Victor Davis Hanson:
The world seems to be falling apart.
Only lunatics from North Korea or Iran once mumbled about using nuclear weapons against their supposed enemies. Now Vladimir Putin, after gobbling up Crimea, points to his nuclear arsenal and warns the West not to “mess” with Russia.
The Middle East terrorist group the Islamic State keeps beheading its captives and threatening the West. Meanwhile, Obama admits to the world that we “don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with such barbaric terrorists.
Egypt is bombing Libya, which America once bombed and then left. Vice President Joe Biden once boasted that a quiet Iraq without U.S. troops could be “one of the great achievements” of the administration. Not now.
China and Japan seem stuck in a 1930s time warp as they once again squabble over disputed territory. Why all the sudden wars?
Conflicts rarely break out over needed scarce land. A.
Often, states fight about prestigious symbols that their own fears and sense of honor have inflated into existential issues. Hamas could turn its back on Israel and turn Gaza into Singapore — but not without feeling that it had backed down.
Putin thinks that grabbing more of the old Soviet Republics will bring him the sort of prestige that his hero Stalin once enjoyed. ISIS wants to return to seventh century Islam.
The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once summed up the Falklands War as a fight “between two bald men over a comb.” In fact, Britain went to war over distant windswept rocks to uphold the hallowed tradition of the British Navy and the idea that British subjects everywhere were sacrosanct. The unpopular Argentine junta started a war to take down Britain a notch.
But disputes over honor or from fear do not always lead to war. Something else is needed — an absence of deterrence. Most aggressors take stupid risks in starting wars only when they feel there is little likelihood they will be stopped.
Deterrence, alliances and balances of power are not archaic concepts that “accidentally” triggered World War Il. They are the age-old tools of advising the more bellicose parties to calm down and get a grip.
What ends wars? Not the League of Nations or the United Nations. War is a sort of cruel laboratory experiment whose bloodletting determines which party, in fact, was the stronger all along. Peace usually follows.
It took 50 million deaths to remind the appeased Axis that Germany, Italy and Japan in 1941 were all along far weaker than the Allies of Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. The Falklands War ended when Argentines recognized that boasting about beating the British was not the same as beating the British.
The opposite of deterrence is encouragement, which is the effect Obama’s foreign policies. Remember that at one time many thought that Hitler was a leader who could be reasoned with. Obama is making many of the same mistakes in expecting other nations to be reasonable with his weak-kneed, milquetoast and rather stupid policies in regards to China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and ISIL. There are only three groups that Obama acts the stern, hard-nosed, unwavering, lofty head of state with and that is the TEA Party, the GOP and the nation of Israel. This aloof disdainful attitude towards only those three identifies unquestionably just whom Obama considered his enemies, for he treats all others with great deference and humility.
Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind
Meanwhile ISIL continues it’s march of conquest with actions and atrocities little different from the match of the NAZI Fascism movement of a mere 73 years ago, and in these time of great danger and strife, this king wannabe Obama has opened our boarders and is downsizing and demoralizing our military. Those ignorant of history are bound to repeat it. Yet, I have to wonder if the US can survive and recover from two more years of “the Won”. How long, if it is at all possible will it take to repair the damage this twisted, pompous buffoon has done.
I view Putin’s not-so-veiled threat about nuclear weapons as a sign of weakness. The Ukrainians have shown that they can whip the separatists, even with their Russian equipment and Putin doesn’t seem to want to risk full, overt involvement of Russian forces.
Perhaps European and NATO resolve is growing to the point that he fears further provocation; I doubt that sanctions has done all this damage, though, right on cue, Obama takes all the credit.
However, in the long run, Putin is not going to lose face and give up. He is now desperate and that is most dangerous of all. We had better find a US leader quickly to face his upcoming challenge. He is only buying time and Obama sells it cheap.
Clear-sighted and succinctly written, Bill. Where was this talent hiding before?
Putin has revealed his true colors, showing himself to be other than the “kindred spirit” that Bush saw when he looked deep into Vladimir’s soul. Perhaps we CAN thank Obama for being sufficiently weak to draw Putin out of his lamb-skinned closet, but I’d rather he’d have stayed there.
I think that the challenges the United States faces today will require EVERYONE’S cooperation to overcome, and I doubt that Republicans will get any help from Democrats by employing language like Ditto’s calling Obama a “twisted, pompous buffoon.” I guess that Ditto is ready to go it alone, but I’m not.
When a people lose the capacity to be civil to one another, how can they ever work together to accomplish anything? That’s not just a rhetorical question. It speaks to the present dysfunction in the US Congress just as much as it speaks to the heated hyperbole so common here at Flopping Aces. If you lack the capacity to give credit where credit is due and you can’t admit when you’ve been wrong, you’re just one misdemeanor shy of being a sociopath.
For one thing, Ditto (though pretty much on the mark) is not, as far as we know, a Republican legislator. Furthermore, Obama does all he can to prevent any feeling among any but the most left-leaning Republican by blaming them for every failure, blaming them for obstruction when he knows full well Reid is the obstructionist (most likely on Obama’s instruction) and whenever Republicans have cooperated (surrendered), such as they did on the debt increases, Obama has rubbed their noses in their subservience.
Obama does not want cooperation; he wants and, at this point, NEEDS contentious fights to rally his people, since he cannot cheer about how well his policies have succeeded. For instance, except when he can use it to add votes, when has Obama done anything about immigration reform? He won’t because it is better used as a wedge. Now that an executive action shows to be more harmful to Democrat elections than helpful, he balks again. His Hispanic supporters are growing increasingly impatient, though.
Unfortunately, due mainly to Obama’s naivete and ineptitude, you will see many more than Putin’s true personality issue forth. I, too, would rather not see it.
Both sides are locked in a torturous cycle of mutually damaging obstructionism. Both sides seem to believe that behaving in this manner energizes their bases. Maybe it does. But in the mean time, nothing gets done, and the country writhes back and forth, left and right in spasms of frustration with sequential administrations that are never willing to continue what the previous one had started.
I really don’t see what difference it makes whether Democrats or Republicans are the worst offenders in this. Both do it. Why did the House republicans vote 50 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act? Did they THINK that after the 37th vote, the Senate would throw in the towel and go along with them? After the 45th vote?
This enemy-combatant attitude toward the opposing party – from BOTH sides – is a big part of why the United States keeps LOSING wars. Everybody wants to blame the other side every time something goes wrong and take the maximum political advantage. We cannot sustain ANY national effort with all Democrats and two Republicans voting for something or all Republicans and two Democrats voting for it. United we stand, divided we fall. We lost Vietnam for this reason, and we are losing Iraq for the same reason, and we will continue to lose EVERY conflict that outlives its initial administration as long as we fail to get over this “blame” mentality.
We were wrong to get into Iraq, and we were wrong to get out of Iraq the way we did. Give credit where credit is due, and own up to your failures when your efforts fall short. I do. It’s cathartic. If we can’t get into that as a nation, we’re screwed.
@George Wells: George, Obamacare should be repealed. It is bad and it hurts the economy. It is so bad that Obama himself will violate the Constitution rather than suffer the negative impact of what he has wrought and has, by executive action, done what he shut the government down rather than allow the Congress to do.
The liberals create the contention. They create the obstruction. They create the damage to the country.
I think we’re going to see what the strategy against ISIL will be sooner rather than later. Some people actually prefer that time for thought and planning precede military action.
So far as Putin goes, he does have a massive nuclear arsenal at his disposal, and he does have an unpredictable and possibly insecure personality. Anyone who doesn’t grasp that this totally changes the nature of the game every step of the way is a complete idiot. NATO allies are presently demonstrating their military capabilities very nearby, just to give him something to think about. The Russian media outlet RT is covering that story.
US, UK military to stage NATO exercises in Ukraine
NATO stages massive military drills in Latvia (PHOTOS)
I think things are moving along quickly enough, considering that no sane person really wants to arrive at the destination a single miscalculation could take us to. I’m glad we don’t have a leader as impulsive and reactionary as Vladimir Putin in the White House.
@Greg: A year, Greg. Obama has been getting briefed on the threat of ISIS for a year. Trust me, we have a strategy; several, most likely. What we need is a CinC that can make a decision.
So, you think we should worry that if we present a substantive obstruction to his designs on Ukraine, he will launch a nuclear war? Actually, I think he is seeing his options narrow, as the Ukrainians push back the separatists (even without our aid; just think how soon this would have been over if we had supported our ally). So, as he considers putting Russian forces directly in the fight, he is trying to flush out the weaklings with a reference to nuclear weapons.
It’s already desperate, Greg. Putin is not just going to call it quits in Ukraine until he is forced to; he has far too much ego for that. It will get worse before it gets better, particularly since the resolve of the US, UN and NATO still needs to be (again) put to a test.
Any decision he makes is going to be used as a basis for partisan attack. Consider the primary military enemies of ISIL: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard; various Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups; al Qaeda; Assad’s Syrian Armed Forces… These are the groups we’ll essentially be siding with. Who wouldn’t hesitate? The situation is totally screwed up. How do you target ISIL without empowering other potential threats?
“George, Obamacare should be repealed.”
OK, Bill. Just to make you and the House Republicans look like total idiots, I’ll agree with you on this. NOW, what’s next? If you and I and loads of other Americans agree that ObamaCare is bad, WHAT’S NEXT?
You already failed to answer this very relevant question:
“Why did the House republicans vote 50 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act? Did they THINK that after the 37th vote, the Senate would throw in the towel and go along with them? After the 45th vote?”
So why would I expect you to answer any other question, right? Are you holding a conversation here, or just crying into an empty hole in the ground?
Why did the House Republicans vote FIFTY TIMES against ObamaCare? Are they TRYING to look feckless? Before they voted against it, they passed it, and the Senate passed it, and Obama signed it into law. It IS the law. It may not be a good law, and Obama may be abusing it, but the House Republicans ONLY wasted time voting against it 50 times. You know that. Man up to it and move on.
“The liberals create the contention. They create the obstruction. They create the damage to the country.”
To borrow from Ronald Reagan, “There you go again, Bill.”
Did you really read my #5? REALLY?
Obstructionism goes both ways. Perhaps you want me to give you a few more examples of Republican obstructionism? Like Republican stalling on Obama Administration appointments – judicial and bureaucratic – or demanding that he stop illegal immigration and then refusing to fund the operation?
So what then? Do we then weigh each pile of obstructionism and compare the totals to determine which party really does it the most?
Come on, Bill. Both sides are playing this crap as if it is the right thing to do, and it isn’t.
When Bush was elected, it wasn’t with my vote. But once he was OUR president, I never called him a traitor. I never accused him of being disqualified to be president because he was born outside of the USA… AFTER HE HAD BEEN ELECTED AND SWORN IN! That kind of crap is just distracting obstructionism!
BOTH PARTIES DO IT!
And you are just buying into the scam.
Why can’t you move beyond this obsession with blaming the other side? (“The liberals create the contention. They create the obstruction. They create the damage to the country.”)
Fine. I finally get it. (I’m slow.) You don’t want to talk. (Maybe you don’t know how.)
Read Greg. He’s considerably smarter than you or me, and he’s dead right about Putin.
Maybe you will learn something.
But you haven’t learned a lick from me, and I’ve given you good lessons (Alaska land history and law) and asked some very good questions (that you ignore). I gave it my best shot, but it’s been a waste of time.
Oh, I don’t know, George…. because that was THEIR JOB? At least as far as MY representatives go, that what I wanted them to do, though as time goes by and the damage is done, the necessity becomes less and less. However, historically it is important for some to follow their principles and show that they never agreed with this abominable piece of legislation. Politically, it is also significant for the Democrats to be shown defending their legislation yet not opposing Obama preventing it from being enacted. Of course, as long as the Democrats have their reliable media shield, it has little impact upon any but those who can see through the lies, but it is important… somewhat. And, it is not nearly as cynical a play as Reid refusing to bring even proposals of his own President up for consideration, then blame Republicans for all the obstruction. Both sides may play the game, but only one side masters the game and then blames the other for the full impact of it… YOUR side.
Damn, that’s low. Rock bottom. Your side of the aisle has made a career for the last 7 years of blaming everyone but themselves and their own policies for the problems we face, domestic and foreign. Now you want to characterize correcting that record as “blame”? It is only important to assess what really happened to be able to correctly determine the corrective action, and in light of how Obama has treated Republicans that cooperated with any of his initiatives and the Democrat obstructionism in the Senate, just asking the Republicans to “play nicer” is not going to accomplish a damn thing.
Oh, waa, waa, waa. That, of course, is exactly the problem. Obama knows so little about what he is paid to do (yet personally feels he knows more than anyone else) that he is deathly afraid of making a decision for fear of the personal political consequences. Bush faced the same conditions. Only, he analysed the information from his advisors, weighed the consequences of acting (or not acting) and the DECIDED and ACTED.
Bush was severely criticized, even by his own party, for the surge. As is related in Gates’ book, Obama and Hillary opposed it in order to not be the one that went along with it, not because they thought it was right or wrong for the war. Bush made that critical decision, even in the midst of elections, and proved to be right. It secured Iraq.
Take the bin Laden decision, for example. If my advisers told me they had bin Laden’s address and confirmation that he was there, you know how long it would take me to make the decision to send SEALs or any of our other Special Ops people in to get him? Not 16 hours… maybe 16 seconds. And after a year of discussing the threat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Obama still cannot make a decision of any kind. He let McChrystal twist in the wind, stalling to decide on a surge for Afghanistan until it was too late to utilize it for a spring offensive.
But I’m sure he can choose a wood or an iron in just a few minutes. He should stick with what he knows.
The problem isn’t the inevitability of the political backstabbing that will happen the moment he decides on a specific course of action. The problem has to do with the question that was raised: How do you target ISIL without empowering other potential threats?
I haven’t heard much detailed discussion about that serious problem from the “loyal” opposition. They haven’t got a clue themselves. All they actually know how to do is whine, complain, and criticize, and make claims of superior expertise based on Monday-morning quarterbacking.
@Greg: The buck is suppose to stop there! Obama is supposed to take the heat for his decisions. It is because he can not that he is playing golf instead of doing his job. A real leader does the right thing no matter what anyone else says afterwards. Obama can not do that.
It’s not always entirely clear what the right thing to do is. Presumably by the right thing, you mean the course of action that will be the best for the United States of America in the long run. Refer back to the question no one is answering: How do you target ISIL without empowering other potential threats? How do you feel about the U.S. essentially taking the side of al Qaeda, Iran, Assad, and assorted Iraqi insurgency groups in their conflict with ISIL? Is it not possible we might come to regret the results somewhere down the road?
I can see supporting the Iraqi government in the south and the Kurds in the north. But should we be supporting Assad’s troops in Syria?
Well, for starters, you do not cede the entire region to the terrorists. That is what Obama did in Iraq and what he is preparing to do in Afghanistan. Eventually, we WILL have US forces on the ground there. Obama has guaranteed it.
As the administration has begun to say, this is going to go on for 3 or more years. Remember when that was war mongering? Remember when talk about maintaining the fight for as long as it takes was a blatant desire for perpetual war? What is such talk now?
I think it will take a very short time (if we get right to it) to degrade ISIS to the point that they no longer pose a military threat against nations. As long as they want territory, they have to mass their forces and whenever they mass their forces, we should be delivering ordinance on target. Once they stop massing, they will not be taking over territory, but will be strictly in the terror business. That is where the long and dragged out will begin.
We do this, without empowering another group, by beginning and not pausing until the job is done. We defeated the insurgency in Iraq. We stabilized Iraq. We left, the terrorists came back in. It’s simple, Greg; you simply have to stop thinking like a liberal.
Speaking of war mongering, Obama is now floating the claim that he doesn’t need Congressional approval to got to war with ISIL.
@Ditto: He’ll only want to go to Congress if, like in Syria, he gets cold feet and begins looking for an excuse to back out. The left cannot stand the fact that Bush worked so hard to get a Congressional coalition just as he did an international coalition to make his war above reproach from a political standpoint. Apparently, he underestimated why sorry-ass scumbag liberals he was dealing with.
Obama ordered airstrikes against ISIL positions beginning in August. There have been more than 100 since then, the most recent just a few hours ago. A president can arguably take such action under the authority granted by the War Powers Act, provided the situation is deemed to be a national emergency, and can continue to exercise such authority for 60 days.
I think he should seek Congressional authority. Members of Congress should be required to publicly take a position.
@Greg: I too think Obama should seek Congressional approval. And Congressional funding. It would be quite a treat to see that shoe on the other foot, Obama having to make a case before Congress for war against an enemy he deemed defeated and JV and having to convinced the very liberals that opposed funding for Iraq and Afghanistan unless we revealed all our plans and time lines to the enemy.
If Obama were to come forth and admit his mistakes, misjudgments and miscalculations and asks for Congress to come together to meet this threat and defeat it, he should have no problems with it.
We all know that will never happen just as assuredly as we know that Greggie will never stray from his blind adoration of “the Won”. Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq before the new Iraqi government was sufficiently stabilized and militarily strong enough to go it alone, simply for political bragging points. He was warned, but he didn’t care to listen. Granted, with all the time they were given the new government should theoretically have been more militarily stable than it was, but we have to remember that they were hindered by the many factions clamoring for majority representative (and control), as well as the foreign sponsored “insurgency”. Our State Department and Defense department knew during the first gulf war that removing Saddam’s government would leave the nation of Iraq vulnerable to takeover by extremist forces, which was the only reason why Bush 1 left the regime in power.
Bill, you of course understand that Greg’s assertions that ‘Obama already has the war powers authority to attack ISIL without a formal declaration of war’ is a complete reversal from how Democrats interpreted the Wars Powers Act while Republicans held the presidency. I KNEW that my mentioning the need for Obama to go Congress for a formal declaration of war, would force Greg to yet again claim Obama didn’t need Congressional permission just as he did when Obama attacked Libya, and when Obama sent the team into Pakistan’s sovereign airspace to hit Osama Bin Ladin’s complex without clearing it with the Pakistani government. As always, Greg is a partisan hypocrite who holds Republicans to a different set of rules than Democrats.
A formal declaration of war would imply recognition of the region controlled by ISIL as a nation state and ISIL as its government. Anybody want to go there?
Obama only complied with the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement that the Bush Administration finalized less than a month before Obama took office. What was the rush? Perhaps someone could explain to me why the Bush Administration felt compelled to lock in such a timetable three years in advance, when they could have just as easily left their successor free to negotiate conditions.
I won’t be holding my breath.
Bullcrap. The Barbary pirates were not nation states. Neither is al Qeada or the Taliban. Warring against hoards of murderous invading thugs does not imply recognizing them as a government.
Opinion: Who’s to Blame for Iraq’s Descent into Chaos?
It is normal when we have fought a war and liberated a country, to have a Status of Forces agreement and leave substantial military forces behind, many times for decades: Greg (like most Democrats,) is talking out of both sides of his mouth, because for years he and his fellow Democrats have been giving Obama all the credit for the SOFA troop draw down and pulling the troops out of Iraq. Now that ISIL is moving in Greggie want’s to blame bush again.
Note that the above was written in 2011, as Obama was taking his victory lap on “his” ‘getting our troops out of Iraq.’
Blaming Bush? Fournier Says Obama (and Greggie) Making ‘Thin’ Argument on Iraq Pullout
As you know, having specifically mentioned it yourself in another thread, Bush’s SOFA with Iraq indeed had within it language that DID leave his successor (Obama) free to renegotiate the conditions of the SOFA. You kicked your own leg out from under yourself with that argument.
What was the rush? You previously seemed pretty concerned with what criticism and political pressure could do to poor widdle Obama if he somehow decided to decide to decide on a strategy at some point; can you not recall how much pressure Bush and Republicans were under to simply up and pull out of Iraq or at least give Congressional liberals (and the terror world) our timetable for doing so? Every vote for funding involved a hold-up to try and force a withdrawal date out of the administration, holding funds for our troops in combat hostage for some political score-boarding. How is it that the rules change so completely when a liberal is in office?
The S.O.F.A. with its timetable was finalized less than 30 days before Obama was sworn in as President. What pressure was compelling the Bush administration to do anything that they didn’t want to do at that point?
An absence of deterrence?
Aiding and abetting is more like it.
“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
0Muslim’s has intentionally shifted the political winds in an ugly direction.
No amount of childish “Bush blaming” from our resident troll can change the truth in this.