On the Virtues of Humiliating Obama

Just a quick little post as we wait for the State of the Union, entertaining the question: why would Iran seize 10 American Sailors only hours before the President was scheduled to give his final state of the Union address.

The most obvious single answer is: in order to humiliate President Obama.

“What”, one may ask, “Does Iran gain by humiliating Obama?”

The answer is manifold, but there are three obvious benefits to Iran;

First: Iran has an audience for this action that is far larger then either the Iranian or American public. Iran is engaged in a ‘Game of Thrones’, so to speak, with other Islamic actors for the ascendancy in the Islamic world. That is, other state and near state actors, such as Saudi Arabia and ISIS, advance claims that they are the inheritors of Islamic leadership, the heirs of Mohammed, so to speak.

Osama bin Ladin famously stated that ‘people that see a weak horse and a strong horse will instinctively be drawn to the strong horse.’ By showing that they are able to seize American servicemen with impunity, and then having the President of the United States put on a mask of good humor, the Iranian regime not only shows Obama to be weak, but themselves to be strong. In this game, humiliating Obama is a relatively low-risk way for Iran to demonstrate that they can bend the ‘great Satan’ to their will.

Second: As I mentioned above, there is a larger audience for this action, specifically Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states. The Gulf Arabs, led by the Saudis, are engaged in a regional conflict for control of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The Saudis are, let’s say, not generally considered to be a serious military thread to Iran. Saudi Arabia instead must rely on the good will and military umbrella of the United States.

By humiliating Obama Iran sends a clear message to the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs that the United States which they rely on for protection may, in fact, be a paper tiger.

Third: Finally, Obama’s hope for a ‘Legacy’ rest entirely on the behavior of Iran in the following year and the years to come. This humiliation reminds Obama that it is Iran, not him, that holds the whip hand when it comes to how Obama will be perceived in the future. It cannot be forgotten that Iran is on the threshold of a 100+ billion dollar payoff; if Iran feels they want to have extra insurance, they can reliably estimate that Obama is the kind of man that will be moved to compliance, as opposed to defiance.

That alone should tell the neutral observer everything they need to know about Obama’s reputation on the world stage: Iran believes that seizing American Servicemen makes it more likely, rather then less likely, that they will receive 150 billion dollars from the United States.

Postscript: Iran apparently aired footage of their ‘arrest’ of the American Sailors (what, don’t ‘partners in peace’ do that?);

Oh, and just as a reminder,

Will Obama give Biden the Democratic nomination?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton’ speech at the United Nations in March about her use of a private email server, was… well, perhaps Clintonian is what she was going for;

QUESTION: Were you ever — were you ever specifically briefed on the security implications of using — using your own email server and using your personal address to email with the president?

CLINTON: I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.

So I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.

We now know that at least half of that statement is untrue: there is classified material in her emails, and not merely classified material, but the most delicate and closely guarded of secrets;

The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.

Remember that the four emails that are classified (two highly classified) were detected in a sample of forty (40) emails, this is not the total number of such records;

The four emails in question “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” said Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. The inspector general reviewed just a small sample totaling about 40 emails in Mrs. Clinton’s inbox—meaning that many more in the trove of more than 30,000 may contain potentially confidential, secret or top-secret information.

The inspector general’s office concluded that Mrs. Clinton should have used a secure network to transmit the emails in question—rather than her personal email account run off a home server.

“None of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network,” wrote Inspector General I. Charles McCullough in the letter to Congress.

We cannot now know, but if the sample examined is representative Secretary Clinton’s emails might be 10% classified and 5% highly classified… in other words, 3,000+ and 1,500+, respectively. So why do I mention this in the context of Joe Biden? Let’s consider what former CIA operative and CNN national security analyst Bob Baer had to say about this matter;

“Seriously, if I had sent a document like this over the open Internet I’d get fired the same day, escorted to the door and gone for good — and probably charged with mishandling classified information,” Baer said.

What does this have to do with Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama? As other have observed, Hillary Clinton is in trouble, but she should be in very big trouble, of the criminal kind. But she’s not, not yet. And she certainly should be;

Even for those of us who hold a very low opinion of Mrs. Clinton’s character, integrity, and judgment, this is a graver offense than many had contemplated. Merely the storage of “Top Secret” e-mails – never mind their dissemination over open channels to some individuals likely not cleared to read them — is a federal felony. On top of that, it is unthinkable that Hillary could have sent such sensitive information and not known at the time that it was sensitive.

At the moment it’s very difficult to see Hillary Clinton’s (relative) lack of legal trouble as anything but the application of double standards so shamefully common in Washington. Obama’s Justice Department could be more aggressive, and indeed, was more aggressive when it came to similar allegations against former General David Petraeus, and far, far more aggressive in pursuing penalties against lower level individuals for mishandling classified information.

So on the one hand we have Hillary Clinton, a walking disaster area of security crimes (at least). On the other hand, we have Joe Biden: late to the field, but motivated by the urging of both sons, including his late and much mourned son Beau.

Hillary would seem to have an almost insurmountable lead in the polls, as well as a frightening amount of campaign cash. Joe Biden hasn’t even begun to run, how can he possible overcome Clinton’s advantages?

The simplest way is for his friend and colleague Barack Obama to… do his job. Or rather, let his attorney general do the job she is sworn to do. It’s actually a win-win for Obama. President Obama has earned a great deal of criticism for his uneven treatment of leakers and draconian treatment of whistleblowers. Dislike of Hillary Clinton is not confined to the precincts of the right wing: plenty of progressives seem eager for anyone but Hillary.

In such an atmosphere, all President Obama needs to do to hand the nomination to his friend Joe is to treat Clinton as the law would dictate she ought to be treated and stop playing along with the Clinton charade. Hillary knows that her only chance at election is to reassemble the Obama constituency, leaving her with little to no ability to strike back at Obama should the White House, State Department and Justice Department spokespeople decide to stop dancing around questions and start answering plainly.

For the second time it seems that Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions are controlled by Barack Obama.