February 3, 2017

Isn't it suicidal to veer toward a pillar?

The headline at the NYT right now is giving my too-concrete brain a concussion:

Trying to sneer at Trump while adulating Obama can get you into trouble. But if you click through to the article, the "pillars" metaphor is used with a more soothing verb: "Trump Embraces Pillars of Obama’s Foreign Policy."

Is this veering/embracing — this new respect for Obama's approach — the consequence of the arrival of Rex Tillerson?
The administration’s abrupt turnaround also coincided with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s first day at the State Department and the arrival of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in South Korea on his first official trip. Both men are viewed as potentially capable of exerting a moderating influence on the president and his cadre of White House advisers, though it was unclear how much they had to do with the shifts.
I wanted to get a picture of a man hugging a pillar to illustrate this article, and I found one at this 2013 Daily Mail article about the new fad of "koala-ing":  "First it was planking and then owling but now an even stranger craze inspired by an iconic Australian animal is sweeping the internet — koalaing."

Trump is koalaing Obama's pillars.


harkin said...

Samson hugged a pillar or two.

clint said...

Not if the pillar is a styrofoam column.

Fernandinande said...

Mr. Slim wants NYT headlines to associate Trump's name with words having negative connotations.

Besides "veer", I like the "b-side" defn -
Pillar b. Such a structure [pillar] or one similar to it used for decoration.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...though it was unclear how much they had to do with the shifts.

Are they shifts? Had Trump previously said that new settlement construction was not an issue? Had he previously said that Russia was welcome to Crimea?

Larry J said...

Which pillars of Obama's foreign policy are we talking about? Perhaps it's the one that believed letting Iran develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is a dandy idea. If that's the case, knocking down that pillar isn't such a bad idea.

cubanbob said...

It appears the message to Israel is don't announce, just quietly do.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

In reference to koala-ing: I was into that for a while a a teenager. Of course, back then we called it dry-humping.

Michael K said...

The message about Israeli settlements is puzzling. Is this Tillerson or some lower level bureaucrat?

MayBee said...

What was Obama's foreign policy, anyway?

"Make a mess of things" wasn't his official doctrine, because he didn't have one. But that seems to be the result of whatever it was he was doing.

rhhardin said...

Fowler (2nd edition) on spoilt metaphor

Yet Jaur├Ęs was the Samson who upheld the pillars of the Bloc...

Samson's way with pillars was not to uphold them.

Big Mike said...

The pushback against new West Bank settlements is the only surprise here. Keep in mind that Trump starts his negotiations by asking for more than he wants to get, in contrast with Obama, whose negotiating style was along the lines of "this is what I want now give it to me or I'll stage a public hissy fit." Even there there's a major distinction -- Obama wanted a rollback on the settlements and ceding the ancient Jewish Quarter back to Jordan. Trump is only asking for a moratorium on new settlements.

Russia has wanted the Crimea since the 19th century (Crimean War, anyone? Florence Nightingale? 'Member her?) and has it and isn't going to give it up. Russia has been holding it while Obama could do nothing except ignore it, and our promises to the Ukrainian people (or pretend to ignore it). My prediction is that In the end Russia will keep the Crimea but Trump will get concessions that Obama would not have thought to negotiate for.

And threatening Iran may have been a "pillar" of Obama foreign policy, but after the "Red Line" in Syria no one in the Middle East expected him to actually do anything.

My reading is that the Times article is mostly fake news. Any resemblance to Obama's foreign policy is superficial at best.

Luke Lea said...

I am frankly a little surprised by Hally's Crimea remark, since Crimea is historically the home port of Russia's warm-water fleet and was needlessly threatened by American support of the Maiden coup of Ukraine's constitutionally elected head of state, which was done with the explicit aim of bringing Ukraine into the Western orbit (free trade with EU and possible eventual membership in NATO). Also, unless I am mistaken, Crimea has historically been part of Russia for a century or two.

Anyway, George Kennan, author of America's containment policy against the old Soviet Union, condemned the rapid expansion of NATO to Russia's borders as irresponsibly idiotic in so many words:

''I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,'' said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ''I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.'' https://goo.gl/jUusSJ

I assumed this was more or less Trump's unstated view. But then again, maybe he just doesn't want to give away this obvious bargaining chip at the very beginning of the game.

exhelodrvr1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis Wetzel said...

Is there any reason at all to believe that Obama was a good negotiator? Bowie Bergdhal? Iran? Russia? China? If Obama knew how to negotiate, why did he have to do everything by executive order? Why did he get zero GOP votes for Obamacare?

Titus said...

We use the term Pillars quite often at my company.

I don't like the word Pillars.


exhelodrvr1 said...

Obama's only foreign policy pillars were knocking America down several pegs relative to other nations.
This action by Trump
1) doesn't do that and
2) is likely just for PR purposes, giving the Saudis some cover to cooperate with the US vs Iran. BIbi would understand that.

Big Mike said...

Why did he get zero GOP votes for Obamacare?

@Lewis, he got zero Republican votes for Obamacare because Obama wanted zero Republican votes for Obamacare. Susan Collins from the Senate and several moderate Republicans from the House offered to sit down with the Dumbocrats and work with them -- and they were basically told by Reid and Pelosi to go f*ck off. I think the Dumbocrats thought it was going to be so wondrous that they wanted to share no credit. But in the end they share no blame.

(IMAO if the Dumbos wanted Obamacare to succeed, however one defines success, they should have pushed for Romney's election in 2012. Pushing for the reelection of as terrible a manager as Obama is (was) was guaranteed to make Obamacare fail in the real world.)

rhhardin said...

Did you know that according to Aristotle a person who dies crushed by a column does not die a tragic death. And yet here is that nontragic death hanging over you.


rhhardin said...

Social media missed out on Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

I remember the case because Jean Shepherd was disparaging the women who gave it complete attention in their tabloid press.

Big Mike said...

@Luke Lea, I think you and I see eye to eye. What many people reading here don't know is that in 2014 the duly elected, pro-Russian Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a coup and replaced with a pro-western government. Several American-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with strong ties to the US Democrat party were involved, including NGOs sponsored by George Soros, a major contributor to the Democrats. Following the coup Joe Biden's son Hunter was hired into a well-paid sinecure by the Ukraine's largest gas company and Slow Joe himself made a trip to the Ukraine.

So was the US government involved in the coup? I certainly hope not, and frankly we probably weren't. But are the "optics bad," in Obama-speak? Oh heck yes! What was Joe thinking?

So here we are. After the fall of the old Soviet Union the Ukraine inherited a large number of nuclear weapons -- they pretty much went from zero to the third or fourth largest nuclear power in an evening. They were persuaded to give up those nukes in exchange for the West, led by the US, guaranteeing their territorial integrity. But following what looks (to a people as used to conspiracy theories as the Russians) like a US-backed coup (again, I don't think we did sponsor the coup but wealthy people with links to the highest levels of the Democrat party profited from it) the US stood by while the Russians grabbed the Crimea and most of the eastern part of the rest of the Ukraine. So much for American guarantees!

Trump has inherited a mess, which the Times article doesn't explain for some unknown reason, and he's starting his negotiations with Putin. I suspect Putin will keep the Crimea. I suspect Trump will get a lot out of the deal. I know that the Times will spin it as a defeat for Trump, however it turns out. But Trump has a very weak hand to play, and as any card player will tell you, the mark of an expert is how well one plays the weak hands.

Craig Howard said...

Of course -- later on this same morning -- we know that this is more, dare I say it?, fake news.

The transcript of the phone call reveal no such admonition.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Trump Veers Towards Pillar's of Obama's Foreign Policy."
The NY Times attitude towards Trump is softening, or they would have written "careens."

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Trump Veers Towards ruined, crumbling Pillar's of Obama's Foreign Policy."

harryo said...

Princess Diana veered toward a pillar in Paris, with her lover and a drunk chauffeur. Her final words were "leave me alone."

BJM said...

I wanted to get a picture of a man hugging a pillar to illustrate this article

This image immediately came to mind, probably not the imagery the Times had in mind.

Richard Dolan said...

The statement about the settlements was much toned down from the norm during Obama-time. The entire discussion in the NYTimes is an exercise in kabuki -- all the players know that Israel will never cede the area of East Jerusalem that it annexed, and that some of the settlements along the border (and inside the security fence that was built to stop the last intifada) will become part of Israel whenever a two-state solution is ever agreed to. Nor is there much doubt that the Israelis will have to make territorial concessions elsewhere to make up for those adjustments.

The real difference between Obama-time and now is that Team Trump will embrace that reality. Obama never did and demanded a return to the pre-1967 lines (which had all of the Old City inside Jordan). Some have noticed that the places in the Middle East under the control of Islamist governments have become completely Judenrein, including such ancient centers of Jewish culture and learning as Aleppo (among many others). No Israeli leader could possibly accept a situation where Jews were forbidden to live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City (Obama had no problem with the UN resolution that necessarily adopts that view).

The folks at the NYTimes know all this but decline to deal with the reality. Instead, you get this "pillars" nonsense.