America’s Nero?

So now we’re sending humanitarian aid—finally—to those displaced in Iraq by the bloodthirsty ISIS terrorist organization. And we’re dropping a few bombs on ISIS positions. I wonder how many Americans have been fooled into thinking this somehow represents decisive action? I don’t recall which military spokesman it was, but someone in the last day or two clearly stated that our pinprick policy of bombing wasn’t going to put any real dent in the ISIS forward movement.

Back when President Obama was being questioned about this rising threat to Iraq’s stability, he dismissed ISIS as the “junior varsity” compared to Al Qaeda. Well, it appears he was somewhat shortsighted in his dismissal.

Life's a Beach

While he’s “busy” vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, reports now indicate ISIS is far more threatening than Al Qaeda at its peak. It’s better funded, better organized, and has set up what it calls an Islamic State in what was a section of Iraq. Our leader never saw this coming:

Islamic State

For Obama, of course, the most important thing is never to get America involved again in Iraq. Circumstances, though, may foil his plans:

Dragged

No matter where one looks with respect to the Obama foreign policy, one sees American retreat from leadership and the looming threat of more terrorist attacks here at home. With the congressional elections coming up soon, Democrats are scrambling to disassociate themselves from the presumed head of their party:

Run

Even Hillary Clinton, already transparently running for the top job, is attempting to put some distance between herself and her former boss:

What Difference

That’s going to be a hard sell. After all, she was his secretary of state, responsible for enacting all aspects of his foreign policy. She can’t legitimately claim to be separate from his policies. Her best hope is the collective amnesia of the average American voter.

Obama has demonstrated such a high level of incompetence that, coupled with his unconstitutional power grabs and the use of government agencies to attack political opponents, it’s no wonder the “I” word is being bandied about. Republican leaders are aware that Democrats seek to use that to gain sympathy for Obama and reverse the electoral tide this November. That’s why Republicans, on the whole, are not falling for a strategy that has no hope of success in the Democrat-controlled Senate, no matter how eager Democrats are for them to take the bait:

The I Word

So, in a perverse sort of way, it’s Democrats who are pushing the impeachment talk. Even Obama himself wants to use it for his advantage:

To Get Impeached

Right. As if that’s ever going to happen.

Meanwhile, our own Nero continues to play his figurative fiddle while all around us burns.

Iraq: A Tragedy Unfolds

What’s transpiring in Iraq is horrendous. No matter what one’s position on whether we should have gotten involved there, current events should leave everyone uneasy. The stability that seemed to have been achieved in the later Bush years has now crumbled.

I’m caught between two points of view myself on our Iraqi involvement. Saddam Hussein was a destabilizing influence throughout the Middle East, his regime was rewarding suicide bombers, and he was beginning to welcome Al Qaeda elements into the country. The ripple effect could touch not only Israel but reach our shores as well.

At the same time, too many people in the foreign policy realm had a rosy picture of how a “democracy” could be created in a nation that was hardly even a nation, torn within ideologically and ethnically. Those fissures remain and are now once again surfacing. Unless people have a solid foundation for building a stable government, disaster is not hard to predict. Iraq lacked that foundation, one I believe can only be rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic.

President Bush, concerned that the U.S. not appear to be a heavy-handed occupier, sought to move the Iraqis toward self-government. Only when it became apparent that things were not coalescing as hoped did he give the go-ahead for the “Surge.” It was largely successful, if success is measured by the lessening of attacks from rival groups and the basic functioning of a government.

Then came Barack Obama. I could end the post here and most would know why, but I’ll elaborate a little. Obama’s worldview doesn’t have much of a place for concern about terrorism. Neither does he think the U.S. has any special role or responsibility in combating  that evil. I’m not even sure he believes the terrorists actually are evil; his anti-colonial mindset conditions him to see them as oppressed people groups rising up against their oppressors. In his mind, the U.S. is more of a problem.

Hence his determination to pull all American troops out of Iraq, which he accomplished. The generals begged him to leave some troops as a safety measure, but he refused. Now Iraq plunges into turmoil. His response is what it always is:

Leave It Alone

What were we to expect with this wholesale departure? He left Iraq wide open to a resurgence of terrorism:

Left the Keys

Yet he acts as if this is a complete surprise. Most intelligent people knew that this would come back to hurt us:

Never Saw

And now that the situation is on the verge of getting out of control, what is his response? The same old same old:

Immediate Action

It doesn’t help U.S. credibility when we send John Kerry out as our representative. He doesn’t exactly inspire confidence:

Negotiating

There even was some talk about bringing Iran in as a “partner” to resolve the crisis. Iran???? Really????

Iran Can Help

As long as this is the team we have on the playing field, we should get used to losing. What is the prognosis for Iraq? I wish I could be more optimistic.

Iraqaida

Our Consistent President

One thing I’ll say about President Obama that might sound like praise is that he is proving to be consistent. However, one must always examine the consistency. In his case, I’ve concluded he’s just as off-base and dangerous in foreign policy as in domestic. He brags about how he has Al Qaeda on the run, but now Al Qaeda elements are threatening to overrun key areas of Iraq. The entire American endeavor in that country—overthrowing tyranny and helping set up a stable ally in the Middle East—is close to failure due to Obama’s cut-and-run policy. All his bravado in words now comes across as more than a little hollow:

Al Qaeda

He also has foisted on us a so-called deal with Iran, which is the primary abettor of violence in the region. Even the Iranian leader recently boasted that this deal was a victory over the West. For some odd reason, our president and secretary of state believe Iran will be more moderate in the future, so we can drop all those nasty sanctions:

Be Nicer

And as I documented in a post last week, the whole Benghazi affair is blowing up in his face. If only the mainstream media would do its job, everyone by now would know about the ineptitude, obstruction of justice, and stream of lies that are at the root of that fiasco/tragedy. But the media is in full protection mode again, not only shielding its current heartthrob but also its next “dream” president:

Line of Duty

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say we’ve never seen the likes of this, or at least to this extent, in American history. And as a history professor, I hope my opinion might carry some weight.

Obama & Syria: Further Reasons for Opposition

A Senate hearing yesterday on the Syrian situation and the administration’s desire to get involved militarily constrains me to comment once again on this topic. My last post laid out some of my rationale for opposing involvement: neither side deserves our help; we will either be aiding a dictatorial regime allied with Iran or an uprising with a distinctly Al Qaeda flavoring. I have a few more thoughts to add today.

First, it’s interesting how this is not a purely partisan issue. Many conservatives who supported military moves in Afghanistan and Iraq are not now supportive of this initiative, whereas diehard liberal activists who would scream against any military endeavor anywhere are strangely silent (except for a few Code Pink fanatics who are at least consistent in their wild-eyed fanaticism). One cartoon captures the liberal side pretty well:

Antiwar Activist

As for the conservative reluctance to sign on to military strikes, there is some poor analysis of that reluctance showing up in surprising places. For instance, I was watching Bill O’Reilly last night, and he focused more on the conservative side and tried to explain why they were generally not supportive of Obama’s desire to bomb Syrian targets. He concluded it was because conservatives either hate or don’t trust the president. While there certainly is hatred of what this president stands for overall and distrust of him personally and of his ability to carry out the mission, it is a leap too far to say that’s the cornerstone of opposition to his proposed policy.

I see a qualitative difference between our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and the current situation in Syria. Afghanistan was harboring the Al Qaeda terrorists who carried out 9/11. We were obligated to respond to an attack on our soil that killed nearly 3,000 people. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had invaded Kuwait in the early 1990s and a coalition of many nations drove him out. The U.S. was left with the responsibility of overseeing Saddam’s regime to ensure he didn’t kill Iraqi opposition groups and to monitor his chemical and nuclear weapons capabilities. After 9/11, when it became clear he was allowing Al Qaeda elements to operate from Iraq, and when we learned he was encouraging suicide bombers by paying families of those who carried out those atrocities, President Bush felt he had to act.

Isn’t it a little ironic that those who decried Bush’s rationale—Saddam had chemical weapons—are now so exercised over Syrian use of those weapons? And isn’t it even more ironic that those who scoffed at the idea that Saddam quickly moved those weapons to Syria are now in the forefront of moral outrage over their usage there?

I’m also less than overwhelmed with the military plans being offered. If you are going to use the military, it needs to efficiently achieve a goal of turning the tide against the Syrian regime. Apparently, that’s not what’s being proposed. John Kerry, at the Senate hearing, downplayed regime change as the ultimate aim; all we’re planning to do is try to discourage the further use of chemical weapons by Assad. If Assad is really all that bad—and he is—the only good rationale for getting involved is to go all out and drive him from power. That doesn’t seem to be the vision here:

Strong Message

This would be a highly ineffectual mission. It’s not worth the effort. Besides, if we’re truly concerned with stabilizing the region, we need to go after the primary destabilizer—Iran. They’re the ones on the verge of creating nuclear weapons. They’re the ones who have verbally called for the elimination of Israel. Yet what have we done on that front? Just talk and threaten. Frankly, no one takes us seriously anymore. Why should they with this man in the White House? Let’s be honest. His sympathies lie with the radical elements; that’s how he was educated, and it’s how he has governed. He supported the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, yet he is cool toward the ouster of that Brotherhood. He is for the uprising in Syria because of its radical nature, not in spite of it.

Here’s what a compassionate nation does in this situation: we use every effort to help the refugees who are daily escaping this conflict. We demonstrate once again that the United States, more than any other nation in history, comes to the aid of those who are suffering. The only problem is that we’re not the same United States anymore—not with Barack Obama at the helm.

So, to some extent, Bill O’Reilly is correct; I don’t trust the man calling the shots. But it’s not just the man himself: it’s his ideology, the policies that flow from it, and the damage he is doing to what once was the greatest nation in the world.

Obama’s Syria vs. Reagan’s Grenada & Libya: The Differences

Syria SpeechI agree with President Obama. Now, get up off the floor and read the rest. I know the first sentence was a shock to your system, but it is a limited agreement with all kinds of cautions. On what do we agree? His decision to turn to Congress to debate what action should or should not be taken in Syria was the correct decision. I have no illusions as to why he finally decided to do so—it had far more to do with public opinion and lack of support from other countries than from any constitutional scruples of his own. But I’ll take what we can get.

Only the Congress can declare a war. I realize that’s rather quaint to say nowadays, but it’s still the truth—at least if we seek to abide by even a shred of the concept of rule of law anymore. I’m glad Congress is going to take up the issue when it returns on September 9; my hope is that, after the debate, we will not commit any military to this theater of action. My reason? There is no side to support. One side uses chemical weapons against the other and is an ally of Iran, while the other commits atrocities of its own, particularly on the Christian community. It does so primarily because Al Qaeda is part of the rebel coalition. As I stated in a previous post, it would be unconscionable to provide military aid to any movement associated with that terrorist organization. I also believe that if the opposition should win, Syria won’t be a better place, and it certainly could get demonstrably worse.

There’s another facet of this as well. If the Congress should do as I have outlined, Obama may disregard the vote and go ahead with military strikes anyway. His administration has concluded it can act unilaterally, and cites the War Powers Act for authorization. I fully agree that, if attacked, or if America or American citizens are in imminent danger, the president can move forward without a protracted debate first. But those are worst-case scenarios. Neither can the War Powers Act go contrary to the Constitution, regardless of the rationalizations used by supporters of taking action.

Some may cite what Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s as a similar situation. Again, I disagree. Reagan used the military in two specific instances: Grenada and Libya. Here are the differences.

C18148-8First, in Grenada, a radical Marxist government took over, Cubans were employed to build a runway for aircraft, and the island would have become another outpost for the Soviets in the Western Hemisphere. The other islands nearby were frightened by this prospect and asked America for help. In addition, there were American citizens on the island, medical students, whose lives were endangered by this takeover. Reagan moved swiftly and without congressional debate primarily because if he hadn’t, those students would undoubtedly have been used as hostages and/or human shields. He did consult with congressional leaders from both parties before acting, but he couldn’t afford to wait until Congress had aired everything. A public debate would have allowed time for the Soviet allies to prepare. When those students returned home, he welcomed them to the White House. They were exuberant that their nation had put their safety first.

In 1985, a disco in West Berlin was the target for a terrorist attack,  bombs killing and wounding many, including American soldiers stationed in that city. The investigation led back to Qaddafi in Libya. This was a direct attack on Americans, and Reagan responded with a military strike on specified targets within that country. He also hoped he could take out Qaddafi as well. While the latter objective wasn’t achieved, Qaddafi’s direct involvement in terrorism lessened from that day forward.

Today, in Syria, while events on the ground are horrific, and even though in a general sense what happens in the Middle East will affect us, no Americans are in imminent danger and, as I have already stated, there is no one to support. All options are lose-lose. For those reasons, I am not in favor of using our military in this situation. But above all, I am opposed to the president simply doing whatever he wishes in disregard of the Constitution.

So, President Obama has done one thing right. Now it’s Congress’s turn to do what is right. If Congress does so, Obama must then abide by that decision. I have no illusions that he will do so because it is the right thing to do, but I’m hopeful there will too much pressure on him to do otherwise.

Syria: Making Another Foolish Mistake?

For more than a year, President Obama has been issuing warnings to Syria that the United States will not stand by idly while thousands are being slaughtered in the civil war taking place there. He has repeatedly spoken of a “red line” that cannot be crossed—the use of chemical weapons by the government against those who are attempting to topple Bashar al-Assad. Although that line was crossed quite a while ago, the administration has now gotten around to admitting it. But does the Syrian government really care? Is it quaking over threats from a so-called superpower that is all words and no action on many fronts?

Read Lines

The use of chemical weapons might have been the publicly stated reason for taking action, but one suspects there are other issues that disturb the president more:

Gone Too Far

I have great sympathy for the innocents caught in the literal crossfire of the Syrian debacle, but we must always consider the wisdom of any attempt to involve the United States in the multitude of wars and semi-wars that are ongoing daily. We must consider first whether there is any direct threat to our country. Then we must think about what would happen if the Syrian regime actually is toppled. Who would take over? Al Qaeda is prominent in the uprising. It’s not the only group, but history shows that the most radical element usually takes control eventually. Assad is a monster who uses chemical weapons. [By the way, where did he get those? Anyone else thinking of Iraq under Saddam, and how he might have transferred his over to Syria prior to our ousting of him back in 2003?] But who’s to say Assad’s replacement would be better? Do we really want to have a hand in turning that country over to Al Qaeda? Does anyone really see that as less of a threat to the United States?

The other concern here is that Obama seems poised now to act unilaterally without the approval of Congress. He has no authority to do so in this situation. Attack is not imminent. Any decision on the use of the American military must first be the subject of congressional debate. The problem is that Obama is quite accustomed to acting alone; he often makes statements about doing what needs to be done—as he perceives our “needs”—without waiting for Congress. Bottom line: he is untrustworthy. Congress must take its responsibility seriously and contain the Obama ego.

Stop Worrying

Syria is not the only place where we have sounded an uncertain trumpet or have waded into a conflict without proper deliberation. In fact, when one analyzes the Obama approach to the entire tinderbox known as the Middle East, one comes to a rather dismal conclusion:

Middle East Policy

Let’s avoid another foolish mistake. If only the grownups were in charge.

Needed: An American Spring

Anyone remember something called the Arab Spring? That was as inaccurate a name as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China. There was no voluntary union of Russia and the nations it subjugated, and they certainly weren’t republics—representation and the rule of law were both negated. In China, the people aren’t really running anything, but it sounds nice to call it the People’s Republic. And again, it’s not really a republic. Neither was the Arab Spring some kind of awakening of liberty. All it gave rise to was militant radicalism.

Let’s look briefly at some of the developments.

In Iran, early in Obama’s first term, the people were out in the streets protesting a rigged election. The falseness of the vote was obvious, and here was a real opportunity for the United States to stand against tyranny. Yet President Obama was silent, giving his assent to the phony election. Now a new election has taken place; the media would have you believe the new leader is less militant, but that’s far from the truth:

Moderating

How about Libya? Yes, Qaddafi needed to go, but what has replaced him? A shaky government is trying to rein in adherents of jihad. That didn’t go so well in Benghazi. This revolution Obama belatedly supported, but what did it achieve? Prediction: a takeover by the extremists.

Syria? Thousands have been killed in the uprisings there. Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad is a monster, it’s true. Yet key elements of the uprising are connected to Al Qaeda and are slaughtering Christians in that country while they attempt to topple the regime. If they win, that’s not really a triumph of liberty. Obama has again decided to take sides, again belatedly, and with those who are opposed to Assad. Is that really wise? Doing so will mean arming those who want to destroy us.

And of course there is Egypt. Everyone’s paying attention to what’s going on there. When Mubarak was overthrown, Obama was definitely in favor of that removal, despite the probability that the Muslim Brotherhood might dominate the new government. That’s exactly what happened, and even though that organization is devoted to the destruction of Israel and genocide against all Jews, the United States has supported it, sending even more military hardware and funds—all of which could be used against Israel eventually. Morsi, the new leader, sanctioned attacks against the Coptic Christians and tried to move the nation fully under the umbrella of radicalism. It’s as if he had a model he could follow:

American Style Democracy

Now that Morsi has been deposed by the military, our president has spoken out against the removal. He actually seems to favor the Muslim Brotherhood running Egypt, exposing once again his own radicalism:

The Difference

No, the Arab Spring was an illusion. It would be nice, though, to experience an American Spring. We need it badly.