Thursday, November 10, 2016

Barack Obama's Art of War

Via QuotesGram.
Nice meeting, from the turkey's point of view:
This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and we were just going to get to know each other. We had never met each other. I have great respect – the meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half, and it could have, as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer. We really, we discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He’s explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved. So Mr President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.
Looks like Obama is following the Putin rule of negotiating with Trump, as Trump formulated it: "'If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him." And Trump has met somebody he thinks is worth taking advice from. Is that the first time he's ever even said something like that about anybody? As far as I remember, last time he talked about taking advice he said "I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things." This is a distinct improvement.

I have to say I'm 100% in favor of this, at least from Obama, for the time being. The stakes are too high. I heard old Bill McKibben on the radio this morning saying the same thing, more or less, that if you flattered Trump sufficiently you could save the Paris agreement. These are the some of the things that are worth sacrificing our pride for:
  • the Paris agreement
  • the Affordable Care Act (Obama may have told him, gently, how it works)
  • Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (my good friend Elizabeth Warren just put up a blog post on cooperating with him on issues where it's worth it)
  • The Iran agreement, see Robert Farley at LGM, along with some other foreign policy stuff...
  • Nafta??? Justin Trudeau says Canada is looking forward to negotiating "very closely", and so is the UAW apparently...
And who knows what else. Keep in mind, if you really hate Nafta, the harm it did was 20 years ago, not now, and breaking it up would be devastating to trade, which really exists and creates jobs in all three countries. Maybe Trump could also renegotiate that other trade deal, starting by renaming it, TPPLR (Trump Pacific Partnership and Luxury Rentals).

He's the same vile excuse for a human he always was, and I'm not going to stop saying so, but if we can preserve those things, at a time when there is no other option for preserving them (try impeaching Trump and getting this stuff past President Pence), we should. And remember what Sunzi's Art of War recommends:
operations that will harm enemy morale: splitting alliances, evading battle, attacking by surprise; he condemns those that may undermine one’s own society, such as the attrition that might result from besieging a walled city. Some operations may be almost purely psychological in their purpose, such as setting fires, which Sun Tzu discusses in effect as a terror weapon. The height of military skill is to turn opposing plans to one’s own uses by “attacking the enemy’s strategy” (as the Germans did against the French in 1940), which at its best yields victory without fighting.

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