One of the many lowlights of this administration has been its many foreign policy failures. Many, if not most, are attributable to a lack of leadership and an abdication of the US’s role in world politics. As most observers of international politics have understood for centuries, when one power withdraws or becomes weak, other powers will both test it and fill the vacuum their withdrawal creates.
The NY Post editorial board provides a perfect example of this administration’s poor “policy” concerning Syria:
Secretary of State John Kerry says Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad has got to go. Where have we heard that one before?
Of course, it’s been a regular refrain of President Obama and both of his secretaries of state — Hillary Clinton even more than Kerry — for years now.
Kerry repeated the demand after talks with the British foreign secretary last week — but with one new wrinkle: Assad must step aside, said Kerry — but there’ s no rush. He added: “We’re not being doctrinaire about the specific date or time; we’re open.”
Not only is he not being “doctrinaire” he’s broadcasting weakness like a clear channel radio station. “We’re open” tells the world they haven’t a plan, a demand, or frankly, a clue. He’s telling Syria, and specifically Assad, that there is nothing to fear from the US. Nothing.
Remember those red lines we drew? Disappearing ink. Once they were crossed, it was like they never existed.
Cue the power vacuum. And, who moves in?
And the situation just got infinitely more complicated by Russia’s active military involvement in Syria. As Kerry said, the Russians “are bringing in more equipment to shore up Assad at the same time they say they are going after” ISIS.
That position, he said, has “a lack of logic.”
No: It makes perfect sense when Washington has abdicated leadership. Nature abhors a vacuum — especially on the world stage.
Exactly. What, you may ask, is in it for Russia? Well, for one it can put a thumb in the eye of the US (and it is). But it also helps reestablish old “client links” that the former USSR had in the area. And, as Russia works with Iran to defeat ISIS, it establishes links there and it is in a position to have a big say in Iraq. And it certainly makes sense that should Russia help Assad hang on and retake the country, Putin would have a solid client state in the middle east from which to base Russia’s influence operation.
So what has the US done? Well, according to testimony given last week before Congress, we’ve spent half a billion dollars training up 4 or 5 soldiers in an anti-ISIS effort. In fact, the effort has been so poor and haphazard that the chief anti-ISIS coordinator, ex-Gen. John Allen, is leaving out of frustration with the lack of a strategy or results.
Meanwhile our Secretary of State is left weakly complaining:
Meanwhile, Kerry complains that “Assad has refused to have a serious discussion and Russia has refused to help bring him to the table in order to do that. So that’s why we are where we are.”
Why in the world should Assad have a serious discussion with a paper tiger? Or Russia for that matter? What in the world is the downside for either if they don’t cooperate?
More disappearing red lines?
According to some, that’s exactly what is happening:
While no one is predicting that the Islamic State will become the steward of an accountable, functioning state anytime soon, the group is putting in place the kinds of measures associated with governing: issuing identification cards for residents, promulgating fishing guidelines to preserve stocks, requiring that cars carry tool kits for emergencies. That transition may demand that the West rethink its military-first approach to combating the group.
“I think that there is no question that the way to look at it is as a revolutionary state-building organization,” said Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is one of a small but growing group of experts who are challenging the conventional wisdom about the Islamic State: that its evil ensures its eventual destruction.
Granted, the tools it uses to establish and maintain control are terror and violence, however that’s not much different than hundreds of totalitarian regimes throughout history. And, at this point, it is in its first generation of “rulers”, which means they’re likely to be the most true to their warped “principles”. So corruption, pre se, isn’t yet a problem (they’re too frightened of their own organization to accept bribes, for instance).
Remember history, say the experts:
Drawing on parallels from history, experts say, the group’s violence can be seen in a different light. Mr. Walt mentioned the guillotine of the French Revolution, and the atrocities of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Communist one in China — imperfect analogies, to be sure, but ones that underscored the violence and oppression that can precede creation of a revolutionary state.
Then there’s Pol Pot’s Cambodia. It finally failed, but the same formula was applied there.
The problem, of course, is this isn’t the way it had to be. Certainly the left will say “if that evil Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq, it wouldn’t be that way”. Well with people often disappearing into wood chippers in Saddam’s day, Iraq was already that way.
The problem, as we face it now, really comes down to ideology and neglect – squarely placed in this administration’s lap. Gen. Ray Odeirno, outgoing Army Chief of Staff, said as much in an interview:
But Odierno had pointed words on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria – suggesting it didn’t have to be this way.
“It’s frustrating to watch it,” Odierno said. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”
Odierno said the fall of large parts of Iraq was not inevitable, reiterating concerns about the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal there.
“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” he said. “I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”
But this administration wasn’t interested in staying longer regardless of the possible negative outcome of pulling troops from Iraq early. It had a campaign promise to fulfill, one of the few it ever has fulfilled. So it made routine SOFA negotiations impossible for Iraq to agree with, then blamed the lack of an agreement on Iraq and pulled our troops out before the job was done – giving ISIS the opportunity to rise.
Odierno made it clear that wasn’t the only problem we’ve let ‘rise’:
“Two years ago, we didn’t think we had a problem in Europe. … [Now] Russia is reasserting themselves. We didn’t think we’d have a problem again in Iraq and ISIS has emerged.
“So, with Russia becoming more of a threat, with ISIS becoming more of a threat, in my mind, we are on a dangerous balancing act right now with capability.”
The answer to these problems? Cut the end strength of the Army so we’re even less capable.
Can’t you just feel it?
We’re in good hands.
In which we advocate Global Thermonuclear War, then peter off into banality. On the Podcast page.
There’s a lot going on but not much that needs a long and laborious explanation or rant.
The Clinton Foundation and our former Secretary of State are really starting to stink it up. And my guess is there’s a lot more to come. Years ago Terry Goodkind wrote a book called “Wizard’s first rule”. The Clinton’s operate by that rule. The rule? “People are stupid”. And there’s a Clinton corollary – “so is the media”. They’ve operated off of that rule and corollary for decades. They don’t see any reason to stop now.
The administration is claiming it has killed 10,000 ISIS members since it began its campaign of airstrikes. Most people in the know doubt that number is anywhere near the truth and that, in fact, it’s much, much lower. Here’s why:
Three out of every four times that Obama dispatches American warplanes over Iraq, they return to base without dropping any bombs or firing any missiles.
“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target,” said U.S. Army General (ret) Jack Keane in testimony before the U.S. Senate last week.
That’s why White House and Pentagon briefers usually talk about the number of sorties, not the number of air strikes. The number of missions flown is four times larger than the number of bombing runs.
There’s a simple fix, but it is politically unpalatable to the “lead from behind” crowd:
Gen. Keane offered a straightforward solution. “Forward air controllers fix that problem,” he said.
You know, “boots on the ground?” Doing what they’re doing is sort of like firing artillery without forward observers. Yeah, you’re likely to hit something every now and then, but is it really effective? Uh, no.
Apparently ISIS acted as our own forward air controllers:
“Defense Tech reports that at a Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington DC on Monday, General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, shared a story of how a careless social media post directly led to an airstrike against ISIS.”
While that is all well and good and wonderful, my question is why we have a General out there sharing this intel?
“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL,” Carlisle said.
“And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”
He was careful not to share sensitive details about the location of the building and airstrike, but he noted how ISIS’ enthusiasm of social media was turned against them in this case.
“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Incredible work when you think about [it].”
He shared a timeframe for a mission to be put together and why they were successful. Who is the real “moron” here? Before ISIS may have been guessing why they were hit. Now they know.
This is going to disappoint the enviro-whacko crowd:
A decade into an energy boom led by hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded there is no evidence the practice has had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.”
The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry.
Yeah, fracking has only been around 66 years and been used on a million wells. One might think that if there were a drinking water problem it would have been discovered before now.
That won’t stop the narrative however. “Science” is only useful when it backs that narrative. When it doesn’t, it’s just to be ignored. See “climate change”.
Another liberal professor speaks out about the SJW “crisis” on campus:
The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.
Hey, you created it. You get to live with it. Either that or you grow a pair and take academia back.
Finally, in the “out of control government” category, we have this little jewel:
IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.
The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off-the-books and never paid taxes in the first place.
Now, these are “laws” the Obama administration is more than happy to follow. Pay up, sucker.
The new podcast us up on the Podcast page.
To describe our State Department (and it’s spokes person) as boneheaded is an insult to boneheaded people. Here’s State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf and, of all people, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: How do we stop this? I don’t see it. I see the Shia militias coming out of Baghdad who are all Shia. The Sunnis hate them. The Sunnis are loyal to ISIS rather than going in with the Shia. You’ve got the Kurds, the Jordanian air force and now the Egyptian air force. But i don’t see any — If i were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. I can figure there is no existential threat to these people. They can keep finding places where they can hold executions and putting the camera work together, getting their props ready and killing people for show. And nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.
HARF: Well, I think there’s a few stages here. Right now what we’re doing is trying to take their leaders and their fighters off the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. That’s really where they flourish.
MATTHEWS: Are we killing enough of them?
HARF: We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether —
MATTHEWS: We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime or fifty lifetimes. There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor muslims, and as long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing and they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?
HARF: We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people…
Good grief, these people don’t want better “governance” and they’ve got the job they want … building the Caliphate. For heaven sake when are these ass-clowns going to wake up?
I’m again going to recommend an article that does the best analysis and explanation of ISIS that you’re going to find. It is very clear that those who rally to the ISIS banner think they’re building a righteous future with the Caliphate and that what they’re doing is preordained by their religion.
But the fools who run this country and our foreign policy – that would be the White House and State Department – are terrified of facing the threat and calling it what it is. It’s absurd and cowardly. It makes them come up with the sorts of pitiful nonsense that Harf is told to go out and spread.
This is a religious movement which is based, at its very core, on Islam. It is as religious a movement as you can get. In fact, as explained in the Atlantic article I’ve pointed you too, it is based in a literal interpretation of Islam’s holy book and its history. Let me hit you with that one particular quote again:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Note what the author points out – that “pretending it isn’t actually religious … has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.”
See above! Harf is just a symptom of the idiocy and cowardice that infests our highest levels of government. When you refuse to actually identify the enemy and his motivation, you cannot hope to devise and develop a plan to counter his threat. History is littered with the failure such nonsense brings. Chamberlin thought Hitler could be reasoned with and would keep his word. He was clueless. And, as such, he developed a “strategy” that was an abject failure and, in fact, played right into Hitler’s hands.
Obama and Kerry are no different. They refuse to face the reality of the threat. That’s why we have no strategy, or at least no strategy (patience? really?) that will counter the threat. What they are doing is cowardly and reprehensible, not to mention being derelict in their sworn duties. This is unacceptable, but then neither Obama nor Kerry have ever been mistaken as leaders.
And when you elect or appoint people with no leadership experience and no real world experience, you get this. Something 50% of the idiots who live in this country approve of (sorry, I’m a little grumpy today).
I’m sure you’ve been at least keeping tabs on the drama in Sidney, Australia (now thankfully concluded). When you watch some of what passes for reporting these days, you sometimes get an indication of how poor the journalism of today is:
Despite the Sydney, Australia hostage-taker displaying a flag reading in Arabic, ”There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God,” despite his being a self-proclaimed sheikh and despite his demand that police give him an ISIS flag, MSNBC “The Rundown” host José Diaz-Balart wondered if Iranian-born Man Haron Monis is motivated by Islam at all. (VIDEO: NBC Journo: Islamic Lone Wolf Terrorism ‘Not A Religious Issue’)
“Could very well be he’s hiding behind the flag of Islam to just deal with his own criminal past,” Diaz-Balart said. “It may have very little to do with it. It’s still too early to tell.”
Yet, when it comes to lynch mobs on little other than here-say evidence, we get the full narrative treatment – take the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, or better yet, Ferguson. In both cases, the media played judge, jury and lynch mob with hysteria driven reports that had no real basis in fact. In fact, precisely what all the talking heads and other experts claimed came to be absolutely false.
Meanwhile, Islam gets the benefit of the doubt even when it appears that perpetrator in this case had a history of religious fueled violence. Like the shootings at Ft. Hood were a simple matter of “workplace violence”, this is just some guy using Islam as front to hide his “criminal past”.
The simple question I wish someone would put to the reporter is “why?” If he’s simply a criminal, why would he care about his past?
Oh, I know – too early to tell.
Apparently we “underestimated” ebola and ISIS, but when it comes to the economy and our well being, our man in the White House did us proud, but we’re just not apt enough to realize that. From Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview:
Steve Kroft: You’ve got midterm elections coming up. Are you going to get shellacked?
President Obama: Well…
Steve Kroft: Or do you think that, I mean, are you optimistic? What are the issues and what are you going to tell the American people?
President Obama: Here’s what I’m going to tell the American people. When I came into office, our economy was in crisis. We had unemployment up at 10 percent. It’s now down to 6.1. We’ve had the longest run of uninterrupted private sector job growth in our history. We have seen deficits cut by more than half. Corporate balance sheets are probably the best they’ve been in the last several decades. We are producing more energy than we had before. We are producing more clean energy than we ever had before. I can put my record against any leader around the world in terms of digging ourselves out of a terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis. Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” In this case, are you better off than you were in six? And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office, but now we have to make…
Steve Kroft: Do you think people will feel that?
President Obama: They don’t feel it. And the reason they don’t feel it is because incomes and wages are not going up. There are solutions to that. If we raise the minimum wage, if we make sure women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work, if we are rebuilding our infrastructure, if we’re doing more to invest in job training so people are able to get the jobs that are out there right now, because manufacturing is coming back to this country. Not just the auto industry that we’ve saved, but you’re starting to see reinvestment here in the United States. Businesses around the world are saying for the first time in a long time, “The place to invest isn’t in China. It’s the United States.”
So there you go. When you ask the salient question (are you better off now than you were 6 years ago), you dumbasses always give the wrong answer. You ARE better off because our King says so. Screw the fact that “income and wages” are not going up, or the labor participation rates is at historic lows or real unemployment is considerably higher than the manipulated number! You’re better off, dammit! And government can fix the wage problem – you know, just raise the minimum wage for heaven sake.
Given that level of cluelessness, are you at all surprised this administration underestimated ISIS and ebola?
The new podcast is up at the Podcast Page.
Or, the “strategy” to “manage” ISIS, if you prefer. The Washington Post today, calls whatever the administration is trying to put together to confront ISIS “underpowered”. I think they’re being kind about it because they still want access to their administration sources. If what they report is true, it’s a failure before it is even attempted.
In Paris on Monday, two dozen governments pledged to help fight the extremists “by any means necessary, including military assistance.” But only a handful — not yet including Britain — have so far agreed to participate in air combat missions in Iraq, and none has yet signed on to support prospective U.S. air strikes in Syria. Nor is any sending combat troops.
The attenuated support reflects in part the complicated politics of the fight against the Islamic State, which controls a New England-size swath of territory across Iraq and Syria and commands tens of thousands of militants. Neighbors such as Turkey and Jordan are reluctant to openly join the fight, for fear of becoming targets of the terrorists. Sunni rulers are loath to fight on the same side as the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad or Iran — which, for its part, loudly declared Monday that it had rejected a U.S. cooperation proposal.
Note the emerging strategy – air combat missions. War from 20,000 feet. Pin-pricks whose effectiveness depends on good intel and timely intervention. And this administration is going to coordinate that? The administration that couldn’t even build a website? Note also that the missions are only agreed too for Iraq. None of these erstwhile allies has agreed to any in Syria. Result? ISIS has a safehaven. Yeah, we’ve never, ever seen that before have we?
So why are they reluctant? Lack of leadership by the US, plain and simple:
In large part, however, the restraint has been fostered by President Obama himself. As The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported, Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation of his top military commanders that U.S. Special Operations forces be deployed to assist Iraqi army units in fighting the rebels, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the administration has turned aside troop offers by other nations. “There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway,”he told CBS News’s Bob Schieffer.
ISIS has to only guard against airstrikes? A group who butchers people on a daily basis would never consider human shields or setting up in schools or hospitals would they? And in Syria … they don’t even have to worry about it, do they? ISIS has cowed the Iraqi armed forces, the Kurds are playing defense, they’re free to roam Syria and we don’t need any troops on the ground at all? Yeah, because, you know, all we need are airstrikes.
But this is what most amazed me about the “strategy”:
Mr. Kerry said Monday that defeating the Islamic State will depend in part on non-combat initiatives such as discrediting its ideology, stopping the flow of jihadist volunteers and providing political and material support to the new Iraq government.
Non-combat initiatives like discrediting their ideology? Really? Again, we’ve been so successful doing that in the past 20 years, haven’t we? That’s why they’re such a small and declining group (wait, we were told that Al Qaida was kaput a while back weren’t we?). Oh, and the rich part? An administration that can’t even control its own southern border is going to stop the flow of jihadist volunteers … in the Middle East? What a freakin’ laugh riot that talking point is. Meanwhile, in a country that is under armed attack by a vicious army of murderers, Obama and the guys are going to provide “political and material support” to the new Iraqi government … but none that really helps stem the tide of the threatening jihadists controlling a large portion of their country … except of pinprick airstrikes to which ISIS will adapt (mark my words on that one).
This is going to end up being another of those half-assed attempts driven by polls (aka wag the dog) which, on its face, is simply a failure waiting to happen. This administration has no idea of what is required to face down and destroy ISIS (or any enemy for that matter). And it isn’t really going to attempt it. If anything it is going to attempt to talk ISIS to death. But as a real-time strategy, if what above is any indication of the administration’s intent, it’s a bust.
But then, what would one expect from an administration that is going to send 3,000 troops to Africa to “battle ebola”, but won’t send any to battle a real, honest-to-goodness enemy in Iraq?