Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

My Take On Foreign Policy’s Takedown of Obama’s Foreign Policy

Monday, September 15th, 2014

This piece in Foreign Policy has been making the rounds. It talks at length, in an inside-baseball manner, of how the Obama Administration’s feckless and incompetent behavior has damaged America’s interests around the world.

A taste:

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.

That’s why many in the right wing of the blogsphere have been singing it’s praises. And indeed, many of the criticisms leveled are devastatingly on-target. However, I have a somewhat orthogonal take on the piece, and what it’s actually trying to do.

Consider all of the foreign policy debacles either not covered by the piece at all, or else only mentioned in passing:

  • Benghazi
  • Or, for that matter, any of the embassy attacks
  • The failure to address the challenge presented by radical Islam (3 mentions of terrorism, mainly critical of Bush’s handling, and one of the Islamic State)
  • The Iranian nuclear program
  • Gaza (and, in fact, Israel is only mentioned once in passing)
  • Egypt is mentioned only once in passing
  • Ukraine is only mentioned in passing.
  • Broadly speaking, two viewpoints run through the piece, each of which acts, in their own way, as exercises in blame-shifting:

  • An inside-Foggy Bottom view of the embarrassing amateur-hour actions of Obama appointees screwing everything up.
  • “It’s not Hillary’s fault!”
  • As an example of the latter, take this sentence:

    “Concentrating power in the White House increases the likelihood of groupthink, especially in second terms like this one, when many of the stronger and diverse voices in the administration have left and have not been replaced by equally strong and diverse successors.”

    Here that, John Kerry? That’s the sound of Hillary shoving a shiv right between your ribs.

    The groundwork for most (if not all) of the foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration’s second term were laid in its first. Clinton’s emphasis on “soft power” over the military, the premature withdrawal from Iraq, the failure to obtain a status-of-forces agreement there, the counterproductive-to-disastrous regime change in Libya, the lack of any strategy for the “Arab Spring” (and subsequent failure to stem the entirely predictable turn toward radical Islamization several Arab Spring countries took), the failure to foresee a post-Mubarak Egypt, the asinine embrace of Morsi’s obviously despotic Muslim Brotherhood government, the obvious failure of the “reset” with Russia; all occurred or had their seeds planted when Hillary was Secretary of State, and all have contributed mightily to America’s global loss of prestige and respect.

    But the whitewashing of Hillary Clinton’s record is no surprise, given that the author,David Rothkopf, “joined the Clinton Administration in 1993 as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy and Development.”

    I’m also guessing that Susan Rice was among the sources for the piece, given that he follows criticism of her for calling the German Foreign Minister a “M@therf@cker” with the softball “It is a particularly frustrating Achilles’ heel for someone who is well known among her friends as having the capacity to be very warm, humorous, and engaging,” which just reeks of assuaging a source. (Really, did any serious policy profile of any high Republican administration official every use the phrase “very warm, humorous, and engaging”?)

    I also get the impression from this and other bits of Hillary apologia that she really, really has it in for former Deputy National Security Adviser and current White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (he’s the guy that looks like Lurch in that “watch us kill Bin Laden” photo). Note that I’m not taking sides in this dispute; it’s entirely possible that both of them suck…

    The piece is worth reading for showing that even the long-time deep state apparatchiks at Foggy Bottom feel embarrassed at the Obama Administration’s gross foreign policy incompetence. But it also needs to be taken with several grains of salt as yet-another piece of battlespace preparation for Hillary 2016…

    Tomorrow is 9/11. What Is the Obama Administration Doing To Keep America Safe?

    Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

    Tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thanks to the Obama Administration’s feckless and spineless responses to terrorism both here and abroad, Americans feel less safe than ever:

    The exclusive poll reveals that 47% of Americans believe the country is less safe now than before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That’s a significant increase from even a year after the twin towers fell when in September 2002 just 20% of the country said the nation was less safe. The level of fear across America also is up substantially from last year when 28% felt the same way. In fact, just 26% of Americans now feel the nation is safer than before 9/11.

    Americans are worried about America’s safety because Obama seems manifestly disinterested in national security concerns. Americans are being killed by jihadists abroad and Obama can barely trouble himself to break away from his golf game to address the issue.

    Tonight Obama is going to give a speech (in Obama’s Big Pop-Up Book of Governing America, “Give A Speech” provides the same universal panacea as “Shoot” does in the Far Side’s book on equine medicine) on ISIS.

    Here’s one thing I don’t expect to hear addressed: What is the Obama Administration doing to protect America tomorrow on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. America’s jihadist enemies have frequently observed this anniversary by launching attacks, such as the 2012 embassy attacks on Benghazi and elsewhere.

    This is especially worrisome given reports of missing Libyan airliners possibly in the hands of jihadists.

    When it comes to foreign policy (or, really, anything beyond electoral politics and advancing a left-wing agenda), Obama shows a distinct inability to learn from his own mistakes. Will there be heightened security at American embassies tomorrow? While their be fighter planes in the air flying CAP, or at least fueled and ready for takeoff on the ground, in case of another 9/11 attack? This piece suggests that government officials are “bracing” for possible attacks, but fails to give any details. If there is another attack, are we going to see another roundup of all the security lapses like we did after the Benghazi attack?

    The most essential job of government is protecting the lives, liberty and property of its citizens from enemies both here and abroad. What I want to known is: What is the Obama Administration actually doing on Job 1?

    LinkSwarm for September 8, 2014

    Monday, September 8th, 2014

    A Monday LinKSwarm to kick off your week with:

  • Surprise, surprise, surprise: Obamacare discourages work.
  • Media: ObamaCare is fading as an issue. GOP strategists: LOL.
  • “Obama has overseen a shocking decline in America’s standing in the world. Everyone is mad at, or disappointed in, the United States.” As far as I can tell, Obama’s foreign policy is to do nothing until Americans are killed, and then to do nothing some more…
  • More on the theme:

    “Obama says what he has to say to make reporters stop asking about it.”

  • Rotherham: “The local government tolerated sexual violence on a vast scale. Why? In part, because the criminals who committed these sickening acts were Muslims from the local Pakistani community, and noticing their depravity was considered insensitive at best, racist at worst.”
  • Illegal alien “children” with gray hair enrolling in public schools since the Obama Administration won’t let school districts check their ages.
  • After more than five years of Obama, the Los Angeles Times asks “Is economic stagnation the new normal?”
  • Obama starts the latest poker round by showing Putin his hole cards.
  • Iran bans women from many university courses. Now remind me what this whole “war on women” is about again…
  • Interview with the woman who runs the only Arabic language magazine of sex and erotica. Good luck with that…
  • Thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism, Venezuela is now importing oil.
  • Hey, remember when Bush attended three fundraisers and a wedding during the middle of the invasion of Iraq? Me neither.
  • “However stupid the creation of the euro was, undoing it will not be easy.”
  • UC Berkley wants to make sure “we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so.” “And by ‘contentious’ speech, we mean ‘non-liberal’ speech. Or, as we like to refer to them, ‘hate crimes.’”
  • Military rifles, armor, and ammo sent to numerous Texas school districts. If anyone knows why Texarkana ISD needs a SWAT team, I’m all ears…
  • In a shocking and unexpected development, I actually agree with Keith Olbermann about something. Namely the idea that it was amazingly stupid for the Huffington Post to hire Donte “9/11 Truther” Stallworth to be a “National Security Fellow.”
  • This weekend there were numerous protests to wage fast food wages. What’s behind them? $3 million in union money.
  • Huffingotn Post fooled by scam story. Clip this headline out and save it and I’m sure you’ll be able to make use of it in the years to come…
  • Mandy Nagy, AKA “Liberty Chick,” is recovering from surgery following a stroke.
  • A little fun via the #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly tag:

  • LinkSwarm for August 29, 2014

    Friday, August 29th, 2014

    In addition to not having a clue, when it comes to ISIS, Obama says that “we don’t have a strategy yet.” I’m sure if someone asked Franklin Roosevelt in early 1942 what his plans were for dealing with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, he would have had a strategy. Then again, FDR’s polio probably severely curtailed his golfing

  • President of Ukraine dissolves Parliament. This happened before the latest Russian incursion.
  • Also, Ukraine seeks NATO membership. A little late for that…
  • Boko Haram beheads six year old boy because he’s a Christian.
  • Man threatens to slaughter Ohio school children with an AK-47 over Israel-Gaza conflict.
  • How and why journalists get the Israel story wrong. Namely because they want to. “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality.”
  • For all the talk of Obama’s suit, it wasn’t the worst fashion disaster this week.
  • “Women who are sane, normal and happy do not become feminists, because such women do not need feminism.”
  • It turns out that Louisiana Democratic senator Mary Landrieu doesn’t actually live in her home state. Awkward. And unconstitutional. See also: Lugar, Richard, electoral defeat of.
  • New Republic writer Yishai Schwartz wants to get rid of that fascist “innocent until proven guilty” nonsense. You know, if I were writing a piece that hinged on “the details of Missouri law,” I think I would actually cite, verbatim, the relevant sections of Missouri law that supported my central thesis. Having conspicuously failed to do so, evidently Schwartz feels that such niceties (like the presumption of innocence in criminal trials) are beneath him… (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Christian student groups are no longer welcome at Vanderbilt University.
  • You will be made to care.
  • British wind farms being paid not to produce energy:
  • A checklist for arguing with Social Justice Warriors.
  • Back when stewardesses were allowed to wear sexy uniforms. (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • Everything you’ve ever known is a lie.
  • Don’t Look Now, But Russia Is Invading Ukraine

    Thursday, August 28th, 2014

    Russian forces in two armored columns captured a key southeastern coastal town near the Russian border Thursday after Ukrainian forces retreated in the face of superior firepower, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.

    The two Russian columns, including tanks and armored fighting vehicles, entered the town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov after a battle in which Ukrainian army positions came under fire from Grad rockets launched from Russian territory, according to the spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko.

    Well, thank God for Hillary Clinton’s reset button, and Obama’s “flexibility” and smart diplomacy. Who knows what sort of mess that bungler Bush would have made of the situation.

    And the UN Security Council is meeting. Since Russia still has a Security Council veto, don’t expect even the usual strongly worded letter.

    ISIS: More Reports From the Land of Rape

    Thursday, August 21st, 2014

    ​The two things ISIS seems to be most successful at are butchery and rape. Since there have been plenty of media reports of the former, let’s look at the latter:​

    “Muhammad Karim, one of the soldiers, said that when they arrived at the first abandoned militant checkpoint, they discovered a woman, naked and bound, who had been repeatedly raped. Farther into the neighborhood, the Iraqi forces discovered another woman in the same state.”

    Sadly, this is not an isolated incident

    ​Yezidi Kurds women are pleading for other people to kill them after barbaric rape conducted by the ISIS.”

    A mother painfully spoke of her daughters’ predicament following barbaric and savage rape conducted by the ISIS.

    She said that three of her daughters were abducted by the ISIS and were raped savagely, but were eventually freed to come back to their family.

    When her daughters came back, they were pleading for people to kill them.

    “My daughters were calling on people to kill them, but no one wanted to do that. So they jumped from the mountain and ended their bitter life,”

    But surely these are extremists, and mainstream Islam doesn’t condone sexual slavery, does it?

    Don’t be so sure. From Islamqa.info:

    Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman, whether he has a wife or wives or he is not married.

    A slave woman with whom a man has intercourse is known as a sariyyah (concubine) from the word sirr, which means marriage.

    This is indicated by the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and this was done by the Prophets. Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) took Haajar as a concubine and she bore him Ismaa’eel (may peace be upon them all).

    Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also did that, as did the Sahaabah, the righteous and the scholars. The scholars are unanimously agreed on that and it is not permissible for anyone to regard it as haraam or to forbid it. Whoever regards that as haraam is a sinner who is going against the consensus of the scholars.

    Robert Spencer of JihadWatch elaborates on the issue:

    Take, for example, the recent revelation that, according to the UN News Centre, “some 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery.” A similar kidnapping by Islamic jihadists in Nigeria recently horrified the world, but much overlooked was the fact that such behavior is sanctioned by the Qur’an. According to Islamic law, Muslim men can take “captives of the right hand” (Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 33:50). The Qur’an says: “O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war” (33:50). 4:3 and 4:24 extend this privilege to Muslim men in general, as does this passage. “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive, and they who turn away from ill speech, and they who are observant of zakah, and they who guard their private parts except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed” (Qur’an 23:1-6).

    These passages have not gone unnoticed. The Egyptian Sheikh Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni declared in May 2011 that “we are in the era of jihad,” and that meant Muslims would take slaves. In a subsequent interview he elaborated:

    Jihad is only between Muslims and infidels. Spoils, slaves, and prisoners are only to be taken in war between Muslims and infidels. Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars—there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.

    When a slave market is erected, which is a market in which are sold slaves and sex-slaves, which are called in the Qur’an by the name milk al-yamin, “that which your right hands possess” [Koran 4:24]. This is a verse from the Qur’an which is still in force, and has not been abrogated. The milk al-yamin are the sex-slaves. You go to the market, look at the sex-slave, and buy her. She becomes like your wife, (but) she doesn’t need a (marriage) contract or a divorce like a free woman, nor does she need a wali. All scholars agree on this point—there is no disagreement from any of them. [...] When I want a sex slave, I just go to the market and choose the woman I like and purchase her.

    There is a real “War on Women” going on, but it has nothing to do with forcing American employers to subsidize abortifacients…

    Vice Embeds With The Islamic State

    Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

    Whoa. Edgy site Vice News managed to place an embed with the Islamic State (AKA ISIS). That’s sort of like Playboy managing to embed a reporter with the Viet Cong in 1968.

    Here are the five video segments, which I’m still working my way through:

    It appears to be legit, but I’d still take it with a few (or more) grains of salt.

    Hat tip: Michael Totten.)

    Is Obama Administration Arming the Kurds Directly?

    Monday, August 11th, 2014

    So say the news reports, citing “Senior US officials.” Keep in mind, much the same trial balloon went up that Obama was arming the Syrian rebels, and that proved to be false. But if true, this is the first good foreign policy decision the Obama Administration ha made since…wait a minute…let me think…I’m sure it will come to me…killing Bin Laden, maybe. (Sure, you and I think killing Bin Laden was a no-brainer, but look how much and how badly the Obama foreign policy team has screwed up simpler calls…)

    LinkSwarm for August 8, 2014

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    Another roundup of news, a disproportionate amount from the Middle East, disproportionately bad.

  • Old and Busted: “Never again!” The New Hotness: “Genocide? Meh. Case-by-case basis.”
  • More on the ISIS campaign to wipe out the Yazidi and other religious minorities.
  • Obama says he’s authorizing air strikes “if necessary.” Even when threatening military action, Obama manages to sound wishy-washy.
  • There are conflicting reports as to weather ISIS or the Kurdish Pesh Merga hold the Mosul dam.
  • Hamas demands that Israel kick their ass some more.
  • Rick Perry: “Since September of ’08, we have seen 203,000 individuals who have illegally come into the United States — into Texas — booked in to Texas county jails…These individuals are responsible for over 3,000 homicides and almost 8,000 sexual assaults.”
  • Quiz: Real Salon or Parody Salon? Difficulty: Impossible.
  • Leland Yee pleads not guilty to racketeering charges. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Won’t someone think of the poor federal employee who have nothing to do all day but spank their monkey to online porn?
  • Why did Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell proclaim a day in honor of convicted Louisiana felon Ed Edwards?
  • It has to be said: Hillary Clinton doesn’t have the fashion sense God gave a turtle. Two words: Lane Bryant.
  • Soldiers’ military kits from 1066 to 2014.
  • There’s a website dedicated to the world’s tallest men.
  • Inside Hamas’ Tunnels

    Thursday, August 7th, 2014

    A few notes on those Hamas tunnels, the destruction of which drove the latter half of Operation Protective Edge

    Israeli military, intelligence, and political officials have known for years that Hamas fighters were burrowing into their country from Gaza through underground tunnels. An Israeli army spokesman said this month that the military had discovered four tunnels just in the past 18 months, well before Israel’s current ground offensive began. But in interviews, current and former Israeli officials said the military and intelligence services didn’t realize the extent of Hamas’s subterranean operations, nor did political leaders act to counter a threat that has become the central focus of Israel’s Gaza campaign and stands as potentially the biggest Israeli intelligence failure in years.

    A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the military has so far discovered far more tunnels — 40 and counting — than Israel had previously thought existed. The number came as a surprise, as did the sophistication of the tunnel network. Current and former officials said that Israeli intelligence and political leaders knew that the tunnels were fortified with concrete and had space to store weapons and food. But Israeli intelligence analysts and political leaders didn’t comprehend that the tunnels were wide enough to move several Hamas fighters into the country at a time, and they didn’t realize how many of the tunnels ended up in Israel, particularly near civilians. (A Hamas video that shows fighters emerging from a tunnel and attacking an Israeli military installation provides a vivid example of why Israelis have so come to fear the clandestine attacks.)

    How big are these tunnels?

    Israel understood that tunnels from Gaza posed a “huge risk” as early as October 2013, when the IDF discovered a long tunnel underneath the kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, just east of the border with Gaza, Col. Grisha Yakubovich, the head of the civil department in the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, said in an interview.

    The tunnel was enormous: It ran 1.5 miles, 66 feet below the ground. Authorities estimated that some 350 tons of concrete were used to build it, enough to build a small hospital three floors high, Yakubovich said. “We were amazed by the size of it.”

    Which points out a tough dilemma for Hamas: Building hospitals to hide the rockets you attack Israel with, or build tunnels to conduct kidnapping of Israelis? Decisions, decisions…

    Here’s Wolf Blitzer touring one of the tunnels:

    Here’s Hamas’ own propaganda video on their tunnels:

    And what were they planning to use them for?

    “Hamas is said to have planned a huge terrorist attack that would taken place on September 24, 2014, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.”