With the news last week that President Obama intends to have all troops out of Iraq “by the holidays,” many of the major “news” outlets have begun a campaign to give the President an inordinate amount of credit for what many Americans feel have been foreign policy wins. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even here at SUFA we had folks give him more credit than he deserved for foreign policy actions in the past. But before we start just handing out “Obama 2012: Tough on Terror”campaign buttons, we really should take a look at how we got to where we are before we start pretending that the President is somehow a foreign policy savant. Because the reality is that the media’s plan to paint Obama as having victories in the foreign policy realm are really nothing more than an attempt to pretend that the economic ineptitude of his administration isn’t a reason to not re-elect him….
Allow me to first say that I am quite pleased to hear that the troops in Iraq are coming home. As many of you know I have embraced a defense only policy, which means that I don’t want our troops out there at all unless we are facing a direct threat from someone, which is pretty rare these days. So let me first give the President credit for following through and bringing those troops home, which is happening later than he initially promised as candidate Obama, but is still within his first term, so he deserves some credit.
However, let us not forget that the ability to make that happen can be directly attributed to George W. Bush, who despite all the naysayers, put forth the troop surge that turned the Iraq war around and moved it from a loss, which the Democrats were fervently pushing towards, into the win column. There is little debate around the success of the troop surge and there is no questioning the fact that the troop surge was the turning point in the war. Without it, we would have ended up bringing the troops home, but would have done so with their tails between their legs, and we certainly wouldn’t be giving Barack Obama any pats on the back for “ending the war.”
And one of the Senators that fervently opposed that troop surge was then Senator Barack Obama. He actively opposed the troop surge and claimed that it would actually increase the sectarian violence in Iraq:
So I am not quite ready to give him all the credit for a foreign policy victory. Had we followed his advice, we wouldn’t be leaving Iraq with a win, we would be leaving with a loss. It is less a victory for Obama in the foreign policy realm than a victory for President Bush despite President Obama.
Meanwhile, the war that Obama said was “the important war, the right war,” Afghanistan, hasn’t really been moving along in the way that we would like. US soldier casualties are higher and the effect we are having as we attempt to turn that country around is coming in at a draw at this point. This was the war that Obama pledged to fight and win while on the campaign trail. However, he hasn’t really done much to make that happen. There have been several areas where he ignored the recommendations of leaders within the military. One could say that his leadership in regard to the war he thought was important has been dismal.
In fact, his leadership in Afghanistan has been so bad that the President of Afghanistan said this weekend that if there was a war between the United States and Pakistan, Afghanistan would stand with…. Pakistan! The government that the United States put in power would side with our enemies! You can read about that statement here:
Then there are the killings of those we don’t like. We can start with Bin Laden. I don’t think anyone thinks it is a bad thing that he is now dead. I sure would have liked to see a body or some evidence though… You have to admit that the entire episode simply doesn’t pass the sniff test. No verification. A burial at sea within 24 hours. I won’t go as far as to say it didn’t happen that way, but unlike the 9/11 hoo ha, this conspiracy theory is at least plausible.
Regardless we will operate under the assumption that everything is as it seems and it was a perfectly normal idea to bury him at sea so quickly that no one could verify anything. Following through on the US promise to hunt the guy down is a good thing. At least he didn’t abandon that declaration. However, that he happened to be the guy in office when it all went down doesn’t impress me that much. I don’t believe that he made a single decision that any other President would have made. “Hey, the guy that the voting public wants dead more than anyone else in the world happens to be in our sites. Should we take the shot?” What President would not have said “Yes”?
Add to this a few drone bombings that took out high level targets. The American born cleric and the rogue leader of Libya. I am not sure what credit he does or does not deserve in these strikes. He basically gave the order to use drone strikes throughout the area where the cleric was hiding out. And in Libya, we made a big point of claiming that we were NOT taking the leadership position there. Even addressing the UN a few weeks ago, Obama noted that the US was playing a limited supportive role in Libyan operations.
Add to that the fact that the US didn’t have nearly the role in his death that was initially claimed. A single US drone was among those who launched the first strikes on the convoy, after a Royal Air Force jet spotted the convoy. The French fighter jets came and did the majority of the damage, and NATO aircraft did the rest. Important to note is that no one knew that Qadaffi was in the convoy until after the fact. And as the video shows, the strikes on the convoy, at best, contributed to the capture of the ousted leader. He was killed by a gunshot to the head. So I am not so sure that Obama should really get any credit at all for what happened there.
That being said, I will give credit for one aspect of the Libyan conflict that many are ignoring: the fact that we weren’t involved heavily in it. As someone who does’t want us fighting wars that aren’t really ours, I applaud Obama for not having the US take the lead on Libya. I would have preferred we stay out of it altogether, but this was a step in the right direction.
I could go on and further give my thoughts on Obama’s foreign policy record, but I will leave that to the discussions. In my opinion, the reality is that what foreign policy success we have had since Obama took office has largely been in spite of him rather than because of him. Sure, he is great at standing in front of his teleprompter and telling us all what a great job he is doing (while simultaneously giving NO ONE else any credit for what happens), but the reality is that when it comes to foreign policy, he has been as inept as any President I can remember.
But with an economy that he continues to fail to improve (mostly because of his piss poor ideas for affecting any economic recovery), the “I Heart Obama” media has to find something to say that he did well on, so this is what they are going to run with for now. Hopefully, most Americans won’t be foolish enough to fall for any of it.