Beware Neocons in Sheeps’ Clothing

With increasing frequency, warmongering neocons rear their unchastened heads.  It is the Benghazi tragedy that inspires this resurgence.  Never let a tragedy go unseized upon!

From deputy editorial page editors at the Washington Post to effete, soft spoken South Carolina moderates in the Republican minority, they whisper words of wardom, let it be. 

To these shameless incompetents and bed wetters, President Obama’s foreign policy sends up red flags because it lacks bellicosity – and a lack of bellicosity is, to be sure, a lack of leadership.  They are atwitter because there is no cowboy in the White House yeehawing his way through crises, leaving thousands of bodies in his wake.

Yesterday’s Washington Post provides us with a not so wonderful example of neocon nitwittery. Notice how the argument is wrapped in the soft prose of a faux moderate.  Nothing, though, can cover the lupine rapacity of the author’s ideology.

Of the Presidents foreign policy, the Post’s Jackson Diehl says the following:

He has tried to preserve America’s place as the “indispensable nation” while withdrawing ground troops from war zones, cutting the defense budget, scaling back “nation-building” projects and forswearing U.S.-led interventions.

Is “leading from behind” an unfair monicker [sic] for this? Then call it the light footprint doctrine. It’s a strategy that supposes that patient multilateral diplomacy can solve problems like Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability; that drone strikes can do as well at preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland as do ground forces in Afghanistan; that crises like that of Syria can be left to the U.N. Security Council.

And more …

But ultimately the disaster in Libya derived from Obama’s doctrine. Having been reluctantly dragged by France and Britain into intervening in Libya’s revolution, Obama withdrew U.S. planes from the fight as quickly as possible; when the war ended, the White House insisted that no U.S. forces stay behind. Requests by Libya’s fragile transition government for NATO’s security assistance were answered with an ill-conceived and ultimately failed program to train a few people in Jordan.

And finally …

At best, Libya will be a steady, low-grade headache for Obama in his second term. But the worst blowback from his policies will come in Syria. What began as a peaceful mass rebellion against another Arab dictator has turned, in the absence of U.S. leadership, into a brutal maelstrom of sectarian war in which al-Qaeda and allied jihadists are playing a growing role. Obama’s light footprint strategy did much to produce this mess; without a change of U.S. policy, it will become, like Bosnia for Bill Clinton or Iraq for George W. Bush, the second term’s “problem from hell.”

Full article: The red flags in Obama’s foreign policy

Thank you, Mr. Diehl, for that dose of fear mongering disguised as lofty erudition.  The reader pines for the good old days of 2001.    

To suggest that the Obama administration has been ‘cutting the defense budget’ is erroneous – highly misleading at best. Much to the chagrin of moderates, the DOD budget has been steadily increasing under the current administration. Small savings are on the horizon but ‘cuts’ suggest something substantially different than what the United States has been wasting these last many years. The defense budget is a bloated monstrosity – some savings will not impede the nation’s ability to express power.

Diehl’s third paragraph [paragraph two here] is a series of misrepresentations that put the ‘straw’ in straw man. Diplomacy, drones and the U.N.? Does the writer seriously expect us to believe that these constitute Obama’s ‘light footprint’ doctrine?

Obama engages in realpolitik and his doctrine is best understood as ‘smart power’. He uses all the tools at his disposal – political, economic, diplomatic, technological and military when engaging geopolitical challenges. It is a comprehensive approach to problem solving.

Diehl is strikingly naive if he believes the Unites States does not have ‘boots on the ground’ in Yemen, Somalia, Syria and scores of other hot spots. He is also naive if he believes this administration does not have contingency plans for military action in Iran.

Diehl seems unclear on tactical versus strategic thinking. What mistakes that were made in Benghazi, were made at the tactical level – at the point, specific to the situation. The ‘smart power’ stratagem in no way precludes appropriate security precautions on the ground. Quite the contrary – it demands it.

Scandal mongering congressional radicals are sure to be disappointed when they have only low level scalps to sacrifice.

The writer ends with a bit of hysteria on Syria – the cause du jour of neocon critics. Diehl suggests that if only the United States were jumping up and down, yelling and screaming, the world would see its ‘leadership’. Perhaps 175,000 troops, as well? Often – most often – leadership is working determinedly and quietly.  

Implicit in his argument, too, is the notion that United States is an omniscient, all powerful empire that can impose any outcome it desires. If only it were more engaged, things would not be so messy in Syria. If this is his argument, he has little understanding of the region or of the United States’ rather spotty record on intervention.

Indeed, the United States has been involved in shaping Syria’s future from the beginning of the uprising. In concert with Turkey, Arab allies, and NATO it has empowered a disparate opposition. Today, this very paper reports, “Syrian opposition groups strike reorganization deal”. From whence does this deal come? From U.S. leadership.

Diehl’s entire case is fundamentally naive and misinterprets the significance of leadership. Many of us quite prefer the Smart Power Doctrine of a chess player to the Neocon Neanderthalism of a cowboy. The world is a much safer place.  

Their damned disaster in Iraq has not chastened the chicken hawks.  They pine for the good old days of bully talk and bungled wars.  We’re not so foolish here.



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