Saturday, June 14, 2014
Election Timetable Governance
Obamacare became law in 2010. Except for a few popular provisions (e.g. - "children" being eligible for coverage on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26), it did not take effect until three years later, after Obama's reelection was safely past. The timing was no coincidence. Foreseeable damage caused by a bad law does not benefit the law's eponymous candidate.
The tail wags the dog. Obama's campaign strategy drives his policymaking. Obama ordered the Afghan surge in 2010 and concurrently announced that, successful or not, it would end by September, 2012, two convenient months before the election. Then, as a further signal to the Taliban that patience was virtue, and their path to victory, Obama let them know that the U.S. would be abandoning Afghanistan by the end of 2016. This way he could claim to have "ended" the war before leaving office, notwithstanding that the war will be far from over. On the contrary, it will undoubtedly worsen and spread once we're gone.
As it has in Iraq. An Obama re-election tactic was for him to be able to say that he ended American involvement in that war. The last troops left Iraq in December, 2011 giving Obama his campaign talking point throughout 2012. Good politics, bad policy. Our absence has caused civilian deaths to spike in 2013 to about 9500 from about 4000 in 2011. The 2014 body count will be substantially higher yet. The resurgent terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has overrun Fallujah and Mosul and now threatens Baghdad. Territory previously won at a terribly high cost is now in the hands of the enemy. A catastrophic civil war is nearly inevitable.
Obama is not only inept, he's delusional, repeatedly stating that Al-Qaeda is "decimated", and "on the run". WSJ's Daniel Henninger points out the discrepancy between those assessments and on-the-ground reality.
Last month this is what Barack Obama said to the 1,064 graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy: "Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda's leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated."
That let-the-sunshine-in line must have come back to the cadets, when news came Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban, who operate in that border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, had carried out a deadly assault on the main airport in Karachi, population 9.4 million. To clarify, the five Taliban Mr. Obama exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are Afghan Taliban who operate on the other side of the border.
Obama was hoping that Iraq would hold together until he left office. He didn't foresee Iraq degenerating so rapidly. Or, even if it did, he figured he could play his trump card - "Bush did it." That canard has indeed been rolled out by some of his flacks. Blaming Bush is particularly contemptible because it's been the driving force behind Obama's indifference towards Iraq. Since Bush "owned" Iraq, Obama would be immune to charges that he lost it. If the Iraq project succeeded, good. Obama would take credit. If not, even better. It was Bush's war.
Henninger again --
Now if you want to vent about " George Bush's war," be my guest. But George Bush isn't president anymore. Barack Obama is because he wanted the job and the responsibilities that come with the American presidency. Up to now, burying those responsibilities in the sand has never been in the job description.
Fouad Ajami writing in today's WSJ --
Mr. Obama...was eager to give up the gains the U.S. military and the Bush administration had secured in Iraq. (He did not) possess the generosity of spirit to give his predecessors the credit they deserved for what they had done in that treacherous landscape.
The great tragedy of this quagmire is that it was totally avoidable. When Obama took office in 2009, the war in Iraq was essentially over and we had won. The country was largely at peace. Al-Qaeda had been dealt a devastating defeat and the groundwork had been laid for a long term American-Iraqi alliance. All that was needed was to finalize a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two countries with the maintenance of a sufficiently strong American military presence at its core (much like the ones we have with South Korea and Germany). This should have been a slam dunk as the heavy lifting had already been accomplished with the successful surge of 2007-2008. That strategy, which was courageously ordered by George W. Bush and skillfully and even more courageously executed by American troops, is what won the war. When the possibility of creating a free, democratic Iraq still existed in 2010, the Obama administration was ready and willing to take credit. Ever the slimy plagiarizer, Joe Biden tried to appropriate the accomplishment for himself and his boss, proclaiming in 2010, "this could be one of the great achievements of this administration."
"Great achievements" and "this (the Obama) administration" are oxymorons. Predictably, Obama was unable to achieve a permanent SOFA. Declared by know-nothing pundits (and himself) as brilliant and pragmatic, he failed at the one thing, diplomacy, at which he was purportedly a master.
Obama's priority wasn't ensuring a durable peace in Iraq, but getting re-elected. Jonah Goldberg thinks that what Obama now needs most is a time machine so that he could go back and undo his many policy errors. But this assumes that Obama is motivated by wanting to do the right thing rather than securing electoral success. Given a do-over, Obama wouldn't change a thing.
Obama's campaign mantra -- "bin Laden is dead and GM is alive." -- became leftist doctrine: the Islamist threat had ended with the al-Qaeda leader's demise. Obama's latest foreign policy doctrine, articulated in typically puerile fashion by the clowns that inhabit his national security apparatus is "Don't do stupid s---t". Sadly, that's all he does.
Iraq may be transforming into (a) a second Syria or (b) a restored caliphate. Past some point, the world's wildfires are going to consume the Obama legacy. And leave his successor a nightmare.
And a tweet from a veteran named J. R. Salzman --
I did not get an arm blown off in Baghdad so you could sit on your ass and watch Iraq fall, @BarackObama. I did my job. DO YOUR JOB.