"You gotta kill 'em."


That’s former President George W. Bush on foreign policy:

Bush said he views the rise of the Islamic State as al-Qaeda’s “second act” and that they may have changed the name but that murdering innocents is still the favored tactic. He defended his own administration’s handling of terrorism, noting that the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured on his watch: “Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV.”

Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State’s forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’ ” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”

“In order to be an effective president … when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”

Let’s leave aside that Bush held the course in Iraq for two years while that country slid into civl war, before “we changed” to a smarter policy. Those two years poisoned his presidency, gave the House and Senate to the Democrats, and paved the way to a first-term Senator of no discernible accomplishments to win the White House.

While that is a major aside, the fact remains that “this mess” Barack Obama “inherited” in the Middle East, while not exactly on the mend, was at least at a manageable level of permanent crisis. Given everything else, that was no small feat. It was of course all thrown away by Obama, who views foreign policy with the same contempt the star high school quarterback feels for math class — that awful, boring, frustrating thing he must cope with in between the real work of high school, which is being supercool out on field.

There was a part of me — a small part, but real — which thought Obama might get serious about foreign policy in his last two years. That’s the typical escape for lame duck presidents, and it’s not like he didn’t have plenty to get done overseas.

Instead he’s chosen to beat his head against the wall, trying to get a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. Meanwhile, the Middle East burns — and sits on the edge of a nuclear arms race.

It’s the worst of all possible worlds, and Obama helped make it that way.