WASHINGTON, July 26, 2014 — Within the ranks of conservatives, there are essentially two schools of opinion with regard to events in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe. The one most commonly heard is what might be referred to as the ‘Fox News’ school or less charitably, the ‘NeoCon’ school of foreign policy and national defense. This is where there is non-stop chafing and grousing that the Obama administration doesn’t launch fleets of ships, rattle sabers and adopt a style of diplomacy where ultimatums are prominent in the approach to our ‘enemies’.
In this segment of the right, it is believed that bad players on the international scene, would think twice about making a move that our government disapproves of, because the president projects the intent to deploy troops in order to demonstrate that the United States military is the police force of democracy. Obama is a weak president, according to this sentiment, because he fails to brandish the big stick in various places that they perceive as representing national interest.
In accordance with this, Russia – and more particularly Russian President Vladimir Putin – would have been more tractable and less inclined to expand the footprint of the Russian state, these analysts claim.
To cold warriors and defense hawks, this line of talk is extremely appealing. Often, as in the case of a colleague, the names of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy are invoked. Curiously absent is the mention of Bush, which leaves a bad taste in many mouths. They argue that Presidents’ Kennedy and Reagan knew how to wield power and project authority internationally, while adversaries don’t take Obama seriously or credibly and assume Obama won’t resort to military force. Because of this, the narrative goes, our “enemies” are emboldened.
This is a reasonable view in the abstract. In other words, a balance of military strength and an effort to engage a diplomatic resolution with recognized foreign states, has generally been a sound doctrine – especially when exercised within the boundaries of the Constitution and the approval of Congress.
Circumstances that exist in 2014 however, suggest that these traditionally sound policies are a poor fit in the present national and global environment. Obama drew out some ill advised “red lines” in Syria, when his administration was asserting that the Assad regime was responsible for gassing civilians. Without seeking broad advice and consent, he made pledges of retaliation that he was in no practical position to follow through with. This was confirmed by the prevailing sentiment in Congress against bombing and / or committing U.S. troops.
It is difficult to imagine Obama making a successful transition from a perceived incompetent and vacillating Commander In Chief, to that of a swashbuckling Theodore Roosevelt type with any credibility at this stage. Worst yet, it could be more dangerous than his reluctance and vacillation.
Adding to the dubious nature of an Obama makeover, is the fact that even though the media presents a rosy picture of an economic recovery, we are not in an economic recovery. The investment class has recovered, thanks to taxpayers and runaway printing at the Fed, but the working class is still mired in a stagnant job market and depressed income. Further, we have built up a precarious mountain of debt that has replicated asset bubbles very similar to those seen before the economic crash of 2008. It has been shown that the temporary explosion of economic activity associated with large scale military engagements is not a panacea for anything other than short term, and is not sustainable in the long term. We can’t afford any wagging of the dog.
Comparing America under Barack Obama to that under John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan is problematic for a number of reasons. The main difference and the key reason why such a proposition as Obama suddenly “growing a pair” is not feasible, is the very character of the individuals under discussion. John F. Kennedy, for all his personal failings, was never questioned as to his patriotic bonafides by any, other than certain elements within the Military Industrial Complex and Vice President Johnson’s personal circle of influence.
Kennedy was a respected world leader and even the Soviets knew that if J.F.K. drew a line, there wouldn’t be a second one drawn. Ronald Reagan was also a sensible man and his intentions were transparent and not difficult to discern. They both made mistakes, but their courage and resolve was beyond question.
Reagan is your ultimate argument of peace through strength. Obama is not. Obama, for sound reasons in the eyes of many, is an illegitimate president. At best, he is someone with a lot of curious gaps in his personal history and a man uniquely unsuited to the presidency – “the Amateur”, to borrow a phrase from Edward Klein’s book. But at worst, the actions he’s taken may not be a simple matter of incompetence as many believe. His Imperial Presidency may be the outcome of obligations to certain interests who remain for now, in the shadows.
Though it is a cliché, the expression, “be careful what you wish for”, certainly is apt when considering the wisdom of behavior that might normally be valuable for American interests, executed by either a malignant or incompetent chief executive. Knowing that Obama is fit for impeachment and removal from office, (though that is unlikely), do you really want him making more unilateral decisions that may have even more grave consequences internationally than the actions he’s taken domestically? Are you confident in his purpose and decision making? Can you even say for a certainty where he’s getting his script for governance from?
He is unwilling to remedy our most pressing national security risk, our border with Mexico. With that in mind, would you feel comfortable placing our military troops in harm’s way under his command? Ask yourself, where has his leadership yielded success in conflicts he’s involved our armed forces so far. Libya? Syria? Egypt? Afghanistan? Iraq?
This is a president, under whose watch, we’ve seen the betrayal of an Ambassador and brave men who attempted to rescue him. A president under whose watch, American weapons found their way into the hands of jihadists who now are destabilizing Iraq and making life for civilians there more dreadful than ever since the rule of Saddam Hussein. Under whose watch, a large cache of firearms was walked into Mexico into the hands of drug cartels, resulting in civilian deaths and the death of Border Patrol agents. Under whose watch, our border has devolved from a persistent state of risk, to that of a full blown national security crisis.
Pray that we survive the remaining years of a outlaw, lame duck president who, in his own words, rejoices that he “doesn’t have to run for office again.”
We don’t have a weak military problem.
We have an indictable president problem.