Friday, March 11, 2016

Today's Reading Assignment

..Max Boot, writing on a "cringe-worthy presidency" at Commentary.  A few excerpts:

"I see Obama as another Jesper Berg, the fictional prime minister of Norway in the great TV series “Occupied” (viewable on Netflix), another handsome, intelligent politician who is also transfixed by the threat of global warming and is nonchalant when the Russians start to invade his country in order to seize its oil production. (Berg had tried to shut down the entire oil industry because he thought it contributed to global warming.)


When it comes to stopping Russia, Obama adopts a defeatist mindset.  “The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do,” he told Goldberg, and then proceeded to offer one of his trademark straw man arguments: “Now, if there is somebody in this town that would claim that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, they should speak up and be very clear about it.”

It’s a good thing that Ronald Reagan didn’t have this mindset. Otherwise he would never have provided arms to the mujahideen. Instead, he would have taken the attitude that because Afghanistan is next to the Soviet Union, Moscow is destined to dominate there unless the United States was willing to go to war with the USSR. Of course, Reagan didn’t take that attitude and his active support for the Afghan resistance helped to bring down the Soviet empire. 

Mr. Boot also notes Obama's proclivity for transferring blame on others.  He now refers to Libya as a "s--- storm," and holds British Prime Minister David Cameron largely responsible.  Never mind that Obama, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were eager to topple Qadhafi, with little regard for what might come next.  

The article is actually a critique of a piece that appeared in The Atlantic, where Obama defends his foreign policy decisions, in a series of conversations with Jeffrey Goldberg.  The interviews occurred over several years; it's very clear that Mr. Obama and his national security team wanted to give a front-row seat to a friendly writer, and the long piece goes out of its way to balance criticism of the president's disastrous policy decisions.  But throughout the Goldberg article, the tenents of the "Obama Doctrine" are painfully evident: the strawmen arguments; his failure to recognize serious threats (i.e., ISIS), his willingness to blame problems on someone else, and his refusal to get tough with rogue regimes around the globe. 

But most disturbing is Obama's resolute insistence that he has made the right choices.  To be fair, it's difficult to get any commander-in-chief (current or former) to admit a mistake, but Mr. Obama truly believes he is the smartest guy in the room, promulgating a national security "vision" that will make the nation more secure, while allowing Iran to get the bomb; failing to develop a coherent strategy for dealing with ISIS and his refusal to confront adversaries who truly threaten our global interests and our way of life.  

And there's more than a touch or irony in that.  At one point, Obama admits gushing admiration for President George H.W. Bush and his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, for adeptly handling a series of international crises during their watch, including Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and the fall of communism.  

Of course, Mr. Obama--predictably--fails to recognize the difference between Bush #41 and his own administration.  The elder Bush never ran from a global challenge and wasn't afraid to use overwhelming military force in support of U.S. policy aims.  Likewise, he worked hard to build and maintain relationships with key U.S. allies.  Bush #41 would never trade relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States to gain a reckless nuclear deal with Iran, and he certainly wouldn't sell out Israel because of a personal tiff with the sitting prime minister.  

To be fair, Mr. Bush's foreign policy was hardly perfect; Chinese leaders were welcomed and toasted just weeks after Tinanmen Square.  But given our current amateur who has presided over debacle upon debacle over the past seven years, recollections of a competent national security team are enough to provoke nostalgia.                                  

1 comment:

Vigilis said...

Nate, in the opinion of Americans like myself, the President is being half honest in parsing, “ISIS is not an “existential threat to the country”.

Like too many elected lawyers, he leaves us to guess what he actually envisions for a "transformed" country.