Fifteen Minutes of Foreign Policy Malfeasance

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


1378861871000-AFP-522771470On the eve of the 12th anniversary of the terrorist strikes on 9/11, President Obama last night addressed the nation and reprised every delusional and bankrupt internationalist idea that contributed to that disaster. The current Syrian crisis––merely the latest Middle Eastern example of Obama’s incompetence––exemplifies more thoroughly than the rest just how politicized, incoherent, hypocritical, and dangerous to this country’s security and interests Obama’s foreign policy has been.

Let’s review how Obama got himself and this country into this mess. He came into office as a moralizing internationalist, a fervent champion of international law and multilateralism as necessary restraints on an America exceptional only for its xenophobic swagger and exploitative dominance abroad. He promised to restore democracy, make efforts to reach out to our enemies, and rein in those unilateral, ally-scorning, U.N.-hating Republicans and their itchy trigger fingers. His foreign policy philosophy was encapsulated in his 2007 Foreign Affairs article, in which he promised to use America’s power “not in the spirit of a patron but in the spirit of a partner––a partner mindful of his own imperfections.”

Starting from the assumption that America’s problems in the Middle East were the consequence of our neo-imperialist meddling and arrogance, Obama anxiously stroked the esteem of our enemies, flattering Islam in Cairo in 2009 and bowing low to the Saudi King even as he banished from the White House the bust of Winston Churchill, history’s most famous enemy of appeasement. He purged our military and security establishment of any mention of Islamic jihad, and designated one of the worst jihadist attacks since 9/11, the Fort Hood massacre, as “workplace violence.”

When the so-called Arab Spring exploded in December 2010, he recycled the stale left-wing narrative that American support for autocrats was why other nations despised us, and threw American support and legitimacy behind the gangs of jihadists who were the driving force of the revolutions. Egged on by NATO allies and military pygmies France and England, he used American military power to overthrow Libya’s Ghaddafi, even though that bizarre thug had renounced his nuclear weapons program and was suppressing the jihadists of eastern Libya. He abandoned the reliable Hosni Mubarak in Egypt to empower the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, and then dithered when a military coup drove Morsi from power, unable to forthrightly admit his error and support for an anti-American, anti-Semitic, terrorism-supporting, jihadist gang. And don’t forget, all the while he played footsie with Turkey’s Islamizing, dissident-suppressing, and Israel-hating Prime Minister Erdogan, and gratified bien pensant academics and other lefties by periodically scolding Israel, the left-wing scapegoat for all that’s wrong in the Middle East. Finally, and most important, he continued the charade of “outreach” and sanctions with Iran, serially kicking that nuclear can down the road even as the centrifuges spin and the enriched uranium piles up.

In this dismal catalogue we see the received wisdom and creaking dogma of internationalism. Problems arise from Western imperialism, colonialism, and interference in other countries. The lack of economic development and political freedom accounts for violence and disorder, while Islamic intolerance, supremacism, and theologized violence are mere epiphenomena of those material causes. Summits and shuttle diplomacy and various other diplomatic gabfests are the way to resolve crises and forestall conflict. International institutions and “conventions” that subordinate national interests to global needs and goals are the way to create peace by creating and enforcing “international norms.” American power is problematic and stained by its history, and so the U.S. must be diffident, humble, and accommodating not just to our allies, but also to our enemies.

Most important, for Obama, all this shop-worn idealism provided legitimacy for behavior that is driven by raw politics––the success of his own presidency and that of his party–– and, along with the bumbling John Kerry, that reveals an astonishing incompetence, if not outright stupidity, about how the most powerful country in the world and source of global order must conduct itself in a dangerous world of hard men who aren’t impressed by outreach, flattery, or prostrations of grief, but only by mind-concentrating action. Is it any wonder that every major world leader and two-bit jihadist gang like the Mullahs in Iran take Obama’s lunch money?

So here we are, with a disaster brewing in Syria because this president shot off his mouth about “Assad must go” and “red line” and “change my calculus,” empty rhetoric unconnected to any thoughtful foreign policy strategy, but useful for pacifying his base and the internationalist do-gooders about his commitment to “responsibility to protect” and the international conventions against chemical weapons. Desperate to escape the railroad tracks he tied himself onto, Obama challenged Congress to vote up or down on military strikes. Then like Dudley Do-Right, Russia’s Putin, seizing on an off-the-cuff, half-baked remark by John Kerry, rescued Obama with a spurious diplomatic solution the main effect of which was to elevate Putin into the major power in the region. After all, Obama had struck out in the U.N., had no international material support, was facing repudiation in the House of Representatives, and had two-thirds of Americans opposed to military strikes. What he needed was some breathing space, which Putin’s shrewd move provided for him, at the same time he gave his ally Assad more time to destroy his enemies and squirrel away his stockpiles.

With that background, we can examine last night’s 15-minute speech, which simply recycled the same incoherence and bluster Obama has been trading in for the past few weeks.

Sentimentalism: Obama spent many words on describing the horrors of the gas attack, even implausibly linking chemical weapons to the Nazi use of Zyklon-B to murder Jews. And he invited Americans to watch the videos, which means we are to obscure the rational calculations of means and ends to secure our interests and security, with harrowing images of suffering children. Of course, artillery shells inflict the same sort of random and indiscriminate death and dismemberment. So we still are left with no argument why one sort of death and suffering is worse than another, why 1000 dead are so much more heinous than the other 99,000. And given that we know Assad used chemical weapons in June, the question left hanging is, why now? Short answer: political expediency.

Deterrence: Obama claimed the use of chemical weapons was a “danger to our security” because if Assad is left unpunished, “other tyrants” will use them too. So why didn’t we roll down that slippery slope after Saddam Hussein used them to kill many thousands more than Assad did? Why not after Egypt’s Gamal Nasser used poison gas against Yemenis in 1967? They were both unpunished for these violations of “international norms.” As for Obama’s fear about Syria’s handing these weapons off to terrorists, that contingency didn’t seem to hinder his bitter opposition to the Iraq war, against a brutal autocrat that had used chemical weapons and was friendly to various terrorist outfits. And given that opposition, which continued when he became a Senator and vocally opposed the ultimately successful “surge” of forces in Iraq, it is remarkably shameless for Obama to try and sell Congress on backing his policy by saying that America “acts more effectively when we stand together.”

Worse yet, given Kerry’s description of the proposed strike as an “incredibly small limited kind of effort,” and Obama’s vow that “I will not put American troops on the ground,” and given how blatantly he telegraphed his intentions to Assad, giving him time to hide his stockpiles, the president effectively drains the threat of any serious deterrent value. If Obama really believes that we need to deter future offenders, and that the use of chemical weapons is a sui generis form of weaponry, then he should be proposing a massive bombing campaign to destroy Assad’s regime, and the insertion of troops to secure the chemical weapons so that they don’t end up in the hands of jihadists.

As for Obama’s remarks in his speech that if we don’t punish this brutality against Muslims we will create more terrorists, this psychology of terrorist motivation has long been shown by events to be incredible. This buys in to the specious jihadist rhetoric––designed to exploit Western guilt and self-loathing––that war against the infidel enemies of Islam sanctioned by Islamic theology is merely a reaction to Western sins against Muslims. This pretext should be thrown in the dustbin along with the delusion that the majority of Syrians “want to live in peace and freedom,” and that only a minority of “extremists” is among those fighting Assad.

The Russian ploy: Now we come to heart of the matter. Like his boss, John Kerry spoke without thinking about a possible resolution that did not involve force. Putin jumped on this loophole and endorsed a resolution involving inspections of Assad’s stockpiles, with the promise of their destruction. And Obama, seeing a way out of the political straitjacket he managed to put on all by himself, in turn jumped on Putin’s suggestions, calling them “encouraging signs” wrought by his “credible threat of military action.”

This is the most politically shameless and self-serving part of the whole sorry affair. “Incredibly small” military strikes telegraphed for more than a week are unlikely to scare Assad into surrendering his weapons. But Russia’s ploy and Obama’s buy in served the interests of everybody involved except the American people. Russia and Assad know that a “diplomatic pause” to ponder and discuss and workshop the whole regime of “inspections” is nothing other than a way to buy time and give Obama an excuse to delay action. The logistics of an inspections process are incredibly complex, and certainly will not begin while a war is raging in Syria. Like North Korea, Iraq under Hussein, and Iran today, the process can be gamed with delays and duplicity.

But Obama benefits by the need to “postpone a vote while we pursue this diplomatic path,” which includes a fruitless trek to the U.N. to secure a Security Council resolution that will never pass. This whole process could take months, if not years. Just remember how Saddam Hussein, two-thirds of his country’s airspace under the control of his enemies, played WMD whack-a-mole with the U.N. inspectors before simply kicking them out of the country. This means Obama’s promise “to respond if diplomacy fails” is an empty threat, especially since Putin has made taking a military strike off the table a condition for the whole deal to proceed. But Obama, supported by his flunkies in the press, will sell the narrative that his tough resolve brought Assad to the negotiating table and solved this crisis. Meanwhile Putin comes off as the region’s main power broker.

So Obama is likely off the hook, time will be wasted with running down this phony “diplomatic” solution, Syrians will keep dying, the jihadists will keep gaining invaluable battlefield experience, Iran will keep spinning its centrifuges, and American prestige will sink even lower in the estimation of our friends and enemies alike. File last night’s speech as one more piece of evidence demonstrating Obama’s foreign policy malfeasance.

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  • Biff Henderson

    The Slick Prick weasels out of another embarrassment by doing what he does best: Nothing. Empty words that lead to zip.

  • Hass

    Finally some good news. Let Asaad take care of his own turf.

    Now if only, the US stops giving weapons and money to those terrorist scum.

  • Richard Fontaine

    Aside from that the speech was a real stem winder.

  • kafir4life

    That was a really nice suit! We should have had somebody inside it.

    • glpage

      Yeah, I would like to know who made it. I’ve never seen an empty suit maintain its form like that before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melvin.polatnick Melvin Polatnick

    Fear of the expanding China-Russian empire is on the minds of Obama`s handlers, they are forcing the president into bad decisions. But his efforts will continue until the evil nations are bankrupted.

    • Aizino Smith

      At some point the Russian and Chinese interest will diverge. Of course that means that we have no interests outside the U.S. in trade or otherwise. At that point those 2 powers will be eye-ing each other and scrambling for the last few scraps.

      It has been posited that the roman Empire never really transitioned form an empire sustained by war booty to a normal economy. I would say the same is true of the Soviet union or Russia. There was one heck of a lot of looting after WW2. Their corruption level is too high. they almost went bankrupt in the 1960s until they started selling oil to Europe and still went bankrupt in the 1980s and fell apart. GAZPROM is nearly insolvent now.
      Still, they can survive long enough despite their corruption if they can dismember us. That would be loot. They would eventually succumb to the corruption, but would that be any comfort to us if they do us in in the meantime.

      Leftists need not answer. We already know where you stand on this question.

  • JVictor

    That was one of the most confused events I have ever witnessed. Captain Contradiction struck again–just like Mr. Kerry (“I voted for it before I voted against it”). Progressive liberal democrats have no spine or compass. And the Ditherer in Chief”s address was a perfect example of that.

    Obama looked like a tired, worn out, over his head, college professor as he smacked the podium and talked in fits and spurts. Even the teenagers who watched his address felt like he was a condescending know-it-all talking to a room full of fifth graders. The man is an embarrassment and a joke.

    • oandroplex700

      well said

    • Aizino Smith

      I did not listen, but then I do not torture myself. I have not read Mein Kampf either.

      He was talking in “fits and spurts”. You gotta wonder about his mental health.

      • Gee

        That pre-supposes that he has a mind in the first place

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          • EarlyBird

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      • blackfeather99

        For your own good I advise you to read MEIN KAMPF. Hitler warned against the use of the “big lie” –such as the LIE that Germany was responsible for WW1–and Hitler warned against politicians who use the big lie.

        • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

          You are wrong about the content of Mein Kampf. Hitler blamed the Jews and Communists for lying, but presented himself as the good father who would rescue Nature and the German Volk from their persecutors. He both despised and courted the feminized masses. See http://clarespark.com/2011/06/19/index-to-links-on-hitler-and-the-big-lie/. “Index to links on Hitler and the Big Lie.”

    • Stanley Zylowski

      That’s cute. My sense at the beginning was that it felt like a school book report.

  • davarino

    Oh, 2016 cant come soon enough. Just in time for the repubs to give us another milque toast candidate and hand it over to the dems/lefties again. I gotta get my a$$ to those tea party meetings and rallies

  • Fred1

    Last night, Obama vomited out incredibly specific details about Assad’s chemical attack, even mentioning that ‘we’ have studied blood and hair samples of the victims. But today, a full YEAR after 4 Americans were slaughtered in Benghazi, ‘we’ know nothing. Obama is a deceiver.

    • Aizino Smith

      Imagine as you said we have hair and blood samples from a country that is in an all out war.

      And yet a place, Libya, that is difficult to govern with militias but not all out war, we got …?

  • ApolloSpeaks

    THE COMING OF THE US-SYRIAN WAR?

    BASHAR ASSAD

    THE MOST MONSTROUS MASS MURDERER
    of the 21st century (and client of Islamonazi, genocidal, expansionist Iran) will probably agree to signing the chemical weapons ban treaty if and only if the US and international community agree to the following terms:

    1) Forego the use of force against Syria (already proposed by Putin).
    2) Lift all sanctions and embargoes on Syria.
    3) Recognize Assad as the legitimate head of Syria lawfully putting down an unlawful rebellion.
    4) Give Assad immunity from prosecution for war crimes and human rights violations.

    In other words, in return for signing the ban on chemical weapons (and surrendering his stockpile to UN control) Assad wants to be rewarded for killing over 100,000 people; and to be able to continue the slaughter in peace until the rebellion (with Iran’s help) is totally crushed and he’s securely in power again.

    No president of the United States could ever agree to these terms. Peace with Bashar Assad is a pipe dream. Is war coming? That depends on how serious Obama is on disarming Assad of his chemical weapons. And he seems quite serious.

    • Gee

      I think that Assad isn’t even close to the title of “THE MOST MONSTROUS MASS MURDERER of the 21st century”

      Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir has managed to murder over 400,000 in the Dafur region. Assad has a lot of catching up to make it that far

      • Aizino Smith

        That is correct. BTW did Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir kidnap George Clooney?

        I heard that many Hollywood bleeding hearts were kidnapped and i have not heard from George in a long time.

    • Aizino Smith

      Bashar Assad is a bad man, but he is not the MOST monstrous. You just cannot make that argument when you compare him to Pol Pot, Kim Il sung etc. The number of deaths are not there.

      Is he monstrous enough that we could apply R2P to take him out. Certainly. But R2P is a death sentence to those that use it inconsistently and without care to who will fill the vacuum.

      Samantha Power, Mrs R2P, is literally an university academic who does not have a plan as to who will fill the vacuum left by Assad’s ouster and has not marshalled the resources needed to fill that vacuum.

      She is good at taking vacations and setting up Americans to get killed in the future. You have to give that.

  • oandroplex700

    obama has shown the world, as well as the sheeple that once considered him, their messiah, that he”s nothing more then a fraud, thats way over his head, and tottaly unqualified, for the problem at hand……….

  • MattBracken

    The world has now seen our feckless “leader” fumbling and bumbling. This is very dangerous, and the world will now test us.

    • John4

      The fumbling and bumbling of the president doesn’t change an iota to the stature of the United States in the world. The whole world knows that America is a very powerful country. To attack Syria in order to support the murderous jihadists and to “save the face ” of the president would have been a grave error.

  • Lanna

    Our troops don’t need to get involved in another one of Obama’s messes. It gets more pathetic by the minute, such poor leadership. The whole thing is ridiculous, and Kerry said the strike would be as small as possible. These people aren’t even credible…we expect another attack of some kind because our enemies have been emboldened by a weak leader…he has been weak on purpose.

    • Aizino Smith

      I would get involved. Getting rid of Assad would doom Iran and Hezbollah. Those are enemies of the U.S. and are worthwhile goals.

      There are 2 caveats.
      First, I do not want to see Assad toppled to be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda would probably, eventually be run out of town. But it would be after they kill all the minorities in the meantime. The Muslim Brotherhood would probably come out on top,

      Second, I do not want to get into a war where the left either sabotages the war effort or holds it hostage as a bargaining chip so they get their domestic agenda. they have done or tried both.

      • Gee

        Wait until they have finished killing each other – then take out the survivor

        • Aizino Smith

          Exactly

          • 8ball

            Edit your post from 8 hours ago which says you would get involved.

          • Aizino Smith

            Caveat: a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices

            I think I said it correctly. I was for it 2 years ago when we left Iraq and shifted troops to Jordan. But since then I have seen Al Qaeda establish a presence and grow. And Al Nusrah and even the FSA can’t seem to discipline themselves for one day and not kill Christians or Kurds. They cannot practice Taqiyya long enough to get total U.S. support, wipe and Assad and then and only then wipe out the Christians. Al Nusrah and ilk cannot help themselves. Their evil nature shines thru.

            As much as I want to see Iran’s evil leadership hurt with the loss of the Assad regime, I believe the minority communities are safer under Assad. We’ll have to wait to get the Iranian regime another day.

      • Lanna

        Getting rid of Assad further destabilizes the Middle East and that’s what the radicals want..they want to summon their Islamic Messiah the Mahdi….Mubarak was a heck of a lot better leader for Israel and Christians than Morsi who hates Christians and infidels. The US needs to stay out of the business of promoting the Muslim Brotherhood who have visited the White House many time to see their fellow Islamic brother Obama…..The Benghazi murders were because of gun running to these radical groups and the Navy Seals got in the way…these guns were going to the Syrian rebels.

        • Aizino Smith

          I did say there were 2 caveats. And given the situation that means I do not want to go in.

          Bret Stephens of the WSJ who usually is brilliant (and I follow his column) said that Al Qaeda in Syria gets stronger as time goes on. So the thinking is eventually they will take over.

          my question is have they crossed the threshold already? Are they so strong that if we took out Assad or hamstrung him by taking out his air force (6 airfields) that Al Qaeda would be able to take over? My answer is that is is probable at this point. Al Qaeda is already past that threshold.

          That is unless we commit 70,0000 ground troops or more. I do not want to go there. Some politician will ensure that many of those soldiers die in vain. Also the left will ramp up and criticize and hamstring the U.S. military and the American body politic. I know the latter will happen if Obama would be able to put 70,000 troops there and a Republican was elected as president. Cindy Sheehan, Code Pink and the other reprobates would get plenty of air time on NBC etc. The Democrat politicians would also be in ‘high dudgeon’.

          • Lanna

            After Benghazi the trust is not there for Obama on many levels and in all parties, the administration has never come clean on the real reason Stevens was there and targeted and told the remaining surivors not to talk about what really happened, along with the scam of a video causing the attack. The whole gun running plan was disrupted and had to be covered up. Advocating and helping Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood get elected in Egypt will also never be forgotten. The deaths of our seals and ambassador has left a very sour taste in people’s mouths, they are totally fed up with the way out military has been treated and the involvement in trying to change these Muslim regimes. These liberals can afford to rattle their jaws and be anti-American, American blood has been spilled all over the world to defend their freedom too. Time for talk is over.

      • glpage

        While removing Assad from power is a good goal. There is no way he will be replaced by anyone other than an al Qaeda representative or ally. Then we will get to watch non-Muslim minorities chased out of Syria or more likely slaughtered. Obama probably won’t worry about those folks though.

        • Aizino Smith

          True

          • 8ball

            Still want to “get involved”.

      • 8ball

        “I would get involved. Getting rid of Assad would doom Iran and Hezbollah”

        Doom Iran and Hezbollah? How? Are you on drugs?

        “There are 2 caveats.
        First, I do not want to see Assad toppled to be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda”

        That’s exactly who would replace Assad.

        “Al Qaeda would probably, eventually be run out of town. But it would be after they kill all the minorities in the meantime. The Muslim Brotherhood would probably come out on top,”

        So, are you still on drugs and in favor of intervention?

        “Second, I do not want to get into a war where the left either sabotages the war effort or holds it hostage as a bargaining chip so they get their domestic agenda. they have done or tried both”

        Don’t worry the left won’t protest the war until the first fatality.

        I suggest you look up the meaning of the word caveat. It does not mean. “I withdraw that and agree it would be insane to attack Assad. “

        • Aizino Smith

          Syria is literally the conduit whereby arms and other support is flown from Iran to Hezbollah. Without it Hezbollah is at a greater disadvantage vis-a-vis Israel. Arms can be shipped via the Suez canal but that is subjected to interdiction by the Egyptians and Israelis. If Syria fell and the new government was hostile or iffy, Iranian flights to resupply Hezbollah might be interdicted.

          Without Iranian support
          Hezebollah has a harder time versus the Sunnis of tripoli, etc.

          If Iran loses Syria and subsequently Hezbollah, they lose 2 allies. that makes them more isolated and weaker. Iraq is an Iranian ally, but there are enough Sunnis and Kurds that, a Shia PM and parliament might put there finger in the air and not support Iran if it would be Iran’s only ally in the middle east.

          Afghanistan is contested between Pakistan and Iran with Pakistan having the edge.

          Turkey is not fond of Iran, they would be more likely to back Azerbaijan than Iran and the Azeris hate Iran. they want a piece of it.

          Russia will support Iran but they sometimes they cannot do a lot. they helped Vietnam in 1979 versus China. they wanted to help Sadam in 2003. They wanted to help Libya.

        • Aizino Smith

          “Don’t worry the left won’t protest the war until the first fatality”

          I kind of believe that. But it will be harder for them to protest Obama than say Clinton.

    • Aizino Smith

      I wonder what else is small of Kerry’s. his IQ? His …

      • Lanna

        That’s funny, you could be right on this one!

      • glpage

        Certainly not his ego.

  • 2wotvet

    America should have impeached Hussein the second he took the bust of that great leader of Western Civilization, Winston Churchill, out of the Oval Office. It is claimed that Hussein removed it because his African family took part in a uprising against the British colonial government in the 1950s, and Churchill did what was needed to maintain Western, democratic influence in the 3rd world and keep out the tyrannical, freedom hating Soviets. Hussein took the force that was used on his family members personally and now supposedly hates Churchill just because his grandfather got a few bruises. If this is even true, ( knowing how petty and childish and immature Hussein is, it might be), then it shows that hatred of Western Civilization runs deep in Hussein’s family, and he should have never been allowed near ANY political seat in America.

  • Dyer’s Eve

    I believe the correct technical term for Obama’s (Mabus’) lies is ‘blather’. The West is awash with pricks in suits like Mabus who waffle on without ever actually saying anything of any substance.

    Welcome, Obama (Mabus), you’re the latest inductee to the ‘world of blather’.

    In case anyone is wondering who ‘Mabus’ is, he is what Nostradamas labelled the Third Antichrist.

  • EarlyBird

    “…President Obama last night addressed the nation and reprised every delusional and bankrupt internationalist idea that contributed to that disaster.”
    “Internationalism” didn’t contribute to 9/11. Al Queda didn’t bring down the twin towers to protest the SALT II, NATO, NAFTA or Doctors Without Borders. It was in response to our military, economic and political dominance of Muslim lands.
    “…He came into office as a moralizing internationalist, a fervent champion of international law and multilateralism as necessary restraints on an America exceptional only for its xenophobic swagger and exploitative dominance abroad.”
    Because the US was reeling from eight disastrous years of moralizing nationalism and violent swagger which produced a foreign policy disaster that rivals Vietnam, and from which the country is still recovering. Mr. Thornton seems to wonder how a return to traditional internationalism came about; because an overwhelming majority of Americans, including most who did not vote for Obama, preferred it to radicalism which wounded America.
    “Starting from the assumption that America’s problems in the Middle East were the consequence of our neo-imperialist meddling and arrogance,…”
    Crudely put, but close enough.
    “When the so-called Arab Spring exploded in December 2010, he recycled the stale left-wing narrative that American support for autocrats was why other nations despised us…”
    Echoing those stale left-wingers Bush, Feith, Wolfowtiz, Kagan, et al. whose underlying understanding of the world was correct.
    “He abandoned the reliable Hosni Mubarak in Egypt…”
    Because the alternative would have been to help him crush the diverse, grass roots revolution in full view of the world in order to keep that reliable tyrant, Mubarak in control, thereby furthering the aforementioned hatred of the US. A lid can only be kept on top of boiling pot so long.
    “…Finally, and most important, he continued the charade of “outreach” and sanctions with Iran, serially kicking that nuclear can down the road even as the centrifuges spin and the enriched uranium piles up.”
    Because anything short of an immediate attack on Iran is appeasement to the nutty right. Every day that Tehran has not be annihilated by cruise missiles is cowardice, appeasement and pro-jihadism to the unhinged right.
    “So here we are, with a disaster brewing in Syria because this president shot off his mouth about “Assad must go” and “red line” and “change my calculus,”…”
    Unfortunately Obama is unwilling to forego the America as global cop role, and formally declare a new era and new doctrine in US Middle East policy, where we disengage from and let the Middle East rot unless and until a genuine threat to America comes out of it. This would of course mean leaving Israel to deal with Iran, which would not fit the Thorntons of the world. He isn’t against quagmires and self-inflicted disasters if they are in Iraq, or Iran.
    “….solution the main effect of which was to elevate Putin into the major power in the region.”
    Russia pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire. If, however, Syria’s chemical weapons are truly transferred to Russia (and I’m very dubious of that), this is a huge win for all involved. The fact that Russia could come out looking good and getting some credit for this upsets Thornton so much shows some immaturity on his part.
    “….obscure the rational calculations of means and ends to secure our interests and security…”
    I applaud the suddnely sober, conservative approach to calculations of war and peace coming from right wingers on this forum, even if it’s only to spite a liberal president. Now, lets see if this can be applied to all war and peace scenarios.
    “So why didn’t we roll down that slippery slope after Saddam Hussein used them to kill many thousands more than Assad did? ”
    Thornton must be joking here, right, he of the Iraq War was a “success”? Talk about a jaw-dropping lack of self-awareness.
    “And given that opposition, which continued when he became a Senator and vocally opposed the ultimately successful “surge” of forces in Iraq,…”
    Success on the battlefield alone does not make a war successful. Only if that war achieves the national interests at an accepable cost has the war been a “win.” Thornton must be drunk. Iraq makes Vietnam looks like VJ Day.
    “…the president effectively drains the threat of any serious deterrent value.”
    I agreed with this statement 48 hours ago, until Russia and Syria announced they would transfer these weapons. Something did change in regard to the threat of use of force. We’ll see if it actually pans out. There is zero chance they would have come up with this plan without that threat.
    “…time will be wasted with running down this phony “diplomatic” solution, Syrians will keep dying, the jihadists will keep gaining invaluable battlefield experience, Iran will keep spinning its centrifuges, and American prestige will sink even lower in the estimation of our friends and enemies alike.”

    But that would have happened had Obama kept his mouth shut about “red lines,” in the first place, which seems to be Thornton’s (and is my) preference. Talk about incoherence. He starts out damning Obama for getting involved in the first place with happy internationalist talk and weak threats, and now he’s upset that nothing has stopped Syrians from dying. Oh and of course he must talk about Iran’s “centrifuges.”

    • Drakken

      Any way to cut and slice it, your hero Obummer has fked up foreign policy to the point that it cannot be fixed. We should never go to war unless you so mercilessly grind your opponent into the ground that future conflict is impossible, the Bush policy of nation building was a failure and Obummers policy of appeasement at any price is making it much worse. Mubarak in power was to our advantage and frankly I don’t give a rats azz how many of the bloody savages Mubarak sent to their virgins, he was at least our ally and kept the peace, all the MB as done is destabilize the ME to the point that war is now inevitable. No matter what your hero obummer does now at this point will change that.

      • EarlyBird

        “Any way to cut and slice it, your hero Obummer has fked up foreign policy to the point that it cannot be fixed.’
        The world is in chaos, Killer. We’re living in history that no individual or nation can control. We’ve discussed this.

        Do I think that Obama has blundered into this issue with Syria? Yes. He should never have committed America to enforcing “red lines” in that nation. He should have leaned on Russia and the Arab League and the UN to deal with it, while keeping the US out of it. There is no upside to our getting involved there.

        “We should never go to war unless you so mercilessly grind your opponent into the ground that future conflict is impossible,…”

        That depends upon the stakes and the goals. Some times a little war may be preferable than total war. Imagine if Reagen had “mercilessly ground” Gadaffi into the ground in the ’80s, rather than merely bombed his ugly a$$? We’d have put that nation into the same chaos it is now in, only back then.
        “…the Bush policy of nation building was a failure…” Sure was.
        “…and Obummers policy of appeasement at any price,,,” Absurd.

        “Mubarak in power was to our advantage…”
        Until the Egyptian people threw his ass out. At that point we could only boldly do AQ’s PR by showing the world that we were behind a bloody, brual crackdown on “Muslims” and “Arabs,” not just the MB. Remember, it was hardly only the MB who wanted Mubarak out. The entire country did.

        You’re imagining that things could be nicely under control and safe and peaceful if only we had the right president. That’s a fantasy. That region is going to go through its wars and chaos with our without us, and we’re going to be threatened by Muslim psychos, for the rest of our lives. It’s a matter of managing that threat to the greatest degree possible, and generally speaking, less is more.

    • 8ball

      “Internationalism” didn’t contribute to 9/11. Al Queda didn’t bring down the twin towers to protest the SALT II, NATO, NAFTA or Doctors Without Borders. It was in response to our military, economic and political dominance of Muslim lands”.

      Bin Laden had no problem accepting our military support in Afghanistan when the mujahudeen fought the Russians. He didn’t attack because of the use of America’s Air Force to protect Muslims in Kosovo.Bin Laden was a Muslim imperialist and supremacist. He lamented the loss of Andalusia (in 1492) and he wanted to take revenge for the presence of American troops in the Muslim Holy Land of Saudia Arabia – where we were stationed to enforce the No Fly Zone and protect Muslims in Iraq.

      So, according to you, we should have allowed Saddam to take Kuwait . And then Saudi Arabia … and then what?
      The Middle East was once Christian and Jewish. Muslims are apoplectic that after the Holocaust Jews have been afforded a tiny little area. Islam is spreading wherever there is weakness. People such as yourself who are ignorant of the history of Islam are enemies of freedom.

      • EarlyBird

        “So, according to you, we should have allowed Saddam to take Kuwait . And then Saudi Arabia … and then what?”

        Not at all. There are many American interests (and values) worth pursuing whether or not they upset Islamist psychopaths, or anyone else for that matter. Being a stalwart ally of Israel, for instance.

        I’m just pointing to the obvious: our foreign policy has consequences, both good AND bad. Al Queda didn’t attack us on 9/11 because of “internationalism” as Thornton bizarrely states, any more than because they “hate us for our freedom.” They attacked us – and continue to attack us – for aspects of our foreign policy, ones which you point out.

        Those foreign policy interests may very well be worth pursuing even if it means we are at war with this group. But when we are forbidden to discuss these costs for fear of sounding like we are “blaming” America, we can not rationally assess if pursuing certain interests are worthwhile.

  • 11bravo

    Hey Bruce,
    These guys are good om their feet, I mean, you know. Putin knows a commie when he sees one. Why not make him look good since the alternative (Cruz) would not stand for such nonsense.
    When the Rooskies bail you out – Amerca knows. O = dead!

  • Goldcoaster

    obama Needs Help Funding WWIII.

    Great video, Here is How You Can Help!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-sdO6pwVHQ&feature=c4-overview&list=UUzkcuUgsMln4y_aSxhE0H-g

  • Drakken

    Better to have the right General or president deal with the islamaniacs than us, because the leftist human rights crowd would have a complete meltdown if we started to shoot their favorite pet social engineering experiment. The only way you go to war with muslims is by total war, anything else is doomed to failure.

  • Ellman48

    “His foreign policy philosophy was encapsulated in his 2007 Foreign Affairs
    article, in which he promised to use America’s power “not in the spirit
    of a patron but in the spirit of a partner––a partner mindful of his
    own imperfections.”

    Obama missed his true calling: to be a college professor, lecturing his students about the immorality of conservatives, the wickedness of Wall Street business forces, the arrogance of the US, the meaning of ‘fairness’ and how fairness should trump individual effort as a measure of a ‘just society’. Ya da, Ya da!

    He refers to the US as a “partner – a partner mindful of his own imperfections. He may be mindful of the imperfections of the United States, but how aware is he about the imperfections he possesses? Everything considered, one has to conclude that Obama views himself as more than mortal. He will always see himself in this delusional manner, which is why he will blame George Bush for every problem he “inherited” and every problem he created under his own power. He knows how to dissemble and to misrepresent and the Republicans in the Congress. The Republicans, especially since John Boehner became Speaker of the House, have capitulated on every issue. Boehner, like Obama, is more concerned about keeping his job for as long as possible. That concern has nothing to do with doing the right thing for the nation. It is completely motivated by personal desires, needs and ambition.

    • DVult

      Sort of like a Cornel West with better hair although I suppose he could grow it out.

  • KBLinMI

    How can we be surprised by any of this? Obama’s foreign policy strategy is accomplishing exactly what he has always wanted; a weaker America. This is what America looks like when its “exceptionalism” is no different than the exceptionalism of France, Germany, Turkey, or even Guatemala. Bravo, Barack! Neville Chamberlain would be very proud!

  • Danny

    The one good thing about this, is that Israel will finally begin to realize that it is truly alone and must take 100% control of its own destiny. All illusions about being able to rely on the states for moral support, much less protection, should be thoroughly shattered. My Israel will finally begin to understand that it has to take care of the Iranian threat by itself. This could actually be an important lesson for the Israelis. It always was truly alone, now the Israelis will take matters into its own hands.

  • Long Ben

    Unfortunately the truth about the majority of Muslims is lost on this ponce Obama. The truth about the majority of Muslims that in order to enjoy any amount of ordered liberty a Strongman is needed. The experiment with democracy in Egypt
    is a perfect illustration. No sooner did they have elections, were they knowingly asking for sharia. How messed up is that? It’s a good job the U.S. is a Representative Republic ( let’s not forget ) lest we wind up with a mobaucracy as well.