Foreign Policy Failures and Fumbles

Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security.


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Two recent speeches by administration officials—one by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley and the other by President Obama himself—speak volumes about what’s wrong with the Obama team’s approach to issues related to foreign policy and national security.

First, let’s consider Crowley, who called the Pentagon’s handling of Private Bradley Manning, who illegally shared diplomatic and military secrets with WikiLeaks, “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Crowley has since resigned, and rightly so.

While serving in Iraq, Manning downloaded classified videos, thousands of battlefield reports and 251,287 diplomatic cables. “I listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga,” he bragged in a text exchange, “while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.”

This wasn’t a “spillage.” It was an intentional, premeditated breach. What did Manning hand over? We don’t know exactly, but the WikiLeaks website proudly proclaims that it has published operations manuals for the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay; classified reports on the prison in Fallujah, Iraq, and on the Battle of Fallujah; detailed information on U.S. military equipment, by unit, in Iraq; gun-camera footage of a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad; a U.S. Special Forces manual for bolstering unpopular allied governments; CIA strategies to shore up public support among allied populations for the war in Afghanistan; and, most notably, private and often-embarrassing diplomatic profiles about foreign heads of state. In addition, as USAToday reports, WikiLeaks has exposed U.S. efforts to remove nuclear materials from Pakistan, State Department plans to use diplomatic personnel as spies, quid-pro-quos offered by the Obama administration to persuade foreign governments to take on Gitmo detainees, cover-ups of missile attacks in Yemen, and support among Arab leaders to strike Iran.

Manning calls it “worldwide anarchy in CSV format,” a reference to the kind of files he surrendered to WikiLeaks.

As a result, Manning is now in custody at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, faces 52 years in prison and is under 24-hour monitoring for fear that he could harm himself.

It’s difficult to understand what is “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid” about the military’s treatment of this criminal. What would Crowley recommend? Group therapy? An honorable discharge? A ticker-tape parade?

What’s really “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid” is failing to recognize the threat posed by Manning and other latter-day anarchists to the American people.

Speaking of the ridiculous and counterproductive, the president’s statements on Libya make him sound more like the executive director of a D.C. think tank than the man in charge of U.S. foreign policy, let alone the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces.

“We’ve organized,” the president informed us late last week, “a series of conversations about a wide range of options that we can take.” It really does sound a lot like some symposium at RAND, Brookings or AEI.

Reasonable, thoughtful people can disagree about the merit of intervening in Libya’s civil war. Civil wars are grey areas when it comes to the use of U.S. force. The country has intervened in some that it shouldn’t have and not intervened in others that it probably should have.

What’s less debatable is the importance of what a president says and how he says it. When the right person is behind it, when the right words are spoken, the bully pulpit can be a powerful tool of American foreign policy. Regrettably, President Obama has yet to grasp this in relation to the anti-authoritarian revolutions roiling the Arab world.

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  • sodizzy

    This Manning person is apparently quite a piece of work. That is a HUGE body of selected files that were spilled into the public domain. Absolutely criminal. Chilling, really, to think how single-minded this criminal act was, and of course like all criminals he acts so innocent and mistreated.

  • sodizzy

    People are saying Obama has to act.

    I think not. People say he must…

    ….but, in reality, he is playing right into the hands of those he loves and transferring our US power to the Arab world.

    It seems very plain to me.

  • geez

    Our Muslim Brotherhood adoring administration and its prayer rug kneeling leader can be summed up in a blurb (a nice one vs what I really think, the sys admin like to delete my posts)… incompetent at best.

  • Steve Chavez

    While Japan is melting away, all Obama is worried about is the NCAA! While many will die heroically trying to stop radiation, Obama only worries about if he is radiant! He SPIT on Betray Us and now Obama depends on him for victory in Afghanistan! When the phone rings at 3am, he lets Hillary answer the phone but now that she's hanging up on another tour, she is handing the phone to the real boss of the House, Michelle! His old nemesis, Rev. Wright, is back now that the campaign headquarters has moved back to Chicago to begin their new program of how to rig the 2012 election! In the meantime, Bill Ayers will begin to write Obama's next book!

  • http://www.chick.com Raymond

    How evil are the times we live in?
    Read the following.

    Washington Times, Feb. 24, 2011

    American combat troops will get sensitivity training directly on the battlefield about the military’s new policy on gays instead of waiting until they return to home base in the United States, the senior enlisted man in Afghanistan said Thursday.

    The Pentagon is launching an extensive force-wide program to ease the process of integrating open homosexuals into the ranks, including into close-knit fighting units. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, the top enlisted man in Afghanistan where 100,000 U.S. troops are deployed, said that the sessions on respecting gays’ rights will go right down to the forward operating bases, where troops fight Taliban militants.

    “I have heard about the training that will be forthcoming to the battlefield,” Sgt. Hill told Pentagon reporters via a teleconference from Kabul. “We will take our directions from the Department of Defense, from the secretary of defense, the chairman, as well as the service chiefs of each service. Our plan is to take their direction, and we’re going to execute that training right here on the battlefield.” No unit is exempted, he said.

    “Our goal is to not allow a unit to return to home station and have the unit responsible for that,” he said. “While we own those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, we’re going to execute that training on the ground. We hope that it will have little impact on their combat and security operations here.”

    • ajnn

      WOW !!!!

      sensitivity training in the bush / outback / battlefield.

      can we really trust democrats with foreign policy anymore ? this is so outside normal and reasonable………

  • Wesley69

    As Obama works on his golf game, the Mideast burns. Sound familar??

  • Wesley69

    Manning's actions are more than a criminal act. They constitute treason and he should be made to pay the ultimate price. With this administration, who knows, maybe he'll be invited to a round of golf.

    As for US policy in the Mideast, one must ask — what policy??? If it is supporting our allies, ask Mubarak of Egypt, or Israel. Despite being a US ally for over 30 years, Obama demanded that Mubarak step down immediately as President of Egypt. This was done despite the recommendations of the State Department. In Israel, Obama demands that Israel stop building settlements in the West Bank, while he has demanded little of the Palestinians.

    If it is decisive decision making, ask the principles in Afghanistan. Obama dithered for about a year as to how many troops to send in to stabilize that country. After deciding upon sending a force of 30,000, Obama starts discusses a withdrawal date??? His "good war," he desperately wanted an exit strategy. He likes timetables, as I am sure the Tailban do too. What are US forces to think about their Commander-in-Chief??

    As for Iran, appeasement is an apt term for his dealings with that theocracy. His actions have done nothing to slow their nuclear program and when he could have supported a popular uprising that may have started regime change, he refused to take it.

    He rewards Syria by exchanging ambassadors despite their interference in Lebanon.

    Obama’s administration tells the Sultan of Bahrain, to talk with the protestors in Bahrain, where the US has its major Persian Gulf naval base. When the Sultan asked for help from Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates to help put down these protests, Obama tells them to exercise maximum restraint in dealing with the protests. To Saudi Arabia, he tells them not to impede the reform effort.

    The Saudis are already angry with Obama’s calls for greater democracy throughout the Arab world, opting instead to bribe its citizens with public subsidies and threatening tough action against troublemakers. The Saudis were not pleased with the US actions against Mubarak.

    As the article points out, the US has no policy and makes it up as it needs to. Additionally, it is contradictory and indecisive. The problem is no policy IS policy, because you have abdicated any participation in the actions, the decisions that take place in the course of the conflict. Decisions will be made by others with no regard for America interests.

  • USMCSniper

    "Private Manning's affinity on his Facebook page for 'Repeal the Ban' is also significant. It is a project of a group called Servicemembers United, which describes itself as the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, their allies and supporters. The group receives financial support from the Open Society Institute of billionaire George Soros," wrote AIM's editor Cliff Kincaid. According to one story appearing in Britain's The Telegraph, Manning, who served as a US Army intelligence analyst, became depressed after a break-up with his homosexual companion.

    • ajnn

      1. manning is gay ? why should i care ?

      2. So you are saying Manning had a romance and then had his judgment impaired by a bad break-up ? This is not a defense (or excuse) for treason. I do not care about his love-life or ups and downs. He committed treason.

      3. As long as gay people can no longer be blackmailed by threats to tell anyone they are gay I do not really care who is / is not gay and think the whole thing is silly.

      4. I can see it now. manning goes to 'Hell' for being gay and, when he shows up I announce to the devil , "there goes the neighborhood". oy !!!

      • USMCSniper

        I would say that Private Mqanning serves as the poster boy for don't ask don't tell with gays as security risks. The bunboy fudge packers and the tunafish breaths place their deviant lifestyle choice above all else in their lives; their work, their families, and even their sworn duty to their country. They are a risk to combat readiness and should serve only in support positions, not in combat,military intelligence. or in the command structure because their agendas are preserving and promoting their deviancy and debauchery. Hmmmmm… maybe they could walk point though and draw enemy fire,…. heh heh heh….

        • sodizzy

          Fantastically well said!

          The reprobate mind that is explained in the Word of God, only when you say it here I understand it more clearly. It is like the dope addicts I met when I went thru my (successful thankfully) recovery. They steal their own mother's TV set to buy dope. Dope is God to them, just as these guys place their romances above all else. It is God to them.

        • rib/eve

          Does that mean we can throw darts?

          • USMCSniper

            Yep, it is no longer "The Marine Corps Needs a Few Good Men", as Congress has mandated that the Marines recruit manly girls and girly mans. Next the ptogressives will be demanding that the Marines recruit transgenders, and even those self-made freaks who call themselves shemales. These are shemales: http://www.shegods.com/

      • Edward

        You should care that DADT has been repealed. With repeal of DADT, homosexuality will be institutionalized in the US Military The US Military will become a homosexual dominated institution with homosexual activity supported up and down the command chain. A related point: the homosexualization of the US Military will lead to the military values of honor and patriotism being replaced by an tactic yet institutionally supported overall regression to sexual depravity (see the Roman Catholic seminary system for the details).

  • ajnn

    well done. that quote from 2008 captures obama very well.

    insightful comment. !!!!!

  • Paul

    The One I find utterly useless is obama. Enough said?

  • Edward

    Other than weaken the US internationally, Obama's main priority is domestic: "…fundamentally transform America."

  • http://www.worldthinktank.net Lance Winslow

    Well Said; "traitors" are not whistleblowers!

  • Texasron

    Manning should be tried for treason and if found guilty, executed.

    Barack Obama and Eric Holder need to be impeached. They are destroying this country.

  • rib/eve

    I think that we should remove the personal guards. So what if he harms himself? Why shouldn't he share in the pain he caused?

    As far as gays in the military. I don't think that it will become a gay institution at all. But I don't like the PC police coming to town. Oh dear how easy it is to offend a homo. After all everything seems to revolve around them. Every whisper, every snicker and laugh happened because there is a homo standing somewhere near by, and that's not fair.

    It will be a never ending of bashing and imprisonment of good strong men with sound minds that will be attacked. All for the unstable minds of the homosexual. Both GOD and mother nature speak out against the homosexual. This ruling is an atrocity.

  • AAA

    TEST

  • ANONYMOUS

    UN PRESIDENT TIM KALEMKARIAN, US PRESIDENT TIM KALEMKARIAN, US SENATE TIM KALEMKARIAN, US HOUSE TIM KALEMKARIAN: BEST MAJOR CANDIDATE.

  • kafirman

    Manning is a homosexual. There is only a small percentage of homosexuals in the military. Yet homosexuals cause such a very disproportionate destruction of wealth, unit cohesiveness and patriotism.

    Is Manning's betrayal of America evidence that homosexuality is a psychological disorder? That natural law is empirically grounded?

    Manning presence in the US military weakens the populaces's understanding of unalienable rights endowed by the Creator. If our rights are not exercised with respect to the Creator, than the basis for the rights evaporates. In other words, the presence of Manning in the military is a symptom of political AIDS. The US government has AIDS. The US polity has AIDS. yucko.

  • ANONYMOUS

    UN PRESIDENT HUGH HEWITT, US PRESIDENT HUGH HEWITT, US SENATE HUGH HEWITT, US HOUSE HUGH HEWITT, GOVERNOR HUGH HEWITT, LT GOVERNOR HUGH HEWITT: BEST MAJOR CANDIDATE.