Archive for Foreign Policy

Nixon Went to China

And they didn’t write like this about him:

[I]ts state-run media says “U.S. public opinion has downgraded” the American leader in the wake of this week’s elections.

“Obama always utters ‘yes, we can,’ which led to the high expectations people had for him,” reports the Global Times, which has close ties with China’s Communist government. “But he has done an insipid job, offering nearly nothing to his supporters.”

It added: “U.S. society has grown tired of his banality.”

“He has managed to take U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but left no peace,” the state-run media organ said. “Osama Bin Laden was killed during his tenure, but the IS (Islamic State) has emerged from the Middle East.”

I’m no fan of the ChiComs, but they sure have Obama nailed. I grew tired of his banality in 2008. Glad the rest of America finally followed suit.

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Dear Ayatollah

Hi! This is Barack Hussein Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. How are you? Oh yeah, I’m President of the USA too, LOL. For now! ;)

Listen, lemme tell me why I’m writing:

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that, according to people briefed on the letter, Obama wrote to Khamenei in the middle of last month and stressed that any cooperation on dealing with the Islamic State, or ISIS, was tied to Iran striking a deal over its nuclear program. The U.S., Iran and other negotiators are facing a Nov. 24 deadline for such a deal.

A senior congressional source told Fox News that there is not anything definitive as to whether the letter even exists. But the source indicated they don’t doubt that it’s true because “we’ve seen [the president] do it before, so there is [a] precedent.”

According to the Journal, Obama has written to Khamenei four times now since taking office.

The congressional source told Fox News that the letter would upset the inroads they’ve tried to make with “the Sunni league,” noting that the president should have informed Congress of this back-channel if it was in fact going on.

“This f***s up everything,” the source said.

That’s how you know this story is true. Obama f***s up everything.

What does Obama write about? Sasha and Malia? The dogs? Hanging queers? Stoning women? And does he sign them “The Great Satan”?

I don’t think you have to kill everybody with whom you share absolutely no values. But you don’t have to write to them either.

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Amateur Hour

Have you heard the good news?

Turkey has agreed to allow the U.S.-led coalition to use its military bases for the fight against the Islamic State and to use Turkish territory as part of a training program for Syrian opposition fighters, Obama administration officials said Sunday.

“That’s a new commitment and one that we very much welcome,” Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Or we would…if it were true:

Turkey denied Monday that it has reached any “new agreement” with the United States to allow the use of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey for attacks on the Islamic State militant group, despite suggestions from the Obama administration that a deal had been reached.

A statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said talks are continuing between Ankara and Washington over whether to permit U.S. forces to use Incirlik in the fight against the Islamic State, a radical al-Qaeda offshoot that has captured parts of Syria and Iraq. However, “there is no new agreement on the Incirlik issue,” the statement said.

You can understand why the regime would send out Susan Rice of a Sunday morning to spread a false narrative. It worked so well last time.

I was just culling the list of categories we link to our posts. Who cares about Mohamed Morsi anymore? Gone. Same with Barney Frank, even Ted Kennedy. But I stumbled a category we created called Amateur Hour. I debated keeping it, but we use it so rarely…I deleted it. I am so sad now.

The rest of the world must be looking at us and thinking this administrated is peopled by humiliated rejects from American Idol. Is the “She Bangs” guy free for Secretary of State?

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Apology Tour

Not Obama’s (this time), Biden’s:

US Vice-President Joe Biden has apologised to the United Arab Emirates after suggesting it had fuelled the rise of extremist groups in Syria.

The White House confirmed the call to the UAE, a day after Mr Biden offered a similar apology to Turkey.

Mr Biden told the Harvard students on Thursday that Turkey, the UAE and Saudi Arabia had extended “billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tonnes of weapons” to Sunni fighters battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

He called the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Sunday to offer his apologies, following a request from the UAE authorities for “a formal clarification” of the comments.

His remarks were “amazing and ignore the role of the Emirates in the fight against extremism and terrorism,” UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Mohammad Gargash said, quoted by state-run WAM news agency.

In the telephone call, Mr Biden said that his remarks “regarding the early stages of the conflict in Syria were not meant to imply that the UAE had facilitated or supported IS, al-Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria”.

It is the second time in two days that he has had to call a key coalition partner to clarify his remarks.

On Saturday, he rang Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he reacted angrily to the comments, saying that if “Mr Biden used such language, that would make him a man of the past for me”.

It is not unusual for Joe Biden to speak his mind but recently he has found himself back-pedalling fast multiple times, says the BBC’s Tom Esslemont in Washington.

It’s hardly news that Biden is a knucklehead. But this episode reminds us of the fiction that he was supposed to be Obama’s sage counsel on world affairs. Obama thinks he’s a sager counsel than his sage counsels anyway (in the case of Biden, he’s not wrong).

I don’t see Biden’s offensive comments in his prepared remarks, so we have to go to the news media:

“Our allies in the region were our largest problem with Syria,” he said. “The Turks, who are great friends… the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar Al Assad] and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shiite war. What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of weapons into anyone who would fight against Al Assad.

“Except that the people who were being supplied were [Jabhat] Al Nusra and Al Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world,” he added, naming Syria’s Al Qaida affiliate.

I don’t know, is Biden wrong? If he didn’t say this in his prepared remarks, was this his unfiltered view? What the hell is the matter with us if the vile, awful, antisemitic Turks are our “great friends”? If diplomacy is the art of disguising what you think, Biden is not your man. If you want a peek inside the mind (to be generous) of this administration, there’s no one better.

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Once Upon a Time in America

That was then:

This is today:

The foreign minister of Russia has said it is time for a “reset 2.0″ in ties with the US, while blaming the Obama administration for their poor state.

Sergei Lavrov, who was minister during the 2010 “reset” of relations, said the current US administration had “wrecked much of the co-operation structures”.

“It is absolutely in our interests to normalise relations but we didn’t wreck them,” he told a Russian TV channel.

“Now there’s a need for what the Americans might call a ‘reset’,” Mr Lavrov told Russia’s Channel Five (in Russian).

“The current US administration is today wrecking much of the co-operation structures that it created itself along with us. Most likely, something more will come up – a reset No 2 or a reset 2.0.”

If not for the birth of her granddaughter, and if not her departure from this gaggle of losers a year and a half ago, I would call that a bitch-slap of Hillary Clinton. So I won’t. But it ain’t a peck on the cheek either.

Hey Barack, the 1980s called: they said you suck.

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Is This Still Smart Power?

It’s no surprise that that most self-celebrating of social media, Twitter, is this regime’s go-to method of foreign policy.

There was Michelle:

Then Jen Psaki:

Of course, Barack’s selfie:

With such a record of success, it’s no wonder they brought the hashtag to bear in the war on terror:

The State Department social media initiative designed to engage with ISIS terrorists and jihadist sympathizers is “embarrassing,” “ineffective” and “distressing,” the head of a prominent intelligence group wrote Tuesday in a scathing editorial.

The “Think Again Turn Away” campaign and Twitter account, launched by the State Department in December, in part, to dissuade on-the-fence jihadists from joining the fight against the West is actually serving to embolden and legitimize the social media presence of bloodthirsty terrorists already on the ground, Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, wrote in a Time magazine article published online Tuesday.

The State Department’s “English-language outreach program is not only ineffective, but also provides jihadists with a stage to voice their arguments,” Katz claimed, calling the initiative’s Twitter account a “gaffe machine that “walks dangerous ethical lines.”

“Thirteen years into the war on terror, it is distressing to see certain ways the U.S. government is combating domestic radicalization by groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,” Katz wrote. The account regularly (engages) in petty disputes with fighters and supporters of groups like IS (also known as ISIS), Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab, and (argues) over who has killed more people while exchanging sarcastic quips.”

“In order to counter a problem, one must first study it before adopting a solution. Had the people behind Think Again Turn Away understood jihadists’ mindsets and reasons for their behavior, they would have known that their project of counter messaging would not only be a waste of taxpayer money, but ultimately be counterproductive,” she wrote. “I would much rather see the State Department’s online ventures involved in projects that explain the great things American policies have achieved — not arguing with jihadi fighters on who killed more innocent Muslims.”

I don’t think they’re getting any smarter:

The U.S. State Department ratcheted up the online propaganda war on Wednesday, tweeting a photo composite showing four dead ISIS jihadis who it suggested were killed in overnight airstrikes in Syria.

The ‘Think Again Turn Away’ program’s Twitter account blasted out the image to nearly 8,000 followers. The initiative’s goal is to dissuade would-be jihadis, including so-called ‘foreign fighters,’ from joining up with ISIS.

One ISIS-linked Twitter account with nearly 10,000 followers claimed Tuesday night that the ‘first victims of air strikes by US on Syria’ were ‘children and women.’

Another tweeted news stories from dubious sources claiming French fighter jets mistakenly bombed Kurdish allies, killing 75 fighters in a friendly-fire cockup.

Separately, a weeks-long Twitter campaign centered around the hashtag #AMessageFromISIStoUS spread a series of chest-puffing boasts, including direct threats against the U.S. homeland.

We rightly condemn ISIS for broadcasting their executions of innocents hostages. But posting pictures of dead terrorists? In a Twitter account? By our government? Not only is it juvenile, it’s unseemly. Kill ‘em, kill ‘em all. Just don’t act like them.

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What Obama Knows

The title is Bret Stephens piece on the sad lack of understanding held by the current resident of the White House. It reminds me of What Maizie Knew, the terrific short novel by Henry James. Maizie knew a lot more than our President seems to, even as a little kid. But that’s a digression. Bret Stephens outlines a few of the spectacular holes in our President’s knowledge base:

…Now turn to Yemen. In 2012, after the Arab Spring, the president singled out Yemen as a model for a prospective political transition in Syria. Mr. Obama was at it again just two weeks ago, citing the fight against al Qaeda in Yemen as the model for the war he intends to wage against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Whoops. “Over the weekend,” noted McClatchy’s Adam Baron on Monday, “the growing gap between administration rhetoric and reality came to a head, as the acerbically anti-American Houthi rebels—who American diplomats allege have close financial and military ties with Iran—took control of many areas of the capital, Sanaa, with minimal resistance from the U.S.-supplied Yemeni armed forces.”

Keep going around the world. He declared victory over al Qaeda and dismissed groups such as ISIS as “the jayvee team” at the very moment that al Qaeda was roaring back. He mocked the notion of Russia being our enemy—remember the line about the 1980s wanting “its foreign policy back”?—just as Russia was again becoming our enemy.

He predicted in 2012 that “Assad’s days are numbered” just as the Syrian dictator was turning the tide of war in his favor. He defended last November’s nuclear deal with Tehran, saying “it’s not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back or strengthen sanctions even further” in the event that diplomacy failed. In reality, as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies notes, “burgeoning trade ties with Turkey, increased oil sales to China, and reports of multibillion-dollar Russian-Iranian trade deals, not yet consummated but in the offing, are giving [Iran] a ‘Plan B’ escape hatch.”

I clipped that section from the middle. You can read more at the beginning and at the end. It all amounts to the same stuff. We have a loser in the White House.

And so I have a question guys: Should we be bombing Syria? On the one hand, I see the necessity, but on the other I see the absolute lunacy of trusting any of us to an aggressive foreign policy moving forward. We just can’t make up our minds. The summer is over (sob), but the analogy to our foreign policy that persistently comes to my mind is the lemonade stand run by a bunch of eight year olds, until they get bored. We are the true JV’s.

– Aggie

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When You Want Something Done Right

You have Joe Biden do it:

“They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice,” he forcefully told an audience at an event on the New Hampshire-Maine border. “Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.”

Not bad. And he wasn’t done:

Describing the perpetrators as “barbarians,” Biden vowed that Americans would not be frightened or intimidated by the heinous acts.

“We came back after 9/11. We dusted ourselves off and we made sure that Osama bin Laden would never, ever again threaten the American people,” Biden said. “We came back Boston strong, blaming no one but resolve to be certain that this didn’t happen again.”

“As a nation, we’re united, and when people harm Americans, we don’t retreat,” he later said. “We don’t forget.”

I’m glad to know we finally have a strategy!

Or do we?

Obama said they do have a regional strategy. Ultimately, he said, “our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so it is no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.”

He clarified that if the U.S. is joined by an international coalition, they can “continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

What happened to “the gates of hell”? What happened to “we don’t retreat”, “we don’t forget”?

What else in the Middle East is “manageable”? Iraq? Syria? Iran? We can’t even “manage” our embassy pool in Tripoli.

Obama tried. His prepared remarks said we would “degrade and destroy” ISIS—which is already a mixed signal. Degraded is not destroyed; destroyed renders degraded irrelevant.

He ended up reiterating his original statement. Gates of hell, degraded, destroyed, managed—if you’ve got several strategies, you’ve got no strategy.

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“Preemptive Retreat”

Well said, Col. Peters:

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS: [T]he president and all the president’s men and women look at everything politically and domestically. What’s the effect on the base, etc? As a result, they blithely fled from Iraq after we won a hard fought victory that at times I didn’t think we could pull off. Amazing, amazing triumph, and he runs away. Not only do we have a mess in Iraq, but I truly believe it triggered so much else, Syria as a minimum, the mess in Egypt, Libya. He is the one that opened Pandora’s box, not George W. Bush. Barack Obama, with his philosophy of preemptive retreat, is responsible for the blood bath in the Middle East today.

Retreat? He’s looking fore-ward!

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How to Lie

Not that I’m an expert (more than any other blogger), but one of the first rules of lying is to commit to one lie at a time.

Isn’t that right, Mr. President?

At a Saturday press conference, a reporter asked President Obama a question that’s been on our mind since Obama announced a new U.S. military intervention in Iraq: “Mr. President, do you have any second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq? And does it give you pause as the U.S.–is it doing the same thing in Afghanistan?”

“What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision,” Obama replied. “Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government.”

So, he’s going to blame Bush. Five and a half years into his administration, almost a lame duck himself. Very well, if that’s his plan.

Why then, pray tell, this?

“We needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system,” the president said. The Iraqis rejected that demand. “So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because . . . a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq.”

What do you mean “we”, Kimosabe? Don’t you mean “they”, the previous administration? Or is there more to this “we” than we thought?

In an April story for The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins painted a more complicated picture. U.S. military commanders told Filkins that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “said that he wanted to keep [U.S.] troops in Iraq,” but that “parliament would forbid the troops to stay unless they were subject to local law.” But “President Obama, too, was ambivalent about retaining even a small force in Iraq”:

For several months, American officials told me, they were unable to answer basic questions in meetings with Iraqis–like how many troops they wanted to leave behind–because the Administration had not decided. “We got no guidance from the White House,” [James] Jeffrey [the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad in 2011] told me. “We didn’t know where the President was. Maliki kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to sell.’ ” At one meeting, Maliki said that he was willing to sign an executive agreement granting the soldiers permission to stay, if he didn’t have to persuade the parliament to accept immunity. The Obama Administration quickly rejected the idea. “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible,” Sami al-Askari, [an] Iraqi member of parliament, said.

How many different euphemisms for the First Prevaricator did you count? And how many ways does he sound responsible for the decision?

Obama himself said as much, during the third 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney:

Romney: With regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should have been a status-of-forces agreement. Did you–

Obama: That’s not true.

Romney: Oh, you didn’t–you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?

Obama: No, but what I–what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down.

So, somewhere between 0 and 9,999 troops, sir? Or are you saying you would have stationed more than 10,000? It’s so hard to tell with you.

It’s hard to take responsibility for your hopeless eff-ups in politics, I get that. But it’s easier than this game of solitaire Twister.

Speaking of hopeless eff-ups:

In a wide-ranging interview with the New Yorker, President Barack Obama compared Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq and Syria to junior varsity basketball players, downplaying their threat as small-league. He also shared what he thought were the chances of reaching Middle East peace agreements.

New Yorker editor David Remnick pointed out to the president that the Al Qaeda flag is now seen flying in Falluja in Iraq and in certain locations in Syria, and thus the terrorist group has not been “decimated” as Obama had said during his 2012 reelection campaign.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told Remnick. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

Remnick characterized Obama’s analogy as “uncharacteristically flip.”

Yeah, I’d say so. But don’t say that to Obama or he’ll call “horse[bleep]“.

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B Kind 2 Barack

What do you want from the guy?

The world is a hot mess. Pro-Russian separatists shot down a passenger jet over Ukraine. Iraq is under siege from Islamic radicals, the Taliban is rebounding in Afghanistan and civil war grinds on in Syria.

Israel is fighting in Gaza. Negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program have come up empty. China is bullying its neighbors.

When trouble flares up around the world, U.S. presidents get blamed. The latest polls show that only about 36 percent of Americans approve of Barack Obama’s handling of foreign affairs — down from 51 percent in May, 2011, after the death of Osama bin Laden.

Republicans have not been reluctant to place responsibility on him. “Obama has presided over a recent string of disasters that make even (Jimmy) Carter look competent,” wrote Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. “The world is on fire — and Obama’s foreign policy legacy is in tatters.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina charged that “his policies are failing across the globe.”

The indictment implies that had the administration been tougher or smarter, Ukraine would be intact, Syria’s dictator would be gone, Iraq would be stable, Hamas would surrender, China would be a gentle lamb and Iran would give up its nukes.

Conservatives say Obama thinks he’s king. But they seem to confuse him with God.

Silly conservatives. Where’d they get that idea?

But if Obama doesn’t deserve his 36% approval rating now (and he doesn’t, it’s way too high), he didn’t deserve the 51% approval when SEAL Team Six greased Osama bin Laden (while Obama watched from the corner of the room in a golf jacket).

But yeah, I’ll go along with the idea that if this administration had been tougher and smarter, some or all of the world’s hot spots today would be at least a little less hot. Who fears or respects us? Who can even determine what it is we want, much less what we demand? Obama’s much-derided “apology tour” in his early days presaged these days of dithering. The US had too often thrown its weight around, he lamented: more Mr. Nice Guy.

And note that by acknowledging anti-Americanism, he hasn’t made America any more popular. I’d prefer respect, and accept fear, but they don’t even like us. They don’t like him, either, not anymore.

[T]he belief persists that the difference between a bad outcome and a good outcome is a willingness by the U.S. government to exercise leadership or show toughness or otherwise get involved. In practice, our interventions often exact a terribly high price for a dismal result. If there are two ways to get a dismal result, maybe we should choose the one that doesn’t cost us thousands of lives or billions of dollars.

See Syria, for example. Or Iraq. Or Libya. Or Gaza. Or Ukraine. Or “our girls” in Nigeria. Or the Rio Grande. Or Chicago. Dismal results, all, and all free of charge and with no lives lost.

Oh wait…

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Chips and Guacamole!

Obama’s foreign policy:

As smoke billowed from the downed Malaysian jetliner in the fields of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, President Obama pressed ahead with his schedule: a cheeseburger with fries at the Charcoal Pit in Delaware, a speech about infrastructure and two splashy fund-raisers in New York City.

The potential for jarring split-screen imagery was clear. Reports of charred bodies and a ground-to-air missile attack from Eastern Europe dominated television screens while photographers snapped pictures of a grinning Mr. Obama holding a toddler at the restaurant. The presidential motorcade was later filmed pulling up to Trump Place Apartments, the Riverside Avenue venue for his first fund-raiser.

Excuse me, New York Times editors, but isn’t “grinning” one of those racist dog whistles? My Bloodthirsty Puppy jumped to her feet when she read that.

Moments after making a grim statement about Ukraine on Friday, the president popped into the East Room, where the first lady, Michelle Obama, was holding a mock state dinner for children to promote her Let’s Move nutrition initiative. “My big thing,” he confessed to the kids, “chips and guacamole!” There was plenty of laughter all around.

Ha-ha-ha-ha! What a card.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Obama flew to Camp David for the weekend. This week, he plans a three-day fund-raising swing in Seattle and California. White House officials said there were no plans to cancel the trip.

Of course not. They need the money.

Obama can’t afford to change his plans: that might raise expectations that he could or would actually do something. He likens himself to a bear on the loose, and there’s something to that: bears root through dumpsters and garbage cans looking for food. Meanwhile, the Russian bear lumbers across the landscape without opposition.

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