People want one thing out of their elected officials – they want them to stand for what they said they were going to stand for when they were elected. Syria has illuminated just how far statist presidents have deviated from that fundamental concept.
They are confusing Americans. They are confusing the world. They need to state an honest position and stick with it.
It is axiomatic that anytime there is a discussion about balanced budgets, the statists propose no cuts to welfare spending and all cuts to military. The anti-war movement largely resides in the Democrat base, at least at election time. That’s fine, but if you want to slash military spending and apply deep sequester cuts that limit our arms purchases and training for our soldiers, then you have an extra duty not to expend those limited resources wastefully.
Candidate Obama campaigned on a clear position that we should not be involved in foreign wars, and we should not be nation building. When the Arab Spring broke across North Africa, President Obama found a new appreciation for his ability to launch missiles into the middle of sovereign nations with a single phone call. He did not seek approval of Congress, but decided on his own what he would do with taxpayers’ resources and soldiers’ lives.
His unilateral decision had disastrous consequences. The Muslim Brotherhood took over three countries, and is on the verge of dismantling the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Accord, which had been the one stabilizing force in an otherwise tragically unstable part of the world.
Now the U.S. is in Syria and President Obama has declared a new foreign policy position: If a president of a sovereign nation uses chemical weapons, a U.S. military response is appropriate.
Of course, the fact that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons repeatedly on his people made no difference to Barack Obama’s resolve that his predecessor, George Bush’s actions in Iraq were wholly unjustified.
Any time there is a foreign conflict, the world looks to U.S. leadership. Once the U.S. has staked a position, other countries decide whether to join or not. When George Bush determined that Saddam Hussein had crossed a “red line” in Iraq, he went to Congress and received support. He also went to NATO and the U.N. and received support. Agree or don’t with Bush, that is the proper constitutional procedure, plus. That is a demonstration of a government that is accountable to others and the people who elected it.
Candidate Obama campaigned on a promise to stop the “endless wars” and to “invest in people” and not the “military industrial complex.” He said he would “close Gitmo.” The message was clear, and he won the most powerful seat in the world on these clear positions.
Barack Obama now has declared a red line of his own, but he has support of almost no one except France and John McCain. It is almost sad to watch the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president who was the toast of the world when he was elected, suddenly find that he really has zero effectiveness in foreign policy. Where is the love?
The reason Obama has no support for his foreign policy includes the fact that he has no clear foreign policy. What is the Obama doctrine? He was against nation building, but if creating no fly zones in sovereign nations and shooting Tomahawk missiles off of U.S. warships into foreign lands is not nation building, what is it?
Obama has chosen sides three times and built three nations with disastrous consequences. Now he has taken a clear side in a fourth. Additionally, famously Islamic yet secular Turkey is poised to become the newest Shariah law nation. Is this because of Obama’s clear policy or despite him? Either way, this quagmire is now his legacy.
The groups perhaps most betrayed are the “peace movement people” who thought he was their guy. They hated Bush because he invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. At least when Bush used the military, it was a surprise to no one who voted for him. Republicans, by and large, support the military and a more aggressive foreign policy. There is a deep vein in the Republican Party of people who love American ideals and whose hearts bleed for people suffering under tyranny. When they see Saddam Hussein, or Kim Jong Il, they see modern Hitlers and say “never again.” Constitutionalists believe in the right to life not just for Americans, but for people suffering around the world regardless of race or religion. So when a tyrant uses chemical weapons on his people, liberty-minded people often chomp at the bit to engage. At least John McCain is consistent while his former Senate colleague is totally inconsistent.
Perhaps the biggest black mark on this inconsistency is the Clinton legacy in Rwanda. Clinton declared that his red line was genocide. Fair enough. He certainly was critical of Bush 41, but he did not campaign as a peacenik. So when Clinton chose sides in the former Yugoslavia conflicts he found broad support from Republicans for stopping apparent genocide by the Serbians against their Islamic countrymen. These hostilities were complex. People groups with atrocities on both sides had been in conflict for generations. They were in conflict again, now that the yoke of Soviet control had been removed. The predominantly Christian Serbians had the upper hand, and they wanted their Islamic neighbors to move. Whether the goal was total extermination is subject to broad debate. There was another genocide that was similarly complex but far simpler.
While thousands, even tens of thousands, died in Croatia, Rwanda reached a level not seen since Hitler. The Hutus decided they better slaughter the Tutsis before the Tutsis slaughtered them. There is no dispute whatsoever that the policy of the Hutus was total genocide. The weapon of choice was the machete. The typical attack was to invade a village or refugee camp and hack the children to death in front of their parents, then the wives and husbands last. There terror was hard to imagine. Before they were done, somewhere between 500,000 and a staggering 1 million Tutsis were dead.
President Clinton, the “first black president” did nothing. While only Clinton can know that his inaction in the face of the Hutus spitting on his red line was due to the skin color of the victims, the religion of the victims, the lack of large oil reserves or other U.S. strategic interest, the world learned the U.S. red lines, at least with Democrat presidents, are not trigger switches at all.
While Obama stews in the soup of his making, the world waits for leadership. The peaceniks who voted for him have every right to expect more. The best move for Obama is to cease any idea of military sanctions in Syria, if for no other reason than to honor his campaign promises.
Personal war making is despotism. For the leader of the free world to personally launch missiles into foreign lands without the consent of Congress or any international body for anything other than a direct attack on the U.S. is wrong, especially after that president campaigned against that precise behavior.