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Robert O’BRIEN serait pire que BOLTON

La phrase est joliment faite et la parabole irrésistible : « Un taxi complètement vide s’arrête devant la Maison-Blanche et Robert O’Brien, le nouveau conseiller à la sécurité nationale du président, en descend. » C’est ainsi que commence le texte de Martin Sieff, du 22 septembre 2019, sur Auteur et commentateur dont on doit apprécier l’expérience et le professionnalisme ainsi que le courage (venu d’un poste important à UPI pour entrer dans la presse antiSystème), Sieff ne nous laisse aucun espoir. Sa description nous dit qu’O’Brien est le stade ultime de la néantisation et de la nullité, et sa médiocrité complète correspondant parfaitement à la situation d’effondrement-en-cours de l’empire.

« L’histoire des empires en déclin, en particulier ceux qui sont au bord de l’effondrement et les lois impitoyables de l’incompétence bureaucratique et de la médiocrité, – que feu C. Northcote Parkinson a décrites dans son texte classique ‘Parkinson’s Law’, – rendent extrêmement facile à comprendre O’Brien, à résoudre ses apparentes mais illusoires “contradictions” et à prévoir la catastrophe finale que son pays va subir dans la logique de sa nomination. » 

Nous avions Bolton et nous tremblions, et pourtant nous n’avions encore rien vu puisqu’on nous laisse à voir désormais l’invisible O’Brien. (In illo tempore d’ailleurs, en 2005, Bolton lui-même apprécia la parfaite médiocrité d’O’Brien à son service lorsqu’il fit un stage illégal comme ambassadeur non certifié des USA à l’ONU.) Ainsi, conclut Sieff, O’Brien est si médiocre que Trump mettra plus du temps qu’avec Bolton à s’apercevoir de ce qui se passe…

« Cela signifie qu’il aura une influence beaucoup plus grande sur le président Trump que l’arrogant Bolton, – un génie dans l’art de se rendre insupportable et répugnant, même pour nombre de ses admirateurs et bienfaiteurs, – ne pourrait jamais le faire.
 Cela ne veut pas dire qu’il [O’Brien] adoptera ou défendra des politiques bonnes, courageuses ou nécessaires, ou qu’il reconnaîtra des politiques dangereuses.
 Mais au contraire de cette occurrence où Trump identifia rapidement l’arrogance personnelle, les promesses folles et l’incompétence de Bolton, avec O’Brien le président est plus susceptible d’accepter beaucoup plus longtemps la présence d’O’Brien, ce néant déguisé en dignité et sa “prévenance” entièrement faussaire. »

Diagnostic final, partagé par Eric Zuesse dans un autre texte de : « Loin d’être une amélioration bienvenue par rapport à l’ineffable Bolton, O’Brien, – aussi incroyable que cela puisse paraître, – sera probablement pire » Reste donc à comprendre, ou plus justement à expliquer intuitivement comment Trump parvient à faire, pour ce poste essentiel de conseiller à la sécurité nationale où quatre hommes se sont succédés, non pas un choix de plus en plus extrémiste mais un choix de plus en plus médiocre, – l’extrémisme, par ailleurs, allant de soi. Bref, Trump est bien égal à ce qu’on pouvait prévoir de lui comme semeur de désordre, puisque le non-être O’Brien à ses côtés ne constituera qu’un facteur de plus pour accélérer le susdit désordre. Bienvenu au club.


The Invisible Man

A taxi with nobody in it drove up to the White House and Robert O’Brien, the latest national security adviser of the United States got out.

President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint O’Brien as his fourth national security adviser to replace despised, discredited and down, plain hapless John Bolton has already generated endless megabytes of confused debate.

O’Brien we have been told, is a hardliner. No: He is a good-natured pragmatist. He is a negotiator. He will soften and improve relations with Russia and Iran. Yet he published an otherwise utterly forgettable book that was viciously hostile to the leaders of Russia and Iran.

O’Brien, we are told, wants to focus on opposing the rise of China. But he mindlessly generates hostility towards most other great nations too. He is a lawyer. But his primary career was as an officer in the US Army.

O’Brien is described as a mainstream Republican. But he was raised up and favored by John Bolton himself during his less than stellar tenure – never confirmed by the United States Senate – as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations.

In reality, all this confusion is only in the imagination of the American pundits: The history of declining empires, especially those on the brink of collapse and the remorseless laws of bureaucratic incompetence and mediocrity – memorably delineated by the late C. Northcote Parkinson in his classic text “Parkinson’s Law” – make it all too easy to understand O’Brien, resolve his apparent – but illusory – “contradictions” and predict the terminal catastrophe he is going to make of his country’s affairs.

First, O’Brien genuinely is a colorless figure. He has been in many high profile situations and been invisible in all of them. He was never the man of substance and wisdom behind the scenes. The more famous men who consulted him, like Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney in 2012 and Scott Walker in 2015 lost pathetically.

O’Brien has never shown any strong character. He has always shown all the force of personality of a damp sponge. He has passively accepted the prevailing wisdom of neoconservative, arrogant, militarist America all his life. He has never shown the slightest inclination to question any of the dominant ideas or strategies of his times. Nor is he a competent or experienced manager. He has even less experience at leading any department or running a small office than the hapless Bolton himself. And he is too old to start learning now.

The US Army produces scores of thousands of useless but apparently harmless officers like O’Brien. They tend to come primarily from the Midwest where superficial pleasantness and the ability to withstand endless decades of boredom in men’s clubs like the Kiwanis, the Toastmasters and the Shriners is the sine qua non of professional and social advancement. Alexis de Tocqueville already observed this nearly two centuries ago.

Often this superficial and bogus social ease is further lubricated and supercharged by a broad streak of blind ambition, bureaucratic backstabbing and animal cunning.

O’Brien’s decision when he left the military to take a law degree also fits this pattern of a talentless but hardworking and ambitious grind without real intellect, learning, character or vision. Getting legal or bloated academic degrees bestows on such people a veneer of intellectual depth and seriousness that in reality they are utterly incapable of.

If all this sounds too harsh, and judgmental, I recommend readers to do their due diligence and read O’Brien’s 2016 book “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis”

In this mindless, complacent but unconsciously revealing screed, O’Brien expressed not just hostility but contempt towards Russia and President Vladimir Putin whom he described as a “despot.” He also gives enthusiastic support for the violent Maidan coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014. He praised Ukrainian groups that have strong ties to neo-Nazis and opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The picture throughout is of a simplistic extremist of whom John Bolton was justly proud.

O’Brien is totally ignorant of the world. His spurious reputation as a hostage negotiator amounts to a combination of legal quibbling and ability to offer tasty little concessions approved in advance by others anyway. These days, he primarily serves the bidding of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo whose total dominance of US policymaking is now confirmed.

Far from being a welcome improvement on the ineffable Bolton, O’Brien – inconceivable as it may seem – is likely to be even worse.

That is because, like the lead characters of the classic Midwest American novels of Sinclair Lewis and John Updike, the one thing O’Brien can plausibly do is superficially get on with people, at least those of comparable vast limitations to himself.

That means he is going to have vastly greater influence on President Trump than the arrogant Bolton – a genius only at making himself repulsive even to many of his admirers and benefactors – ever could.

That does not mean he will drive through or champion any good, courageous or necessary policies, or recognize any dangerous ones.

But where Trump quite quickly came to recognize Bolton’s personal arrogance, wild promises and ineptitude, he is far more likely to be taken in for far longer by O’Brien, a nonentity cloaked in dignity and entirely fraudulent “thoughtfulness.”

O’Brien in conclusion is a classic example of the mediocrity that rises to the top precisely because he is a mediocrity and ruffles no feathers along the way. 140 years ago, the British comic musical geniuses Gilbert and Sullivan predicted O’Brien in “The First Lord’s Song” in “HMS Pinafore.”

“I always voted at my party’s call
“And I never thought of thinking for myself at all
“I thought so little, they rewarded me
“By making me the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy.”

And that is how Robert O’Brien got to be National Security Adviser of the United States.

The dangerous times for the world are not over: They are about to get even worse.

Martin Sieff

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