The Real Obama Legacy, Part 1: Foreign Policy
How will Obama be viewed historically? The obvious answer is: in two completely different ways. First, he is now, has been, and will be remembered as one of our greatest, most consequential presidents … by the far left “Mainstream” Media who have uncritically supported him all along. According to a recent CNN broadcast, Obama’s leading accomplishments are “comprehensive healthcare, the rescue of the global economy, the historic deal with Iran to halt that nation’s march towards a nuclear weapon, the global climate change agreements, the appointment of two women to the U.S. Supreme Court, and his moves on social issues such as marriage equality for gay Americans, equal pay legislation, criminal justice reform, and more.”
The second answer is not so generous. We have decided to present our evaluation in a three-part series covering:
- Foreign Policy
- Economic Legacy
- Race Relations
Part 1 focuses on some of the key failures of Obama’s foreign policy that led to the Trump victory in November, principally the passivity of his policy in the Middle East and his championing of the globalist cause of open borders.
Part 1: Foreign Policy
Those who would claim that Obama is one of our greatest presidents are the same folks who have been selling the story that Trump is the new Hitler. Presumably, they believe that in February 2017 Trump will begin rounding up 6 million Muslims and sending them to camps to be executed, much like the US did after Pearl Harbor with Japanese-Americans. What? We did not send 6 million Japanese-Americans to death camps in California? Mea culpa, but it’s hard to keep pace with the revisionist propaganda being taught in our schools and colleges.
One of Trump’s first goals will likely be to secure our borders from the stated ISIS objective of infiltrating the US via massive refugee migration from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other ISIS-infiltrated territories prone to jihad and hatred toward the West (directly or via Australia). There will be other responses as well, but count on Trump not to be so stupid as to telegraph them in detail to the enemy.
Churchill famously said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies”. In The Art of War, Sun Tsu said, “All war is deception” and advises those who would be powerful to be unpredictable to their adversaries.
Any student of modern Game Theory can confirm that Trump is intuitively employing the two key strategies that preserve the greatest amount of power.
First, as a negotiator he is using strength and hard positioning, rather than soft or compliant positioning. The hard position here is to start by going through with his proposal to ban all immigration from terrorism-prone (i.e., Muslim) countries. If the end goal is cooperation, which is always difficult in multi-party “games” or negotiations (because the temptation for “cheating” is ever-present), the stronger player always fares better than the soft player. This of course will produce howls of protest from the usual suspects, including many Republican members of Congress, because it violates a fundamental tenet of multicultural ideology—that, a few rotten eggs notwithstanding, humans are all the same everywhere.
Second, when in a hazardous position, the Game Theorist would encourage unpredictable mixed strategies to keep other parties uncertain. In all competitive and adversarial contexts, unpredictability, deception and its detection are vital. As someone long experienced in the art of the deal, Trump knows he has to keep his adversaries off-balance.
Obama was a classic failure in these respects. In Game Theory parlance, Obama’s gambit was to soften America’s approach to foreign policy in the Middle East, as, for example, his Syria policy which vacillated from inaction, to non-existent red lines, to ineffectual aid for the jihadist rebels, all the while ignoring the realities of Middle East politics which dictate that highly fractionated Arab societies require strong rulers to keep up some semblance of civilization. Remember the good old days of stability under Saddam Hussein?
Vacillation while signaling weakness and lack of resolve is not strategy mixing. Obama is a hard leftist for whom war against brown people doesn’t come naturally, although he is doubtless quite happy that all this instability has been the impetus for ramping up the non-White invasion of the West. Obama was never into waging these wars — he had to be dragged by Hillary into the Libya disaster which was motivated again by Moammar Gaddafi (like Hussein and Assad) being a bad person, or at least that was the propaganda. The result, as we clearly see, has been to unleash the always latent tribal divisions in these societies, with no end in sight. He has emboldened our adversaries and turned small players into more powerful players.
Speak loudly, but carry a little stick
Posturing hard but playing soft may be even more disadvantageous. Like any other strategic advantage, hard posturing works only when properly exploited through sound strategic decisions. Tough talk must be used judiciously. But Obama seems to have reversed Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim to now read, “Speak loudly, but carry a little stick.” As the Syrian red line debacle demonstrated, the White House should issue specific threats only when it is prepared to follow through on them. As noted by Mark Moyar, writing in the New York Times,
Obama began his first term with lofty vows to conciliate adversaries, defer to the opinions of other countries and reduce America’s military commitments. Consequently, he received rapturous applause in European capitals and a Nobel Peace Prize. In the real world of geopolitics, however, the results have been catastrophic. Obama naively thought that all America had to do was apologize for everything and all would be right with the world.
Obama began his second term promising to finally end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, conflicts that probably will grind on long after he leaves office. His promise to “end the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan satisfied the liberal elites at home and abroad, but deflated American allies and emboldened adversaries in Iran and elsewhere. Indeed, Iran with its newfound influence over Iraq, is the obvious winner from a war that cost thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of American wounded, and trillions of American dollars, with the result that neocons and Israel are clamoring for a war with Iran.
But the good news in all this is that the neocons, having gone all in on the #NeverTrump movement, have lost their influence. (We can only hope that Trump will not appoint arch-neocons John Bolton or Elliott Abrams to the #2 position at the State Department, as has been rumored at various times.) Bill Kristol, whose campaign against Trump combined allegiance to lofty conservative principles with de facto support for Hillary (who would have ensured a far left, multicultural future for America combined with a neocon-approved foreign policy), has resigned his position at The Weekly Standard (although it’s hard to believe things will improve under Steven Hayes). Ditto for Jonah Goldberg at National Review. Their plans for reconstructing the GOP along neocon lines, including a complete rejection of White identity politics, after the hoped for Trump debacle are in complete shambles.
As Commentary’s Noah Rothman confidently phrased it before the election, Trump supporters would be on bended knees to their neocon masters:
Trumpism exists at odds with conservatism, and the party as reconstituted in 2017 must be one built up around conservative ideals of limited government, free trade, an internationalist foreign policy, and an unqualified rejection of identity politics. In short, Republicans of all stripes must be made to acknowledge and accept that Trumpism is an experiment that failed. That’s the price of admission, and it’s a modest one given the great costs associated with sacrificing a winnable race for the White House.
But Trumpism succeeded, so the reemergence of the neocons in the GOP will have to wait a few years at least. But the important point is that this defeat of the neocons would not have been possible if Obama, a weak and vacillating leader who was never able to extricate the U.S. from the failures originally promoted by the neocons, had had a successful foreign policy. Thanks Barack. We owe you one.
Obama’s own defense of his record (echoed, of course, by the left’s MSM) is largely built around the large number of troops he brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan. About 15,000 troops are deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, down from about 175,000 when Obama took office. While the administration likes to point out the savings of troop reduction, their cost-benefit analysis does not include the horrific costs to the people of the region, the continuing instability throughout the region, or the massive costs of absorbing a tsunami wave of Arab and African refugees flooding into Europe and elsewhere. And, as we are seeing, drawing down troops only means that the fighting among the various factions will continue until a new strong man emerges.
In the Middle East, it’s either all or nothing at all. The U.S. had to be willing to commit a huge number of troops for a very long period, as the neocons wanted. (Neocons commonly made the analogy to the U.S. troop commitment in Japan and Germany after World War II, implying an unending commitment, since we are still there 70+ years after the war; of course, the Middle East is nothing like Japan or Germany, as there would be continued sectarian violence, implying continuing U.S. casualties far into the foreseeable future. But, given the security benefits to Israel of a Middle East occupied by U.S. troops, they would have seen this as a small price to pay.) Or the U.S. simply had to leave the area to its own devices, a result not at all to the liking of the Israel Lobby and its neoconservative media flaks. (Wikileaks provided an email in which Hillary made it clear that the motive for U.S. intervention in Syria was to support Israeli policy). We suspect that Trump understands this.
Obama and Israel
On the plus side, we should also remember that Obama stood up to the Israel Lobby in a way that no president since Eisenhower did. Obama had a notoriously icy relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Ambassador Oren noting in 2010 that the US-Israel relationship was at its lowest in 35 years. The Iran deal was accomplished over strong opposition of Israel and the Israel Lobby, and Obama managed to resist their attempts to gin up a war with Iran. Again, Obama is a hard leftist social justice warrior, and like many social justice warriors and a majority of Democrats, there can be little doubt that he doesn’t like Israel’s policies promoting apartheid and the ethnic cleansing and oppression of Palestinians. Recently Obama also signed a 10-year $38 billion aid package for Israel with as little fanfare as possible. Why publicize this increased aid to a highly developed, First-World nation engaged in apartheid and ethnic cleansing when the U.S. is massively in debt and has to borrow the funds it is giving? The deal pleased no one, especially the pro-Israel hacks like Lindsay Graham who wanted a much larger package and were likely disappointed on the new spending restrictions which limit the amounts that can be spent on purchasing weapons from Israeli companies.
In any case, despite Obama’s generally poor relationship with Israel, at the end of his administration Israel is still armed to the teeth, it is still dominated politically by messianic fanatics who would engage in a civil war if there was any meaningful pullback, and it is still supported to the hilt by a very wealthy and powerful Diaspora community. Israel, while not happy with Obama, definitely came through unscathed, although they didn’t get the war with Iran that they wanted. It’s therefore more than a little worrying that Trump appointed David Friedman, a hardline settlement-supporter and opponent of a two-state solution, as Ambassador to Israel in the new administration. Trump has also promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a move long sought by Israeli hard-liners. And he previously signaled that Israeli settlements are not an obstacle to peace. So it’s not surprising that Israelis are very positive about a Trump presidency.
Squaring these signals of support for the Israeli far right with an America First foreign policy raises difficult questions, especially with respect to Iran given that Trump has appointed Iran hawks. It also raises complex issues with Trump’s warming relations with Russia given that Russia and Iran are allies. It would be ironic indeed if the war with Iran that Obama avoided ended up being fought under a Trump administration officially dedicated to an America First foreign policy and ending wars in the Middle East promoted by Israel, the neocons, and the Israel Lobby for whom a war with Iran has been at the top of their wish list since the Bush II administration.Gen. Michael Flynn to head the National Security Council and General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, both known as
The High Cost of Leading from Behind
The result of all this unrest has been disastrous for Europe given the policies promoted by Angela Merkel and other similar-minded pillars of the establishment. Over 4.8 million Syrian men, women, and children have fled their country since the conflict began shortly before Obama’s second term and another 6.1 million have been displaced within Syria.
By 2014, nearly 600,000 asylum applications were filed in Europe, a 47% increase over the more than 400,000 applications filed in 2013. In 2015, the number of asylum applications grew again, this time more than doubling 2014’s record to reach about 1.3 million (a 122% increase). These increases reflected asylum seekers arriving from each of the three leading origin countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
A spring 2016 Pew Research Center survey conducted across 10 EU member states found that majorities in each country disapproved of how the EU was dealing with the refugee issue. Disapproval was generally greatest in countries with the highest number of asylum seekers in 2015. For example, 94% of Greeks and 88% of Swedes said they disapprove of how the EU has handled the refugee issue.
Germany received an unprecedented 442,000 individual first-time asylum applications in 2015 — the highest annual number ever received by a European country over the past 30 years.
The refugee issue was highly debated in the UK’s June vote to leave the European Union. The debate focused on the policy of “open borders” allowing migration of refugees into the UK from other EU countries. Nigel Farage was viciously attacked for a UKIP add showing the hordes invading Europe.
Over half (53%) of asylum seekers were young adults — 18 to 34 years old. In addition, men made up 73% of Europe’s asylum seekers in 2015. Refugees from leading origin countries such as Syria (71%), Iraq (75%) and Afghanistan (80%) were also predominately male in 2015. As a result, about four-in-ten asylum seekers in Europe in 2015 (42%) were young men ages 18 to 34. The statistically extreme level of violence characteristic of this sub-group compared to all other groups is referred to by scientists as the “Young Male Syndrome”.
Aside from this potential for violence, the financial average cost of each Middle Eastern refugee resettled in the United States is estimated at $64,370 in the first five years, or $257,481 per household. This includes heavy welfare use by Middle Eastern refugees; 91 percent receive food stamps and 68 percent receive cash assistance. In contrast, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has requested $1,057 to care for each Syrian refugee annually in most countries neighboring Syria.
These economic analyses ignore the cost of present and future dangers to the host countries. The principal terrorist threat around the globe has consistently come from young male Muslim immigrants (or their male offspring) who were radicalized through online propaganda or during return visits to their country of origin.
Obama’s “leading from behind” has had disastrous consequences for our allies, just as it has emboldened our adversaries around the globe. Granted that cleaning up the messes made by the neocon-dominated Bush administration was always a tall order, Obama made it worse by adding another neocon-approved disaster in Libya by pursuing weak, vacillating postures in Iraq and Syria that only prolonged the instability and violence. A newly affluent Iran (thanks to the Iran deal) is consolidating its power in the Middle East thanks to the Iraq debacle, leading to fresh challenges as Trump attempts to normalize relationships with Iran’s ally Russia. China continues to drain the American treasury via the massive trade imbalance and to replace American influence in the Pacific. Together with the cultural and economic demise of Europe which has been enormously speeded up by the migrant invasion unleashed by instability in the Middle East, they constitute another devastating consequence of the soft Obama administration.
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