politicians?

I sometimes wonder if it is an ‘age thing’.  Am I turning into a ‘grumpy old man’?  I will let others be the judge of that.

I certainly am becoming less tolerant of the foolish behaviour of those that have been elected as our leaders.  I will give three recent examples of what I view as poor leadership.

The most egregious is that of President Obama.  I can’t figure out if it is by design or by default that Obama has managed to throw away America’s pre-eminence on the world stage but that is exactly what has happened on his watch.

In the South China Sea, China is establishing itself as a regional superpower and flexing its swiftly growing naval muscles.  Where America’s navy used to have command and unfettered freedom to roam and support ‘Pax Americana’ the Chinese have been ignoring the claims (rights?) of South China Sea nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines.  They are simply moving into territory claimed by these nations and annexing them and expanding other small islands so as to extend their territorial claims.  All the while, the Obama administration downplays the actions of the Chinese, when it can be bothered to even recognise such actions, and refuses to meaningfully confront them.  It can be no consolation that by expelling the Americans, as the Philippines did in the post-Marcos era, they maybe brought some of this upon themselves because that misses the two fundamental points.  China sees that it has a manifest destiny to be a much bigger global player and, as a first step must have complete control of its own back-yard.  That they have also sent ships up into waters off of Alaska, even while Obama was visiting that state, maybe says something about how big they consider, their backyard to be!  Also, the lack of a robust response from the Obama administration will cause Pacific rim nations to read the writing on the will and start to drift from the American sphere of influence to that of China’s.

In the Middle East too, America has lost any initiative it had.  The unwillingness to confront Daesh and the blind support of any anti-Assad organisation has meant that America has effectively armed both its immediate and eventual enemies.  At the same time, America has failed to support the only local group – the Kurdish Peshmerga – who are taking the fight to Daesh.  Obama, having effectively lost Egypt, is now in danger of losing Iraq.  The inaction of Obama – and don’t be fooled with any talk about the coalition bombing missions, these have been nothing but a half-hearted sop to the home audience – has led to the emergence of Iran as a bigger player, that now, just about has to be at the table making decisions.

More importantly, this has ceded to Russia, the opportunity to go in and bolster its long-time client state of Syria and to be portrayed as doing more forcefully and effectively what they Americans have been so far reluctant to do.  Like Bill Clinton, before him, Obama wants to (very reluctantly) fight an enemy, solely from the air, though Obama is even more squeamish about ‘boots on the ground’ or indeed any kind of meaningful involvement.  If news reports are to be believed, the Obama administration has spent $500 million training a handful – maybe as few as twenty – of Syrians to fight Daesh and/or Assad (their mission wasn’t really clear).  Of these only one or two remain in the programme and the caches of weapons and materiel that the Obama administration supplied, is now in the hands of rebels!  Shades of America’s actions in Soviet occupied Afghanistan, methinks.  Wasn’t Einstein who said that the definition of madness was doing the same thing, time after time and expecting a different outcome?

A further unfortunate outcome of Obama’s timid Syria policy, is that Russia’s muscular approach in Syria, is allowing their not-so-covert invasion of Ukraine to slide off of the news pages.   Pause for a moment and think back to the last time you heard a news story about Ukraine. The invasion is still going on but the news media circus has moved on.   Remember too, that during this invasion, a passenger airline has been shot down from the sky by a Russian supplied ground to air missile.  The official report on the air crash came out and caused a minor stir and has now been filed away.  283 people died and still Russia gets to sit at the top table with civilised people!  Another gift from Obama!  In the recent talks on Syria, John Kerry praised the efforts of Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister.  Instead he should and so should the rest of the world, pound and pound the Russians until the murderers of those 283 people are brought to justice.

Rather than focus on the short-comings of Obama and his inept administration, it wouldn’t do to ignore Chancellor Angela Merkel.  As I have said, in earlier posts, Merkel’s statement of an open invitation to ‘refugees’, was just like those teenagers that post on Twitter or Facebook ‘party at my house, tonight’ and then are shocked to discover that the whole world, or at least a significant part of the local area’s youth turns up and crashes the party.  Now Merkel is rueing the day she stupidly opened her mouth.  Germany, by the end of the year, may have taken in between one and one and a half million ‘refugees’ .  It is clear, from social media, that those ‘refugees’ already in country have worn out their welcome. There are regular demonstrations against the ‘refugees’ and against Merkel’s policy – even though she is, belatedly, closing the door.  We hear and see  that these ‘refugees’ who, contrary to the images that are mostly portrayed in the media, are very predominantly young males.  We also hear that an epidemic of rape and sexual assaults is breaking out, in Germany and the satellite countries.  Also, a number of diseases such as scabies and STDs.

Then there is David Cameron.  He was elected, with a parliamentary majority, in the May General Election.  This came as something of a surprise, to many (most?).  Maybe even to Cameron, himself?  Now Cameron is desperately trying to hold a renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership of the European Union without actually negotiating anything.  The result will be then put to a referendum before the end of 2017.  Cameron is in a difficult position (of his own making) because having been elected, as Conservative leader, in 2005, on a Euro-sceptic ticket, and needing to keep many of his own MPs on board as well as trying to see-off the anti-EU UKIP, he now has to negotiate something which he really doesn’t want and then run the risk of the British people rejecting his efforts and then his government needing to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU.

In case you are not clear on what it is that Cameron – and by extension, the UK – want as part of the renegotiation, you are not alone.  Most people in Britain have an idea of what the country wants, however, this hasn’t been expressed, other than through media polls and such, to our EU partners.  One appreciates that negotiations need to be conducted with a certain degree of secrecy but I get the impression that Cameron doesn’t even know what to put forward as Britain’s negotiating position.  Must be very frustrating for our EU partners.

A sure sign of the way the political wind is blowing – or at least how Cameron and the political elite, want it to blow – is that there seems to be no contingency plan for how Britain might actually manage to extricate from the European Union, should the people of Britain, so decide.  To me, announcing that such planning was being undertaken, would serve as a very strong signal to the UK’s EU partners, that Britain means business but this negotiating tool isn’t even being mentioned.

Perhaps all of these examples reflect what happens when we have professional politicians as opposed to those that have experience of the real world.  Obama, Merkel and Cameron between them, have never really had a ‘proper’ job.  Never run a business or worried about how to make this week’s payroll.  Never had to go through the same daily grind, that so many of the voters must endure, etc..

I started this post by wondering if this was an age thing.  I conclude though that it is them, not me.  I think I am reasonably sane and normal, it is just this political elite that is acting crazy!

What do you think?

About Tom O'Brien

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Tom is an English Conservative Christian currently working as a Finance Manager in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq. When not in Iraq, his home is in Grantham, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom; also the hometown of Margaret Thatcher.

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