July 6th, 2013

Obama’s Middle East and foreign policy blunders: are they blunders at all?

The brilliant Richard Fernandez totes up Obama’s blunders in the Middle East, in this article and in this one. He says, among other things, that, “The administration’s foreign policy is unwinding like a busted spring.”

Or is it? Certainly, if you look at it in the conventional sense, it seems that way. But really, it depends what the intent was. I don’t think this unwinding is sheer incompetence; I think it’s purposeful.

With Obama and foreign policy, up is down and down is up. Obama supports the people he shouldn’t and fails to support those he should, and he does both quite consistently. Even a stopped watch is right more often than Obama. And although Obama’s foreign policy may resemble a stopped watch at times, it is running—perhaps even rather more smoothly than is readily apparent.

For example, I think that Scott Johnson is correct here, although I think he doesn’t go far enough:

From the perspective of Obama, however, our reduction to smallness and irrelevance represents a great success.

That is Obama’s goal, but I see it as a goal in the service of something more. He’s not just interested in smallness and irrelevance for their own sakes. He’s interested in weakening America’s influence, and in doing so he allows other forces to rise, forces that previous administrations had opposed. Those forces could be summarized as being either leftist or Islamicist, depending on the country and the situation. In studying Obama’s decisions in the foreign arena, it is difficult to escape the idea that Obama prefers that these groups gain more power around the world. And since he can’t come out directly for them, sometimes he must support them by apparent indirection and inaction.

The Obama Doctrine.

41 Responses to “Obama’s Middle East and foreign policy blunders: are they blunders at all?”

  1. BurkeanMama Says:

    Yes. I have never understood the conservative meme that Obama means well, but is just incompetent. He is quite competent at creating a world his mentors, such as Alinksy and Jeremiah Wright, had in mind. His defense of Morsi should end forever the question of whether he hates America and loves Islamists. Obviously, yes.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I too have concluded that Obama’s behavior is purposeful.

    Domestic goal: the fundamental transformation of America into a socialist state on the model of the E.U. with unelected regulators and bureaucrats ruling over nationalized industries.

    Foreign policy goal: America’s national sovereignty made subservient to a UN/EU like one world leftist government.

  3. betsybounds Says:

    I would go even further: I think his behavior is not only purposeful, I think it is motivated by something that most people would not guess at, by something that most people to whom I mention it react by thinking I’m the crazy one. I think the Left and radical Islam are allies of convenience in a war against a common enemy: Us. If (when) they defeat us, they will turn on each other and fight over the wreckage. Because there can be only one.

    In all this battling, Obama seems sometimes to be a Muslim, and sometimes to be a Leftist. But I don’t really think it’s possible to be both. I also don’t think he really cares which one wins, as long as we are defeated. I think he is an unaligned destroyer.

  4. parker Says:

    IMO it would take a thorough psychiatric exam to pry the lid off BHO’s narcissistic personality to understand what actually motivates this strange man. All I can go on is his actions and his words of strife and condescension.

  5. expat Says:


    I think it precedes Alinsky and Wright. He got this from his mom. Remember that she fought with his stepfather for hanging out with the corporate America crowd. And then she dumped him on his grandparents. And, of course, his real father dumped him too. There is something very deep in his psyche that he has never had the guts to face.

  6. betsybounds Says:

    I don’t think it helps to try to psych him out, to diagnose him. In a very real way, none of his family history matters. There are plenty of people who have desolation in their families and who turn out OK, or at least reasonably better than this wizard is. And anyway, even if anyone were able to pin him down with a diagnosis, it won’t get us out of the mess we’re in. It’s nothing but navel gazing by proxy.

  7. expat Says:


    I don’t want to psychoanalyze him, but I do want to be kept aware of how limited his attachments are and how willing he is to throw anyone under the bus. Rational arguments won’t work with him because he is operating on a different basis.

  8. betsybounds Says:

    I should have thought that the question of how willing he ever is to throw anyone under the bus would have been answered by now. As for trying arguments, irrespective of rationality, well . . . .

  9. Gary Rosen Says:

    Fool or knave? How about fool AND knave?

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    betsybounds @ 3:40,

    You’re not crazy. Both the far left and Islam know the other’s nature and core beliefs. Occasionally, a leftist like Bill Maher will acknowledge it.

    Yet other than very rare exceptions, neither ever verbally attacks the other… no other explanation than an unofficial, unspoken collusion accounts for that anomaly.

    I attribute it to the left seeing radical Islam as of use in both destabilizing the West and as a useful distraction from too close an examination of the left’s machinations by liberal low information voters. Mustn’t allow the dupes to awaken…

    Islam sees the Western right as a far greater obstacle than appeasement minded liberals. As conversely does the left, viewing conservatives as the greater obstacle than Islam.

    In addition, I suspect that the left welcomes Islamic aggression as an excuse to manipulate liberals into assisting the left in gaining ever greater influence and power.

    However regarding; “I don’t think it helps to try to psych him out, to diagnose him. “

    Sun Tzu, one of the foremost military minds in any time, advised in his “The Art of War” to, “Know thyself and know thy enemy” that is a maxim that every good military embraces.

  11. southpaw Says:

    I’m with you Gary Rosen. I hardly credit him with planning to do anything. He’s too lazy for that. Those who believe he has been scheming like a master manipulator for years, just waiting for his plans to unfold give him way too much credit. He came to office unprepared and unqualified. He was the conduit the left have been waiting for to get their agenda into the mainstream- a true believer and a useful idiot. Like everything else he does, the Obama doctrine is a doctrine of Doing virtually nothing at all- irresponsibility will be his legacy. It’s hard for me to credit irresponsible, self serving behavior as genius; just about every credible ME policy analyst would tell you that leaving the region to its own would result in chaos; that our influence was at least a stabilizing one, and in our best interest. To that end, I suppose doing nothing is a successful strategy in subjugating USA interests to others, but its also the only thing he’s willing to do. Without the media covering his ass, Benghazi would be covered for what it was- a monumental failure of foreign policy. According to some reports, his buddy Morsi financed and backed the whole thing.
    Victor Davis Hanson’s “The man Who Never Was” is brilliant description of Obama’s personality and unprecedented lack of achievements. The success of Obama according to Hanson is entirely projected onto him by the media and his fans, and he makes a brilliant case of it with examples that go back to his high school years as a crappy student and general punk.

  12. Yancey Ward Says:

    Any theory that depends on Barack Obama being highly intelligent and purposeful is flawed in its priors. Incompetence and lack of resoluteness explains almost all of the this administration’s foreign policy decisions.

  13. betsybounds Says:

    Geoffrey Britain: I don’t think it’s necessary to subject all his family relationships and their effects on him to understand that he is a destroyer, and that he manipulates groups to pursue destruction and lies to hide his allegiances. Sun Tzu would almost certainly find such knowledge of the enemy sufficient; the rest is at best superfluous and at worst a distraction.

  14. Gary Rosen Says:

    southpaw, thanks for elaborating on my basic point. Obama is not a fiendishly clever manipulator; his negative attitude towards American power plus incompetence, or even just not caring, are more than enough to explain the disasters of his foreign policy. Plus as you say he gets away with it because the MSM can be counted on to cover his a**.

  15. Don Carlos Says:

    betsybounds is right.

    Obama is a cancer. Patients with cancer are rarely, if ever worried, going out the gate, how/why they came to have it. They all want to know, first thing, can it be cured?

    Sometimes the honest answer is, “No.”

  16. rickl Says:

    BurkeanMama Says:
    July 6th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Yes. I have never understood the conservative meme that Obama means well, but is just incompetent.

    Anyone who still asserts that is a fool.

    Yes, I’m looking at you, Michael Medved and Bill Bennett.

  17. rickl Says:

    Anyway, it’s a waste of time to psychoanalyze Obama. He is very clearly a puppet of larger forces.

    I don’t know whether it’s George Soros, the Saudis, the Russians, the Chinese, or some combination. He did not get where he is by his own intelligence, ambition, and drive; because there is no evidence that he possesses any of those traits.

    He has had doors opened for him and roadblocks removed from his path at every stage of his life.

    He was placed in his current position.

    The only important question is: By whom?

  18. Promethea Says:

    rickl @12:44 am . . .

    This is my view too. Obama is the puppet of unknown enemies. He’s also a knave/fool/sociopath, but I don’t care about that at all. I know plenty of sociopaths, having encountered them them in both my family life and in my work life. I’m sure quite a few of the politicians who run the city of Chicago fall into this category.

    Some day, I hope we find out exactly who funded Obama. There are persons and countries out there, yet unknown. Once we find them, we should hunt them down and punish them.

    We already know that various Hollywood types and big cheeses like the people who run Google, the Tides Foundation, Microsoft, the UAW, and Berkshire-Hathaway are big fans of Obama. Why?

    Are all these people and groups so insane as to think that they could survive an Iranian container-shipping nuke? They live in a fantasy land. Money cannot protect them. Even Stalin was murdered by his own people. He thought he was god, but he wasn’t.

  19. blert Says:

    Folks, the Wan is a very slick Gonnabee.

    Like Adolf in the early going, his insane audacity is confused with smarts.

    Now that Hitler is a closed book… the record is clear… Adolf got much, much, much, further along just based upon his audacity.

    With the Choomster, we have the Audacity of Dope.

    Pipe dreaming — Bong dreaming…

    Until Barry actually breaks something of consequence to himself, it’s warp speed on the ‘Forward’ throttle.

    The probable end game for a Gonnabee is usually terminal for the organization that he’s been put in charge of.

    For America, that would mean that the USD is so debased that international trade has devolved into open warfare.

    And that Barry will go up in smoke as the most hated man in history.

    Imagine the Creole Communist as the Choomin’ Caligula of our time.

  20. Does Obama have a doctrine? | The Penn Ave Post Says:

    […] (Scott Johnson) Does President Obama have a doctrine that underlies his foreign policy? Over at Neo-neocon, the proprietor quotes my assertion: “From the perspective of Obama…our reduction to […]

  21. Mike Says:


    People used to talk about the Lefto-Islamic Alliance. It’s real, and Obama is the leader of the Lefto side of the alliance.

    It’s pretty simple, although horrifying: Obama hates America.

    That’s it.

    Since he hates America (which probably really means he hates Americans and all the decent stuff they are and have that he never was or had), he wants to harm it. This is what people who hate things want to do to them. Duh! In this, he is like all Leftists. They really do hate America. The reasons vary; the result is the same. They are on the same side of all relevant issues for this reason – disdain for a place they should love. As such, they are like animal-people; disordered. You are supposed to love your country. That is normal. Since they hate it, they are distorted and monstrous. Really, they are the actual Zombies in the ZOmbie theme so popular these days: They “look” like real Americans; but they aren’t. They are dead bodies inhabited by lost souls.

    Since “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”; Obama sides with the people he does in so-called “foreign” affairs. They are not foreign. They are things that will weaken and harm America.

    Thought experiment: Pick the better America.

    1. The one we live in now.

    2. The one where all the Leftists are deported to Mexico and all the Mexican illegals are made full legal citizens overnight with every right, privilege, etc.

    I have zero doubt that #2 is the better America.

  22. Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove Says:

    […] neo-neocon wonders if Obama’s foreign policy blunders are actually blunders […]

  23. southpaw Says:

    Victor Davis Hanson describes Obamas personality and achievements in a very straightforward and damning way; the man who never was.


  24. Phineas Says:

    Charles Krauthammer described this nearly four years ago in his essay “Decline is a choice:” http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/017/056lfnpr.asp

    Obama and his Leftist academic kin see American power and dominance as a source of the world’s problems, and believe that the world would be a better place if America were more “equal” with the rest, just one among many. (Remember his “every nation thinks they’re exceptional” remark?) Hence his foreign and domestic policies are by design meant to contain, bind, and yes, hobble America, just as Gulliver was tied by the Lilliputians. Perversely, they think that will lead to a better world. In truth, it’s a recipe for global chaos.

  25. betsybounds Says:

    Mike: “People used to talk about the Lefto-Islamic Alliance. It’s real, and Obama is the leader of the Lefto side of the alliance.”

    Maybe so. But what about the numbers of people who think, based on some pretty good evidence, that he’s the leader of the Islamic side of the alliance? He seems to support the Muslim Brotherhood. He aggressively refrains from putting any significant pressure on Iran and its terrorist tools such as Hezbollah. (Can you say “Sunni-vs-Shia”?) He has spoken of the beauty of the Islamic calls to prayer he remembers from his boyhood in Indonesia. He wears a ring that looks like a wedding ring, but that reportedly bears an inscription extolling Allah. His family explicitly refrains from exchanging gifts marking Christmas and birthdays. He holds official dinners at the White House to honor Islamic holidays such as the Eid dinners that end Ramadan. He has openly bowed to the leaders of Islamic nations–remember the obeisance he paid to, for example, the Saudi king? And those are just a few of many examples.

    There are mysteries a-plenty about the man and what he believes and honors in true life. His single most reliable consistencies have to do with anti-Americanism; some of those support Leftism and some support Islam. It is neither unthinkable nor even far-fetched to suppose that he only pretends to support both of them, now one and now the other, and genuinely supports neither one beyond giving aid and comfort to their anti-Western/anti-American beliefs and actions.

    It is indeed, as Phineas states, a recipe for global chaos. Now, can you think of anyone at all–someone held by many to be a mere myth–whose entire goal would be engendering global chaos? Someone who might be, say, an unaligned destroyer?

    I’ve admired Krauthammer for many years. I do occasionally think, these days, that he’d profit from spending a little more time outside the Beltway.

  26. I BarKahn Says:

    It’s been apparent, since 2008, that Obama, to say the least, is no friend of the U.S. His agenda calls for severly weakening our domestic economy, radicaly changing our constitutional Republic, enfeebling our military, and and implementing a foreign policy that aligns the U.S.with retrograde Isamic and Communist autocracies. Obama is on course and on time to the fullfilment of this ruinous agenda. Virtually every Conservative writer, editor and publisher knows this; their pages are filled wih criticism of these Obama policies. So why has the Conservative media allowed Obama to pursue these policies? If you simply read the Constituion and couple it with Obama’s parentage-his British subject father, and American citizen mother, it is indisputable that Obama has been illegaly installed as President and can be legally removed. But the Conservative media, since 2008, has blacked out any mention–let alone any discussion–of Obama’s constitutional ineleligiliity for his office. The Conservative media has similarly blacked out any mention of Obama’s questionable identity documents, or his apparent use of an alias (an alias!) to sign bad bills into law. Why? Why won’t the Conservative media use Obama’s illegitimacy to put end end to his destructive regime? Has the entire Conservative media been intimidated into silence? Is every writer, editor and publisher too frightened to protect their Conservative readers and followers, from a nightmarish future? What is going on? Why is it that the only group that has uncoverd indisputable, dispositive evidence of Obama’s illigitimacy and frauds, and which clearly sees the existential danger Obama poses, is a group which is anathema to the Conservative media–which may dislike Obama’s policies, but simply abhors a group they disparagingly call “birthers.” Has the entire Conservatine media drunk the Obama Kool-Aid? We are witnessing a public media capitulation of a megnitude not seen since pre-WWII and the later Vichy regime. So far, the Consevative media has run from its professional obligations to report fully, as well as accurately, and to safegurad the forunes of their Conservative readers and followers. In doing that, the Conservative media has become an accessory to a great and historic constitutional crime.

  27. Gary Rosen Says:

    Great article (as always) by VDH, southpaw. My favorite line:

    “the huge “Obama for President” sign on the lawn of the Palo Alto professor means never having to put your kids in schools where some are bused in from East Palo Alto”

  28. neo-neocon Says:


    I remember that during the 1979 Iranian revolution the left threw its lot in with Khomeini. That alliance puzzled me very greatly at the time, but I took note of it.

    Many on the left in Iran lived to regret it, I believe, but by then it was too late. Please read this for a post I wrote on that subject.

  29. Mike Says:


    The only thing I will say about Obama the “Christian” is that at best it is a certain type of Christianity which is more a ;political ideology of Marxism than historical Christianity.

    If I had to guess I would say Obama probably does not believe in the Trinity. Which means he is ambivalent about the person of Christ. Which means he may actually favor Arianism…which is the religious and philosophical forerunner of Islam, historically and logically.

    All the “finest” people were Arians in the 300s and all the multi-culti “we are he world” religious hypocrites are basically Arian today.

    Obama is like a Deist Monotheist with a Muslim background and so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was sympathetic to radical Islam (because in his shallow brain being radical is like being cool and so radical Islam is cool Islam. I am sure he admires that AQ uses cell phones and stuff like he does. That is the “depth” of this man’s judgment abilities. He is, in other words, a petulant child and he will never, at this point, rise about that).

    But an actual conscious Muslim? I doubt it. he does not have it in him to commit to such a cause and personal belief.

    He is way to hollow for that.

  30. betsybounds Says:

    Yes. Well. That’s actually what I said: He is not a Muslim. He is also not a Leftist. He pretends to be sometimes one and sometimes the other, but in true life and reality he is an unaligned destroyer.

    I also think it would be a mistake to underestimate him. I think he is no fool.

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    The fate of the world will be decided by who controls America’s power and wealth. And that will be decided by who wins in the civil war, or even that there will be a civil war.

  32. Lizzy Says:

    I agree with others who have speculated that Obama serves both the Left and Islamacists, though he cares not which one eventually wins out (“unaligned destroyer”, indeed!).
    I’ll only add that the two are definitely allied, as much as can be, in their shared desire to see a much weakened America. One only has to look at last week with the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Day of Rage.” If that sounds familiar it’s because this is how the OWS movement started in 2011 (a Day of Rage against Wall Street). Even then it wasn’t original, because this concept dates back to the Weather Underground. Radicals like Jodie Evans of Code Pink have been working with Hamas to undermine Israel for years, and Bill Ayers and Evans worked with Islamists for their last Day of Rage (see: http://tinyurl.com/kry2h58).

    You’re right, Neo, that you cannot objectively review Obama’s foreign policy without seeing that he is not incompetent; Obama has consistently worked to undermine America’s power and support her enemies. Whether or not he himself has the energy or intelligence to pull this off is irrelevant, since he has surrounded himself with like-minded folks who are carrying this out at his direction. What’s frightening is that we already know how little he cares about killing his own people (or any Americans) in service to his goal.

  33. Lizzy Says:

    Forgot to mention that many believe that it’s not a matter of Obama’s White House working with our enemies so much as Obama has invited our enemies into his administration and other parts of our government. It was not that long ago that Bachmann and others voiced concern over Muslim Brotherhood infiltration at the pentagon an at the State Dept.

    Here’s an American Thinker post that provides links to many articles articles about this collusion: http://tinyurl.com/73sqetn
    Here’s a detailed report detailing how Obama has stifled moderate Muslims and elevated radicals: http://tinyurl.com/lc5bzbz

  34. Mike Says:

    Obama himself has referred to to his political opponents, specifically voters, as “enemies”. You have to “punish your enemies” I believe is how he put in in the context of an election.

    It could not be more clear how he views America and Americans.

    The truly horrible thing we ignore at our peril is that the people who voted for Obama are no more real “Americans” than he is. They hate America every bit as much as he does. The only difference is that while he is Lebron James; they are playing pickup ball at the playground. It’s still the same game.

  35. T Says:

    Obama is not a fiendishly clever manipulator; his negative attitude towards American power plus incompetence, or even just not caring, are more than enough to explain the disasters of his foreign policy.

    While I agree, IMO his incompetence produces much the same results as those he would have planned. Such a difference between accidental and purposeful results is an academic difference. Having said that, the functional difference between accidental and purposeful will be seen in the longevity of his results.

    One element that the commentary here overlooks is the dynamic which is the American Experiment. There’s no doubt in my mind that Obama wishes to create a static European-style society. As much as he despises the fundamental American experience (and I do believe that he does despise it), this ain’t Europe and it is my firm belief that he fails to take that into account (he’s just not that smart).

    When cities economically downgrade, residents who refuse to fight back are the first to flee to the placid suburbs. Those who remain are those who can’t leave or those who won’t leave; aka the fighters who are willing to shoulder the risk to remain.

    The United States is the diametric opposite of that trend; those who were not in a position to change Europe took the risk to come to a country whose language they oftentimes did not speak. They were the risk-takers leaving the placid passivists behind. They were our ancestors and I truly believe that such is in our DNA.

    So two components: 1) the fundamental wisdom of the founding fathers in designing a dynamic system which allows anyone regardless of station, to prosper; 2) the risk-takers and descendants of risk-takers who work to do just that. That is the stuff from which long-term trends and empires are built. Obama, by contrast, is an epigone enthralled with an obsolescent European statist system that is proving itself unsustainable even as he moves to adopt it (yes, IMO he really is that unobservant and unaware).

    For those who fear that Obama can permanently disable this American system and cleanse our gene-pool of it’s risk-takers, I offer an alternate view by Victor Davis Hanson:


    Although I may not see it in my own lifetime, I firmly believe that history will not be kind to Barack Obama and the media that enabled him.

  36. T Says:

    “. . . I firmly believe that history will not be kind to Barack Obama . . . .”

    Is the following perhaps a first baby-step in this direction?

    Gallup: Fox Is America’s Main Source For News


  37. neo-neocon Says:


    I have long thought those statistics showing the popularity of Fox are somewhat misleading. The reason is that Fox is pretty much the only TV source of news for conservatives. So all those on the conservative end of things would be watching it, whereas if you are on the liberal end you have many many choices. Therefore liberals are split among the networks, CNN, MSNBC, and public stations. If you add up all the liberal viewers vs. all the viewers of Fox and compare, what do you get?

  38. T Says:


    I don’t dispute your analysis. Since most of the media is left-leaning certainly there is a left-plurality in the aggregate; that certainly weakens the meaning of a 7 point spread between Fox and any single MSM source.

    However, Fox appears to draw a larger %-age of viewers from non-conservatives (22% Repub; 33% Ind; 22% Dem) than any of the liberal networks which draw overwhelmingly from their own constituency (e.g., CNN 16% Repub; 31% Ind; 50% Dem). In fact, by these statistics, Fox’s viewership is more evenly spread across all spectra than any of the left-leaning media newtorks.


    Fox is garnering this “opposition” audience even though is has been consistently reviled by Leftist-media types as not a “real” news network, and has even been villified by the current administration in the White House.

    I submit that those circumstances count for something but I’m not sure exactly what. As I said, a baby step?

  39. T Says:

    * Sorry, error correction on Fox’s statistics (Age 63—see what one comes to!). They should be 40% Repub; 33% Ind; 22% Dem which, I submit, is still a weighted, but more balanced spread than CNN’s 16% Repub; 50% Dem.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    Whenever Americans die or are tortured, Obama gets a big fat smile on his face.

    It’s easy to prophecy truths when the premises are known.

  41. Trimegistus Says:

    I don’t think O has any grand design. He just has impulses — the same reflex responses that all modern American liberals have.

    America = Bad
    Dark-Skinned Foreigners = Good
    Men = Bad
    Women = Good (unless they’re Dark-Skinned Foreign Women, in which case they should get back in the harem and shut up)
    Heterosexual = Bad
    Gay/Lesbian/Etc. = Good
    Christian = Bad
    Rich = Bad (unless they’re big DNC donors)
    Poor = Good (unless they’re Republicans, in which case they’re toothless trailer trash rednecks)

    One can go on. The point is that like most modern Liberals, Obama doesn’t think at all. He responds by reflex.

    This explains his lukewarm support of the Iranian reformers: they’re middle-class and educated, whereas the Islamist thugs attacking them with machetes are poor. He sees Poor = Good and doesn’t have to think.

    The sad thing is that apparently 50% of American voters also do not think, and the schools are training them not to think.

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