Category Archive 'Foreign Policy'
27 Jul 2016

Not Everyone, Of Course, Is Quite So Positive

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22 Jul 2016

Yale These Days Has a Cabinet and a Secretary of State, Who Knew?

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WoodbridgeHall
Woodbridge Hall, home of the evil Yale Administration.

Yale News:

Pericles Lewis, currently the founding president of Yale-NUS College, will assume the combined role of vice president for global strategy and deputy provost for international affairs in the fall of 2017, President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak announced.

Lewis will take up the new position at the conclusion of his five-year term in his current post.

This key post within the University Cabinet has been vacant since Linda Lorimer’s retirement in the spring of last year. Lewis’ appointment “will provide renewed and unified focus to a vitally important area of the university,” Salovey and Polak said in letter to Yale faculty and staff announcing the appointment.

Read the whole thing.

Founded as a Collegiate School in 1701 for the training of ministers for the Congregational Church in the Colony of Connecticut, Yale has come a long way.

We all know that, over time, Yale’s mission evolved into the molding and education of members of the national leadership class, but the question is: When exactly, and how, did Yale acquire a Global Mission and its own Foreign Policy?

If Yale already has a foreign policy of its own, isn’t it perhaps time that Yale begins building its own Navy and training officers to command the Yale Army? How about some Yale colonies to start off the construction of the Yale Empire? …

01 May 2016

Trump’s Paleocon Nationalism and Obama’s Anti-Americanism Sound Very Much the Same

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Isolationism4

Claire Berlinski contemplates Donald Trump’s recent Foreign Policy speech and finds that he is really preaching the same doctrine of American withdrawal from world leadership and decline that Barack Obama was.

Trump’s speech made him seem to me Obama’s natural successor, and made me decide that neither are the aberrations I thought they were. Both reflect an external reality: the relative loss of American power. Both envision a limited role for America in the world. Trump’s wrapping Obama’s view of the world in the American flag, and making it palatable to people who weren’t willing to hear it from Obama, but it’s the same message. We’re no longer able to be a benevolent global hegemon. Indeed, we never were a benevolent hegemon. The world will be fine, and so will we, without our efforts to lead it. If we’re an exceptional country at all, our destiny is to lead by example, not force. “America First” is not an accidental slogan. Trump certainly knows where it comes from, and I suspect most Americans at least intuit it.

Trump in many ways echoes the themes of Obama’s first presidential campaign:

    We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism, thousands of Americans and just killed be lives, lives, lives wasted. Horribly wasted. Many trillions of dollars were lost as a result. The vacuum was created that ISIS would fill. Iran, too, would rush in and fill that void much to their really unjust enrichment.

    They have benefited so much, so sadly, for us. Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster.

Here’s Obama in 2008:

    … we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats – all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

And with just a few changes in tone,

    I am running for President because it’s time to turn the page on a failed ideology and a fundamentally flawed political strategy, so that we can be intelligent about keeping our country safe. I stood up and opposed the Iraq war from the start, and said that we needed to fight al Qaeda.

    Hillary Clinton says she’s passed a “Commander in Chief test” – not because of the decisions she’s made, but because of all the years she’s spent in Washington. But here is the truth, folks, believe me: there is a gap in this country – a gap between people who claim to be tough on national security, and how unsafe we are because of their stupid, disastrous decisions. Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster.

    The war in Iraq enriched Iran, continuing its nuclear program and threatening our ally, Israel. Instead of the new Middle East we were promised, we got nothing. The war in Iraq has enriched North Korea, which built new nuclear weapons and even tested one.

The above passage is Obama in 2008, with a few words changed so that the voice sounds more like Trump’s, although the meaning is intact.

A world — including me — that’s been looking at Obama for eight years and wondering if the American century is over is now watching the Trump campaign and realizing that it’s long since past. Come 2016, Trump or Hillary Clinton will be in the White House. Clinton is explicitly running on “more of Obama’s foreign policy.” Trump is implicitly running on the same promise, and proposing to get there at warp speed.

29 Apr 2016

Interview With The Donald

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Robert Zubrin, at Ricochet, talks Foreign Policy (and Ethics) with the great man.

[D]id you hear the latest news? North Korea now says it has nuclear missiles that could hit the United States. What should we do about it?”

Trump shrugged. “Just let me handle things.”

This took me aback. “What? How?”

The billionaire looked me in the eyes and pointed his finger at my nose. “Listen, kid. Success in life is about knowing people. If you want to be the top guy, you got to know the top people. I know the top guy over there. So everybody should just stop acting like a bunch of [expletive, plural] and relax. I got it covered.”

Now I was really amazed. “You know the top guy in North Korea?” I stammered. “You know Kim Jong-un?”

“Yeah, sure, I know Kim.” Trump smiled. “I built him a grand casino and strip joint in Pyongyang. He’s a swell guy, top drawer. Whenever we had a problem, he’d take care of it, so quick, you wouldn’t believe it. A bunch of squatters wouldn’t get out of their lousy little shacks so we could build a parking lot; bang, squash, pave, and in 24 hours flat, you’ve got the most beautiful parking lot you ever saw. When I’m President, that’s how we are going to do things here. No more of this go-to-court crap.”

I hadn’t realized that there was a Trump grand casino and strip club in Pyongyang, and wanted to know more. “What’s the casino like?”

“It’s wonderful, it’s magnificent, it’s yuge!” said Trump, spreading his arms expansively.“The carpets are all panda skins, the furniture is all made of ivory, the walls are solid gold, the dining room silverware is platinum, and the glasses are made from diamonds, freshly dug from the most exclusive mines in Africa. The menu is unmatched: Crimean caviar, Bolivian cocaine, Siberian tiger hearts, Pacific bottlenose dolphin liver pate, elephant balls. And the broads they got, wow. Top of the line, kid, top of the line. Not just a bunch of cute little oriental chicks like you might find in a lot of places out there, but top drawer Russian blonde bombshells chosen for us by Putin himself. And, let me tell you, my friend, Vlad really knows how to choose them.”

I nodded. “Yes, you mentioned in one of the debates that you and Putin are good friends.”

“Sure,” said Trump, smiling wickedly. “If you are looking for a good time in Moscow, he’s definitely the man to see.”

“Yet,” I said, “Putin is also the guy whose bombs are stampeding our way all those Muslim refugees that you are making such a fuss about. Doesn’t that bother you?”

Trump did a double take, looked at me like I had just revealed myself to be a born-yesterday idiot, then grinned knowingly. “You’re kidding, right? Anyway, he’s got this Olympic gymnast himself, and man, she is hot. The things she can do, you wouldn’t believe it. In all my travels, I have never known anyone like her.”

The Donald closed his eyes, as if recalling a blissful memory, but my head was spinning. “I beg your pardon. Are you saying…?”

Trump opened his eyes and held up his hand like a policeman telling a car to stop. “Sorry, I misspoke,” he said. “I didn’t mean to insult anyone. I should not have said I have never known anyone like her. I should have said ‘rarely.’ Not ‘never,’ but ‘rarely.’ There was also this nice piece of work who was married to the French president for a while, and maybe several others, whose names escape me at the moment. I love women, you know, and I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the world’s top broads once I’m President.” Trump suddenly looked puzzled. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with Merkel, though. I mean really, you call that a face? What do the krauts see in her? I just don’t get it.” He shook his head.

I decided to change the subject. “Returning to your friendship with Kim…”

“Yes, great guy,” Trump nodded appreciatively. “I love his hairstyle. We use the same hairdresser, you know.” He playfully fluffed his hair up with his right hand.

“I see,” said I. “But aren’t you at all concerned about his ethics?”

Trump frowned. “Ethics? What’s that?” Again he turned to me closely and pointed his finger in my face for emphasis. “Listen kid, in this world, there’s no such thing as right and wrong; there is just winning and losing. Kim’s a winner. I like that. He’s a real boss who knows what he is doing. You don’t see any North Korean companies leaving to set up their factories in Mexico, do you?”

Read the whole thing.

21 Dec 2015

Morning Laughfest: The (So-Called) American Conservative on the Triumphs of Obama’s Foreign Policy

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Pat Buchanan

The erudite Paul Rahe’s mind boggled when he read, in the September issue of American Conservative, a piece by Alfred W. McCoy, titled “The Quiet Grand Strategy of Barack Obama.” According to Mr. McCoy, the current president is a patriot and a far-seeing statesman:

In ways that have eluded Washington pundits and policymakers, President Barack Obama is deploying a subtle geopolitical strategy that, if successful, might give Washington a fighting chance to extend its global hegemony deep into the 21st century. After six years of silent, sometimes secret preparations, the Obama White House has recently unveiled some bold diplomatic initiatives whose sum is nothing less than a tri-continental strategy to check Beijing’s rise. As these moves unfold, Obama is revealing himself as one of those rare grandmasters who appear every generation or two with an ability to go beyond mere foreign policy and play that ruthless global game called geopolitics. …

But let’s give credit where it’s due. Without proclaiming a presumptuously labeled policy such as “triangulation,” “the Nixon Doctrine,” or even a “freedom agenda,” Obama has moved step-by-step to repair the damage caused by a plethora of Washington foreign policy debacles, old and new, and then maneuvered deftly to rebuild America’s fading global influence.

So what is this ridiculous hallucinatory liberal tripe doing in a journal of supposedly conservative opinion? Commenter Douglas (sixth comment down) nails it, and nails “The (So-Called) American Conservative” good and proper.

First off, there’s often little conservative about The American Conservative. No branch or tradition of conservatism is extolled there. It’s not conservative by old Tory standards, it’s not conservative by the standards of the old American Right, and it’s not conservative by the standards of the modern American Right. It’s “conservative” by the standards of people that argue progressivism is really a form of conservatism, and that Barack Obama is the most conservative president in generations. Mainly because he dislikes Israel as much as writers at AmCon do. The only virtues of the place anymore are admonishments to mind our own business and to be distrustful of the GOP.

While I’m sympathetic to much that Pat Buchanan argues, when he created that magazine, he surrounded himself with a bunch of nonsense-peddlers. They occasionally have the excellent article, but mostly are swamped by the nonsense these days.

So, the assertion in the article… that Obama is some kind of uber-wise, next level grandmaster at 3D chess really isn’t surprising. It’s right in keeping with the kind of stuff AmCon prints lately. The key to understanding most positions AmCon writers will take is “if it screws Israel, praise it, if it helps Israel, damn it”.

20 Apr 2015

“Osama Won”

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BinLadin

David Samuels, in an important essay, argues that Osama bin Laden out-strategized a series of dimbulb American administrations, astutely predicting precisely how they would respond.

judging from his last known private letter, dated April 25, 2011, Bin Laden died a happy man. “What we are witnessing these days of consecutive revolutions is a great and glorious event,” he mused, after watching the fall of the secular, Western-backed regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, which he watched on CNN, before the daring Navy SEAL raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “[T]hanks to Allah things are strongly heading toward the exit of Muslims from being under the control of America.”

Even at this late date, it seems difficult for American policymakers to grasp exactly how Bin Laden’s mastery of the inherently paradoxical logic of warfare—a logic very different than the linear cause-and-effect style of reasoning that governs normal life and electoral politics alike—allowed a man without a country, heavy weapons, or even broadband Internet access to reshape the world to his advantage. The clarity of Bin Laden’s strategic insight, which now seems obvious, also suggests that the dynamic that he deliberately set in motion is still unfolding, in ways that he foresaw before his death—ways that continue to roil the Middle East and will continue to pose a threat to the safety of Americans at home. …

Bin Laden was never shy about explaining what he was doing and why. His public statements about his strategic logic and goals in targeting “the far enemy” remained remarkably consistent, from his first fatwa against America until the last letter he wrote before his death. In his 1996 “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” published soon after the Khobar Towers bombings in Saudi Arabia, he explained that “it is essential to hit the main enemy who divided the Ummah”—the Muslim world—“into small and little countries and pushed it, for the last few decades, into a state of confusion.”

America’s response to an attack would be to get sucked into a war, he predicted—and when the going got tough, the United States would cut and run. Responding to then-U.S. Defense Sec. William Perry, who had called the Khobar bombers cowards and had sworn not to give in, Bin Laden asked, “Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 Marine soldiers were killed.” …

In public and private following the Sept. 11 attacks, he returned to the same themes, over and over again, in at least three-quarters of his public statements and in private letters to other jihadists that were seized from his compound in Abbotabad and later made public. “The goal is to weaken America until it can no longer interfere in Muslims affairs,” he explained, in a letter whose contents were entirely typical of his communications. “Once the American enemy has been defeated, our next step would be targeting the region’s leaders who had been the pillars of support for that American hegemony.”

It is proof of Bin Laden’s mastery of the unexpected logic that animates strategic thought, and of the glaring inability of America’s political leaders to think strategically, that not one but two American presidents have faithfully acted their roles in his geo-political script: George W. Bush, the hawk, with his open-ended and heavy-handed occupation of Iraq; and Barack Obama, the dove, with his precipitous and wholesale withdrawal of American military forces and influence from the Middle East. Both men—and their many advisers—should have known better.

Read the whole thing. It’s depressing reading and hard to argue with.

Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.

17 Feb 2015

What ISIS Wants And How to Deal With it

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ISIS armed troops

Graeme Wood has an excellent, must-read article in the Atlantic, describing clearly the religious ideology underlying ISIS, and identifying this movement as yet another outbreak of apocalyptic Mahdism.

Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. …

The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.

[A sympathiser] said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so. …

For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.

The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.

“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.

Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. …

The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely. …

Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.

One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.

The whole thing.

The obvious answer is for the United States to do to the contemporary “mad mullahs” the same thing Victorian Britain used to do to earlier specimens. As Hillaire Belloc noted long ago:

Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.

Our “Maxim gun” advantage is far greater than Kitchener’s at Omdurman. The carnage on the Muslim side will be more appalling. But Islam, as Churchill noted, is to men as hydrophobia is to dogs, and outbreaks of demented Islamic fanaticism have to be put down with blood every so many decades.

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ISIS Territory

03 Oct 2014

Andrew Sullivan’s Foreign Policy

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Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan (who has never been a US citizen, and who has escaped criminal conviction and consequent deportation only through blat), nonetheless, editorializes about Americans in the plural including himself (“We War-Loving Americans“), and makes a personal specialty of prescribing US Foreign Policy, often vigorously denouncing the decisions in that area made by mere elected presidents.

Despite Andrew’s long-demonstrated canine love for Barack Obama, Obama’s recent decision to bomb ISIS has seriously offended Andrew’s Neville-Chamberlain-esque principles, and the Chosen One is coming in for a stern scolding these days from his disappointed admirer.

One particularly penetrating observation leapt out at me. After airily asserting that defeating the Sunni Insurrection was beyond our powers, Andrew advised allowing the Middle Eastern atrocities to proceed. In his view, the successful erection of the new Caliphate would have no consequences affecting Europe or the United States, and would naturally simply diminish to the status of a “regional conflagration.” If (and when) Iran proceeded to intervene in the conflict, we should hope “both sides lose,” and perhaps “intervene from a distance” (which must mean: bomb). According to Andrew: “Our real interest is in bolstering the one stable power in the region, which is Iran.”

Now, there is foreign policy analysis at its finest. The same United States which defeated the German Army and the Japanese Navy cannot possibly defeat 10,000 sand monkey belligerents armed with AKs and driving new Toyotas. And our real interest (who knew?) lies in supporting the Shiite fanatics and long-time sponsors of terrorism in Iran who have made hatred of America and the West their regime’s very raison d’être since the time of Jimmy Carter.

IranHangings
How Andrew’s most admired regime maintains its stability.

03 Sep 2014

Who’s Really Shrinking Whom?

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Town Hall: Obama explained earlier today that he is working with the international community to shrink ISIS into a “manageable problem.”

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Twichy

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I’d say that it looks to most of us that adversaries like ISIS and Vladimir Putin have already managed to shrink Obama into a manageable problem.

TIny-Obama

11 Aug 2014

China’s Strategic Goal: “All Under Heaven”

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Tianxia (天下) “All Under Heaven”.

Edward Luttwak, in a very learned essay on “The Cycles—or Stages—of Chinese History,” published by the Hoover Institution, describes the Chinese version of “Balance of Power” theory.

Tianxia (whose logographs 天下…). Literally “under heaven,” short for “all under heaven” or more meaningfully, “the rule of all humans,” it defines an ideal national and international system of ever-expanding concentric circles centered on a globally benevolent emperor, now Xi Jinping or more correctly perhaps, the seven-headed standing committee of the Politburo.

The innermost circle of the Tianxia is formed by the rest of the Politburo and top Beijing officialdom, while its outermost circle comprises the Solomon Islands along with the twenty or so other utterly benighted “outer barbarian” countries that still do not recognize Beijing, preferring Taipei. In between, all other Chinese from officials and tycoons to ordinary subjects and overseas Chinese fit in their own circles, further and further from the imperial coreas do foreign states both large and small, both near and far, both already respectful (too few) and those still arrogantly vainglorious. It is the long-range task of China’s external policy to bring each and every state into a proper relationship with the emperor—that is, a tributary relationship, in which they deliver goods and services if only as tokens of fealty, in exchange for security and prosperity, but even more for the privilege of proximity to the globally benevolent emperor1. All this is of course nothing more than an exceptionally elaborate rendition of universal ambitions that are merely grander for the greater—the Byzantine ranking of foreign potentates by their proximity to the emperor was only slightly less elaborate.

Nor is there anything peculiarly Chinese about the desire to bring other states into a tributary relationship—often better than a full incorporation, which may be unwanted for any number of reasons, and obviously superior to an alliance however close and secure but between equals, whereby there must be reciprocity, a quid for every quo, usually costly or irksome in some way. Hence from time immemorial, stronger clans, tribes, potentates, and entire nations have done their best to impose tributary relations on weaker clans, tribes, potentates and nations, obtaining goods and services for their forbearance and perhaps protection, or at least tokens of respectful subordination. Chinese emperors wanted no more than that, and unlike most recipients, not infrequently gave gifts more valuable than the tribute they received (as did many Byzantine emperors, by the way).

What is peculiar to China’s political culture, and of very great contemporary relevance is the centrality within it of a very specific doctrine on how to bring powerful foreigners—indeed foreigners initially more powerful than the empire—into a tributary relationship.

Be sure to read on in order to find out how it would be applied to us.

25 Jun 2014

“Six Years of Continual Foreign Policy Failure”

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ObamaTothe-rescue

Walter Russell Mead delivers, what Andrew Sullivan calls, “a majestically sweeping indictment of everything [P]resident Obama has achieved in foreign policy over the last six years.”

One wishes we had a Republican President right now if only because when a Republican is in the White House, the media and the chattering classes believe they have a solemn moral duty to categorize and analyze the failures of American strategy and policy. Today that is far from the case; few in the mainstream press seem interested in tracing the full and ugly course of the six years of continual failure that dog the footsteps of the hapless Obama team in a region the White House claimed to understand. Nothing important has gone right for the small and tightly knit team that runs American Middle East policy. Most administrations have one failure in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking; this administration has two, both distinctly more ignominious and damaging than average. The opening to the Middle East, once heralded by this administration as transformative, has long vanished; no one even talks about the President’s speeches in Cairo and Istanbul anymore, unless regional cynics are looking for punch lines for bitter jokes. The support for the “transition to democracy” in Egypt ended on as humiliating a note as the “red line” kerfuffle in Syria. The spectacular example of advancing human rights by leading from behind in Libya led to an unmitigated disaster from which not only Libya but much of north and west Africa still suffers today.

Rarely has an administration so trumpeted its superior wisdom and strategic smarts; rarely has any American administration experienced so much ignominious failure, or had its ignorance and miscalculation so brutally exposed. No one, ever, will call this administration’s Middle East policies to date either competent or wise—though the usual press acolytes will continue to do what they can to spread a forgiving haze over the strategic collapse of everything this White House has attempted, as they talk about George W. Bush at every chance they get.

Now, from the ruins of the Obama Administration’s Middle East strategy, the most powerful and dangerous group of religious fanatics in modern history has emerged in the heart of the Middle East. The rise of ISIS is a strategic defeat of the first magnitude for the United States and its allies (as well as countries like Russia and even China). It is a perfect storm of bad policy intersecting with troubled times to create the gravest threat to U.S. and world stability since the end of the Cold War.

The mainstream press and the professional chatterboxes of the news shows need to set aside their squeamishness at poring over the details of a major strategic failure by a liberal Democrat. The rise of ISIS/ISIL is a disaster that must be examined and understood. How could the U.S. government have been caught napping by the rise of a new and hostile power in a region of vital concern? What warning signs were missed, what opportunities were lost—and why? What role did the administration’s trademark dithering and hairsplitting over aid to ISIS’s rivals in the Syrian opposition play in the rise of the radicals?

Read the whole thing.

14 Jun 2014

Looking For Obama’s Foreign Policy?

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ObamasForeignPolicy

Hat tip to Clarice Feldman.

20 May 2014

Charles Lipson on Obama’s Foreign Policy Meltdown

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My Yale classmate, Charles Lipson is Professor of Political Science, specializing in international relations and international political history, at the University of Chicago.

This Chicago Tribune editorial demonstrates that Obama has lost the moderate professoriate,

At a recent meeting with two dozen Chicago leaders, some Democrats, some Republicans, I asked a simple question, “Can anyone name a significant American achievement in world affairs over the past five years?”

The room was completely silent. Since the group had traveled widely, I posed a second question, “Have any of you visited countries where relations with America are better than five years ago?” Again, silence.

These were people who zip all over the globe and deal with senior officials. Many had backed Barack Obama’s historic presidential candidacy in 2008 and his re-election in 2012. Yet they were stumped when asked to name any recent achievement in American foreign policy.

Over the past few months, I have posed the same questions to a variety of groups, some American, some European and Asian. Can anyone think of a major American success on the global stage? Can anyone name a stronger bilateral relationship? Silence. There’s usually an awkward pause before they begin grumbling about America’s sinking stature and incoherent policies. …

Today, the Obama strategy is a smoking ruin, torched by reality. That’s why nobody, including Hillary Clinton, can name any foreign policy achievements. The president has not acknowledged these gaping failures or devised a new approach beyond his rhetorical “pivot to Asia,” which infuriated our allies in Europe and the Middle East.

The president needs to articulate a coherent new strategy to contain a belligerent Russia, a rising China, a nuclear-obsessed Iran, and a resurgent al-Qaida terror network. He needs to finalize trade agreements with Europe and Asia, both to buttress our economy and to strengthen our alliances. He needs to stop voting “present” on the Keystone XL pipeline and give Canada an up-or-down decision. He needs to assure Europe that America is rapidly developing alternatives to its dependence on Russian natural gas. In short, he needs to stop lurching, rudderless, from crisis to crisis, outmaneuvered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Iranian mullahs, and even the Syrian Baathists. It’s time for the president to discard his old, failed strategy, formulate a new approach, and offer some leadership before he, too, passes the baton.

This editorial is behind a subscription firewall. To get around it, just Google “America’s meltdown abroad.”

12 Sep 2012

How To Respond

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Islamist mob with some members wearing Guy Fawkes masks storms US Embassy in Cairo to tear down US flag on September 11.

On September 11th, the anniversary of the murder of 3000 innocent US civilians by Islamist fanatics, Muslim mobs attacked American diplomatic facilities in Cairo and Benghazi.

In Cairo, the mob merely tore down and desecrated the American flag, but in Benghazi a local militia stormed and burned the US consulate and murdered four diplomatic personnel (and several, at least two, Marine guards defending them).

So what should an American president do?

I have a few suggestions for Mr. Obama.

1) Freeze all Libyan and Egyptian assets.

2) Cancel all aid to Libya and Egypt.

3) Announce rewards for delivery to US military authorities of mullahs and militia leaders responsible for the riots and all prominent participants.

4) Launch cruise missile attacks on several principal Islamicist sites, including mosques, militia headquarters, &c. in Benghazi and Cairo. In the selection of targets, err on the side of excess.

5) Demand reparations of $10 billion from Libya, $1 billion from Egypt. (Russia received a very large and historic diamond in compensation in 1829 from Persia after the murder of its ambassador by a similar mob.

5) Announce a US Naval and Air embargo on flights and shipping from both countries to be sustained until the perpetrators have been captured and delivered and reparations have been paid. Shoot down any attempted flights, sink any ships trying to enter or leave the territorial waters of Libya or Egypt.

6) The President should make a speech informing the Islamic world that the United States will no longer regard extremist groups committing outrages against Americans or citizens of other civilized nations as distinct and separate from the governments of the same Islamic states which harbor them, fail to prevent their actions, and whose citizens provide their funding. Henceforward, any attack by Islamic extremists on Americans or citizens of allied civilized nations will be avenged promptly and with the utmost severity by similar acts of war directed at the governments, civil populations, national properties, and in particular Islamic religious sites on such a scale as which will cause Muslims everywhere to rue the day they permitted those extremists to act in their name. We are strong, Muslims are weak, and we will in future no longer refrain from avenging our people.


Islamist mob parades the body of murdered US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi.


A slightly enlarged version of this Google map of Benghazi identifies locations of mosques.

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CORRECTION, 9/13:

No Marines were killed, because evidently no Marines were present at the Benghazi Consulate to defend the ambassador. Politico.

Some commenters here have claimed that the photograph (which seems to have originated from a South Asian news source) shows Libyans trying to assist the ambassador. I think the photo image is indefinite. It isn’t clear whether Stevens is dead or barely alive, and the viewer cannot tell exactly what the men around him are doing. I simply quoted the original sources.

There are also reports today that Ambassador Stevens was raped by the mob before his death.

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