Does Putin Back Hillary?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Democrat standard-bearer Hillary Clinton in happier times. [Credit: thepoliticalcarnival.net]

Perhaps because I’m in Italy, I’ve not been infected by the contagion that has spread more rapidly than the Zika virus: the febrile notion that Russian president Vladimir Putin is subverting our electoral process in an effort to elect Donald J. Trump as president.

Never has such conspiratorial speculation mutated so quickly into received wisdom. Continue reading

There Is No Plan To Destroy The Islamic State

Hillary Clinton presented her plan for defeating the Islamic State recently. It won't work. Nor will those advanced by her Republican opponents. [Credit: NY Daily News]

Hillary Clinton presented her plan for defeating the Islamic State recently. It won’t work. Nor will those advanced by her Republican opponents. [Credit: NY Daily News]

When pressed by a normally docile gaggle of White House reporters recently over whether he would consider changing his failed Syria strategy, President Obama reverted to form: he accused Republicans of religious bigotry and cruelty to children.

His political opponents, he said, believe that “only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted” as refugees and that we “shouldn’t admit 3-year old-orphans.”

The President’s efforts to divert attention from his foreign policy debacles (which helped make orphans and refugees of three-year-olds) have so far fallen flat.  The vast majority of Americans has lost confidence in his campaign against the Islamic State.  A Washington Post poll found that 57 percent disapprove of the way he’s dealing with the terrorist group – including 46 percent who strongly disapprove – against only 35 percent who support him.

That public sentiment, of little interest to the President, is a leading concern for those vying to succeed him.  Even Bernie Sanders claims to have a plan to destroy the Islamic State. Though they differ in certain respects, most of these plans call for dropping more bombs against more targets from planes flying the flags of more countries (with the possible exception of Russia), providing more arms to factions we don’t really know and can’t really trust, and deploying more military “advisers” (not to be confused with “boots on the ground”) to the region.

All of them suggest that Islamic State can be vanquished with relative ease and at little cost.  All of them are blowing smoke. Continue reading

Hope And (Regime) Change

Our drive-by intervention accomplished regime change in Libya, but the country has still not recovered from its liberation. [Credit: National Post]

Our drive-by intervention accomplished regime change in Libya, but the country has still not recovered from its liberation. [Credit: National Post]

The Constitution requires President Obama to leave office in 700 days.  If he has his way, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu will precede him into private life.

It should not be surprising that a President who prides himself on refusing to negotiate with elected representatives has so little patience with some of his fellow national leaders.  Or that regime change has become a leading characteristic of the President’s foreign policy.   Continue reading

Iraq: In Search Of An Organizing Principle

The President has decided to fight jihadists threatening to kill Yazidis with bombs instead of hashtags. But it's not clear why. [Credit: Business Insider]

Sunni radicals are threatening to massacre an obscure ethnoreligious group known as Yazidis.  The President has decided to fight the jihadists with bombs instead of hashtags. But it’s not clear why. [Credit: Business Insider]

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Another August.  Another flirtation with war.  In the psychodrama that is the Obama Presidency, our hero vacillates between war and peace, detachment and intervention, riding out the storm and steering into its teeth.  The rest of us are left to guess whether he will respond to the next humanitarian crisis with bombs or hashtags.  There is, as Mrs. Clinton notes, no “organizing principle” to lend coherence to our foreign policy. Continue reading

President Bush Not To Blame For This Iraq Crisis

 

Iraq appears on the verge of civil war and some blame former President George W. Bush. Here's why they're wrong. [Credit: al Jazeera America]

Iraq appears on the verge of civil war and some blame former President George W. Bush. Here’s why they’re wrong. [Credit: al Jazeera America]

The Iraq civil war did not start under Obama, it started when Bush, Cheney and the neocons pulled the trigger to invade Iraq … . It was [the] status of force agreement, signed by Bush, that pledged to withdraw all US forces … Given the staggering cost of expense and lives we could not stay there “maybe a hundred years” as McCain said. Nor could we bleed hundreds of billions of dollars there every year. Obama promised to get us out of there, and he rightly did so … To attempt to blame anyone but Bush, Cheney and the neocons for the Iraq disaster is simply revisionism at its finest. —  Excerpted from a comment on my recent post on Iraq.

The Obama presidency’s leading malfeasance lies in its belief that finding someone to blame for a problem is as good as solving it.  So it is little surprise that my recent post on Iraq, in which I argued against US military intervention, would spur comments that former President George W. Bush is to blame for the renewed fighting. Continue reading

Presidents, Reality TV and Technical Truth-Telling

People say the darndest things when "Cheaters" host Joey Greco catches them in compromising positions.  Presidents, too, sometimes find themselves on the defensive.  When they do, we should think carefully about what they're saying.

People say the darndest things when “Cheaters” host Joey Greco catches them in compromising positions. Presidents, too, sometimes find themselves on the defensive. When they do, we should think carefully about what they’re saying.

Admit it. You enjoyed the eight-year reality show that was the Clinton White House as much as I did. Before there was “Cheaters,” there was the President lyin’ and denyin.’ Before there was a “Real Housewives” franchise, there were rumors of the First Lady throwing a lamp (or was it a Bible?) at her husband (or was it a Secret Service agent)?  Before we were Keeping Up with the Kardashians, we were delighting to gossip about the First Family of Dysfunction. The stories didn’t have to be true, only believable. And they almost always were.

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