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Foreign Policy Adrift
President Pangloss and the Refugee Crisis

Here’s yet more evidence that President Obama is the best of all possible presidents with the best of all possible foreign policies: The U.N. stated on Friday that over 60 million people across the globe have been pushed out of their homes by wars. NYT:

At least five million people were forcibly displaced from their homes in the first half of the year, adding to the 59.5 million displaced people the United Nations refugee agency had recorded by the end of 2014. One in every 122 humans today is someone who has been forced to flee from home, the agency said.

Most of the people on the move in 2015 were displaced within their own country, but as many 839,000 people fled across international borders in the first half of the year, more than a third of them trying to escape the war in Syria.

There should be no mistake about this: If some kind of world order isn’t restored and, therefore, the refugee crisis isn’t brought to an end, pressure to prevent migration into the West will only grow. The West’s own geopolitical failures of nerve and execution, that is, are the cause of its deteriorating ability to live up to its values when it comes to the treatment of the victims of war. President Obama and the hand wringers generally think that the solution to the migrant crisis is to scold people for being unwilling to absorb ever growing numbers of refugees escaping from ever more disastrous failures of foreign policy. But this is a dead end. You can’t have an orderly world without a world order, and a world order can’t exist unless somebody is willing to do what it takes to defend it. President Obama’s Jeffersonian decision to let the Middle East burn without launching any American response is the direct cause of the flare-up in nativism, Islamophobia, and anti-refugee sentiment in both Europe and the United States.

That doesn’t mean the U.S. should be sending ground troops into every conflict zone on planet Earth. Our foreign needs to be politically and economically sustainable for the long term. We need allies, we need a prudent awareness about limits and costs, and we need a strategic approach to international politics that allows us to focus our resources and attention on the things that matter most.

But as one ex-Obama official after another has made clear, we haven’t been doing that over the last seven years—and one of the consequences is the weakening hold of exactly the values that President Obama cares most about over public opinion across the West.

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  • Fat_Man

    We tried to warn you …

  • Anthony

    “President Obama’s Jeffersonian decision to let the Middle East burn without launching any American response is the ‘direct cause’ of the flare-up in nativism, Islamophoia, and anti-refugee sentiment in both Europe and the United States.” Wow! Sweeping! A reasonable human is being asked to accept above (presidential cause and effect of individual inaction) without qualification – Amazing (unproven embedded assumptions that may license emotive conclusions).

    • lhfry

      What the “hand wringers” don’t understand is that as chaos spreads, ordinary people will turn to whomever will restore order. We’ve seen this movie before and it isn’t pretty. Restoring order will require draconian measures and regimes bred from those willing to carry them out will trample on our “values” and destroy whatever freedoms we imagine we still possess.

      • Anthony

        The hand wringers understand I’m sure. As you say, human behavior remains susceptible when good people stand still (even when they don’t). I trust you’ll stay in the arena despite the hand wringers.

    • Nick

      Who thinks that there are reasonable human beings in much of the middle east? Reason requires logic, which is regrettably in short supply in areas that don’t have either a Western or Asian civilization foundation.

      • Anthony

        May just be an inaccurate history assessment of mankind as well as circumscribed outlook but thanks for point of view.

        • Nick

          I don’t need your thanks. As for it being my point of view, logic has fine traditions both in the east and in the west. Islam – not so much. And that’s a fact.

          • Anthony

            Your opinion taken (as you are entitled to such but not entitled to your own set of facts). Thanks – and its not for you but for civilization you infer you represent.

          • Nick

            Fine. Point out to me the strong tradition of logic developed in the world of Islam. Don’t forget to mention how they invented “0” (it was known many other places, and came from India originally).

            I could easily come up with a huge list of the philosophers of logic for the west and the east. Islamic apologists like yourself will struggle to come up with anything that didn’t originate in Islamic Spain.

            Western Civilization doesn’t need your pathetic thanks either. Take your multicultural crap and go sell it to the Islamicists, who I am sure will reward you greatly.

          • Anthony

            Where is this headed? If you seek said enlightenment (data/information) search it out. But remember, knowledge from books is a different experience than from the internet. I’m done here Nick, good luck.

          • Fred

            Even a broken clock is right twice a day: Avicenna, Averroes, Al Farabi, Al Ghazali, the Kalam tradition, Ibn Hazam, there are many others. Of course, that said, those were medieval philosophers whose thought was later rejected in favor of more fundamentalist readings of the Koran. And its an open question whether Arab cultures are savage because they rejected their own philosophical tradition or whether they rejected that tradition because they are savages. Still, it undeniably existed.

  • Suzyqpie

    I just saw the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. Bedford Falls got to see what life was like sans the benevolence of George Bailey. I guess the world is getting to see the world sans the benevolence of the US. Pres Obama will claim credit and Josh Earnest will stand by his statement that the world is a more tranquil place resulting from Pres Obama’s leadership.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Two minor points:
      1) Only George Bailey got to see what life would be like without him, Bedford Falls remained in completely, blissful ignorance
      2) Since we only saw George’s return, we didn’t see the next day….when George was arrested for bank fraud (the fact he had the money to make the difference good doesn’t change the fact that the bank examiner would have identified the missing amount)

  • Thank you for noticing this. Our arguments about whether the 100,000 refugees we resettle every year should include some number of Syrians entirely miss the point when there are so many more.

  • lukelea

    It’s not easy. WRM advocated (advocates?) removing Assad, even after our experience in Iraq and Libya.

    • Nick

      Yes, lets give the Islamicists another foothold!

      A re-alignment of powers based on shared culture and civilization is needed. We can’t change the way the Chinese or the Russians treat their people, but they are civilized. The Islamicists are not. Our re-alignment needs to recognize that.


    Jeffersonian?! We can only wish Barack Obama’s decision-making toward barbaric Islamic aggression was Jeffersonian.

    In 1801 Thomas Jefferson sent the nascent US Navy and Marine Corp to subdue the piratical Barbary Muslim States, which had been preying on American shipping, siezing cargos and taking hostages for tribute. Naturally they were successful. “The shores of Tripoli” is in the Marine Corps hymn. America has enjoyed freedom of navigation ever since.

    ‘British admiral, Horatio Nelson, himself known as a man of action and courage, reportedly called this [the storming of Tripoli] “the most bold and daring act of the age.”‘

    Where is such bold and decisive leadership in evidence today?

  • Paul A’Barge

    This web site is the home of Walter Russell Mead, who voted for Barack Obama both times.

    • Nick

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

      I, of course, had read the wretched “Dreams of my Father” and knew Obola for what he was. Why didn’t WRM, who is in many ways a brilliant individual? Except for his apparent dislike of Republicans (which I share, but not for the same liberal reasons – see Paul “Lyan” Ryan for an example).

  • Robert Burke

    One needs to understand worldviews to understand the times. Tribal Control worldview is good when you have a good king, bad when you have ISIS but it is not the biggest killer. Progressive Control worldview is good the first few years, bad when it kills people by the hundreds of millions. (See socialist Soviets, see socialist Nazis, see socialist China, etc.)

    Tribal Control works on the idea of its leaders’ justification maxim: “God said so.” Progressive Control works on the maxim of its leaders, whom at core, say they believe Hegel’s leadership justification maxim: “No proposition can be proved true.” This is a lie to avoid the leaders having to say, “God said so.” Hegel’s maxim is probably the worst lie ever told, because it hides the real intent, “We can kill all.”

    Progressive Control journalists love to say every critic is nativist or worse, critics, they say, believe in the laughably ridiculous Tribal Control. These journalists are wrong, horribly wrong… and their wrongness is what allowed two hundred million people to be killed last century by Progressive Control.

    The third worldview is “1776-Tragic-Liberty.” It justifies its leadership position with James Madison’s maxim, “No man can be the judge in his own case.” It is the most beautiful worldview, the most humane, it solves epic problems quickly, and it has the most love and the least death. This worldview insists government be kept small with the maximum dispersed power in individuals. It insists that its citizens be mutually alleged to liberty’s self-restraint, that its citizens be generally intelligent (able to see thru Progressivism’s strange rube-creation device of Hegel’s maxim designed for tyrants to gain and keep horrible, necrotic power,) be moral and lovers of laws and the US Constitution.

    Why have I written this? Because our choice of Presidents must come from this knowledge. Cruz is clearly not a charismatic person, but he has the “1776-Tragic-Liberty” worldview. Hillary has the Progressive Control worldview. Trump had Hillary’s worldview, and he’s grasping for something and it looks too much like a blend of Tribal and Progressive Control… boiled down to “The Donald Says So.”

    The Bushes always have had Progressive Control ways and memes, but they can lean toward “`1776-Tragic-Liberty” as an overlay. Ronald Reagan was our last “1776-Tragic-Liberty” worldview President.

  • Johnathan Swift Jr.

    Please, enough with this silly term “Islamaphobia!” This is simply a made up bit of political correctness that has been very effectively pioneered by CAIR, which is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood and connected to the terrorist group Hamas. Befitting a terrorist front group, a number of its executives have been deported or tried on terrorism charges. It serves on purpose, that is deny, to wish away the clear and every present connection between Islamic supremacist doctrine and Jihad and terrorism.

    A phobia is of course an irrational fear of something. In this case, they really do want to kill me and all of you too. if they could, they would kill all of us at once, though I am sure many of them would rather they kill us by chopping our heads off with a rusty knife. No, the Jihadists don’t wish to kill because of policy choices the western nations make Mrs. Clinton, they simply want to kill each and every unbeliever and even those other Muslims who are not – in their eyes – sufficiently pious, who are of the wrong sect, who watch football matches on the telly.

    If we spend even a few moments researching Jihad, we shall see that only a fraction of the victims of Jihad are westerners whose nations who have not obeyed the Jihad’s orders not to have a base in the land of Saud or two stop supporting Israel. No,, no, the vast majority of victims of the Jihad are Muslims, which means the notion that this is all about some super sophisticated policy debate within the Jihadist version of Foreign Affairs, is just poppycock. This is all religiously motivated, from top to bottom, but this fact is simply to difficult for the weak willed among is to confront or must be denied by western secularists who have no familiarity with religion and thus have nothing to fill the vacuum.

    The sad reality for those wishing for an Islamic Reformation is that Islam has had its “Reformation” and we are all experiencing it now. It’s just that the reformers idea of reform is to separate each unbelievers head from his or her body, after they rape the women first of course. The Islamic Reformation is a back-to-the-future sort of Reformation that sees the future of Islam in its Medieval roots and the noxious combination of Wahhabist doctrine allied with the ideas from Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood has been spread to a mosque near you with Saudi petro-dollars. A vast number of the mosques in even the United States are connected with the Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Brotherhood, thus allied with Jihad and terrorism.

    The notion of Jihad, has nothing, nothing to do with politics. Yes, any individual Muslim or group can be angered, enraged or further motivated by a particular policy of a nation, but the idea of giving each Jihadist veto power over a nation’s foreign policy or its free speech rights because of the threat of terror – one that is already present – is simply preposterous. If the KKK ordered the re-segregation of the American South tomorrow or else, or else they would terrorize America, would these same craven fools then order all the monuments back up and start getting out the label making machine for the washrooms and drinking fountains?

    There have been about 26,000 Jihadist attacks just since 9/11 around the world, that’s right, 26,000, with the vast majority of victims being Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus in the third world, whose governments are not supporting Israel and whose nations don’t have bases or involvement in the Middle East, so all you “chickens-come-home-to-roost, blowback, we-deserve-it” idiots do not have a leg to stand on.

    There is and has only been one religion where the practice of wading into a crowd of people and blowing oneself up – and everyone else within the range of the shrapnel, nails and ball bearings – has become a widespread practice and that is Islam. I have not heard of Quaker, Methodist, Catholic or Lutheran suicide bombers, bent on mass homicide. This is because this noxious strain of Salafist Islam believes that by killing a few infidels along with may of your fellow Muslims, everyone expect the infidels goes to paradise. It is this suicidal/homicidal practice, this cultural artifact that seems to be so quaint and compelling to the western left, which makes Islamic terrorism so very special and unique and why I guess its practitioners along with those who justify and agree with it must be welcomed in the west as a matter of tolerance. If only the western apologists could be the only victims of this savagery they invite into our midst, but of course, the western elite, or moral exemplars and social superiors are usually as far away from Sharia complaint neighborhoods as humanly possible. If they all want to show us the way, why don’t they sponsor a refugee family of their own?

    Please, get out and travel to the third world or baring that, get an atlas. The Jihadists are active in Thailand for example, which has no history of foreign Imperialism, nor has been Imperialized. They are murdering raping, killing and kidnapping their way across Asia, Africa, across the Maghreb, all over the former Soviet Republics and throughout the west. It is they, the Jihadists who see this as a civilizational struggle and if you take the time to read their doctrine, the works of their theoreticians and take them seriously, rather than dismissing them out of hand, which atheists are wont to do, you will see this clearly. Their ultimate goal is a worldwide caliphate and it doesn’t matter a whit whether any of us see this as a realistic goal because they want to kill you and I and everyone else who is not in favor of a caliphate, every last one of us.

    In the states alone, there have been about eighty ISIS-related plotters arrested in just the last year. The only reason the American President can crow about how rare attacks are and how unlikely each one of us as an individual is to be killed in a terrorist attack is because the west spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year in a security regime to prevent such attacks and has sacrificed our way of life in the process. The lack of the body count that would warm the cockles of the leftist heart, the body count that would actually make Jihad a “realistic concern” for the “cool,” “dispassionate,” “realistic,” American President is NOT because the Jihadists don’t want that body count, don’t want chemical weapons or a dirty bomb or truck bombs, it is because so many plots are interrupted in the far off lands where they are hatched by Navy Seals. members of the SAS, American Special Forces and drone strikes and because they are intercepted in the western lands.

    Fundamentalist Islam and Sharia are simply incompatible with western values and any immigrants or refugees who wish to practice this lifestyle should be kept out on these easy to comprehend terms. if you wish to wrap your wife in a burlap sack, to deny her personhood, if you wish to chop off your daughters sexual apparatus, if you wish to deny your daughters the ability to educate themselves, if you wish to replace the rule of our common and well evolved law with Sharia, the west doesn’t need you. It is really that simple.

    By being “tolerant” to the most intolerant religious philosophy the world has every known, the noxious left is of course instituting a regime of intolerance on its own people, for de-facto Sharia law is already ruling large swaths of nations like England, Belgium, Holland and Sweden. How many Somalis from Minneapolis need to become Jihadists for people in the states to conclude that having a little Mogadishu in its midst may not be a good thing, as the real Mogadishu is not such a glorious place, is it? This is not the dreaded xenophobia, but common sense. The west is awash in migrants and refugees, many, many, many more than it has jobs for, places to live or who they can afford to feed and house.

    Calling a halt to the flood of refugees and migrants is not as labeled, “xenophobic” but now a matter of survival, especially as once the regime of multiculturalism is in place is not a thought given to assimilating any one them, for the idea is that their quaint customs – blowing us all up I presume – is something we can all learn from. In reality, with millions and millions of migrants from the Muslim lands coming north and west, there is no way for anyone to separate those who could make good citizens from those who wish to either spread the caliphate north and west or those who wish to kill us. None. Resistance to Jihad, Jihadists and Jihadism, which is on the march around the world, is not “Islamaphobic,” nor “Xenophobic,” but a matter of the west’s survival.

    • charlesbrown

      A perfect summation, magnificently put.

  • Misanthrope

    The article assumes floods of refugees disrupting Western culture and societies wasn’t Obama’s policy all along.
    That assumption is completely incorrect.

    • Johnathan Swift Jr.

      The Poles believe in the end that Soros is behind it all. But clearly the destabilization of the Middle East and the funding and encouragement that it took to get millions on the road was a planned event, not anything in the least bit spontaneous.

  • HughdePayens

    Stupid much? I have to ask because my goodness how can anyone witness the last 7 years and come to any conclusion other than Obama wanted this to happen. Chaos and fear are features of his foreign policy…not bugs.

    But as one ex-Obama official after another has made clear, we haven’t been doing that over the last seven years—and one of the consequences is the weakening hold of exactly the values that President Obama cares most about over public opinion across the West.

    The values that Obama cares the most about are destroying the West. Everything else is subordinate to that goal. Using that as your premise allows you to predict his next moves in any crisis.

    • Johnathan Swift Jr.

      Yes, the left and the Middle East radicals have been allies since the 1970s. This is nothing new. Like the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the aim seems to be to work assiduously together to destroy Western Civilization first, then to decide who will reign. In the end of course, the leftists will their heads separated from their bodies with the rest of us. They are delusional about the strength of the belief system of the Islamists like they are about the rest of human nature. See below.

  • HughdePayens

    Oh and by the way Jefferson attacked the Muslims when they got out of control.

  • GSR

    “Nativism” is just a snobbish, Neocon word for “patriotism”. Of course I prefer my countrymen to foreigners, is that so unusual? Bullshit.
    “Islamophobia”? Any sane American or Westerner has a touch of RATIONAL fear of Islam – they don’t want themselves and their family and their nations to succumb to an 8th century Arab male sex and death cult.

    But Prez Cool Jazz, aka, President Jug Ears, America’s faux intellectual, along with the UN want to flood Western (that is, Caucasian, Judeo-Christian) countries with 3rd Worlders, especially Mohammedans, in order to “flatten” the world culturally and economically as well as for the more parochial reason of building voting blocs to win elections for years to come by displacing native born citizens with poor, government dependent foreigners, who will vote for more and more Big Government social programs.

    Twenty million need to be deported out of the USA – Latinos, Muslims, Indians, Chinese, Irish, Russians, everyone here illegally. Out ASAP. Don’t’ let the door hit you on your way out.

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