Appease This!

Foreign policy under Obama is not much different from what we would have expected had Bush stayed for a third term.

On April 1, 2001, a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter collided over the South China Sea, forcing the Americans to make an emergency landing on Chinese soil. But the Chinese government said it would not release the crew until it got an apology.

The Bush administration tried to find other ways to satisfy the Chinese. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed regret. Then the president did the same. No result.

Vice President Dick Cheney said the U.S. would not apologize. He was wrong. In the end, the administration got the crew back only after sending the Chinese a letter saying it was “very sorry.”

It was such a humiliating outcome that Mitt Romney accused George W. Bush of “apologizing for America,” adopting “a policy of appeasement” and being “timid and weak.”

Just kidding. Romney has used those words, but he wasn’t talking about Bush. He was talking about Barack Obama.

Yes, Obama. The same president who ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, ordered a military surge in Afghanistan, took out dozens of jihadists in Pakistan with drone missiles, used American air power to topple Moammar Gadhafi and stuck to the Iraq timetable set by his predecessor.

Rick Santorum agrees with Romney on Obama, saying that “for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, he has had nothing but appeasement.” Newt Gingrich accuses the president of “weakness, appeasement and timidity.”

The problem with Romney and other Republican leaders is not so much that they are wrong but that they have taken up residence in a bizarre fantasy world where concepts like “true” and “false” have no meaning. They operate on the model suggested by Bush political adviser Karl Rove, who famously ridiculed those in “the reality-based community.”

Reality, however, has a way of trumping delusions. Calling Obama an appeaser is like calling Eli Manning a klutz. The only thing odder than saying it is expecting anyone to believe it.

But the appeasement line is a treasured and durable GOP theme. Republicans used it successfully in the 1970s against George McGovern and Jimmy Carter.

They revived it to pummel Democrats who opposed aid to the Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s, the first war with Iraq in 1991 and the second war with Iraq in 2003. Whenever Democrats resisted military action favored by Republicans, they got painted bright yellow.

The Republicans tried it again in 2008, accusing Obama of pathetic naivete in offering to talk with North Korea and Iran without preconditions. But the tactic didn’t have its intended effect.

Obama was the guy who said he would go into Pakistan if necessary to get bin Laden -- while GOP nominee John McCain was preaching the need to get along with Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf.

It’s a mystery why they expect this claim to work in 2012. In his approach to foreign policy and national security, Obama has done many things that, if President McCain had done them, would evoke thunderous ovations at this year’s Republican convention.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. policy under Obama is not much, if any, different from what we would have expected had Bush stayed for a third term. Even when Obama has diverged from previous policy on other issues, the change cannot be detected without a microscope.

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  • Confusius Say||

    Man talk nice to wife, get the down-low.

  • Almanian||


  • Steve||

    The only difference is that Obama is not willing to spend enough money on the military.

  • Barack Obama||

    I gotta do something to justify that Nobel Peace Prize, and I'm sure not going to stop killing people, so...

  • ||

    Cranking up the spending from 'more than we can afford' to 'way more than we can afford' is not spending enough money? No, the only real difference is that the media supports the nobel peace prize winning warmonger and cheers every time he does something they would've cursed his predecessor for.

  • Zeb||

    We're talking about what Republicans say, not actual reality. For them any reduction in the projected rate of increase of military spending is a crippling cut.

  • BigTime Stock Investor||

    When Obama says he'll cut military spending is the time to load up on defense-industry stocks.

  • rather||

    What if history was written on the what if 'nots'?

  • NotSure||

    What if one day something you write makes sense ?

  • rather||

    What if one day you got laid
    -you'd be so less bitchy

  • NotSure||

    Coming from the uberbitch, does that imply you have cobwebs in your cunt ?

  • rather||

    No, only teeth

  • more like noclass unterbitch||

  • rather||

    "noclass unterbitch"
    the tackiness is in the saying

  • ||

    And here we are back to Chapman the Obama apologist who has never heard of Ron Paul except when he dismisses him.

    The problem with Romney and other Republican leaders is not so much that they are wrong but that they have taken up residence in a bizarre fantasy world where concepts like “true” and “false” have no meaning.

    Let's see, Chapman mentions Romney, Gingrich and Santorum. Are there any other people running on the Republican ticket who aren't disingenuous war-mongers?

    Fuck this guy.

  • ||

    This makes no sense. Paul is not the one accusing Obama of being an "apologist".

    Most Republicans consider Paul a closet liberal in any case.

  • Almanian||


    THAT GUY?!!


  • o3||

    ron paul = death to israel = SATAN!

  • Brandon||

    Should've changed your handle to "John" for that post.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Chapman is most certainly a douche, but in this case he's right.

    I think the appeaser attack against Obama has more to do with how he ran in 2008 and what he says than the reality of his actions since.

  • Thinks gays are icky||

    Maybe he didn't mention Ron Paul because there was no need to mention Ron Paul in an article about how Republicans are wrong about foreign interventionism.

  • NotSure||

    Agree with this article, both sides are equally keen on going to war, there is no principled stand against war, criticism only comes when the opposing party is doing the warring.

    The Chinese only asked for an apology when the US spy plane got caught. The Americans would probably declare war if there was a Chinese spy plane flying over them.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's only because of the
    Chinese cultural concept of "face".

    They'd rather go to war than apologize for something.

  • ||

    Having not paid attention to the Republican debates, I'm not sure what this article is responding to. The Administration hasn't appeased - they have just consistently made bad decisions.

    He supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and participated in the NATO adventure in Libya - because?

    He snubs our long-time friends in Israel - to show other leaders what American friendship is worth?

    Here is the counterargument.

  • shrike||

    You're full of shit. No one "supported" the Muslim Brotherhood - they just happened to fill part of the power void the Egyptian military didn't. Just like Al Sadr and the Iranian Shia' did in Iraq when we took out their thug at a cost of $900 billion.

  • NotSure||

    Accusing others of being full of shit, then at the same time believing that the Christian Taliban is after them ???

  • shrike||

    Yeah, the Old Sponge is full of shit. Nothing but Fox News propaganda.

    "Snubbed" Israel? What a fucking idiot. We just vetoed Palestinian statehood and sold Israel bunker-busters for the first time. I know a fucking spoon-fed idiot when I see one.

  • NotSure||

    Israel, Palestine, Fox News ??? WTF does that have to do with anything ? Are you trying to be the champion of incoherent ramblings or something ?

  • Almanian||

    Good luck with that as long as rectal's still around...

  • ||

    Reason seriously needs to purge the liberaltarian writers who attract douchbags like you. Go back to PMSNBC.

  • ||


  • shrike||

    Save your denials. I'm on to you christfags!

  • KPres||

    Mostly they wanted Mubarek to stay in power, which was probably the right position given that a mild dictator is better than a democracy in an illiberal culture.

  • ||

    It was obvious who was waiting in the wings if Mubarek went down.

  • Bahrain||


  • Fatty Bolger||

    Soccer hooligans.

  • Killazontherun||

    You are certainly right about that, though.

  • kbolino||

    The Egyptian Army?

  • Killazontherun||

    Our buddies, the Israelis? You know, the people who constantly implicate Americans for their own crimes,0

    while we hand over billions to them for nothing in return. Our buddies the Israelis who bought military secrets from Pollard and then went on to sell them to the Soviets?

    Those allies? You know there is an old saying that begins. 'with friends like these . . .'

  • Ha Ha||

    I like that, sheereek: "they just happened to fill....." Admitting the fucking ignorance of your Fearless Leader, huh? Mohammed fag!!!

  • Realist||

    "He snubs our long-time friends in Israel - to show other leaders what American friendship is worth"
    Obama is most certainly anidiot asshole as was Bush.
    But American friendship from the perspective of other contries is send money and men to save us, but they do nothing for us.

  • Joe M||

    Like we care what Chapman thinks. He voted for Obama!

  • ||

    Not only did the idiot vote for Obama, in his last column he claimed that Obama became President to "heal racial and partisan divisions".

    Calling Chapman a hack is unfair to hacks.

  • Killazontherun||

    Tim Cavanaugh made the same argument, but at least he seems bitter about the choice which is the only proper response for someone who made that mistake. Maybe he would be willing to do penance too, something like crawl from his Cali home to the grave of his choice of dead libertarian philosophers, or Barry Goldwater's, and kiss it.

  • Brandon||

    A better penance would be to walk to Chicago so he can register at least 20 votes for Ron Paul.

  • ||

    Appeaser? Obama thinks he should be allowed to kill as many people as he likes, right or wrong, under the pretext of national security. As for Hillary Clinton, she's a bigger warmonger than Dick Cheney.

  • Brandon||

    She's not a bigger warmonger, she's just more insecure about being seen as "weak." Cheney could only get it up while watching brown people die and auto-asphyxiating.

  • ||

    Yeah, plus she needs war to distract from the disastrous economy. So it's all good, right?

  • Almanian||

    I long for the days of, "Steve Chapman is on vacation this week..."

  • Muad Dib||

    I long for the days of 'Steve Chapman has been fired from Reason for his general opposition to reason and logic, his shortsighted arguments, and lack of consistency in anything other than sycophantic banter.'

  • Mike||

    Can you please tell me what is illogical in this piece? Chapman merely points out that Obama's foreign policy is very much like what Bush's would have been were he still President, yet almost all Republican front-runners call him weak in the face of overseas threats as well as militarizing our strategic allies, which is an absurd statement, as he is basically G W Bush II in that regard, even exceeding Bush in some cases! Obama is indeed spineless, but domestically, as he did an abrupt about-face from his campaign rhetoric (big surprise from a politican, I know,) but in this case, the positions to be reversed are so extreme - wiretapping, torture, ability to keep anyone deemed an "enemy combatant" in a Third World hoosegow for life on a whim, initiating hostilities by his say-so, etc, that it is that much more egregious to break those promises than, say, a promise not to raise taxes or cut highway funding.

  • ||

    This is a weird apology for President Toonces. What is "illogical" is that Bush didn't deliver multiple countries to the control of Al-Qaeda(Egypt, Libya, and eventually Yemen). The American taxpayer paid billions to take a country from a harmless(to us anyway) dictator only to give it to AQ's butt buddies.

  • Tony||

    It's the same as Bush's, only competent and not beholden to neocons.

  • Killazontherun||

    Lol! I can't tell. Live or Memorex? Well, at least it is a partisan quip that will surely piss off another partisan clique for whom I don't much care.

  • mgd||

    Potato, potahto--competent, inept. Let's call the whole thing off.

  • Pro-aggressive!||

    With compassionate death-drones.

  • J_L_B||

    For years, the Democrats have tried to fight the soft on national security stigma attached to them.

    Given their history, this is precisely the type of moment where
    they shouldn't be seen as softening our protections against terrorist attacks.

    Like I've said before, any good political aide worth his weight had to have told Obama that any terrorist attack seen as resulting from him weakening US defenses will be GAME OVER for him and the Democrats for a couple of decades.

    With political stakes such as those, who can afford to change policy when the past eight years have been seen as free of major attacks.

  • Dave||

    And if you believe that, I have a magic rock for sale that protects me and all those around me from tiger attacks. The past eight years in the midwest have been free of tiger attacks, all thanks to my magic rock which is guaranteed to be at least as effective as federal security theater.

  • ||

    Gotta just love them bought and paid for politicians. WOw.

  • mgd||

    Obama has now started as many wars kinetic military operations as he inherited. Shouldn't he get a second Nobel Peace Prize?

  • ObeyTheFist||

    Aw, so cute to watch you resonoids beside yourselves when Reason makes sense. If president McCain had accomplished everything Obama has, no democratic competition could keep him from a second term and you all would be barely capable of hiding your raging chub for the guy. Funny how partisan and hypocritical libertarians turn out to be despite their role model RON PAUL being anything but.

  • Ken E.||

    You must be confusing REASON with this crowd.

  • taobaoagent||



  • aaskavind||

    Obama an appeaser? That depends.

    Candidate Obama was a warhawk when he floated the idea of attacking Pakistan. That threat caused a freak-out in Pakistani gov't circles and led to the ouster of Musharaf (a US ally). One could say that the drone strikes killing Pakistani soldiers and the Bin-Laden assassination were a follow through on that threat. Nor was he an appeaser when he assassinated other Al-Qaeda members.

    Plus, Obama also destroyed a geo-political American ally by shilling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. No appeasing there. He went for the political jugular with the cautious introspection of a rabid pitbull. To the chagrin of many in the US, the Muslim Brotherhood now wields considerable more power in Egypt.

    Same can be said for Libya. Khaddafi was a secular US enemy, now the Brotherhood is much stronger with him gone.

    Obama a hawk vs. dictators? Not so much. He does nothing in Syria, whose government is already Brotherhood controlled, even as they slaughter their citizens in the streets. He did nothing when Iran (another Brotherhood state) did the same. Now Iran is on the verge of Nuclear weapons and Obama steers a course that will probably let them get there.

    No, Obama is neither appeaser nor peacemaker. He seems to be making the bet that by undermining Al-Qaeda and throwing the Middle East to the Muslim Brotherhood, he can create a unified Islamic entity that can be negotiated with.

    Risky business, that.

  • ||

    "He does nothing in Syria, whose government is already Brotherhood controlled, even as they slaughter their citizens in the streets. He did nothing when Iran (another Brotherhood state) did the same."

    You really don't know what the Muslim Brotherhood is, or anything else about the Middle East except what Rush tells you, right?

  • ||

    You're looking in the wrong direction, Obama has been a constant appeaser of an isolated, supremacist theocracic ethnocracy armed with at least 200 (undeclared) nuclear weapons whose favorite sport is to terrorizing and making war on the indigenous population. That country is, of course, Israel

  • ||

    Shouldn't you be reading Media Matters?

  • ||

    Steve's half right...which is about as good as can be expected.


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