Dazed and Confused
by Deacon Blues
After being away for most of August, I find upon my return in September that the Obama administration can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. After giving Congress an ultimatum in June that they better act upon immigration reform or he would act himself, Obama has now backed away from his threat, leaving immigration rights advocates and Democratic incumbents hanging out to dry. I had said at the time that Obama’s veiled threats of executive action to stop deportations were politically stupid and had no political benefit in keeping congressional seats, so the news that the White House is now backing away only confirms that the administration is politically inept.
We already knew the president and White House staff were increasingly tone deaf. Now it appears they also are making it up as they go along, which only confirms that the Obama team is politically grossly overrated. It’s one thing to win an election. It’s quite another to run the levers of government, compartmentalize, and multi-task. Hell, the Clinton second-term team did much more in a far worse environment in the late nineties. Yet this president and his team wasted the month of August while Congress was away, when they could have used the media vacuum to set a narrative against a do-nothing GOP majority, also like I suggested months ago. What did the president do? Nothing, except go on a vacation, play golf at the wrong time, and then stupidly admit on television that he still had no plan to deal with ISIS. Amazing, and sad.
And if this was only about domestic politics and policy, then the consequences would be less severe but nonetheless important. Yet this administration seems rudderless in foreign and national security matters as well, and that is a matter of grave concern. Some say that these are very dangerous times with very complicated issues, to which I say “bullsh*t”. It may be too tough for Obama’s team to handle, but the issues with Ukraine and ISIS are not that tough.
On Putin and Ukraine, I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again; Putin doesn’t care and isn’t swayed by what America or Obama think or do, so let’s give up the pretense that he does, and treat him and his country as the outlaw regime they are. We should accept the fact that Europe and America may approach this differently for economic reasons, and that talk about NATO only exacerbate Putin’s worst fears, so let’s act ourselves in our own interests, and drag Europe along through our tough actions. We should impose full economic sanctions against Russia and their firms. We should tell American firms that they cannot trade nor do business with such a country, and that the Department of Justice will review all current or pending financial transactions, especially any that give an economic benefit to this outlaw regime. This includes any deals that Big Oil has with Russia. As I’ve said repeatedly, we should also let it be known that there will be a long-lasting cost to Russian aggression, namely the reestablishment of the US Navy’s Twelfth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean.
We should also make it clear that America will not be participating in the 2018 World Cup in Moscow, because an outlaw regime should not be rewarded with “business as usual”. The White House should be telling FIFA that they have no business letting such an outlaw country host the World Cup.
As for ISIS, it was disgusting to see the president say openly that he still has no plan for dealing with ISIS. I’m tired of hearing all the talk about short versus long-term actions and consequences, because these endless “but then” analyses lead to no actions at all. The immediate and overriding objective is the containment and then destruction of ISIS; nothing else matters right now. So let’s cut to the chase and work with both Iran and Syria on whatever it takes to have them participate in helping from the east and west, and sort out the longer-term issues later. Iraq’s forces won’t succeed without Iran’s help, and you can’t turn the tide against ISIS until Syria regains control of its border. Case closed. Just do it.
Also, no regional country will agree to put boots on the ground to deal with ISIS unless they see a significant and ongoing American commitment to air power and drone attacks. Since they helped create ISIS, we should require that regional Sunni states participate in the ground campaign, and we should be working with the Kurds and the Turks to allow our air support efforts to originate from those areas. As I also previously said, a longer term commitment to the Kurds is in our interests anyway, as is the renewed Twelfth Fleet, things that most of our regional allies would welcome, as much as they would welcome a new president.
Which leads me to this: I’m tired of hearing my friends at MSNBC continually express concern about getting dragged back into the region with mission creep or any undefined mission that leads to more conflict. Get over it. We’re in this mess because Obama blew the Syria issue and was more interested in meeting political objectives here at home than he was in establishing a sustainable security posture. Whether we like it or not, we’re getting dragged back into this mess and region because we are the only indispensable nation when it comes to dealing with problems like Ukraine or ISIS, and because Obama’s actions and inactions, as well as his fatal desire to let his political team run foreign policy got us in this mess. And a political team that cannot figure out how to run the domestic side of the ledger cannot be allowed anywhere near foreign policy, or else you end up with what we have now: a world badly messed up both here at home and abroad that the next president will have to clean up.