Skip to comments.Obama's Conservative Foreign Policy
Posted on 06/01/2014 6:50:05 AM PDT by Kaslin
Conservatives generally agree on a few propositions. The federal government should avoid spending money unnecessarily. It shouldn't exceed its basic constitutional duties. It should encourage self-reliance rather than dependency. It should accept that some problems are beyond its ability to solve.
Barack Obama, they may be surprised to learn, agrees with much of this formula. He just applies it in a realm where conservatives often don't: foreign relations and national security. The Obama doctrine, as outlined in his policies and his speech at West Point Wednesday, is one of comparatively limited government.
Limited government, however, is not something many conservatives champion when it comes to matters military. They may question whether Washington should spend billions to bring prosperity and order to Detroit or New Orleans. But they had no objection to spending billions to bring prosperity and order to Baghdad and Kabul.
In the domestic realm, they believe the federal government's powers are few and mostly modest. Beyond the water's edge, it's a different story. When George W. Bush embarked on an extravagant project to "help the Iraqi people build a lasting democracy in the heart of the Middle East," Republicans granted him all the leeway he could want.
The Constitution says the government should "provide for the common defense." But Bush translated "defense" to mean going to war far from our shores against a country that had not attacked us.
His idea of self-restraint was saying, "The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats" (emphasis added). But he insisted that "the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather." Any potential danger, anywhere, anytime was grounds for an American attack.
A more sensible view is that the U.S. can indeed remain idle while alleged dangers gather, because most of them won't materialize. The immortal philosopher Calvin Coolidge said, "If you see 10 troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." Many conservatives believe in hurrying out to meet all 10 just in case.
Obama noted that in recent decades, "some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences." Substitute "government programs" for "military adventures," and he could be quoting Paul Ryan.
"I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed," he told the cadets. The attitude he cautions against is one that he and his fellow Democrats do not routinely apply to domestic matters. But it's a sound one.
Critics charge that Obama's foreign policy shows an unwillingness to lead, or weakness, or uncertain purposes. The same complaint, of course, could be made about conservative policies on poverty, health care, urban blight, access to housing and more. "Don't you care?" indignant liberals ask.
But sometimes ambitious government undertakings are too expensive to justify, sometimes they fail to solve problems, and sometimes they make things worse. In those instances, declining to act -- and explaining why -- is the most authentic form of leadership. That's just as true in the international realm as it is in the domestic one.
If Obama has yet to come up with a bumper-sticker slogan for his approach, the elements are fairly clear: Don't use military force until other means are exhausted -- and maybe not then. Don't use ground troops when you can use bombers or drones. Don't act alone when you can enlist allies. Don't take the lead role when someone else will do so.
Don't do for other countries what they could do for themselves. Don't confuse desirable outcomes with vital interests. Keep in mind that very few things are more costly and harmful to American interests than an unnecessary, unsuccessful war.
The president has followed these guidelines with reasonable consistency, which is one reason he could tell the cadets, "You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan" -- and not because they'll be deploying to fight somewhere else.
There will always be people who demand that the U.S. government do more and spend whatever it takes to solve an array of problems without any assurance of accomplishing its goals. Abroad, at least, Obama is not one of them.
The hell we didn't.
One of the reasons we voted for Bush was that the promised us no "nation building".
And we fell for it. Of course what option did we have?
When it came to rebuilding Iraq and Trashkanistan, we were like poor Flounder in Animal House. We effed up. We trusted him.
Limited government? He called on the military to fight global warming. He’s attempting to alter our foreign policy emphasis, not decrease our involvement.
Iraqi intelligence was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, an act of terrorism with massive loss of life on American soil. If he needed a causus belli, that was it and it went unmentioned. That told me right there that Bush was part of the problem and that a war in Iraq would likely turn out to b another Vietnam, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, and at terrible financial and spiritual cost.
Helping Jihadists take control in Libya and Egypt, and trying to in Syria is not conservative. Real conservatives believe in standing by allies, and only using force for our own national interest.
Even more to the point, we were in a state of war with Iraq already. The first Gulf War ended in a ceasefire, one which Saddam violated regularly. The 2003 invasion was just a continuation of that.
That war was lacking a legitimate causus belli from a conservative perspective. Iraq taking over Kuwait was none of our business.
On the contrary, taking over Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia threatened the free flow of oil to the rest of the world. That could ruin the world economy, and thus our own. Having Saddam in control of that resource was unacceptable. There was a clear American interest at stake, unlike say Kosovo or Libya.
In any case, even if you don’t agree with that, we were in a state of war, rightly or wrongly, and had been for 12 years when W acted.
No it didn't. Saddam would have sold it just as he always had.
That could ruin the world economy, and thus our own. Having Saddam in control of that resource was unacceptable. There was a clear American interest at stake, unlike say Kosovo or Libya.
Yeah, that was the pitch. What really took Saddam down was that he threatened to trade oil in Euros.
In any case, even if you dont agree with that, we were in a state of war, rightly or wrongly, and had been for 12 years when W acted.
My point was not to the legality of the war but to the point of the article, which ignored what conservatives would call a legitimate cause for war. There's a difference you know.
It is worth repeating.
Confused about Obamas foreign policy? With Clintons foreign policy?
You are likely familiar with the Hierarchy of Needs - Things a human MUST have in order survive: for a minute, for an hour, for a day, for a week, for a year, etc. Until those needs are met, he or she cannot look for less important things. Air, water, food, clothing, shelter, etc .. All can get ranked according to a humans most important priorities.
Now consider every foreign policy decision, speech, foreign leader, foreign trip (well - except vacations), and foreign award or recognition Obama has chosen since 2008.
Think about his hierarchy of hatred, then look at his decisions. His administrations decisions.
In every case, when given a public choice, Obama has chosen American over Israeli;
American (if democrat-donor or government-enhanced) over republican/capitalist/energy/white/male/oil/red state;
European-republics over America;
European-socialist governments over European-republics;
3rd world socialist-republics over European-socialist governments;
socialist-selected governments over socialist-elected governments;
socialist-dictatorships over socialist-selected governments;
communist governments over socialist dictatorships;
Islamic republics over communist governments;
Islamic secular states over Islamic republics;
Islamic dictatorships over Islamic secular states;
Islamic-tolerant states over Islamic dictatorships;
Islamic religious states over Islamic-tolerant states;
Islamic Sharia states over Islamic religious states;
Islamic fundamentalist states over Islamic Sharia-compliant states;
Radical Islamic bands over Islamic fundamentalist states.
Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”
Barack Obama’s foreign policy: “Mince around noisily, and show them your little stick.”
But prior to intervening the Carter Doctrine was modified by the Powell Doctrine, which establishes the criteria that should be met before intervening. So using the Powell doctrine we could intervene in Kuwait but because of the Powell Doctrine, US forces could not go on to Iraq and remove Saddam.
Later in the GHW Bush the Wolfowitz Doctrine emerged(leaked), named after Paul Wolfowitz who then served as Defense Undersecretary for Policy and he would become Deputy SecDef under Bush.
The Wolfowitz Doctrine would later be called the NeoCon Doctrine or the Bush Doctrine and it was used to invade Iraq and remove Saddam.
Which was silly given GHWB's multiple comparisons of Saddam to Hitler. Kind of like if we had pushed the Nazis back to the Rhine and stopped there.
That's just rhetoric that was used to influence public opinion.
The article documents quite correctly how neocons destroyed conservationism. Via the “Bush Doctrine” and “Nation Building”.
Which is why I suggest the Hugin Doctrineonly go to war if you intend to destroy the enemy regime and kill their leaders.
That sounds like the MacAuthor doctine “There is no substitute for victory”. Victory meaning total defeat and unconditional surrender of the enemy.
Kill people and blow shit up. No nation building and humanitarianism allowed.
Re the Carter, Powell, Wolfowitz, etc “doctrines,” each details the use of military power in an act of war. Declarations of war are to originate in the Congress. There is no such thing as an “intervention” in Constitutional law.
If Congress funds it, they approve it.
MacArthur also told Kennedy, don’t fight a land war in Asia. Wish George W Bush had listened before deciding to invade Iraq
Does anybody know why Chapman is appearing in Townhall? I thought the site was, ostensibly, a conservative one. Chapman is no conservative. Here is a bit from a piece by Colin Flaherty, concerning urban black youth violence, that appeared in American Thinker:
Steve Chapman is an editor at the Chicago Tribune who does not like it when people like Second City Cop complain his paper embargoes news about about racial violence. Why do you care so much about the attackers race? he wrote. If you fear or dislike blacks, I suppose it would confirm your prejudice. But otherwise, it tells you nothing useful.
A conservative does not turn a blind eye to facts, regardless of how unpleasant they may be.
That is an illegal definition of a declaration of war; it is government by hand-wave.
Because they don't want get caught up in the fingerpointing if something goes wrong. Its better to blame the prez.
Last year after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to arm the Syrian Rebels, Obama worked up a plan and sent to the Intelligence committees in the House and Senate. Both committees classified their vote so nobody knows who voted for it.
BTW, PBS Frontline did a 20 minute segment last Tues night than can be found now at their website that covers the process by which the Syrian rebel groups are vetted and trained to receive the arms.
The reporter asked the rebel about the weapons and he said they were good weapons but they were anti tank weapons and they really needed anti aircraft weapons.
The reporter then asked the rebel about the training and he said it was good training but at the rate it was being done, it would take 20 years
The rebel then said that America doesn't like Assad, but they don't like us either.
Which effectively makes the prez unaccountable. He already has a military budget he can bend to his will.
As to Syria, I think it's obvious that this is a "let them kill each other" war. Once the Iranians upgrade their weapons, blowback will be a bitch.
This is what is good about Congressionally declared war: the objectives are decided in advance, and if it was taking out the entire "axis of evil" so be it. Bush could then have gone on to Tehran after Baghdad and things would have been different. But noooo, he had to go to the UN to justify this family vendetta. It was idiotic. If it was "no nation building," then so be it. Etc. Things like that get settled in debate, but not in the heat of the pen and a telephone.