The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

All Gone

During the 2012 presidential debates, Barack Obama criticized Mitt Romney for suggesting: (1) that Russia and Validamir Putin were our geopolitical foes and (2) that the US should have established a Status of Forces Agreement (Obama failed to do so) and maintained a residual military force in Iraq. Obama belittled Romney for such outmoded views. Only one problem. Romney was right and Obama was wrong. On both counts.

The situation in Iraq is devolving rapidly. It is unclear whether Baghdad will fall to the Islamist group ISIS, but if it does, Barack Obama will be left with a task the his bumbling administration appears to be ill-equipped to manage—retreat.

Richard Fernandez comments:
America will also be leaving behind a training effort “billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan — began in October and has already cost $500 million, including $343 million worth of construction projects around the country.”

If the embassy is evacuated as al-Qaeda reaches Baghdad the optics will be atrocious. The very magnificence of the buildings will underscore the magnitude of the defeat. The sheer size of the palaces will make destruction no easy task. For these grand edifices, constructed at so much taxpayer cost must be reduced to total ash by America’s own hand. The taxpayer pays for the matches.
The tree girt gardens

As the US embassy in Saigon prepared to be overrun the incinerators were filled to overflowing with US dollars and classified documents. Liquor stores were smashed. In the event there was not even enough time to destroy everything. Yet by comparison the US Embassy in Saigon is hovel compared to the facility in Baghdad.

North Vietnamese troops as well as intelligence and army officials scoured the abandoned Embassy shortly after taking Saigon on the afternoon of April 30. Over the next several days, they apparently were able to piece together classified documents that had been shredded but not burnt and used these to track down South Vietnamese employees of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In the event Baghdad is overrun, one can only hope the rear guard uses enough C4 to leave not a stone upon a stone. And thermite where appropriate. Until it’s gone. All gone.

But great though the loss of the buildings will be, the blow in terms of intelligence gathering capabilities, networks, facilities and dislocation will be monumental. No one knows how many translators, sub-agents and locals who have risked their lives for the US will be left twisting in the wind. It will be no easy task to thoroughly efface the work of years. Yet it will have to be done if al-Qaeda is not obtain the greatest intelligence windfall of its career. President Obama may find a way to screw that up too, for even to be properly defeated requires a competence he may lack.
The billions thrown away and the lives lost (now apparently for no good reason) are reminiscent of Vietnam. Entry into the Iraq war was a decision made by one president, George W. Bush, and he has been held to account. But Bush adjusted his strategy and ultimately, with the help of David Patraeus,* secured a tenuous victory of sorts for the Iraqi people. It was left to Barack Obama to manage the situation. He has failed miserably. The result is what we see happening today.

Obama's failure comes as no surprise. With no meaningful strategy and even less leadership capability, he and his dumb and dumber national security team have failed in virtually every attempt at foreign policy in the Middle East. They have projected weakness and indecision, have tried to embrace foes and have alienated allies, and have pin-balled from one position to the next. Most important, their results have been atrocious.

I laugh when I hear the trained hamsters in the media discuss "Obama's legacy." What will that be—exactly? What accomplishments will be placed on the list? What "victories" will be mentioned? What achievements will be touted? Obama's legacy is best characterized by the current situation in Iraq—"all gone."


*BTW, am I the only person who wonders: What happened to David Patraeus? Why has he not spoken out on recent events in Iraq as past military commander, or for that matter, on the Bowe Bergdahl controversy as the past head of an intelligence agency? Why is he silent? What threats hang over his head, and who made them? All this because he had an affair with a subordinate? I know, I know, that's really uncommon in Washington. Never happens, right?

But there has to be more—where is he, why is he not speaking out, why has the media not pursued him for comment? Lots of question. No answers.