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The president is on vacation, so the country is safer for a few weeks. This is 2015′s last roundup for him.
Krauthammer writes on the president’s “legacy of fakery.”
Last Saturday, Barack Obama gained the second jewel in his foreign policy triple crown: the Paris climate accord. It follows his Iran nuclear deal and awaits but the closing of Guantanamo to complete his glittering legacy.
To be sure, Obama will not be submitting the climate agreement for Senate ratification. It would have no chance of passing — as with the Iranian nuclear deal, also never submitted for the Senate ratification Obama knew he’d never get. And if he does close Guantanamo, it will be in defiance of overwhelming bipartisan congressional opposition.
You see, visionary thinkers like Obama cannot be bound by normal constitutional strictures. Indeed, the very unpopularity of his most cherished diplomatic goals is proof of their prophetic farsightedness.
Yet the climate deal brought back from Paris by Secretary of State John Kerry turns out to be no deal at all. It is, instead, a series of carbon-reducing promises made individually and unilaterally by the world’s nations.
No enforcement, no sanctions, nothing legally binding. No matter, explained Kerry on “Fox News Sunday”: “This mandatory reporting requirement . . . is a serious form of enforcement, if you will, of compliance, but there is no penalty for it, obviously.”
If you think that’s gibberish, you’re not alone. Retired NASA scientist James Hansen, America’s leading carbon abolitionist, indelicately called the whole deal “bulls—.”
He’s right. …
Mark Steyn comments on the court martial of Bowe Bergdahl and the surreal scene with his parents and the Fool.
… The deserter may get his just deserts, but what of the man who made the “deal” for him and then honored the deserter with a Rose Garden photo-op with his Taliban-supporting dad. As I wrote on June 6th 2014:
The justification for Bergdahl Snr’s wacky behavior – the Taliban beard, the invocations of Allah, the Arabic and Pushtu, the pledge that the death of every Afghan child will be avenged – the justification for all this is that, well, he’s also been under a lot of strain. He hasn’t seen his kid for half-a-decade. That could unhinge anyone. Give the guy a break…
But the point is he was pulling this strange stuff before his son was kidnapped.
Which makes that Rose Garden ceremony even more bizarre in its weird optics – the President of the United States embracing a Taliban sympathizer at the White House. There was no need to hold such an intimate photo-op. Yet Obama chose to do it. Why?
Given what the United States Government knew about Bergdahl at the time of that ceremony, ignorance of who he was is not a plausible explanation. …
The Federalist Blog catches the NY Times hiding bad news about the president.
… A story published by the New York Times late Thursday night caused some major media waves. The story, which was written by reporters Peter Baker and Gardiner Harris, included a remarkable admission by Obama about his response to the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
By Friday morning, however, the entire passage containing Obama’s admission had been erased from the story without any explanation from the New York Times. …
Writing in WaPo, Dan Lamothe points out why it matters that Chuck Hagel is trashing the White House. Even someone as dense as Hagel can figure out we are worse than leaderless.
When Chuck Hagel resigned as defense secretary last year, the narrative was clear: President Obama and he did not see eye-to-eye on how to prosecute the war against the Islamic State, so Hagel needed to go. White House officials, speaking anonymously, said at the time that the president had lost faith in Hagel’s ability to lead — a charge that Hagel’s advisers brushed aside.
Now, a little over a year later, Hagel is swinging back. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published Friday, he said he remains puzzled why White House officials tried to “destroy” him personally in his last days in office, adding that he was convinced the United States had no viable strategy in Syria and was particularly frustrated with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who he said would hold meetings and focus on “nit-picky” details.
“I eventually got to the point where I told Susan Rice that I wasn’t going to spend more than two hours in these meetings,” Hagel told Foreign Policy. “Some of them would go four hours.”
Hagel said the administration struggled with how to handle Syria — hardly a surprise, given the way Obama said in August 2012 that it would be a “red line” for the United States if Syria moved or used its chemical weapons stockpiles, but did not intervene militarily the following year when Syria did so. Hagel said that hurt Obama’s credibility, even if declared stockpiles eventually were removed through an agreement reached with Damascus.
“Whether it was the right decision or not, history will determine that,” Hagel told Foreign Policy. “There’s no question in my mind that it hurt the credibility of the president’s word when this occurred.” …
The Washington Post editors call attention to Iran’s provocations and the do-nothing administration.
IRAN IS following through on the nuclear deal it struck with a U.S.-led coalition in an utterly predictable way: It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100 billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas — and daring the West to respond.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response to these provocations has also been familiar. It is doing its best to downplay them — and thereby encouraging Tehran to press for still-greater advantage. …
Before Hagel’s blast, Bob Gates suggested in a WaPo OpEd we do not want another president like this one. The story is from Market Watch.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been on a tear denouncing his most recent commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama.
His latest salvo came last week in a blistering op-ed in the Washington Post. Gates painted a picture of what our next president must be simply by listing, bullet point by bullet point, everything that Obama is not.
The next president, according to the Gates opinion piece, must understand the form of government we have and the need to build coalitions with the other two branches of government to get things done.
He or she needs to speak truthfully to the American people, not spin everything; must be resolute, not draw red lines without the firm intention of backing them up; must be a pragmatic problem solver, not an agenda-driven ideologue like our, ahem, most recent presidents; and must be restrained, in rhetoric and in his or her attitude toward the other branches of government.
Above all, according to Gates’s conclusion, the next president must be a unifier of the country and restore civility to the political process. …
… If nothing else, however, his experience in intelligence, on the National Security Council and as head of the Pentagon makes him one of the most seasoned analysts of foreign policy and national security that we have. So when he suggests we need someone as our next president with different qualities of leadership than those possessed by Barack Obama, it bears listening to.
Abe Greenwald sums up in Commentary. Saying on Barry’s watch we have had; the meltdown of Syria, the rise of ISIS, the worst refugee crisis of our time, and homegrown terror in the United States.
Three days after ISIS’s mass-casualty assault on Paris, Barack Obama proclaimed that the U.S. policy he had authorized to defeat the terrorist organization was nonetheless working. “We have the right strategy,” he told reporters who had come with him to Turkey for the G-20 Summit, “and we’re gonna see it through.” The international press was incredulous. The president seemed to be standing behind his claim, made the day before the attacks, that ISIS was “contained.” How could Obama still say that the fight was succeeding? Reporters fired back with a series of questions. An AFP correspondent set the tone: “One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in Paris on Friday night,” he said. “ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre, sending the message that they could now target civilians all over the world. The equation has clearly changed. Isn’t it time for your strategy to change?”
It was the thought on everyone’s mind—and it seemed to offend the leader of the free world. He became impatient, and assured one journalist after another he was correct. By the time CNN’s Jim Acosta asked bluntly, “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” Obama was in high dudgeon.
“If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan,” he said. “If they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my joint chiefs of staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate.”
Eighteen days later, on December 2, U.S. citizen Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot up a party at the InlandRegionalCenter in San Bernardino, California. They killed 14 people, wounded 21 others, and were discovered to have built an arsenal of pipe bombs in their apartment. As information on the couple trickled in that Wednesday afternoon, Obama was giving an interview to CBS News about national security. “ISIL will not pose an existential threat to us. They are a dangerous organization like al-Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses,” he said. “The American people should feel confident that, you know, we are going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday and go about our lives.” Two days later, authorities discovered that Malik had pledged fealty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
It is no longer in dispute that the president has been overtaken by events. While he alternately scolds and reassures, ISIS fights on, gaining power and claiming lives.
But Obama has not been blindsided; he has chosen policies that have emboldened ISIS and has rejected other options at every turn. In fact, his words in Turkey were patently false. Obama doesn’t need an introduction to those who would have done things differently; he knows them well. They include two of his secretaries of defense, his former under secretary of defense, his former secretary of state, his former head of the CIA, his former Army chief of staff, the last commanding general of forces in Iraq, his former ambassador to Syria, his former deputy national-security adviser, and, yes, even his former joint chiefs chairman—among others. …
… All these issues, however, are but manifestations of the larger encumbering reality: Barack Obama’s theological opposition to exercising effective American power abroad. The president’s inflexibility on that point has nurtured the rise of ISIS and tied our hands in the fight against it. But, with so few prudent options left, his stubbornness may have made a larger conflict with ISIS inevitable, either during the remainder of his term or after it. If so, Obama will have worked for eight years to avert a fate his very actions have summoned.
Today, the president still dismisses significant “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria as a nonstarter. On December 6, Obama spoke from the Oval Office, saying, “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria.” He then added this bizarre coda: “That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield.” ISIS wants to engage the United States in a war in order to lose? And we should therefore resist the fight? This is theology outweighing logic.
Perhaps in this period of post-Bush America, however, a ground war against ISIS really is out of the question. But we should be clear about something. ISIS controls vast swaths of land, out in the open. In adopting the structure of a state, the group has given up some measure of the asymmetrical advantage enjoyed by terrorists who traditionally “melt away” into the shadows after an attack; ISIS, in short, can be targeted and defeated like a state. If an American commander in chief cannot even countenance deploying ground soldiers and Marines to defeat a state comprising the worst terrorist threat we’ve ever faced, then we might have finally forfeited our last defense against evil. We are in the final year of a presidency that unwittingly midwifed a monster.