Barack Obama

Obama is Against Dumb Wars But is Always Willing to Start His Own

The United States won't help fix all the problems in the world until it realizes that it can't fix all the problems in the world.

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Writing at Bloomberg View, Eli Lake reports on this week's summit between President Obama and Arab leaders who are getting jumpy over U.S. commitment to deterrence of Iran:

Obama, despite his proclivity for ending "dumb" wars and such, is a big fan of deterrence. In 2014, he committed American power to the defense of the Senkaku Islands, a chain administered by Japan but challenged by China. In a tour of Eastern Europe last year, he assured Estonians that NATO's commitment to their small country's security was "unbreakable," "unwavering" and "eternal."  The U.S.-Israel bond? Also unbreakable.

But with Obama, sometimes the rhetoric doesn't match the reality. For example, after withdrawing all U.S. combat troops from Iraq, he insisted many times that he was committed Iraq's security. Yet it was not until the Islamic State had taken over Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, that Obama began his air war against the terrorists.

In Syria, after the dictator Bashar al-Assad was confirmed to have used chemical weapons—crossing Obama's "red line"—the White House backed down, settling for a Russian-backed deal to remove Syria's stockpiles. Obama has continued to stay out of the civil war, despite pleading from Arab allies to intervene, and recent evidence that Syria is still conducting chemical attacks on its opposition.

When Russia destabilized Ukraine in 2014 with its badly disguised special-operation forces in Crimea, Obama did not seek to enforce the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. That agreement had committed Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. to safeguard Ukraine's territorial integrity in exchange for the Kiev government giving up its nuclear weapons.

Read the whole thing.

It's not fully clear to me that Obama has been particularly good at ending "dumb wars," though he was certainly willing to join in one super-dumb action in Libya as well faux-saber-rattle over Syria in a way that arguably made everything worse in the region. Obama's people tried to extend the U.S. stay in Iraq past the deadline negotiated by George W. Bush and wouldja believe we've still got troops in Afghanistan and almost certainly will til the end times.

Reading through Lake's article is a reminder that foreign policy is simultaneously a fast- and slow-moving disaster. Bill Clinton didn't sleepwalk through the post-Cold War era, as some would have it. He bombed more countries than Ronald Reagan and dispatched troops regularly, as if it were a bodily function. George W. Bush's sterling record of failure is everywhere evident except in the halls of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and Congress, where the Republican majority seems hell-bent on rolling out what might be called an Ozymandias 2.0 strategy (lose wars in remote desert wastelands, repeat as necessary).

Among the major-party candidates running for president, Rand Paul is the only one who has offered up any sort of alternative to the terrible, awful, and failed SNAFU of the past dozen-plus years (and even he has gone wobbly at various moments). The United States won't help fix all the problems in the world until it realizes that it can't fix all the problems in the world, especially when it comes to fights and struggles that are best dealt with by the countries and governments most affected by those problems. It's well past time for the country to have the sort of serious discussion about foreign policy that will fashion a consensus about what the United States should be doing overseas and militarily in the 21st century. Rather than having a procession of would-be leaders of both parties sniping at the supposed lack of patriotism evinced by anyone who ever dares suggest that the U.S. spend less on defense or not get involved in some fight somewhere.

And if the Arab leaders meeting with President Obama are getting jumpy about the seeds they have sown by inflaming Islamic terrorism, sectarianism, and fundamentalism—not to mention how much hatred they've incited among their own citizens by treating them poorly—they ought to start thinking about how they might spend some of their vast wealth on protecting their own skins. Rather than expecting everyone else in the world (read: the United States) to do it for them.

Related: ISIS Runs Luxury Hotel in Iraq NOW

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  1. Newsflash!! Obama Says One Thing, Does Another!!!

    It’s warboners all the way down…

    1. Look, Obama is the smartest guy in the room, always. So if he does something, it can’t be dumb. It’s common sense really.

    2. Almanian: I noticed your post last night about cars and had to chuckle. Mrs Mainer and I aren’t quite in your league. But we do have 5 vehicles for the two of us; no motorcycles though.
      Go for the Grand Cherokee. My wife loves her 2014, and it is frankly the most luxurious vehicle I’ve ever owned.

      1. Cool! I’m an inveterate “Car Guy”….:)

        I found two more that I need to check out today. I love the hunt. I REALLY love gettin’ ’em home and starting to work on them!

        I get company cars, so I always have something new in a pinch….but I like the old ones and seeing how long I can keep them going. You can take the boy out of Alma, but….

        1. We like to have one “good car” for my wife to drive and for long trips. That’s the 2014 Grand Cherokee. Which my wife found used, low mileage at a Mercedes dealer in Delaware. Road trip.

          On the other hand, I kept my ’99 Cobra on the road for 16 years until impending cost of clutch, brakes, tires and rust repair essentially totalled it.

          1. ’97 Toyota 4Runner with 235K miles, 2006 4Runner, ’98 Jeep Wrangler, 2000 Mercedes ML 430, ’75 Mercedes diesel. I own my own garage and rent a neighbor’s across the street. In a pinch I have my own strategic petroleum reserve.

            1. Oh, and that’s for 2 drivers. USA! USA!

              1. So you run a petroleum company with that fleet?

                I am impress.

                1. Nah. My reserve is in the vehicles themselves.

            2. That’s an interesting fleet.

              The oldest in mine is a 1970 Chevy Caprice Classic only 22k miles.
              Detroit land yacht.

              1. Ooh, ’70 Caprice. Very nice. Throw some rims on that thing.

                Cars are so very easy to acquire, and difficult to dispose of. I’m entering hoarding territory.

    3. That’s OK, I’m sure the media will call him out on it and hound him relentlessly.

  2. It’s well past time for the country to have the sort of serious discussion about foreign policy that will fashion a consensus about what the United States should be doing overseas and militarily in the 21st century.

    Uh, Nick that discussion already happened. The consensus was “do the same stupid shit, but with robots.”

  3. We keep contrasting what Obama says with what he does. From Plato’s “noble” lies to Machiavelli, people from the antiquity and the Middle Ages would recognize what Obama is doing.

    I know what Obama says drives the news cycle, and the pundits needs something to talk about every day.

    But it’s high time for serious people to stop taking what Obama says seriously. It doesn’t matter what Obama says–about anything. Or, if it does matter, it’s only because we place so much importance on it in the media.

    I’d love to hear someone on camera say the words, “It doesn’t matter what Obama says”.

    1. Funny how simple things can be.

      Actions speak louder than words.

  4. Bluntly, in foreign policy, warfare etc, to succeed one must have credibility ie when one says one is going to do something other people must fear that you will actually do it.

    Yes, sometimes one is bluffing to gain the benefits brought on by that expectation without the pain of following through. But, get caught bluffing too often, and one’s credibility goes in the toilet.

    And that is what has happened to Obama. His narcissistic decisionmaking, where he says what will sound best at the moment, even if it contradicts reality or what he said 10 minutes ago and his unwillingness to follow through on his promises have made him utterly uncredible. Nobody believes him. He is increasingly viewed as a ridiculous buffoon.

    John has forcefully pointed out that this actually makes the world a more dangerous place. Security is predicated on adversaries having respect for each other’s gumption and grit and an understanding of where lie the lines that once crossed trigger war. If they err in their appreciation of where the lines lie, it is better if they err more conservatively ie. thinking that crossing the Po river (farther from rome) will bring war rather than the Rubicon (closer to Rome).

    In Obama’s case, he buckles so frequently, nobody knows where the lines are; generally when an adversary crosses a line drawn by Obama, nothing bad happens to him; and sometimes adversaries who are complaisant with Obama’s lines find themselves facing a bombing campaign.

  5. “He bombed more countries than Ronald Reagan and dispatched troops regularly, as if it were a bodily function.”

    So I was some sort of Bill Clinton excretion or ejaculate when I was in Sarajevo?!!!

    1. I’m guessing Clinton cared more about his precious bodily fluids than he did about you.

    2. Well, I give a shit about you, Swissy! Fuck Clinton and Obo with shriek’s dick.

      My brother was in the first Iraqi funfest. He died before he got the chance to participate in the latest folly (he got The Cancer like Forrest’s mom). In some ways, I’m glad, although I miss the little fucker still even after 22 years…

      1. “Glad” he wasn’t subjected to the latest bullshit…not that he’s dead 🙂

  6. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……
    http://www.work-cash.com

    1. Plot twist: annagun is a drone pilot bombing little brown brother.

  7. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……
    http://www.work-cash.com

  8. How do you expect GDP to reach 2% if we aren’t blowing shit up all over the world?
    SPEND! SPEND! SPEND!

    1. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at The Defense Department to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Try it, you won’t regret it!……

      http://www.Wars_R_US.com/usa.usa.usa/!!

    2. World War II ended the Great Depression, right ?

  9. We could get this country back on track if we would just declare war on Putin.

  10. But its different when Obama does it!

    /Shreek

  11. And if the Arab leaders meeting with President Obama are getting jumpy about the seeds they have sown by inflaming Islamic terrorism, sectarianism, and fundamentalism…

    Don’t be ignorant. It was France not Arabs that saw Charlie Hebdo sewing the seeds of Islamic inflammation. Victim-shamer.

  12. Cars are so very easy to acquire, and difficult to dispose of. I’m entering hoarding territory.

    No shit. I’m way better at buying them than selling them.

  13. Old-School Diplomacy: Speak softly, but carry a big stick.

    “Smart” Diplomacy: Run your yap, but don’t back it up.

    Can’t imagine which will work better.

  14. My roomate’s sister makes $65 hourly on the laptop . She has been laid off for six months but last month her payment was $16050 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    check out the post right here ???????????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  15. Obama is the clear winner in countries bombed since WW II. Clinton is in second place, but he may share that position with Reagan. Carter, the big zero, comes in last place. Countries bombed by president since WW II:

    Eisenhower – 4 – Cuba, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia
    Kennedy – 3 – Cuba, Guatemala, Vietnam
    Johnson – 4 – Congo, Guatemala, Laos, Peru, Vietnam
    Nixon – 4 – Cambodia, Guatemala, Laos, Vietnam
    Ford
    Carter
    Reagan – 4 or 6 – Grenada, Iran, Lebanon, Libya. Nicaragua and El Salvador arguably should be included, though there were probably no aerial bombing campaigns.
    Bush the First – 3 – Iraq, Kuwait, Panama
    Clinton the First – 6 – Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Serbia
    Bush the Second – 5 – Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen
    Obama – 7 – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen

    1. All I’m seeing is Kissinger, Kissinger, Kissinger……fucking Kissinger!

  16. Just remember, the problems solved in 1945 could have been dealt with at a much smaller cost in 1935!
    Denying that the USA has any role in dealing with problems in the world only insures that once we get sucked into the maelstrom, the cost will be much higher.
    Now, I’m as Jacksonian as the next guy in wanting to be left alone, but always remember:
    Some people just need to be killed.

  17. We need to get out of the Middle East. If we do, we’ll be forgotten by the jihadis in about 30 mS. If you had an enemy who wasn’t bothering you 8000 miles away, and a dozen enemies within 100 miles, which would you choose to fight with?

    Keep in mind that Israel is a nuclear power with at least 300 warheads AND the means to deliver them. Iran primarily wants a nuke because the US doesn’t attack nuclear powers. (Think “North Korea”.) Instead of American taxpayers paying TRILLIONS to go a third of the way around the world to get into a fight that isn’t ours, why not leave it to the locals to sort out their mess?

  18. Mr.,Gillespie is correct, one person’s stupid/dumb war, is another person’s perfect war.

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