The President Falls Through the Ice
Published on: September 13, 2013
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  • JohnOfEnfield

    This conclusion was obvious from the get-go. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. Slightly off topic: I cannot think of any other major political leader, in our times, or even throughout history, who told us that his wife doesn’t want to go to war either. I’m not sure he wants this part of the job.

    • bpuharic

      Just how many wars do conservatives think we should be in?

      • Anthony

        This is a very valid point. Furthermore, today’s national security conservatives want the kind of national unity and cohesion that sustained middle class support for the American military in the cold war in an economy that has changed for the worse since then.

        For an extended discussion of this, see “how globalization liquidated the Reagan Democrats” by Pat Buchanan.

    • Corlyss

      Obama’s a classic case of the man who wanted only to BE president, but is totally clueless about the demands of the job. In his case, when he found out what they were, he would rather shoot hoops and play golf. There were insider reports all thru the first term about how his “advisors” (the beards, I called ’em, the men and women of some policy gravitas whose hiring made him look smart but whose advice he notoriously refused to follow because Val and ‘Chelle are the only advisors he listens too) couldn’t get his attention. There were later reports about how depressed he was whenever actual governance issues arose for him to, you know, make decisions on. The ONLY things that energized him were speechifying and strategizing the destruction of the Republican party.

      • bpuharic

        Hey I got an idea! Let’s elect a failed oilman who was an alcoholic and whose daddy had just been president 2 terms before. THEN let’s let him get us into deadly trillion dollar wars!

        • VersaillesTreaty

          While Obama is isolated domestically, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, among other big name Dems, voted to enforce UN resolutions against Saddam Hussein.

          • bpuharic

            Hmmm…Obama’s popularity is at 46%.

            GOP’s? About 20%

            Talk about isolated.

            And the right wing just keeps kicking itself in the face. OF COURSE they voted for it. A sitting president lied to take us to war.

            The GOP impeached Clinton for lying about staining a dress

            But lie to kill 4400 US soldiers? Heroic!

        • johnt

          I have a better idea, let’s elect an American hating black racist, Remember, Rev. Wright? And Bush, not muslims, got us into war? Sick., I forgot, insane leftists hate Bush and conservatives more than islamists. The latter only fly planes into tall buildings & mutilate their women, etc,etc. Why worry about money, Obama just finished making a fool of hmself again, & has added about 6 trillion in debt. Doesn’t bother you a bit, does it? Now get back to your comic books.

  • bpuharic

    I think WRM has written an essay full of contradictions. The argument is fatally flawed.

    He says ‘when Obama sounded the trumpet, the Jacksonians didn’t respond’.

    First, according to WRM’s book ‘Special Providence’, Jacksonians respond to threats against the homeland. Obama SPECIFICALLY DID NOT MAKE A STATEMENT that the US homeland was threatened.That’s what Bush did in Iraq and it cost us dearly. Obama has learned from the tragedy of Jacksonian (conservative) foreign policy that going to THAT well too many times leads to disaster.

    WRM claims that Obama is a “Progressive Jeffersonian” who believes in nation building as a moral duty.

    OK…where? Name a SINGLE PLACE anywhere in the world in the last five years OBama has committed US troops like conservative Jacksonians did in Iraq.

    AND there’s a soft underbelly to the Jacksonian argument. As WRM detailed in his book, Jacksonians are often racists. While I’m not saying the leadership of the conservative movement is racist, certainly the ‘Birther’ movement is; that is evidence of racism on the part of many of the Jacksonians Obama has ‘failed to muster’.

    Obama’s policy hasn’t cost the US a single American life in wars he started. Not one. Yet to WRM and other conservatives, our foreign policy is a disaster because we have failed to control an area of the world rife with religious fanaticism and political theology.

    Hobbes knew the dangers in such ideas, and how unmanageable they are. Our founding fathers were so concerned about the dangers of religion and govt they prohibited a mixing of the 2.

    Yet WRM thinks Obama can, merely by wavin some magic wand, do what centuries of history and experience have failed to do: tame religious expectations.

    WRM is a conservative romantic, who believes that merely by showing up, the US can be a game changer, regardless of the previous failures of his own recommendations.

    Obama’s doing a fine job. We have no boots on the ground.We’re spending no money. We’ve made a coherent argument for upholding international law in a situation that COULD THREATEN us, and which WRM ignores.

    It’s time for conservatives, who have nothing to say, and who have yet to come to grips with the failure of their own views, to back off and let Obama set the pace for Russia to be on the hook for this one.

    The US does not have to place its own assets and resources at risk in every situation. Sometimes leading means letting someone ELSE take the risk.

    • circleglider

      No, Mead strains his model by inventing something that has never existed: Progressive Jeffersonians. Obama and the left-wing of the Democratic Party are pure Wilsonians, and always have been.

      The only reason that Obama could not convince his fellow Democratic partisans to join him in his Syrian humanitarian project is because he has given them good reasons to suspect that he is a closet Hamiltonian. The days when Wilsonians and Hamiltonians could put aside their differences to collaborate on world stage are long gone (cf., Afghanistan and Iraq).

      And any notion that Obama might have counted on the reflexive support of Jacksonians simply underscores how his contempt for this groups blinds him (and all Wilsonians and Progressives) to their true nature.

      • bpuharic

        Progressive Wilsonians commit US troops to adventuristic expeditions in the expectation of creating democracy abroad

        Number of US troops in wars started by Obama?

        Zero.

        So your claim is testable. And it’s false.

        Syrian ‘humanitarian’ project? Since when is a dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles a ‘humanitarian’ mission? You seem not to know what that is.

        Blind? I have 3 poodles. I can send one to you as a service dog if you’d like

  • lukelea

    As always, a nice analysis of the four schools of American foreign policy, all of which were hatched in the 18th, 19th, and first half of the 20th centuries, and none of which seem very well adapted to the realities of the 21st century world we live in today.

    Personally I am committed to the idea of international law and the enforcement of norms of civilized behavior both between and within states. So why not take advantage of what is new and distinctive about this new world we live in? I am thinking of the technological capacity to impose complete and total embargoes — in effect “economic blockades” — on rogue nations and the elites who govern them?

    In the case of Syria, such a blockade combined with targeted attacks not on Syria’s military forces or chemical weapons stockpiles but rather on the palaces and mansions and luxury retreats of the ruling class, hurting that class where it would really hurt by destroying their standard of living?

    Of course to do this effectively would require the active cooperation of all the civilized nations in the world, otherwise known as the OECD. A new administrative structure would have to be set up — a new Democratic League or Parliament of Democracies, call it what you will — to decide when and where to act and to administer enforcement.

    That in turn would require a lot of creative statesmanship and diplomacy, which is precisely what the civilized world needs now.

    • ljgude

      While I often agree with your remarks this time I am wondering if you may be proposing another supranational body like the League of Nations or the UN. I’m dubious because they always seem to run into the limitations of the Westphalian system – no one is really prepared to give up their sovereignty. So we get these messy situations like in Syria where they are doing bad things but have powerful interests backing the.

      • lukelea

        Non-democracies need not apply — that’s the main difference. The OECD seems to abide by that rule, not sure why.

        • ljgude

          Thanks. That hasn’t been tried to my knowledge.

      • Jim__L

        The “powerful interests” are unlikely to change simply because of the existence of some organization independent of those interests.

        (Just to be clear, I don’t think I’m disagreeing with you here.)

    • USNK2

      lukelea: What do you think about the Commonwealth of Nations?
      It’s not a mutual defense treaty, but it is a growing alliance of nations committed to democracy, and even Mozambique joined. The Commonwealth has suspended Pakistan at least twice, to force some behaviour change.
      Yeah, Americans would have to learn how to play cricket, but look at what a soccer win has done for Afghanistan!
      Proxy wars through sport can work.

      • lukelea

        The kind of organization I have in mind would wield real coercive power. There would be no Russia’s or China’s to veto decisions.

        • azt24

          No great power would enter such an organization voluntarily.

      • Jim__L

        The US’s defense cooperation with most Commonwealth countries makes us effectively the military leader of that organization already.

        Formally joining would not gain us much, and the prospect of being “suspended” for transgressing some Euro-weenie rule doesn’t hold much appeal.

    • Corlyss

      If it’s what you’re famous for, the template will be applied to everything foreign policy, even if the glaring evidence speaks to incompetence borne of inexperience, unfitness for the job, and reflexively doctrinaire thought. WRM will never jeopardize his standing in the profession by calling out Obama for what he is: naïve, unfit, inexperienced and ideological. Obama’s position as president perforce makes that a no-win strategy for an academic.

      • bpuharic

        The right denigrates Obama because he hasn’t replicated their success in the body count area.

        • azt24

          With 1500 dead in Afganistan — which OBAMA called “the good war” and sent more troops too, Obama is working on his own body count.

          • bpuharic

            Uh…azt? That war should have been over BEFORE Obama took office.

            The right wing wanted to get involved in nation building in Iraq so put Afghanistan on the back burner

            Obama doesn’t cut and run. He just finished up wars that the right wing started and had NO idea about how to end.

  • ljgude

    It is always a treat for me when WRM uses his four presidential categories of thought to describe the inner working of American politics and in the current case how he thinks the president fits into that framework. While I agree he is not stupid or deliberately trying to undermine the prestige and power of the US I think naive and inexperienced describes him perfectly right down to this very hour. He is long on rhetoric and short on substance. That is why he went for the signature legislation from the start and never mind if it was sound policy. And why he threatened Syria but was not prepared to back it up. Naive because he is still in the thrall of ideology with the consequence that he doesn’t learn from experience.

    • Corlyss

      I believe it is impossible to assess accurately Obama’s behavior without reference to the history of uberleft positions and movements in American politics. Without that, one can easily discount or miss entirely Obama’s ties to the intellectual left with its deep suspicion of American power and influence in the world, and its sworn determination to cut us down to size, i.e., make us just one of 190+ actors on the international stage. That especially includes our military and our commercial heft. IMO most of his foreign policies are consistent with the misguided and hateful anti-Americanism of the 60s Left. The problem for this country is that for 50 years the left has been dismissed as just another political viewpoint when in reality it is more like a 5th column. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, we knew who it was a 5th column for. Now they continue to operate with their old policy ambitions because they have no other organizing principle.

      • bpuharic

        It’s a provable fact that the right in America is the most extreme it’s been in 60 years. That’s why their tin foil hat paranoia over Obama’s ‘leftism’ which is actually quite moderate.

        Cut us down? Where? How? By getting us involved in decades long wars that kill thousand?

        Deregulating the banks so the financial sector can hijack our economy producing the deepest recession in 80 years like the GO did in 2007?

        The nazi right wing is paranoid that their elitist warfare on the middle class will be seen for what it is. You can’t understand the US far right until nazi Germany’s attempt to establish a ruling class is taken into context

        Paranoid? Yep. Delusional? Yep.

        But typical right wing

        • Fred

          -Squawk- Right wing evil -Squawk- Conservatives out to destroy middle class -Squawk- [DNC talking point du jour] -Squawk- bpuharic wanna cracker -Squawk-

          • Jeff Jones

            Bpuharic adds nothing to serious discussions among adults.

            Same old yawn-worthy remarks about conservatives and fiscal policy ideas from yestercentury.

          • bpuharic

            THat’s true.Because for 30 years, the right wing has been spouting the same delusions as truth.

            Notice the complete absence of any information regarding rebuttal?

          • Fred

            You’re impossible to debate with b. I’ve tried. You wouldn’t know a logical fallacy if it jumped up and bit you in the butt. You don’t carefully read your interlocutor’s points and take them seriously enough to answer them specifically; you just shout irrelevant partisan BS, in some misguided attempt to drown them out. You have absolutely no clue what conservatives really think and why, and you don’t care. Because knocking down straw men is a helluva lot easier than thinking. You are the most intellectually lazy person I’ve ever run across. And unless you’re 16 years old, you suffer from a severe case of arrested development. Why on earth would any sane person waste time rebutting what’s obviously partisan sophistry to begin with, especially when the response is likely to be only more irrelevant partisan sophistry?

          • bpuharic

            Wrong. I have the facts. You have myths. Your view is that if facts don’t fit your supply side mythology, then the facts must be wrong.

            Conservatives don’t think.THat’s the problem. THey have cliches about American exceptionalism and the heroism of the rich, no matter how much they bankrupt our country

            You personally have expressed your hatred for the middle class that IS America. You personally have told me the middle class is worthless and lazy while the rich are lions of civilization, no matter how much damage they do to America

            Your delusions are all that’s left of American conservatism. I only hope our country can survive.

          • Fred

            Yes, absolutely. But he is fun to make fun of, although I have to admit it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, sort of like taking candy from a baby.

          • Corlyss

            Any one who “debates” him is wasting their time and worse, throwing their pearls before . . . the undeserving. For 23 years I’ve dealt with his kind, the proudly ignert of history, dismissive of public policy rigors, and possessed of selective memories, whose first resort is name-calling and impugning character of those who challenge their facile and usually wrong reading of affairs. I had to quit when it put me in the hospital. They aren’t interested in rational debate, or facts, or known consequences of the policies they embrace. All they care about is that they picked a side they think makes them look good or compassionate, therefore that side must win at all costs. Like I frequently say here, until conservatives learn to fight for their better policies with that kind of abandon, we’re doomed to be in thrall to the Obamas who come off more caring and supportive of the downtrodden.

          • bpuharic

            ANd I’ve dealt with your kind for 30 years…since the idiot Reagan bamboozled right wingers into thinking Alzheimer’s is a public policy position.

            You guys have done nothing but bankrupt the middle class, weaken our defense and tried to make America the best 3rd world country in the world

          • bpuharic

            The right has Rush (PBUH)

            Res ipsa loquitur

          • bpuharic

            Discredited fiscal policies? Conservatives enriched the wealthy while bankrupting the country and you have the temerity to complain about liberals?

            You guys remind me of the old skits about 40 clowns trying to get out of a Volkswagen

          • VersaillesTreaty

            Bpuharic: ever heard of Fannie Mae?

          • bpuharic

            More right wing cliches

            Ever hear of GSE’s? Credit default swaps?

            No…I suppose not. Rush (PBUH) hasn’t let you in on the secret yet

      • ljgude

        Yup, and one the most important of those uber leftist ideologues was Edward Said. Who better to instill in his student’s minds – Obama among them – the postcolonial thinking that will mistake the Muslim Brotherhood for a moderate, secular democratic organization.

      • Jim__L

        They’re just trying to solve 3rd-order problems by reversing 1st-order decisions. Dangerous, certainly, but I know too many of them to call them malicious rather than just negligent and foolish.

        • Corlyss

          I think that’s a mistake we overly polite conservatives make generally. Of course, you’re going to have to deal with them the way you think is appropriate. I look the array of soluble conditions from which they, and I wonder how this can be so without an undercurrent of rigid doctrinaire malice of the same kind as the heretic-burners did. So far I say they can’t be. They destroy the lives of millions and enervate those they don’t destroy.

          • Jim__L

            Wow. I’m not sure anyone on the internet has ever called me overly polite. Will wonders never cease… 😉

            I still maintain it’s more hubris — with all its self-importance, self-aggrandizing, and willful blindness to negative consequences — than malice. Shakespeare only had one Iago, and that’s not far from reality. The likes of Lady MacBeth and Cassius worship themselves, not dark gods.

            The bad-willed ones — literal “Malvolio”s — are confined to the comedies. (Much like the ongoing satire of a Leftist that we have in this comments section). Real human beings are far less one-dimensional. That’s why I think that our resident talking-points spewer is actually a computer program built to beat the Turing test, rather than an actual human intelligence.

          • Corlyss

            LOLOL
            Does the mean you’re going to start calling him Eliza?

          • Jim__L

            Maybe so, although most people would probably be confused by what they thought was a My Fair Lady reference.

            Interesting that its code made it unable to pick up on oblique references. We should use these more often.

    • Jim__L

      The fact that his decision-making process weights “credibility and power of the US” so lightly means that to say he doesn’t “deliberately undermine” them is splitting hairs.

      Obama’s deliberate policies effectively undermine the credibility and power of the US by any real measure. When the execution of effective action is called for, “soft power” doesn’t count.

      • bpuharic

        Our credibility was destroyed when the right took us into Iraq for no reason, and utterly failed in their mission. No matter what Obama’s done, nothing fails like a failed war

        The right is trying to hide behind Obama but they’re finding it difficult without getting more and more paranoid.

      • ljgude

        Well I was making basically the same objection to WRM’s assertion that merely occupying the office for 5 years was sufficient to make Obama no longer naive or inexperienced. I think it is quite possible for a post colonial college professor to think he is doing the right thing for America, I won’t quibble with you about the result. 😉

  • wigwag

    It’s both remarkable and lamentable to watch President Obama turning himself into a caricature of George W. Bush; but that’s what’s happening. When it comes to foreign policy, they’ve both chosen to fight the wrong wars.
    Bush’s plunge into Iraq, with the naïve hope inspired by credulous neoconservatives, that he could transform that society into a democracy was a disaster. Far too many Americans died for nothing and our nation’s stock of credibility and treasure was substantially depleted.
    While Obama’s decision to attack Libya was less catastrophic, it was also a serious mistake, the ramifications of which are still playing out. As Gaddafi’s weapons continue to percolate throughout the Middle East, Chris Stevens may not be the last American to be killed by weapons that were once safely locked away in the former Libyan strong man’s arsenal. We already know that these weapons are being used to sew mayhem elsewhere. As Professor Mead points out, Obama’s plan for Syria doesn’t seem any more well thought out than his plan for Libya was.
    But just because Iraq and Libya were the wrong wars and just because Obama can’t be trusted to competently manage a campaign against Assad, none of this means that a credible threat to use force or the actual use of military force isn’t called for in the Middle East. Just as Iraq and Libya were the wrong wars, military action to disarm Iran is manifestly the right war. That neither Bush nor Obama managed to figure this out says very little for their sagacity or the sagacity of the people that they chose to advise them.
    It’s remarkable how cavalier some people have been about Assad’s use of chemical weapons or his willingness to send those weapons to his terrorist allies in Hezbollah. The only reason that he hasn’t transferred more of these weapons of mass destruction to Hezbollah is because of Israel’s repeated demonstration of its willingness to bomb Syria if it tries to transport its chemical arsenal.
    In the last year of the Bush Administration, the Israelis implored Bush to bomb a facility in Syria that was working to develop nuclear weapons. When Bush refused, the Israelis destroyed Syria’s nuclear reactor with its own air force, Given his willingness to transfer chemical weapons to Hezbollah, is there any doubt that if he had nuclear weapons, Assad would be willing to either use these weapons on Syrians in order to save his own skin or transfer these weapons to Hezbollah terrorists? Would Americans, let alone Israelis be safe if Hezbollah possessed nuclear weapons?
    All of this is just evidence of why an American attack against Iran is the right war. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, how long will it be before Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States feel the need to have nuclear weapons of their own? Given the instability of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arab states and the Iranian regime, can we really be sure that these weapons wouldn’t ultimately end up in the hands of Sunni and Shia terrorist groups? Will Americans be safe when Hezbollah, al Qaeda or other groups have nuclear weapons that they have obtained wittingly or unwittingly from the Shia regime in Iran or the Sunni regime in Saudi Arabia? Given the animosity between Sunni and Shia, can we really feel comfortable that a nuclear exchange between Sunni nations and Iran isn’t possible? Will Americans be safer in a world in which the taboo against using nuclear weapons has been broken?
    Whatever they may think about American intervention in Syria, surely the Jacksonians, Hamiltonians and Wilsonians can agree that a Middle East teeming with nuclear weapons poses a direct threat to American security. Yet a Middle East teeming with nuclear weapons is exactly what we will have if an Iranian bomb inspires the Sunni world to arm itself to the teeth. Even some of the dimwitted Jeffersonians on both the left and the right might be smart enough to recognize what a horrendous threat to American security an Iranian nuclear weapon represents.
    Professor Mead is right; Americans of all political persuasions are fatigued because we have spent a decade fighting all the wrong wars. But this fatigue cannot be an excuse for inaction when American security is directly threatened. An Iranian weapon represents that kind of threat. It is unfortunate that both Bush and Obama were too feckless and cowardly to act.
    At this point, all we can hope is that the next American President (which will most probably be Hillary Clinton, but who knows) has both the time and the inclination to attack Iranian nuclear installations before it is too late.
    It’s highly probable that many Jeffersonians on the left and right will wail with righteous anger but the consequences for America not fighting the right war to disarm Iran (as opposed to Syria) are too horrendous to even contemplate.

    • bpuharic

      We’re not fighting any wars unless we’re using invisible troops. The right keeps shrieking that we’re getting into the biggest debacle since the Battle of Wabash RIver…without noticing we’re dong nothing of the kind.

      And we have to date given virturally no arms to the opposition. If you’re concerned about weapons, there are PLENTY with or without our help.

      As to Iran, are we supposed to go on another ‘nation building exercise’? Perhaps if you spent more time READING about our limited options rather than handwringing, your suggestions would be more useful.

      Attacking hardened Iranian sites will do precisely nothing. As an engineer, I look at THAT option from an engineer’s point of view. The IRanians have hardened their sites to the point that either nuclear weapons will have to be used, or we’ll have to invade to destroy the sites

      Which do you prefer?

      Apparently you haven’t done the heavy lifting of looking at what exactly is needed to complete your recommendation, before you accuse Obama of cowardice.

      • wigwag

        Has it occurred to you bphuaric, that the best way to avoid the need to attack Iran is to incentivize Iran to stand down from its nuclear program by utilizing a credible threat to use force?

        Isn’t it likely that President Obama’s performance in Syria has been so clumsy that it will convince the Iranians that Obama will never be able to marshal public opinion to support military action against Iran?

        Isn’t it reasonable to conclude that Iran will now feel free to pursue its nuclear ambitions with abandon and that ironically, this will make a decision to attack Iran by Obama even more likely?

        Even President Obama’s staunchest progressive allies are giving up on him in disgust. For evidence, I refer you to Roger Cohen’s column in today’s New York Times.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/opinion/global/cohen-an-anchorless-world.html?hp&_r=0

        • bpuharic

          You mean oh…say threatening to attack a country that’s used chemical weapons in violation of international law?

          And just out of curiosity, what do you think the Iraq war did to our credibility? DId you ever think of that?

          Roger Cohen? Uh..what about 4400 US dead in Iraq?

          • Nick M.

            Without having access to classified documents, we can really only speculate using public action by the state actors. The Iraq invasion commenced in March of 2003. In October of 2003 the Tehran Declaration was issued by Iran (http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iaeairan/eu_iran14112004.shtml)

            In November 2004 right after Bush’s re-election. the Paris agreement occurred where Iran announced a voluntary and temporary suspension of its uranium enrichment program.

            From that action and timeline, it certainly appears that our credibility was, in fact, rising.

          • bpuharic

            Temporary suspension of the U enrichment program. Golly. THen there’s no need to worry bout Iran, right? And Al Qaida made no attacks across the world after 2004? Iran didn’t do anything in Iraq after 2004?

            Your argument is, at best, risible. In fact, it’s no argument at all

          • Nick M.

            Was it possible to turn that temporary suspension to a permanent one? That is something we will never know sadly. But then again, I am unsure which is the worse of the two options, that it could have been made permanent and we made a misstep the shattered our chances, or that it would only ever be temporary with no chance of becoming permanent.

            You asked what it thought it did to our credibility. I provided the reactions after the invasion that we know of. Thats not a argument, that’s providing information (at least in regards to Iran. In Libya, Gaddafi, gave up his WMD programs. in December of 2003.)

            So far, it appears that it is not the kinetic action that is the problem, it is the settling of the dust afterward where we need to figure out how do correctly if we ever want to have the ability to take on these humanitarian interventions successfully (Note: I said “if we want”. I make no judgement at this time if we should, or should not).

          • bpuharic

            I agree with much of what you’ve said, but it certainly appears that going to war and getting bogged down in a protracted bloody struggle doesn’t do much for our credibility

          • Nick M.

            Certainly appears that way, I agree. But are we worried about our short term credibility, or long term credibility? While not always as such, they are sometimes mutually exclusive.

            Short term waxes and wanes with political cycles and current events. Long term is almost like a ingrained cultural belief even if it in actuality false (Soviet’s perceived military strength and power projection during the Cold War). Getting “bogged down” may make a state actor appear to be over stretched, unable to take any further action for a long time (if expensive enough in terms of both financial and human capital) and the more opportunistic may see their chance to take action. (US assistance of the Mujaheddin during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan)

            Then again, if the state actor pulls out once bogged down, both their short and long term credibility *may* also take a hit as they are perceived not to have the staying power to “see it through”. A enemy could believe that they can win/survive if they only make it costly enough to bog the state actor down long enough. (our intervention in Somalia, possibly post Gulf War II))

            But there is a third possibility (I say possibility, not “option” as this is often something one has no control over) that should the state actor get bogged down, but decides to stick with it and does *see it through*. Yes, their short term credibility had taken a hit much earlier, but as the people get use to the new situation, they acclimate and accepts it as the new norm and the State actors. And then the state actors long term credibility rise, as they become known that they can’t be deterred and defeated easily, and it may behoove other actors to try and work with them rather than fight and lose. (Hezbollah in the 80’s, the fall of the Soviet Union.)

            Of course, if the State Actor goes in, wins both the kinetic action and avoids a protracted bloody conflict afterwards both short term and long term credibility rises, especially if the bloody protracted conflict is predicted but never materializes (Gulf War I). This is also the rarest of the scenarios and can lead our leader to make cocky decisions afterward (Gulf War I leading to our intervention in Somalia)

            Of course, these could simply be perceptions by the various actors and probably should not actually be taken as reality to avoid miscalculations and future bloody conflicts.

    • USNK2

      WigWag: the Sunnis already have a nuclear arsenal, in Pakistan. They already have nuclear-tipped missiles for tank warfare.
      Pakistan is dependent on Saudi/GCC funding, so I do not forecast a broader nuclear arms build-up in the calculation about what to do about Iran.

      I am beginning to think Mr. Mead needs to explore adding a fifth American school of foreign policy: Trumanism.
      Truman believed in the UN, in the need to end wars of aggression through the UN,
      the mutual defense treaty aka NATO.
      The fact that the UN is a failure does not mean that Trumanism is not a valid frame to add in this discussion.

      What I fail to understand is why no one thinks Hezbollah should be disarmed as was originally intended by UNSC Resolution 1701:
      http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8808.doc.htm
      (Perhaps Res 1701 is why Israel has been able to make several strikes without retaliation from Assad. It would be better if Team Obama would stop leaking that Israel makes such strikes)

      If Team Obama was really Wilsonian, they would be pressing for self-determination of Greater Kurdistan, or at least Syrian Kurdistan

      • wigwag

        Yes, the Pakistanis do have nuclear weapons and, as you correctly say, they are crucially dependent on the Saudis. But I really doubt that the Saudis will view the mere existence of a Pakistani nuclear capability as a substantial enough deterrent should Iran obtain nuclear weapons. I doubt the Saudis will view a putative American nuclear umbrella as sufficient; it strains credulity to believe that they will feel comfortable under a Pakistani nuclear umbrella.
        The most likely scenario is that Pakistan will provide Saudi Arabia with nuclear weapons that will be stationed in the Kingdom probably with Pakistani advisors but under the control of the Saudi King. Other Gulf Arab nations and perhaps, someday, Egypt, will obtain nuclear weapons in the same way.
        All of these nations, including Saudi Arabia are potentially very unstable (as is Pakistan) which makes accidental or deliberate proliferation to terrorist groups a likely possibility.
        Should the Iranian regime ever be threatened with internal instability (a possibility that is entirely realistic), it is highly possible that it would seek to preserve any nuclear weapons at its disposal by shipping them to terrorist allies like Hezbollah.
        All of these possibilities are highly threatening to American security. September 11th and the Boston Marathon bombing would both look like a picnic compared to an event with a nuclear devise obtained by Sunni or Shia terrorists.
        That’s why an Iranian nuclear weapon is such a threat and why we need to eliminate that threat by any means necessary; the complications be damned.

        • USNK2

          WigWag: I agree with most of your probable scenarios. Pakistan is totally capable of selling and providing on-site ‘service’ of any nuclear deterrent , which is why I cited nuclear-tipped tank missiles. Very tactical.
          I disagree about Iran thinking Hezbollah is a secure alternative location. Yes, Iran IS fragile. There are separatist movements with the Azeris, Kurds, Baluchis, Turkmen, Lur, and Arab Shi’a. Maybe a few more, since Persians are less than 50%. Current Iran is a reflection of a land empire that has been shrinking for hundreds of years.
          Most of Iran’s key nuclear sites are located where Persians dominate.
          One new point about Syria.
          Damascus is highly symbolic for the Arab Sunnis. The Alawite do include some early Christian beliefs, which makes it interesting that fundamentalist Shi’a can still officially recognize the Alawi as muslims.
          Just one more reason why the restoration of Damascus as a Sunni capital is a powerful factor in all of this.
          My PC can not handle longer Disqus threads, so, until the next relevant thread…

        • lukelea

          I wouldn’t be so sure Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Israel doesn’t seem worried. And look at this “test” :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnH3VT6muYQ

    • Clayton Holbrook

      “Just as Iraq and Libya were the wrong wars, military action to disarm Iran is manifestly the right war. That neither Bush nor Obama managed to figure this out says very little for their sagacity or the sagacity of the people that they chose to advise them.” – WigWag

      You’ll notice that Iraq and Afghanistan border Iran to the west and east. The U.S. has established bases in both of those countries, and a Strategic Framework Agreement is in place with Iraq. Perhaps, rightly or wrongly and/or effective or ineffective, this is a continuing strategy to sort of box in Iran.

      Also, combating Assad in Syria, continuing to pressure Hezbollah (and Iranian pawn and off shoot), and keep making it known that Russia and China’s support for those autocracies and theocracies isn’t appreciated further isolates Iran in the region. Now, whether or not these three things are being done effectively is another question.

      While I agree Iran is the real threat, I fear a war with that country would be a long bloody affair that could also tip off other powerful proxies to combat the US in a Iranian war theater. Obviously dithering until they’re nuclear armed could be even worse. But, all the way up until the Obama Administration really blew this Syria deal, Iran was falling into further and further isolation.

      Obama and Bush know/knew that Iran is the real threat as well. It’s just a hugely complicated and a high stakes affair to combat Iran. Imho, it’s a little too simpleton to simply say “Iran is the people we should be directly fighting”.

      • wigwag

        I agree that the options for confronting the Iranian nuclear program are not ideal. Of course, had Bush chosen to attack Iran instead of Iraq this problem might have been solved already and all those American who died might not have died in vain; but obviously, we will never know.
        The fact that attacking Iran is complicated is just more reason to view attacking Iran’s allies, Syria and Hezbollah, as a reasonable option. With it’s Alawite allies in retreat and its Hezbollah allies defanged, Iran might be more willing to give up its right to enrich uranium or produce plutonium.
        Without its former Hamas allies (Hamas is in complete disarray thanks to the Egyptian junta), Assad, or Hezbollah, Iran’s ability to project force would be substantially reduced if not eliminated. Whipping Assad and Hezbollah is a way for the United States to attack Iran on the cheap.
        Obviously destroying the Assad regime might have problematic ramifications for our Israeli allies, and the Sunni groups which might take over Syria are no friends of the United States. Still, as unsavory as these Sunni terrorists are, they do not represent an existential danger to the American people.
        An Iranian bomb and the proliferation that is likely to result does represent an existential threat to the American people (can you imagine a Hiroshima sized bomb going off in New York or Boston). Weakening Iran by any means necessary is absolutely critical.
        If we might be able to accomplish that goal by first destroying Assad and Hezbollah, why not give it a try?

        • Clayton Holbrook

          “Whipping Assad and Hezbollah is a way for the United States to attack Iran on the cheap.”

          Perhaps Bush thought that about Iraq and Afghanistan. That turned out to be miscalculation.

          And if you think a lot of Americans died in Iraq, put an exponent on that number and you’ll get what the casualties would be in an Iranian conflict. Whipping Assad and Hezbollah would be a hard go that could set up a slippery slope of actions if it doesn’t go smoothly or it doesn’t accomplish the “attack Iran” as effectively as you and I may hope.

          As WRM alluded to in a recent essay, attacking Assad (whether it be the idiotic designer method, or full on war), would set off an act of war where America would have to face the serious, dynamic, and unpredictable consequences of declaring war. We should not forget that.

          “If we might be able to accomplish that goal by first destroying Assad and Hezbollah, why not give it a try?”

          I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but I think it would be a mistake to under estimate what exactly it would take to do this. It’s easy to say American forces are far superior. But again, American forces were far superior to those of the Sunnis extremists in Iraq that nearly ran the Americans out in the middle of last decade.

      • bpuharic

        Only the right wing could call a deal where we got what we wanted, someone else is on the hook for it, we spent no money and suffered no casualties

        a failure.

        No wonder they keep losing elections and spend decades in war

      • Jim__L

        Historian John Keegan likes to use an interesting phrase — “the chance of battle”.

        If you’re not familiar with how he uses it, it isn’t like “the chance of rain” (whether or not something is going to happen) but instead expresses how much of a roll of the dice any battle (or war) is. Things could go very well in the battle, or things could go very badly. To go to battle is to take a risk.

        Obama and the rest of the Credentialed Elite — from policy wanks to Wall Street quants — seem to be under the impression that if they just think hard enough, they can domesticate risk, and mechanistically achieve optimum results. To them it’s possible to eliminate “chance of battle”.

        Life is too chaotic and nonlinear to ever work that way. These people are so blinded by the success of modern mathematics and science that they completely ignore the limits of those tools, limits that are all too prevalent in most systems in reality.

        Sometimes I suspect that thinkers in our age are too unfamiliar with misfortune to handle it (or the risk of it) competently.

        • bpuharic

          Jim’s obsessed wi
          th the ‘credentialed elite’, ignoring the fact right wing think tanks are overflowing with PhD’s

          Policy planning is inevitable. It’s what govts do.

          Perhaps we should just rely on gut feelings and magic. Conservatives are big on myth and fables. That’s as good a guide as any, I suppose

    • Anthony

      WigWag, hello. I wanted to avoid this but as commentary continues a thought comes to mind: absurdities lead to atrocities. The impulses in response to essay and your thoughts augur a particular style of reasoning – Communal Sharing and Authority Ranking. I acknowledge that a measured degree of violence will always be necessary to deter predation or to incapacitate those who cannot be deterred. But, comments generally infer a coarse sense of self-serving predilection – destructive strikes, lethal reprisals, etc. (some type of game-theory problem).

    • azt24

      ” Chris Stevens may not be the last American to be killed by weapons that
      were once safely locked away in the former Libyan strong man’s arsenal.”

      What, wasn’t Amb. Stevens killed by a spontaneous and unpredictable protest over a Youtube video? President Obama and his administration told us he was, over and over.

      The fact that Obama not only stumbles into difficulties, but reacts by telling us all a pack of lies that wouldn’t fool a bright 12 year old, has quite a lot to do with the way he has lost the trust of the Jacksonians. Not even hawks are for a strike led by such a lying bumbler; because even if the cause is good, Obama will still make a mess of it, then destroy more American credibility with his lies.

      • bpuharic

        Azt can name all the people killed in Benghazi by Obama’s ‘lies’

        Bet he can’t name all 4400 US troops killed in Iraq by the right wing’s lies.

  • Palinurus

    Ironically, I bet this is exactly how Obama sees it: The whole problem is all about him. It’s all about the excruciating difficulty of balancing the nuances and braiding together the disparate threads of the finest thinking on international relations. Only a distinguished professor at an elite university could understand Obama’s problems — or believe this.

    There may be other actors on the international stage, who pose challenges and must be dealt with, but they’re absent from this analysis.

    There also may be more to the splendid mansion that is Obama than his intellectual furniture. For Machiavelli, for example, it was not about navigating the four threads of European thought, but virtu — a concept that encompasses everything from shrewd thinking, to poise and street smarts, to balls. But that Obama’s confused and equivocating because he lacks the virtu of a prince, and especially the cold-blooded audacity and boldness favored by fortune, is apparently beneath consideration. He has some sort of intellectual neurosis.

    Maybe Obama just got beat by Putin because Putin’s better at this and a prince in comparison to a pretender.

    • bpuharic

      Obama got ‘beat’ by Putin? Only a feckless right wing blinded by its own failures would look at war as a sporting contest.

      We’re not committing any troops. No one from the US has died. Russia owns the pig this situation has become and is on the hook for success.

      But to the shallow ideologue who, from the beginning, was hoping for some type of ‘mission accomplished’ moment, Obama is a failure

      Good. We need more failures like this. What we DON’T need is bodies coming home to Dover

      • Tom

        In February of 1861, supporters of James Buchanan could claim that no troops had been committed, no Americans had died, and that Jefferson Davis and co. owned the situation and were on the hook for its success.

        • bpuharic

          Syria is not part of the US and we’re not in danger of a civil war.

          • Tom

            True enough. But foreign policy success should not be counted by immediate casualties.

          • bpuharic

            Why?

          • Tom

            Because by that standard, if you will forgive the comparison, Munich was a roaring success.

          • Corlyss

            Even more’s to the point, WW2 was not a victory for civilization but a horrible waste of life proving that no one should ever fight for anything because people might be killed.
            There are worse things than death. Sometimes I think only those in the military fully understand that. The way that fighting, dispute, disagreement, even when standing for a principle, has been discouraged, vilified, smothered in mommy-love in the schools and society in general, the way boys and men are demonized for the last 40 years by women-centered politics, I wonder who’s going to do the hard jobs defending this country if we have a military left after this administration.

          • bpuharic

            More tin foil hat paranoia

            THe GOP insists we have to gut spending or we can’t give the rich bigger tax cuts

            The right wing has sunk more aircraft carriers than any enemy

          • Tom

            Right-wing policy has sunk thirteen carriers?
            Impressive.

          • Jeff Jones

            …except that it’s the usual BS from bpuharic

          • bpuharic

            Syria is not, of course, threatening to conquer Europe or bomb London

      • Rich K

        Rose colored glasses are all the rage in Berekely and Soho I hear.Enjoy your wine and cheese.

  • Anthony

    Obama has made a critical mistake, but not the one Mead has articulated. His mistake was to threaten to get involved in a civil war in Syria that does not threaten the United States. Is the Syrian civil war a bad situation- both from a humanitarian perspective and from the standpoint of geopolitics? Of course it is. Would an invasion, or some kind of military maneuver sufficient to change the situation on the ground in a profound way, produce a better outcome? It might, but it probably would not.

    The Assad family has not threatened the United States, and many informed observers believe that the Al Qaeda affiliated rebel groups – who despise the Assads because they are Shia Alawites – are much stronger than the minority of the rebels who could be crudely characterized as liberals.

    Professor Mead seems to be deeply committed to the idea that all serious foreign policy thinkers favor military intervention. This is wrong. Remember, Professor Mead has strong neoconservative tendencies – he said that Irving Kristol had a “brilliant career,” for example, and he was a strong backer of the Iraq war. To his credit, he was a consistent supporter throughout the war, and did not try to backtrack when things turned south.

    As a good counterweight to Professor Mead’s posts on Syria, read these two articles. Professors Posner and Becker are as serious and tough minded as they come, and they both oppose military intervention in Syria.

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2013/09/when-should-we-interfere-in-another-countrys-internal-affairs-posner.html

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2013/09/bombing-syria-becker.html

    • Anthony

      Just be clear, the fact that these two scholars oppose intervention obviously doesn’t mean that it’s checkmate. I am making only one very important point: there are tough minded thinkers – who cannot by any stretch of the imagination be characterized as fringe figures like the Pauls or Sen. Bernie Sanders – who oppose intervening in Syria. Professor Mead seems to regard opponents of a war in Syria is backward isolationists, and clearly that is not always the case

      • Anthony

        Anthony, does WRM regard intervention opponents as backward isolationists?

    • bpuharic

      A critical mistake to uphold international law regarding the use of weapons that could be used against the US? Although I don’t want us to go to war to uphold international law, if international law has any meaning there has to be enforcement.

      What’s to deter the NEXT use of NBC weapons? Harsh words?

  • f1b0nacc1

    A good bit of the controversy here seems to me to rise from the foolish obsession with chemical weapons as a weapon of ‘mass’ destruction.
    As unpleasant as chemical weapons are (and until you have seen them in actual use, you have no idea of how grisy they reality of their effects are), they are not particularly destructive, nor unusually effective, especially against troops who are prepared for them. One could in fact argue that the reason the chemicals we have seen used since WWI (where a close examination shows them to have been singularly ineffective, though horrific) have been used on civilian populations as opposed to on the battlefield is because against soldiers with even limited protection, they simply aren’t terribly useful with the possible exception of interdiction and temporary disabling of airfields. There is nothing ‘mass’ in their destructiveness (napalm, for instance, is far more destructive, and kills/maims far more easily than even nerve agents, and thermobaric weapons are effective in mass slaughter on a scale that rivalled only by nukes), they are only particularly nasty and unaesthetic in their effects.
    Yet because of this mislabelling, we treat chemical agents as some sort of unique terror that must be stamped otu at all costs. Far, far more Syrians (especially civillians) are dying at the hands of smelly barbarians with AK-47s and hand grenades than chemicals, yet these weapons are not seen as particularly terrible. If Assad had ordered napalm or thermobaric bombs to be dropped, killing equal or larger groups of civilians, does anyone seriously believe that we would be wasting time and political capital discussing military strikes? We know that Assad is a monster, does the particular instrumentality of this behavior really make any difference?
    This is precisely why the Left reveals its ignorance in trying to spin Obama’s latest debacle as some sort of victory. Even if there is some sort of agreement on removing/sequestering Syria’s chemical weapons (a HUGE ‘if’) and even if Syria goes along with this (another big ‘if’) and even if they actually adhere to all of the strictures of the putative agreement (the biggest ‘if’ of all), Assad has given up some useless wepons (most of those chemicals were intended for a war with Israel, where they would have been employed against airfields, where they might possibly have had some value) and gotten the West to recognize his regimes legitimacy (a major concession), and agree to avoid openly supplying the rebels (a likely demand by the Syrians that might in fact derail any agreement in the first place). This gives Assad a strategic victory (it essentially assures that he will survive this civil war, and likely win it outright over time), undercuts any leverage that we might have had in persuading Iran to foreswear REAL weapons of mass destruction (i.e. nukes), and rewards the Russians for recalcitrance in this matter in the first place.
    The obsession with international norms (i.e. the focus on chemicals as some sort of uniquely horrible weapon of war when they simply are not) at the expense of facts on the ground will cost us dearly here, but since the real priorities for the administration (and its ignorant enablers) seem to be moral preening and a desire to avoid any responsibility for their fecklessness, the cost seems acceptable to them.

    • bpuharic

      The right looks at 4400 US dead, 2 trillion in borrowed budget busting funds and shrugs it shoulders.

      It looks at Obama, seeing NO dead troops and NO money spent, and shrieks DEBACLE.

      Seriously.They do!

      Is it any wonder the right keeps losing elections?

      Obama may have backed into a solution, but a solution it apparently is.

      No dead. No money spent. And the right thinks that’s a failure.

      God forbid they should ever get power again.

      • lukelea

        pbuharic can hold his own

        • Jim__L

          Hold his own what?

        • Jeff Jones

          Surely you’re not talking about self-sufficiency when using the phrase “hold his own.” The number of times he’s slammed the idea of paying for one’s own would preclude that notion.

          Bpuharic is an intellectual homunculus.

  • charris208

    In engineering, this is called overdesign.

  • Tom Servo

    I have a rare disagreement with WRM, but I must say that I STRONGLY and COMPLETELY disagree with his very first sentence. All objective evidence points to the opposite of that statement being the Truth.

    • gvanderleun

      Well, it can be true that, in absolute terms, Obama is actually not a *stupid* man as generally understood. Indeed, it’s easy to say that and be right. At the same time it is also possible to know that Obama is not really up to his present job and is the Limp Peter Principle in action.

      So…. you are both right. But one is more right and that would have to be, in this case, Servo.

      • bpuharic

        The right thinks testosterone is a substitute for policy.

        No wonder they keep getting us into wars

    • Pete

      “President Obama is not a stupid man.”

      Oh no?

      See what affirmative action gives you — an over credential boob in high office.

      • bpuharic

        Typical right wing racist.Any black man who achieves is an affirmative action dupe

        • stevewfromford

          Well certainly not any black man. Clarence Thomas comes to mind as a man who rose through his own effort as I’m just sure you will agree!.

        • Jeff Jones

          We’ve been down this road. if you’re going to take that position, you need to acknowledge your own prejudice toward the likes of Herman Cain, Cedra Crenshaw, Allen West, Tim Scott, Walter Williams, Deneen Borelli, and many others.

          You won’t, because you have no explanation for your inconsistency. I’m sure you’ll try, but it will just be more of the same mush.

  • gvanderleun

    And now we’ve got a fifth foreign policy group, the Putinians: Those who just swan in from another country, pull on a latex glove, and use the weak and feeble narcissist passing as a president as a hand puppet to the president’s pleasure and the people’s disgust at having to watch the spectacle.

  • bigfire

    I will accept that Our Lord and Savior is an excellent teleprompter reader. I will not make any other guess on his intelligence.

  • Anthony

    Underlying WRM’s exposition is thesis that the President plays many roles: chief executive, chief legislator, head of state, commander-in-chief, etc. These roles WRM assert are operational historically under four strands and that Obama regarding Syria and foreign policy combines both Jeffersonian and Wilsonian inclinations. Be that as it may, President Obama yet maintains the role of guardian and representative of capitalism sans Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, Jacksonian, and Wilsonian ambits. The President is the embodiment of the executive-centered political system that defends American corporate interests at home and abroad and so far Obama has not faltered in that mission.

    WRM appears to bemoan overall planning and coordination of foreign policy options of executive office and uses the four strands as means to explicate President Obama’s perceived failings and lack of public support. Yet, policy decisions are seldom neutral (they almost always benefit some interests more than others) and the Syrian quagmire continues because the salesman of the system (whose opinions and choices are widely publicized) through inadvertence magnified a Middle Eastern country’s civil war into a questioning of credibility (and certainly more). However, systemically demands are still met and United States interests abroad will be defended. So, what to do…

  • Boritz

    Forrest Gump offered the useful philosophical perspective that intelligence is existentially linked to behavior.

  • Corlyss

    “President Obama is not a stupid man. After more than four years in the White House, he cannot be called a naive man or an inexperienced leader.”

    Alas, that statement depends on the student’s willingness to learn from his mistakes. Obama doesn’t. He’s sure that he hasn’t made any and that the only thing messing him over is EVIL Republicans and a recalcitrant public who fail to acknowledge how much smarter he is than they are and how fair and compassionate are his ultimate goals. As long as he has Val and ‘Chelle telling him he’s right, he won’t learn diddly.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Thanks for making clear my Jacksonian view point. However, I’m not going to let you carry Obama’s water, or give him the benefit of the doubt. He is the President of the United States and the American people deserve at the very least competence.

    “President Obama is not a stupid man. After more than four years in the White House, he cannot be called a naive man or an inexperienced leader.”

    You can’t start your whole article with a statement like this, and then provide no evidence.

    Most people learn from their mistakes, it’s why experience is so valued, because everyone makes mistakes. But after over four years in office, Obama has apparently learned nothing. Obama believes he is always the smartest person in the room, despite all evidence to the contrary. The arrogant and narcissist Obama never admits to making a mistake, he instantly blames everyone and everything for his own failings. Admitting to a mistake is the first step in learning from a mistake, and so Obama can never learn from his mistakes, and experience has no value for him. And isn’t being unable to learn from your mistakes the very definition of Stupid?

    If you can’t learn, you are Stupid.

    • bpuharic

      Know what Obama learned from conservatives?

      You don’t achieve your objectives by murdering 4400 US troops

      Conservatives slaughtered thousands of US kids.

      Obama has killed zero.

      • circleglider
        • bpuharic

          Yes, in a war started by conservatives. You’d think they would have ended it BEFORE Obama came to office, given that Afghanistan attacked the US.

          Another conservative failure

          • stevewfromford

            By your “logic” bpuharic, the Democrat Wilson “slaughtered over 50,000, Lincoln “slaughtered over 200,000 (and that “great “Democrat Roosevelt is the grand champion slaughterer of American “kids” as he “slaughtered” nearly 300,000! Outside of Lincoln Republicans are pikers when it comes to “slaughtering” Americans so I’d guess you’ll be changing party quite soon so as not to be complicit in mass murder by your fellow Democrats.

          • bpuharic

            Wilson was 100 years ago. Uh..none of the countries Bush invaded was part of the US. Is your geography THAT bad? But, of course, as a right winger, you probably haven’t an idea of what ‘geography’ is.

            And we’re not fighting Vietnam here. Sorry. Seems not only is geography foreign to you, but so is history

          • Jeff Jones

            > Wilson was 100 years ago.

            And you would still be blaming Bush if you were still alive 95 years from now, so give that a rest.

            > Uh..none of the countries Bush invaded was part of the US. Is your geography THAT bad?

            None of the European or North African countries Roosevelt invaded was part of the US either. My 8-year old knows that. Why don’t you, half-wit?

            > And we’re not fighting Vietnam here. Sorry. Seems not only is geography foreign to you, but so is history

            You wouldn’t know history if it smacked you in the face. Oh…wait…it IS smacking you in the face with all of your failed socialist mush (Obamacare, raising taxes on the middle class because there aren’t enough rich people to fund your sinkholes, paying people to dig holes then paying other people to fill them). Seems you have no argument, but everyone here and all occasional visitors to this site knew that.

      • Torestin

        Libs have fiercely supported a woman’s right to kill their children – 54M and counting since R v W in 1973. Also, Senator Hussein supported killing late term children. Go get informed….

        • bpuharic

          It’s funny, watching the right’s war on the middle class and poor, tell us about killing children

          If a poor woman can’t feed her kid, the right will force her to have it, then let it die. Liberals will, if she wants that kid, feed it, clothe it, house it and educate it.

          Conservatives will kill it.

          • Torestin

            You sir are an idiot, straight up!

          • bpuharic

            And you, sir, are a monster. Today the GOP house voted to cut food for the poor while a few weeks ago they approved subsidies for billionaires

            My accusations stand.

          • Torestin

            Drink your kool aid and go back to bed. Dream of the 50M on foodstamps not because of capitalism or repubs, but rather your idols (pelosi, reid, obama) causing vast uncertainty which is designed to fulfill their cloward and piven orgasmic outcome – collapse the govt and make it the image that useful idiots like bpuharic will gobble up and call them heros. Bring on a national detroit as you are both monster and idiot.

          • bpuharic

            The right blows out the economy with supply side mythology THEN runs, tripping over itself, to hand Wall Street TARP bailout money.

            Pure socialism for the rich

            BUT…let some middle class schnook get hard on his luck and the right gets all worried about ‘moral hazard’.

            The debt has dropped 30 percent in the last 4 years. AND deficits ALWAYS increase in a recession

            The right has NO idea at all about economics. Nothing.

  • jeburke

    I suppose there is some analytic benefit to locating and identifying strains of foreign affairs thought that extend across US history from the founding generation to the present, but I can’t help thinking that it leads to a certain amount of shoehorning everything and everybody into one or the other favored categories (and which ever one you’re in, you can feel good about it because you’re in company with American icons!). I have to say that I detect elements of all four schools in my own opinions, so pity me. It’s making my head hurt trying to figure out how to avoid being tagged as partly “Wilsonian.”

  • lehnne

    “President Obama is not a stupid man….
    the President of the United States has no idea what to do.” These two sentences statements are in direct conflict. The evidence is in Obama is a useful idiot, The question for whom.

    • Torestin

      Meade….

  • Mahon1

    We still suffer from the incredible lightness of being Jimmy Carter. If the 82nd Airborne had reached Teheran before the Ayatollah Khomenei, Iran to this day might be a modernizing, pro-Western power with an evolving constitutional monarchy. (As it was then. The Shah was indeed an autocrat, but he didn’t hang gays from construction cranes.) Saddam could have been contained and the Iraq war might never have happened. Assad would be without allies and Hezbollah without a paymaster. One shudders to think how much more damage Obama can do in eight years than Carter did in four.

  • jchenn

    The President’s approach was anything but subtle and nuanced. More like a stumbling drunk that accidentally walked into the broom closet instead of the bathroom.

  • Th_Ph

    “President Obama is not a stupid man.”

    All evidence to the contrary…

    • Rich K

      Sometimes I wonder, when Walter says things like that, if he really believes them, or if he would be simply the last jew to believe that its really a shower he was being led to,metaphorically speaking.But I guess the job of Historian is to look at all sides and keep track of the bodies regardless.

  • Douglas6

    Brilliant, Professor. Thanks!

  • GSR

    More Obama butt-kissing by Mead (a left-liberal).

  • Obama just proved himself too stupid for his own good.

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