Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

When then-Candidate Obama ran for office in 2008, he sounded an optimistic tone, constantly talking about “hope and change.” A month into President Obama’s administration, President Obama’s governing motto morphed into “We won.” President Obama killed bipartisanship a month into his administration. It’s been downhill since. Salena Zito’s latest column highlights President Obama’s boorish behavior last week in the aftermath of ISIS’s terrorist attacks on Paris.

Ms. Zito noted that the definition of leadership “is guidance, direction, inspiration, motivation. And, at a moment when our nation felt most vulnerable and needed reassurance that the man in control was looking out for our welfare, we found ourselves irrevocably disappointed. Americans wanted sober, serious and authoritative. What they got was prickly and tone deaf.” President Hope and Change hasn’t listened to We The People since the passing of his failed stimulus bill. We saw the last of President Hope and Change about 3 years before the end of his first term.

Pressured by reporters about his strategy for fighting ISIS, his ill-tempered response offered no direct answer. Instead, he sharply rebuked his critics before doubling down on his tepid, ever-changing policy for taking on the terror group.

President Obama is too narcissistic to admit that he’s gotten virtually every major foreign policy wrong. It isn’t just that others might’ve done details differently. It’s that they wouldn’t have been foolish enough to offer Russia a reset button or negotiate with Iran, the biggest state sponsor of terror. They definitely wouldn’t have held a Rose Garden press conference to announce that he’d traded 5 top terrorist generals for an American deserter.

Ms. Zito got the ending right:

The majority of Ameri­cans are not behind Obama’s plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, according to Bloomberg and NBC News polls conducted last week. The fear felt by Americans crosses both parties, and it is not unreasonable. In such a time of crisis or doubt, a president’s purpose is to calm our fears, not to put on a professorial hat and declare, “I am right and you are wrong.”

The fact is, Obama will never change; anytime he is backed into a corner, he not only puts on that professor’s hat but he also blames whatever problem exists on Congress and, inevitably, divides the country still further.

That is not leadership — but it sure is politics.

President Obama failed Leadership 101 in college. That’s why he’s spent the last 7 years as the Divider-in-chief.

When President Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that ISIS was contained hours before ISIS’ sophisticated terrorist attacks in Paris, it was done in response to people’s concerns that President Obama’s strategy wasn’t working. What it revealed, however, is how dishonest the administration is.

When Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper, Rhodes said “What we’ve been able to do is stop that advance and reclaim territory, going on offense with our partners on the ground, most recently retaking the strategic town of Sindjar, which cuts off the supply line between Raqqa, Syria and Mosul in Iraq.”

Let’s be clear about this. While the US military has performed valiantly, this administration has tied their hands with counterproductive restrictive rules of engagement. Further, it’s dishonest to hear Deputy Rhodes distract attention away from the important consideration of whether ISIS terrorists have the capability of conducting sophisticated terrorist attacks anywhere in the world. It’s nice to hear that ISIS is contained geographically. It’s important that we know that ISIS can’t inflict mass casualty terrorist attacks in Paris or Washington, DC.

Finally, the truth is that President Obama hasn’t contained ISIS geographically. ISIS has temporarily chosen not to expand geographically, devoting more of its resources to killing western infidels than on expanding its geographic footprint.

That isn’t a soothing final thought.

Normally, Kirsten Powers is one of the somewhat sane liberals in the national media. Ms. Powers’ latest USA Today article proves that there’s an exception to every rule.

The subject of Ms. Powers’ latest column is last week’s Benghazi hearing. According to Ms. Powers, who seems to have digested the Democrats’ chanting points then regurgitated them for this column, Republicans “bungling and bullying at Thursday’s hearing should count as an in-kind donation to the Clinton campaign.” Of course, Ms. Powers then said that what “happened in Benghazi matters” before saying that “investigating security failures, especially those that resulted in the deaths of Americans, is a laudable endeavor.”

Unfortunately, she then asked “does anyone really believe that’s what the Republicans were up to last week?”

The reason I suspect that this is a world-class spin job is this question:

But is it really a mystery as to why a friend of at least two decades would have her email address?

That’s spin. It isn’t surprising that Sid Blumenthal would have Hillary’s email address. It’s that Christopher Stevens didn’t have it. This emphasizes the point:

“During the hearing Michael McFaul tweeted, “As ambassador in Russia, I enjoyed multiple ways to communicate with Secretary Clinton. Email was never one of them.”

Actually, McFaul might’ve highlighted something important in that tweet. Clearly, he was able to “communicate with Secretary Clinton.” Why wasn’t Ambassador Stevens able to communicate directly with Mrs. Clinton? It’s clear that Stevens tried getting Mrs. Clinton’s attention often. According to documentation introduced at the hearing, Christopher Stevens literally made hundreds of requests for additional security.

According to Mrs. Clinton’s testimony, she never received a single request. She said that she “neither rejected or approved” any of Christopher Stevens’ security requests.

Ms. Powers says that “hate-blinded Republicans” bungled the hearing. That’s a cheap shot and then some. Republicans weren’t blinded with hate. They were determined to find out why Mrs. Clinton failed to protect Christopher Stevens, the man Mrs. Clinton called her “dear friend.” Is it typical for Mrs. Clinton to treat dear friends like that? If it is, then I’m thankful I’m not one of Hillary’s dear friends.

Does Ms. Powers think that it isn’t a big deal that Mrs. Clinton repeatedly told the American people for well over a week that a video caused the terrorist attack after telling her daughter that it was a terrorist attack? Does Ms. Powers think it isn’t a big deal that Mrs. Clinton told the Egyptian prime minister and the Libyan president that Christopher Stevens died in a terrorist attack?

If asking tough questions of Mrs. Clinton is bullying, then this nation’s best days are in its past. If trying to hold Mrs. Clinton accountable for her decisions is proof that Republicans hat Mrs. Clinton, then Ms. Powers has a dramatically different definition of hatred than I do. Does Ms. Powers think Mike Pompeo bullied Mrs. Clinton when he asked her why nobody at the State Department got fired for not approving Christopher Stevens’ requests for additional security? Does Ms. Powers think Susan Brooks bullied Mrs. Clinton when she asked Mrs. Clinton if she ever talked with Christopher Stevens after he was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Libya?

Personally, I’d call those important, thoughtful questions proof that Republicans on that committee took their jobs seriously.

Finally, I’d love hearing Ms. Powers response to whether these questions are either a) inappropriate or b) proof that I’m trying to bully Mrs. Clinton.

Donald Trump has defied political gravity this entire summer. No matter what offensive thing he said, no matter who he offended, Mr. Trump’s poll numbers stayed high or, sometimes, increased. Based on this NBC-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll, that incredible run appears to have ended in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

This poll doesn’t appear to show that Mr. Trump’s numbers have leveled off. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Trump’s numbers have dropped — significantly. Iowa’s results highlight this perfectly. In this month’s poll, Mr. Trump leads with 24%, followed by Dr. Ben Carson with 19%, Carly Fiorina with 8%, Jeb Bush with 7%, with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal getting 6% each. That’s a sharp drop-off from September’s poll, which had Mr. Trump leading with 29%, Dr. Carson with 22%, Jeb Bush with 6% and Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul with 5% each.

It doesn’t get better for Mr. Trump in New Hampshire:

It isn’t coincidence that Trump got exposed at the last debate as not having much of a command of the issues, especially compared with Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. Put differently, Mr. Trump is failing the ‘commander-in-chief test’.

In interviews afterwards, Mr. Trump said he didn’t want to say what, specifically, he’d do in the Middle East because he wanted Putin and Assad to worry what he’d do. It sounded to many like he was dodging the question because he didn’t have a plan.

Mrs. Fiorina in particular didn’t have a problem telegraphing her strategy. In Mrs. Fiorina’s case, she wanted Putin to know what things she’d do to Russia if she became president.

Almost 18 months ago, President Obama announced that the United State would start an air campaign to degrade and destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Thus far, President Obama’s military strategy has been virtually nonexistent. This morning, Russia told the US military to stay out of Syria so it could conduct the airstrikes. Surprisingly, President Obama didn’t agree to Russia’s order.

According to reports, “Russian warplanes have begun bombarding Syrian opposition targets in the war torn nation’s north, working on behalf of dictator Bashar al Assad, according to a senior military official. The official said airstrikes targeted fighters in the vicinity of Homs, located roughly 60 miles east of a Russian naval facility in Tartus, and were carried out by a “couple” of Russian bombers.”

It’s worth noting that Russia isn’t targeting ISIS. Yesterday, Donald Trump said that we should let Russia take out ISIS first, then the United States can take out Assad. I wrote here that Trump’s policy is as weak as President Obama’s.

Letting Russia reassert itself in Syria gives them a foothold from which they can destabilize the region. Certainly, Russia is attempting to prop up Syria and Iran. That isn’t in the United States’ interests economically or in the fight to eliminate global jihadists. A protected Iran isn’t in our allies’ interests. It certainly isn’t in Israel’s interests if Iran is protected by Putin.

It’s time for President Obama to stop his appeasement policies. It’s time, too, for Mr. Trump to start learning the players in the Middle East. Either that or it’s time for him to drop out. At this point, Trump’s grasp of the Middle East, or lack thereof, is frightening our allies.

It’s fitting that Esther Goldberg’s post proclaims Goldberg’s devotion to Donald Trump. It’s fitting because Ms. Goldberg’s post is like Trump — mostly ad hominem attacks. It’s telling that the post is titled “Why I don’t like Carly Fiorina.” That’s fair enough. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

It didn’t take Ms. Goldberg long to start with the ad hominem attacks. She started by criticizing Mrs. Fiorina, saying that Mrs. Fiorina turned her off “when she referred to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei as the ‘Supreme Leader’ during the second debate”, arguing that there’s “something incongruous about anyone, especially the leader of the free world, addressing a brutal dictator who wants to take us all back to the 7th century as ‘Supreme Leader’.”

After saying that Fiorina wouldn’t meet with Putin, Ms. Goldberg said that “Trump believes that if you are respected as a leader you have an advantage. And unlike Obama, he’d be respected.” My first question is simple. Why Trump would be respected? His understanding of the U.S.-Russian relationship is virtually nonexistent. Trump said in a debate that he’d bone up on foreign policy if he became president.

Mrs. Fiorina, like Sen. Rubio, understands the subtleties and details of the U.S.-Russian relationship. She understands, as does Sen. Rubio, that Putin isn’t impressed with having a chat. Putin won’t be impressed until there’s a show of force. Mr. Trump would likely be more forceful than Obama, though that isn’t a high bar to step over.

Mrs. Fiorina said that she’d rebuild the Sixth Fleet, put additional soldiers in Germany, conduct aggressive military exercises with the Baltic States and re-arm Poland with a missile defense system. That’s the blueprint President Reagan used in toppling the former Soviet Union.

Foreign policy realists criticized President Reagan for not meeting with the Soviet Union during his first term in office. President Reagan’s strategy was to challenge the Soviet Union wherever they could to impress on them the fact that they could (and would) checkmate Gorbachev’s expansionist policies wherever they were tried.

By acting first and talking later, Fiorina is sending the same signal to Putin that President Reagan sent to the Soviets. If given the choice between following President Reagan’s blueprint or trusting in Trump’s negotiating skills, I’ll pick President Reagan’s blueprint every time.

By now, conservatives everywhere know that Donald Trump utterly failed his test on what he knew about terrorism, which I wrote about in this article. There’s no questioning whether Mr. Trump’s supporters will continue supporting him. They’re certain that he’s capable of walking on water or, at minimum, of hiring someone who will walk on water for him.

Thankfully, Jonah Goldberg has written this article about how normally principled people have had their principles disappear (my words, not Jonah’s) when they talk about Mr. Trump. One of the principled people who didn’t think this through is HotAir’s Allahpundit. This post highlights the fact that AP is answering the wrong question. Here’s the part of AP’s post that I’m talking about:

I don’t think there’s a straight line between better knowledge as a candidate to having more success abroad once in office, but I doubt Hewitt would say so either. The questions he asked Trump were really proxies, I think, for testing how seriously he takes the threat from jihadis. As a general but certainly not firm rule, the more worried you are about Iran, ISIS, and expansionist Islamist groups, the deeper into the weeds you’re willing to go to learn who they are. (Interestingly, Rand Paul the most dovish candidate in the GOP field and a strident Trump critic otherwise, sided with Trump today in knocking Hewitt’s questions as gotchas.) That’s also why, I assume, Hewitt presses nearly every candidate he interviews about whether they’ve read “The Looming Tower,” Lawrence Wright’s book about the rise of Al Qaeda and 9/11. He’s probing their intellectual curiosity about jihadism, I take it, as a measure of how alert they are to the risk and how committed they’d be as president to defeating it. How’d Trump do on that metric?

The correct answer, I think, is “voters won’t care.”

The right answer isn’t “voters won’t care.” The right answer is that Donald Trump didn’t prove he understood terrorism. In fact, he proved that he wasn’t that interested in the subject. AP’s answer is only right if you’re asking what the political consequences are to Trump’s campaign.

That’s setting the bar far too low. Presidential campaigns should be thought of as extended job interviews. Think of it this way. If you owned a business, would you hire an applicant to be your accountant that didn’t know the difference between assets and liabilities? Would you hire an applicant to be your accountant who didn’t know the difference between income and expenses? If you said you wouldn’t hire those applicants to be your accountant, why would you hire Trump to be the next commander-in-chief to be the next person to fight and eliminate the terrorist threat?

Recently, President Obama’s sympathizers have tried making the case that he’s as consequential as Ronald Reagan. If they define consequential as doing historic things that are disastrous, then President Obama has been consequential.

Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. Premiums are sharply higher. Deductibles have exploded. Choices are fewer. Networks are limited. We’re forced into buying policies that cover things that we don’t need. We couldn’t keep our doctors even though we were promised that we could.

Despite that, President Obama insists that he’s protected the middle class:

After having a friendly chat on the tarmac at LaCrosse Regional Airport with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, President Obama made fun of the GOP field jockeying to succeed him and ripped into Walker’s actions as governor.

“You all have enough for an actual Hunger Games,” Obama said about the large Republican presidential field. “That is an interesting bunch,” he quipped before explaining why trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

He said that many of the contenders are proposing ideas that they say would benefit the middle class. “Tammy, Ron, me — we were talking about the middle class before it was cool,” he said referring to Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind, whose district encompasses LaCrosse, who were in the audience at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse auditorium. “We were talking about it before the polls” said politicians “should be talking about it,” he added.

Mr. President, talking about the middle class isn’t the same as improving middle class lives. President Reagan created more high-paying union jobs than you’ve created jobs. That’s before talking about how many companies shifted from full-time employees to “29ers.” Mr. President, is it a triumph that companies shifted from full-time jobs to part-time jobs?

That’s what Obamacare did. It also created “49ers.” Let’s review. 29ers are employees whose hours were cut from 40 hours to 29 hours to avoid having to provide health insurance to the. 49ers are companies that’ve chosen to not expand past 49 employees so they don’t have to comply with the employer mandate.

In September, 1983, the US economy created 1,100,000 good-paying full-time jobs. Thanks to President Reagan’s policies, we had 6 straight quarters of economic growth of more than 5%. Internationally, the United States vanquished the Evil Empire, aka the Soviet Union. President Obama resurrected it. Israel knew it could count the United States as a steadfast ally. President Obama couldn’t push Israel to the side quickly enough.

Thanks to President Obama’s policies of non-intervention, the global terrorist network is expanding rapidly. President Reagan’s policies of militarism checked Soviet expansionist policies.

We’ll be cleaning up President Obama’s messes for years. By comparison, President Reagan’s economic policies ushered in a quarter century of unprecedented economic growth.

Based on Hillary’s speech Saturday, Hillary will need to relaunch the relaunch to her campaign. First, here’s the text of Hillary’s speech. The content of the speech was typical Hillary: tons of spin, tons of chutzpah and tons of identity politics. First, here’s a dose of Hillary’s chutzpah:

As a Senator from New York, I dedicated myself to getting our city and state the help we needed to recover. And as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I worked to maintain the best-trained, best-equipped, strongest military, ready for today’s threats and tomorrow’s. And when our brave men and women come home from war or finish their service, I’ll see to it that they get not just the thanks of a grateful nation, but the care and benefits they’ve earned.

I’ve stood up to adversaries like Putin and reinforced allies like Israel. I was in the Situation Room on the day we got bin Laden.

Hillary knows where she was when bin Laden was killed but she can’t tell us where she was when Christopher Stevens was killed on her watch. As for standing up to “adversaries like Putin”, this is closer to the truth:

Russia has felt free to threaten, then take, its neighbors. Crimea is just one example of Russia doing whatever it’ wanted to do. Let’s make another comparison that drives the point home:

A few short years later, the Berlin Wall crumbled, thanks in large part to President Reagan’s foreign policy, President Reagan’s robust economy and President Reagan’s willingness to push the USSR to the brink.

Hillary isn’t willing to push Putin to the brink. This administration’s foreign policy has highlighted red lines drawn and red lines erased. This administration’s foreign policy has highlighted underestimating our enemies, like ISIS and the Russians, then underreacting when they’ve laughed at us.

Next, let’s look at Hillary’s identity politics:

There are allies for change everywhere who know we can’t stand by while inequality increases, wages stagnate, and the promise of America dims. We should welcome the support of all Americans who want to go forward together with us.

There are public officials who know Americans need a better deal.

Business leaders who want higher pay for employees, equal pay for women and no discrimination against the LGBT community either.

There are leaders of finance who want less short-term trading and more long-term investing.

There are union leaders who are investing their own pension funds in putting people to work to build tomorrow’s economy.

Income inequality increases when progressives push a $15/hr. minimum wage. Hillary’s advocating for that. As for “business leaders who want higher pay for employees,” they’d pay more if they weren’t riddled with this administration’s strangling regulations that Hillary has supported. Hillary’s economic policies sound like they’re straight from the Obama handbook:

In the coming weeks, I’ll propose specific policies to:

Reward businesses who invest in long term value rather than the quick buck – because that leads to higher growth for the economy, higher wages for workers, and yes, bigger profits, everybody will have a better time.

I will rewrite the tax code so it rewards hard work and investments here at home, not quick trades or stashing profits overseas. I will give new incentives to companies that give their employees a fair share of the profits their hard work earns. We will unleash a new generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing tax relief, cutting red tape, and making it easier to get a small business loan.

Businesses can’t create capital when tax compliance is expensive and regulations strangle capital creation. That’s what exists now. In this section of her speech, Hillary just proposed more of the same. With all due respect, that’s what has this economy ambling along. This is the weakest economic recovery in US history and Hillary wants to double down on it? No thanks.

QUESTION: Is there anything in Hillary’s speech that speaks to the future? ANSWER: No.

Hillary is so yesterday:

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