The American Interest
Essays & Longer Thoughts
President Obama at a June 19th press conference. © Getty Images
Published on June 23, 2014
Welcome To Obama's Brave New World The Jihadi Menace Gets Real

ISIS is bigger, badder, richer, and better organized than any jihadi threat the United States has faced thus far. Its rise represents a foreign policy disaster of the first order.

A group more radical than al-Qaeda, better organized, better financed, commanding the loyalty of thousands of dedicated fanatics including many with Western and even U.S. passports? And this group now controls some of the most strategic territory at the heart of the Middle East?

Welcome to President Obama’s brave new world. After six years in office pursuing strategies he believed would tame the terror threat and doing his best to reassure the American people that the terror situation was under control, with the “remnants” of al-Qaeda skittering into the shadows like roaches when the exterminator arrives, Obama now confronts the most powerful and hostile jihadi movement of modern times, a movement that dances on the graveyard of his hopes.

The FT has rounded up some expert commentary that tries to describe exactly what kind of organization we’re up against here:

“They’re probably the richest jihadi organisation ever seen,” says Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute, and an expert on extremism. “They get their money from trafficking weapons, kidnappings for ransom, counterfeit currencies, oil refining, smuggling artefacts that are thousands of years old and from taxes that they have for areas they are in – either on businesses, or at checkpoints or on ordinary people,” he adds. [...]

“Most jihadist groups are tightly controlled, secretive and well co-ordinated, but Isis has essentially taken that to another level, with a quite impressive level of bureaucracy, extensive account keeping, and multiple channels of accountability,” says Charles Lister, an analyst at the Brookings Doha Centre.

The state ISIS hopes to construct may not endure; in periods of radical instability like this one in the Middle East, the fortunes of war can change with breathtaking speed. But the capacities it is building, the supplies it is gathering, the networks forming around it, the training it imparts, and the enormous psychological boost its current success, however fleeting, gives to the jihadi cause will remain.

One wishes we had a Republican President right now if only because when a Republican is in the White House, the media and the chattering classes believe they have a solemn moral duty to categorize and analyze the failures of American strategy and policy. Today that is far from the case; few in the mainstream press seem interested in tracing the full and ugly course of the six years of continual failure that dog the footsteps of the hapless Obama team in a region the White House claimed to understand. Nothing important has gone right for the small and tightly knit team that runs American Middle East policy. Most administrations have one failure in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking; this administration has two, both distinctly more ignominious and damaging than average. The opening to the Middle East, once heralded by this administration as transformative, has long vanished; no one even talks about the President’s speeches in Cairo and Istanbul anymore, unless regional cynics are looking for punch lines for bitter jokes. The support for the “transition to democracy” in Egypt ended on as humiliating a note as the “red line” kerfuffle in Syria. The spectacular example of advancing human rights by leading from behind in Libya led to an unmitigated disaster from which not only Libya but much of north and west Africa still suffers today.

Rarely has an administration so trumpeted its superior wisdom and strategic smarts; rarely has any American administration experienced so much ignominious failure, or had its ignorance and miscalculation so brutally exposed. No one, ever, will call this administration’s Middle East policies to date either competent or wise—though the usual press acolytes will continue to do what they can to spread a forgiving haze over the strategic collapse of everything this White House has attempted, as they talk about George W. Bush at every chance they get. (An honorable exception in the NYT today: Peter Baker has a piece examining the Administration’s failure to end American involvement in Iraq, and making the obvious but important point that the Iraq fiasco is a consequence of Administration failures in Syria. There are more dots still to connect.)

Now, from the ruins of the Obama Administration’s Middle East strategy, the most powerful and dangerous group of religious fanatics in modern history has emerged in the heart of the Middle East. The rise of ISIS is a strategic defeat of the first magnitude for the United States and its allies (as well as countries like Russia and even China). It is a perfect storm of bad policy intersecting with troubled times to create the gravest threat to U.S. and world stability since the end of the Cold War.

The mainstream press and the professional chatterboxes of the news shows need to set aside their squeamishness at poring over the details of a major strategic failure by a liberal Democrat. The rise of ISIS/ISIL is a disaster that must be examined and understood. How could the U.S. government have been caught napping by the rise of a new and hostile power in a region of vital concern? What warning signs were missed, what opportunities were lost—and why? What role did the administration’s trademark dithering and hairsplitting over aid to ISIS’s rivals in the Syrian opposition play in the rise of the radicals?

Meanwhile, as the liberal press does its earnest best to ignore the real-time collapse of a foreign policy it once cheered to the rafters, some GOP voices are doing their best to add to the confusion and further muddy the debate. The architects of the war in Iraq are claiming that this disaster somehow vindicates them, and some hope that, as the nature of the danger and the magnitude of the disaster sink in, the nation will call them back to power.

In fact, the architects of the surge and the policies that stabilized Iraq following the nadir of the war do deserve credit; Generals Petraeus and McCrystal, both driven from public service as a consequence of minor indiscretions, tower like giants over the moralistic timeservers who arrogantly and foolishly cast them aside. But if those who led the nation into Iraq want to play a positive role now, they need to embrace some humility and talk about “lessons learned.” If they want to help the United States of America in an hour of real need, they must not try to use the current situation to win personal vindication—and the more stridently they demand it the more they will place obstacles in the path of the debate that we need, marginalize their own voices and divide a people who need to unite as the dangers grow.

Some members of the Democratic foreign policy establishment are looking for ways to rescue their nation and party from the current mess. Les Gelb at the Daily Beast understands the revolutionary nature of the jihadi blitzkrieg, and argues for a new Grand Alliance of the U.S., Russia, Iran and even Assad against the new power in the Middle East. He tries to head off criticisms:

I’m certainly not saying that Assad is a good guy and that we should abandon pursuing his eventual departure, or that we can now trust Russia and Iran. Washington has and will have serious problems with all these countries. And most certainly, the U.S. will have to stay on its guard. But the fact is that there is common ground with Moscow and Tehran to combat the biggest threat to all of us at this moment. Russia frets all the time about the jihadis in the Mideast making joint cause with Muslim extremists in Russia; it’s Moscow’s number one security issue. Iran worries greatly about the Sunni jihadis torturing and killing Shiites in Syria and Iraq. There’s nothing more frightening in the world today than these religious fanatics.

But ultimately, even with Gelb’s many caveats, his proposal may not be practical; a number of these “allies” would be at least as interested in weakening the U.S. as in striking at ISIS—and placing the U.S. on one side of a sectarian war has big drawbacks. There is also the question of whether the earnest White House types who have piled up such a disastrous record in the Middle East could negotiate their way into a used car lot, much less handle a complex negotiation involving Russia, Iran, Assad, and a bunch of other canny operators. Even so, Gelb is right about this: The rise of ISIS, unless checked, presents a challenge big enough to change the international alignment of more than one state. We could be looking at a major geopolitical upheaval here, an earthquake whose aftershocks will be felt across the world.

From current press reports, it appears that Secretary Kerry is off to the Middle East on a mission of splitting the difference. On the one hand, he is kissing up to the Saudis: telling the Saudi backed Egyptian leader Sisi not to worry, that the aid check is in the mail, and insisting that any solution in Iraq must involve a better deal for the Sunnis. On the other hand, he is urging the Shia to make nice—to throw Maliki out and “be more inclusive” with the Sunnis in Iraq. This is the sort of counsel the U.S. always hands out in these situations; we want both sides to “rise above” their “narrow interests” and accept a compromise solution that, coincidentally, gives us what we want.

The Middle East’s leaders have heard exactly this kind of message from many Presidents and Secretaries of State in the past. They are less inspired by our logic than American policymakers think. As the region’s leaders listen to Kerry, they will be asking whether he brought anything but the usual stale platitudes in his baggage. What, specifically, does the U.S. want people to do? And what good things will happen to those who agree to support the U.S. line in this crisis, and what bad things will happen to those who don’t? One hopes the White House has given Kerry big bags full of extra-tasty carrots and intimidating sticks; otherwise, his mission this week will be no more successful than his most recent bout of Middle East peacemaking with the Israelis and Palestinians. The problem is that what Middle Eastern leaders want most from the United States is exactly what President Obama doesn’t want to give them: firm promises of significant and effective military support. The Iraqis want more than a few drone strikes, the Saudis want Iran’s ambitions blocked and the “moderate” Syrian rebels effectively helped; the Iranians want the U.S. to crush ISIS for them.

Secretary Kerry faces a tough week, especially after the Egyptians celebrated his visit by convicting three Al-Jazeera journalists on terrorism charges and giving them long prison terms. For our part, we wish him all the success in the world, and observe that any tangible successes — like the ouster of Maliki — would help to restore the credibility of an administration that desperately needs a win.

For the immediate future, there are two things to watch. First, does ISIS’s momentum carry it forward when it reaches the Shia districts of Iraq? The militias and parade groups currently marching around Baghdad and thumping their chests may not be very effective in the field, and it is not yet clear whether the Iraqi Army will fight any better on Shia home turf than it did in the north and the west. The Sunni crushed the Shia in Iraq for decades and there is no law of nature that says they can’t do it again—if they are willing to be brutal enough.

They probably are.

In any case, the fall of Baghdad and further disintegration of the fragile Shia Army would create one kind of situation; the stabilization of a military front north and west of the city or even inside it would be something quite different. Until we know how that develops on the ground, it will be difficult to think much about the future.

Second, there’s the question of the political balance within the ISIS-held territories. Tribal leaders, Baathist activists, other religious groups and their allies outnumber the true ISIS cadres by an immense factor. It is far from clear whether the rebel region in Syria and Iraq will be under one increasingly powerful and effective government or whether it falls apart into factionalism and internal power struggles. For ISIS to impose real order and authority on the population under its military control, and to build up its forces from a guerrilla army to a force capable of imposing dictatorial religious rule on a large civilian population, would be a victory as difficult and in some ways more astonishing than the triumph of its forces on the ground. The U.S. might do better to try to strengthen the non-ISIS components of the Sunni movements in Syria and Iraq than to look to Tehran and the Kremlin for help.

So the dust will have to settle before we can tell what exactly we are dealing with. But even as we wait for the new picture to emerge internationally, the American people need to come to grips with a strategic escalation of the terror threat at home. ISIS is much richer, much bigger, much better organized and much better positioned to launch attacks in the U.S. and Europe than any of its predecessors. For now, the organization appears to be focused on its local wars, where it certainly has plenty to do. But we’ve consistently underestimated the group’s capabilities, strategic intelligence, innovative planning methods, and drive to prevail. It would be most unwise to assume that a jihadi terror organization 2.0 like ISIS, richer than Osama bin Laden and better supplied with arms and supporters, is incapable of thinking one or two steps ahead. And there’s the reality that hotheads all over the world will be inspired by its success to try a little murder and mayhem on their own.

So here, alas, is where we now stand six years into the Age of Obama: The President isn’t making America safer at home, he doesn’t have the jihadis on the run, he has no idea how to bring prosperity, democracy, or religious moderation to the Middle East, he can’t pivot away from the region, and he doesn’t know what to do next. He’s the only President this country has got, and one can’t help but wish him well, but if things are going to get any better, he needs to stop digging. He probably needs to bring in some new blood, and he must certainly ask himself some tough questions about why so many of his most cherished ideas keep leading him and his country into such ugly places.

Six years into what the President and his supporters thought would be an era of liberal Democrats seizing the national security high ground from enfeebled, discredited Republicans, the outlook is much grimmer than the President’s team could have dreamed. Perhaps they should take comfort from the example of George W. Bush; at this point in his presidency things looked pretty bleak, too. Between the surge in Iraq and hard work building bridges with allies, Bush had some positive foreign policy momentum going by the time he left office. It’s not a place on Mount Rushmore, but it’s better than the alternative. Mr. Obama must now hope he can accomplish as much.

  • Curious Mayhem

    Too bad the US lacks a parliamentary system — if we had one, these clowns and their party would already be gone. As it is, only Congressional action (including impeachment) remain as remedies. There’s little way to limit the damage from one of the most incompetent and lawless administrations in American history.

    Impeachment should proceed with regard to the (In)Justice Department and the IRS. About Obama, it’s harder to say. At minimum, Hagel and Kerry should be forced to resign.

    • Guest

      I don’t think a parliamentary system would be the end all, be all.

      • Curious Mayhem

        I didn’t say that, but we need a hard look at this system of elected, and increasingly absolutist, monarchy.

        Absolutist and absolutely incompetent, at the same time — WWHT (What Would Hobbes Think)?

        • SouthOhioGipper

          Let’s just assume for a minute that this nation decided to invoke Article V. Do you have any idea the horrid document and government that would emerge from such a thing? 40-50% of the nation would demand positive rights placed in stone that must be met at all costs, even if the private sector has to be drained of all but the barest of cottage industries. In fact the Progressives WANT to reduce the economy to cottage industry.

          No, this nation is no longer capable of creating a document as fundamentally sound as our Constitution. It must be conserved with every bit of our might.

          The problem is that the people with an emotional attachment to this culture and nation as it was.. are dying rapidly and the youth are not following in their footsteps as clearly.

          I see serious flaws and what I consider to be “heresies” among the conservatism of the youth that are basically leftist in everything except economics and they are perfectly willing to compromise on those.

          • Leon Haller

            Very wise words! Young “conservatives” are nearly as worthless as the leftists (stop with the “Progressive” label everybody! the proper terms are “(nonwhite) racists” and “Marxists”).

    • Skep41

      Yes, if only we had a government like Italy’s everything would run like clockwork. I love our One Party Democracy and the Progressive policies of Our Dear Leader, who is incapable of error.

      • dogged

        “You must love Barack Obama; it is not enough to obey him.”

    • CincinnatiRIck

      You forget that 40%+ of this country backs this President including the 10% of diehard tribal loyalists based on his skin color and another 10% of diehard progressive ideological loyalists who share his conviction that they know better how to run our lives than we do. What’s the point in impeaching him when more than half the Senate would vote for him no matter that he be proven as dirty as Nixon?
      About the only power you have is the power of the purse…to specifically defund those government operations that have been proven to have run amuck. And then you have no leadership to stand up to the hue and cry from the administration and its toadies in those wholly-owned subsidiaries, the Senate and the media. You lose…why bother.

      • DL Sly

        Dirty as Nixon?
        Nobody died in the Watergate break-in or subsequent cover-up.
        Nixon tried to get the IRS to go after his political enemies, they told him to take a flying flip off a bridge.
        Puhleeze.

        • CincinnatiRIck

          You can quibble about the details but Nixon was proven guilty to the satisfaction of his Republican colleagues who told him point blank that he would be impeached AND convicted.
          Obama has yet to be personally implicated….and may never be because the civil “servants” probably didn’t require direction since their hearts and self-interest (as well as that of the media) are with him anyway and both can be counted on to cover up for him even if he is guilty. Unless you have the smoking gun, game over and why bother.

          • DL Sly

            Nice to know that the death of an American Ambassador on American soil along with three other Americans who were trying to protect and evacuate him is just a “quibble” in your mind.
            There is only one person who could order the stand down of military assistance to those begging for help in Benghazi, and I’m pretty sure you know as well as I who that is.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            Why don’t you try sticking to the subject. This thread is a discussion of possible impeachment for misuse of the IRS and the subsequent cover up…paralleling what transpired with Nixon.
            Any “quibble” is in regards Nixon actually having been found guilty (he wasn’t in any formal legal sense, he was simply allowed to resign in disgrace after his fellow Republicans told him that they would not back him to the bitter end). Now, do you have anything to say about the subject?

          • DL Sly

            Pardon me for addressing your comment “… no matter that he be proven as dirty as Nixon?”
            In case you can’t figure out what you did, it’s called a comparison. To which I noted that nobody died in any of Nixon’s scandals. I was refuting your comparison. Don’t want someone to respond to your comments or comparisons? Dayum, must suck to be you in a free speech country.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            The comparison here is regarding the relative culpability of Nixon and Obama in the attempt to use the IRS against their political enemies. Now, do you have anything to say about the subject or do you want to continue just ranting?

            Must suck to be intellectually impoverished. What a waste of free speech to be unable to put it to any useful purpose. With ignorant and irrational supporters like you, the conservative cause will never lack for enemies.

    • travlr009

      its worse than caught with no clothes on for the media……………..they are active participants in a lie and a con

  • Gene

    It always fascinates me that Progressives think of themselves as open-minded, knowledgeable and nuanced people that are sensitive to the values of people the world over, and encourage the idea that conservatives are arrogant, jingoistic and uncomprehending of “the other.”

    And yet … Progressives are the ones who are constantly caught off-guard by the ability of the leaders of poor, struggling countries to think 3 steps ahead and aggrandize their own power and influence by accomplishing things the former just cannot see coming. Caught off guard by the fact that many of these leaders mean the words they say. Add to that Progressives’ apparent inability to understand that there are those with different values–values that Westerners would rightly consider beyond the pale–that are also smart, organized and committed enough to put those values into action unapolagetically. And I’m supposed to think people like Obama’s staff are smart. Why, exactly?

    • TeacherSTL

      Nailed it. I’m always wondering the same thing. Liberals, while bashing the idea of “American exceptionalism” seem to tacitly believe in it given what you wrote above.

      Seems to me the neo-cons over-estimated our own abilities and liberals underestimate everyone else. Neither of those approaches are healthy.

      • Curious Mayhem

        Liberals once believed in American exceptionalism themselves. The reason they no longer do is that they now know that they and a country run by them can’t live up to it.

      • Indy_Ben

        How balanced!! Nope – I don’t care how many times you say it but supporters of the the Iraq invasion and Neocons will go down as responsible for the dumbest war in history. You can blame liberals for getting us out of the longest war in our history and also making us face that we have to pay for it, but you guys own this debacle. Now the rest of us have to fix it…

    • Thirdsyphon

      I’m not persuaded that Progressives actually do believe that conservatives are “arrogant, jingoistic, and uncomprehending of ‘the other’”; but if your goal here is to show where Progressives are wrong, you might want to ascribe some beliefs to them that you don’t immedately prove right.

      • Gene

        If I read you right, you’re suggesting that my remarks about the “leaders of poor countries” or those with “different values” are “arrogant, jingoistic and uncomprehending”? If so I must disagree; first, because I’m not a conservative in the Republican Party sense of the term, and secondly, I take people from all over the world very seriously indeed. I believe they are as smart as I am, I take their stated religious or cultural motivations seriously and I believe their grasp on reality is at least as good as any American’s.

        • Thirdsyphon

          You misread me. It’s your estimation of progressives that I think is off-base.

          • Tom Servo

            I agree – he gives progressives far too much credit by suggesting that they ever “think” in the sense that we know it at all. For progressives, it is all just FEEELINGS, WHOA WHOA WHOA FEELINGS!!!

            but that does not a viable foreign policy make.

        • Sulaco

          Their grasp of reality is normally better than ours because they have immediate consequences
          for not recognizing reality, like the wise and tolerant jihadists beloved by Obama behead them. Not forgetting either that a lot of these others want to kill us and it seems an inverse loving relationship intensity between progressives and our would be murder’s

    • CincinnatiRIck

      “Progressives think of themselves as open-minded, knowledgeable and nuanced”
      Those are contradictory values. When you have all the answers, know better how to run people’s lives than they do themselves, there is no call or cause to be open-minded or nuanced. One has the right….nay, the duty….to bring their superior vision to bear and allow the unwashed masses to benefit. Ah, they mean us so well.
      The same people who are outraged at the thought of the religious using government to impose their values (or, perish the thought, even a Christmas tree) on others, think nothing of doing so themselves. If you allow them, they will tell you not only what to think but even how to size your popcorn and soda pop. Progressivism is just the most recent form of tyranny, as reactionary and vile as anything that ever arose in the sands or Arabia or the beerhalls of Bavaria.

      • Black_Saint

        How right you are!!

      • dogged

        “Liberals claim to be open and tolerant to other points of view but then are shocked and offended when they discover there ARE other points of view.” — William F. Buckley, Jr.

        • CincinnatiRIck

          I myself am a liberal…as were the founders of this country…some were quite radical and others more conservative but they were liberal to a man…that our rights were inalienable and NOT a gift from government. I understand Buckley’s point but I object to conflating “progressivism”…a form of authoritarianism… with liberal thought. “Liberalism” is a misnomer…a liberal refuses to get caught up in any “ism” and keeps an open mind.

          • whidbeytom

            Insisting the Washington Redskins change their name is a form of authoritarianism. This exercise of political correctness doesn’t come from the right.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            Authoritarianism isn’t specifically left or right. Anyone who claims superior knowledge or a connection with some ultimate authority as a basis for ruling over you against your personal interests is an authoritarian…and it doesn’t much matter what scripture they are citing. So, whether its the Divine Right of the King, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the will of the master race or the common good that they are channeling, the point is that they know best and you need to toe the line.

          • Egyptsteve

            I dare you, I double dare you, to head up to the Indian reservation that is closest to wherever you are, and then to walk up to the biggest, baddest, Indian you can find — someone who really looks like he could kick your ass — and call him a “Redskin” to his face. Then you can find out for yourself whether or not “Redskin” is a racial slur.

      • AD_Rtr_OS

        They’re so open-minded, that when the bend over to tie their shoe-laces, their brains spill out.

      • rsagarc

        Rick, I think what many people are outraged at is NOT religious people using government to (try to) impose their values; that is what democracy is all about, electing a government that reflects the push-and-pull of competing values/interests. What they object to is religious people using the government to impose their RELIGIOUS BELIEFS on others. I understand why many people oppose abortion on religious grounds; they simply need not get an abortion and they are free to counsel their family/friends not to do so. Why must they extend their religious beliefs to try to prohibit others from doing so? Why must they try to dismantle a health insurance law – or selectively edit it – because its requirement that private insurance companies cover abortion and contraceptive services offends their religious beliefs? (Incidentally, by this standard, we should remove blood transfusions from all insurance coverage because it offends Christian Scientists.) The essence of the separation of church and State is not to ask/demand that people leave their religious beliefs out of policy discussions, but rather to ensure that whatever my religious beliefs are, I am both free to exercise them and prohibited from requiring you and others to follow them. This concept is different from how we treat other speech/ideas, and its why there is a Constitutional Amendment devoted to it: religious speech has special protections and certain limits when combined with governmental policy/practice.

        • CincinnatiRIck

          I think you miss my point and if you will check other posts in this thread, you will see that I have no patience with ANY authoritarian imposition of beliefs on others, religious or nominally secular. What is so irksome is the intellectual inconsistency (dishonesty?) of those who can see authoritarianism so easily in its old forms but eagerly embrace it with the new…especially if it is one that gives them and their class primacy.

          Progressivism is simply one among many authoritarian political philosophies against which liberal thought must contend. In contrast with other authoritarian creeds, the Progressive philosophy begins with the premise that there is a “public interest” which can be arrived at through intellectual processes by superior/trained/enlightened individuals.

          The possession of this special knowledge and wisdom confers upon this elite the right, even the responsibility to avail the unwashed and unenlightened masses of their superior guidance and direction so as to improve the lives of all in the society. It is very nearly the modern equivalent of the Medieval “noblesse oblige.” And, if you read Marx
          closely, his “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” was, in fact, to be a dictatorship of the intelligentsia (the “midwives” of the Revolution).

          The most important distinction between liberal thought and progressive thought is in how they define the public interest: liberal thought (Locke) begins with the premise that it must be an amalgam, an arithmetic composition of all the individual interests found in a society. Progressives, like every other species of authoritarian, believe that the public interest exists outside, apart from and, most importantly ABOVE individual interests.
          Moreover, having this independent existence, it can be identified by intellectual processes.

          Well, so maybe you don’t believe in God? OK, but then surely you love America? What, you say, jingoism is passe? But surely, a conscientious person like you must respect the public interest? Gotcha!

          The progressives who would give us utopia on Earth mean us well. But then, so do the religious zealots who will go to most any length to save our souls or the fascists who
          would shred our Constitution to save our country. The difference lies solely in the scripture and goals of these different priesthoods. So, ungrateful wretches, why can’t we appreciate what they are trying to do for us?

          The Sociology of Knowledge (Mannheim), of which I am a student, sees the partiality and bias inherent in anyone in a society who claims to stand objectively and disinterestedly outside it. They arrogantly delude themselves as surely as the Blind Men and the Elephant (parable). Now we are getting pretty deep in the weeds of social philosophy and I am not sure this is a workable venue for that.

          • bpuharic

            Funny watching the authoritarian right, which thinks corporations are people entitled to 1 dollar 1 vote, discuss progressivism as if they know anything about it.

            The right wing philosophy begins with the idea the rich are inherently superior (cf Greg Mankiw, for example). Then then proceed from there to a form of Plato’s benevolent philosopher king, with the rich forming a class bound only by noblesse oblige. Of course, they invent such concepts as the ’47 %’ being moochers, the rich under siege like the Jews were in the Warsaw ghetto, etc.

            And, of course, this is followed by wealth redistribution upwards when the wealthy gamble with billions and lose. Then it’s time for the great unwashed to come to the aid of the philosopher kings who are, the right says, our betters. It’s our only function in life. To act as a piggy bank for the wealthy.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            Well I know progressivism very well, you see, because I was a progressive before I repented of the hubris involved. Like the Ancient Mariner, one will never lose that albatross until you can find beauty in the mass of slimy creatures writhing in the sea.
            And you clearly do not understand that the elite, the 1% you so despise, are anything but authoritarian. Compromise and split the difference is their cardinal principle. In the best Bismarkian/Rooseveltian tradition, they are always willing to throw whatever crumbs from the table to ensure social peace…it’s a simple case of taking out insurance. There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between a “limousine liberal” and a “compassionate conservative.” They’re rubbing elbows at the club, laughing at you right now. History is a game played by the best and the worst over the heads of those in the middle. That’s you.

          • bpuharic

            Hubris? Conservatism, the ideology of latter day philosopher kings who are better than the rest of us?

            You worship the rich. Good for you. I’m glad you have a cult to believe in and give meaning to your life. Me? I work for a living and don’t worship them as you do. I, unlike you, would not take the food out of my children’s mouth to feed the rich, believing they were my betters. I work. They don’t. Let them find their own food

            Perhaps your kids cereal.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            Get a grip, man. You’re losing it.

    • dogged

      To put it more succinctly, I have concluded that liberals take the vaunted role of (in Lenin’s term) “Useful Idiots” in the struggle with jihadists for the future of civilization. You can safely bet that, wherever the jihadists prevail, the Useful Idiots will be the very first deprived of their heads.

      • CincinnatiRIck

        One would think those most heavily invested in the continuity of an order would have the intelligence to refrain from undercutting that order. But, no, it never ceases to amaze that intellectuals and others whose life style most requires freedom, are always the most reluctant to man the battlements of their society and civilisation.

        The operational principle is apparently “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It is for this reason that secular progressives, hostile to any significant role for religion in society, find it expedient to champion anything at all that would put a stick in the eye of the dominant (and therefore more menacing) religion in their society. And so the more reactionary (and even barbaric) outside religion tends to get a free pass.

        • Indy_Ben

          Huh? Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Bush junior, Limbaugh, Kristol, etc… every one of the cheerleaders of this debacle. What do they have in common? C’mon now, you know…

          I’ll give you a hint. It isn’t that they were “ardent supporters of the Irag invasion”… Last hint, your statement about “most reluctant to man the battlements”made me think of the list. Got it now?

          • CincinnatiRIck

            The “battlements” manned by intellectuals (of whatever stripe) are in the realm of ideas, not the physical world. Don’t diminish yourself by trying to score partisan digs at every turn.

          • Indy_Ben

            Oh, okay. You must be a conservative Republican with your selfless defense of freedom (in the realm of ideas only of course). You, sir, are a patriot and I thank you for your service. Btw, I get the labored efforts to define whatever the hell is the label of the day for the talk radio aficionados that post here. But whatever label you feel you need apply to me, I’m one of the folks that was not only shocked and outraged by what we did in Iraq, I believed it was incredibly stupid. The outcome we are seeing was not just predicted by us silly misguided “progressives” but by a lot of traditional Republicans also… Not trying to label people here but they would be the ones that prosecuted the first Gulf war. Remember the reason they didn’t want to go into Bagdad? It is bad enough that folks of your ilk forced the rest of us down this rathole… you aren’t even decent enough to admit you were wrong. You call me partisan? The Iraq was dumb and tragically a waste of lives and resources. it was labeled as dumb by thoughtful strategists of different political persuasions, and it remains dumb.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            OK, so you want to persist in changing the subject away from both the subject of this article and this particular thread. Normally, I wouldn’t go there but, even riding your own hobby horse, your ASSumptions are pathetically mistaken.
            Folks of my ilk forcing anything? You really haven’t a clue, have you? Wise words: “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” You are diminished equally by using that big stick unnecessarily or not carrying it at all. Power is a depletable resource and most effective in the perception thereof.
            What was stone cold obvious was that, miserable cur that he might have been, Saddam Hussein was our dog….a secular bulwark against the Islamic true believers in the theocracy boy scout Carter allowed to arise in Iran. That is why, Bush the elder, let him survive, hopeful that he learned his lesson from the Kuwaiti smackdown. Hussein’s nuclear program was a hoax, designed to caution both those in the neighborhood and in the West…a hoax that took in ALL of the intelligence services. Now why boy scout Bush junior felt he had some responsibility to take out Hussein is beyond me.
            Possibly the same goody goody instinct that caused his idiot successor to lecture endlessly about what the world community expects and start drawing red lines he had no intention of keeping. When Putin has your back, you’re covered. When Obama has your back, there’s a knife in it. So now the whole world knows that this Emperor is wearing no clothes and the Russians and Chinese are taking advantage. At least “cowboy” Bush junior left ‘em guessing as to what idiot response they might get. But the real impact will be as much with our “friends” as our enemies. With the American shield in doubt, the nuclear proliferation party has just begun…I hope you enjoy it.

          • Indy_Ben

            Hmmm…. nuclear proliferation is happening because of Obama? Interesting. He seems to have made much more progress than his predecessor. What did the “cowboy” do about Iran? You think that mess started with Obama? Think he should have bombed them or invaded? Think he should have moved the cost of that endeavor off the budget? I had to chuckle when you went back to Carter on Iran. Our troubles there had nothing to do with our policy of propping up the Shah? Okay, I’m sure you have some interesting theories about how wonderful things would be with the neocons in charge. No, I don’t enjoy the world we live in but I sure as hell don’t think the simpletons that crafted their vision of American control over the Iraqi oil fields would have had a clue what to do if they had to actually manage the subsequent destabilization of the entire middle east. The party of Sarah Palin has the answers I know. Oh, and I wouldn’t put my money on Putin right now if I were you but he’d make a great Republican. Strategy is not his forte, he thinks the world is still like it was in 1980. Unfortunately for him, Russia is interconnected in too many ways with the rest of the world and he can’t think like that and that should be obvious. Seems like you two have a lot in common… Walk softly and carry a big stick… geez what a joke.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            You can rationalize it any way you want but when you are ideologically driven to create a vacuum, you are responsible for the whirlwind that you reap. That Bush junior was a neocon idiot (or, more properly, managed by neocon idiots) in no way excuses the equal and opposite reaction of the subsequent regime.
            However, the common meme, simply noting that Obama is a weak and ineffectual world leader invites two erroneous conclusions:
            1) Obama never intended to exercise a strong hand. His clearly stated agenda was to “radically transform” America. As such, the only “enemies” he is really concerned with are domestic…and he has been ruthless in dealing with them. Putin’s antics are simply an unruly and annoying sideshow in this context. So how can one criticize as “weak and ineffectual” the achievement of an intended outcome?
            2) Those, such as yourself, who simplistically posit that there is no choice to be had other than reckless jingoism (should one have a problem with this withdrawal and surrender from the US world role since WW2) are posing a false choice. The very hallmark of real strength is in NOT having to use it. That said, one must both have the strength and the reputation of using it judiciously when needed. Constant bluster, red lines never enforced and sermonizing are as bad, if not worse, than the injudicious use of force. Better to say nothing at all than call attention to your pusillanimity.
            BTW, this article is concerning the “Jihadi Menace” and the subject of this particular thread was the ineffectuality of “liberals” in dealing with it. Of course, being a liberal myself, I would, if in an academic setting, need to correct the author in that the attitude and resulting ineffectuality in coming to grips with the threat are properly ascribed to “secular progressives” and not ‘liberals.” He was correct, however, in noting the irony that those whose values and way of life would be most threatened by the success of the Jihadi ideology, are most reluctant to confront it. I merely sought to point out the likely intellectual “bridge’ that allows this short-sighted apparent contradiction.

  • http://www.syalconsult.com Verinder Syal

    For once an essay that does not try to hide behind platitudes. Obama – and his mideast (actually foreign) policy have been a disaster of great proportions. The press is asleep as it has been since Obama came to power. I wonder what goes through the minds of these people in power? Are they so devoid of any common sense or morality that they do no see the have they have wrought?

    • ubetcha

      Simply put, most of those in power in DC could really give a rat’s behind about the rest of the world burning. As long as they get to keep their power and perks here in the states. Politicians today are NOT statesmen that believe in, and attempt to further, the greatness of America. On the contrary, many of them (especially in the D party) abhor American greatness and seek to hobble that mighty steed. As a simple test merely ask any of them what makes America special and unique in the world’s nation-states. Practically all of them will mouth some platitudes about our diversity or some other claptrap. And almost none of them will mention the Constitution or the defense of individual liberty on which this country was founded.

    • Curious Mayhem

      Press not asleep under Obama — under hypnotic spell = half sleep, half dream world.

      • bpuharic

        Not like the crack reporters at the NY Times who cheered on the Bush war machine.

    • dogged

      The Mideast disaster continues to unfold toward a more perilous future for all. But lately, the Obama “brain trust” is spending most of its precious time concocting where to lay the blame.

  • ShadrachSmith

    If your goal is a multipolar world, you can’t complain if some of the regional powers are tribal slave holders. That is the nature of Islam, always has been. If you don’t want to Westernize (human life is sacred) them, then you take them as they are.

    Western values are better than Islamic values (See: slavery and death for bad thoughts). That is what Obama doesn’t understand.

  • ljgude

    It is good to see the scope of the debacle recognized. It has been pretty obvious all along that Obama was a post colonialist living in a self referential delusion. (Yes delusion – he s going to get rid of atomic weapons while pursuing policies that will lead to an Iranian bomb.) But I now have to wonder if the jihadis attacked Washington if he would act militarily.

    • Peter M Todebush

      The Consequences of Syria

      23 June 2014 Michael J Totten

      The Syrian civil war is no longer the Syrian civil war. It’s a regional war that started in Syria, has expanded into Lebanon and Iraq, and has drawn in the Iranians and to a lesser extent the Kurds andthe Israelis.

      Wars in North Africa tend to stay local, but wars in the Levant spill over and suck in the neighbors. There’s no reason to believe this war has finished expanding or that an end is in sight.

      Lee Smith’s new short book, The Consequences of Syria, is about how we got here. Lee is a friend of mine. He and I met nine years ago in Beirut and have traveled elsewhere in the region together. We argue about the Middle East sometimes, but we agree with each other often enough that our arguments are interesting and productive.

      We spoke by phone recently.

      MJT: Tell us about your book.

      Lee Smith: It’s a long essay commissioned by the Hoover Institution, specifically by Charles Hill, one of our country’s great statesmen and historians of grand strategy, as well as Fouad Ajami, who died Sunday at the age of 68. Not only was Ajami a great historian of the modern Middle East, he is also one of the great English language prose stylists. He wrote about the region, but like any writer his real subject was about the human condition, that is, man’s struggle with freedom. It was a huge honor that he and Mr. Hill included me in the Hoover series, “The Great Unraveling: The Remaking of the Middle East,” and I am indebted to them both, professionally and even more so personally. What an honor to get to work with them and other authors in the series, including a book by one of our mutual friends, Samuel Tadros, Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt.

      My essay is an account of the Syrian civil war, which began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest movement. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired on unarmed opposition members, the uprising eventually became a rebellion as the opposition took up arms, and the conflict escalated into a full-scale civil war. That’s one aspect of the book.

      The other part of the book concerns the Obama administration’s Syria policy, which has been one of neglect and mendacity. The administration has repeatedly misled the American public, the American media, and allies around the world about its intentions.

      MJT: Give us an example.

      Lee Smith: Look at what happened in May before the president’s speech at West Point. Various media outlets quoted unnamed sources that suggested the president was going to arm and train the rebels.

      The president and his administration have been saying this for two and a half years now, most notably in June 2013 when Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, said in a conference call with reporters that the administration was ramping up its military support for the rebels.

      Again and again, reporters asked Rhodes if that meant the administration was going to arm the rebels. Rhodes said he couldn’t give us an exact “inventory”—a word he used at least three times—of the assistance the administration would provide. Major media—the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, etc.—reported that the White House was indeed going to arm the rebels, but this was all attributed to anonymous sources, which means that there absolutely nothing at stake if the information proved incomplete, inaccurate or just plain false. It was only months later when we found out from interviews with various rebel commanders that no American arms had been received.

      Here it’s worth saying something about the press as well. I would have hoped that after the administration pulled similar stunts over the last few years regarding Syria that editors would’ve demanded more from their reporters. For instance, “Look, these guys are using us as part of an information operation to keep their domestic opponents and foreign allies off guard. We can’t keep publishing these stories straight anymore without someone going on the record and staking their reputation to it. At the very least we have to note that this may be part of a pattern of inaccuracies we’ve already seen with this White House regarding Syria policy.”

      But of course no one did anything of the sort, and the US media has a lot of egg on their face for it. This White House has been bad for the press, and the readership’s faith in our press, but it seems most journalists don’t much care.

      MJT: Why would the administration mislead everyone instead of just coming out and saying Syria is a mess that we don’t want to get sucked into? That’s the popular position in the United States right now. Plenty of people on both the left and the right would applaud him for that. Why the shenanigans?

      Lee Smith: That’s a very good question. Maybe it’s because the administration is worried its foreign policy will haunt it in the mid-term elections. But then again the administration and a lot of its media surrogates keep saying the American public doesn’t care about foreign policy. And yet other polls show the American public does consider foreign policy an important factor in their decision.

      My belief is that we Americans do care about foreign policy, more specifically about America’s role in the world, but we have come to distrust our leadership. Not just Obama but also Republicans, and that’s why I think Rand Paul is getting so much traction. His idea, which I don’t agree with at all, is at least clear: We should stay out of other people’s conflicts.

      Compare that, for instance, to the Democratic frontrunner for 2016, Hillary Clinton. She says all the right things about a strong America projecting our values in the world, but, as we saw in the recent Diane Sawyer interview, Clinton will take no responsibility at all for anything that happened at Benghazi. So it doesn’t matter if she talks tough about our foreign policy—who can possibly trust someone to lead us into the world if that person’s primary interest is covering her own tail?

      MJT: The White House’s Syria policy is about Iran, isn’t it?

      Lee Smith: Part of it of course is that Obama understands himself as the man whose job is to get us out of entanglements in the Middle East, not to further commit American troops and resources. Still—yes, a large part of it has to do with Iran.

      As I explain in The Consequences of Syria, there’s evidence suggesting that the administration feared that helping topple Assad, an ally of Iran, might have angered the Iranians and pushed them away from the negotiating table, and getting a deal with Iran was the White House’s chief goal in the Middle East.

      Look at other examples of how the White House wanted to stay on the regime’s good side. When the Green Movement took to the streets in June 2009 to protest what was quite likely fraudulent election results, the White House was extremely slow to support it even when the regime was attacking people on the streets just as the Assad regime did a few years later.

      One of the reasons the administration was slow to respond—and we know this because it was reported in the New Yorker article that first put forth the now-infamous phrase “leading from behind”—is because, as one administration official put it, the White House wanted to negotiate with the regime. Same with sanctions relief, which the White House provided to keep the Iranians at the table.

      It’s hard not to conclude that the administration’s Syria policy is a sub-set of its Iran policy. Many people were baffled for a long time, including me, that the president didn’t seem to see Syria strategically, as a way to weaken Iran. Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said that toppling Bashar al-Assad would constitute the most severe blow against the Iranian regime in 25 years. A number of administration officials seemed to recognize the same thing—from former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and ex-CIA director David Petraeus. Only the president seemed to not recognize that or to see Syria in a strategic framework. What we now realize is that the president does see Syria in a strategic framework. He sees that the Syrian regime is an important ally of the Iranians and doesn’t want to be seen toppling the regime for fear of angering the Iranians.

      MJT: Is there any chance that the White House is going to get what it wants from the Iranians this way?

      Lee Smith: If we have a powerful American presence in the Middle East it might be possible to come to some sort of accommodation with Iran. I don’t know exactly what it would look like. But it would have to be demonstrated that the United States still calls the shots in the Persian Gulf and that the United States is still the great power in the Middle East.

      What we’re seeing instead is a United States in retreat in the Middle East. So I don’t see what the accommodation would look like. It’s not a grand bargain with Iran, but an American fire sale, with the US virtually giving away its assets. The US is retreating from the region and leaving it in Iranian hands.

      This is what Obama’s twin-pillars’ policy is about. In various interviews the president has described a new regional framework, a new geopolitical equilibrium, that balances Iran against the Sunni states in the Persian Gulf. This is precisely the idea the impoverished Brits had when they were on their way out of the Persian Gulf at the end of the 1960s. The problem is that there is no way to balance them—Saudi Arabia is incapable of projecting power without American backing. For instance, Riyadh has no equivalent of the IRGC’s Quds Force, its external operations unit, responsible for Iran’s war in Syria, as well as terrorist operations. Accordingly, when the White House says it’s aiming to “balance,” what US allies hear is that the US, like the Brits nearly half a century ago, are on their way out of the region, and are leaving it in Iran’s hands.

      Consider how the administration has effectively partnered with Iran and its allies in Lebanon and Iraq.

      In Lebanon, for instance, American intelligence has teamed up with the Lebanese Armed Forces’ military intelligence, which is at present controlled by Hezbollah. So the United States is indirectly aligned with Hezbollah in Lebanon against Sunni fighters.

      In Iraq we’ve seen the same thing. Up until the ISIS-led takeover of Mosul, the White House supported Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s anti-Sunni policy, even though his allies include Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups with American blood on their hands.

      MJT: Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria recently took over Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq along with some other cities. They’re not as big a strategic threat as Iran right now, but they can certainly turn into one, can’t they?

      Lee Smith: Let’s be a bit more specific. What we’re seeing in cities like Mosul is a Sunni rebellion against Maliki and the Iranians. In addition to ISIS, there are also former Baath party figures, like one of Saddam’s deputies, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, as well as Sunni tribes. ISIS would appear to be playing the role of Sunni shock troops, who are dispatched to the fronts to terrorize and create havoc. Behind them are the Baathis and the tribes. It was Maliki and the Iranians, in particular Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, who made this possible.

      The American-led surge of 2006-7 was a success because it got the tribes to fight, and defeat, Al Qaeda in Iraq. What Maliki and the Iranians have done is unite the tribes and ISIS through their anti-Sunni policies. And so now the administration has a dilemma. As it has argued repeatedly regarding Syria, from their perspective the big issue in the Middle East is counter-terrorism against Al Qaeda and the Sunni jihadis. There’s no doubt Al Qaeda is a problem for the United States, but it’s not a strategic threat like Iran and the Iranian resistance axis.

      Compare the two: Al Qaeda and Iran’s government are both radical Islamists, but the difference is that Al Qaeda doesn’t have the strategic resources of state at its disposal like Iran and its allies, including Islamists like Hezbollah as well as the Iraqi armed groups like Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, do.

      A radical Sunni who wants to establish a caliphate, yelling Allahu Akbar with a black flag in one hand and a Kalashnikov in his other hand is crazy and dangerous, but he’s not a strategic threat. How does that caliphate, assuming such a thing is even possible, affect how Americans live? Are they going to impose sharia on us? Are our female friends and relatives going to be forced to wear a veil because of what some guy in Aleppo says?

      When people worry that Sunni Islamists want to create a caliphate in the Middle East they seem to forget that we already have a clerical regime in Iran. What they’re afraid might happen has already happened. And the concern coming out of Tehran isn’t sharia, but the fact that a nuclear weapons program in the hands of an expansionist regime gives them a dangerous say in the flow of energy resources through the Persian Gulf. They don’t have to actually use a bomb to destabilize the region and raise the price of energy around the world. That’s the danger—that Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf will affect how Americans, and our trading partners, live.

      The Islamic Republic of Iran is an already-existing Islamist power, with an army, a navy, an air force, a ballistic missile program, a nuclear weapons program. They have a diplomatic corps as well as a terrorist apparatus. Al Qaeda doesn’t have any of that. Iran is the key strategic threat in the Middle East for American interests and American allies.

      MJT: So on balance do you think we would be better off if Al Qaeda ended up controlling Syria or parts of Syria as long as bringing down Assad delivers a big enough blow to Iran.

      Lee Smith: Well, I think it’s unlikely Al Qaeda winds up running all of Syria, but if they do, great. If anything comes out of there endangering American citizens, allies, or interests, then that Al Qaeda controlled Syria, presumably with its capital in Damascus, winds up paying a very steep price.

      I think that American foreign policy works most efficiently when it prioritizes threats. Few people believed during World War II that Joseph Stalin was a great guy, but the immediate threat to the United States, its interests, and its allies came from the Nazis, so we aligned ourselves with the Soviet Union until Hitler was defeated, then we waged a Cold War against the Soviets for nearly half a century. That’s how American foreign policy works best.

      Sarah Palin said she’s content to let Allah sort things out in Syria between Iran and Al Qaeda, but Allah doesn’t always sort things out according to American interests.

      The Obama administration is prioritizing threats, but it’s prioritizing the wrong threat. It’s prioritizing a group of non-state actors over a state.

      MJT: So what would you do if you were in charge of our Syria policy?

      Lee Smith: The first thing I’d do is knock the Syrian air force out of commission. Make sure it can never get off the ground. Even the people worried about Al Qaeda taking over Syria shouldn’t have an objection to that. If Al Qaeda takes over Syria, do we want them to inherit an air force?

      MJT: Of course not.

      Lee Smith: It’s unlikely that Al Qaeda will take over Syria anyway. The jihadist groups are only part of the rebellion. But even in the worst-case scenario, if they do take the whole country and run a caliphate state from Damascus, we’ll all be glad Syria is a generation away from having a functioning air force. What’s the argument against taking the Syrian air force out of the equation? We want Assad dropping barrel bombs loaded with chlorine gas canisters on the opposition because we fear that 7-year-old girls are likely Al Qaeda recruits who will attack the West?

      And it’s standard US policy to back proxies against American adversaries. The fact that we’re not backing moderate rebels to fight the Iranian bloc in Syria tells us something about how the White House views Iran. It doesn’t view Iran as a significant adversary. The White House sees only Al Qaeda as the problem.

      I understand why the president sees Iran this way. He isn’t crazy, he’s just wrong.

      The president has said in various profiles and interviews that while he recognizes the Iranian regime as a problem, it’s nevertheless fundamentally rational. And I think he’s right about that much.

      There has been an argument in Washington for almost a decade now with one side holding that the Iranians are rational and the other side insisting that the Iranians are irrational and likely to do anything, including blow up Iran, because they’re nuts and they want to bring back the Mahdi. That’s not a conversation I’m interested in having.

      One would be hard-pressed to find a regime anywhere in history that has actively sought to destroy itself. The Nazis were crazy, but did they actively seek their own end? No. Of course not. They sought to expand their power and reach, and that’s what the Iranians are doing as well.

      History is nothing but the long chronicle of regimes, peoples, and nations that miscalculate their own power and that of their adversaries and thereby end up destroying themselves, but they did not deliberately seek their own end. Iran is not irrational in that way. Its leaders don’t seek their own end.

      We need to base our policy on their actual behavior, for instance their expansionist policies in the Middle East, their desire to destabilize rivals in the Persian Gulf. Designing a policy based strictly on the fact that a regime is rational or irrational is mistaken.

      The president has said that because the Iranian government is a state, it is susceptible to the various instruments of statecraft—diplomacy, engagement, deterrence, containment, and military action if everything else fails. That’s how the president perceives the Iranians. That’s not a crazy way to look at Iran.

      The reality is, however, that the United States has never been able to deter or contain Iran. No American policy-maker has ever pushed back against the Iranians for their misbehavior. I’m not just faulting Obama here. I’m also faulting the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, and the Reagan administration which also sought a rapprochement with the clerical regime. No one has pushed back for 35 years.

      So the idea that the Obama administration can handle this regime solely because it’s a nation-state goes against the entire historical record of American-Iranian relations.

      MJT: What do you think Iran would do with a nuclear weapon? Why exactly should we be concerned about that?

      Lee Smith: I think we have to take Iranian threats against Israel seriously and we have to take the concerns of America’s Gulf Arab allies seriously. The Arab and Israeli concerns are both to an extent existential. When Iran threatens to blow up Israel, it’s a threat that Israeli officials cannot afford to ignore.

      That said, while we have to take that seriously, I don’t think it’s the real problem from an American point of view.

      MJT: I agree. I doubt Iran would actually nuke Israel, but I don’t know that the way I know France won’t nuke Israel.

      Lee Smith: Exactly. So you can’t ignore that if you’re the Israeli prime minister. And we can’t ignore that the Saudis might want to counter an Iranian nuclear weapon with their own nuclear weapon, perhaps purchased from Pakistan. What’s the Persian Gulf going to look like if it’s bristling with nuclear weapons?

      The real problem is that an Iranian nuclear weapon would give Iran the ability to destabilize the Middle East whenever it wants. Look at what Iran is doing around the region. That’s also what my book is about—Iranian expansionism across the Middle East. That’s the real problem.

      If you’re Israeli your concern is that these guys could put a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile and fire it at Tel Aviv, but there’s more. The Iranians are not only on Israel’s border through Hezbollah in Lebanon. They’re on Israel’s border in Syria as well.

      The Assad regime has long been allied with the Iranians, but now we’re seeing Revolutionary Guard troops in Syria. Hezbollah is now in Syria. Further, the Israeli Hezbollah specialist Shimon Shapria has a new paper out explaining how Iran is building a replica of Hezbollah on the Syrian border, on the Golan Heights. And Iran has replicated the Hezbollah model in Iraq. They dispatched Iraqi Shia militias to fight in Syria, as well as Afghani, Yemeni and Gulf Shiites as well. Shapira calls this Qassem Suleimani’s Shiite version of the Comintern. This is what I mean by Iranian expansionism and why Syria is a major concern.

      American allies such as Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon have a massive refugee problem. A lot of journalists are writing about the possible end of Sykes-Picot, that the Middle East’s borders are being eradicated, but the borders aren’t the immediate problem. What we’re seeing instead are massive population transfers. We’ve seen it before, constantly, and it’s happening again now.

      The United Nations estimates there are a million or so Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but mutual friends of ours in Beirut put the number at closer to two million. And that’s in a country of barely four million. How is that going to throw off the sectarian balance in Lebanon? What’s going to happen if a million Syrian refugees stay permanently in Jordan?

      These are the consequences of Syria. Iranian expansionism. Destabilization of the region though transfers of population. And a test case for American power.

      The administration has failed that test. Our friends are confused, angry, and perhaps destabilized while our enemies are emboldened and strengthened.

      Lee Smith is the author of The Consequences of Syria.

      • Gene

        Bad form. In the future please quote a brief statement from the article and give a link.

        • NotHereEither

          Though I agree, disqus will block links as spam. You can ‘hack” your way through by capitalizing letters (i.e. google.Com), but most people don’t know this.

    • CincinnatiRIck

      He would react decisively to a jihadi incursion. Joe Biden himself would be appointed to head up the task force convened to consider all options in a fashion sensitive to the concerns of our “guests.” Hilary could be brought out of retirement, don a burka and ensure the inclusiveness of all the jihadi ladies…she is, after all, experienced in working within a harem herself.

      • CardiLover

        You are my hero!

  • Anthony

    “Rarely has an administration so trumpeted its superior wisdom and strategic smarts; rarely has any American administration experienced so much ignominious failure, or had its ignorance and miscalculation so brutally exposed….” If one infers from WRM’s essay, the regional threat of ISIS/ISIL has potentially metastasized into a Western strategic threat (in part due to potential return of Western jihadists) of long term problem unless comprehensively addressed – an action current administration has been dithering with; as an example, June 22, 2014 Telegraph article claims U.S. and Britain informed of ISIS intentions five months ago regarding capturing of cities and moving south. So, essentially if one understands WRM’s premise: what comprises ISIS/ISIL is more powerful today than the day President Obama came into office. What does January 2017 promise…

    • dogged

      Superior hubris often leads to bad karma.

  • qet

    Obama as Henry VI, whose bookish rule hath pulled fair America down; frowns, words and threats shall be the war Obama means to use. To continue the Shakespearian riffing: ISIS ought to have been thought as a serpent’s egg and killed in its shell. But doing that would have required acknowledgement of Sherman’s admonition that “war is cruelty and you cannot refine it.” We are in a real bind. An effective military response (by anyone) would require massive firepower or some other acts of undisguisable cruelty, and, despite the unchecked march of medieval carnage ISIS is producing, our left-liberal media are there just waiting to be the first and most uncompromising to condemn any US Administration foolish enough to try to stop it in that way It does not appear that ISIS will be talked into peace; someone is going to have to oppose their forces to it’s. That, or ISIS will just go on beheading people until it has run out of people to behead.

    The voice I miss most in these matters nowadays is that of Christopher Hitchens. Garfinkle’s prediction of an eventual Iranian-backed Shi’a-controlled Baghdad/south with an ISIS/Sunni/Tribal-controlled northwest plus a Kurdistan of some dimension sounds about right to me.

    But hey–climate change. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, right?

    • Gene

      I too miss Hitchens.

      • Peter M Todebush

        Hitchens wrote a book about Clinton (‘No One Else To Lie To’). Imagine the book he could write about Obama!

    • DiogenesDespairs

      Three ways you know the Left realizes it is on the losing side of a debate:
      1. They change the subject ot bashing Bush.
      2. They change the subject to global warming – er – climate change.
      3. They play the race card.

      We’ve already seen the first two. As for the third: Wait for it. Youmay hold your breath while you do; it won’t be long.

      • EVA-04

        Didn’t you read The Nation last week on Scott Walker, how he’s too “white” to be President? Also, my God there isn’t a day that goes by without some sort of race-baiting by the left.

      • Joe in ATL

        I thought as I read the article, Clearly the Iraqi, Egyptions and Syrians are racist, and are acting solely to oppose and hinder the President’s good actions. They are such small minded people.

      • bpuharic

        The right’s argument is

        do what I say, not what I do. Ignore my record. Listen to my promises! The fact they cost us trillions?

        Ignore that.

    • Thirdsyphon

      I like the cut of your rhetorical jib, but your analysis refutes itself. The cold truth that “war is cruelty and you cannot refine it” stands powerfully against any notion of waging war for humanitarian ends. If the Vietnam and Iraq Wars have taught us anything at all, it’s the inherent futility of waging wars against people we’re trying to help.

      • Gene

        I know of about three-quarters of a million Tutsi who sure could have used some organized violence on their behalf 20 years ago. I’m not sure “futility” would have been the way they would have described such a thing were it to have happened then. You’ll need to carve out a few exceptions to your general principle or it’s not a principle worth having.

        • Sulaco

          Viet Nam and Iraq were a miss use of the American Military, who’s purpose is to kill people and break things. You do that till the enemy gives up, that’s called victory (a phrase Obama refuses to use ever) or they are all dead. Then you go home. We were feared in Iraq after Sadam was disposed then with years of PC nation building our enemies got to know our kinder and gentle sides. They now (rightly in their minds and culture) view us with contempt. Too bloody minded for you? That’s WAR. The third edition of which is going to go global very soon with us in the middle of the fight for survival. You an’t seen nothing yet.

      • ronadolph

        Ahhhhh! “If the Viet Nam and Iraq wars have taught us anything at all………………” and “the futility of waging war against people we’re trying to help. Each war, of course, began with a false premise. That “we” could somehow show “these people” the formula for freedom and liberty and that by spilling our blood and treasure we could somehow purchase those precious concepts for them. Of course, with some thought, we would know that freedom and liberty must be valued by the subject and not the teacher. Wars of liberation begin at the bottom and issue from the people aggrieved and, to be effective, cannot be imposed by some outside force.

    • Black_Saint

      As long as their beheading is other Muslims or liberals maybe they will do good being bad!

  • Arkeygeezer

    “First, does ISIS’s momentum carry it forward when it reaches the Shia districts of Iraq?”

    This will be the first test of Sunni/ISIS intentions. If they are able to move forward into Shia districts outside of Bagdad, or into Kurdish controlled areas, we will then know whether this is a revolutionary movement or a terrorist movement. A Sunni revolutionary movement in Iraq does not concern me whether they take Bagdad or not.

    At present the ISIS are the shock troops of the Sunni revolution. This movement has the support of the Sunni populace of northern Iraq, and some of the populace of certain areas of Syria and Turkey. They have the support of Saudi Arabia and maybe Egypt. They also have the tacit support of the Kurds.

    If the ISIS moves further against the Kurds, or Shia, we can only hope that they will lose the popular support they now have, and the movement will fizzle out.

    If not, then we have a real problem with a regional terrorist movement that may have to be addressed militarily.

    • andrewp111

      We know what their intentions are. The real question is their capabilities. Is ISIS capable of conquering the entire Middle East and restoring the ancient Caliphate? A prerequisite for building a Caliphate is taking Baghdad, and that is ISIS’ first test. If Baghdad falls, Iran will have to go in with massive force. Will ISIS be able to outmaneuver the Iranian army, encircle them, and wipe them out? That will be their second test. If ISIS can do these things, they will be able to consolidate power in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, and grind down the Iranian army until Iran falls in several years (especially with Israeli help in wiping Iran’s nuke program).

    • mc

      The notion that the Saudis support ISIS is nothing but propaganda coming out of Moscow, Tehran, and south Beirut. Turkish intelligence had a foolish dalliance with some networks within ISIS but those days are gone. ISIS’ most consistent partner has been the Asad regime and its allies–and even though this alliance of convenience is doomed still today Hizbullah doesn’t fight the organization in Syria.

  • EVA-04

    For all intents and purposes Mr. Mead has made the case for War in Iraq, that is the prior war. Given the choice between ISIS and a Hussein regime that continued to pursue WMDs, used them against civilians such as the Kurds (which for that alone he deserved the noose), and funded terror groups, neither one should be in power in such a strategically critical territory.

    The question was never should Mr. Hussein go, the question was always what or who to replace him with. We blew that part of the war, and the Obama administration horribly compounded the previous administration’s errors. If ISIS is as bad as they say we will be returning to the region without any doubt, but in doing so we need to have a better answer to that question as despite our willful ignorance it’s not going away.

  • William P Cooper

    For five years the President has not executed adequate policy for any lands of the Islamic world. Ask why? Obama’s personal characteristics as a college professor aloof, detached or equivocating? Because the PR departments say just rule according to the crisis of the moment and not the long-term? Maybe, but why do most Americans (and even this perceptive Wilsonian author) so completely fail to appreciate the foreignness of foreigners? Is that failure yet another root of the difficulty? And thereby, in effect for the judgments of history, excuse or defend the obvious political failures of existing Iraqi leadership by saying U.S. leadership is always, only the main thing? Why do Americans (and even this author) think their outlook upon the world is the only outlook which can plausibly be held by a reasonable and prudent person, nation, world? I submit a reasonable person, even detached college professor, could conclude three-way partition of Iraq is the inevitable historical consequence of the collapse of Saddam’s unifying dictatorship. Why does the American national security establishment (to which this author must have some relationship) seem to assume, by such complete condemnation of the ISIS terrorists, a theory of falling dominoes leading from the partition of Iraq to the flourishing of such terrorists in partitioned Iraq to another and multiple 9/11 styled attack(s) upon U.S. people and property? If the author subscribes to any falling domino theory, he needs to be more explicit about the actual chains of causation involved in it. Remember dominoes fell in Vietnam; how and why do they fall here?

    • Skep41

      “…For five years the President has not executed adequate policy for any lands of the Islamic world…”
      He hasn’t executed any adequate policies anywhere.

      • Black_Saint

        He hasn’t executed any adequate policies anywhere foreign or domestic!

  • Skep41

    To quote Gibbon:
    “Persuasion is the tactic of the weak but the weak are rarely persuasive.”
    The only saving grace in this Progressive-made mess is that fracking has made North America self-sufficient in oil and natural gas so our real strategic interest in the Middle East is much less than it was. The idea that a buffoon like Kerry can go over there and jawbone those bloodthirsty dictators and sworn America-haters into some kind of effective coalition is so ludicrous that one would be tempted to laugh. Let the Europeans and the Russians, the people really threatened by the increasing chaos in the ME do something. America in the hands of the leftists is going to be about as strategically effective as Belgium or Norway. Hopefully the towel heads will content themselves with murdering each other.

  • CincinnatiRIck

    Oh come on…every dark cloud has a silver lining…you just have to look for it. Just think: Hilary in a burka.

    • Curious Mayhem

      There’s something we can all agree on.

    • Black_Saint

      She would look better with her ugly face and fat baggy body covered up the uglier she gets the more Slick Willy dreams of the past!

    • dogged

      The Middle East version of “Drape it, lady!”

  • chrismalllory

    A sane border policy and there is no Jihadi threat to the US.

    • Angel Martin

      a sane border policy is not enough, many of the ISIS people are westerners and have western passports

  • Angel Martin

    Obama is not salvageable, he cannot even come up with a credible plan to defend americans in the green zone: which is wide open to attack

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/13/world/middleeast/american-intelligence-officials-said-iraqi-military-had-been-in-decline.html?_r=0

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iraqi-military-facing-psychological-collapse-after-losses-desertions/2014/06/22/88ed659a-fa4a-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html

    what i want to know from Prof Mead: what is his plan to deal with Obama’s last 30 months of misrule?

    also, i agree with the others on missing Hitchens, especially in this situation

    • Black_Saint

      He cannot even defend our own border from women and children! Without a doubt he is the most worthless piece of feces that has ever occupied the WH and that covers lots of ground!

      • bpuharic

        We’ve ALWAYS had illegals here. NOW, however, JUST NOW!!! They’re the biggest threat since hitler.

        Amazing

  • Black_Saint

    Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like a good President, Richard Nixon look honest, Slick Willy look truthful, Bush Jr. look smart and competent, Benedict Arnold look like a patriot and all ex-presidents look like workaholics!

  • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

    You have the mistaken notion that Obama opposes radical Islam. Obama supports radical Islam and has no concerns in Iraq.

    • bpuharic

      Which, of course, is why he killed Bin Laden after Bush let him escape.

      • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

        He passed up a couple of chances to kill Bin Laden. He only did it because of the political consequences of not doing it.

        • bpuharic

          Actually he didn’t. And Bush turned the hunt for OBL over to the Northern Alliance…which, he knew, were friends with OBL.

  • Black_Saint

    We have elect a man with Zero qualifications, Zero accomplishment, Zero mortals, Zero truth, Zero principles, whose whole world revolves around I and Me!

    • bpuharic

      Let’s give him conservative accomplishments

      the deepest recession in 80 years..2007

      2 wars, with 6500 dead and 5 trillion in borrowed money spent

      What a record!

  • califconserv

    Jihadi menace is a menace to the entire world. It has spread to Europe, Russia and China but we are not to talk about Islamic intentions and ambitions as it is politically incorrect.

  • Black_Saint

    We needed a bigger-than-life President – we got …..A Radical Left wing Chicago Ghetto organizer that organized mob of takers to blackmail the makers that has been surrounded and tutored by American hating racists, terrorist and Marxist all of his life!

    We needed a well-grounded stable President – we got a certifiable narcissist.

    We needed bold leadership – we got a teleprompter

    We needed a seasoned hand – we got a hand in in our pockets

    We needed a champion for American citizens… We got hate for the Makers and a champion for the Takers and love for the uneducated horde of invading Welfare Takers!

    We needed a skilled bridge builder – we got a class-warfare specialist and inciter-in-chief.

    We needed practical, proven policies – we got socialist dogma and monumental waste nd rampant corruption.

    We needed an inspirational visionary – we got an ideologically blinded, left learning-impaired radical.

    We needed a Constitutional champion – we got a domestic enemy of the Constitution.

    We needed a restrained, respected and intimidating warrior – we got groveling, bowing, Barney Fife

    We needed a patriot – we got G. D. America, G. D. America, G. D. America.

    We needed someone to unshackle our economy – we got someone who is a friend to our enemies and an enemy to our businesses

    We needed a president beyond color – we got a green president embracing every whim and myth ever spoken by the kook environmental fringe.

    We needed mature, principled leadership – we got a narcissist, petulant, lying, whining, blaming, sulking, accusing, excusing, lazy, cowardly, despicable, man-child.

    It is a national disgrace that someone this Lazy, this Incompetent, this Corrupt, this Racist, could be elected to the office of the Presidency.

    • CincinnatiRIck

      We put an immature and unprepared President in office solely because we wanted to get rid of anything reminding us of his predecessor and expiate our guilt over past racial injustice…a glorious feel-good twofer. And now we are subjected to a never-ending political campaign as this one-trick pony eschews the serious business of governance. All the jokes and innuendos about Palin’s unpreparedness apply equally to Obama…the bottom line, however, is that she would only have been a Vice President.

      Only children and the childish assume that change will be for the better. Fortunately our quintessentially “liberal” founding fathers designed a system that checks rather than enables power and we will eventually be rescued from our current folly…albeit with a vicious hangover and backbreaking debt to repay…ever the price of binging. But my, it was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

      • EVA-04

        Palin was unprepared for the media attacks on her (and make no doubt, it was nothing short of a massacre) but she was more than qualified than Obama was as a chief executive even with her two years of governorship prior to the nomination. I don’t think anyone can dispute that any longer.

        • CincinnatiRIck

          So she may have been more qualified….certainly not less…and she would only have been called upon to be a Vice President rather than top banana. Moreover, she had probably never thought to punk out and vote “present” in her entire life. So what don’t you get?

          • bpuharic

            She was so competent McCain was sorry he picked her. A resounding vote of confidence

          • CincinnatiRIck

            1) It was a “gimmick” pick like Ferraro.
            2) Given the actual duties of a VP, she was qualified for it except for the possibility that McCain croaked…which, as you note, hasn’t happened yet.
            3) The requirements for Prez are considerably higher and the point that was made is that neither Palin nor Obama was qualified
            4) You are changing the subject by focusing on Palin because she wasn’t elected and therefore can do no damage while Obama was elected and has done plenty.
            5) It’s not even fun for Obama any more.

          • bpuharic

            2. You can see into the future and knew he wouldn’t croak? Then why didn’t you know he wasn’t going to win?

            There are no requirements for Prez other than that the candidate be US born and be over 35.

            And the presidency was never any fun.

          • CincinnatiRIck

            I knew he wasn’t going to win….and so did he….as soon as the financial crisis hit.
            You can play semantics with a word such as “qualified” but it’s a stupid game and you can play with yourself from now on.

        • bpuharic

          A woman who didn’t know who constituted the “axis’ powers in WW2 was qualified? Guess she couldn’t see them from her home in Alaska.

    • bpuharic

      Don’t forget the real reason you hate him

      He’s black.

      Your paranoid delusions simply show you’re a typical tea party racist.

  • Tomas Pajaros

    remember, from the beginning, Obama refused to let anyone in his administration use the phrase “war on terror.” There was to be NO admission that we needed to wage war, or defend ourselves as a country does in wars. NONE. This is the result.

    • bpuharic

      The fact he killed Bin Laden after Bush let him escape…the fact 9/11 happened under a conservative administration?

      Let’s ignore the facts.

  • surfdog

    Liberty and freedom , Marxism or Islam . Those are the choices for the future and people better start making up their minds .

    • bpuharic

      Institutionalization or medication…those are your 2 choices.

    • Indy_Ben

      Your two choices are truth or fox news.

  • MarkE

    The Turks controlled this area for 500 years. How did they do it? We are probably the new Turks in their the Middle Eastern politico-cultural constellation. Maybe it is time to give up on our old concepts and be like the Turks.

  • The Greatest freedom

    For a good time now, every step Obama has taken, every red line drawn, is a failure.. He better man up

    • bpuharic

      Let’s do the neocon thing. Mexico arrests an American?

      Defcon 1!

  • cleo48

    The Jihad menace has always been real. But thanks to the Kenyan Marxist, the Democrats no longer have the luxury of ignoring it.

    • jimb82

      Oh, they will do their best.

  • Mexico is our enemy

    strength is the only thing bad people respect……and obama projects weakness

    • Black_Saint

      Like you handle and you are 100% correct Mexico is our enemy and Mexicans flock here for the welfare and jobs but refer to us as dumb Gringos and laugh at our stupidity!

  • Black_Saint

    The danger to America is not Barrack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with no accomplishment or qualification to give any hint that he would or could execute the duties of the world,s most important job..

    It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of this President than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved uneducated electorate looking for handouts thus willing to elect such unqualified men for their president.

    The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America . Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

    The Republic can survive a Barrack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president.

    ” Author …..Former Premier of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus.

    • bpuharic

      Maybe we can elect another conservative administration that will cause the deepest recession in 80 years, 2 wars, spend trillions of borrowed money on those wars..invade countries that were barely countries to begin with

      Anything I forgot?

  • dude1394

    He couldn’t have messed it up more if he had tried. It really makes you think this is what he wants.

  • rene591

    neo conservatives got everything wrong about Iraq. Iraq invasion is the greatest strategic disaster in the history of the USA. and your interventionist ideas have been found wanting. no longer does the nation believe this is the way . and on point 1. Iran strengthen by invasion 2. destruction of the armed services. 3. Excess debt incurred for no valid reason thereby burdening future generations.

    • JustData

      The most excess debt for no valid reason is the money Dems spend on freebies for the foreign nationals here illegally. Iraq was quiet, stable, and producing oil to make them self-sufficient when Bush left office and Bush was a total screw up. Admit the fact that Obama is even worse than the total screw up Bush jr. Somehow Obama is even worse and I didn’t think that was possible. Good grief, what’s it going to take for the Dems to be honest about all the damage he’s doing?

      • John White

        They can not handle the truth! There are none so blind as they that will not see, understand, learn, or even open their own eyes.

      • rene591

        so propose a tax to pay you thief . no more wars on a credit card . oh and this time lets see the kids of the neo conservative chicken hawks in the vanguard. after that trust me there will be no second wave

      • bpuharic

        The fact the right put 8 million out of work, then objects to feeding them is precious. We always had illegals here. NOW NOW NOW!!!! OMG!!! They’re destroying us

        or something.

  • rene591

    I am amazed by the post below. And you wonder why you guys are toxic in national elections. you guys have learned nothing. the nation is officially non interventionist and socially libertarian. we in the future will not be wasting vast amounts of our wealth and treasure down a sand rat hole.

    • Black_Saint

      I am amazed that you are amazed!

      • rene591

        you do know you are now the rump caucus representing maybe 19% of the nation. the rest are headed in a different direction Thank God.

        • Black_Saint

          In your dreams this Nation and the world is seeing how liberal ideology leads to corruption, incompetent, failure and danger!

          • rene591

            and that is why your bankrupt neo conservative vision is fading into the dustbin of history. why 3 out of 4 Americans do not want to get re involved in the stupidity that is called Iraq( soon to be formerly known as partition awaits)

          • Black_Saint

            Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like a good President, Richard Nixon look honest, Slick Willy look truthful, Bush Jr. look smart and competent, Benedict Arnold look like a patriot and all ex-presidents look like workaholics!

          • rene591

            read Seib column in the WSJ. world is a changing or better yet Noonan’s on Saturday in the Journal. discredit both major parties do to extreme incompetence in foreign policy. priceless

        • biscuitpoisoning

          Keep telling yourself that on election night this November… The Left is going to wake up with a size 13 poopchute the morning after…

          • Gowdy_The_Pinhead

            Enjoy your two years! Hillary will be picking scalia’s replacement VERY SOON!

    • JustData

      Under Obama, we will probably have to wait for the next 9/11 or worse to find out how badly Americans want to stop those who are working to do us major harm. When that happens, it’s unlikely that most Americans will still be “non-interventionalists” at all. Do you think Obama and the Dems are going to somehow keep those guys out of the US when they can’t keep tens of thousands of freeloaders from Central and South America out? When those jihadi thugs get here, I hope they get to you and yours first since you want to bury your head in the sand. I’m sure they’ll listen to reason and allow you to talk them down from their plans. When nothing works to stop them, the consequences should be yours, right?

      • FUBAR_007

        “When those jihadi thugs get here, I hope they get to you and yours first since you want to bury your head in the sand. I’m sure they’ll listen to reason and allow you to talk them down from their plans. When nothing works to stop them, the consequences should be yours, right?”

        Ah, yes, the infinite legions of evil, 20-foot tall, unstoppable jihadi supermen poised to overrun America’s shores from Miami to Maine.

        I must’ve missed the reports of ISIS acquiring the tens of millions of personnel, fleets of ships and aircraft, weapons, ammunition, supplies, real-time intelligence capabilities, and port facilities of sufficient capacity to launch, execute, and sustain such an operation.

        Switch to decaf, and get a grip.

      • bpuharic

        9/11, of course, having happened under a conservative administration.

  • Brendan Doran

    Mr. Mead,

    Saudi. Destroy it. Or don’t bother us.

    It’s unwise to be on all sides of all conflicts including the ones your own killers are fighting in. Here will be the Valediction of the Neo-Conservatives.

  • Black_Saint

    There is no Crime to large, No Treason to great that Obama will not do for the advance of Obama and to advance his quest of reducing this Nation to a Third World Spanish speaking Slum controlled by the Socialist/Democrat party of Northern Mexico.

    Secure in the knowledge he will be fully supported for his crimes/treason by the major media..ABC, CBS, NBS, CNN, MSNBC and 90+ % of all Democrats, Liberals, Unions, Blacks and other American hating takers and criminal,s that comprise the Democrat Party!

    • bpuharic

      Tea party history in lieu of an argument. The right loves the idea of body bags without end, lined up at Dover so they can get all teary eyed at their own patriotism

      Cowards.

  • Gregson14

    The naivety of this President in Foreign Affairs is Breathtaking – Obama’s legacy will forever be known as the President who not only lost the Middle East, but the man who stood by and watched while Oppression ran rampant!…

    First there was Iran – then there was Egypt, Libya and Syria – a short few months ago there was the Ukraine!… All Presidential strategic failures of the highest order; issues that Obama seemingly treats as “minor distractions…”. And now Obama has effectively handed Iraq back to a hybrid militarized version of Al Qaeda which he claimed to be decimated in his 2012 Campaign (… just another politically expedient lie) due to his failure and unwillingness to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with Maliki in 2010.

    Can anyone really point to a single Foreign Policy issue that has been successful during Obama’s “Manchurian” Presidency. Both Secretaries of State (Clinton and Kerry) have stumbled and bumbled their way to retreats on virtually every Foreign Policy issue they touched!… and Obama in total denial of his fecklessness or to act with any measure of gravitas continues to snap “selfies” of himself in full abdication of the American perspective on the World Stage.

    In light of Obama’s epic “meltdown” on issues of Foreign Policy – we can now draw equivalence and lend credibility to Clint Eastwood’s “Empty Chair” metaphor in September of 2012 and Obama’s record sadly reflects that reality.

    • bpuharic

      The fact the right got us into Iraq…a country that was not even a country…destroyed it then told us how successful we’d be at ‘nation building’. 6 years later they were still failing

      But everything, they tell us, was fine. Really! Just ignore Rumsfeld’s firing. Ignore the daily car bombings in Baghdad. All is well!

      When the Norks exploded a nuclear weapon in 2006 the right ignored this. North Koreans selling missiles to the Iranians? Ignored.

      But all is well!

  • dogged

    The idiocy and deception continue although truthfully we should not be surprised. If we paid attention to Barack Obama’s upbringing, an anti-Western core value was inevitable. Mama Obama (Stanley Ann
    Dunham) was blatantly anti-capitalism and anti-American. She selected for all her husbands/lovers men from the far Left. Barack Obama, Sr., a Kenyan socialist, believed the Soviet Union was a “stabilizing force” and that the U.S. & U.K. were at the root of all the world’s troubles. Barack Jr. is merely fulfilling the “dreams from his father.”— and our nightmares.

    • bpuharic

      Mud slinging in lieu of an argument. Biology is destiny. Blah blah blah. George Bush, a failed son of a WASP member of the ruling class…guess he ushered in a corporate state, right, because his daddy was rich.

      Typical tea party paranoia.

  • Crazy Diamond

    Many of us got it wrong, from those of us who supported the war in the first place to those who argued for complete and immediate withdrawal, however irresponsible. We cannot undo what’s done, but as WRM says, maybe we can unite in our failures as a country around a common-sense foreign policy that keeps us safe and doesn’t bankrupt us. I rather prefer drones and strategic Special Ops insertions, but I think this war is going to require that we legally be able to detain indefinitely those who fight without a uniform and try to blend in with civilian populations and to try them in military tribunals. Trying these people in civilian court is a recipe for disaster on many fronts, providing propaganda to the enemy and necessarily letting known terrorists walk free. We cannot expect even SEALS to be cordoning off crime scenes and dusting for fingerprints while they are operating in Libya and other such hell holes. We have to remember above all, though, how deeply our heads were buried in the sand pre 9/11 and to never let allegiance to a political party override our obligations to one another as Americans. Our politicians are inherently not worth it. Excellent analysis as usual Mr. Mead.

  • The Greatest freedom

    We need more men as Gen. John J. Pershing :

    Once in U.S. history an episode of Islamic terrorism was very quickly stopped. It happened in the Philippines about 1911, when Gen. John J. Pershing was in command of the garrison. There had been numerous Islamic terrorist attacks, so “Black Jack” told his boys to catch the perps and teach them a lesson.

    Forced to dig their own graves, the terrorists were all tied to posts, execution style. The U.S. soldiers then brought in pigs and slaughtered them, rubbing their bullets in the blood and fat. Thus, the terrorists were terrorized; they saw that they would be contaminated with hogs’ blood. This would mean that they could not enter Heaven, even if they died as terrorist martyrs.

    All but one was shot, their bodies dumped into the grave, and the hog guts dumped atop the bodies. The lone survivor was allowed to escape back to the terrorist camp and tell his brethren what happened to the others. This brought a stop to terrorism in the Philippines for the next 50 years.

    • Crazy Diamond

      Lt. Aldo Raine was pretty good at killing Nazis, too. Turns out there are quite a number of good ways to do it. The important and most unfortunate thing is that it has to be done and will likely always need to be done. Hopefully after this latest episode in Iraq we will return to our senses and thank the people who do rather than investigate and slander them. Did Patreus ever get an apology from the NYT? Or a simple “thank you”?

    • John White

      We would never be allowed to do this today, even if they nuked two of America’s major cities. Not PC, its hard to fight an enemy who follow no rules, kills everyone (does not see any one as a Noncombatant) and we follow every rule to the letter.

      • The Greatest freedom

        Just do it.. What would the PC dictatorship do? That’s the key.. They only talk

    • davids64

      They were NOT terrorists. They were freedom fighters, fighting against the American IMPERIALIST INVADERS!

      If YOUR country was invaded, wouldn’t YOU fight the invaders with ever means at your disposal? Of course you would! (Did you ever see “Red Dawn”?)

      But, naturally, when the USA is the invading force, as it was in the Phillipines back then, suddenly those fighting for their freedom morph into “terrorists”.

      Sorry, but we see your hypocrisy showing. YOU are an example of the reason why most of the world despises the USA. Not Obama’s alleged “weakness”, but YOU: Your idiocy, your refusal to acknowledge history, your hypocrisy, and your chuavenism.

      It is people like you, and Mead, that are the greatest threat to the USA we have ever seen.

      • The Greatest freedom

        Muslims are the biggest bigots in human history, they still practice slavery.. The white guilt card is not working

  • The Greatest freedom

    Obama’s Iraq policy:

    –ISIS is the enemy of my enemy in Syria (thus friend) but has for the moment become the enemy of my friend in Iraq (thus enemy). Therefore, no further arms shipments will be risked in its direction at this time;

    –Iran as the enemy of my enemy ISIS in Iraq (thus friend) will be indulged with “cooperative talks on stability” until complete evacuation of the problem. At that point Iran will return to its previous status (enemy);

    –Saudi Arabia as the enemy of my enemy Assad (thus friend) will be wrapped up tight, bound, and stuffed with weapons shipments or extra tanks, because Saudi Arabia has become the enemy of my friend Iraq (thus enemy);

    –Mr. McCain and his neocon colleagues, as enemy of my enemy ISIS et al, will continue emetically with a lot of talk on Iraq (thus friend temporarily plus bonus relief from their Bengahzi obsession).

    Of course this new policy lies side by side with all the other options on the table in how to get the US out of the odor of its current circumstances.

    Thank God that Obama has it all wrapped up..

  • Ronald W. Mann

    Just when we need a real President

  • GeorgeHanshaw1

    1. Do not deploy another single soldier, sailor, or airman to any country outside the US to fight without a Declaration of War from Congress.
    2. If any war is declared, it should be prosecuted with maximum intensity – to include restoration of a UNIVERSAL draft – until the enemy is totally defeated.
    3. Defeated means dead or surrender. We are not in this to win hearts and minds, but to destroy the bad guys.

    • SouthOhioGipper

      People can hate me all they want, but if we have to trade the lives of American soliders once in awhile to keep sub $4 a gallon gasoline. We don’t have much choice. The global economy requires global stability and like it or not.. expensive as it was. Iraq was stable with our troops there.

      All anyone cares about are themselves and their local conditions and don’t even realize that every single product that they buy for their homes are made possible by the globalized economy, and the men who die to ensure it remains functioning.

      It’s a noble sacrifice to keep you from having to wear animal skins.

      • GeorgeHanshaw1

        I put my 20 years in making that ‘noble sacrifice’ as did my father before me. How many have you put in?

        Look, I don’t mind spending lives to ensure the future of my country, but I do mind WASTING them. We haven’t won a war since WWII, because nobody really wants the military to FIGHT.

        They want them to win hearts and minds. The military isn’t good at winning hearts and minds, it wasn’t supposed to win hearts and minds. The military is intended to break things and kill people, and asking it to do anything else is just wrong. And if there isn’t enough consensus that the fight needs to be fought to get Congress to write off on a Declaration of War, it is immoral to send people out to die for that cause.

      • FUBAR_007

        Are you willing to make that “noble sacrifice” yourself? Are you willing to send your children over there to make that sacrifice?

        If not, then STFU.

        • Rifle308

          Okay, *ssh*le, I agree with SouthOhioGipper. I did 24 years active and reserve US Army. I did two tours in Iraq. A stable world, a freer world, are worth fighting, and if neccessary, dieing for. You want the benefits of the American Pax but not to do anything to maintain it, parasite.

          • FUBAR_007

            What are you yelling at me for?

            I’m not the one who wants to put people like you in harm’s way for Iraq without putting any skin in the game himself. I’m not willing to risk my neck, or that of anyone I care about, for Iraq. As such, I’m not asking you or anyone else in uniform to take that risk, either. It’s not worth it.

            Gipper, on the other hand, has no problem asking that. He’s the parasite.

  • capt_diggs

    The Nobel Peace Prize winning president will leave us all a legacy of a far wider war that will cost far more than Iraq or Afghanistan previously.

    • JustData

      And there is nothing keeping those extremists out of the US. Obama can’t even keep a bunch of illegal kids from crossing by the thousands to force us to let them freeload off of us. The next 9/11 is getting closer and closer.

      • bpuharic

        The fact the right let the first 9/11 happen…ignored.

    • bpuharic

      The fact the right invaded a country that was barely a country, destroyed it and then tried to ‘nation build’…all ignored.

  • EllenO

    Knowing the luck of Obama the real problems will start two weeks after he leaves office. And despite accusations he will spend his retirement arguing that he was blameless for the unfolding catastrophe.

    He is that type of man: Responsibility for bad things always lies elsewhere.

    • Gowdy_The_Pinhead

      And none of this is Ws responsibility?

  • Krazy P

    It is interesting to me that Mead is taking the gloves off here. I think he is frustrated and yet hopeful – but I think that hope is misplaced. For all the theories and Realpolitik, we have a Myers-Briggs INFP personality, notorious for their inability to process criticism of any type, in a position of authority (Obama). In addition, INFP’s have skewed and unrealistic ideas about reality and are unable to acknowledge or hear anything that goes against their personal ideas and opinions and are unable to see or understand anyone else’s point of view. This will not end well. My biggest fear is the prospect of a nuclear attack of some sort on a large U.S. or European city. The economic panic that will ensue, coupled with the obvious loss of life and confidence in modern social systems will lead, I very much fear, to uncommonly bad outcomes for years. A less bad outcome will be what appears to be a rough partitioning of the area with an ongoing conflict centered around Baghdad. I have seen estimates of the casualties from the Iran-Iraq war as high as 1 million although estimates by their respective governments were around 350,000 and even that may be overestimated. Nonetheless, it was a bloody conflict that lasted a long time.

    • MMinCC

      I say lets have an Iran-Iraq War 2.0-keep both or as many sides as there are, well supplied with all the small arms, ammo and grenade launchers their hearts desire-keep them at each other’s throats for as long as we can-institute covert ops to inflame any side that seems to be flagging-they’ve captured some of our high tech weaponry, yeah so?-it’ll be busted and inoperable in a short time-let them take Baghdad then arm up the opposition to retake it-cancel any returning citizens’ passports and or visas to keep the nutzos off shore(close the border too morons)if we play it right, we can have some relative peace in the rest of the world for a decade

  • suibneg

    what the fk did you think was gonna happen you morons? You are cowards and liars and now suddenly oooooooh gosh…..the menace is real.

    • califconserv

      Good news is they are at the least now being called Jihadists. Maybe soon they’ll actually be called Islamic Jihadists without it being hate speech. An inconvenient truth is that Bush and Cheney warned of this actually coming to pass but we were told by the opposition that al Qquiada had no interest in Iraq. Back during the debate Obama was warning how these terrorists would pop up by different names but played up the no al Quiada in Iraq
      Unfortunately Obama clings to a ‘I never met an Islamist I didn’t like’ policy and does not use his moral authority to move the world to action against the jihadists who are committing attacks everywhere. Russia and China have had attacks in their countries. This is a world wide problem. It is a horrible mistake to make this all about protecting the homeland because Putin would love us to make this our own.

      • bpuharic

        Bush and Cheney..the guys who CREATED this mess…warned us of something? Golly. Too bad they didn’t warn us about their incompetence.

        And if your characterization about Obama is true..why did he kill Bin Laden? You’re, quite frankly, lying.

        • califconserv

          Haven’t had anyone answer, so maybe you could help. What was the exit strategy for the Clinton administration when it divided Iraq into three, for the protection of the population from Hussein?

          • bpuharic

            Clinton didn’t invade. Hussein was still in power when he left. And we had no troops committed. Quite a difference.

          • califconserv

            Air warfare doe not use troops. Interesting distinction. Their lives aren’t put at risk? They do not need boots on the ground to identify targets and they aren’t combat either.

          • bpuharic

            Number of troops killed by Clinton in Iraq?

            0

            By the right? 4500

          • califconserv

            They gave their lives for the people of Iraq. They gave their lives to uphold a noble ideal followed by our military.
            Still haven’t answered the question of what we were supposed to do about giving Iraq back to Hussein after Clinton said the population needed our protection..

          • bpuharic

            The right squandered 4500 lives for people who never appreciated it. For what? Conservatives Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntingdon have both stated Arab Muslim culture is incompatible with democracy yet the right wing ASSURED us Iraq would be a democracy.

            And Clinton never invaded. The question is, why didn’t the right pursue a policy that didn’t create ANOTHER terror state in the Arab world?

          • califconserv

            I agree with the president when he said, our troops accomplished “an extraordinary achievement” for which they can not get their due respect and acknowledgement because our president and the democrats kept saying what a mistake it was. Our military went and won the people of Iraq their freedom at a cost of 4500 lives and they can not get their due credit. You guys must be so proud to allow your hate of Bush and Cheney to deny our military the credit they are over due.

            Clinton didn’t invade. How the #ell were we to get out? He promised to protect the people of Iraq from Hussein’s forces. So the plan was to tell ole Hussein ‘sorry about the inconvenience, you can have your country back’.
            Another terror state? How many years has this administration had to work that out? They might even have gathered the United Nations and warned of such a threat. No, nothing. Able to give over Syria, demolish Libya and turn Egypt back from a democratically elected government to a military government, besides loosing several CIA agents during his first term and then an Ambassador and his team.

          • bpuharic

            The optimism was premature and the right wing assessment that the Iraqis could form a stable govt was

            wrong.

            You must be so proud to have committed 4500 US lives and 3 trillion to another right wing failure. The biggest failure to honor troops is to send them to die in a useless war

            And you keep wanting to make the same mistake. War after war, decade after decade. You must like dead soldiers because the right wing makes so many of them

            Another terror state? It wouldn’t have BEEN a terror state if the right wing hadn’t told us how they were experts at nation building and we’d be welcomed as liberators because the Iraqis want democracy. WRONG on all counts

            And the right promised to protect the Iraqi people. They failed so badly it cost Rumfeld his job and the GOP the 2006 elections.

            Add to this letting Bin Laden escape…I wouldn’t go touting anything about terror states given the right wing’s role in creating so many

          • califconserv

            Failure? What did Obama call it in the end – “an extraordinary achievement”? Iraqis’ had the choice for themselves. They set up their government. They were able to choose because of our troops. According to Obama they chose not to keep us there to help.
            Yes, our 4500 lives won them the right and you guys will not give them the credit. You would rather rant. Fourth of July coming and we will not celebrate what they gave their lives for though our president said this president said it was “an extraordinary achievement” or are you calling him a liar.
            Maybe the republicans were not wrong and the people should have elected Romney so it would have come out right but we elected Obama and though he had five years he failed. What a shame. Looks like he’s got the same results everywhere else he’s had a chance to help.
            That’s the fault of the Bush administration also I suppose?
            Thought the Obama policy was we were not to be the policeman for the world yet we are to send hundreds into Iraq anyway.

          • bpuharic

            And yet he’s not the one who invaded. He’s not the one who said we’d be liberators. He’s not the one who committed 4500 dead and 3 trillion borrowed US dollars. He actually voted AGAINST the war.

            I give our troops credit. You right wingers seem to think that, since you sent them to a wasted war, you deserve the credit THEY earned for THEIR courage.

            Failure? Obama started precisely ZERO wars where US troops died. Not one. You guys never saw a war you didn’t like or a dollar you wouldn’t waste on war.

            Bush sent a hundred thousand troops to Iraq and you’re talking about 300 advisors?

            Another failure for the right wing.

        • califconserv

          By the way Our military won the Iraq’s independence. Obama said that it was “an extraordinary achievement”. Which therefor means Bush Cheney won what Barrack Obama called a “Sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq.”

          • bpuharic

            And it wasn’t stable. Obama wasn’t president. And there are limits to US power. Al Maliki raped his own government, in a region of the world so sectarian they’d rather kill their children than share power

            Yet the right promised we’d be welcomed as liberators because we’d help them build a nation.

            Didn’t quite work out that way.

          • califconserv

            We left a “Sovereign stable and self reliant Iraq” Barrack Hussein Obama.
            Mission Accomplished.

          • bpuharic

            Obama wasn’t president when we invaded. A right wing govt was. A right wing govt that PROMISED we’d be welcomed as liberators. A right wing govt that PROMISED if we cut food stamps and unemployment insurance, we could starve our poor and have a democracy in Iraq

            You were half right.

  • inyouri

    Insanity, blind devotion and intelligence are not mutually exclusive.
    Always remember that and keep your neck covered. Never underestimate
    anyone.

  • Cindy

    Add to this disaster in the Middle East the fact that Obama has reinvigorated the Taliban in an unforced error. He may be “the only president this country has got” but we have a long and bitter 2 1/2 years to see what further follies and what emboldened evils the Age of Obama will wreak. Do you really think he is capable of asking himself tough questions? As a liberal who knew more than platitudes, how could you have supported such a flawed man?

  • circleglider

    tl;dr

    Bush & Cheney still bad. Obama good but surrounded by incompetents.

    Mead quickly becoming irrelevant.

    • davids64

      Mead has always been irrelevant . . . ever since his March 2003 essay INSISTING that if we didn’t invade Iraq, we would be responsible for the destabilization of the entire region.

      Of course, it was our invasion that CAUSED all the instability!!! But Meade is far too much of a partisan hack and an incompetent to acknowledge this undeniable reality.

  • IrateScientist

    “After six years in office pursuing strategies he believed would tame the terror threat and doing his best to reassure the American people that the terror situation was under control…”.

    It is true that Obama has been doing his best to reassure the American people. What makes you think he is interested in taming the terror threat?

  • moderate Guy

    “Mr” Obama could, and probably does, hope he will accomplish as much as George W Bush, but to do that he would have to have a shred of common sense, decency and plain old American patriotism. Sadly (for America) that is not the case. Expect this horrendous and horrifying disaster to roll on for the next 2 and half years.

    • rene591

      patriotism . the last refuge of a scoundrel. wrapping poor decisions around the flag for imperial purpose does not hide the fact that they are anti republic mis adventures with no goal in sight. by your definition old fashion is a call for perpetual war and Americans by overwhelming numbers do not agree with that prescription

      • moderate Guy

        … and the end result is the biggest disaster, both domestically and internationally, of a “presidency” in America’s history. Well done.

        • rene591

          wrong again.1. Iraq invasion strengthen Iran 2. destroyed American forces and 3. plowed this country into unsustainable debt. GW was a genius on destroying this country. never ever forget that and the kicker ? it was all based on lies.

          • moderate Guy

            Iraq was largely peaceful and stable when Bush left; even Obama mistakenly admitted that.

          • rene591

            horse hockey. that was a lie by both parties that served their respective interest( Dick Cheney interview in 2009) . and it is not our problem. see map of USA Our problem. map of Iraq . not our problem

          • moderate Guy

            Horse hockey is called “polo”. And I seriously doubt your kind could find USA or Iraq on a map.

          • rene591

            your kind? pragmatic centrist Americans can read maps and learn from history . something obviously you have problems doing

          • moderate Guy

            You had to google all those words, didn’t you; since you rather obviously have no clue what they mean.

          • rene591

            republican bubble. and nobody is listening . you guys represent 19% of electorate and getting smaller every passing day. Thank God

          • moderate Guy

            Is that why GOP controls the House, majority of governorships and state legislatures and will take the Senate this year?
            You creeps don’t believe in God.

          • rene591

            wrong again but you are consistent. and that is why you are toxic and in the minority. nobody listens to you guys with the imperial ideas. we are rapidly moving away from such a bankrupt philosophy

          • moderate Guy

            Repeating “wrong again” every time (is this the phrase of the week in your hymnbook?) does not make you look smarter, whatever they told you. It just make you look like you have no clue… which, I suppose, reflects reality.

          • rene591

            nope . you guys are in the bubble. and after the greatest strategic disaster in the history of the USA that you have the gall to propose solutions is amazing

          • moderate Guy

            Oooooh, is the “bubble” liberal word of the month? Now you have “bubble” AND “wrong again”. Pretty soon you’ll sound just like a real boy.

          • rene591

            keep saying liberal if it makes you feel better. basically the majority of the country. you represent 19% at best

          • moderate Guy

            Again that must be why GOP controls most state houses and governorships, House and this November the Senate. Now tell the truth, did you get that 19% from MSMBC?

          • rene591

            Wall Street Journal. google.

          • moderate Guy

            Yeees, “google” – the cry of the uninformed.

          • rene591

            uniformed one. let me recommend Saturday column by Peggy Noonan. great column

          • moderate Guy

            Thanks your Grandma for recommendation. Now go read See Spot Run or something else your speed.

          • bpuharic

            So is an unexploded nuclear weapon.

          • moderate Guy

            Yes, it is.
            I know you were trying to be snide, here; but I am afraid you missed your mark. People with more than two working brain cells do not have this childish, irrational, uneducated fear of nuclear weapons. After all they’re just weapons.

          • bpuharic

            I know. Can’t do any harm. Just ask the survivors of Hiroshima.

            And the right was tickling the dragon’s tail in the Middle East, promising us they’d invade and we’d be welcomed as liberators for our nation building

            They were wrong.

            By the way, I have an MS in chemical physics. I’m aware of the workings of nuclear weapons.

          • moderate Guy

            In Hiroshima the nuclear weapon was exploded, moron; primed, armed, dropped and exploded; on purpose. So I would imagine you MS is worthless, since you have proven you do not have a slightest clue.
            Good luck with that job at Starbucks, professor.

          • bpuharic

            Wow. I’m impressed. You think an unarmed nuclear weapon is in no danger of exploding.

            No wonder your right wing. Bet you don’t live in NC. And I bet you never read Eric Schlosser’s book

            Have fun listening to Rush (PBUH) and his fairy tales

          • moderate Guy

            The world had thousands of unarmed nuclear weapons and not one of them exploded without being deliberately set to explode, moron. No wonder you’re left wing. Facts and reality are just not your thing. Who the hell is is Eric Whathisface? Another moron, like you?

          • bpuharic

            You’ve never read his book?

            I suggest you do so at once. Even a right winger is not above learning.

          • moderate Guy

            Alas, he would have to be something more than a obscure moron on a liberal chant list for me to bother.

        • davids64

          So your position is this: It wasn’t our ill-conceived and lie-based INVASION of Iraq, an invasion which destabilized the entire region, that caused this mess, but rather it was Obama’s INSISTENCE on abiding by the agreement negotiated by his predecessor and pulling our troops out of that disaster of a nation that “caused” it. As if this sectarian divide wouldn’t have occurred no matter WHEN we pulled out!

          Sorry, but you neocons are the single most dishonest group of unamerican hatemongering idiots I have ever had the misfortune of knowing.

          • moderate Guy

            Sadam was destabilizing the whole region, invading countries, gassing Kurds, building or trying to build WMD and needed to be dealt with.
            Iraq was largely peaceful and stable when Bush letf; even idiot Obama admitted that when he wasn’t thinking (I know, I know when IS he thinking).
            So everything you wrote is pure liberal bullsh##t, unsupported by facts. But then even you knew that, didn’t you?

      • moderate Guy

        Pretty sure if Johnson lived today he’d update his comment, and declare Internet trolling to be their last refuge.

      • MechMan

        Iraq had a goal in sight, the problem is that it was a naïve goal.

    • Lamont Cranston

      Exactly what did lying traitor George W. Bush accomplish?

      • Indy_Ben

        Lamont,

        Give him credit, W is the architect along with Neocon dummies of what will go down as one of the most spectacular foreign policy blunders of modern time. All of the “moderate” supporters of the Iraq debacle are still claiming the laughably, idiotic, “well I’m just glad Saddam is gone” BS. I had countless discussions with these idiots and their ignorant brains cannot let go of justifying all of this with “Saddam was a bad man” or “you’re not in favor of taking Saddam out?”

        Read these comments and this article. What should we have done? These fricking morons don’t have a clue but idiots like them are responsible for blindly supporting the invasion and responsible for sequestration and the fact that the military can do nothing now because we can’t afford it. They’ll watch fox news to figure out what to think about all of this just like they did before and it will be something really stupid and destructive. We need to fight these idiots with everything we have because our country is going down if these morons have any say in it. It’s not gonna be easy because if they aren’t completely discredited by now, God what will it take?

    • davids64

      Oh, yeah. Because your putting the word “Mister” in quotation marks REALLY shows how “moderate” you are.

      Neocon scumbags, pretending to be otherwise in order to more effectively spew their hatemongering unamerican sewage. How surprising! (not)

      • moderate Guy

        When the idiot child Obama deserves to be called “Mr” you let me know. Until then you liberal scumbags will have deal with reality as it is.

  • http://jiimlederman.com Jim Lederman

    As Casey Stengel, a man far wiser than me once said, “Amazin’.
    Simply Amazin’!” Without even a shred of self-recognition, this comment section
    has summed up exactly why American foreign policy is in such a mess.

    It makes no difference whether articles or comments about
    foreign policy appear in the American Interest or in Foreign Policy—or any
    other American journal for that matter. Invariably, they are themed to support an
    implicit belief that if only the Conservatives or the neo-Cons or the
    Progressives won their domestic ideological battle, the United States would emerge
    victorious in any diplomatic or military foray into foreign lands.

    Totally ignored by all is the simple fact that the proposals
    produced by America’s domestic ideological wars have almost no relevance to other
    nations that have different political cultures and different histories.

    As can be seen in this very list of comments that have
    followed Mr. Mead’s article, fact plays almost no role in popular American debates—unless
    a particularly convenient fact can be found to support an already existing
    opinion.

    Instead, Americans assume so much that the mind boggles. The
    list of totally unfounded American assumptions is virtually boundless. Republicans,
    for example, assume that Israeli settlers are “rightists” even though the
    settlers believe in and practice centralized planning and high taxation to pay
    for the settlement program. At the same time, Democrats assume that the Israeli
    Labor Party will halt settlement activity even though settlement construction
    continued throughout Labor’s prime ministerships.

    Likewise, Americans, totally ignoring Libya’s tribal make-up,
    assumed that if Gadhafi was eliminated, Libya could become a democracy.

    And while, at this very moment, America is fixated on Iraq and
    is “surprised” at the ISIS’ military successes, it ignores the fact that al
    Qaeda’s greatest gains are actually being made in sub-Saharan Africa, where the
    movement’s various offshoots now control a swath of land stretching from
    Somalia through southern Algeria to northern Nigeria.

    America will never be able to create a sane foreign policy
    until it halts its endemic naval gazing and until it comes to the realization
    that Washington politicking has no relevance to anyone except Washington
    politicians and the pundits and academics who feed off Washington politicking
    and Washington conventional wisdom in order to make their living.

    • MechMan

      It isn’t ideological in pointing out all of the flaws in this administration’s foreign policy and the results of it that conservatives saw coming from a mile away all the way back in 2008. I do not agree with the conservatives on certain things, but the Left has always resided in Care Bear Land as far as foreign policy goes, going all the way back into the Cold War.

      • rene591

        wrong again and try being a centrist who views this idiotic left right crap as a pox on both their houses

  • rene591

    And the peoples of America have spoken. 77% of all Americans are against sending troops back to Iraq. the death knell of the neo conservative foreign policy prescriptions
    priceless

    • MechMan

      Neoconservatism doesn’t call for sending troops back to Iraq.

      • rene591

        yes it does and every adherent speaks in terms like retreat as if this is the charge of the damn light brigade. where do you think the call is coming from . only them and the liberal interventionist. is not the libertarians . not the anti war left. where oh where do you think that 19% of intellectual man hood called chicken hawks comes from

      • bpuharic

        Really? Then why are Cheney and Wolfowitz calling for exactly that?

  • califconserv

    Excuse me we’ve known for decades Iran funds Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia has funded bad guys everywhere. These guys have more wealth than the Saudis’? . It’s just now getting “real”? This article ignores the fact that terrorists are attacking the Netherlands, Russia and China. France has a very large Muslim population which is scaring the police from it’s neighborhoods. This is a world problem yet is trying to scare us into taking it on as our problem.

    CBS ran a poll on Iraq and apparently they do not like what I say so I was unable to post there. But we are getting close the the Fourth of July and our troops from Iraq deserve true recognition for their sacrifice. It has been the fault of our leadership and the media that they will not get recognition for what Obama called “an extraordinary achievement”. After years of telling the public, especially every time they allowed an appropriations bill, they were going to fully fund, come forward, what a waste of lives and treasure Iraq was, we can not acknowledge the troops WON the Iraqis population their chance at freedom.
    “Bush lied people died” is more important than the actual fact they were dying for what would normally be called a noble and honorable cause. the freedom of others.
    Let’s recall that the Bush administration was told how if they “broke it they owned it”. Why didn’t that advise apply to Clinton’s dividing the nation into three for the protection of the population from Hussein? The criminal Bush and Cheney administration, which we are still waiting for Reid and Obama to hold to account, were to have simply have said, “Sorry about that. Go back to paying mom’s and dad’s to tie bombs on your children, because you seem to like that sort of thing, and it’s your country again’.

  • VictorErimita

    An excellent assessment, all in all. I would love, however, to see an analysis by a single Obama supporter of how it was that supporter ignored the glaring shortcomings, the naive worldview and 1970s prescriptions for America this man had. They were certainly glaringly apparent to anyone who bothered to look. I’m serious, because until Americans take an honest look at how badly they allowed themselves to be taken in by a contrived narrative elevating a man of zero concrete career achievements and faculty lounge sensibilities to exalted status, we can never understand how it was we made such an historic mistake. Being a two-time Obama supporter Prof. Mead, perhaps that could be you. You would do the country, and your credibility, a service.

    • davids64

      Um, perhaps if you got over your obsession with how much you hate Obama, and instead, you know, DEALT WITH THE ACTUAL ISSUE BEING RAISED IN THIS ESSAY, you wouldn’t come across as such a dishonest neo-con A-hole.

      • VictorErimita

        I doubt you know or care what a “neo-con” even is. You just think it sounds more loathsome than just “conservative” or Obama critic.” The issues the article raises are criticisms of Obama’s policies and actions. Those policies and actions result from Obama’s naive and badly mistaken worldview. That worldview was readily apparent to anyone who took the trouble to look in 2008 and was manifestly clear by 2012. So how is it that someone who objects so strongly to Obama’s policies and actions now (as do about 60%of Americans in current polls, most of whom are not “neo-cons”) never saw those thing coming when they voted for him? This is an important question that honest thinkers like Prof. Mead could help answer. Of course, any such line of questioning would be unintelligible to that rapidly dwindling number of people who still cling to the illusion that Obama is not a catastrophe for the nation and the world. And whose contribution to discussion is schoolyard name calling.

        • bpuharic

          The naive worldview is that of the neocon right, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Cheney, Mead…that the US exercises unlimited power and influence and ALL nations bend to our will.

          GOP popularity is at 28% so I wouldn’t wave the polls around too much. What was a catastrophe was the right dawdling while our enemies prepared to attack the homeland, then watch them run off on expeditions in countries that were no threat. The right destroyed our ability to respond to true threats by manufacturing imagined ones and spending treasure and blood in feckless pursuits.

          • Indy_Ben

            I salute the fact that you attempted to answer that post. There unfortunately is a home for ridiculous articles like this one.

  • jmquillian

    Risk can be mitigated – not eliminated. We’ve been sold a bill of goods by Rs as well as Ds. A guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen – as long as we spend enough dollars and relinquish any civil rights we citizens might have left – is simply meaningless. Time to rethink positions, and that certainly does not mean deciding where next to spread our version of peace and prosperity (see Libya, Afghanistan et al)

  • John Baker

    ““Rarely has any American administration experienced so much ignominious failure, or had its ignorance and miscalculation so brutally exposed.” BWHAHAHAHAA! HOHOHO! Seriously dude, do guy like you, Cheney, Kristol and so on ever look in the frigging mirror? I read all your predictions and suggested courses of action for Iraq and they WERE ALL DISASTROUSLY WRONG! And now you want to bitch? Really? Just shut-up. You are embarrassing yourself. Go back to writing history books analyzing events before the turn of the millennium. Those weren’t hilariously stupid.

  • odypoly

    The author supported the Iraq War. It’s not wonder then why this article is so very lacking in Mr. Mead’s own prescriptions for peace in the region.

    • davids64

      Why ANYBODY should listen to the chorus of the always-wrong neocons, well, it boggles the imagination!

      • jimb82

        Yes, because not listening is obviously working so well.

  • Gowdy_The_Pinhead

    muslims killing muslims. Who cares?

  • John Baker

    Oh I see, one of those comments sections that allows no dissent. How very brave of you. Let’s ask anyhow. Exactly what mechanisms are we supposed to be using to control all of this? I’m spending a ton of money to send my kid to Bard College next year. I sure hope this is what passes for scholarship there now because this is terribly weak analysis. You need to seriously answer some more detailed questions particularly as it applies to your own failed record of analysis in Iraq. How did you not see this coming? You know it was kind of obvious that something like this would come along given the region’s history.

    • bpuharic

      Although Mead kicked me off his blog for making exactly the same type of comments you just did, having read his book, I think he’s a sharp observer of the past. He has, however, little to say about the future beyond center right cliches.

      Pity. If a guy as smart as he is has no solutions, what ARE the solutions?

      • Rose215

        I am sure Mr. Nobel Peace prize can come up with something.

  • valwayne

    While Obama was busy lying to us about keeping our plans, and our doctors, and saving money, and that Al Qaeda was on the run, this Al Qaeda Offshoot was building an army and planning to take over and create its own country from which it can organize and manage terror attacks bigger than 9/11 on the United States. Worse, this was all led by a murdering terrorists that Obama set free in 2009. Obama not only provided the vacuum, the lack of leadership, and lack of action that allowed the terrorist to grow stronger than they have ever been, he provided their leader. While he was telling us he got Bin Laden he was setting free another Bin Laden, only one that may be far worse. And he didn’t stop. Just 3 weeks ago he set free the 5 worst Taliban/Terrorists who are likely well on their way to doing the same thing we see in Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I wouldn’t count on Obama bringing anything under control before the end of his term. He’s too busy covering up at the IRS, letting our Veterans die at the V.A., Fundraising, and playing Golf to do anything about the murdering terrorist. We should have a national pool about whether another 9/11 or bigger attack happens before Obama leaves office, or after? What we do know is they are coming for us and Obama has torn down or weakened our military and our defenses while letting the terrorist grow stronger than they have ever been. If I lived in NYC I would think about getting out. Not that any of us are safe now with Obama in the White House.

    • bpuharic

      You DO realize the leader of ISIS was released by Bush from Gitmo in 2007, right? The VA situation existed before he came to office. He just discovered it. The IRS head, Lois Lerner, was a Bush appointee. And the right’s obsession with Obama’s golf game is amusing. You ALL mention it as if you’re reading the same Sunday School bulletin.

      We had 8 months for the right to defend us against 9/11. They did nothing. I was in favor of unity after that. But the right, with their reckless and feckless charges against Obama, and their paranoid lies about his extremism, has destroyed that. You people are insanely delusional.

      • jimb82
        • bpuharic

          Not quite. The Wiki entry has Bush releasing him under an agreement with the Iraqis

          In 2014, it was reported that Al-Baghdadi was in US custody in 2005, and was held at Camp Bucca, a US-controlled detention facility in Iraq, until he was transferred to Iraqi control in 2009[12][13] under an agreement signed by President George W. Bush the previous year.[14] However, according toUS Department of Defense records, al-Baghdadi was held as a “civilian internee” at Camp Bucca by US Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004 when he was released.

          • jimb82

            But in neither case was it Gitmo in 2007.

          • bpuharic

            Well it seems we don’t know WHERE he was and who released him. It certainly WASN’T Obama, by your own reference since if he WAS released in 2009 it was under an agreement signed by Bush.

          • jimb82

            According to Wikipedia, which you can take with an enormous grain of salt, particularly for anything regarding accusations against President Bush, which are especially prolific on Wikipedia. One can only guess the sources.

            But your statement, “You DO realize the leader of ISIS was released by Bush from Gitmo in 2007, right?” is indisputably wrong. If that’s what you mean by “we don’t know where he was and who released him,” then please provide a citation for your assertion that he was released from Gitmo in 2007.

          • bpuharic

            Sorry. He was released by Bush in 2009. There. I fixed it.

          • jimb82

            Pretty amazing that a President out of office has the ability to release someone from custody of the US military under the command of a different Commander-in-Chief in another country. Bush Derangement Syndrome much?

          • bpuharic

            Just like Clinton signed the NAFTA deal negotiated by Bush the first. It’s called ‘the law’.

          • jimb82

            And this is all based on your single Wikipedia search?

  • rsagarc

    “Nothing has gone right” in the middle east? Hmmm. Okay, so Syria no longer has chemical weapons that ISIS or others could seize/use, we chaperoned the exit of a tyrant in Libya without any significant military risk to us and without putting an American face on it, and we have several countries that have explicitly allowed American intelligence and offensive action (i.e. drone strikes) within their borders to eliminate truly dangerous people, starting with Yemen. Leaving off killing of OBL, capture of more than 2 dozen high level Al-Qaeda operatives. So all that is “nothing?”

    • davids64

      But we did those things without invading a sovereign nation! So how could it POSSIBLY be the right thing to do?

      Mead, and the other chicken-hawks of the same ilk, couldn’t give a crap about America’s best interests. They have one job and one job only: As SHILLS for the military-industrial complex.

    • http://gulfcoastcommentary.blogspot.com gulfcoastcommentary

      yeah, Syria is now attacking the opposition with barrels of chlorine gas and killing with impunity now that Obama has “ceded” Syria to Russia in his bullshit chemical weapon’s agreement. You actually believe that all chemical weapons were destroyed?? Bullshit. Wake up! That “deal” was all about our dumb ass black president saving face. Syria is now permanently ensconced in the Russia and Iranian orbit thanks to nimrod Obama. Any of our “help” (weapons and training) to the VERY ill-defined Syrian opposition has now blown up in our face in Iraq. We were never able to identify a reliable ally in Syria — that is clear now.

      • rsagarc

        Okay, where to start? How about with the fact that Syria has been “permanently ensconced” in the Soviet orbit for more than 30 years; insinuating that it is the result of the current President would make you seem like an idiot if it weren’t so laughably anachronistic that people probably think you are joking. Second, the fact that the opposition we supported is “ill-defined” is exactly the point in the entire region: even Syrians cannot decipher how/when sectarian, tribal, and family interests all intersect. The same is true in Iraq and others countries in the region whose borders were established largely by Europeans who REALLY could not decipher them. This is the reasons most Americans understand that claiming we can have known interests, clear goals, reliable local allies and “winnable” military conflicts in the Middle East is completely unrealistic. If you disagree, grab a gun and report for duty somewhere in the region, and good luck to you.

        • bpuharic

          Damn fine summary.

  • Black_Saint

    When ISIS controls Iraq and has the ability to strike at the heart of American hard and often one hopes we have a President and administration that cares about this Nation and is much more competent than Obama and his regime of fools!

    Failing that one hopes if the do strike this Nation the first place they hit is the nest of Corrupt Vipers in Wash. DC. !

    • davids64

      That sounds like the same BS that you neocons spewed out at us in the run-up to the initial Iraq invasion in 2003. You were wrong then, you’ve been wrong ever since, and you’re wrong now.

      The ONLY THING that creates enemies of America is when America acts like a bunch of fascist imperialist bastards! Of course, that is PRECISELY what you and Meade want us to do!

      Sorry, but we should be THANKFUL that we have a President who is too intelligent to fall for that nonsense.

      • Black_Saint

        This is the government the Founding Fathers warned us about.

        This is the Corrupt. Incompetent, Oppressive, Dangerous government Dear Leader said to ignore the warnings about.

        This is the government George Orwell wrote about.

        This is the government Hugo Chavez dreamed about.

        This is the government Ayn Rand feared.

        This is the Government that will make your medical decisions.

        This the government that wants to flood this Nation with uneducated welfare parasites and transform this Nation into a Third World Slum.

        • bpuharic

          Anyone who quotes Ayn Rand is a believer in leprechauns and fairie dust.

          • Black_Saint

            Anyone who believes in Obama is a idiot!

          • bpuharic

            No one ‘believes’ in Obama. The cult of personality is a delusion of the right.

      • Black_Saint

        After 6 years of Obama everyone not blinded by PC has a better understanding of why all African Nations are 4th and 5th World Slums presided over by a corrupt government that lives like Kings of old while partying and live the high life on the peoples money while the citizens starve!

  • Charlieford

    Shorter Mead: “Who lost the Syrian rebels?”

  • davids64

    As one of the primary cheerleaders of our 2003 Iraqi invasion in the first place, Mead is in NO POSITION to criticize anybody else’s attempts to fix the mess so created.

    Mead wrote that we should have supported the Syrian rebels. Like, say, John McCain posing for pictures next to several known TERRORISTS, as he so disgracefully did last year, in his zeal to criticize Obama for NOT cozying up to the very same terrorists.

    Face facts, Mead: You’re nothing but a neoconservative shill, unrepentant, uncritical, and physiologically incapable of admitting what a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE mistake you made back in 2003 when you supported our invasion of Iraq in the first place!

    Mead’s criticisms of Obama have NO VALUE WHATSOEVER for anybody with an actual working brain.

    • MechMan

      Would have to disagree. Considering how this administration messed things up in so many areas, I’d say he well has room to criticize.

      • bpuharic

        Where did he mess things up? By ignoring the war in Afghanistan for 8 years like his predecessor? The right is long on charges but short on specifics.

  • http://gulfcoastcommentary.blogspot.com gulfcoastcommentary

    We’re finding out what happens when America is not providing accustomed leadership in the world. I’m talking about diplomatic leadership backed by a well-communicated strategy. But there’s no strategy. There’s no credibility. There’s nothing to the ‘pivot to Asia.’ There should never have been a pivot away from the Middle East. Obama said, “I don’t need a strategy, I need good allies” then put his hopes and dreams in Vlad Putin. What a joke!! The entire administration is a bunch of leftist buffoons with not a single solid strategic thinker in any post!! When America is not leading with clearly stated positions, bad actors fill the void. China is filling the void by stirring up trouble all over Asia, Putin is filling the void in the Middle East and now picking off territory in Europe. When we stop fighting terrorists, they continue fighting! Duh! When we don’t leave a residual force in Iraq, a disaster was certain to happen and our influence ceases (compared to a chance to influence events). This will happen in Afghanistan too– you watch! This administration has been asleep at the switch, determined to unilaterally withdrawal everywhere without strategy and without intellect, and has no (intelligent) friends left. Obama couldn’t and hasn’t understood a damned thing since he was elected. He doesn’t even go to most national security briefings because he’s such a fucking slacker. He is a fraud. He is an affirmative action “figurehead” with no capability of strategic thought. It shows! Arrogant (and ignorant) Obama has his bloated head stuck in the sand FOREVER. Wait till Afghanistan is over-run by terrorists and Jordan is under attack. Wait till Iran announces they have a nuclear device. Wait until Putin intervenes in other areas of E. Europe. Wait till we have a full-fledged refugee crisis at our Southern border essentially caused by Obama and Biden’s loose lips. Wait till China attacks Japan. Wait till the financial crisis, where nothing was fixed except papering-over by massive debt, reasserts itself here and abroad. All would be symptomatic of our discredited and/or nonexistent leadership.

    • bpuharic

      And when the right, with SecDef Rumsfeld and the foreign policy of Rice was in charge, what were we doing then? We suffered the greatest terrorist attack the world had ever known. We invaded countries with NO intent of winning wars, with the delusion we could radically change countries and create them in our image.

      We ignored Afghanistan to go off on an expedition in a country that posed no threat to us in the immediate term. We spent TRILLIONS of dollars and thousands of precious lives and still, after 6 years of right wing war it was unstable.

      When the world’s most psychopathic regime, the North Koreans, exploded a nuke in 2006 the right did nothing. As we got bogged down in war, the Islamists were building their base, knowing full well we could do nothing. Al Qaida’s planning documents mentioned this as a great success.

      The right cost us credibility. It cost us the potential to act by draining our treasury and straining our armed forces. It engaged in Crusades against imaginary enemies.

      Yet they’re here to tell us what a success they had and how everything was going in our favor.

      As to negotiation with the opposition, the GOP said on day 1 their goal was to destroy him. They racked up more filibusters than for any president in US history

      These people are pathetic.

      • jimb82

        Boooossssshhhhhh!!!!! If that’s the best answer you’ve got, it’s pretty pathetic.

        • bpuharic

          I didn’t mention Bush once. Is reading impairment a requirement to be conservative?

          • jimb82

            I guess he worked for Rumsfeld and Rice? Sophistry to claim you’re not trying to blame Bush.

  • JackTors2012

    This insightful essay can be summed up in two words: We’re f*&^%d.

  • teapartydoc

    Nature abhors vacuums. And power vacuums are part of nature.

  • bpuharic

    Mead’s solution? Buy low. Sell high. I read his book “Special Providence”…excellent, but a guy who’s an expert in reading the past has little to tell us about what we SHOULD do. And that’s the problem with all the right. They screwed things up but they know what MUST be done.

    Buy low. Sell high.

  • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

    Obama was for ISIS (and arming them) before he was against them

    • bpuharic

      The fact John McCain praised the Saudis for arming them? Let’s ignore that..

      • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

        That’s your idea of a riposte? McCain and Obama are practically indistinguishable

        • bpuharic

          Obama DIDN’T arm ISIS. And the right complains because he didn’t.
          And the right’s response when a right winger is a loser?

          He’s not right wing enough.

          As Bob Dole pointed out, the US right wing is so extreme they’d call Reagan a communist

          • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

            Obama didn’t arm ISIS? Do you keep an eye on the news?

            www(dot)cnn.com/2013/09/12/politics/syria-arming-rebels/

            Sure, McCain, Graham and many others joined Obama after welcoming him into the neocon club, but, as Hillary would say, What difference does it make?

            Obama armed them. It’s called blowback, or as his rabid preacher from Chicago would say…

            Obama’s chickens have come home to roost

          • Indy_Ben

            Great link. Did your brain suffer an overdose on the volume of BS it was trying to deliver to your keyboard. Try typing it again so we can laugh at your eye on the news….

          • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

            Another news article with direct quotes from Susan Rice:

            Washington is supplying some Syrian rebels with both “lethal and non-lethal” aid, according to National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who confirmed the longstanding suspicion that the Obama administration is arming anti-Assad forces.

            The US is “the single largest contributor of humanitarian assistance, providing over $1.7 billion” in assistance, Rice told CNN.

            “That’s why the United States has ramped up its support for the moderate vetted opposition, providing lethal and nonlethal support where we can to support both the civilian opposition and the military opposition,” she said.

            http://rt.com/news/164536-syria-rebels-supplied-lethal/

            Obama also trained them:

            http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/syria-arming-the-rebels/syrian-rebels-describe-u-s-backed-training-in-qatar/

            http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/06/06/obama-advisor-susan-rice-hints-at-lethal-aid-to-syrian-rebel/

            http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/06/rice-united-states-is-leading-with-lethal-and-non-lethal-aid-to-syria/

            ** Spoon-Feeding session over **

          • bpuharic

            John McCain having praised Saudi prince Bandar ibn Sultan for his work in aiding the Syrian rebels…shortly before Bandar was fired as head of Saudi intelligence for arming ISIS.

          • Rose215

            McCain is also not to be trusted, but it is time to own up to Obama’s treason.

          • bpuharic

            Only the right wing would call Obama treasonous for NOT arming our enemies. Of course if he HAD they’d say exactly the same thing

            And proof of right wing delusion is they think McCain is a red.

          • bpuharic

            Well let’s see…McCain praised Saudi intelligence head Prince Bandar ibn Sultan for his work in arming the Syrian opposition. Shortly after that, the Prince was fired for arming ISIS.

            And YOUR OWN REFERENCE says NO arms went to the opposition. DO you often argue against your own position like this?

          • Rose215

            He certainly armed the Syrian rebels, and I bet you would find many arms from the US among ISIS as well. I can understand your disappointment in Obama, but it is time to pull your head out of the sand.

          • bpuharic

            Actually he didn’t because McCain slammed him for NOT arming the rebels. There were 800 different groups in the Syrian opposition. Obama was concerned arms would fall into the wrong hands. The right wing said he was treasonous for NOT arming the rebels.

            Hmmm…guess you have a problem.

      • Black_Saint

        John McCain is a Rino to the right of the Marxist Obama but left of any one with a brain! He should have been committed to a old folks home for the demented and senile years ago!

        • bpuharic

          The No True Scotsman fallacy, eh? The right wingers who shriek about personal accountability are in favor of it for everyone else.

          Losers.

        • Indy_Ben

          I agree that he’s a Rino. Diarrhea doesn’t come out of his mouth 24/7 like a real repub. I’m thinking Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz here…. They’re are the real deal….

          • bpuharic

            Sarah Palin…a person who didn’t know Germany Italy and Japan were the Axis powers in WW2.

            Yeah. She’s the perfect Tea Party candidate.

          • Rose215

            Perhaps, but she seems to know a bit more than Obama about how to govern. At least we know she is on our side.

          • bpuharic

            She knows how to govern? She, who doesn’t even know what the fed does? Who couldn’t name a SCOTUS decision other than Roe?

            If that’s the right wing view of success, you’re welcome to her

            And she’s on our side? The side of the unending cliche? The side of rightwing talk radio rage?

            Yeah. She is. Another bitter right wing hack

          • Rose215

            You have forgotten, she successfully governed Alaska for years. Governance is about leadership — not about being able to pass a trivia contest. Did Obama have to pass a trivia contest? I believe the press pretty much gave him a free ride.

          • bpuharic

            Alaska has the population of a moderate sized city and rentier income from oil. Obama was a US Senator dealing with affairs of state, national security, etc. Not unlike John McCain. I believe the press gave her a free ride.

          • Rose215

            The Senate may have been dealing with the affairs of state, but Obama was mostly just warming his seat (present!) obama was (and is) singularly unqualified to be President, and it shows.

          • bpuharic

            AKA special pleading. You’ve gone from defending the indefensible Palin, a hack if there ever was one, to a cliche’d attack on Obama

            What a surprise.

          • Rose215

            Nothing indefensible about Palin. She did have more leadership experience than the “community organizer”, and she was not even running for President. I think she would have done a credible job as VP –easily as competent as the old boy Biden, whose main accomplishment seems to be being an “old boy”.

            As for my pointing out Obama’s lack of qualifications being “clichéd” — that does not make them untrue. One of the most trenchant observations a person could make about Obama is that he is not and never was qualified to be President. He is a disaster. I think you are in denial.

          • bpuharic

            A woman who had no sense of history (didn’t know who the axis powers were); no sense of law (couldn’t name a single SCOTUS case other than Roe); didn’t know what the Fed did. Can you imagine her with her finger on the button? Really? If you think she’s credible,

            res ipsa loquitur.

            If Obama’s a disaster, the right wing is a black hole. 2 wars. the deepest recession in 80 years. 8,000,000 out of work and the list goes on and on and on and on…

  • stanbrown

    Can you imagine anyone being so brain dead stupid as voting for this Obama nitwit. Never having accomplished anything in life, he goes to the White House and continues his trend of running his mouth and doing nothing worthwhile. No surprise that his foreign policy is just as botched as his non-existent shovel-ready jobs stimulus, his healthcare computer exchanges, his IRS, Justice and EPA lawbreaking, and his budgetary failures.

    • stanbrown

      His only expertise is playing golf and going on vacation. And he sucks as a golfer.

      • bpuharic

        The right is obsessed with Chicago and Obama’s golf game. Every right wing lunatic mentions these

        Perhaps Obama should start a war and go horsieback riding as body bags come back to Dover like Bush did.

        Then you’ll have horsies to talk about!

  • gvanderleun

    ” pursuing strategies he believed would tame the terror threat ”

    Really? That’s what you think Obama believed? It’s amazing to me that any mind that could think that still has the ability to dress itself.

  • bittman

    Yet, the Progressives are blaming the Middle East problems on Bush. Sadly, our Pravda media will do all they can to protect the Progressives. This media bias is what happens when authoritarians are in control of a country.

    • bpuharic

      The right wing solution to every failure?

      Blame the media.

      • bittman

        Well, the media proves everyday how biased it is so it is not hard. If Bush or another Republican were President, the NYT would be running front-page articles every single day. Look how many days “Bridgegate” made the front page compared to the Iraq disaster due to the complete withdrawal of American troops, the toppling of the Libyan and Egyptian dictators to be replaced by radical Muslim Brotherhood dictators, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS, DOJ, the invasion of our southern borders.

        • bpuharic

          The right’s cliche for failure. We WAS ROBBED BY THE MEDIA!!!

          Why not look up Judith Miller of the NY Times then c’mon back.

          And the right pretends the US has a magic wand it can wave and all the little Arab folks will bow and say ‘yowza masser, we’ll do your bidding’. Kind of a throwback to WF Buckley’s view of blacks.

          • bittman

            Why settle at Judith Miller? Why not just compare the 38 days that the prisoners of Abu Grahaab made the top of the fold OF THE FRONT PAGE of the NYT with the NYT’s 5 days of coverage of five American contractors who were hung on a bridge during the SAME time frame in Iraq and NOT ON THE FRONT PAGE. The treatment of the prisoners was bad but none were seriously injured …compared to the cold-blooded murder of the five Americans.

            definition of a racist: anyone who disagrees with a liberal

          • bpuharic

            What’s your point? Abu Grahaab was a big deal because it revealed aspects of the way we fought the war. Cold blooded murder of Americans?

            Was ANYONE surprised by that? Bueller? Bueller?

            You guys keep blaming Obama because you have, as National Review once characterized it, the ‘bigotry of low expectations’

    • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

      bpuharic:

      Most, but certainly not all, on the right have owned up to Bush-Cheney’s mistakes and have repudiated the neocons. They sold us a bill of goods. There are many honest ones among us who admit that they duped us into two wars that did nothing but spill human blood and waste trillions.

      What upsets us is that we don’t see the same happening on the left. You guys are still in the die-hard true-believer mindset. Obama can do not wrong. You refuse to see that Obama is making the same mistakes as his predecessor.

      It’s not that we were robbed by anybody, as you so childishly exclaim, but just that most on the left have become very selective about what they characterize as failure once their hero took over the government.

      We are now living through Obama’s blowback. ISIS going through Iraq like cr@p through a goose is Obama’s (and Graham’s and McCain’s) chickens coming home to roost. We funded, armed and trained them.

      Sure, Obama defenders will say we only armed the ‘good guys’, but there are no good guys over there. Libya is now a failed state thanks to Obama ‘leading from behind.’

      It’s called BLOWBACK, regardless of whether the hero in office wears a D or an R on his jersey

      • bpuharic

        If that’s true…then why was DIck Cheney all over the news JUST THIS WEEK shrieking that we needed to re-invade Iraq? No, the right has done NO such thing. They continue to assert that only dead troops will show how serious we are. The Shock and Awe mentality is STILL ALIVE on the right

        And if we’re in the ‘true believer’ mindset, why has Obama NOT STARTED A SINGLE WAR since he took office? Invaded NO countries? Put NO boots on the ground?

        ISIS is going through Iraq because the right destroyed an ungovernable country with the assertion we could ‘nation build’. BULL! You guys tried to impose democratic values on a sectarian Islamist society and FAILED. YOU destabilized the country and the outcome remains to be determined.

        The right…Sarah Palin, John McCain were SCREAMING that we HAD to arm the Syrian rebels when they were fighting Assad in Syria. Obama said NO since we had NO way to control WHICH of the 800 rebel groups would ultimately receive the weapons.

        Obama has been right on every call. And the right STILL sends its failed neocons to Fox and the WSJ to tell us how we need to go to war

        again.

        • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

          *sigh* You’ve proven my point…

          Yes, there are still war-mongers on the right. Dick Cheney is trying to prop up what’s left of his horrible legacy, and sure, he has an audience.

          Egypt, Syria, Libya, now Iraq, Obama has botched it, and you don’t need boots on the ground to do that when you are an American president with money and a large intelligence apparatus (we in fact did have people on the ground in all those countries, btw).

          Obama did indeed fund, arm and train them. Susan Rice is quoted as saying as much.

          Anyway, you’ve prove my point. Thank you.

          Case closed.

          • bpuharic

            Since Obama wasn’t president when we invaded Iraq in 2003 (and he actually voted against it), it’s hard to say he ‘botched’ a problem that should never have BEEN a problem.

            There are limits to US power. The fatal flaw in neocon thinking is not understanding this. Arabs can and DO have their own objectives we are POWERLESS to affect.

            But the right simply can not understand it. It’ like talking about the square root of negative one. The right draws a blank

            So they keep asserting we have power. They keep trying to use it. To the right wing hammer, every problem looks like a nail

            And given the fact you just walked back your statement, not even having mentioned Wolfowitz, Kristol, etc etc…there are ALOT more problems with your analysis that you’re aware of.

          • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

            I didn’t walk back anything. What I’m trying to tell you is that many on the right, but certainly not all, have repudiated the neocons.

            No president enters office with a clean slate, each has to react and craft policy based upon what has gone on before him.

            Many of us who have seen the light enjoy seeing Obama voters get testy when we employ the same inflamed rhetoric you guys used against Bush. It’s fun.

            But in all seriousness, regardless of party, we’ve all got to get over this team sport mentality and identify government malfeasance and incompetence when it rears its ugly head. Bush should never have gone into Iraq, and Obama is making a mistake by getting us involved there again, just has he blew it in Libya and Syria.

            Rabid partisanship and obdurate adherence to ideology are enemies of society

          • bpuharic

            What you said was that liberals failed to learn the lesson conservatives have. You were wrong otherwise there wouldn’t BE an audience for the Cheneys, the Kristols, etc. There are MANY on the right beating the war drum.

            And yeah it’s fun hoisting you on your own petard. I get a great deal of pleasure in watching the red faced hypocrites sputter with indignation.

            I certainly HOPE Obama’s not ‘getting us involved again’. As many conservatives have pointed out the US needs to exercise diplomacy and sending 300 advisers is a form of diplomacy. I don’t see Obama having the stomach to ramp up a war in Iraq.

            The REAL question is, what do we do with an Islamist state in a partitioned Iraq? My feeling is turn the Iranians loose. They’re the next target of these fanatics and if anyone’s fanatical in turn, it’s the Iranians.

          • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

            We’re arguing over numbers of people who support whatever… In a country as large and as diverse as ours, there will always be an audience of some size for any political charlatan who puts up his tent.

            @ bpuharic: My feeling is turn the Iranians loose. They’re the next target of these
            fanatics and if anyone’s fanatical in turn, it’s the Iranians.

            We agree! My only nitpick is Obama should not get us involved, at all. All he should be doing is evacuating our embassy and helping the Kurds shore up their border, since they are the only group there who has their act together.

            Iran is responsible for many American troop deaths. They wanted Iraq as a client state… Well, now they’ve got it. We should sit back and enjoy the show. Progressive pontificator Thomas Friedman says the same thing, so I am in rare agreement with him.

        • bittman

          bpuharic, I’m on the right but I do not believe we should go back to Iraq and I think we should have brought our troops home the day that Obama announced our pullout date to the world. If the Iraq are not willing to fight their for their country, we certainly shouldn’t do so. Every recent President has made mistakes in the Middle East — but Obama’s mistakes (Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Iran) will most likely end up in a massive civil war between the Sunni and Shia or — even worse — WWIII.

          • bpuharic

            I’m willing to give you half credit. If the right hadn’t broken Iraq we wouldn’t be having this discussion

            The neocon right seems to think we have unlimited power and can force them to do what we want. THAT is one of the problems with conservative foreign policy. It sees NO limits to US power so is trapped into ALWAYS wanting to use it

            With predictable results.

          • bittman

            The problem with the neomarxist left is that they think they can talk other countries into doing anything they want to them to do — but they forget that the media in that country is not like our Pravda media. Had Obama left some troops in Iraq like the USA did in Germany, Japan, and Korea, Iraq would have had time to stabilize. But Obama pulled all of the troops and supported the replacement of the dictators of Libya, Egypt, and Syria — and we see how awful that is turning out — the entire Middle East is facing civil war. Recent polls revealed 70% of Americans trust Republicans more with foreign policy than they trust the Democrats.

          • bpuharic

            Obama’s as much a ‘neomarxist’ as Cruz, Rubio and Paul are neonazis.

            Proof that Iraq would have stabilized? Well there’s Egypt…well no…Syria. No…Lebanon….no. Saudi Arabia…an Islamist state

            Guess that’s what he had in mind.

            Iraq isn’t Japan or Germany

            Juvenile right wingers and their infantile arguments.

            And the GOP will just continue to get us into war. Polls find that the Dems have a 38% popularity rating…the GOP 28%

          • bittman

            Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Syria were all stable when Bush left office. It was Obama whose policies led to the destabilization of the Middle East. The entire world knows this is true.

          • bpuharic

            Yes ruthless dictatorships are so stable. THIS is the right wing neocon myth. The Arabs will do what we tell them because we have a big army we use at the drop of a hat.

          • bittman

            I’m pretty sure you are wrong on that, but time will tell.

          • bittman

            I hope you know that Nazi’s were the National Socialist party

          • bpuharic

            I hope you know they took that name to dupe workers who supported commies. But they killed communists.

            The right supports socialism…for the rich.

            The right opposes worker rights and supports oligopoly under the fiction that if we have no govt regulation, we’ll be free. Wrong.

            The right gutted the 1st amendment with the “Greece’ decision, enabled the rich to buy elections with the “Citzens’ decision, made women’s vaginas federal property and tried to force its view of personal reliationships…marriage….on people who didn’t want it.

            The right wants a cop in every bedroom and regulation of morality.

          • bittman

            I highly recommend you read the book “SHAKEDOWN SOCIALISM–PROGRESS TO NOWHERE” by Russian immigrant Oleg Atbashian. He basically refutes everything you just said.

          • bpuharic

            One does not ‘refute’ historical facts. The fact he’s a Russian Immigrant?

            BFD.

    • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

      Off-Topic, but this goes to my point about Obama:

      “The
      high court’s first-ever case involving the Constitution’s recess
      appointments clause ended in a unanimous decision holding that Obama’s
      appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012 without
      Senate confirmation were illegal. Obama invoked the Constitution’s
      provision giving the president the power to make temporary appointments
      when the Senate is in recess.”

      apnews.myway.com/article/20140626/us-supreme-court-recess-appointment-801860b033.html

      A unanimous repudiation of President Obama’s actions by the Supreme Court. Will this register with any Obama worshipers?

      • bpuharic

        Yeah I bet this is the first time SCOTUS decision ever ruled against a president..

        Oh….wait

        The US Supreme Court on Thursday struck down by a 5-3 vote the Bush administration’s use of military commissions to try prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

  • Hektor Smith

    “…he has no idea how to bring prosperity, democracy, or religious moderation to the Middle East…”

    Heck, Obama has no idea how to do THAT in the US!

    • bpuharic

      We could return to the right wing socialist policies for the rich that gave us the deepest recession in 80 years and 8,000,000 unemployed. How’d that work out?

      • Hektor Smith

        “Right wing socialist policies?” You do know Democrats have been running the show since 2008, right? And that they always cry for ever-larger government and Washington-centric control? That the president’s anti-business (particularly small business) has caused the massive layoffs you decry — ALL since he moved into the Oval Office.

        Depending on whose figures you believe, since 1930 GDP growth has averaged 1.8 percent under Republican administrations and 4.8 percent under Democrats (quoting Doug Short, the VP for research for Adviser Perspectives newsletter). That’s not what I call a ringing endorsement of Republican policies, wouldn’t you say?

        So, we have a Democratic president who had a solid majority in both houses for the first half of his presidency, and he couldn’t deliver what his predecessors did, in even more troubled times, with more divided government.

        Hence my point — he can’t figure out how to do it.

        Not an opinion — a statement of fact.

        • bpuharic

          Hektor? The recession happened in 2007 after years of right wing rule and economic policies. Socialism for the rich. Class warfare against the middle class. Redistribution upwards. More govt control of labor.

          And how could the president cause 8,000,000 job losses when they happened BEFORE HE BECAME PRESIDENT? We were losing jobs at the rate of 800,000 a MONTH the day BEFORE he was inaugurated.

          And Obama delivered GDP growth vs recession caused by the socialist right.

          Why not blame Obama for Pompeii while you’re at it?

          • Hektor Smith

            And the recession hasn’t ended after six years of Democratic rule, has it? I won’t dispute your assertion of 8,000,000 lost jobs, since so many games have been played with that number that it’s impossible to have any confidence in the accounting methodology used.

            I go back to my original statement: GDP growth since 1930 averages 4.8% under Democrats, and 1.8% under Republicans. Obama’s administration hasn’t achieved historical Democratic performance. Which do you take issue with? Democratic historical performance, or Obama’s under-performance compared to his Democratic predecessors?

            And leave Pompeii out of it…although, come to think of it, a dead city may just the right place for a brain-dead administration.

          • bpuharic

            Actually it ended years ago. A recession is 2 quarters of negative GDP growth. That hasn’t happened in years.

            And as the Reinhart Rogoff study showed, financial sector recoveries, since they’re SO damaging, typically have slower recoveries than others. James Pethokoukis at the conservative AEI has presented data showing that recoveries have been getting monotonically slower for the last 30 years.

            So the fact your argument, like ALL conservative arguments, is based on lack of evidence?

            What else is new? The sun rose yesterday, too.

  • FMAWG

    I am not exactly sure what the alternative is but I am wonder if anything is better than this.

  • Egyptsteve

    Obama hasn’t started a war with Iran — a war that Presidents McCain or Romney would have started on Day One. That alone cements Obama’s position as the best President on Middle Eastern policy since Carter.

  • ArthurMcGowan

    Obama a failure??? Obama is the most successful President in U.S. history–in respect to both domestic policy and foreign policy. No need to make a list. Just think over all of Obama’s so-called “failures,” and HAVE THE COURAGE to admit that the American people elected someone to whom ALL OF IT is success.

  • truphil

    Is this really written by Walter Russell Mead? Or did this former editor of Foreign Affairs forget how the world really works, rather than how he thinks it should? I read about the article but only now have read it. It is an amazing piece of carping, as if Mr. Mead had for a brief time traded places mentally with Jim DiMint or some other naif who believes the world is tethered to what the United States–actually Mr. Mead– wants it to be. The rise of the ISIS sparks Mead and others to claim the sky is falling, perhaps forgetting that the ISIS is a mix of several factions loosely allied and whose internal consistency and continuance as an unitary force is problematic and unpredictable. Jihadism and head chopping has a limited appeal to those subject to its whims.

    That this diverse group now termed the ISIS was able to form and spread is due not to any failure of policy, but rather to the political vacuum created by the civil war in Syria, the open border until recently from Turkey into this region, and the difficulty of any other power other than militarily intervene in this largely inaccessible region.

    Criticism is easy–the hindsight bias is strong–and one can always assert that doing “something else” would have been better without having to prove that it actually would. I shake my head and trust that Mead will not soon have another “bad mind” day.

  • fandango

    It’s about time to recruit the inimitable Dave Barry to do the heavy lifting:

    “Washington, a city that — despite having no industries and a workforce consisting almost entirely of former student council presidents — manages to produce 93 percent of the nation’s crises.”