Obama Respite Open Thread

 The man whom Chancellor Angela Merkel calls “dear Barack” was back in Berlin on Saturday, his lanky figure and easy smile a reminder for Germans of a different era that ended not so long ago.

But former President Barack Obama had not come to speak about the past. He came to speak to the future: some 300 young leaders from across Europe, who had gathered for a town hall-style meeting in the German capital.

It did not take long for Mr. Obama to touch on one of his main concerns — and the reason he had come to what he called “the heart of Europe.”

Europe, Mr. Obama suggested, is one of the main battlefields between liberal democracy and far-right populism.

“Nationalism, particularly on the far right, is re-emerging,” he told a packed auditorium. “We know where that leads. Europe knows better than anyone where that leads.”

“It leads to conflict, bloodshed and catastrophe,” he said.

This past week was the tenth anniversary of Obama’s speech in Prague on nuclear disarmament. Here’s the transcript and also a video.

Open thread.








President Obama at the University of Illinois

He just received something Trump never will: an ethics in government award.

Open thread!








Obama Up Now At McCain Funeral

What we’ve been waiting for.

 

 








Ben Rhodes On Obama’s Decision To Disarm, Not Bomb, Syria

President Barack Obama’s statements and decisions around responses to Bashar al-Assad’s use of Sarin against Syrian opposition provide a test case for three issues: Intervening in conflicts that have only indirectly to do with US interests, assumptions about the use of force that have gendered aspects, and how a president communicates. If we are to end our forever wars and avoid stumbling into more, we need to understand these issues.

Some time ago, I wrote up an analysis focusing on the gendered assumptions about the use of force and struggled with an editor over it for several months, until Jeffrey Goldberg published his interview with President Obama in The Atlantic. I had predicted some of the new information in that interview in my analysis, but of course the interview precluded the use of that analysis. So I never published it. But the fact that the interview supported my analysis has kept me watching for more information about presidential decisions in August and September of 2013.

Ben Rhodes has provided more information in an Atlantic article taken from his forthcoming book. The Obama interview is a useful companion read. In this post, I’d like to work through my three issues in relation to Rhodes’s article. Read more








Monday Afternoon Open Thread

Okay, the thread below got so damn ugly, I am deliberately squashing it! Here’s a controversial topic that hopefully won’t devolve into a Game of Thrones-style bloodbath — the Obamas’ official portraits for the National Portrait Gallery were unveiled today:

My first reaction was, “What the hell?!?,” especially in response to Michelle Obama’s portrait. But the Obamas themselves seem happy with them, so who cares what I think?

Also, it’s possible the WaPo art critic was right when he said, “The Obamas’ portraits are not what you’d expect and that’s why they’re great.”

I’ll go along with that. What say you?

Open thread!