Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Worst President? III

This is a continuation of my series on why President Obama is the worst president in my lifetime (hard to believe worse than Nixon, who was undoubtedly a criminal, but he is). For an intro go back a few weeks to the first posting on it.

7) Foreign Policy - I knew from his campaigning that President Obama was going to be a disaster in domestic policy. There are few things I can agree with him on there. But, in his first year or so, I thought his foreign policy was not going to be so bad. I do not doubt his patriotism or his firmness of will once he makes up his mind. It's that he believed his press clippings that he could be humble with foreign leaders and countries which would get behind him and watch the waters recede.

His so-called apology tour getting that label is really not off the mark though it is probably overstated by many. It is hard to understand, for example, a President of the United States telling France that we have been arrogant and dismissive - even derisive. Of course, there have to be Americans who are all these things, and no one argues but that we have by far the most powerful military on earth. It's hard to understand him giving a long speech to an audience in Cairo (not an entirely bad speech) which seemed to say - we are just culturally different, but morally and in other ways the same. Given the treatment of women alone (he did not even mention the ubiquitous horror of female genital mutilation practiced in Egypt and elsewhere - and no, not the same as male circumcision. And his reluctance to talk about American exceptionalism would humble and admirable on a personal level, but not for the president talking about the country he was elected to lead. I think he may have realized his error as his second term heads downhill.

It was a sentence here and there, but they were pregnant sentences and bound to get media coverage.

Robert Gibbs, his former press secretary said his confessing our sins changed our image around the world. He may be right, but, if anything, it changed it for the worse.

It may be appealing to President Obama and perhaps it is personally appealing of him as a person, not to lord it over others and show humility (though, in the rough and tumble of politics that has not always been the case). But, our country is actually based on something, and it is not just the right to vote, but that things like capitalism and freedom work. Sure, we have sins, and I don't have a problem with discussing them, even in other countries, but let's mostly talk about now - not centuries ago.

That may make a foreign audience feel good about itself, but its not going to help anyone, particularly oppressed women and minorities or help us in the world.

What he was looking for in Cairo was reset, just as with Russia. Well, he got both and it hasn't done us much good either.

The truth is, since then, our foreign policy has failed virtually everywhere in the world. It's not that I expect America to be able to control the world or dictate to any particular country. It's that there seem to be NO successes in his administration. All failures.

Russia - it sneers at us and the so-called reset was just made Putin more popular at home. Obama told Putin he'd have more flexibility to work with him after the election (read, I'm not going to be entirely honest with the American people), but Putin has run rings around him, particularly in . . .

Syria - Assad was on the run for a while. But, after the use of chemical weapons (which, along with very few other voices, I claim was not a violation of any international treaty, regardless of what SecState Kerry said or how horrendous it was), and with supposedly Russia's help, we forced Assad to give up his weapons - and in doing so, practically guaranteed his survival, as we needed him to do it. I heard Robert Gates, Bush and Obamas SecDef state this himself only a few days ago. The reversal of Assad's fortunes was almost immediate. 

Egypt - in his Cairo speech, Pres. Obama said we respect democratic elections but winners could not then rule by coercion and pick on minorities. That, of course, is exactly what Egypt's elected prime minister did and it ended up in a military dictatorship which we opposed because Morsi was elected - even though the takeover by Sisi (and his subsequent election) was better for Egypt, better for us, better for our allies in every way.

Iraq and Afghanistan - Well, in his Cairo speech, Pres. Obama explained how we wanted nothing from Afghanistan and Iraq and would not force our type of government on them. Fine, we should not take their property or their land. But, we should have insisted on a certain type of government. We did not and look where it got us. Iraq is being torn apart. Afghanistan appears to be little better off.  I'm not going to suggest that Obama is worse than Bush in his handling of these two countries. You couldn't be. But, he may be as bad. I'm not going to suggest we force our ways on other countries either. But, we can insist on it in exchange for the "blood and treasure," can't we?

Perhaps he learned his lesson. He stated that he would only help Iraq now if they agreed to be inclusive. On the other hand, maybe not. Our actual help seems tied to nothing at all. I do want us to help the Kurds and stop genocide if we can. Groups like ISIS(L) can't be defeated fast enough. If they take Baghdad, there will be worldwide ramifications. But, at the same time, I want us to stop with the United Iraq nonsense. It is a fantasy we chase that does them and us no good. Help those who want an open and free society. Do not help the others. At the same time, we are now bombing ISIS. Do you think we will not kill more innocents? It is almost inevitable in war. Ironically, we demand Israel stop defending itself when it kills, against its intentions, innocent people in Gaza. Which brings us to -

Israel - all presidents in my lifetime have struggled with our relations with Israel. Pres. Reagan, who is touted by conservatives as having had the best relation with them had his U.N. ambassador vote to condemned Israel in the U.N.  But, there can be no doubt that our relations with Israel are at their low point ever right now.  Pres. Obama has deliberately snubbed Israel and Netanyahu time and again. Sure, he went there while campaigning in 2008 because it was good politics, and I do not disagree with him that Israel must stop building in disputed areas. On the other hand, we are prolonging the pain of the Gazan people by forcing Israel to stop its destruction of Hamas. Do you notice that Hizbollah has not attacked Israel in 8 years. Despite the cries of knuckleheads in the media that Israel lost, Hizbollah took a terrible beating it does not want repeated. I cannot even understand Hamas, which seems to have an endless capacity to sacrifice its people, though, they do have guts. That's all I will give them. But, we allow (and more than us - Europe) an unfair double standard where we can defend ourselves however we want and make mistakes despite our best intentions and Israel cannot. I feel horrible for the Gazans, but I feel more lives will be saved if Israel can destroy Hamas. I have much more to say about this problem, but it would take over the post and I want to move on to -

Iran - our so-called breakthrough in negotiations has gotten us nowhere. There is no success.

Libya - Not only did Pres. Obama further weaken congress and constitutional law by not only eradicating Art. 1, sec. 8, cl. 11 (congress's war power) but he ignored the War Powers Act by determining our aerial assault in Libya wasn't a war. Since our help, of course, we had the debacle in Benghazi and now have completely fled the country, which is in great disarray. Again, he can't be blamed for the problems of these countries - but he just has no successes.

China - our relations with China are worse than ever since before Nixon went there.  Moreover, China grows more powerful in the pacific with a growing navy and growing confidence in pressuring its neighbors over disputed islands. China is a country which has no moral restraints on who it does business with and who it supports. It is almost always on the wrong side. But, how are we better off since 2008 in respect to China? We are not.

North Korea - the most we can possibly ever hope for during my expected lifetime with respect to this pathetic and sad country led by madmen is that they keep quiet. But, there is certainly no success here.

Germany - one of our allies and they are barely speaking to us over the Ed Snowden revelations. They recently expelled our CIA chief.

Brazil - ditto. Bad medicine all around.

Argentina - since at least last year, we are barely considered allies.

Colombia - at least we can say, he didn't screw up here. Thanks largely to our aid in helping Colombia conquer some of its narco-terror problems, relations have been improving - but for a long time, at least back to Pres. Bush's terms. There is nothing different.  This is probably the closest  Obama can do. But,

I could go on, but, if you think we have a success, tell me - with what country and how? And please don't say, we are not at war with Canada and Mexico.


  1. Once again, we pretty much agree, though I don't care that he violated the constitution over the Libya situation. Presidents have been taking more authority than granted in the constitution forever, Lincoln perhaps most famously, and I think he was right to do so (Lincoln, not Obama). However, Nixon will always rate his own special category for being such a petty thief. That is worse than incompetence. Incompetent Presidents, like Obama and W are the responsibility of the voters. Someone who allows the power of the office to so totally corrupt their judgment is responsible for themselves, a la Nixon.

    1. I'm sure you see the civil war Lincoln faced as different than Obama's another country half the world away because he thought we should. But because Lincoln arguably violated the constitution, does that mean all presidents may forever ignore congress's Art. 1, sec. 8 privilege and even the War Powers Act? Because that means he is no longer commander in chief, but king. I'm guessing you don't mean that. You mean what everyone does. When a constitutional violation bugs you it bugs you; when it doesn't it doesn't. Don's argument is essentially that it shouldn't matter whose ox is being gored or how you feel - a violation is a violation and if we don't take it seriously, the constitution has lost its power and we are lawless except for power. I think he is partially right, though I think everyone does what you are doing to some degree or another.

  2. It is always a problem when any branch of the government violates the Constitution. And it is untenable to say "well I agreed with it so it's ok". No it's not ok because some people will always agree with violations and law breaking. I'll bet you wouldn't be so sanguine if there were violations that directly effected you and you didn't agree with them. Consistency in a political philosophy is a goal for which one should strive.
    And as for Mexico...I'm not so sure we aren't at war with them.
    Good post though.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .