I guess it was during some boring moment in September 2008 in COP Zormat when I was chilling with the interpreters ahead of riding along with the Hooligans that I asked one of them what he thought of candidate Obama. I wasn’t fishing for a quote or anything like that — Afghan individual’s perception of Obama indicates widespread satisfaction/disgust! War on the verge of success/failure on November whatever-it-was 2008! — we were just bullshitting about What’s It Like In Your Country Because This Is What It’s Like In Mine. “He is young man, very strong man,” the guy said. OK.

I thought of that when reading Laura Rozen and Ben Smith’s piece about how now foreign leaders confront an Obama at the height of his powers. And I don’t get the so-what factor. If Obama’s health care win means so much for his relationships abroad going forward, then why did Netanyahu basically act like the same old Netanyahu last night at AIPAC? I fully admit I don’t put much stock in stuff I can’t measure, and I have a hard time accepting concepts like “narrative” and “momentum” because they seem like ephemeral bullshit to me, but who knows, people tend to respond to ephemeral bullshit, myself included. Heather Hurlburt gives this idea her imprimatur. But I don’t know — personal relationships are important to history, but structural relationships based on interest are far more durable. How did that George Bush-Vladimir Putin thing work out?

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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