Wars Are Long, Kids. So Tuck In and Have Better Ideas.


Apparently I’m not the only one who heard a little subtext in Obama’s press conference yesterday that sounded not unlike, “Hey y’all, this war ain’t going nowhere, sad to say. We’re gonna see some bombings. But we’ve got better ideas and, long term, we’re better and we will, because of that very fact, be victorious. Some day.”

But, as Allapundit at puts it, weak leadership is that one tricky variable that makes “The West is the best!” talk sound a little like whistling in the dark (emphasis mine).

This is the sort of thing you say when you’re trying to break it to people that victory in the new war won’t come soon, and may not come ever. It’s the foreign policy equivalent of another of Obama’s favorite sayings, the old leftist bromide about being on “the wrong side of history”: The enemy’s backwardness is plain and our moral superiority is obvious, so ultimate triumph is assured even in the teeth of immediate defeat. All I could think of while watching this was those photos you see online sometimes of Afghanistan or Iran circa 1960, with all the women in blouses and skirts, and photos of the same two countries today, with women in head coverings or even full burqas. Better ideas don’t always win. Especially if they’re defended by weak leadership.

And there’s little evidence to suggest that Allahpundit is off the mark when he suggests Obama’s strategy is to run out the clock and leave the steaming bag of excrement that is our involvement in the Middle East right smack dab in the center of the Resolute Desk on his way out the door.

For Obama, the Answer to the Iran Question is Clear. The Middle East Isn’t as Optimistic.

Iran nukes

As I write this, President Obama is speaking from the Rose Garden — very proudly — of the preliminary deal that has been reached with Iran in the nuclear talks that some predicted might be pushed back to this summer:

The talks have been on shaky ground in recent days, with U.S. lawmakers worried Iran was making unreasonable demands and some even urging the U.S. delegation to “walk away” from the negotiating table.

Even the White House warned that they were prepared to do so if Iran did not start negotiating in good faith.

Pressured by congressional critics in the U.S. who threaten to impose new sanctions on Iran over what they say is a bad emerging deal, the Obama administration is demanding significant public disclosure of agreements and understandings reached at the current round. But the officials say Iran wants a minimum made public.

The talks resumed several hours after a flurry of marathon overnight sessions between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as other meetings among the six powers.

Details are still emerging but one thing seems certain: President Obama is selling this as a great win for diplomacy, and not the scary pathway to the bomb so many fear it is.

“Our work is not yet done,” says Obama.

Let’s hope that’s true because the people in the region that have a real, pressing interest in the relative power of the IRanian regime, are understandably concerned.

The Senate Letter to Iran is Dumb, But Not Unprecedented


In case you still consider the left to be great defenders of free speech, please be advised that nearly half the US Senate is being accused of treason for the heinous crime of writing a letter.

That letter, written by the junior senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, was sent to Iran. In it, Cotton and the other 46 signatories lay out the constitutional case that a potential nuclear disarmament (or armament, depending on your perspective) deal must be approved by Congress. Here is the full letter:


Cotton is right, of course. While the chief executive conducts foreign policy, he can only make treaties with the consent of 2/3 of the US Senate. But that’s precisely what makes this so silly and pointless.

Why would Cotton & Co bother pointing this out to Iran? His chamber has the last say on any deal with Iran. If anyone needs to be reminded of that, it’s the White House, who has suggested otherwise. To go around the White House and engage a foreign government directly, especially while negotiations are ongoing, is petty and unseemly.

Obama Strategically Waits for the Middle East to Catch Up to Civilization

modern medieval

Despite already having the ability — as he has been more than willing to mention — to wage war without asking for Congressional approval, President Obama nonetheless is trying to get a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) passed on The Hill, something that is proving controversial to both sides of the aisle.

From a three-year limit to a check on launching “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling Obama’s proposal either too restrictive or too broad — but few are calling it just right.

Those on the right wonder if the three-year time frame — which will bleed over into the term of the next president — doesn’t tie the hands of the executive office (bearing in mind Obama has made great use of that same executive privilege he would limit after he leaves office). It also turns our engagement in the region into a very dispassionate drone war, assuming we still have an interest in the region at all. Those on the left actually — oddly — argue the exact opposite: that the new AUMF gives the president too much power to say how and who we fight.

The New Appeasement: Obama’s emerging deal with Iran

Obama and Iran

As news is emerging about the President’s deal with Iran — one that has become less a plan to stop that nation from becoming nuclear capable and is now a debate “over the scope of that [nuclear] capability…” — the world is starting to look a lot more dangerous, leaving non-interventionists and libertarians both angry and betrayed depending on their prior allegiance. Yes, that same President who so aggressively wanted to get our boys out of Iraq and Afghanistan, has looked the other way and perhaps even aided the proliferation of dangerous weapons of war — and he’s done it nearly unilaterally:

●First, a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.

●Second, in the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies.

●Finally, the Obama administration is signaling that it will seek to implement any deal it strikes with Iran — including the suspension of sanctions that were originally imposed by Congress — without a vote by either chamber. Instead, an accord that would have far-reaching implications for nuclear proliferation and U.S. national security would be imposed unilaterally by a president with less than two years left in his term.

Yes, Rand Paul is the future of the GOP

Over at the American Spectator, Reid Smith and Jamie Weinstein (so much for that “I before E” rule, right?), debate whether Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party.

Smith takes the pro-Paul position in his part, “A New Age of Liberty,” in which he touts the libertarian scion’s innovative tactics and positions and success in just three years in the Senate. Weinstein takes the anti-Paul side, under the head “GOP Less Libertarian Thank You Think,” using more concrete examples, but making less sense doing it.

Weinstein’s main point against Rand Paul is ideological, and no surprise, focuses on the area where he differs most sharply with  party leadership: foreign policy. He argues that while Paul turned heads with his drone filibuster and then helped defeat the authorization of force in Syria resolution, the Syria result was an exception, and the continued support for military action against Iranian nuclear capability is the rule. Paul didn’t tilt the party more isolationist, Weinstein claims, people just didn’t like the options in Syria. While a convincing argument, we have another data point now with which we can test this theory: Ukraine.

Followingly less than a year after the Syria debate, 56% of Americans say we should “not get too involved” in Russia’s annexation of Ukraine either. And while 67% of Republicans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the situation so far, 50% say it’s important we don’t get involved.

Rand Paul nixes new Iran sanctions during negotations

Just a few weeks ago, it looked like Congress was going to overwhelmingly pass new Iran sanctions while the Obama administration was still negotiating with the prospective nuclear nation over their enrichment program. That hit a brick wall this week as Senator Rand Paul became the first Republican to denounce the idea:

I’ve been for sanctions. I have voted for sanctions in the past, to try to get the Iranians to negotiate. I think while they’re negotiating, and if we can see that they’re negotiating in good faith, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pass sanctions while we’re in the midst of negotiations.

Now it looks like there may not even be a vote on new sanctions until this summer. Even under a Democrat-led Senate, it’s an entirely new thing for this kind of dithering and delay on Iran issues. However, coming less than a year after the failed Syria military intervention idea, it’s becoming clearer that the American people and even their representatives may be weary of perpetual global police action at our expense.

Rift with Saudi Arabia Bad for the American Economy

It’s a topic libertarians are generally not eager to discuss but, while everyone’s focused on healthcare and immigration, perhaps now’s a good time to talk about foreign policy and some rather stunning developments in the middle east that seem to suggest the US continues to lose influence and respect in the region. Saudi Arabia, in what many consider an almighty snub, has refused a seat on the UN Security Council and, at the risk of piling on, it appears that the Obama administration is to blame.

What should worry the Obama administration is that Saudi concern about U.S. policy in the Middle East is shared by the four other traditional U.S. allies in the region: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. They argue (mostly privately) that Obama has shredded U.S. influence by dumping President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, backing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, opposing the coup that toppled Morsi, vacillating in its Syria policy, and now embarking on negotiations with Iran — all without consulting close Arab allies.

While The Huffington Post was quick to declare satisfaction over Saudi Arabia’s “international hissy fit,” their assertion that the declining relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia was a minor non-event since the two countries don’t really need each other in the ways that count sounds a bit contrived.

Obama goes to skeptical Congress for Syria intervention

Barack Obama

In what was a welcome development, President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he would make the case to a skeptical Congress to authorize military intervention in Syria, following an example set late last week by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable,” said President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.

“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action,” he continued, referencing the failed vote that took place on Thursday in Parliament.

“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective,” he added. “We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy.”

Rand Paul outlines constitutional, conservative foreign policy

Rand Paul

There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.

Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”

It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”

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