"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Tracing Obama's Missteps in Foreign Affairs


"Punish them, for they do not know how great I am."


There's an excellent article in Foreign Policy Magazine (h/t Ace of Spades) that I highly recommend. Yes, I have a few disagreements with the article by David Rothkopf-- especially regarding the American people's "mandate" that Obama was empowered with in 2008, a view that completely disregards both the role of race and the concerted efforts of the media in the election, as well as Rothkopf's insistence that Obama inherited many of problems he faces (guess what, all presidents inherit crises and problems so why is it worth specifically mentioning with Obama?)-- but it's still a good read. Check it out at the link below. In one paragraph Rothkopf covered quite a few of Obama's foreign policy failures, which are so numerous and come so quickly that it's frankly hard to keep up with, so it's a good refresher.

From the Foreign Policy article by David Rothkopf:

"You're still a superpower," a top diplomat from one of America's most dependable Middle Eastern allies said to me in July of this year, "but you no longer know how to act like one." 
He was reflecting on America's position in the world almost halfway into President Barack Obama's second term. Fresh in his mind was the extraordinary string of errors (schizophrenic Egypt policy, bipolar Syria policy), missteps (zero Libya post-intervention strategy, alienation of allies in the Middle East and elsewhere), scandals (spying on Americans, spying on friends), halfway measures (pinprick sanctions against Russia, lecture series to Central Americans on the border crisis), unfulfilled promises (Cairo speech, pivot to Asia), and outright policy failures (the double-down then get-out approach in Afghanistan, the shortsighted Iraq exit strategy).  
[...]   
The problem is that in seeking to sidestep the pitfalls that plagued Bush, Obama has inadvertently created his own. Yet unlike Bush, whose flaw-riddled first-term foreign policy was followed by important and not fully appreciated second-term course corrections, Obama seems steadfast in his resistance both to learning from his past errors and to managing his team so that future errors are prevented. It is hard to think of a recent president who has grown so little in office. 
As a result, for all its native confidence and fundamental optimism, the United States remains shaken and unsteady more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks. Many of its problems have only grown dangerously worse: Its relative influence has declined; the terrorism threat has evolved and spread; and U.S. alliances are superannuated, ineffective shadows of their former selves. Compounding this is such gross dysfunction in Washington that, on most issues, the president is presumed to be blocked by Congress even before he has had the opportunity to make a move.

And whose fault is this "gross dysfunction in Washington?" Let's not forget that Obama had two years of Democrat-controlled Congress and chose to bypass the Senate (still Dem controlled but with out the super-majority to avoid a bill-killing filibuster), and ram through the hugely unpopular and now unsuccessful ObamaCare. Just to top it off, Obama and the the Dems spent the entire time during, and often since the passage, characterizing political adversaries and any of the American people who voiced voicing their opposition, as being Nazis, racists, and enemies of the state. Obama ran a divisive campaign, continues to run a divisive and petulant presidency, and now he reaps the benefits of his own prior, self-serving actions.

It's clear that Obama has never held a role of leader, or even a managerial job, prior to his election. No one with a modicum of experience and intelligence would ever believe that they could continually treat/attack people this way and then get what want they want down the road. At least not without resorting to coercion-- which is partly explains the IRS's and EPA's attacks on Obama's political adversaries.

And then there's the brain trust, the best of what the Left has to offer:

The tensions around the Syria crisis had other knock-on costs that were themselves symptomatic of a misfiring process and team. For example, on the edges of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, which took place Sept. 5 and 6, 2013, Washington continued to push for international support of military action as it had been doing ineffectively since late August. In one meeting, Rice pressed the German delegation relentlessly for leadership within the European Union. The Germans sought more time and consultation with other EU member states, frustrating Rice to the point that she lost her cool and reportedly launched into a profanity-filled lecture that featured a rare diplomatic appearance of the word "motherfucker." Germany's national security advisor, Christoph Heusgen, was so angered that he told an American confidante it was the worst meeting of his professional life.

Yeah, that story just rings true. I mean doesn't Rice just perfectly reflect the attitude of the American Left? Close-minded, arrogant, baselessly self-assured of the rightness of their (transitory) beliefs, profane, short-tempered, and all set with a spoiled child's response when they do not immediately get what they desire.

Remember when Bush II was accused of cowboy diplomacy. Well I guess now we have Samuel L. Jackson diplomacy-- "I'm tired of these motherfuckin' snakes in this motherfuckin' meeting room." Classy.

Rothkopf is far too generous to the disaster that has been Obama's presidency. He barely mentions Russia's rise in the wake of Obama's laziness and ineptitude (which is far more accurate in my my eyes than characterizing Obama as deliberative and aloof), and indeed he doesn't even mention the abrupt and alarming rise of tensions in the far-East that has come with the weakening of our relationship with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, etc.

Furthermore, while Rothkopf spends a good deal of time discussing Obama's bubble world within the White House, he doesn't spend nearly enough time on the consequences of this. Obama lives in a pretend world populated by people doing what he wills (with such little promptings as hashtags in the Boko Haram kidnapping incident-- one of many such kidnapping by the way), and acting as he perceives to be correct (Russia not behaving according to the 21st Century standards-- as though Obama sets or even understands such standards, ISIS isn't really Islamic, etc.). The danger of this sheltered, childish belief is quite obvious because it's been on full display for six years now.

Indeed, this means that Rothkopf's concluding hopes that Obama will abruptly change direction and correct himself is really just a bad joke. After spending so much time carefully constructing his cocoon, the chances that Obama and his fragile ego will leave it is pretty much zero. Pining for Obama to change is pointless. It won't happen. Instead we need to hold Obama and the rest of administration responsible for his failures, and not just write them off as happenstances beyond his control, or due to racism, or due to the clutter in Washington (again let's note that this a clutter of Obama's own making) or due to the sun, the moon, and the stars lining up against him.

Obama will not learn from his mistakes-- he has demonstrated a steadfast refusal to do so. Instead we need to learn from our mistakes. We need to not elect presidents based upon the mainstream media's backing, on vague musings of "hope," divine imagery (see above), nor on the basis of white guilt, racial atonement, nor the unrealistic idea of instant racial reconciliation, and certainly not in a giddy attempt to "make history."

We've been burned once, and the result has been foolish mistakes, betrayed allies across the globe, a rise in Islamic fundamentalism and blood-chilling violence, a rise in thuggish behavior among rival nations such as China and Russia, a questionable 2012 election due to interference by Obama's IRS, EPA, and a hacked GOP "get out the vote" system, a barren economy and the joblessness and hopelessness that comes attached.

Obama will not learn from his mistakes. He has never demonstrated the capacity to even admit to a mistake, much less learn from them. No. We need to ride out his administration, resist his encroachments into our lives, health care, Constitutional freedoms when we can. But most importantly, we need to learn from our mistake. And never to make the same one again.


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