We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet

Yesterday, President Obama’s words shocked many people around the world. Obama admitted, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

(For a president who appears to think that only words matter – after all, he believes he can change the world with the right words – Obama surprisingly fails to grasp that words actually do matter, saying something as foolish as this.) Remember: “Don’t do stupid stuff” is not a strategy.

But Obama’s statement should have taken no one by surprise. (It merely confirmed what we already suspected.) We have Obama’s presidential record to look back on and we have his rhetorical record from both before and during his presidency.

As author Steve Hayes noted earlier this year, “[Obama] doesn’t have a coherent foreign policy vision. … It’s been an incompetent, incoherent, sloppy foreign policy for five-and-a-half years with no apparent vision.”[1]

Strategy

Absent a vision, there can be no strategy, at least not one that works.

The Obama Doctrine

Throughout his presidency, pundits, politicians, and policy wonks have sought to unearth the essence of “the Obama Doctrine.” Best-selling author Charles Krauthammer came up with his answer: “a series of completely unconnected ad hoc decisions, and that’s the Obama Doctrine.”[2]

Some have defined the doctrine that enunciates Obama’s foreign policy views as “appeasement,” which would be largely accurate. Let me offer my own take on the Obama Doctrine and define it in one word: Talk.

Whether sparked by drug-induced rap sessions in college or belief in his own innate superiority as the best of “the best and the brightest,” Obama appears to believe that he can either 1) talk people into doing whatever he wants or 2) talk them to death.

In 2007, Obama astonished his listeners by saying that he would be “willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of [his] administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries.”

For Obama, talk beats action any day, as he explained, “And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them – which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this [Bush] administration – is ridiculous.”

Upon his ascendency to president, Obama immediately talked, beginning with a worldwide apology tour. Eschewing even pragmatic unilateralism, Obama insists upon turning every issue and event over to the United Nations or to other international entities. Diplomacy (talk) is in, action is out.

Moreover, when faced with taking action, he usually says what he won’t do, not what he will do.

Obama’s infamous reset with Russia back-fired, and even now, he scolds Putin for creating this crisis in the Ukraine, claiming it is not in Putin’s best interest. Putin thinks it is – and talking won’t change that.

After almost six years in office, when it comes to foreign policy, it appears that all Obama can do is talk. Our relations with “Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea” are no better than when he came into office. All of our foreign relationships – whether friend or foe – have deteriorated.

Obama has talked nonsense.

Consequences of Lack of Strategy

As a direct consequence of his failure to develop a strategy (other than an increasing disengagement from the world), and of his doctrine of discourse over action, Obama has destroyed his own credibility and that of the United States of America.

If all you’re going to do is talk and take no action, then when your opponent continues to disagree with you and continues to misbehave – in taking no action – you are appeasing your opponent.

As a consequence of Obama’s lack of both vision and strategy, and his indecisive impotence as a leader, Steve Hayes notes, “We’re sitting here in the United States with a president who can’t get anyone to do anything.”[3]

Obama inherited a stable, democratic Iraq from Bush and turned it into a melting pot of terrorist entities united for one purpose: to create a regional, then global, caliphate, and, in the process crush America.

What will Obama do as barbarians are trying to destroy us? Say, “Stop! Pretty please.”

Update:

On Facebook, someone asked me: “There is a complete lack of strategy in what you say as well. If ‘talk’ is not strategy, neither is ‘action.’ What action? Be specific.”

When dealing with terrorists such as ISIS – or megalomaniac tyrants like Putin whose one desire is domination of others and restoration of an empire – words do not work.

Only power – or the credible threat of force with a perceived will to act – can deter such people. Peace through strength worked with Reagan. Appeasement has failed with Obama as it did with Chamberlain.

Bullies do not respect weakness or displays of weakness. Rather, they are emboldened by such displays. Crossed red lines must be met with action, not rebuke. Invasions of other nations must be countered with more than “Tsk, tsk, tsk, you naughty boy, you.”

Endnotes:

[1]       Steve Hayes, Special Report, FNC, 5/28/14.

[2]       Charles Krauthammer, Special Report, FNC, 5/28/14

[3]       Steve Hayes, Special Report, FNC, 7/1/14

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