By clicking here, you can go watch Steve Kroft's 60 Minutes interview with Barack Obama that aired last night.
It's well worth watching, especially the sections on the president's failed actions regarding Syria. Recall that back in the day, Candidate Obama campaigned against "dumb wars" and then managed to triple troop strength in Afghanistan while also pushing hard at various points in Iraq as well. Without congressional approval, he joined NATO strikes against Libya that unseated longtime tyrant Moammar Qaddafi and plunged that hellhole into its current anarchy.
In talking about his plan to arm Syrian moderates to push back against the Assad regime, here's Obama either flat-out lying or applying to be a Jesuit priest after he leaves the White House:
Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?
President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I've been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that's willing to fight ISIL? And what we've learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.
Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?
President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And–
Steve Kroft: And they wanted you to do it.
President Barack Obama: Well, no. That's not what I said. I think it is important for us to make sure that we explore all the various options that are available.
Steve Kroft: I know you don't want to talk about this.
President Barack Obama: No, I'm happy to talk about it.
Indeed, he is. If by talk, he means run out the clock during an hour-long interview.
Steve Kroft: I want to talk about the—this program, because it would seem to show, I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody someplace along the line did not—made—you know, some sort of a serious miscalculation.
President Barack Obama: You know, the—the—Steve, let me just say this.
Steve Kroft: It's an embarrassment.
President Barack Obama: Look, there's no doubt that it did not work. And, one of the challenges that I've had throughout this heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that—you'll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few—you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then, when you start a train-and-equip program and it doesn't work, then people say, "Well, why didn't it work?" Or, "If it had just started three months earlier it would've worked."
Steve Kroft: But you said yourself you never believed in this.
President Barack Obama: Well—but Steve, what I have also said is, is that surprisingly enough it turns out that in a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren't any silver bullets.
Given the daily stories of refugees and brutality coming out of Syria, it's easy to forget that in 2013, President Obama pushed the U.S. fully into the situation by giving an apparently off-the-cuff remark about how American forces would rain down holy hell if we found out the Assad regime crossed "a red line" by using chemical weapongs. He almost immediately shifted his language to argue that "the world" has long set a red line regarding triggers for intervention. Forget that Obama pushed for acting alone (or in concert with Great Britain, whose Parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron's call for strikes in concert with the United States).
That vote and Obama's promiscuous discussion of using force created a pushback that led ultimately the president to seek congressional approval for moving into a country at which we are not at war (the authorization to use military force issue was obviatted by, of all people, the Russians).
It's worth keeping in mind even (or maybe especially) recent history to get a sense of just how utterly failed Obama's foreign policy has been in virtually every instance. For all his early talk of grand plans (remember the Russian "reset" that worked out so great?), he clearly has no large understanding of world events and is always willing to come up with new strategy after the fact to explain away his contemporaneous actions and failures.
In this, sadly, Obama is hardly alone among post-Cold War presidents. Always ready to bomb places and dispatch troops when uncomfortable domestic situations arose, Bill Clinton didn't engage in strategic thinking. George W. Bush plunged us into two ruinous occupations that were not only ill-conceived but incompetently administered. And now, after almost two full terms of Barack Obama, the world's hot spots are still smoking. Earlier in the year, Sen. Rand Paul asked simply, "Was it a good idea to invade Libya?" We need more pols and citizens asking those questions rather rallying around the flagpole, especially in the name of national pride.
Needless to say, it doesn't have to be this way, with the United States compounding one failed intervention with more of the same. There's not just a principled case for non-interventionism but a pragmatic one as well, that goes under the rubric of "libertarian realism."
There's simply no reason for our country to be lurching "dumbly" from one ill-conceived and failed intervention to the next. Read all about it here.