Barack Obama

Obama's Dismal Record on Foreign Policy

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has not earned his award.


In 2009, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As he himself admitted, the honor wasn't bestowed on him for much he had yet done, but for what he was expected to do. As a candidate Obama got a lot of grief for promising in his nomination acceptance speech that his presidency would be the moment when the rise of the oceans would slow and the Earth would begin to heal, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee didn't help by pinning an award on him based on expected "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Nearly three years later, the fruits of any strengthened international diplomacy or cooperation between peoples are bitter, if they exist at all. In accepting his party's presidential nomination this time around, Obama focused on how long and hard the journey would be, not on the healing at the end of that journey, and less than 40 days from the election the world looks like it is crashing down around him.

At the United Nations General Assembly three Septembers ago, Obama came with the "deeply held belief that in the year 2009—more than at any point in human history—the interests of nations and peoples are shared." He then outlined steps he was taking to restore what he saw as diminished international faith in the United States; he had already prohibited the use of torture, he noted, had ordered Guantanamo Bay shut down, and was "doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law."

This past week the president addressed the U.N. General Assembly from a much less lofty position. Protests had erupted outside American embassies across the Muslim world on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The first protests, like the ones in Jakarta, made no mention of any anti-Islamic film as impetus, only U.S. foreign policy. By the time protests hit Cairo, egged on apparently by the brother of Al Qaeda's new leader, they were pegged to Innocence of Muslims, an anti-Islamic film that first appeared on the Internet months earlier. Perceived fury over the film was apparently used as cover to execute a terrorist operation targeting the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killing America's ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. In full election mode, President Obama's response was to lay all blame for anti-American fervor on the film, even as reports come out this week that his administration identified the Benghazi incident as a terrorist attack within 24 hours.

kabul, pro-american except for a movie

The White House's insistence on blaming the anti-American uproar on a film, despite Libya's insistence otherwise, has led the administration down a bizarre road. World leaders applauded the president this year not for promising to close Guantanamo or restore the rule of law, but for his resolve to defend the right of all Americans to call him "awful things every day." Nevertheless, the president's defense of free speech did not quite extend to the right to blaspheme.

Likewise, Obama's nod to "the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people" could only be lip service, given that he's now three years into a term that has seen the detention center at Guantanamo remain open and the ramping up of a drone war that may have killed as many as 900 civilians since 2004 (mostly since 2009). Among those killed was the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, and his teenage son, who was collateral damage. Al-Awlaki was accused of having terrorist connections with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, may also have been a potential informant for the FBI and was separately held in custody by them before being let go. He had been indicted for no crime at the time of his death.

benghazi, 9/11

Meanwhile, the immediate political aftermath of the Benghazi attack focused not on the Obama administration's bungling of the narrative and security failure, but on Republican candidate Mitt Romney's ill-timed reaction, which came before news of the ambassador's murder was known, and which blamed Obama for apologizing for American values instead of protecting Americans first.

The upcoming presidential debates look to be equally depressing. The first debate to focus on foreign policy will occur on October 22, and unfortunately for voters interested in real change, few functional differences between the two candidates are likely to appear. Both sides remain committed to maintaining America's bloody and costly foreign entanglements. Voters looking for hope and change in the foreign policy realm won't find it this year on either major party ticket.

NEXT: Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Looper

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  1. Bush III

  2. Worst. President. Ever.

    Some lefties tell me that he will be seen as great by history, but as more time passes he looks worse and worse to me.

    1. He will be seen as great by history because the lefties write the history books which will all be full of lies and spin.

      1. Maybe, but eventually some sheppard will find the comments from HitampersandRun stored in clay jars in a cave…..

        1. ‘This lobster girl seems to be some sort of primitive fertility goddess’

        2. Suthenboy| 9.29.12 @ 1:18PM |#

          Maybe, but eventually some sheppard …

          Oh, but the Sheppard Fairy already discovered teh Obama.

          And just to keep the whole Dead Sea scrolls thing going… what the fuck would a shepherd be doing on the side of a cliff? Do sheep also scale rock walls? Also interesting = Muhammed edh-Dhib, the aforementioned sheepfucker, sold the scrolls for *$29*. Which is a think one of the earliest proofs that Jews always drive a hard bargain. “Word of god, ay? Seems a little pricey… how about $20 and this beautiful watch? No, it doesn’t tell time, but neither can you!…”

          1. He sold some of the scrolls to a dealer for $29. I seriously doubt he was Jewish considering Jews and Arabs were not exactly living side by side in the West Bank in the 1940s.

        3. I wonder which H+R commenter will be judged the greatest by future historians?

          Actually I don’t wonder. I know.

          1. I would agree that it’s me if not for HERCULES TRIATHLON SAVINON. Man I miss that guy. If Reason didn’t give an invite to register…

      2. Still, you are correct. The average african american today knows more about the plagiarist Alex Haley’s imaginary kunta kinte than they do about Fredrick Douglas or Thomas Sowell.

        I never watch The View, so I missed Ann Coulter’s appearance on that show. I had to go look it up on here after I heard about it. Wow. Whoopie Cushion completely missed Ann’s point, completely ignored every fact that is a matter of record, and stuck strictly to the left’s approved narrative with plenty of over-the-top outrage. There is nothing president downgrade can do to lose his most loyal followers. If he raped babies on live TV they would still fellate him daily.

    2. To be fair, a lot of conservatives said the same thing about Bush

      1. They were being smug overconfident assholes and many of them eventually pulled their heads out. Obama’s followers are a dangerous zealous cult.

      2. Bush had a fan club what Obama has in not a fan club.

      3. As a small-l libertarian who admittedly leans more Republican, it wasn’t this bad, Cali. And where it was, it was confined to party members, not members of the ostensibly-neutral media. Even in the sea of retarded, fascistic branding like, “W: The President”, they never did anything as creepy and cult-like as that hand drawing thing.

        Obama may not be able to kill babies on national TV with impunity, but I’m finding new floors to his behavior that his followers will still tolerate and extol. I am hoping it does not end with one form or another of metaphorical Kool-Aide.

      4. Guys, I wasn’t trying to say that the Republicans’ devotion to Bush was as bad as the cult of Obama, just that I heard that line about “history will eventually regard him as a great president” a lot from conservatives

        1. I never heard that one but my condolences for your ears. That had to hurt.

          1. In 2007 there was a lot of talk from the GOP about we should leave it to history to decide whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were justified.

            1. I heard a lot of idiots on the right claim that Bush’s reputation would improve with age, ala Truman’s.

              1. Could it get worse? Particularly in view of the black jeebus following in his footsteps.

                1. Hoover caused the Great Depression. FDR saved us from it.

      5. What?

        Bush wasn’t even a conservative…he was a “compassionate conservative” aka big government guy

        Sure, some on the religious right liked him, but he was basically like Romney…there wasn’t anyone better.

        1. Bush wasn’t even a conservative…he was a “compassionate conservative” aka big government guy

          This only makes his case stronger for “historians.”

    3. I just wish presidents would recede back into the roll of head magistrate instead of Crusaders-in-Chief. But the presidential cult will continue to live on.

      Once we have giant marble statues to living presidents, their transition to warrior kings will be complete.

      1. Do dual autobiographies count?

    4. He’ll be seen as great by mediocre historians in the future, I have little doubt. If they can turn the consensus around on Truman’s overall record, they can do it on anybody.

      1. If they can turn the consensus around on Truman’s overall record, they can do it on anybody


    5. Right-wingers said the same about Bush.

      It’s the sort of sanctimonious clap-trap that you say when you can’t defend a President on his own merits without people laughing at you.

    6. So you put a negro in charge of your country, and you’re surprised when it ends up like every other country run by negroes? Duh!

      1. Yeah, it’s almost as surprising as finding an inbred racist who’s too much of a pussy to come out and say that he’s racist, but who’s just enough of a pussy to post an idiotic “just asking questions”-esque comment alluding to that worldview.

      2. Go die in a fire, racist shithead.

        1. Hey man he’s just sayin’ how much of a racist shithead he is. It came with a disclaimer!

      3. Successful troll is successful.

      4. OK let me try. You put a Harvard Law guy in charge of a government, and then you are surprised when it ends up like every other government run by a Harvard Law guy? Duh!

  3. “In 2009, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”

    And no one seems capable of embarrassment.

    1. Outstanding. In a sea of incisive commentary, this is the spout of a surfacing whale.
      Doesn’t it just say it all!

  4. Anyone seen this? (Re: Rand Paul and Abby Martin)

    I’m surprised it hasn’t turned up here since it’s been all over the facetwitters. Just curious what others here make of it.

    1. Rand’s body language is just plain not heterosexual, I couldn’t run away from something as pretty as Ms. Martin if she was asking about the dead hookers I left back at the hotel that morning.

    2. Sorry….he lost me with ‘build a burger puppet’.

      1. See, now that made me hungry.

        Gonna go to the kitchen and mix up some chopped red onion, garlic, cayenne, chopped jalepenos and a little powdered chipolte from Penzey’s in some hamburger meat. I will wrap the patties in bacon. It is required to melt some xtra-sharp cheddar over then when I fry them up well done. Yum.

        But first I will mix up another white russian.

        Does that make me part of an international conspiracy to control the world?

        1. Theres a burger bar in college station that serves that same burger plus cooking it and the onions in absinthe.

    3. If a paranoid schizophrenic “journalist” followed me around screeching about the Illuminati and Lizard People JOOOZ, I’d contact his or her employer as well.

      1. Here’s the calculation I make. It’s Rand Paul whom the MSNBC people hate with a passion. The fact these two are jabbering about ‘build a burger puppets’ will be entirely ignored by the proglodytes when they burn him over it.

        1. By the way, Suth, that ‘build a burger puppet’ is up there with the classic Bloom County ‘hairy fishnuts.’

    4. Bla, bla, bla, woof, woof, woof.

      Some self-important nuts claim oppression in a he-said she-said story.

      Do they have any evidence for their story?

  5. The sad thing is however Obama will probably be reelected anyway since foreign policy under a Predisent Romney would be equally disasterous and come Novemeber people will probably end up wanting the keep the buffoon they already know (Obama) to the one they haven’t met yet (Romney).

    1. Either one winning is awful, bur if the Senate goes Republican, I’d rather have a Republican Congress butting heads with Obama than going full 69 with Romney.

      1. Obama’s been doing all sorts of michief the past two years without a friendly Congress. I fail to see how the Senate flipping helps much.

        1. Makes it harder to get appointments confirmed. Makes it easier to override vetoes. Makes some Democrats more likely to wet their pants. It’s not victory, but I dread it less than letting Romney and a friendly Congress rampaging at will.

          1. Barring Obama transmuting into Hitler, the Dems will never cross party lines to override a BO veto.

            The appointment confirmation thing is a good point, though BO has done end runs around that in the past. My point is, he’s already shown that he’ll legislate from the White House when Congress doesn’t go along with him, so I don’t see what would stop that.

          2. In my estimation, the dangers of a Romney-Congress alliance are far outweighed by the dangers of Obama by himself.

  6. I think it’s time for me to admit that while I dislike Republican presidents and presidential candidates, I generally loathe the Democratic ones. I don’t know why it is because they are all vile. But Obama is especially vile.

  7. Obama’s foreign policy is incoherent just like his domestic policy.

    Obama’s a reactionary guy, really. He’s basically still running against the domestic policies of Ronald Reagan and the foreign policy of George W. Bush–even as he emulates Bush on foreign policy…

    He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    1. He’s incoherent for sure. Which makes him a huge liar, because his rhetoric is out of line with his actions. And it’s so incredibly frustrating to see all my liberal friends endorsing him NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES. Why is is that the people I feel most comfortable with socially are such schmucks and hypocrites when it comes to politics?

      1. The Democratic Party has basically morphed into a personality cult.

        It doesn’t matter what the issues are anymore. Barack Obama is the only issue they care about.

        1. I think you are correct.

      2. Because most people are schmucks and hypocrites.

        1. This too. I thank you kindly for not suggesting that I, in fact, am probably a schmuck and hypocrite as well. Because I left myself wide open for someone to say it!

      3. How could Vikings fans so passionately hate Brett Favre when he played for Green Bay, and yet love and support him when he played for the Vikings (and vice versa for Green Bay fans)? You see in your friends this same mechanism.

        They are of their tribe, and their tribe is right. It is right is because it is theirs, and they are right because they belong to it. This is something that they do not see.

        1. You got it. And I think my special animosity for the Democrats is related to where this leaves me. I knew from a young age I thought the Republicans were schmucks, but thought the Democrats might have something to offer me. The friends I made along the way were always firmly of the tribe. It didn’t bother me because I kinda sorta thought I was too. My opinion changed and theirs didn’t. It kills me to see my old pothead and peacenik friends accepting anything this guy dishes out when they thought Bush should be prosecuted for war crimes. One friend said, regarding the drone war “I’m just really glad I’ll never be president.” Like suddenly they’re sympathetic to just how hard it is to be POTUS and have to – like wow – deal with politics.

          1. I don’t think it’s too surprising that things have gone hyper-partisan as of late.

            First, though party identification has always been a powerful factor, in the presence of a constant, credible, and existential external threat, embodied in the USSR, it tended to be superseded by a natural nationalist impulse. As that threat dwindles, though, “my country right or wrong” easily begins to become “my party right or wrong.” It might be interesting to chart this roughly; starting from WWII, moving forward through time, we might find partisanship increasing as it becomes more apparent that the Soviet system is ultimately untenable, with a sharp rise coinciding with its actual fall.

            Simultaneously, where the prime moral driver had previously been religious in nature, with the diminution of the church in the popular mind, I think we see the state, with its brute-force ability to right perceived moral wrongs, being brought in to fill the void.

    2. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

      My guess is that he doesn’t care what he’s doing. He just wants to play president for another four years, or more if he can swing it.

    3. He is a guy with zero experience to do the job for which he was elected. His foreign policy is Bush’s policy. He followed the Iraq withdrawal developed by Bush, he continued the Arab Spring which was started by Bush (this was a Wikileaks disclosure), and he kept Gitmo open. The stuff he has done on his own doesn’t distinguish him from Bush, but doubles down on some bad policy. For example, increased drone strikes, expansion of Afgan war, incoherence on Iran, alienation of allies, begging religious zealots to like us leave us alone (as likey as keeping Jehovah witness off your stoop on Saturday), ROE’s that get troops killed, and no clear plan for the future. The hypocrisy on the left to these facts is mind-boggling.

  8. what he was expe admitted cted to do.

    Which was what ex fucking actly rlly? Shit unicorns?

  9. Camden, NJ police kicking their entire police force to the curb in lieu of a non-union force.

    The police acknowledge that they have all but ceded these streets to crime, with murders on track to break records this year. And now, in a desperate move to regain control, city officials are planning to disband the Police Department.

    The reason, officials say, is that generous union contracts have made it financially impossible to keep enough officers on the street. So in November, Camden, which has already had substantial police layoffs, will begin terminating the remaining 273 officers and give control to a new county force. The move, officials say, will free up millions to hire a larger, nonunionized force of 400 officers to safeguard the city, which is also the nation’s poorest.

    Hardly a political battle of the last several years has been fiercer than the one over the fate of public sector unions. But Camden’s decision to remake perhaps the most essential public service for a city riven by crime underscores how communities are taking previously unimaginable steps to get out from under union obligations that built up over generations.

    Though it seems like a good move for the taxpayers and other citizens of Camden, why not just go private rather than a non-union force?

    1. “Why not just go private rather than a non-union force?”

      What’s the point of being a government bureaucrat if you can’t lord over some government employees?

    2. This fills me with great peace. Even if Obama is re-elected, he can’t stop the inevitable. A paradigm shift is working its way up from local governments to state level. Nothing will stop it. Even a bailout will just put it off, and the Pachyderms are not letting a federal bailout through.

      1. I hope you are right, but unfortunately, I see blindness on both sides that amazes me. Folks don’t really get how bad the economy is nor the fact that it is going to get worse. They don’t see that they have lost many of the rights they used to have under the Bill of Rights. They don’t realize that in order to have rule of law and a government that abides by it they must demand it – by force – if necessary. I actually think that unfortunately the majority will stay sheep and accept tyranny. I hope they won’t, but don’t think it likely.

  10. Perhaps interesting, from the Sydney Morning Herald:

    US calls Assange ‘enemy of state’

    THE US military has designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States – the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency.

    Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with “communicating with the enemy”, a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.

    1. Does this mean that Americans are free to raid Ecuadorean consulates and embassies around the world for harboring an enemy of the state? Or will we just get our first example of drone process on the soil of the UK?

  11. Cheerful news from Britain:

    Goodbye Beveridge: welfare’s end nears

    In 1991 58 per cent of Britons agreed that government should spend more on benefits even if it led to higher taxes. That figure is now down to 28 per cent. More than half believe people would “stand on their own two feet” if benefits were less generous, with only 20 per cent disagreeing. In 1993 the responses were almost exactly the reverse.

    According to a YouGov poll this year for Prospect magazine 74 per cent of voters agreed that welfare payment levels should be cut. The less well-off were almost as hostile as the rich. Labour voters supported reduction by a large majority.

  12. I guess this is the weekend open thread?
    Head bodyguard resigns over attack on Czech president:

    Czech President Vaclav Klaus’s chief bodyguard Jiri Sklenka resigned Saturday after the president survived a shooting scare.

    Klaus was lightly injured while opening a bridge in Chrastava in the northern Czech Republic on Friday after a man clad in camouflage gear took several shots at him with an airsoft plastic gun.

    The astonished bodyguards let the shooter walk away before police detained him a few minutes later.

    The aggressor, 26, was able to smoke a cigarette and give an interview to the media, explaining that he sympathised with the Communist party and wanted to protest against the Czech government’s austerity programme.

    Klaus, 71, a fervent eurosceptic, harshly rebuked his bodyguards after the incident. “You really messed up,” he said, according to Nova TV.

    1. “Klaus, 71, a fervent eurosceptic, harshly rebuked his bodyguards after the incident. “You really messed up,” he said, according to Nova TV.”

      Well, the guy didn’t bother to point out the b’guards were incompetents. I guess that’s a sign of Euro stupidity.
      As is the comment from the shooter; he’d rather kill someone than pay what he owes.

      1. he’d rather kill someone than pay what he owes.

        Folks, I present to you ‘The Left’.

        1. Especially considering that he didn’t say anything about raising taxes, but from cutting benefits.

          This guy saw it fit to shoot someone in lieu of accepting that others don’t want to support him anymore.


    Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told C-SPAN last week he believed Iran was behind the Chase and Bank of America attacks.


    because of that damned film, right?

    Bank of America is preppin for war!

  14. If this is going to be the weekend open thread then I just wanna share my exciting news: brewing an imperial pumpkin porter tomorrow. Gonna age it with oak chips soaked in rum. Should be ready by halloween.

    1. Will you be giving it out to trick or treaters? If so, I have a decent Viking costume I could wear and demand a large horn of this tasty sounding beverage!

    2. Pumpkin? **barf**

  15. How do you use HampersandR on a smart phone? Is there some way to format it? My log-in is rejected every time too

    1. Depends o the type of phone. With my Android I cannot use the “mobile” version, since text boxes never show up to post comments. I have to use the “desktop version.”

      1. The Lew Rockwell site seems to work perfectly. You’d think the cosmos at reason would have an edge on something like a smartphone.

  16. “Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As he himself admitted, the honor wasn’t bestowed on him for much he had yet done, but for what he was expected to do.”

    And he’s running for re-election on the very same premise.

    Except, this time, he has a record to explain. To anyone, that is, who actually, you know, cares about what the record is.

    1. Except, this time, he has a record to explain. To anyone, that is, who actually, you know, cares about what the record is.


  17. I just got notice that my property assessment is going down 40% (no, I’m not missing a decimal point), which tells you how messed up property assessments are in Pennsylvania that that even makes sense.

  18. brewing an imperial pumpkin porter tomorrow. Gonna age it with oak chips soaked in rum. Should be ready by halloween.



    “That is so gross.”

  19. From the Camden police story

    Note the NYT framing of the issue:
    And now, in a desperate move to regain control, city officials are planning to disband the Police Department.

    The reason, officials say, is that generous union contracts have made it financially impossible to keep enough officers on the street.

    Compared to the citizens’ framing of the issue:
    many residents have come to resent a police force they see as incompetent, corrupt and doing little to make their streets safe.

    It’s almost as if the current police department couldn’t really give a shit about their actual mission. The real problem with unions is the institutional culture of incompetence and naked self-interest, not cost.

    1. The real problem with unions is the institutional culture of incompetence and naked self-interest, not and cost.


    2. John Williamson, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, blamed the city for creating the problems by shifting officers onto patrols, where they receive extra pay, from administrative positions.

      I mean, seriously? Did he think before that came out of his mouth?

      1. This is the money quote. The union thinks the problem is to many cops on patrol, not enough doing desk jobs. His idea of an ideal force never comes to work at all, just gets paid.

        1. The union thinks the problem is to many cops on patrol, not enough doing desk jobs.

          Ode to a paper pusher.

          I, for one, am supremely grateful for the paper pushers that keep me safe. All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for offering the suggestion that a desk jockey isn’t the last line between our civilized society and a Mad Max world.

  20. the police in Camden ? population 77,000 ? are already so overloaded they no longer respond to property crimes or car accidents that do not involve injuries.

    Makes you wonder what the fuck they do all day?

    Stop and Frisk?

    1. It’s a wonder they have time to arrest drug dealers and (as pictured in the NYT story) arrest people for possessing heroin in a park. Of course…

      And liberal sick time and family-leave policies have created an unusually high absentee rate: every day, nearly 30 percent of the force does not show up. (A typical rate elsewhere is in the single digits.)

  21. Officials say that simply adding officers will not make all the difference, given the deep suspicion many residents harbor toward the police. As the chief and his deputy drove through the Whitman Park neighborhood this month, people sitting on their stoops stood up to shake their fists and shout obscenities at them. When police officers arrested a person suspected of dealing drugs in a house on a narrow street in North Camden last year, residents set upon their cars and freed the prisoner.


    More goons engaged in the same old thuggery might not fix the problem?

    1. It’s the fault of PA’s lax gun laws. It’s hard for a gun controlled paradise to survive with the Wild West right across the river.


    2. This is EXACTLY what one can expect when police prioritize prosecuting drug crimes in lieu of property crimes. The police don’t give a shit about people or their safety, but putting easy targets in jail.

  22. Did he think before that came out of his mouth?

    They city is turning the clock back; it will be just like slavery. Calvin Coolidge will be along shortly to imposes martial law and break the police union.

  23. “They city”?

    I cannot believe what a racist I am.

    Also, typing is hard.

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