Our Contrary President

Barack ObamaRemember the “contrary” Sioux warrior from Little Big Man? He did everything backwards––said “hello” for “goodbye,” washed in sand instead of water. Our president is the foreign policy contrary. He has gotten backwards every maxim of proven wisdom for dealing with the rest of the world. Teddy Roosevelt counseled, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” but Obama has spoken loudly and carried a little stick. Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.” Obama can be always counted on to do the wrong thing––before he’s tried anything else. The Roman general Sulla was “no better friend, and no worse enemy.” Obama has been no better enemy, and no worse friend.

The president’s malignant narcissism explains a lot of this incompetence. His belief in his own transformational personality has blinded him to reality, and given him the delusions of omnipotence more typical of a child. You have to go back to Neville Chamberlain to find a major world leader so dangerously deluded by self-regard. Whenever Obama speaks to the world, I’m reminded of Chamberlain preening before his cabinet during the Munich crisis, telling his ministers that he was “satisfied Hitler was speaking the truth,” and that “he had established some degree of personal influence over Herr Hitler,” and that Hitler “would not deliberately deceive a man whom he respected.”

You can imagine Obama after his Cairo speech, thinking the Muslim Brothers he had sat in the front row were similarly enchanted with his world-transforming magnificence and persuasive brilliance. More likely they looked at him like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park getting ready to dine on the tethered goat. You know, the look Putin gets on his face whenever he and The One are in the same room.

But Obama’s failures go beyond his personality. They reflect the delusions of modernity that the gruesome excesses of traditional Islam’s pre-modern mentality have exposed. We watch the violence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt, and we wag our diplomatic fingers, scold the perpetrators with our “concern,” counsel “restraint” and “reconciliation,” start U.N. “investigations,” threaten to withhold military hardware or foreign-aid swag, and indulge various other substitutes of words for deeds. We think that those hard, cruel men doing the killing just need to be reminded of universal human rights, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and the marginalization of state violence that all took several centuries to evolve in the West, but that never have been much on display in Middle Eastern Islamic societies. On the contrary, history shows that violence against one’s political, religious, and sectarian enemies, sanctioned as it is by Islamic theology, is a perfectly rational and legitimate tool of power in the Middle East.

What’s worse, we refuse to accept that if we sincerely think we are morally obligated to stop that violence, then diplomatic talk, economic sanctions, “no-fly zones,” and other half-measures aren’t going to work. Massive force employed to kill the bad guys will be necessary. That’s how Hussein, who made Bashar al-Assad look like a Unitarian Scoutmaster, was stopped after 12 years of fruitless U.N. resolutions and sanctions. That’s how the equally murderous Taliban were driven from power in Afghanistan. And even then, killing the thugs is just the beginning. You have to stick around and keep killing thugs for as long as it takes. What you can’t do is the opposite, which is what our contrary president did––announce a date-certain withdrawal, and then leave whether the conditions were strategically right for going or not, thus squandering the sacrifice and success of our troops. Hence the spectacle of Iraq today, as it relentlessly slides backwards into domination by Iran and slaughter by resurgent Sunni terrorists, with Afghanistan promising to follow the same trajectory after we leave next year.

Our contrary commander-in-chief made the same blunder in Syria. If there was a moment when intervention might have been successful, when it was the “right thing” to try, it is long gone. Now even if we destroy the Assad regime, we will bring to power various jihadist outfits that will damage our interests and those of our allies in the region even more than Assad has. If we don’t, and Assad survives, Iran and its Hezbollah minions become the dominant regional power, Russia strengthens its foothold in the region, and our allies like Egypt, the Gulf Emirates, and Saudi Arabia––already disgusted with our treating “friends” like Mubarak as if they are enemies, and enemies like the terrorist Muslim Brothers as if they are friends––will start looking around for a more reliable ally, perhaps a Pakistan ready to sell them some nuclear weapons.

The brief window of intervention having closed, however, now the President “Weighs Plans to Punish Assad,” as the Wall Street Journal announced. Having failed to try the “right thing,” now’s he contemplating doing the “wrong thing.” But even if that headline is not just more “loud talk,” in the event the intervention “stick” won’t be big enough or the commitment long enough to make a definitive difference. It will only end up providing the jihadist Der Stürmer Al-Jazeera in America with graphic footage of innocent Syrians obliterated by American bombs.

By far the biggest mistake of our contrary president is to ignore the wisdom every global power has known from Rome to the British Empire: the importance of prestige, which a great power nurtures by consistently rewarding its friends and punishing its enemies. Both friends and enemies have to believe your promises and threats will be followed by meaningful action. But this president gets it backwards: just make empty threats and preen morally, and then rationalize a failure to act by invoking “international law” and “U.N. mandates” and other verbal squibs that fill those hard cruel men doing the killing with nothing but contempt. Respond to Assad’s crossing the “red line” by promising assistance to the insurgents, but then never follow through with even the promise of near-useless small arms––and then watch Assad murder 350 men, women, and children with sarin nerve gas on the anniversary of Obama’s “change my calculus” bluster about chemical weapons. Decry terrorism and drone to death an endless parade of al Qaeda “number twos,” but then cozy up to the arch-jihadists Muslim Brothers, al Qaeda’s spiritual godfathers, and beg the Egyptian army to “reconcile” with terrorists. Tell the world “I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy [and] universal rights,” and then make your best international friend Turkey’s Islamist, anti-Semitic Prime Minister Erdogan, currently dismantling “democracy and universal rights” in Turkey. And don’t forget to periodically browbeat Israel, our only reliable friend in the region.

So our contrary president has managed to destroy our prestige, alienate our friends, embolden our enemies, increase contempt for our power, and leave behind a Middle East more violent, murderous, and hostile to our security and interests than it ever has been. Just what you would expect from someone who sees the world backwards.

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  • canalway

    The left (and some on the right) say Obama knows exactly what he’s doing in foreign affairs in a 3 dimentional game of chess type strategy. Sice his teens, Choomboy has always been dumber than a box of bidens. Just listen to Mr. Kool Corpesman talk without a teleprompter gives you an how brain damaged this jerk is.

    Ann Couter said it right last night as she stared into the camera: Dont elect Democrats to be Commander in Chief, America!

  • TheOrdinaryMan

    Mr. Thornton: Please don’t try to defend the despicable reprobate whom we call President. Yes, Obama is a malignant narcissist, but you’ve been saying that for some time now. Even Obama now knows that US intervention in Syria will produce only bad results. We must charge him with that knowledge, and impeach him.

    • Jeff Ludwig

      Dear Sir: I did not read anything in this article defending the President. Your hatred for Obama must be so intense that you are now even criticizing people like Mr. Thornton who would agree with you. Please do a reality check sir.

      • TheOrdinaryMan

        Oh, I see, we can’t criticize Thornton now. And we mustn’t hate Obama, no matter how often he betrays the American people; no matter what he does. You aren’t trustworthy, either. Go jump off a cliff….please.

        • Jeff Ludwig

          Sorry, sir, I do not intend to jump off a cliff. Before writing this I sincerely prayed that Jesus Christ would encourage your heart and give you more peace and discernment. There is nothing “ordinary” about the rage you are expressing. Most people consider me to be trustworthy even when we disagree. Peace be with you. (I am not patronizing you.)

  • Robert_Fl

    There are only two possibilities to consider regarding obama: 1. Total incompetence. or 2. Purposeful action against the interests of the United States. Either one is unacceptable in the President of the United States. How much longer will he be allowed to undermine the security and economy of our country?

    • Bill Sharp

      Robert, the answer is both. How long? As long as the schoolyard bully wants. Two terms? Hell, that’s only what the Constitution says.

  • Jeff Ludwig

    Hey, this is an incredibly well written, penetrating, and wise article. The truths related in this article should be repeated and repeated. Why is it that the Republicans in Congress are not saying what is expressed by Mr. Thornton? It a disgrace how little leadership there is in this country. Mr. Thornton tells us that in essence we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and that this “stuckness” has been caused by the President’s continuously backwards approach to foreign policy. To me, this article is not only true — it’s the last word on the subject!

    • JDinSTL

      Because the Republicans are complicit in looting us.

      That’s their job – first and foremost.

  • BenJabo1Machal

    Obama, Obama, day & night 24/7/365
    This is far more torture that anyone could be expected to endure

  • Donald J DaCosta

    But Bruce, half the American people love this guy. He’s so cool, plays golf, trots down the ladder of Air Force One with no hands, yucks it up with Jay Leno and Jay-Z, chides those tight a__ed republicans on national television and those “fat cat” Wall St. types, bemoans global warming, climate change, climate anomlalies, whatever, belittles the Keystone pipeline which will only create 50 jobs….don’t laugh…that’s what the 1st black, O.K., half black President says and he must know what he’s talking about….right?? The media says. America now has 57 states. He says! And all these years we’ve been calling the Marine Corpse the Marine Corp…..what a bunch of dummies we are. And we thought Austrians spoke German when actually, according to Mr. Obama they speak Austrian. Wise up Thornton! And I’ll bet Obama knows how to spell potato. Or is it potatoe? I’m confused.

    • Robert_Fl

      Half of the American people do not love this guy. He was re-elected in 2012 by only 29% of eligible voters. Also, I am sure, with massive voter fraud. He has nowhere near the support that he and his boot licking media would like us to believe.

      • Donald J DaCosta

        Then the other 71% should have got off their butt and voted. They’re as guilty of this debacle as the 29%.

        • Robert_Fl

          Um, no they’re not. Maybe the Republican party should have chosen a better candidate and run a better campaign It was a very winnable election that they blew. In any event, your defensive reply does not change the facts. Lets stop playing the “woe is us the country is lost” game. obama and the progs only win due to the incompetence of the “opposition”, and the slavish propaganda of the so called news media.

          • Donald J DaCosta

            Um, yes they are, but perhaps you object so strongly to what was intended to be parody, because you number among them. And are you familiar with the word defensive. It’s far more descriptive of your comment than mine. The fact remains, Obama was duly elected by a majority of those who voted in 2012. Republicans who stupidly chose not to vote because the republicans did not field a “worthy” candidate or expressed their funk by voting for the opposition, are no less despicable than the rest of the fools who did. That’s not “woe the country is lost” rhetoric it’s a fact. Hopefully a wake up call. I won’t argue your point about the republican opposition or the slavish news media but the remedy for this is due diligence, not post election excuses about opposition incompetence. Anyone paying attention knew that Obama was trouble in the run up to 2008. That he got elected then was no less a problem but understandable given the political marketing hype, the media’s slavish obfuscation and allegiance and the redemption and historical aspect, the first black candidate in a presidential election but, in 2012, with a number of incidents to lengthy to list here, that revealed gross incompetence and inept leadership that any competent electorate would have reacted to; to blame that solely on opposition incompetence, though it certainly existed and still does, stretches credulity. There’s no such thing as voter incompetence? Obama is not just incompetent. His incompetence or wilful determination to implement a radical, anti-American agenda, borders on the dangerous.

          • Robert_Fl

            I do not dispute many good points in your post. The fact is that obama was elected with only 29% of eligible voters. My statement was that he does not have the wide support that many attribute to him. As far as blaming many of the people who did not vote as part of the problem, there are a few things to consider. Yes, part of the non voter problem had to do with people who did not think Romney was the perfect candidate. I place the major portion of the blame on what has become our un-American news media who covered for obama and outright lied for him (major debate with Candy Crowley for example). I tie the problem with our media into the non voter problem as follows: The fact that we are on this website trading comments puts us in the minority of the electorate. Most of the hard working people in this country are busy supporting their families, being parents, etc. They do not have the time to research the many websites that it takes to figure out what is really going on. They have faith in their elected representatives (however misplaced) to tell them the truth. They cannot believe that someone elected to the office of the President could be an anti-American and a pathological liar. They believe that they are staying informed by watching network news. I could go on, but I think you will get my point. Short version: Between the sycophantic, lying obama media, and the Republicans’ refusal to aggressively bring the fight to obama, we have obama as a second term President.

          • Roland_the_Gunslinger

            Thank you, Donald, for saying what I’ve been saying since last November. Petulantly sitting home on one’s ass during arguably the most important election in the country’s history was unforgivable, regardless. And I say that as someone that voted for Santorum in the primaries. Yes the Republicans had a lousy field from which to choose. That STILL doesn’t excuse NOT turning out to vote AGAINST Obummy. Good post, sir.

  • tracy

    I thought this article was one of the best I have recently read. This may sound cruel,but I really think that we should “Get out of dodge and stay out of dodge” We can NOT fix their antiquated theocracy. How much money and lives have we thrown away to FIX this fiasco? I also say ” Round them up and send them back to their sharia based,countries of origin, let them fight their own wars in their own countries!”

  • JVictor

    The foreign policy actions of Obama should be of no surprise to anyone. Where as it is impossible to deny that he has appeared to be a bumbler on the international scene, he has not been the least bit “contrary” to his personal mantra: the fundamental transformation the United States of America. This transformation, in part, involves ensuring that the influence of this nation in world affairs is minimal. Other facets of his policies which could be delineated (including dependency on foreign energy, gross expansion of the welfare state, eroding race relations, etc.) are all parts of his vision for a transformed America. Regrettably, much of his mission is being accomplished.

  • Ellman48

    “So our contrary president has managed to destroy our prestige, alienate
    our friends, embolden our enemies, increase contempt for our power, and
    leave behind a Middle East more violent, murderous, and hostile to our
    security and interests than it ever has been. Just what you would expect
    from someone who sees the world backwards.”

    I must admit that cascading the world into such dismay and chaos is not something I expected any one man to be able to do in a matter of a few years. Yet Obama has succeeded in doing precisely this. Producing such sinister results in such a short period on a global scale is unprecedented. I leave it to each individual to judge the meaning of this accomplishment, if one can call it that.

  • Texas Patriot

    The days of America being the “world’s policeman” are over, or they should be. It’s too expensive, and ultimately, all it does is make the whole world hate you. What we need to become, as Teddy Roosevelt suggested, is the trusted ally of Truth, Individual Freedom, and Constitutional Democracy who speaks softly and carries a big stick that can be used as necessary and appropriate in the rare instances where no one else has the vision and the clout to keep neighborhood bullies in line.

    As we saw in Libya, surgical strikes at key moments can make a pivotal difference in the outcome of local civil wars. Personally, I am inclined that the U.S. should stay out of the currently boiling over hot spots of Syria and Iraq, but it will be interesting to see the extent to which Barack Obama feels the needs to intervene as the heir and successor of the all-American Trust Buster and Rough Rider, T. Roosevelt. He definitely took care of business in taking out the local bullies Hosne Mubarak and Muamar Khadafy. The question I think we need to ask ourselves at this juncture is, what absolutely indispensable strategic, moral, or philosophical interest of the United America, if any, is now at stake in Syria and Iraq, and what can we do about that without needlessly sacrificing precious and not easily irreplaceable resources of American “blood and treasure”.

    As suggested above, we’re not going to be able to continue to play the role of world’s policeman except in the rarest and most compelling circumstances unless we first find a way to reignite the American industrial dynamo, and we’re a long way from doing that at the present time.

  • Rev. Marvin Purser

    Accusations to fit old quotes and without documentation to prove it. Mostly juvenile assumptions from a very self-righteous person who projects his own sins on the President of the United States so that the president can be stupid for him. Show me one single paragraph from a passed Congressional bill on the president’s watch to prove anything you have said.