The Obama Undoctrine

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by markomalley

Afghanistan is lost, Iraq and Libya are in the middle of civil wars, Russia is carving off pieces of Ukraine and China is escalating its conflict with the rest of Asia. There isn’t a single element of Obama’s foreign policy that has proven successful. Instead it’s been one international disaster after another.

Obama just smiles into the camera and announces that “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world.” Anyone who disagrees is engaging in partisan politics. Or reading statistics.

Having signed off on Iran’s nuclear program while its Supreme Leader boasts that the holy war will only end with America’s destruction, he claims that the “odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low.”

“From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations,” he proclaims. Meanwhile Russia and China humiliate our European and Asian allies for their worthless alliance hub.

“When a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help,” he boasts.

And yet the masked men go on occupying buildings and Boko Haram goes on killing Nigerians. America has never been stronger than under Obama. And yet it’s incapable of actually doing anything, except maybe joining New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, Israel and Chile in providing disaster aid to the Philippines.

And if that doesn’t work, he can always sanction the typhoon. It should do as much to stop the wall of water it as it did to stop Russia and Iran.

Obama’s speeches come from a world that exists only inside his own teleprompter. Another leader might have been reeling from a string of international failures, but he boldly triumphs over reality. The worse things are, the bigger the party he throws to celebrate his victories.

Obama’s speech focuses on Afghanistan, but never mentions the Taliban. Imagine an FDR speech that pretended that Japan didn’t exist. That’s the depth of denial it takes for Obama to claim victory.


After using up the lives of 1,600 American soldiers fighting the Taliban without ever defeating them, he takes a victory lap for defeating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when the CIA had told him back in 2009 that there were at most 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

Thousands of Americans have been lost to an enemy whose existence Obama won’t even acknowledge as he takes another victory lap for losing another war.

With the VA scandal reminding everyone that he doesn’t just throw away the lives of soldiers abroad, but also at home, Obama is changing the subject with one Mission Accomplished speech after another. Like a politician caught with his mistress who begins taking his wife everywhere, he is suddenly in love with the military and can’t get enough photo ops with anyone wearing a uniform.

Even if they work for the post office.

In Obama’s teleprompter reality, a withdrawal is equivalent to success. Setting a withdrawal timeline with no regard for results deserves a victory parade. He wants credit for withdrawing from Afghanistan by the end of his term. Not only is he repeating the timeline mistake of his disastrous surge, but the timeline is once again pegged to a political, rather than a strategic, date.

Obama takes credit for troop removals, rather than outcomes. But if he doesn’t care that Al Qaeda in Iraq is more powerful than ever or that the Taliban control the future of Afghanistan, why didn’t he immediately withdraw the troops? Are we supposed to cheer his inability to either commit to winning a war or pull out? Is indecisiveness the virtue of a great leader?

Do we really need more applause lines about how long it took him to lose a war?

The West Point commencement address dresses up past failures as new successes and lays out a vision for the future by a lame duck leader who has failed at every foreign policy initiative. The address is an expanded version of his 2002 anti-war speech as a Chicago state senator that first brought him to the attention of his future backers. It straddles an awkward line between anti-war and interventionism.

Twelve years later, Obama hasn’t changed.

He’s still posturing as a fake centrist by setting up interventionist and isolationist straw men on both sides. Instead of defending his policies on their merits, he tries to make them seem reasonable by depicting his critics on the right and the left as extremists. After six years of foreign affairs failures, Obama is still talking as if he’s the “reasonable” centrist trying to steer a”‘sensible common sense” path.

At least those are the favorite buzzwords that his speechwriters throw in to influence the “folks.”

Obama wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants applause for being an interventionist and for being a non-interventionist. In one sentence he sounds like JFK and in another like Eugene McCarthy.

He wants to send in the troops and then get credit for pulling them out. He wants to threaten other countries and then appease them at the negotiating table. He wants to set red lines he doesn’t stand behind and apply sanctions that mean nothing. And he wants to pass off this game in which the bad guys always win and America always loses as his smart power doctrine.

That’s not a doctrine. That’s an undoctrine.

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