President Obama and his chief of staff, McDonough

On November 4, the US will vote for a new Congress. All evidence points to a Democratic Party defeat: Republicans should increase their majority in Congress and win the Senate. The power of President Obama should be reduced in proportion.

In international relations, this change should not help clarify behaviors. The Obama administration is facing a serious crisis of confidence in its relations with its Israeli partner as it is about to sign an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is divided on the key issues of the moment: the crisis with Russia about Ukraine, the war against the Islamic Emirate ("Daesh"), and the treatment of the possible outbreak of Ebola in the Western world.

During the shaping of his second administration, Barack Obama had expelled his rivals, who while publicly defending his policies, sabotaged them behind his back. He had instead appointed reliable men who obeyed him faithfully, but seem to lack imagination and creativity.

Still, to this day, and contrary to its obligations, the White House has not written and published its National Security doctrine. It should have been presented to Congress in May.

The President seems to rely on an increasingly small team of advisers to make decisions: his security advisor Susan Rice and his chief of staff Denis R. McDonough on the diplomatic front and his military Chief of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Even if a relationship of trust exists with his Secretaries of State and Defense, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, he seems to no longer regard them except as mere executers.

The principles of the White House

This reduced team acts based on several principles.

 First, its members believe that Washington should better choose its partners. In the past, annointees were those who defended the interests of multinationals in their country and pledged to vote as they were asked in international institutions, today it is not enough. One must show that one is able to last and play one’s role in the long term.

 Second, its members feel that they should not mobilize large resources for details. For example, in the fight against terrorism, it is a matter of focusing on prevention of mass actions, not of getting lost looking for hypothetical "lone wolves."

 Finally, though this team continues to support Jewish settlement in Palestine, it no longer considers the Israeli administration as reliable and prefers to deal directly with its Defence Forces [1].

The positions of the White House

On hot issues, these principles lead the White House to push the following positions:

 It is necessary to admit that Ukraine is a failed state and its leaders are corrupt incompetents. President Poroshenko ​​publicly praised Nazi Collaborators and had to catch up with his Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the airport as he tried to escape with the money he had stolen. These are therefore not reliable partners which the United States can use to challenge the Russian Federation. Therefore, the situation in the Donbass must be allowed to stagnate in order to maintain a playing card, but the idea of precipitating a war with ​​Moscow in the region must be abandoned.

 After three years of war, the Syrian National Coalition is no longer supported but by a tiny minority of Syrians. It has thus not the capacity to govern and it will be necessary sooner or later to resume normal relations with President Bashar al-Assad. The priority now is to create a regional environment which will prevent Syria and Iraq from disruping the world order when hostilities cease. It is therefore necessary to both destroy Chinese installations in Iraq (Beijing had become Iraq’s main customer for oil) and ensure that the Syrian Arab Army will be too busy for a decade with internal problems to be able to confront Israel. Finally, it is necessary to maintain control of the jihadists who seem intoxicated by the victory that has been given them.

 Finally, ebola is no threat to the West, it’s just an excuse to deploy Africom troops in West Africa. The hysteria that has gripped the US public since the discovery of a case in Texas should be reduced to proper proportions. In this regard, the Atlanta Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed its ineffectiveness and must be punished.

That said, these positions allow to react to events, not to anticipate them. They improve management, but do not constitute a policy. So President Obama is looking for new collaborators to propose new views on the world.

The White House and the Deep State

It remains to be seen whether, when the White House will have a strategy, it will be able to insert itself or not in the room for maneuvering left to it by the Deep State. For now, Obama had to back pedal on two points he had set during his election campaign: torture and the nuclear issue.

 Six years later, no one knows why it is impossible to close Guantánamo, or publish the Senate report on torture in the Bush era. It seems that this report contains information that could open other files. Denis R. McDonough went to California to discuss it with Senator Dianne Feinstein to find a solution.

 Above all, Barack Obama was forced to relaunch the arms race when he had promised to create a world without nuclear weapons. But it is out of the question for the Deep State to abandon its military superiority. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has thus decided to modernize the US nuclear arsenal.

Roger Lagassé

[1Recently, a presidential aide called Benjamin Netanyahu "a chickenshit", see "The Crisis in US-Israel Relations Is Officially Here" by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, October 28, 2014.