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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Smart Move Redskins

Everything is W's Fault


A Faustian Bargain

Let's begin with the indisputably good news: Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held captive by the Taliban since 2009, is coming home. Upon his release, Bergdahl reportedly asked his rescuers if they were US special forces, bursting into tears after they confirmed that they were. His family is obviously elated. Their protracted, unimaginable ordeal is finally over. But this good news comes at an extremely high price. The Daily Beast's Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report:

The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys. They are top Taliban commanders the group has tried to free for more than a decade. According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated. The exchange shows that the Obama administration was willing to pay a steep price, indeed, for Bergdahl’s freedom. The administration says they will be transferred to Qatar, which played a key role in the negotiations.

Writing at the Weekly Standard, Thomas Joscelyn characterizes the released terrorists as among the most dangerous Al Qaeda-affiliated Taliban commanders in US custody:

There are good reasons why the Taliban has long wanted the five freed from Gitmo. All five are among the Taliban’s top commanders in U.S. custody and are still revered in jihadist circles. Two of the five have been wanted by the UN for war crimes. And because of their prowess, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) deemed all five of them “high” risks to the U.S. and its allies. The Obama administration wants to convince the Taliban to abandon its longstanding alliance with al Qaeda. But these men contributed to the formation of that relationship in the first place. All five had close ties to al Qaeda well before the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, it is difficult to see how their freedom would help the Obama administration achieve one of its principal goals for the hoped-for talks.

The Taliban has been seeking the release of these hardcore jihadists for years, and nowthey've gotten exactly what they wanted:

A few thoughts: One can simultaneously be both overjoyed for the Bergdahl family and deeply concerned about the release of these five men, who are now headed to Qatar. The Obama administration says security measures have been enacted to ensure that they will not return to the battlefield. Perhaps they'll soon find themselves on the wrong side of a US drone. Nevertheless, Joscelyn notes the high recidivism rate among ex-Gitmo detainees, at least one of whom is alleged to have participated in the Benghazi attacks. More alarming is the incentive structure this erects for terrorist organizations. The US has a longstanding, bipartisan policy against negotiating with terrorists. In this case, the Obama administration traded several high-level terrorists for one US soldier. The ranking Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees make an obvious and worrisome point:

Like all Americans, we celebrate the release of Sergeant Berghdal from terrorist captivity. When one of our own comes home to us, we all rejoice. We are relieved that the ordeal and sacrifice of the Bergdahl family has come to a happy conclusion. In the days ahead however, we must carefully examine the means by which we secured his freedom. America has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Berghdal’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.

Rep. McKeon and Sen. Inhofe also state that the Obama administration totally disregarded a law requiring them to notify Congress of any Guantanamo detainee transfers at least 30 days in advance. (In the past, Congress had the power to block such transfers; they relinquished that power in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act). Another unpleasant wrinkle to this story are the allegations that Sgt. Bergdahl deserted his unit before being captured by the enemy. Michelle Malkin wrote about those rumors in 2009, with CBS News following the trail through 2012, and again earlier this year. The evidence seems compelling. Those issues will have to be sorted out in due time. For now, we can only hope and pray that this young man is healthy, and that he can find some peace in being reunited with his family. In the meantime, questions abound: Has the president's decision undermined our no-negotiations-with-terrorists posture in a lasting way? How does the government intend to follow through on its assurance that the freed Taliban commanders cannot pose a threat to the United States? How does this swap -- which acceded to an evil group's core demand -- not incentivize similar groups to capture more Americans and demand concessions for their release? On what grounds did the White House flout the 30-day notification legal requirement? Laws aren't suggestions, in spite of this president's repeated actions. I'll leave you with the president announcing the news in the Rose Garden, flanked by Bergdahl's long-suffering parents:

Leaving no man behind is a worthy and honorable American military ideal. But it's reasonable to worry that this Faustian bargain place even more of our countrymen in danger.

The Nuclear Option: If Only Obama Could Be President

The Nuclear Option: If Only Obama Could Be President

by Charles Hurt

May 31, 2014 11:40 AM PT

According to my copy of The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama is deeply disturbed by “income inequality,” access to health care for poor people and having U.S. troops on aimless missions abroad.

If only he could be in charge, he would fix these things.

Oh, and he also really doesn’t like all the nasty partisan squabbling among politicians in Washington. That needs to be fixed, too.

“The distribution of wealth is even more skewed, and levels of inequality are now higher than at any time since the Gilded Age,” then-Sen. Obama lamented in his 2006 book.

He flayed former President Ronald Reagan, whose “domestic policies tilted heavily toward economic elites, with corporate raiders making tidy profits throughout the eighties while unions were busted and the income for the average working stiff flatlined.”

If only HE could become president.

Today, these problems are even worse.

The median pay package for an American CEO, the Associated Press reported this week, rose above $10 million per year for the first time ever.

Last year saw a fourth straight year of CEO pay raises, while average workers’ salaries remained largely stagnant. CEO pay has jumped a staggering 50 percent since 2008.

“A chief executive now makes about 257 times the average worker’s salary, up sharply from 181 times in 2009,” according to the AP.

If only Barack Obama were president.

And as if that were not bad enough, now hospitals are turning the poor away and cutting charity for indigent patients because of a draconian new law by the federal government.

“Driving the new policies is the cost of charity care, which is partly covered by government but remains a burden for many hospitals,”explains the New York Times.

“The new law also reduces federal aid to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured people, creating an additional pressure on some to restrict charity care.”

If only Barack Obama were president.

In addition to making him president, we should also give his Democrats control of both chambers of Congress for at least two years of his administration so that he can fix all these grave problems he has identified in his book.

Now, we have a president who has decided to bring a “responsible end” to the war in Afghanistan by keeping 9,800 U.S. troops there.

The soft-headed absurdity was not lost on even the president himself. “It’s harder to end wars than to begin them,” he explained limply.

That is president-speak for, “You started it first.” It is a sly way of blaming his predecessor.

If the price of greatness is responsibility, as Winston Churchill said, then we have neither today. But at least things aren’t as partisanly toxic around here any more.

If only Barack Obama were president.

Once Again Obama Violates Ferderal Law With Impunity

Congress has imposed statutory restrictions on the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay. The statutes say the secretary of defense must determine that a transfer is in the interest of national security, that steps have been taken to substantially mitigate a future threat by a released detainee, and that the secretary notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of his determination.

In this case, the administration did not notify Congress ahead of time, officials said. They noted that Mr. Obama has claimed that the transfer restrictions are a potentially unconstitutional intrusion on his powers as the commander in chief. Last December, he issued a signing statement claiming that he could lawfully override them. An administration official said the circumstances of a fast-moving prisoner exchange deal made it appropriate to act outside the statutory framework for transfers.

The top Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees, Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, said the release of the Taliban prisoners  “clearly violated laws” governing the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay. 

Of the 603 former detainees tracked by US intelligence services, a total of 100 have now been confirmed as reengaging in "terrorism"

US soldier freed by Taliban captors Last updated 1 hour ago

US soldier freed by Taliban captors

Last updated 1 hour ago

A video grab image from 2010 showed Sgt Bergdahl in captivity
US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl was held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years

A US soldier who has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years has been freed in deal that includes the release of five Afghan detainees, US officials say.

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed over to US forces in good health, the officials said.

The five Afghan detainees have been released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They were handed over to Qatar, which mediated the transfer.

Sgt Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Officials said he was in good condition and undergoing medical tests at Bagram Air Field, the main US base in Afghanistan.

He would later be flown to a US military medical centre in Germany to "decompress" after his ordeal, American defence sources told the AFP news agency.


Who are the Guantanamo detainees?

Unidentified detainee walks in the exercise yard at Guantanamo (8 April 2014)
The five released inmates had all been held at Guantanamo since 2002

Mohammad Fazl served as the Taliban's deputy defence minister during America'smilitary campaign in 2001. Accused of possible war crimes, including the murder of thousands of Shia Muslims.

Khirullah Khairkhwa was a senior Taliban official serving as interior minister and governor of Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city. Alleged to have had direct links to Osama bin Laden.

Abdul Haq Wasiq was the Taliban's deputy minister of intelligence. Said to have been central in forming alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight against US and coalition forces.

Mullah Norullah Noori was a senior Taliban military commander and a governor. Also accused of being involved in the mass killings of Shia Muslims.

Mohammad Nabi Omari held multiple Taliban leadership roles, including chief of security. Alleged to have been involved in attacks against US and coalition forces.

OMB: Child migrants to cost $2.3B

OMB: Child migrants to cost $2.3B

There is an escalation in boys and girls crossing the Southwest Border unaccompanied. | AP Photo

By DAVID ROGERS | 05/31/2014 11:11 AM EDT | Updated: 05/31/2014 01:39 PM EDT

New White House estimates show that the projected costs of caring for and resettling child migrants from Central America could reach $2.28 billion next year -- well over double what the administration asked for in its 2015 budget just months ago.

The numbers were sent to Congress Friday in a letter from the Office of Management and Budget to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

The two-page document is the most explicit public summary yet by the White House on the budget challenge posed by the growing humanitarian crisis.

The $2.28 billion number compares with the $868 million requested by the administration in its budget submitted in March. That translates to a $1.4 billion or 163 percent increase, the scale of which confirms -- even exceeds -- internal estimates reported earlier this week by this newspaper.

(Also on POLITICO: Palin: 'Illegal aliens' get better care)

Moreover, OMB adds a warning in its letter that U.S. border and immigration agencies -- which first interact with the child migrants -- will also need another $166 million to cover their costs.

No answers are given as to how these needs are to be paid for under the strict budget caps negotiated last December. Instead OMB only urges the committees to allow "appropriate flexibilities" in writing spending bills for the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

But the letter seems sure to push the oft-ignored issue more into the forefront.

"This is a humanitarian crisis," said Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who has pressed the administration to be more forthright about the costs. "I look forward to reviewing the letter."

Indeed, this year there has already been an escalation in the number of teenagers and younger boys and girls crossing the Southwest Border unaccompanied by their parents or adult relatives. Most are not from Mexico itself but nations like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, where poor economic conditions and gang-related violence appear to be driving what's become a remarkable migration.

(Earlier on POLITICO: Child migrants a neglected challenge)

All under 18, these are Unaccompanied Alien Children or UAC's in Washington's legal shorthand. Their numbers could approach 66,000 this year -- more than four times the level of just two years ago.

Republicans contend that criminal elements are taking advantage of families by demanding large sums to smuggle the children up to the border, where they then cross alone, some even holding a phone number for a relative in the U.S.

But the migrants themselves tell of harrowing, dangerous trips riding the tops of freight trains at night to get through Mexico. The heightened violence at home is real, and thus far, there has been bipartisan support for providing medical treatment and foster care while resettling the children with relatives in the U.S.

OMB stresses that considerable uncertainty remains about all such projections given the "very fluid" nature of the border crossings. But the letter, signed by deputy director Brian Deese, says the updated estimates are based on a model that assumes "the month-over-month rate of increase in arrivals that we have been experiencing for the past year will continue."

(Also on POLITICO: Deportation review delayed)

Deese stops short of spelling out how many children this would be. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has quoted estimates of 127,000. Based on its updated cost figures, OMB's projections appear to assume a number at least modestly higher still.

For the White House and Congress, the crisis poses a remarkable challenge -- all in the context of stalled immigration reform and a budget framework that imposes a virtual freeze on domestic appropriations.

The administration is mandated by law to provide care for the children -- a responsibility that falls most heavily on the Office of Refugee Resettlement in HHS. But the money comes out of the discretionary side of the budget and competes with President Barack Obama's domestic initiatives.

Critics contend that the White House chose to lowball its initial UAC request of $868 million to save room under the caps for Obama. Ironically enough Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who helped prepare the 2015 budget as OMB director, will inherit this problem directly when she takes over as the new HHS secretary.

In the spring of 2012 and again last January, the Appropriations leadership stepped in to provide more money to care for the children. But the numbers now far exceed what was required then and add to a list of unpredictable costs facing the committees.

The growing threat of wildland fires in the West is a second major concern. The uproar now over delayed appointments over the Veterans Affairs Department has highlighted a shortage of staff physicians available to patients.

The 2011 Budget Control Act allows for an "overseas" contingency fund to meet ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and refugee crises in Syria and Africa, for example. But in this case, that money is judged off limits even though the child migrant costs are really being driven by circumstances in Central America -- outside the U.S.

The crunch will be felt most in the giant annual appropriations bill governing not just HHS but also the Labor and Education Departments.

As scored by the Congressional Budget Office, the president's budget asked for just over $158 billion for these accounts in 2015. But to help pay for competing priorities, House Republicans are already proposing to trim this back to $155.7 billion.

That leaves a $2.3 billion hole for starters. And if Congress and the White House have to come up with another $1.4 billion for the child migrants, the gap grows to $3.7 billion with big implications for the last years of the president's second term.

Sex Change Now Courtesy of the American Taxpayer

Sex Change Now Courtesy of the American Taxpayer

by Austin Ruse

May 30, 2014 3:44 PM PT

You can now change your sex and charge the American taxpayer, according to new rulesjust issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Up until now, the government denied Medicare payments for such surgeries, which were considered not medically necessary. Changes in genitalia and other secondary sexual characteristics are now considered medically necessary and therefore available for taxpayer funding.

The ruling came at the request of a 74-year-old man who wants genital excavation in order to have the semblance of a vagina.

The cost of such surgery can beastronomical. For a man seeking a vagina, the cost can run upwards of $20,000. For a woman who wants a penis constructed, the costs can range much higher, closer to $50,000.

Those huge amounts are far more than Medicare beneficiaries pay in premiums in a year, let alone what the average worker pays in the Medicare tax each year, which is only1.45% of annual income.

Assuming that an individual makes $100,000 per year, he would pay at most $1,045 in Medicare taxes. So, if one worker who makes $100,000 a year pays roughly over $1,000 to Medicare each year, it would take one worker twenty years to pay for another person's sex-change, or twenty people one year to do the same.

Dr. Paul McHugh, who for many years headed the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and who closed the pioneering sex-change unit at Johns Hopkins, said, “I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia." 

He added, “As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their ‘true’ sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”

Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons, with Phillip Dutton and Dale O’Leary, published a paper in theNational Bioethics Quarterly on the psychology of “sex reassignment surgery.”

The authors say the belief one is “trapped in the body of the wrong sex” is “generated by a disordered perception of self... such a fixed, irrational belief is appropriately described as a delusion.” They call sex reassignment surgery “a category mistake” that offers “a surgical solution for psychological problems.” They add that it is related to “addiction to masturbation and fantasy, poor body image, excessive anger, and severe psychopathology in a parent.”

According to the literature there are two types who seek sex reassignment surgery: homosexual transsexuals and autogynephilic transsexuals. Autogynephilic transsexuals “are men in love with the image of themselves as women.” They find sexual excitement in dressing up as women and often have fantasies of being penetrated. If they have partners, the partners are mostly props in the fantasy. The paper says most autogynephilic transexual males consider themselves to be heterosexual. Many marry and have children, and some eventually decide they want to live full time as women and then seek sex reassignment surgery.

Homosexual transsexuals are “men whose appearance, gestures, and speech are perceived as feminine.” They believe they can pass for women and attract masculine heterosexual men.

Dr. Paul McHugh says these men are “conflicted and guilt-ridden homosexuals who see a sex-change as a way to resolve their conflicts over homosexuality by allowing them to behave sexually as females with men.”

Typically private insurance does not cover such surgeries, but that could also change with the new ruling, as private companies often take their lead from the federal government.

The Williams Institute, an LGBT research institute at UCLA, estimates there are 700,000 transgender people in the United States, or roughly .0029 percent of the adult population.

WWII Vet Requested Benefits in 1974, Received Them 40 Years Later

WWII Vet Requested Benefits in 1974, Received Them 40 Years Later

by AWR Hawkins

May 30, 2014 1:17 PM PT

Eighty-nine-year old World War II Navy veteran Milton Rackham requested veterans' benefits in 1974, but he didn't receive them until 2014.

Rackham says that every time he would ask the Veterans Administration (VA) about the delay they would tell him they could not find him in the system because his records had been "lost in a fire in Missouri."

According to Fox News, Rackham received a Purple Heart for his service and injuries that have made it difficult for him to work through the years. He said when the VA told him, "We can't help you," it made him "feel worthless."

Rackham's story began to seep out to the public in 2011 when one of his friends began writing about his war experience. About two months ago he "started receiving $822 a month from the VA and as well as $7,000 in back pay."

He said the craziest aspect of it all is that the VA has no new information on him, so they made their decision to start paying him based on the same information they had in 1974 and at all the subsequent points in time when they said they could not help him. 

Rackham's wife, Carol, may qualify for spousal benefits, but she "has received no money to date."

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter@AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at

US Economy Shrinks @ Media Makes Excuse

The big news Thursday was that America's economy shrank during the first quarter of 2014, its worst performance in three years -- but reporting that news apparently didn't sit well with several major media outlets.

“U.S. economy shrinks, but it's not a big deal,” read a headline on

“Blame Old Man Winter: economy contracts for first time in three years,” NBC News tweeted.

The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis revised the numbers downward from prior estimates to show the nation’s GDP contracted at an annual rate of negative 1 percent. It was the first negative quarter since 2011, and one more three-month stretch in the red would put the U.S. is back in recession. But nightly newscasts sought to present the data as a blip, blaming it on the weather — if they mentioned it at all.

"When the media aren't ignoring bad economic news to protect Obama, they're spinning it into good news.”

- Brent Baker, Media Research Center

“All that snow and ice froze business, but most economists believe it sets the economy up for rebound this quarter and there are some encouraging signs in the numbers,” CBS News’ Anthony Mason reported.

Blame Old Man Winter: economy contracts for first time in three years

— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 29, 2014

Neither ABC nor NBC reported the disappointing numbers at all. The preliminary quarterly estimate from the U.S. Department of Commerce had been that the economy grew at a modest 0.1 percent rate.

Economists, including those at the Federal Reserve, generally agree that unusually brutal weather played a role in the economy contracting by a full percent for the first three months of the year. Some say President Obama’s economic policies didn’t help, either. But while that kind of analysis has a place in fair and balanced reporting, such rosy spin rarely found its way into headlines during the economic doldrums of the Bush administration.

"When the media aren't ignoring bad economic news to protect Obama, they're spinning it into good news,” Media Research Center's Brent Baker, who drew attention to the apparent double standard on the MRC'sNewsBusters site, told “That sure wasn't a favor the press corps ever provided George W. Bush."

The New York Times used the double entendre "Frigid First Quarter" to characterize both the lack of economic growth and the reason for it, while media outlets more versed in economics, such as Forbes, simply stated the facts up front and allowed informed sources to provide commentary below.

Economist Kevin Hassett, a former advisor to Mitt Romney and now an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said the weather was indeed a major drag on the economy.

“I think Obama's policies have absolutely put us on a lower growth trajectory, but I also think that the weather was 99 percent of the story in Q1,” said Hassett, who has written extensively about media bias. “Now, this is, in part, a testable thing.  If Q2 includes a major bounce back, of say, 4 percent instead of 2, then the weather story gets more credibility.”

Fighting talk amid the shrinking of American might -

Fighting talk amid the shrinking of American might -

Obama is seeking to scale back US global responsibilities without signalling a retreat

It looked like Barack Obama might do something rash when he travelled to West Point, New York, on Wednesday to deliver the commencement address of the US Military Academy. Foreign policy thinkers in both parties have accused the president of being unwilling to provide US leadership in the world. They urge him to look to his “legacy” and to think big. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recommended the Ukraine crisis as a “legacy opportunity” and even suggested a series of activist steps.

This is, alas, a typically American way of looking at history. The late historian Christopher Lasch marvelled in the early 1990s at the way Bill Clinton arrived in office “already obsessed with his ‘place in the history books’ . . . as if ‘history’ were just a kind of protracted version of the publicity industry, and you could reserve a room just by phoning ahead with a little advance hype”. Mr Obama does not need to bully anyone to secure a “legacy”. Changing US foreign policy after George W Bush’s two terms is the main thing he was elected to do. He has done it.

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On this storyOn this topicChristopher Caldwell

Mr Obama’s problem is different. When he says “America must always lead on the world stage”, there is no reason to doubt his sincerity. But such leadership comes at a price, and he is disinclined to pay it. He proposed bombing Syria at a point last year when Bashar al-Assad was alleged to have used chemical weapons but then abandoned the idea in the face of voter rage. He would rather gain a reputation for indecision than make a blunder. He cited a predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower: “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.” Mr Obama’s feelings on the matter may explain the uncharacteristic gracelessness with which he sometimes criticises Mr Bush.

Whatever they think of Mr Obama more generally, Americans share his diffidence about using force. Last autumn, a majority told the Pew Center, for the first time since 1964, that their country ought to “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own”. Today, the public is opposed to taking a “firm stand” against Russian mischief in Ukraine – only 29 per cent want that, according to a March poll by Pew.

Mr Obama is unpopular. His presidency is much diminished in recent months. But there was a lot of the old Mr Obama in his West Point speech, as he insisted that leadership and bellicosity are not synonyms. He has announced an end of the US Afghanistan mission by 2016 and sharp troop cuts by 2017. That would bring the size of the US army below 450,000 soldiers, the lowest since before the second world war. The goal of Wednesday’s speech was to arrive at a doctrine that would present this downscaling of responsibilities as something other than a retreat. Mr Obama did this by dividing US responsibilities into two kinds: national defence and “issues of global concern”, from counterterrorism to climate change. It is this second group of issues that really animated the president.

He is proposing that the US, through skilful use of international organisations, can exercise undiminished influence over the affairs of men, at diminished cost in blood and treasure

Mr Obama wants to convince Americans that the US can be confident when it acts through international institutions – including Nato, the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and international courts – because it has shaped them. In turn, these institutions will give America a fairer shake if it becomes a better global citizen – if, for instance, it is “more transparent” about drone strikes. He used every rhetorical tool at his disposal to sell his new approach. He was by turns boastful (insisting the US is still what Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, called “the indispensable nation”), patriotic (speaking of “my duty to you, and to the country we love”), politically correct (congratulating West Point on its “first all-female command team”) and idealistic (calling on America to act “on behalf of human dignity”).

The cadets in attendance appeared to be sitting on their hands. Mr Obama’s doctrine is squeamish. It will be uninspiring to martial minds. Where most presidents go to West Point to speak of sacrifice and honour, he promised the assembled warriors: “You will work as a team with diplomats and development experts. You will get to know allies and train partners.” International organisations can be very efficient redistributors of goods and power. Americans often distrust them for just that reason. But Mr Obama is not so far off the mark. He is proposing that the US, through skilful use of international organisations, can exercise undiminished influence over the affairs of men, at diminished cost in blood and treasure. It amounts to eating your cake and having it – an unrealistic foreign policy, and the very one Mr Obama’s voters have asked for.