Saturday, January 25, 2014

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fungus ... Er, FONDER

Sorry I've been away, darlings!  Life, you know.  School.  Work.  Responsibilities and such, plus trying to freeze to death here (where new snow falls even as I type)!  I'll try to be back more often with the usual supply of frivolous sundries and occasional lapses into serious looks at foreign policy ... but mostly frivolous sundries because our foreign policy is pretty much too horrible to contemplate.


Eric said...

Strachan: "Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world."

I disagree with Sir Hew. A strategy on a larger scale than he's accustomed does not make the strategy "astrategic".

Bush has stated that our regional strategy up to 9/11 led to 9/11. After 9/11, Bush had the necessary imagination to change our strategic course in order to rationally match means to ends to change the conditions that fostered 9/11.

Obama claimed the same ends as Bush but rejected Bush's rational means to achieve them, thus causing Obama's irrational foreign policy.

Here's the thing: When Bush passed the presidential baton to Obama, we were winning the 'astrategic' global War on Terror.

To wit, President Obama on post-Saddam Iraq:

"Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner."

In other words, the pluralistic, liberalized post-Saddam Iraq described by Obama, which he inherited from Bush, was - by Obama's own description - set to become the cornerstone of a reforming Middle East.

To wit, David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, is informative:
"The counterterrorism strategy against al Qaeda that has been executed since 9/11 has been extremely effective. We eliminated the safe haven that al Qaeda enjoyed in Afghanistan and captured or killed hundreds of senior leaders and thousands of rank and file militants. It is also important that governments in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who were on the sidelines prior to 9/11, joined the fight because they felt threatened by al Qaeda as well. We have also tightened our visa issuance process and border security (at a great cost to our international image and economy) so that it is much harder to enter the United States, especially from certain countries. . . . we have crippled the organization that attacked us on 9/11 to the benefit of the United States and the world."

In other words, Obama inherited a winning counter-terrorism campaign from Bush that had greatly reduced the physical terror threat of 9/11.

Under Bush, we had done much to destroy the terrorist threat of 9/11. Iraq was a disaster for the terrorists, not only in the physical decimation but, more consequentially, the choice by Iraq's Sunni Muslims to side with the Americans against the terrorists. The global War on Terror, contrary to Sir Hew, had worked to devastate the terrorists.

The next step was to build a new peace in the Middle East. How? Post-Saddam Iraq and the Bush Freedom Agenda.

The Bush Freedom Agenda positioned us to boost liberal reform in the Arab Spring. But just when America should have made a historic difference with strong leadership, Obama rejected the Bush Freedom Agenda and opted to 'lead from behind', instead, with tragic, predictable, and evitable consequences.

We were winning the 'astrategic' global War on Terror when Bush left office. Obama simply needed to stay the course from Bush, like Ike stayed the course from Truman. But Obama, either through gross incompetence or on purpose, threw away the winning hand he inherited from Bush. And now we're losing because of Obama.

Mad Minerva said...

Yes, I think Sir Hew is a bit off the mark about the Bush strategy, though his characterization of Obama as "clueless" is on target. He threw away hard-won gains. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Yaay! The Mad Minerva is back. I was rounding up a pack of dogs and strapping kegs of whiskey to them. Guess I don't need to send them out and that is a good thing considering some of the smaller terriers were struggling a bit during training.

- wodun

lumpy said...

Welcome back!

Mad Minerva said...

Good to be back! Mmmmm .... WHISKEY.

Eric said...


These days, I try not to think about the leaps backward we've taken in the War on Terror under Obama because the resulting anger is helpless, but my frustration is re-ignited by re-reading this 2004 speech by Bush:

The task, conditions, standard for winning the War on Terror were clearly laid out by Bush in the 2004 speech, and they were bearing out at the point that Bush passed the presidential baton to Obama.

Losing to a superior enemy is one thing, but our progress hasn't been reversed because the enemy bested us in the arena. It's been reversed because our teammates changed course on their own to kick at our own goal, instead.