Monday, December 8, 2014

Politics: Diehl and House Armed Services Committee off base

 In a press release more fitting to a Republican sweat-house than an investigative committee of the USA government, The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has faulted President Obama's foreign  policies, citing an article by Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post, December 7, 2014, as evidence, but the article was way off. Excerpts with my reactions follow:


As noted by Diehl and the HASC The epigram often connected to Barack Obama’s foreign policy is “don’t do stupid [stuff]." Diehl apparently does not like that motto. 

 "That’s inaccurate," says Diehl. "The real mantra of this administration, enunciated over and over by the president and his top aides since he took office in 2009, is 'there is no military solution.'” 

My reaction: President Obama has repeatedly supported military actions that made sense to him. As the Commander-in-Chief, it is his responsibility to make those kinds of decisions.  He understands, correctly, that military actions alone seldom provide long-term solutions.

On the other hand, USA's military actions often spawn intractable international problems and proliferate human misery, not only for our supposed enemies, but for ourselves as well.

"In the past four months alone, the president has said 'there is no military solution' to justify his policy in three places where wars are underway: Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. 
Because there is no military solution in Iraq, the president has rejected his military commanders’ proposals to deploy U.S. Special Operations forces against the Islamic State. 
Because there is no military solution in Syria, he has refused to sanction strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. And because there is no military solution in Ukraine, he has turned aside the desperate pleas of its new president for supplies of U.S. weapons."


My Reaction: The President is to be commended for assessing and evaluating requests for military actions in order to determine the likely risks and benefits. His job as Commander-and-Chief demands more than a ready rubber stamp for any and all military adventures.

Furthermore, the HASC refuses to note the dismal failures of their unquestioning support for many or most past military actions. The current HASC promotes almost anything that  involves bombs, fighter jets, death and destruction. 

My reaction: Follow the money trail.

....................

"The problem is that, as a nostrum, “no military solution” has proved harmful. In fact, it’s done much to produce the multiple foreign crises that the White House now says have no military solution.

My reaction: The standing HASC never seems to admit to past mistakes unless they can somehow use them as a political tool to disparage a Democratic administration. As to things "proving harmful," how much bloodshed, how many body bags, how much gore  would it take to convince HASC that one of their pet projects had proven "harmful?" 

In fact, many or most of the named problems the White House now faces were, in fact, caused by HASC-supported "military solutions." To cite a few: The Vietnam Conflict, The devastating losses in Afghanistan, the tragedies of the Iraq war and many others. Even with respect to the terrorist attack of 9-11 it cannot be said that we had been quietly minding our own business and merely defending our borders at the time. 

In a strange turn-around, HASC next follows up with a classic case of two-faced, forked-tongued, doublespeak.

"The thinking behind the slogan is sloppy. It’s true of most modern wars that there’s no military solution, in the sense that they usually end with political settlements. But political and military solutions are not mutually exclusive but intertwined; political solutions are often dictated by military conditions."  
My reaction: What is "sloppy" is Diehl's poorly veiled admission. Read it again, 
"Political and military solutions are not mutually exclusive but intertwined; political solutions are often dictated by military conditions." 

The above quote restates Obama's policies and ideologies, at least as I understand them! 

It is as if the writer suddenly realized that he was forced to agree with what Obama had been saying all along, but he refused to come right out and say so. 

The author is quick to recover, however. He states:
"[President] Obama typically employs the judgement that no military solution is possible as a way to rule out even limited, tactical or indirect action — preordaining either a bad political solution or none at all."
Diehl as presented by HASC, seems to be laboring under an either/or mentality. Whether or not that is the case, his above statement is simply false. 

President Obama does not have a "typical way," that is to say, a HASC way of thinking about military actions. Instead, he thinks before he acts, which is refreshing in a President of the USA. 

HASC should simply remove their blinders (blinders provided, in my opinion, by the military industrial complex). Then they might see these events in a different light, as do so many reflective Americans.

Diehl goes so far as to blame President Obama for international problems that, in reality, were caused or aggravated first by other administrations. 
"[In Syria] Obama’s refusal to supply weapons or other military support to the moderate secular rebels fighting Assad in 2011-2012 opened the way to the creation of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State." 

Again, this is simply false and should be repudiated. Had the President supplied the said weapons, HASC and others would undoubtedly accused him of "financing terrorism" when those weapons were inevitably turned against Americans. I am glad that he does not do everything that HASC desires.

HASC notes a perceived mistake President Obama's comment concerning a supposed "red line in the sand" in Syria, apparently implying that the USA would take military action should Syria employ chemical weapons against her own people. 

"Then, [President Obama's] decision to retreat from enforcing his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons caused countries around the world to change their calculations about U.S. resolve. ... 
HASC and others have been getting a lot of mileage out of this perceived gaff, perhaps more mileage than is due. As the President has since noted, the red line is not just his red line

"First of all, I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line," the President said. "The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war."  

The President added, "And so when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of the chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't something I just kind of made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air. There’s a reason for it."

The President did not specify at the time of the comment what actions he might take, and people assumed whatever they wanted to assume. 

According to Diehl/HASC:
"At the moment, Obama’s failure to sanction even indirect military action against the Assad regime ... means that major cities held by the Islamic State can’t be recaptured. His denial of defensive weapons to Ukraine could encourage Russia, which recently sent fresh troops and armaments across the border, to launch another offensive."
The above is but a thinly disguised call for all out, unilateral war in the Mideast against multiple fronts. It also fails to take into account multiple complexities of the situations on the ground. Contrary to what HASC seems to think, the President does not draw cards from some liberal table game when he makes decisions on foreign policy. 

Neighboring nations would have considered such a unilateral approach as more than an annoyance. They would have taken it as a threat to their own security. As usual, President Obama has taken the wiser course if not the most spectacular one.  We have already seen the kind of quagmire that Bush-style "Shock and Awe" can lead to. In a real way, ISIS was created by the "shock and awe" mentality. We are now living with the results, as are the people of Iraq. 

HASC claims that 
Obama’s stance on military force is "profoundly misguided."

All I can say to that is, "Consider the source."  As is so often the case, HASC is way off base. 

#foreign policy #Diehl, #HASS #foreignpolicy #politics #war #mideast #housearmedservicescommittee #lockwood

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