Lincoln * Institute

Colin A. Hanna

Colin A. Hanna

Let Freedom Ring, USA


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Let Freedom Ring

Obama Foreign Policy: Four False Premises

by Colin Hanna

On Monday night, President Obama announced the beginning of an anti-ISIS bombing campaign. Just prior to this, the YouGov polling firm that tracks Presidential approval on Foreign Policy, recorded its second lowest approval number ever — only 36% approval and 56% disapproval. Will this bombing campaign produce the kind of increase in support that we typically see whenever this country begins a major military action? I would suggest that the answer depends on whether one sees this limited military engagement as a better-late-than-never effort to address the horrific beheadings and other atrocities being committed by the so-called Islamic State, or just one more step in the continual collapse of the Obama foreign policy.

While a short-term bump in approval should be expected, I predict that it won't last, because the Obama foreign policy really is collapsing, and it's collapsing because it has always rested upon fallacious assumptions, attitudes and actions. I'll outline four of the most egregious:

First, he appears to truly believe the na´ve hypothesis that if we were just nicer to our adversaries, they'd be nicer to us.

Second, and similarly, he has embraced the weakening of our military in the unfounded hope that we'd be seen as a friendlier nation by the rest of the world if only we weren't so strong;

Third is the Obama administration's willful blindness to the profound (and growing) threats of Jihadism, and expansionism and militarism by both Russia and China, and

Fourth he has undermined alliances that have endured for generations with countries like Israel, the United Kingdom and Germany, creating a widening mistrust of America among our friends and the virtual evaporation of fear of military retaliation among our adversaries. At this point no one in the world can believe the US, which means our diplomacy cannot work. Examples of this are his abrogation of the 1994 "Budapest Memorandum" — a mutual support agreement among Russia, Ukraine, the US and the UK — and the almost childish rhetorical Red Line he drew in Syria, and then almost immediately ignored its breach and even denied its origins and authorship.

Now we are told that he is personally approving bombing targets, bringing back awful memories of President Johnson doing the same thing in Vietnam. I wonder if he is also responsible for the timing decision to bomb buildings used by ISIS leaders at night, when they could be expected to be empty.

General Michael Hayden, retired Air Force four star and former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, has said that this new campaign may be less significant than it initially appeared. Not only are the specific targets few in number, but also other restrictions imposed on the military by the Obama Administration will hamper its effectiveness — and no bombing campaign alone will ever root out indigenous terrorists who can easily melt back into the population from which they came. As the American public catches on to the inherent fecklessness of trying to defeat terrorists from the air, whatever benefit of the doubt they may grant the President in September is likely to bleed away in a month or two — just when the President hoped he'd have it to save a Democratic majority in the united States Senate. Thus the bombing campaign will almost certainly fail in the Middle East and on Capitol Hill, likely sending President Obama into the weakest lame duck final two years of any presidency in recent memory. He'll probably pull back from any further military initiatives and instead undertake a fresh round of domestic radicalism. That won't be good for America.

Let's hope that he has to face a newly Republican Senate as well as a Republican House of Representatives. Then he will have to veto bills, rather than blame his Administration's dysfunction on Congress.