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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

David Brooks, "Enter the Age of the Outsiders": The First Invertebrate to Occupy the Oval Office

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Enter the Age of the Outsiders," David Brooks writes of the chaos enveloping the world as Obama nears the end of his second term as president:

"The United States is no longer willing to occupy the commanding heights and oversee global order. In region after region, those who are weak in strength but strong in conviction are able to have their way. Vladimir Putin in Crimea, Ukraine and the Middle East. Bashar al-Assad crosses red lines in Syria. The Islamic State spreads in Syria and Iraq. Iranian proxy armies roam the region.

Republicans blame Obama for hesitant and halting policies, but it’s not clear the foreign policy and defense apparatus believes anymore in its own abilities to establish order, or that the American public has any confidence in U.S. effectiveness as a global actor."

Sorry, David, but don't try to shift the blame away from Obama. Perhaps the US foreign policy "apparatus," led by Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, never believed in American abilities, but US defense forces, with which I am intimately familiar, have always been ready and able.

Vladimir Putin? Recall Obama's March 2012 open mike promise to Putin, delivered via then Russian President Medvedev:

Obama: "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility."

Medvedev: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

And let's not forget Hillary's infamous "reset" button  delivered in 2009 to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Bashar al-Assad? Remember how Obama tried to spin his "red line" involving Syria's use of chemical weapons:

"I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line."

The world? Russia, China, Iran and Turkmenistan? Moreover, we mustn't forget how US Secretary of State John Kerry labeled Assad his "dear friend," and how his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, defended Assad in 2011:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? May the Lord have mercy on us!

The Islamic State? Again, it was Obama who called ISIS a "JV team" and then asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest to spin this remark, earning the president Four Pinocchios from WaPo's Glenn Kessler.

Iran? Obama placed us on notice that he wanted to see Iran emerge as a "successful regional power":

"They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there's incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of — inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody. That would be good for the United States, that would be good for the region, and most of all, it would be good for the Iranian people."

In fact, Obama was seeking a trade-off: If Iran agreed to his nuclear deal, thereby cementing his presidential "legacy," he would not stand in the way of Khamenei's Middle East ambitions. Hence, the recent "secret" arrival of 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops in Syria and Iran's coordinated attack upon rebel-held Aleppo with Russian air support. Hence, tacit acquiescence from the Oval Office when Iran test-launched on October 11 a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. Sure, US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared, "We will continue to press the Security Council for an appropriate response to Iran's disregard for its international obligations," but does anyone believe that the UN will do anything about it.

January 20, 2017 cannot come soon enough.

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