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The would-be Peace President, by failing to grasp strategy the force, will leave a legacy of war

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This opinion piece by Charles Moore in the Telegraph is a good and thoughtful critique of Barack Obama's failed foreign policy.

People blame the new horrors in Iraq on the American-led invasion in 2003. But the exact reason why the country is in civil war today is because the Americans are not there. If US troops were still present, the fanatical ISIS, the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”, would not have swept through the north of the country and now be threatening Baghdad.

Mr Obama is not a pacifist. He sees the utility of force in individual tricky situations. It would not be at all surprising if he uses a bit of it soon, in drone or aerial form, in Iraq. What he does not see is its strategic value. He does not grasp, apparently, that the Pax Americana, under whose protection we have lived since 1945, has existed because it has always been backed by the credible threat of force. Weakness is provocative to bad actors, and some of the world’s worst have now been provoked. This seems to have come as an almost complete surprise to the Obama White House. The Peace President is starting to leave a legacy of war.

In the case of Iraq, so great has been the White House preoccupation with not being Bush-like that it has no other policy. Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State, famously invoked the “Pottery Barn rule” – “You break it, you own it”. Mr Obama thought that he did not break it himself (which was true), and drew the mistaken conclusion that therefore he did not own it. He did own it, simply because he is President of the United States. When he disowned it, in 2011, he ensured that it would break once more. No doubt his administration is right in all the hard things it lays at the door of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. But that is no self-exculpation. America left the country to him, declaring it stable. Yesterday, Mr Obama described the current situation as a ''regional problem’’, which wrongly implies that it’s not much to do with him.
 The fact is that you can say what you want about the wisdom of Bush's initial invasion of Iraq. But Obama should have known exactly what he was getting into when he decided to run for president. As Mr. Moore indicates, once Obama took office he owned it. It's much like when Nixon came into power. LBJ's Viet Nam War became Nixon's war, like it or not. That's just the way it works and it applies just as much today as it did in 1969.

And now Obama is learning the same lesson that Nixon learned. Nixon's solution was to "Vietanmize" the Viet Nam War. Of course it failed because you can throw millions of dollars at an army, provide it with the best military equipment money can buy, and give that army the best training available, but if the soldiers in the army do not want to fight for a corrupt government they won't. Now Obama is learning the same lesson. What Joe Biden once called the administration's "greatest achievement" has turned into one of the administration's greatest nightmares. And the administration and it's supporters are not going to be able to get out of this crisis by merely blaming Bush. 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/10897992/Iraq-Barack-Obamas-self-regarding-goodness-is-bad-news-for-the-rest-of-us.html
posted by John, 4:24 AM

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