And they mostly miss the point.
Liberal journalists still proceed from the fallacy that there was a foreign policy debate between neo-conservative interventionists and liberal non-interventionists. These are a series of digested Bush era talking points that have no relationship to reality since Bush’s foreign policy on Iraq carried over from Bill Clinton. It’s why Hillary gets so uncomfortable when she has to discuss her vote on Iraq.
The liberals weren’t non-interventionists who insisted on multilateralism and UN approval before acting. Obama, like virtually every other Democrat, disproved that myth as fast as he could. Nor were they even opponents of the Iraq War until opposing the war became politically convenient.
Obama however isn’t on this map at all. It’s not that he is an opponent of intervention. The Libyans can tell you that. It’s that his reasons for intervening fall completely outside the grid of national interests.
The anti-war activist as pacifist is largely a myth. There are a few anti-war activists who oppose all wars, but mostly they just oppose America. Obama, who got his foot up the political ladder by flirting with the anti-war movement, falls into that category. Obama isn’t opposed to wars. He’s opposed to America.
Obama is an ideological interventionist, not a nationalist interventionist. And despite his multilateralist rhetoric, he isn’t your usual globalist either. Instead he uses national and international power as platforms for pursuing ideological goals without any regard to national or international interests.
That is true of both his foreign and domestic policy.
Obama’s foreign policy is issue oriented, just like his domestic policy is. There is no national agenda, only a leftist agenda. America is just a power platform for pursuing policy goals.
Domestically, Obama does not care about fixing the economy. The economy is a vehicle for pursuing social justice, environmental justice and all the many unjust justices of the left. It has no innate value. Likewise national security and power have no value except as tools for promoting leftist policies.
Obama thinks of the ideological issue first. Then he packages it as a national interest for popular consumption. It’s a Wilsonian approach that is not only far more extreme than the policies of most White House occupants have been, but also more detached.
Wilson couldn’t understand that American power couldn’t exist without a national interest. Obama and his staffers see America as just another transnational institution that they happen to be running, not all that different than a corporation, non-profit or UN body. They don’t see it as a country, but a series of policymaking offices that reach across the country and the world.
It’s a globalized mode of thinking that is common among Eurocrats, but has never been represented in the Oval Office before.
Obama doesn’t just oppose America. He disregards it as an outmoded institution. When confronted with the border crisis or the rise of ISIS, he doesn’t see them in terms of American interests or even world interests, but in the narrow terms of leftist ideology.
He will use national and international institutions to promote LGBT rights or Green Energy. He won’t however get involved in actively using them for national security unless he absolutely has to in order to protect his own political power.
To a transnational mindset, institutions exist to promote issues. America is only of value to the extent that it can promote the left’s agenda. To the extent that it doesn’t, America is dead weight.
Once Bush was out, Iraq ceased to matter because it was no longer a packaged issue. It couldn’t be broken down into a simplistic Blame Bush policy agenda. And so Obama stopped paying attention.
Now Iraq is getting in the way of the things that he really cares about, such as illegal alien amnesty, dismantling Israel and transsexual bathrooms, because these are ideologically meaningful issues to him. And like every other obstacle, whether it was the national debt or the VA scandal, he pretends to take them seriously until a sufficient amount of time passes and he can dismiss them as “phony scandals”.
Obama didn’t just ignore Iraq because he wanted to avoid any connections to a war that he had helped make unpopular. He ignored Iraq because it had nothing to offer his ideology. If Iraq had a secular dictator, he might have been interested. If Islamists were fighting to take over from that dictator, there would have been planes and diplomats flying over Baghdad before you could shout, “Allah Akbar.”
It’s why he backed the Islamist overthrow of Arab governments, but not the popular protests against Islamist governments in Iran or Turkey.
But Iraq was a battle between Sunni and Shiite Islamists, backed by the Saudis and Iran. Even the left has trouble picking a side between two anti-American Islamic factions who are divided over theological issues, instead of practical things like dialectical materialism and the discourse of othering. In a pinch they pick the Iranian side as being more anti-American, but the prospect of American intervention on the same side as the Shiites confuses them even further and they have to go lie down in a dark room.
When there is no clear ideological guide, Obama takes meetings with generals, tunes them out, plays with his phone and delays doing something for as long as possible. That was the pattern in Afghanistan and Syria. Ideologues can’t function without an ideological orientation. When the ideological value of a problem is unclear, Obama either freezes up, like a robot whose manual was misplaced, or ignores it.
Obama’s only approach to Iraq came from Bush era opposition. Without Bush to push against, he had no idea what if anything should be done about Iraq. He still doesn’t. Instead he resorts to the antiquated attacks on Bush because it’s the last time that Iraq made any sense to him. It was the last time that the left had successfully packaged Iraq into a simple scenario in which there was only one right choice.
Ideologues are not big on independent thinking. When everything is politicized, they lose the ability to see the things that can’t be neatly assigned to one side or another. America is being run by a blinkered ideologue who ignores issues that fall outside his ideological spectrum.
Those problems that he doesn’t cause directly and intentionally through his ideology, he causes indirectly and unintentionally by being unable to operate outside his ideology except in an emergency. Like the difference between the pilot who flies a plane deliberately into a mountain and the one who accidentally flies it into a mountain, there is a gap in motivation, but not in outcome.
History will not record why Obama screwed everything up. It will only record that he did it.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.