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December 28th 2016 print

Peter Smith

Good Riddance…

A petty, vainglorious and failed president has made a scorched-earth policy his exit strategy, sowing his successor's path with last-minute executive edicts. No surprise, really. Slipping away from the messes he creates has been the Obama style for eight disastrous years

obama planetsIt is seldom that we know that a new year will start well. Or, to put it more circumspectly, lest the jealous gods take umbrage, that one hugely pleasant event will occur in January – on the 20th to be precise. No, I am not referring to Donald Trump’s inauguration (though that is hugely pleasant too) but to Barack Obama’s exit.

Hussein is his middle name and mayhem and malaise will be his lasting shame. His legacy is a weakened America and, correspondingly, an infinitely more dysfunctional and violent Middle East than when he came to power. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all grown more belligerent. ISIS – “the JV team” — was spawned and grew on his feckless watch. Millions of Syrian and other Muslim refugees fleeing conflicts have streamed into Europe creating havoc. And then we have his last dastardly deed; an abject betrayal of Israel, which I will come to.

At home in the US he encouraged identity politics and racial division. Among numbers of prejudicial utterances, who can forget him saying that the black thug Trayvon Martin, killed in self-defense by George Zimmerman, could have been his son. And how about the frequent visits of Black Lives Matter shysters to the White House – you know, the leaders of a racist anti-cop rabble, built on the lie that another black thug, Michael Brown, was unjustifiable killed by a cop. And the result: cops gunned down and inner-city black neighborhoods less safe for law-abiding people. According to the Chicago Tribune, shooting victims numbered 2989 in Chicago in 2015. By Christmas Day in 2016 the number had reached 4291.

He also presided over an insipid economic performance. He is the first president in history to not have one year of 3% GDP growth. Incomes have been stagnant. Millions more people have been forced out of the workforce and onto food stamps. The national debt has doubled. A stream of new regulations, including EPA rules forlornly designed to cool the planet, are estimated by the Heritage Foundation to cost business over $100 billion per year. They have dampened growth and killed jobs. Then we have Obamacare, “the craziest thing in the world,” according to Bill Clinton before he tried to walk-back his ‘honest’ verdict.

Unfortunately, President Obama lives in his own world where all of his policies are meritorious. I would like to know his secret. That way I could see my own life of missteps and mishaps in a more positive light. Okay, it would be delusional but I would be happier. As it is brutal reality breaks through. This makes me much less happy but at least, maybe, I have learnt something. Maybe!

There is no chance of Obama learning anything. Hence he intends to go out trying to augment his lame legacy whatever the cost to the USA. He shows no class in his lame-duck days. His plan is to queer the pitch for The Donald, whose success, if it were to occur, would leave Obama’s legacy in shreds, in the dustbin of history. He would qualify to join the likes of James Buchannan (1857-61) and Warren Harding (1921-23) among the worst of presidential flops.

His rearguard trick is to do things which are not reversible or at least reversible only with time-consuming difficulty. Giving away $1.7 billion to the Iranians is irreversible. The Iranians are not going to give it back. He is hurrying to transfer another 22 Islamic terrorists from Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) before Trump gets the White House keys. They won’t volunteer to return.

He has declared large offshore areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean off-limit for oil and gas exploration. Cunningly, he did this using an obscure provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (1953). The suggestion is that this will make it more difficult for Trump to undo without going through Congress. No doubt the EPA burnt the midnight ethanol to come up with it. But, the biggest debilitating doozy of them all so far (though be afraid he still has weeks to go) is his conniving at the United Nations to damage Israel and reward his Islamic mates.

In 2016 the UN General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions condemning Israel compared with 4 to do with the rest of the world. (Source: unwatch.org) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said (17 December) that the UN “had a disproportionate focus on Israel.” There is nothing new about this preoccupation with the supposed sins of Israel. But, of course, only the Security Council really matters, where the power of veto is held individually by the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA.

The good old USA does not always veto resolutions critical of Israel but it can be absolutely depended upon to veto those which strike at Israel’s territorial integrity. That, in any event, was the case until cometh Obama on 23 December.

The offending resolution was originally put forward by Egypt but withdrawn, perhaps because of Trump’s excellent intervention. Nevertheless, Obama and his henchmen were not to be denied. New Zealand (what a shame), Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal, brought it up again. It passed with fourteen ayes and one (infamous) US abstention. If still on the Council as a non-permanent member, how would Australia have voted I wonder?

Here are the five operative clauses of the resolution, of which the first is foundational; the rest is waffle.

“1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

“2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;

“3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;

“4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperiling the two-State solution;

“5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.

A first thing to note is that the idea of a two-state solution is fanciful. The Palestinians hate and are taught to hate Israelis from an early age. Nothing short of Israel’s demise will ever satisfy them. Any leader offering less, without being tongue in cheek (i.e. practicing taqiyya), is likely to be assassinated. In case there is any doubt, Israel is not bordered by Belgians or by the Swiss. Second, the 1967, pre Six-Day War, borders are indefensible. Israel will never withdraw to them and if it ever did it would be no more than a first course for the Palestinians and their Arab allies, as Israelis know. Third retreating to 1967 borders would mean giving up historical Jewish sites, including the Western Wall in East Jerusalem. That is unthinkable for Israel.

Now look at the resolution (particularly clause 1) which the United States was deeply complicit in passing. It effectively calls for the dismemberment and eventual destruction of Israel. Words have meaning. You can make all the excuses in the world for Obama’s legacy; this is an indelible stain. I use ‘indelible’ advisedly because the resolution can’t be undone. Any counter resolution is sure to be vetoed by Russia or China and probably (and pathetically) by France or the UK.

This infamy is Obama’s lasting legacy. Was his personal enmity towards Netanyahu behind it? Unfortunately, it would not be the least surprising. His going can’t come soon enough. Good riddance!

We have a petty, vainglorious, failed president going out of office with his version of a scorched-earth policy. There is no grace in it. His wife was equally graceless when superciliously expounding to Oprah Winfrey that “now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like”. In fact Donald Trump represents hope for so many people in the US. And he optimistically reckons that everyone will eventually come along. Now that is a triumph of hope over realism. Part of the realism for Trump and his team will undoubtedly arrive when they try to unravel the mess Obama has made, not the least of which being the mess of his last days.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [25]

  1. mags of Queensland says:

    Being a bit lazy today I will instead quote from a respondent to Greg Sheridan’s opinion piece in The Australian. It explains why there is a case to answer in the International Court against the UN.

    “Wayne
    According to international law, the Jewish people are the sole beneficiary of Self-Determination in the land that was Mandatory Palestine i.e.the land west of the Jordan River, including Judea and Samaria. .

    The rights of the Jewish People to Palestine are enshrined in three legally binding international treaties. These rights have not expired and are still in full force and effect.

    All rights emanating from the three international treaties were approved by the League of Nations and inherited by the United Nations. They did not expire. The United Nations had no right to vary them.

    The principle of law that rights once granted or recognized under a treaty or other legal instrument do not expire with the expiration of that treaty or instrument is now codified in article 70(1)(b) of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (the Treaty on Treaties). This article states that “unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree, the termination of a treaty… does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination”.

    And Article 80 of the UN Charter states that No right gained by a country through a mandate will expire as a result of the expiration of the mandate.”

    The reality of the Middle East is firstly,that Palestine will never exist as a separate nation, mainly because it is not in their interests to do so.Secondly, the surrounding Arab nations need to keep Israel off balance while they turn the screws on the US.

    • Jody says:

      What? Greg Sheridan wrote something penetrating and incisive about the USA and Israel? I don’t believe it!!!!!!!

      • Warty says:

        You are surely being ironic here, Jody? My understanding was you had a lot of time for Greg Sheridan. I dare not raise my expectations too high, but have you had an epiphany regarding the wonders of all things Trump, and are now turning on Greg, because of his previously scathing comments?

        • Jody says:

          I was being sarcastic because somebody here has quoted him and I thought you all reviled the man!!

          • Warty says:

            Shucks!

          • LBLoveday says:

            Pretty strong language – “revile” – and extremely widely cast – “all”. I’ve not picked up even a hint of revilement directed at GS (unlike, eg, at Obama, deservedly in my opinion); in my case I think GS spreads himself so widely that he is no longer expert enough in any one area to bother reading his opinions and I was very seldom picking up any new facts. I’m indifferent to the man as I only know him through his articles.

      • mags of Queensland says:

        No. It was a respondent to his blog.Greg Sheridan wouldn’t take the trouble to do such research.

  2. Davidovich says:

    Obama’s greatest asset was that he was not white and the bleeding hearts and the media thought they were being incredibly broad-minded by supporting him. Prior to election, he had done little to distinguish himself in politics but had a good oratory style, albeit tedious after a while. In effect, Americans elected an incompetent and evil man who has caused enormous harm in the Middle East and now would see the destruction of the only humane democracy in that region.

    • LBLoveday says:

      Nor was he black – he was mixed-race with a mother as white as me, but I never heard him refer to himself thus although I did hear him “a thousand times” refer to himself as “a man of colour” or similar.
      Similarly the media endlessly referred to him as the “first black president” and so on, never in my reading as “first mixed-race president”.
      His most (in)famous political effort prior to election was being the only legislator to vote against obliging doctors to make every attempt to preserve the life of a child born alive as a result of a botched abortion, and his subsequent justifications were a pathetic cop-out.

    • Jody says:

      Obama is a part-European; pity he didn’t adopt some of the European heritage that goes with his genetic make-up. Instead he went for the fetishizing of minority groups.

    • Clive says:

      Perhaps this is why Obama has caused so much trouble in the Middle East. https://www.youtube.com/embed/tCAffMSWSzY#t=28

  3. Bill Martin says:

    Peter Smith’s detailing of Obama’s despicable record as POTUS sounds like the perfect resume for a prospective secretary-general of the United Nations, well supported by the aspirant’s life and deeds prior to his denigration of the office he is about to vacate. As the head honcho of the UN, he could carry on with the wrecking of all that is left of western civilisation. Yes Peter, good riddance in spades!

  4. Michael Galak says:

    Peter, you are factually correct – there is no case for Israel to answer. An automatic UN majority ignores common sense, common law and common decency by ganging up on the only democracy in this blighted region. In his irresistible urge to harm Israel, Obama might have buried the concept of two states for two people by hardening Israeli position. The harm Obama brought on the world is incalculable. He allowed evil to flourish and multiply. His policies destabilised the ME. He undermined the cohesion of the EES by not resisting Russian aggression in Syria, which created a flow of refugees. He betrayed US allies and caused the USA authority in the word to erode to a degree unprecedented since the WWII. The Nobel Peace prize awarded to Obama competes in inappropriateness with other, similarly inappropriate, Nobel Prize Laureates – Ho Shi Min and Arafat.
    In my opinion, Obama will be remembered as a tired and an incompetent road worker, paving the road to hell with what he thought were good intentions.

  5. en passant says:

    Revenge is best served har on those who took part in this travesty. Here is how I would Trump them all:
    1. US stops funding the UN (ostensibly while his team checks the US books of account).
    2. US stops funding the Palestinian Authority until such time as they renounce violence and disarm. They will collapse in a month and refugees will be queuing up to ENTER Israel.
    3. US places a 50% tariff on all NZ dairy products (ostensibly to encourage US airy farmers). NZ then sells itself to China and Oz closes its borders to Kiwis).
    4. US bans the import of Venezuelan oil. Civil war breaks out within a month, the government falls and an immensely rich country collapses into chaos.
    5. Trump does nothing, but his Administration relentlessly pursues the HellBillary Gang and any transgression by Bazza. They then prosecute. In has last act in office in 8-years time, Donald tears up the Pardons that have lain unsigned on his desk, but he does agree to turn off the ‘Deplorable Chant’ piped into Hiiarity’s ceell for the past seven years.

  6. Warty says:

    Obama’s overly measured delivery is designed to set the right ‘tone’ , to convey a strong sense of being masterful and, above all, dignified. Whereas Michelle simply comes across as a flip. Her comments to Oprah, you know the infamous ‘now we are feeling what not having hope is like’, one of the biggest dummy spits of all time.
    If Obama genuinely hopes for a smooth transition of administrations, as he claims, what is he doing to restrain a wife who seems intent on letting her mouth run riot? Did he deliberately let her off the leash, so that she could spray spittle all over the Whitehouse in her televised tête à tête with Oprah. Did he deliberately allow her to say those things he couldn’t say himself? I searched the various media for an apology, but I couldn’t find one anywhere.

    • Jody says:

      I watched a bit of the execrable “Ellen” yesterday and it was recorded a few months ago. Ellen took Michelle Obama on a shopping trip to the supermarket to show her how to shop again after she left the White House. It was an unedifying moment for the US First Lady, and I wondered why Laura Bush didn’t feel the need to ‘shop till you drop’?? Simple: one had class and the other has none.

  7. Richard H says:

    As far as the UN Security Council resolution is concerned, Trump’s best course of action is to defy it by building the new US embassy in East Jerusalem (Trump has already said he will move it from Tel Aviv).

    There is at least one more poison pill for Obama to inject into America’s body politic: wait to see the names on the pardons list on 20 January. Hillary Clinton is perhaps the most obvious candidate (as are her Foundation cronies), but keep an eye out for the likes of Chelsea (né Bradley) Manning and a score or more of common-or-garden black thugs currently in federal prisons. Any surviving members of the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers can expect good news as well. And while he’s busy forgiving other enemies of the Republic, there’s also Squeaky Fromme (failed assassin of President Ford) and John Hinckley Jnr (ditto for President Reagan), although both are now out of custody.

  8. Don A. Veitch says:

    But don’t forget Obama gave Israel their greatest aid package in their history.
    Don’t blame Obama for everything he is impotent and a useful idiot for others. He is not the Fuhrer.

    Bad ideas such as ‘the clash of civilisations’ of the lunatic Samuel P. Huntington have largely led the USA astray on basic principles. The tragic failures over 45 years is the reason why some key US allies are now jumping ship (Qatar, Turkey, Philippines). More to follow!

    Russia has saved the nation state of Syria largely because of its remorseless attacks on terrorist bases whilst Obama, as a last criminal act, moves to arm (moderate) terrorists with MANPADS, surface to air missiles! Aleppo has fallen, soon Mosul, then Raqqa. Dreams of the kalifate are dead, and Russia killed them. The nation state of Syria is almost saved! This has occurred in one month because:
    • Obama’s lame duck status;
    • US State Department ineptitude;
    • the promise of Trump;
    • NATOs duplicity is exposed (a Nato base was found in East Aleppo amongst the terrorists);
    • Qatar is now an ally of Russia (the ‘bribe’ was a $12 billion share in Russia’s Rosneft, the words larges petrol company),
    • Turkey is moving closer to Russia.

    The nation state of Beloved Israel will have a greater chance of survival if Syria and ALL other nation states are respected.
    The tectonic plates of history are moving, but the USA (until 20 January, 2017) is stuck somewhere else.

    • Warty says:

      I’m sure you’d agree that this ‘greatest aid package in their history’ means little in the face of the US abstention, reflected in Netanyahu’s unbounded fury. The aid stands for nothing in the overall scheme of things. The other thing is that foreign policy is the President’s realm and widely acknowledged as such. Kerry is merely the President’s instrument, unless he’s a Kissinger, which he is not. Even Kissinger made sure he was in sink with what Reagan wanted for the Middle East. So in that sense he is not ‘a useful idiot for others’ and he is the Fuhrer, though I wouldn’t use that particular nomenclature.

  9. en passant says:

    Apologies for the typo errors in my post. My keyboard has decided to do its own thing.
    Kissinger worked for Nixon, not Reagan.

    The Kiwis should be more careful what they wished for in supporting a Pathetique with 22-days left before golf and endless court and Congressional hearings.

    Israel’s revenge could be interesting … A proposal for cooperation to fight injustice.

    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/221092/new-zealands-settler-problem

    • Warty says:

      That’s the danger (sometimes) of relying on memory, rather than checking your facts before ‘putting pen to paper’. My memory that he was Secretary of State under Reagan, but clearly not so. A wonderful intellect though.
      Your hyperlink is an interesting one, though. Personally I wouldn’t engage in tit for tats on territorial claims vis a vis past colonialist behaviour, as one necessarily dabbles in murky water and even more stagnant political swampy stuff. I still can’t believe my ears, with regards to New Zealand sponsoring such a resolution, I really can’t, but I’d be more inclined to educate ill-educated Kiwis about the history of Palestine, and the on-going existential threats to Israel, by fanatics who deny its right to exist.
      New Zealand’s behaviour was unacceptable.

      • PT says:

        Nixon (by far the best foreign policy President) appointed Kissinger as NSA. He was Secretary of State with Ford. Reagan had Alexander Haig and Schultz. Reagan and Thatcher won the Cold War (with, and because they backed Leach Wallencer and Pope John Paul II).