Obama’s ‘ALL IS WELL!’ World View

animal-house-remain_calm1On Tuesday, Obama spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and made some of the following comments:

“The world is more stable now than it was five years ago.” “Just as we reviewed how we deploy our extraordinary military capabilities in a way that lives up to our ideals, we’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share,” he said. “As a result of this work and cooperation with allies and partners, the world is more stable than it was five years ago,” he added. Obama did note, however, that “dangers remain.” “Even a glance at today’s headlines indicates that dangers remain,” Obama said. “In Kenya we’ve seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have been affected. In Pakistan nearly 100 people were recently killed by suicide bombers outside a church. In Iraq killings and car bombs continue to be a terrible part of life.” “Meanwhile, al-Qaida has splintered into regional networks and militias which doesn’t give them the capacity at this point to carry out attacks like 9/11, but it does pose serious threats to governments and diplomats, businesses and civilians all across the globe.”

Now, he did acknowledge there are dangers.  Bully for him.  But the rest of this world vision simply is a level of self-delusion that is not just amusing for his opponents and our enemies on the world stage, but is in fact quite dangerous.

Let us take a case by case look at the world, shall we?

Afghanistan:  Almost twice as many American military personnel have died in that country under Barack Obama’s 4+ years than during Bush’s 7 years of  over seeing that war.  The government has largely distanced itself from its American counterparts, and to varying degrees has aligned itself with Iran and Pakistan.  The Taliban is resurgent, and simply are waiting for the inevitable Obama announcement for exiting the war all together.

Pakistan:  This critical nation is more destabilized now than ever.  The political situation is tenuous, and our relations with them continue to reach all-time new lows.

Iran:  Iran inches toward nuclear weapons, a clear goal if there ever was one.  We missed an opportunity during the Green revolution in 2009, and such a chance will be unlikely to come again.

Iraq:  The country for which Obama has the least historical responsibility, but things are not going well here.  Violence has escalated, almost close to the levels of the civil war of 2006.  And because we withdrew from the Bush-era force agreement, we have no leverage there, as Iraq, like Syria before it, starts to become a proxy state for the Iranians.

Syria:  The biggest, most glaring hole in Obama’s claim.  100,000 Syrians have died during the two-year civil war, and tens of thousands more will die before the war is over.

Israel/Palestine:  The peace process has been dead as a doornail, with neither side even approaching the negotiation table.

Egypt:  After Syria, maybe the next most glaring example of failure.  Violence has been rampant all year, as the Muslim Brotherhood was pushed out of the democratic process.  Ever since Obama helped displace Mubarak from the leadership, Egypt has been in a slow death spiral.  Now, ironically, it looks like only the Egyptian military, from which Mubarak himself originated, can save the country.

Libya:  We helped oust Qadhafi, and ever since, it has been a failed state.  The central government controls less than 1/3 of the nation. Islamists control the rest. Many of the weapons we sent to the rebels has been used in other Islamist conflicts through out Africa, the most prominent being the Mali civil war.

Russia: Outside of the Middle East, the biggest diplomatic failure.  We are closer to a new Cold War than we have been since 1991.  Putin has no respect or love for Obama, and opposes him at every turn.

Al Qaeda/Islamic terrorists;  Probably deserves its own category.  Whether you are discussing Yemen, Kenya, or elsewhere, the death of Osama Bin Laden has done little if anything to stop the generational war that Islamists continue to fight, whether we admit it or not.

Simply put, no rational analysis of the world situation can result in thinking the world is more stable today than five years ago.  We can argue whether this is Obama’s fault or not, whether this is a historical trend we are swimming against, whether this all the fault of George W. Bush, or maybe the fault of Aliens.  But in short…Obama’s view is simply delusional.  There is no other way to describe it.

The Logic of War, Part II – The Syrian Conundrum

Syria-Civil-War

Yesterday, in the post linked here, I discussed generally what I believe should be our logical process in evaluating whether a war was reasonable and necessary.

Today, I am going to put Syria to the test.

1.  U.S. National Interest.

Clearly, we must have some vital interest that involves us in a conflict.  If a war goes on in a region of the world where we have no diplomatic, military, or financial objective…we simply must turn away.  We are not the world’s policeman, as much as Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain and others would apparently like to make us so.

As for Syria, do we have a vital interest?  Syria probably falls into that over broad category.  Like the Cold War, Misters Obama and Kerry are arguing that any destabilization of the Middle East is worrisome.  Syria could potentially be a threat to our allies, Israel and Turkey.  And they fear the conflict spilling over its borders into places such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

I find this argument less than compelling.  If destabilization is a threat…then why are we not more involved in Egypt today? Or, for a larger question:  why are we allowing Iran to build nuclear weapons?  Both likely have far more national implications for the United States.  One could even make the argument that pulling our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan destabilizes the region.

But, history has given Presidents broad leeway on this, and I guess I should do the same for President Obama.  Syria does in the broadest and most vague terms fit the arena of American national interest.

2.  Do we have a list of defined goals and objectives?

I think the clear answer here is a categorical ‘No’.

During yesterday’s testimony to Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked this time and again, and could not provide a rational response.

Does anyone, including the President, have any idea what the endgame is?  We have already been assured that regime change is out of the question, so removal of Assad from power is not a goal of these strikes (Ironically, Kerry stated it may be a goal of our diplomatic approach, but not the military action; if that makes any sense).  That also means they don’t want to wipe out the current Syrian army.

The Defense Department has stated that there is no tactical way of destroying the chemical weapons stashes around the country…so ridding the country of WMD is not possible.

And a ground invasion is off the table, at least theoretically.

The only argument for a defined goal that I can fathom is that we are acting as the world’s policeman, and wish to ‘punish’ the Syrian authorities for use of chemical weapons.  This might be meaningful, if we had the world community supporting us.  Of course, we don’t.  The United Nations refuses to authorize this, and most of our major allies have decided to stay at home.

3.  Are the goals worthwhile?

Not sure how to answer this after the answer in question #2, but I think it is fair to say that if you have no real goals in mind, there is nothing worthwhile in the effort.

If the only goal is to punish Syria, then will the missile strikes that are being contemplated achieve even that minimal goal?

 4.  Are the goals achievable?

What goals?

OK, let us, for the sake of argument, say our goal is policing the world community, and to punish Assad for violating international norms.

If that is the case, what punishment would suffice?  Clearly not a few Tomahawk missiles, that is for sure.  In the past two decades, such action against the likes of Saddam Hussein did nothing but bolster their regimes hard-line stances.

You would need a systematic disruption of the ability of the Syrian army’s ability to fight the rebels; strategic destruction of the Syrian air force; and some sort of diminshed ability of the Syrians to use chemical weapons.  Furthermore, direct assault on Assad’s own power base would be helpful.

After the testimony of Defense officials, other than the destruction of the Syrian air force, none of these goals are achievable.  And even the Syrian Air Force may be a tough target to destroy. Certainly, we could hurt Assad’s forces.

That said, how would we hurt Assad in such a way, when Mr. Kerry specifically stated that our goal is not to hurt Assad in such a way?

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I admit there may be a logical reason to strike Syria.  The use of chemical weapons should be considered beyond the pale, an act of evil against civilians that should not stand.

However, nothing in this strategy from the Obama Administration makes the least amount of sense.  They probably have, in the most lenient definition imaginable, some national interest involved.  But they have yet to articulate a rational set of goals that are worthwhile and achievable considering the situation on the ground.

Until they meet those criteria, they should not involve the United States in any foreign intervention.