Opinions on the News
"Missing the Big Picture", By Charles Krauthammer, August 14, 2014
“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” – Hillary Clinton, The Atlantic, August 10
Leave it to Barack Obama’s own former secretary of state to acknowledge the fatal flaw of his foreign policy: a total absence of strategic thinking.
Mind you, Obama does deploy grand words proclaiming grand ideas: the “new beginning” with Islam declared in Cairo, the reset with Russia announced in Geneva, global nuclear disarmament proclaimed in Prague (and playacted in a Washington summit). Untethered from reality, they all disappeared without a trace.
When carrying out policies in the real world, however, it’s nothing but tactics and reactive improvisation. The only consistency is the president’s inability (unwillingness?) to see the big picture. ... continue reading.
"Coalition of the Unwilling", By Mark Steyn, September 12, 2014
I was overseas when Obama gave his momentous Isis address, but figured I could pretty much guess how things would go. Despite being the greatest orator of the last thousand years, he's a complete bust at selling anything but himself, as comprehensively demonstrated in his first couple of years: see his rhetorical efforts on behalf of ObamaCare, or Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley, or Chicago's Olympics bid. When it comes to war, he suffers from an additional burden: before he can persuade anybody else, he first has to persuade himself. And he can't do it. So he gave the usual listless performance of a surly actor who resents the part he's been given. It's not just the accumulation of equivocations and qualifications - the "Islamic State" is not Islamic, our war with them is not a war, there'll be no boots on the ground except the exotic footwear of a vast unspecified coalition - but something more basic: What he mainly communicates is that he doesn't mean it.
That's what the jihadist militias now in control of Tripoli understood about his "leading from behind". That's what Putin grasped about Obama's "red line" in Syria. And that's what any Isis member who took time out of his beheading schedule to watch the President on CNN International will have taken away from this week's speech.
One sympathizes with Obama at having to pretend to be interested in tedious briefings about which set of unlovely ingrate natives we should back against the other. He was elected to be the post-war president - Clement Attlee to Bush's Winston Churchill, an analogy that's almost perfect except for the minor detail that in this case the enemy did not acceot that the war was over. Still, it takes two to tango, and Obama's principal dance move is to stand at the side of the floor looking cool. The Obama Doctrine - "Don't do stupid sh*t" - has been rendered in non-PG version as "Don't do stupid stuff". But it should be more pithily streamlined yet: Don't do. The Obama "Doctrine" attempts to dignify inertia as strategy.
And so the President assures us that his determination to "destroy" Isis won't be anything like Iraq and Afghanistan, but more on the lines of Yemen and Somalia - that's to say, one more failed state we'll drone now and again. Can you really treat one of the world's deepest pools of oil as just another piffling fringe-of-the-map basket-case? Don't worry about it. For the modern progressive, the entire planet is fringe-of-the-map. Real politics is about free contraceptives for thirtysomething college students, and transgender bathrooms for grade-schoolers. "Foreign policy" is something old bitter white men do. … continue reading.
"Success or Failure? Obama The Master Illusionist", by Thomas Sowell, September 10, 2014
Those people who say that President Obama has no clear vision and no clear strategy for dealing with the ISIS terrorists in the Middle East may be mistaken. It seems to me that he has a very clear and very consistent strategy. And a vision behind that strategy.
If you assume that Barack Obama is trying to protect the safety and interests of the United States and its allies, then clearly he has been a monumental failure. It is hard to think of any part of the world where things have gotten better for us since the Obama administration began. Certainly not in Iraq. Or Iran. Or Libya. Or China. Things went from bad to worse after Obama intervened in Egypt and helped put the murderous Muslim Brotherhood in power.
If you start from the assumption that Barack Obama wanted to advance America’s interests, this is truly an unbelievable record of failure. But what is there in Obama’s background that would justify the assumption that America’s best interests are his goal?
Barack Obama has succeeded in reducing America’s military strength while our adversaries are increasing theirs, and reducing our credibility and influence with our allies. That is completely consistent with his vision of how the world ought to be, with the West taken down a peg and humbled.
We are currently at a point where we can either kill as many of the ISIS terrorists as possible over there — where they are bunched together and visible against a desert background — or else leave the job half done and have them come over here, where they will be hard to find, and can start beheading Americans in America.
Everything in Barack Obama’s history suggests that he is going to leave the job half done, so long as that gets the issue off the front pages and off the TV newscasts. … continue reading.
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