Monday, October 24, 2011

Foreign Policy Successes

I won’t bother to link to them, because it isn’t hard to find articles referring to Obama’s “four foreign policy successes in the past six months.” And what are these successes? They are the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the death of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster and death, and ending this nation’s involvement in Iraq on schedule. Three deaths and the failure to break a previous administration’s treaty.

I’m not saying that the end of Osama Bin Laden is not a good thing, but is it really a “foreign policy success” for Obama? How does a military incursion into another nation without its permission to assassinate a terrorist have anything to do with foreign policy? Unless it is a statement that our foreign policy is that we have no foreign policy; that we go anywhere we want to go and do anything we want to do.

In Libya we set out to do something while vigorously denying that we were trying to do it, even though we were so transparently trying to do it that the entire world knew we were lying about it. Then when it happened we claimed we not only intended to do it but led the way on doing it, thereby making our foreign policy look dishonest as well as idiotic. And we pissed off our allies who actually did do it, all of which is hardly my definition of a “foreign policy success.”

Democrats are bemoaning that his “recent foreign policy successes won’t help him in the election.” I think that’s probably true. As a campaign slogan, “I can kill more people than my opponent can” (or “I have killed…”) is a bit lacking in empathy. It will probably not help him much to talk about how hard he tried to keep troops in Iraq past the 2011 deadline set by Bush, either, and how he finally decided to give up and keep to the Bush/Maliki timetable for withdrawal. Exactly how Democrats are painting that as an Obama success sort of escapes me.

I would be delighted if supporters touted "foreign policy successes" which actually were foreign policy and which actually were successes, and I understand the concept of political spin and have no real problem with it. But when spin devolves into the realm of the Rovian “we create our own reality” it’s no longer merely spin, it’s just plain old fashioned bullshit. I’m going to call out that bullshit whether it comes from those whose principles
I basically oppose or when, as with these “foreign policy successes,” it comes from those whose policies I more generally support.

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