He’s done more than screw up the region — or address larger political tectonics like the post-Soviet collapse of Soviet arrangements and behaviors. Boasting transparency, he has removed from popular observation the underlying policies of his Administration, transforming America’s democracy into its own neo-feudal world, a mirror perhaps of the feudal world he has engaged.

I remain both ambivalent and clinical cold in my “reading” of Obama’s domestic and foreign political policy involving his avoidance of confrontation and a kind of almost (!) but not quite complete rollover to the infiltration and possible perversion of intellectual assets (from advisors to campuses to think tanks). The U.S., perhaps others as well, has absorbed the agents of malicious movements, but it has also weakened the legs of the post-KGB Putin-Khamenei programs. The end of the Cold War and suspension of the Soviet failed to permanently transform Russia into a rule-of-law state. Colonel President Emperor Putin has extended the old program under cover of a neo-feudal nationalism and Obama has been either stuck with its disassembly or made part of its longevity.

Credit Obama with destabilizing the Soviet holdovers in international business and criminal relationships.  The “Putin-Assad-Khamenei” arrangement has been looking a bit rough lately (I understand the preferred enemy — as opposed to a moderate popular revolutionary one — the “Islamist Front”  — because it makes a better self-glorifying story for our malignant narcissists — has drawn close to the gates defending whatever remains of Assad’s governing power [he has really destroyed his own crib]).

Also looking unmasked and pale: Venezuela’s Maduro may handily deal with the direct opposition using the tools familiar to dictators, but with the economic woes derived from his own disastrous national policies, he appears bound to deal with enemies within his own circles as well.

Related Reading and Additions

Leopoldo López has been imprisoned in a military prison for one year and a month. Leopoldo is innocent, he shouldn’t remain as a prisoner for another day. He is imprisoned because of his words, because of what he thinks, for daring to say what the majority of Venezuelans wanted to hear.

He denounced Maduro’s regime as undemocratic, corrupt, inefficient, and repressive. Those words are now more alive than ever.

Marty, Belen.  “Lilian Tintori: “Leopoldo Surrendered to Unmask Maduro.”  Pan Am Post, March 31, 2015.

It was a sign of how bad things are in the Americas. Authoritarian governments now rule in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. All employ, to varying degrees, at least some elements of the Cuban model in which the executive consolidates power, civil society is suppressed, and due process is passe.

Elections are rigged. Rulers expropriate at will. Media outlets that dare to differ from the party line face legal burdens that can wipe them out.

O’Grady, Mary Anastasia.  “Obama Rehabilitates the Castro Brothers: The Organization of American States is now open to dictatorships.”  The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2015.

Hiding dictatorship — how it works its ugliness, what it really looks like — from the young appears increasingly difficult given American Presidential attention.  While American conservatives frame Obama’s about-to-happen meet-and-greet with Raoul Castro as a gross compromise of the American democratic spirit, as much also highlights how really awful — “state capitalist” (actually), criminal, manipulative, and repressive Cuba’s governing elite have been all along:

But a second activist, from Argentina, reported on social media suffering similar treatment.

Micaela Hierro Dori said “the same happened to me”, and that she was threatened with being deported to Argentina.

“They are looking to silence the young,” she said.

Alexander, Harriet.  “Cuban dissident arrested on arrival at Panama’s Summit of the Americas.”  The Telegraph, April 6, 2015.

Perhaps the young will wish not to be silenced this year.

Be that as it may, Obama’s friendly reach-out-and-touch-someone-awful tour appears to have a way of uncloaking or uncovering ageing despots: it appears some are getting the attention — the global spotlight — they themselves have long craved.

More From the Awesome Conversation:

Old southern joke about an drunk accused of arson: “Your honor,” he says, “the bed was already on fire when I got into it!”

For Obama, the middle east, so delicately balanced in power, was well screwed up when he got into office, and given both the clout and ruthlessness of the enemies of democracy and modernity, the direct “Arab Spring” may have been due to fail if too much associated with Washington. Instead, the demonic — those “malignant narcissists” — have been given their wish: highest visibility and plenty of room for showing the world how they do business and what the world — and its latest generations — really thinks of them.

We often let attitude and predisposition establish our beliefs when what is wanted may be a lot of observation and a little bit of “wait just a minute”.

While fretting over Khamenei getting The Bomb, have we given much thought to the impact on Iranians of various revelations about the Khamenei brothers wealth? What is that information doing to both colleagues and constituents within each despotic state?

Out of necessity, American presidents find themselves hitched to the momentum of American programs. They might fiddle with some things — get in some licks on behalf of their own inclinations and sentiments — but the machinery is larger than they are and, so far, it has survived every one of them.

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