Sunday, March 27, 2011

Amazing Foreign Policy Incompetence

When Obama was running for president, many pointed out that his qualifications for the office were minimal, that he had no executive experience, and that he clearly knew nothing about foreign policy. In my opinion foreign policy is the most important aspect of the presidency. In domestic affairs, the president can advocate policies and has all sorts of executive power to appoint unelected officials. But ultimately he needs Congress to pass bills.

Since World War II, Congress has surrendered its constitutional power to declare war to the president, essentially giving him the authority to commit the U.S. to war, whether we call the conflict one or not. This great power invested in a single individual should never have been given to a lightweight like Obama. This was evident to anyone who cared to notice before the election. But too many people preferred to go with "hope and change."

I've pointed out Obama's foreign policy cluelessness on numerous occasions, but even I'm surprised at the staggering level of incompetence on display regarding the Libyan situation. It's one thing to make a bad strategic decision. Even someone well-versed in foreign policy can do that. You can make a bad decision on intervening in a war, but handle it in an effective manner. Instead, the Obama administration is projecting incompetence and a lack of leadership. Consider the following from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

asked on ABC's This Week if the US military might be involved in the fighting through 2011, he said, "I don't think anybody knows the answer to that." ... Gates acknowledged that Libya is “not a vital national interest to the United States.” ... But Gates, Clinton, and Obama in his radio address Saturday insisted that the situation in Libya is important to US interests – including stability in the Middle East and northern Africa.

How is it possible that the administration can't even craft a coherent message? I know it's incompetent in foreign policy, but I thought Obama was at least an effective political operator. How do send you send your defense secretary out to answer questions about an unpopular war -- and unpopular even amongst the base of your own party -- and have him admit that the action isn't in the U.S. vital interest? Why wouldn't you just define U.S. vital interests as whatever your argument is for intervention? You say something like this:

It is in the U.S. vital interest that a brutal dictator hostile to the U.S. not be permitted to reestablish control in Libya. The stability of the Middle East as a whole is crucial to U.S. interests. After carefully evaluating the situation we came to the conclusion that intervening in Libya, in conjunction with European allies, other coalition partners, and under the authority of the U.N. resolution was in the best interests of the United States. In this case we made the judgment that sitting back and doing nothing, allowing Gaddafi to massacre his own people and regain complete control, was unacceptable.

I don't even believe that and I can come up with that sort of typical foreign policy statement. Why can't Obama and his crew? Amazing incompetence.

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