Ed Driscoll

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine

“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” Dick and Liz Cheney write in the Wall Street Journal:

Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled.

In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America’s adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies. Despite the threat to America unfolding across the Middle East, aided by his abandonment of Iraq, he has announced he intends to follow the same policy in Afghanistan.

Despite clear evidence of the dire need for American leadership around the world, the desperation of our allies and the glee of our enemies, President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch. Indeed, the speed of the terrorists’ takeover of territory in Iraq has been matched only by the speed of American decline on his watch.

Well yes, Mr. Obama’s entire life has been dedicated to taking America down a notch or ten. Regarding the Cheney’s observation that “Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace,” this tragically prescient October 2011 Max Boot article, also in the Journal, reflects on why we (read: the Obama administration) abandoned Iraq to its fate:

The popular explanation is that the Iraqis refused to provide legal immunity for U.S. troops if they are accused of breaking Iraq’s laws. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki himself said: “When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible. The discussions over the number of trainers and the place of training stopped. Now that the issue of immunity was decided and that no immunity to be given, the withdrawal has started.”

But Mr. Maliki and other Iraqi political figures expressed exactly the same reservations about immunity in 2008 during the negotiation of the last Status of Forces Agreement. Indeed those concerns were more acute at the time because there were so many more U.S. personnel in Iraq—nearly 150,000, compared with fewer than 50,000 today. So why was it possible for the Bush administration to reach a deal with the Iraqis but not for the Obama administration?

Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not. Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The administration didn’t even open talks on renewing the Status of Forces Agreement until this summer, a few months before U.S. troops would have to start shuttering their remaining bases to pull out by Dec. 31. The previous agreement, in 2008, took a year to negotiate.

The recent negotiations were jinxed from the start by the insistence of State Department and Pentagon lawyers that any immunity provisions be ratified by the Iraqi parliament—something that the U.S. hadn’t insisted on in 2008 and that would be almost impossible to get today. In many other countries, including throughout the Arab world, U.S. personnel operate under a Memorandum of Understanding that doesn’t require parliamentary ratification. Why not in Iraq? Mr. Obama could have chosen to override the lawyers’ excessive demands, but he didn’t.

As Glenn Reynolds noted late last year, “Ideology required that the Iraq War be a failure, even if it needed a nunc pro tunc effort to make it so.”

Naturally, Harry Reid is punching back in his usual reactionary style to the Cheneys’ remarks:

But to combine posts today by Jim Treacher and Moe Lane, where does Reid disagree with Cheney? On gay marriage, or on Iraq?

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As the IRS scandal transforms Mr. Obama into what Glenn describes as “President Double-Asterisk” in his latest USA Today column, and as Obama’s poll numbers crater, no wonder once and future O-Bot Chuck Todd has temporarily turned on the Most Trusted Man at MSNBC:

“This poll is a disaster for the president,” Todd said. “You look at the presidency here: Lowest job rating, tied for the lowest; lowest on foreign policy. His administration is seen as less competent than the Bush administration, post-Katrina.”

“On the issue of do you believe he can still lead? A majority believe no. Essentially the public is saying your presidency is over,” Todd added.

“Unfortunately for America, though, it’s not,” Ace adds:

 While most Presidents would feel the evaporation of support and scale back their program appropriately, Obama has all but explicitly declared that he holds the American people in absolute contempt.

He does not need public support to enact his agenda by executive tyrannical fiat, just as he does not need Congress.

So we’re in a difficult period: The president has lost the support of the American people, and so by rights has no mandate to do much of anything except play golf, and yet the president doesn’t care at all what the people think.

Though he will of course continue playing golf.

Which brings us back full circle with the Cheneys’ remarks at the start of this post.