by baldilocks

In the last few days, it has been reported that the government of the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) is putting homosexuals in “concentration” camps.

“Concentration camps” for LGBT people have been allegedly opened up in Chechnya where men have been tortured and killed because of their sexuality, Novaya Gazeta reported. The allegations came after a few eyewitnesses and survivors said in interviews with the Russian publication that they were arrested and detained at one of the secret prisons in Argun, a town in the Chechen Republic, Russia.

Around 100 gay men have been reportedly detained and at least three killed in the past week in Chechnya by the police. The “concentration camps” are being used to force homosexuals to commit that they would leave the republic, according to Novaya Gazeta.

The officials in Chechnya started torturing the homosexuals after a Russia-based NGO for LGBT rights — GayRussia.ru — applied for a gay rights march in the capital of Grozny [the Chechen capital], reports said.

Meanwhile, Chechen’s President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a key ally [sic] of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of setting up the camps to torture gay people. He has denied the allegation saying, “It’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic.” The Chechen government suggested there are no gay people in their country.

And this is the key phrase in the report:

The Muslim-majority nation of Chechnya falls under Russian federal powers and follows traditional Muslim values.

A few pertinent facts:

  • Chechnya is 95% Muslim and is, basically, owned by Russia. The two entities have a bloody history that goes back centuries.
  • Muslims non-pitchers have been persecuting homosexuals for who knows how long.
  • Remember Beslan?

In the past couple of days, I’ve seen people act all surprised about this report and even wonder why President Trump doesn’t do something about it. Really? Perhaps they think that he should lob a few Tomahawks on what is, essentially, Russian soil. Yeah, that will fix everything.

Please, people. Is it too tough to do the barest bit of homework before you virtue signal?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on April 2017! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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Ok I admit I didn’t see this coming:

Russia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated in a surprise announcement on Thursday.

The announcement comes as US President Donald Trump’s administration is agonizing over whether to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would constitute recognizing west Jerusalem as the country’s capital. No other country in the world recognizes any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Even more importantly…

the Jerusalem Post has learned that Moscow intends for this recognition to go into effect immediately.

Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein intends to meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss Moscow’s decision and its ramifications. There is currently no intention, however, of moving Russia’s embassy to Jerusalem.

The significance of this can’t be overstated, by doing what they’ve done Russia not only embarasses Donald Trump by getting to Jerusalem before he does so to speak, but it also throws a gauntlet down to every islamic power, every arab oil exporter and to ISIS itself, literally daring them to do something.

By an odd coincidence right after a terror attack in St. Petersberg that has gotten almost no attention internationally Israel did something others did not:

RT noted no landmark was lit in Russia’s national colors although Tel Aviv City Hall did light itself in the colors of Russia’s flag.

It pays to show sympathy doesn’t it?

Prof. Stephen Cohen is one of the preeminent Russian scholars in the world. He is a frequent guest in the John Batchelor Show, most recently last Tuesday, when he discussed Dissent and the New Cold War.

I invite you to listen to that podcast (which I can not embed in this version of WordPress), where he explains why the Russia hacking story is a false narrative.

In the podcast Cohen describes the parallels between the Soviet-style omission of dissenting views and the lack of opposing views for the Russian hacking story on the editorial pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and in the panels at CNN, in spite of

“no shred of evidence, actual forensic evidence, wiretap, a surveillance of any kind, a witness, an inside informer, a fingerprint, a careless statement in the Russian media, nothing, not a single fact is supporting this” (25 mins into the audio).

Cohen knows from experience what the Soviets were like, since they threw him out of the country back in the day.

Last night Cohen was in the Tucker Carlson show, also talking about the so-called Russian hacking false narrative,

The Duran transcribed part of the interview,

“This figure 17 [intelligence agencies] is bogus.”

“The one agency that could conceivably have done a forensic examination on the Democratic computers is the National Security Agency. We learned from Snowden, they’re in your computer, mine, our e-phones.”

“Everybody else who signed that report, said they were highly confident. The NSA said it was only moderately confident.”

“You don’t get married based on moderate confidence. You don’t go to war with Russia. You don’t stage this theater that’s going on in Washington, that could destroy a Presidency.”

Having stressed the lack of evidence, Cohen cuts to the chase (my transcription):

“When they admit they have no evidence, they fall back on something else. which I think is very important. They say Putin directed Russian propaganda at us and helped elect Trump.

“I don’t know about you, Tucker, but I find that insulting, because the premise they’re putting out in Washington in this hearing, is that the American people are zombies . . . anywhere Putin leads them.

“It’s the premise of democracy that we are democratic citizens, we have a BS detector and we know how to use it. But they’re telling us in Washington . . . every politician who loses in America is going to say was hacked by Putin.”

My kudos to Carlson for having Prof. Cohen on his show.

You can safely bet CNN won’t be having Cohen as a guest anytime soon.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Are Russian hackers an actual threat to democracy? Or are US intelligence agencies with “deep state” factions opposed to the government the bigger threat? And what do the Vault 7 revelations along with others coming out since the change of administration tell us about the Democrats’ constant finger pointing and fear mongering?

When the Intelligence Community is Weaponized by the Political Powers that Be

Is it unreasonable to think that intelligence agencies that were capturing all metadata on emails and phone calls wouldn’t spy on a political rival they thought was a threat to their legacy?

It is alleged that the Obama administration used spy agencies to monitor and occasionally go after reporters, in addition to using the Espionage Act more than any prior administration. The Obama Administration hacked reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer because she was investigating Benghazi. In 2013, the Obama Administration spied on the Associated Press. The FBI labeled one journalist, James Rosen, an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for reporting on matters and, according to a 2016 New York Times article, issued subpoenas to force reporters to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.

And they didn’t just use intelligence agencies to monitor the press. They were also used to spy on Angela Merkel, the head of Germany, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and several dozen other heads of nations. Nor did Obama limit his spying to our allies. The NSA spied on Congress during the negotiations on the Iran Nuclear Deal.

The Political Left’s Own Laxness with National Security

The Office of Personnel Management was copied in its entirety (and all subsequent updates) and sent via an “internet superhighway” to China because they didn’t bother to vet IT security contractors for foreign intelligence connections. This provided the Chinese with detailed personnel files of everyone with a security clearance from military contractors to government officials.

In February 2017, three Pakistani brothers were discovered to have compromised the computers of several House committee members. They were working as IT employees of the DNC and gained access to the computers of members of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. They funneled the data to external servers while taking money from nations like sources in Iraq.

And that’s aside from Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State having an unmonitored, unprotected email server in her home in violation of all IT security and classified data handling regulations, which was likely hacked by half a dozen nations. For example, such servers are supposed to be in a classified space, supported by people with appropriate clearance, and have documented backups to protect the information from loss in case of a hard drive failure.

Conclusion

The transformation of U.S. intelligence agencies into a surveillance state is concerning. While Russian hackers are an actual threat, the democrat party’s constant breach of privacy over the last few years was also a threat to democracy. And a sizable shadow government, a literal fifth column, sitting in the intelligence agencies already used to violating the law and using the information they have to attack critics actively working to undermine the sitting President is the greatest threat to our democracy we have faced in generations.

Bob Woodward: Hunt’s come in from the cold. Supposedly he’s got a lawyer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.
Deep Throat: Follow the money.
Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?
Deep Throat: Oh, I can’t tell you that.

All the President’s Men 1976

Old friend Tom Bowler from Libertarian leanings who was once a regular on my old radio show sent over this post a few days ago that got to the heart of the Russia/Special prosecutor line of the left:

Democrats would once again like to execute from the Comey-Fitzgerald playbook. As with the case of I. Lewis Libby, there is no underlying crime to investigate, only a lot of partisan hyperventilation about ordinary and proper contacts, such as those between then Senator Jeff Sessions and the Russian ambassador. The element of intrigue is introduced only by the ridiculous and farfetched story that Russia interfered in the November election in order to help Donald Trump become president, and that the Trump campaign colluded with them. That fantasy hangs on because without it there is no rationale for conducting an investigation, and Democrats are desperate to investigate.

They are not really after Attorney General Sessions, though they would welcome his forced resignation if they could get it. They want Trump.

After debunking the Russia hacking story Tom talks about the real reason why the left is so zealous here.

I thought of Thomas’ post when I saw the ending of Robert Stacy McCain’s latest:

…feminists spent a couple of years insisting that every college boy who so much as hinted at an interest in heterosexual activity on campus was a potential rapist. “Consent training” became a mandatory part of freshman orientation, and “affirmative consent” laws were imposed, shifting the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.

Here in 2017, however, when campus rape cases make headlines, we await the feminist reaction and . . . Nothing. Silence. Crickets chirping.

For some reason, feminists haven’t said a word about Jonathan Henry-Walker or Kishawn Holmes. Nor have I noticed feminists commenting on the brutal attack against Priyanka Kumari, or the rape and kidnapping charges against Evan Xavier Little, or Oliver Funes-Machado, who decapitated his own mother, or Henry Jose Garcia who allegedly raped a girl from the time she was 11 until she was 15. All this violence against women, and yet feminists don’t seem to notice these crimes.

It’s almost as if there’s a pattern or something . . .

And both of these stories brought to mind this piece at of all places the Hollywood in toto about a documentary concerning race:

“People in the film business are afraid of it,” says Steele. ”I’m challenging the narrative at the table. It’s pissing people off.”

I Am, or How Jack Became Black” lets the filmmaker use his own biography to explore the impact racial politics are having on the nation. It’s a fair but withering look at a system that puts the emphasis on ethnicity, not the content of one’s character.

And Steele should know. He’s part black, part Jewish and deaf. His two children also have Latina ancestry from his ex-wife.

The film opens with Steele trying to figure out which box, or boxes, to check on his children’s school forms. Sound easy? Not so fast. How should he identify his own mixed-race children? And why can’t he simply opt out and let them simply be … Jack and June?

It’s a starting point for a serious, and seriously personal, examination of race in America.

What is the tie that binds these three stories together?  The secret comes from the final lines of the Hollywood in toto piece:

“Racism will never go away … that’s part of the human condition,” he says. “What makes today different … is that people make a living off of it. That’s a huge issue. Once you make a living off of race, what’s your motivation for it to go away?”

And that’s the key to the lock of this puzzle, as Tom put it when talking Trump’s goals

If he is successful, he will also have stripped much of the power from the party of big government

And big money from the Government for the left’s interest groups was the big reward of the Obama years as well as the potential reward if Hillary was elected.  And not just from taxpayers alone, after all what do you think the Justice department’s “settlements” that sent corporate cash to groups providing foot soldiers of the left was all about.  That’s why as Stacy put it the “rape epidemic” story was big during the end of the Obama years and in anticipation of a Clinton White house, but once both were over a different tack was made.

Readers will recall that feminists recently spent many months decrying an alleged “epidemic” of sexual assault at colleges and universities…Since last November’s election, however, we see that the focus of feminist activism shifted from the “campus rape epidemic” to organizing mass protests against the Trump administration. Does this mean that campus rape has ceased to be a priority for feminists? 

As we’ve already learned there is big money to be made in fighting Trump, the groups supporting a day without women for example had $246 million reasons to march and cry out.  It’s not about changing the world or social justice it’s to keep the checks coming that would explain this difference in attitude spotted by our filmmaker

You might think shooting “I Am” would leave Steele embittered about the state of American culture. Not even close.

“It made me much more positive, gave me more faith in the people,” he says. The strangers he met during the filmmaking journey proved more open-minded and fair than those showcased in press reports.

That’s because those strangers away from the camera who aren’t on the gravy train have no incentive to keep the scare up.  I’ll give Stacy the last word

Go check the Twitter feeds of Jessica Valenti, Laurie Penny, Amanda Marcotte and other prominent feminists and see if you get any sense of concern about the alleged “epidemic” of college girls being sexual assaulted. It’s as if the whole thing instantly evaporated just about the time the networks called Pennsylvania for Trump on Election Night.

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President Obama’s dreadful policies toward Russia allowed Vladimir Putin to regard the United States as an impotent power.

The misguided approach started at the beginning of Obama’s regime. For example, he surreptitiously sent a letter to the Russians just after taking office, offering to cancel plans to install a missile defense site in Poland and corresponding radar in the Czech Republic.

According to The National Review, these systems would have provided a layer of protection for the United States and its allies from Iranian long-range missiles. All Russia had to do for Obama to cancel the plans was to agree to help pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program.

This exchange started the road down the ill-advised treaty with Iran and showed Russia the weakness of Obama because he couldn’t force the Islamic Republic to do his will.

The Obama administration ended up canceling the missile-defense system, and the United States to this day remains ill-equipped to combat Iranian ballistic missiles.

Obama also negotiated a new arms control treaty with the Russians even though Putin and the gang were violating the previous one. It took constant congressional pressure to get Obama to admit that Russia had been disregarding the previous agreement since he took office.

Fast forward to Obama’s statement on an open microphone telling then–Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to pass along a message to then–Prime Minister Putin. “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space…. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” Obama said.

In other words, Obama promised to do a lot more than anyone in the current administration has.

Obama’s response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in March 2014 and Moscow’s subsequent support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine was economic sanctions. Although the measures had an impact on the Russian economy, they were seen as woefully inadequate.

Finally, the United States has become so irrelevant in Syria and Russia so important that the Obama administration didn’t even get an invitation to the last conference to discuss the civil war.

Only after all these signs of weakness did Russian hacking occur. But it wasn’t just the DNC. Russian entities hacked private companies, Nasdaq and banks, as well as government agencies, including the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon. The Obama administration apparently was incapable of mounting any significant defense against the hacking.

An investigation into Obama’s dreadful record of dealing with Russia might be useful before looking at anything else.

 

Christopher Harper teaches media law.

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has a flare for the dramatic. She’s risen on the Democratic power charts by calling out Republicans every chance she gets. It’s no surprise that she would call out Attorney General Jeff Sessions after it was revealed he met with the Russian Ambassador during campaign season last year.

That’s a pretty powerful condemnation of her former peer in light of the recent revelations. The problem is that it’s a complete and total lie. She DID have a call with a Russian Ambassador in the past.

Twitter has a long memory. Granted, it was a group call and mentioning the Russian Ambassador within the group technically means she didn’t speak with him directly, right? We also should take into account that she didn’t actually meet with the Ambassador. Phone calls are easy to forget, especially for a busy Senator.

Uh oh…

No group call this time. No call at all, in fact. She actually met with the Russian Ambassador.

Here’s the problem with leftist hypocrisy (all hypocrisy, for that matter, though it predominantly spews forth from leftists): The rhetoric can only sustain the narrative for as long as the truth remains hidden. Senator McCaskill inserted herself into a situation and thought she was throwing stones. Instead, she was throwing a boomerang that came back to hit her.

The problem here isn’t the dishonesty. It isn’t the hypocrisy. It’s that mainstream media won’t say a thing about McCaskill’s lie. They’ll cover for her just as they tried to cover for Hillary and just as they covered for President Obama for eight years. This is the reason I write about politics. The real hypocrisy comes from the storytellers more so than the subjects of their stories.

by baldilocks

Was Bush right? It depends, of course, on what the topic is.

Zero Hedge points to Statista and YouGov polls containing the following information:

Americans have consistently identified ISIS as the biggest threat to their nation across multiple polls. Traditional foes, such as the countries making up George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis Of Evil”, have been pushed into the background by the rise of non-state actors like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. In recent years however, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that the threat presented by some of America’s traditional enemies has started to manifest itself once again. Russia’s annexation of Crimea came as a reality check to the Obama administration while as recently as last Saturday, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test.

YouGov conducted a poll to find out which countries Americans perceive as their nation’s biggest enemies. North Korea has continued to make headlines even after that missile launch with news emerging earlier this week that Kim-Jong-un’s half brother was allegedly poisoned in an airport in Malaysia. Both incidents have illustrated the unpredictability of the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang and it comes as little surprise that 57 percent of Americans consider North Korea their enemy.

Recall that George W. Bush named Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the Axis of Evil. In spite of the big headlines that feature Russia as the biggest Bad Guy, the Russians come in sixth on chart–which, of course, does not mean that they aren’t a bigger threat than is perceived by the polled. (Aside: while reading all the reportage about Russia today, I briefly felt 25 years-old again, but my hair color is telling a different story.)

Iran came in second. Syria and Iraq came in third and fourth, respectively–ISIS; and Afghanistan is fifth.

Does the American public have a better handle on who America’s enemies are than their leaders do, both of the recent past and the present? Time will tell. But I think that these polls may show one thing: that Mainstream Media propaganda isn’t as effective as it may seem to those of us who lament its existence. That’s cause for hope.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on February 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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baldilocks

Prime Minister Jim Hacker:  I could tell that you were warning me that St, Georges Island might need our support.

Luke:  Oh yes… Well no actually, [in panic] only in one paragraph on page 107 [of 138].

Prime Minister Jim Hacker:  It was enough, I could take the hint.

Yes Prime Minister:  A victory for Democracy 1986

Apparently the big report about Russian “Hacking” of the election was not only a nothingburger in terms of hacking the actual election, but it was so thin that they dived into the public domain to pad it

Today’s report is, as noted, remarkably brief. The longest portion of the report, at seven pages, is Annex 1, titled “Russia — Kremlin’s TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US.” Annex 1 is devoted entirely to RT America TV, which the agencies deem a propaganda outlet of the Russian government. Given that this annex comprises the largest portion of the report, it is stunning to see this footnote:

This annex was originally published on 11 December 2012 by the Open Source Center, now the Open Source Enterprise.

So the CIA, FBI and NSA are so lacking in relevant, probative intelligence that the largest portion of today’s report is a recycling of four-year-old, public domain information on Russia Today.

In short, it is possible that the Russian government gained access to the DNC’s and Podesta’s email accounts by spearfishing, downloaded emails from those accounts, and provided them to Wikileaks. But we have to take the bureaucrats’ word for it.

Point of fact it’s highly believable that the Russians and anyone else who wanted them got Podesta’s emails and the data on Hillary’s server

I have no problem believing that the Russians did in fact get Podesta’s emails, and the DNC ones, and probably whatever was on Hillary Clinton’s server. The security of all of them seems to have been sufficiently lax that I expect multiple groups got in.

That laxness should itself be a major news story because it’s been apparent to anyone who actually pays attention to these things that state (sponsored) actors have been looking for vulnerable systems for the whole of the Obama administration, if not before.

But more interesting is that the report actually supported what we’ve said for decades, that if you cut open groups like Occupy wall street

Now let’s get specific. Occupy Wall Street was, evidently, a Russian front operation:

and the “green” movement, you find red inside

Russia has supported environmental groups to try to suppress fracking, which strikes at the heart of Russian economic strength:

RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.

It’s quite apparent that the tactic here was not so much to produce evidence of Russia hacking the election, but to help maintain the “Trump is illegitimate” meme that the MSM keeps running with by the very existence of a “report” regardless of what’s actually  in it.

This explains why Trump isn’t taking issue with the data, just the Obama admin’s conclusions but more significant is what all of this means about where the left is today:

Consider, four years ago on an open mic Barack Obama told the Russians he’d have more “flexibility” after his re-election

And the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev replied at the time:

“I understand your message,” Medvedev told Obama in Seoul. “I will transmit this information to” — no question of who was in control — “Vladimir.”

That “flexibility” cost not only cost tens of thousands of lives in Syria and Ukraine but made Russia the alpha dog internationally for the last few years

But Democrats in general and Obama in particular are now so neutered in power that they’re reduced to objecting to electoral college counts while the speaker laughs at them:

In short their flexibility is gone so in their last two weeks of power they are reduced to exposing both their allies of the occupy movement and the greens as Russian dupes in the vain hope that throwing them under the wheels of the Trump train will slow it down.

I suspect it will not.

Closing thought :  This also answers the question that White House Spokesman Josh Earnest could not. Namely why the 2015 hack of 21 million confidential records of US government employees, a hack that actually mattered

However, the OPM hack in particular was much more damaging, and was conducted directly against the government of the United States. The hack went on for over a year and exposed the background-check files of anyone who applied for a security clearance. That included the raw data from those checks, which means that China’s intel agencies have their hands on a lot of very sensitive information they can use to potentially blackmail people in highly sensitive positions. At the very least, they know who all of those people are and where they and their families live, which is a huge head start on forcing people into becoming moles and double agents.

…didn’t produce the pubic retaliation that Russian access to John Podesta’s emails did

You see the 2015 Chinese hack merely hurt the United States, it’s people and the security of the nation, the exposure of Podesta’s and the DNC emails were a direct threat to the power and influence of the Democrat party.  There’s the rub.


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Today, a truce has been brokered in Syria that will hopefully turn the corner on the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history. With the country torn to pieces, refugees have been flooding into Europe and some parts of the Middle East, creating a dangerous situation for the entire region. America, under the leadership of President Obama, was not a part of the talks.

America, under the leadership of President Obama, didn’t deserve to be part of the talks.

Let’s take a quick look at recent history in Syria. It was a chain reaction of horrible mistakes. First, Obama drew his “red line” of chemical and biological weapons, claiming that if Bashar al Assad used them it would change the calculus for the United States to take action. Assad crossed the red line. Obama didn’t take action, letting the window of opportunity close before Russia stepped in.

Then, Obama went with the plan of arming and training Syrian rebels to take on Assad’s army. As many will recall, much of the support that Obama gave to enemies of Assad ended up being transferred to the Islamic State and other radical Islamic militants. They were supposed to be the force that drove back the Islamic State and got rid of Assad. Instead, they were neutered from the start by the poor plan before being obliterated by Russia, Iran, and Syria.

Finally, Obama attempted to negotiate peace while bickering with Russia over who would be involved. He tried to work through Turkey to get one done. His “smart power” policy would share the credit for cleaning up the mess he created. Instead, Turkey found a better partner in Russia and they got it done without him.

With 22 days before Obama is out of office, it’s fitting that he’s been excluded from cleaning up the mess that he created. As a parent, I’ve used with incredible efficiency the non-involvement tactic when the kids leave a mess behind. I draw their attention to the mess they made, then I proceed to clean it. When they offer to help, I tell them that I’ll take care of it because if they were concerned about the mess, they would have cleaned it up before. The guilt they feel as they watch their mess being cleaned has more of a lasting impact than making them clean it up themselves. Today, they clean up their messes before I see them.

Obama is being treated like a child by the international community because he’s acted like a foreign policy neophyte for eight years. He cannot take credit for fixing Syria and will get most of the blame for allowing the situation to explode. America is meant to be strong, to lead. Obama wanted to lead from behind. Instead, he’s being left behind. The result is a world that is much worse off today than when he became President.