Posted on | August 26, 2014 | 38 Comments
There seems to be some confusion about President Obama’s “foreign policy.” At times, it has been alleged that he actually has a policy, but these allegations have never been substantiated. My perception, after watching this administration’s actions for the past five years, is that the “foreign policy” is just one continual ad hoc improvisation.
It’s not a Mozart concerto, it’s bebop jazz. For example:
The White House is struggling to deliver a clear message on the threat posed by radical Islamist group ISIS and what the administration might do to counteract it.
Officials have sowed confusion by giving different statements at different times on the level of danger posed by the Islamic group, whose full name is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Obama’s decision last year to ask Congress for authority to level Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces with air strikes is also haunting the administration as it mulls strikes in Syria against ISIS. There have been no guarantees that similar Congressional approval will be sought this time around.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was peppered with questions on the issue Monday. Referring to the proposed strikes against the Assad regime last year, Earnest responded, “That was a different situation, right?”
But he said little that was definitive about whether attacks against ISIS in Syria are now being considered. Any such action would represent a major escalation from the current situation, in which the U.S. is carrying out airstrikes against ISIS positions in northwestern Iraq.
Strikes within Syria would not merely represent a significant ramping-up of U.S, military action. They would also risk providing de facto assistance to the Assad regime, even while the United States hopes that government will be deposed.
See? The chattering class is convinced that the Obama administration has a “message” problem, when in fact, it’s a policy problem.
Exactly what the hell is the policy? Today is Tuesday, so the Obama administration’s Tuesday policy is in effect, and the Tuesday policy is whatever the hell they decide it is. There’s no long-term plan, no overarching strategy. For the first four years, the Obama administration’s foreign policy was the same as its domestic policy, i.e., “Whatever It Takes to Get Obama Re-Elected.” Now, it seems, the policy is “Whatever It Takes to Help Harry Reid Keep the Senate Majority.”
What this translates to is rather simple:
- Try to avoid obvious disasters.
- When obvious disasters happen anyway, try to avoid blame.
- If you can’t avoid blame, minimize the disaster, accuse critics of racism and get your media friends to change the subject.
As long as the media are eagerly solicitous to pretend that the Obama presidency has been a spectacular success, this approach can never fail. If radical Islamic terrorists were to take over Cleveland, Ohio, next Thursday, the media would unite their voices in a chorus of praise for the president’s handling of the “Cleveland crisis,” and any Republican who pointed out the obvious truth — that the crisis was actually a direct result of Obama’s failed policies — would be denounced as an irresponsible extremist hatemonger.
The media are judging the Obama administration by the standards of a kiddie soccer league where the score doesn’t matter and every child gets a trophy. As a matter of politics, therefore, Obama is always the winner. But policy failure is still policy failure, no matter how many times you call it “success.” If the media had been this blindly partisan in 1968, LBJ would have cruised to re-election on the strength of his “successful” policy in Vietnam.