Friday, May 30, 2014

Obama foreign policy: how to ignore failure and take credit for something you didn't do.

There are few things in life that aren't illegal that are more obnoxious and more detestable than someone trying to take credit for something they didn't do. That is what president Obama in his foreign policy speech, and John Kerry later, tried to do with Ukraine and Syria.

It's even worse when someone's actions actually result in failure and even made things worse, only to have someone else take control, decide to do the opposite, succeed, and then see those who failed try and steal the credit.

That is what president Obama and John Kerry, who sadly has sunk to the level of political shill for president Obama, tried to do in taking credit for successes now being made in Ukraine because of  the use  of military force taken by Ukraine's leaders which Obama had tried to prevent.  Kerry's shameless lying on behalf of Obama's failures and his claims of Obama successes, like a pitch man on TV at 2 a.m. trying to push snake oil, (his comments on Snowden which Daniel Ellsberg called "despicaple" has sunk Kerry even further) has destroyed whatever credibility he had left. 

Instead of  a successful policy in Ukraine and offering a credible threat as a deterrence, Obama tried tepid sanctions against a handful of Putin cronies and it never worked.  Putin annexed Crimea, the insurgency spread to eastern Ukraine, and Obama's weakness made the situation worse.  Which isn't'  stopping him from employing, the "are you going to believe what I tell you or your own lying eyes" school of revisionist history in trying to take credit for recent successes which could have come sooner were it not for him.

It was the military success and military show of force that Obama wanted Kiev to avoid that eventually allowed the elections to take place unhindered in most of the country and yet  Obama, at West Point of all places, tried to claim it was his tepid decision making in avoiding conflict that  was responsible for the success.   

In truth it was his decision making that was not just ineffective and derided for its weakness,  but resulted in diplomatic failure, unnecessary  loss of life and property and emboldened the separatists to be more violent and expand into east Ukraine. It was as most critics called it, a failure of American leadership. Which Obama and Kerry are now trying to claim was the impetus for success.

The claims being made by Obama and Kerry are at best,  embarrassing, at worst,a dishonest attempt at covering up failure and trying to turn it into success and undeserved credit.

Through the entire Ukraine crisis and confrontation  with Russia, Obama was bullied, out gamed and intimidated by Putin who time and again caused Obama to back down and look weak, indecisive and ineffectual just as Putin knew he would.  Many thought Putin saw Obama backing down from his red line as the red flag that led to his calculations. CNN actually did a segment called " Is Putin Bullying Obama"?

Obama has a history of doing nothing or as little as possible, always taking baby steps if any, never big steps, and taking no action unless forced to, and then taking action that is only tepid (remember this is a politician who as a legislator voted "present" more than 100 times so he wouldnt have to vote for or against anything).

He has never in his political life ever  taken decisive action when it comes to policy. And if someone wants to bring up the killing of Bin Laden, imagine the fall out if it became known that Obama was told that Bin Laden's whereabouts had been discovered , that the military had a plan and the means to kill him and he didn't give the go ahead? 

In his speech at West Point, which even a supporter said in an interview, was nothing new, Obama tried to claim that the narrow sanctions he imposed on a handful of Putin cronies and rounding up leaders of NATO countries to make speeches saying Putin was being a bad boy, "served as a counterweight to 40,000 troops on Ukraine's border and armed men in ski masks taking over buildings and terrorizing the local population". It did?   It were sanctions we are told,  that  won the day and prevented a Russian invasion and allowed for the May 25 presidential elections to take place.

 In reality it was Ukraine's decision to finally reject Obama's "guidance" and start using  military force that began to turn the tide. It also should have been clear that Putin never intended to invade.It was a ploy that Putin used solely to intimidate and in Obama's case it worked. Obama should have known the price to invade would have been far too high for Putin since the Ukraine military was still capable of inflicting heavy casualties on Russian troops if they crossed the border and the reward wasn't worth the risk. Destabilization was enough. 

Nevertheless Obama took the credit for the elections in Ukraine and claimed that Ukraine could now pursue a democratic way of life "and we did it without firing a shot".

We didn't fire a shot. But they did. Lots of them. Thousands of them. From fighter jets and attack helicopters and armored vehicles. It was the Ukrainian military finally hitting back against the separatists at the Donetsk airport and  used air power. heavy artillery and infantry that inflicted heavy causalities in re-taking the airport and left the insurgents, according to reports,  "badly shaken" by the ferocity of the military response.  There were more than 100 rebels killed Monday alone and 14  Ukrainian soldiers killed Thursday when an army transport helicopter was shot down by separatists, but, according to Obama, security in Ukraine is being restored and "we did it without firing a shot". 

It was the military and other security forces that prevented insurgents from disrupting the elections outside of eastern Ukraine. And it was the military and security forces that helped secure the safety of those voting. Obama had nothing to do with it.

Which still  didn't stop Obama and Kerry from trying to take the credit.

Obama gave  "guidance" to Kiev to "avoid a military confrontation at all costs" with the militants  and to "avoid bloodshed". That advice led to humiliating surrenders by Ukrainian military, turning over weapons and even armored vehicles to the insurgents and led to  the illegal annexation of Crimea and the occupation of towns and government buildings by the insurgents. It led to loss of life and loss of morale in the military and encouraged police in various eastern cities to surrender because of lack of support. That was the true result of Obama's policies .

Now Putin  has backed off, has stopped making threats and is ignoring the separatists pleas for military help .  It's been Ukraine's new president who has vowed to use all the force necessary to restore order that is making a difference. Not Obama.  Not Kerry.  Not the sanctions,not diplomacy. 

In Syria, it was Obama's reneging on his self imposed "red line" if Syria used chemical weapons, (recalling his claim during one foreign policy speech in which he said he'd use military force if necessary "and everyone knows I dont bluff") that has also led to loss of life and more chaos. Instead of  following through on his threat and punishing Assad with missile strikes that would have severely degraded the effectiveness of Assad's air power,he backed down and  thousands more civilian lives have been lost  since as a result of  Assad's  ability to bomb with impunity,  including targeting hospitals and schools in which countless children have been killed. 

Obama supporters  will tell you Assad finally agreed to  a Putin plan to get rid of his stockpile of sarin gas to avoid a missile strike.  And they call that a success despite the thousands more killed by unhindered conventional bombing. That also didn't stop Assad from using chlorine gas in  another chemical attack which killed more civilians and children, something Obama could also claim was the result of  his not firing a shot. Another red line crossed, another  foreign policy success. As Obama or Kerry  will be quick to tell you .

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