President Obama gave a combative, extremely defensive, interview to CBS News’s 60 Minutes. It appears the President has lost even Steve Kroft. From the transcript:
Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.
President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–
Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II–
President Barack Obama: So that’s–
Steve Kroft: –bombing the people– that we are supporting.
President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–
Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–
President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.
That has circulated for a while now. The President seems to be in complete denial about what the Russians are doing and the Russian impact.
Again the President hides behind a “60-country coalition,” but it is a coalition fraying at the seams while the Russians are showing they can get the United States out of the way.
Many of the commentators when this clip first surfaced presumed the President is in denial about the Russians. No he is not. This is all by design.
President Obama believes the United States is an imperialist white-privilege filled nation who needs to sit in the penalty box. He believes that the world will be more safe when we are less safe and the world will be more stable when we are less stable.
Now, of course, the President of the United States cannot openly say that. He cannot be President and publicly cheerlead against his own country. But his academic writings, positions, upbringing, etc. all come to bear on this. The President thinks that the post-World War II Pax Americana was just a bunch of old white European powers re-dividing the world in their own image and he does not much care for that.
So seeing the American and Western powers positions in the Middle East crumbling is a good thing to him. Seeing the United States retreat from a position of power is a good thing for him. And yes, seeing Russia challenging the United States is a good thing to Barack Obama.
He knows he cannot say it. But it is all part of the plan.