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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Modus Operandi

In the foreign policy realm, there's a consistent modus operandi that is applied by Barack Obama and his Team of 2s.
  1. When a difficult decision must be made—delay. Suggest that this is being done to "study" the situation and make a good decision." Imply that those who think that immediate action is required are "politically motivated" and therefore "neo-cons" who don't understand 'soft power.'
  2. When no decision is forthcoming, suggest that making a decision will ensnare the United States in a "war," that the American public is "war weary," and that anyone who demands both a decision and action is a "war monger."
  3. If you establish a "red line," keep moving it. If the final "red line" is crossed, disregard the red line altogether.
  4. As events escalate because of a lack of decisions (some would say lack of will) and more important, a lack of action, make a half-hearted, knowingly ineffective effort to address the situation.
  5. When your minimum effort fails to address the situation, suggest that there is only a choice between "bad outcomes," so inaction is both wise and desirable.
  6. Allow your adversaries (Russia, Iran, China) to intervene in negative ways (e.g., providing weapons to other bad actors) without any consequences. Never initiate actions that would result in negative consequences for your adversaries.
  7. Finally, lie. Tell the American public that lack of action has lead to success, even as news accounts indicate that events are now escalating out of control.
This modus operandi has lead to chaos in the Middle East and may very well have irreversibly changed the situation on the ground. Bret Stephens is one of Barack Obama's harshest critics (with very good reason). He comments on the only country in the Middle East that elicits Obama's antipathy:
Recent conversations with senior Israeli officials are shot through with a sense of incredulity. They can’t understand what’s become of U.S. foreign policy. They don’t know how to square Barack Obama’s promises with his policies. They fail to grasp how a president who pledged to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is pushing an accord with Tehran that guarantees their proliferation. They are astonished by the nonchalance with which the administration acquiesces in Iran’s regional power plays, or in al Qaeda’s gains in Yemen, or in the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical weapons, or in the battlefield successes of ISIS, or in Russia’s decision to sell advanced missiles to Tehran. They wonder why the president has so much solicitude for Ali Khamenei’s political needs, and so little for Benjamin Netanyahu’s. In a word, the Israelis haven’t yet figured out that what America is isn’t what America was. They need to start thinking about what comes next.
Actually, once you understand Obama's modus operandi, the incredulity disappears. What comes next from the Obama administration is exactly what has preceded it. Therefore, over the next 20 months  there is no hope that Barack Obama will change his modus operandi. One can only hope that the damage he does is reversible.