Can Obama’s Foreign Policy be Reversed?

 

shutterstock_13753447Conservatives hope that, with the next election, they can undo Obama’s fundamental transformation and revive the United States’ reputation as a valuable friend and a dangerous enemy. But is that even possible? A country that twice elected a Barack Obama — and that could very well elect a Bernie Sanders from the Left or a Rand Paul from the Right — can never be a dependable ally. America might, for a time, become a dangerous enemy, but only until the next election or poll.

Perhaps, the most a conservative president could accomplish in the short term is to keep his or her mouth shut, increase the size of America’s stick, and use that stick when our nation or our citizens are attacked. Until the United States shows that it will consistently protect itself, no potential ally or enemy will take it seriously.

Published in Foreign Policy, Military
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  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Enterprise.  And if you look closely, you can make out Ball-Diamond-Ball from the starboard yardarm.  Which is cool, because close to it is an antenna for one of my systems.

    And I can see that spot where I darned near broke my neck.  Still hurts from time to time — “nothing wrong with it”.  Well, necks are like that.

    • #1
  2. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Richard Fulmer: Perhaps, the most a conservative president could accomplish in the short term is to keep his or her mouth shut, increase the size of America’s stick, and use that stick when our nation or our citizens are attacked. Until the United States shows that it will consistently protect itself, no potential ally or enemy will take it seriously.

    Yup.

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Richard Fulmer: Perhaps, the most a conservative president could accomplish in the short term is to keep his or her mouth shut, increase the size of America’s stick, and use that stick when our nation or our citizens are attacked. Until the United States shows that it will consistently protect itself, no potential ally or enemy will take it seriously.

    I’d add that it would be to our advantage to go completely scorched earth on whomever decides to be the first to kill or threaten an American under the new administration. Kill the perpetrators, their bosses, their friends, and at least a few people who simply said nice things about them. Don’t worry about or apologize for collateral damage.

    Moreover, don’t assume any responsibility for rebuilding or humanitarian relief in that situation. Simply make it clear that whoever harms our citizens and allies will quickly have all they love destroyed.

    Within 24 hours of the Maersk Alabama incident, the president should have asked Congress for a declaration of war against the Somali pirates and then firebombed their ports with B-52s.

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Richard Fulmer:shutterstock_13753447

    H/T to the editors for posting one of the coolest pics ever on Ricochet.

    Darn shame they are high. Nothing a slight throttle reduction and power back on combined with a tiny nose bump won’t fix.

    • #4
  5. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    The corollary to #3 is that we should be exceedingly generous with humanitarian aid to allies in crisis.

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Right. And the same is true of intelligence sharing. If our ability to prevent leaks depends upon which party is in office, then few will want to share intel with us.

    There is still a long year left before President Obama leaves office. Even if some course correction by a Republican leader is possible, he will probably face worse problems than we see even today.

    • #6
  7. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    BrentB67:

    Richard Fulmer:shutterstock_13753447

    H/T to the editors for posting one of the coolest pics ever on Ricochet.

    Darn shame they are high. Nothing a slight throttle reduction and power back on combined with a tiny nose bump won’t fix.

    That and it’s the wrong hardware.
    Just above the fantail CIWS the port gallery p-way lets out to a little catwalk with a chair stolen from some office.  Great place to watch recoveries.  Not for the faint of heart.

    • #7
  8. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Obama’s approach to Syria has been right. What exactly is our national interest there?

    • #8
  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Marion Evans:Obama’s approach to Syria has been right. What exactly is our national interest there?

    Except for that whole red-line, regime change thing without the stones to back it up.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy we’re almost a non-entity there.  But a man who can’t put up must shut up, or be made to.  Hence Putin.

    Thanks for the flexibility, [авторитарный русский Путц!]

    • #9
  10. Richard Fulmer Inactive
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Richard Fulmer: Perhaps, the most a conservative president could accomplish in the short term is to keep his or her mouth shut, increase the size of America’s stick, and use that stick when our nation or our citizens are attacked. Until the United States shows that it will consistently protect itself, no potential ally or enemy will take it seriously.

    I’d add that it would be to our advantage to go completely scorched earth on whomever decides to be the first to kill or threaten an American under the new administration. Kill the perpetrators, their bosses, their friends, and at least a few people who simply said nice things about them. Don’t worry or apologize about collateral damage.

    Don’t assume any responsibility for rebuilding or humanitarian relief in that situation. Simply make it clear that whoever harms our citizens and allies will quickly have all they love destroyed.

    Within 24 hours of the Maersk Alabama incident, the president should have asked congress for a declaration of war against the Somali pirates and then firebombed their ports with B-52s.

    Hear, hear.  Pillage their village, turn the place into rubble, and make the rubble bounce.  Then leave.

    • #10
  11. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Richard Fulmer: Can Obama’s Foreign Policy be Reversed?

    Well, we reversed bad foreign policy after the Depression, Korea, Vietnam, and the Clinton years so history says yes.

    Do we have the will to reverse his foreign policy? Our entitlement spending says no.

    • #11
  12. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Richard Fulmer:
    “Hear, hear. Pillage their village, turn the place into rubble, and make the rubble bounce. Then leave”

    It takes a Fairchild to raze a village.

    • #12
  13. Joseph Kulisics Inactive
    Joseph Kulisics
    @JosephKulisics

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    I’d add that it would be to our advantage to go completely scorched earth on whomever decides to be the first to kill or threaten an American under the new administration. Kill the perpetrators, their bosses, their friends, and at least a few people who simply said nice things about them. Don’t worry or apologize about collateral damage.

    The Soviets proved a long time ago that a policy of quick and harsh retaliation is immediately effective against even terrorist ideologues. Here is an article describing their famously effective response to the execution of diplomat in Lebanon in the eighties. Read and enjoy.

    We can’t turn around Obama’s policy gradually—a gradual turn will seem irresolute—but we can make a sudden, dramatic turn that will have lingering effects even on enemies facing another weak president like Obama.

    • #13
  14. Herbert E. Meyer Contributor
    Herbert E. Meyer
    @HerbertEMeyer

    I’ll support whichever GOP candidate promises to nominate Tom for Secretary of State.

    By the way — for those of you too young to remember — when President-elect Reagan named Al Haig as his Secretary of State the Russians went nuts.  Whatever his faults, Haig had been the NATO Commander.  So, Reagan chose the NATO COMMANDER as our country’s top diplomat.  Talk about sending a signal….

    • #14
  15. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Austin Murrey:

    Richard Fulmer: Can Obama’s Foreign Policy be Reversed?

    Well, we reversed bad foreign policy after the Depression, Korea, Vietnam, and the Clinton years so history says yes.

    Do we have the will to reverse his foreign policy? Our entitlement spending says no.

    Neo conservative foreign policy looks much different with debt:GDP>1.

    • #15
  16. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    We have survived these issues before.  WW II is a good example of being well behind the curve, and then coming around and solving the problem.  Will there be a quick fix?  Maybe not, but then maybe.

    • #16
  17. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Herbert E. Meyer:I’ll support whichever GOP candidate promises to nominate Tom for Secretary of State.

    By the way — for those of you too young to remember — when President-elect Reagan named Al Haig as his Secretary of State the Russians went nuts. Whatever his faults, Haig had been the NATO Commander. So, Reagan chose the NATO COMMANDER as our country’s top diplomat. Talk about sending a signal….

    But now we have James Lurch Taylor. So all is good. He’d like to buy the world a coke and acquiesce in perfect harmony.

    Paging John Bolton. Red courtesy phone.

    • #17
  18. Dan Hanson Thatcher
    Dan Hanson
    @DanHanson

    It’s very hard to make a sharp sudden turn in military capacity when new major weapons systems take decades to bring online and have to survive through multiple administrations.   The contract for the JSF,  which eventually became the F-35,  was signed in 1996.

    This isn’t just a military problem – America is full of half-finished or grossly over-budget long-term projects that couldn’t survive a decade or more of political wind-shifting without being constantly mucked with,  having major requirements changes,  or cancelled altogether.  Yucca Mountain is a good example.  Various NASA programs like Constellation and the ISS are another.

    One lesson I think needs to be learned on the right is that whatever military action they take has to be resolved within the span of an administration.  One of the key ‘faults’ of the Iraq campaign  is that it had to be carried on through multiple administrations to be successful,  and all it would take is one idiot-in-chief to destroy the whole project.

    So,  no nation building.  No multi-decade efforts to invade and then rebuild a country.   Assume that the next administration is going to be completely hostile to everything you’ve tried to do and cannot be trusted to carry it to a successful completion.

    Other than that,  I am very skeptical of America’s ability to maintain a reasonably strong military.  The west still hasn’t hit the worst of the fiscal crunch that will result from the baby boom cohort retiring, ageing, and dying.   Medicare costs are going to sky-rocket,  many workers are going to leave the work force and become a net drain on the system instead of contributing taxes, and the new generations coming up are leaving school fully indoctrinated in multi-culti mush-think that’s going to make them really hard to convince when it comes to increasing military budgets.

    The zero interest rate regime has to end sometime,  and when it does America’s 18 trillion dollar debt is going to become very expensive.

    Unless there’s another major attack or Russia or China invades someone we can’t tolerate and there is widespread agreement on that,  I suspect the military is going to continue to take the brunt of cutbacks as other priorities get bigger.  This is a very bad thing,  but that’s the way the wind is blowing.

    Frankly,  right now I’m more focused on hoping that the world gets through the next year,  which I think has to be considered one of the most dangerous years since the height of the cold war.  Every bad actor in the world knows that their window of opportunity is going to close with the election of the next President.  The only thing worse than a passive idiot for President is one who is also a lame duck.

    • #18
  19. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Nothing will be fixed until the world’s problem start inconveniencing people on a daily basis.

    Crucifixion has returned as punishment in parts of the world and Americans wonder which of 58 genders they are.

    There is virtually no American alive when America was not a world power and most have been alive while America has been a superpower.  I wonder if people would decide to do something if that were no longer true.

    • #19
  20. KiminWI Member
    KiminWI
    @KiminWI

    Adding to the worry, our natural allies, Europe, have not maintained their military fitness and have welcomed so much of the enemy into their borders. We are largely alone and irresponsibly weakened, both economically and morally.

    • #20
  21. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Your second paragraph is a foreign policy that our friends can welcome and our enemies fear, so what’s the problem?   What they shouldn’t and don’t welcome, nor should we,  is a foreign policy driven by media cycles, home grown anti American cranks, and fools who think we can fix the world’s evils and transform it into something like our self image.  The first order of business is to get our economy rolling so there is no doubts about our power, our deficit  turned into a surplus so the debt overhang is not a vulnerability.   Then we can start rebuilding alliances and trying to figure out what we and our allies want to do about the challenges we jointly face.

    • #21
  22. SPare Member
    SPare
    @SPare

    Of course it can be fixed.  It’s just that it’s going to take some time.  5 years at a minimum before a reversal will bear any fruit, and more likely 10.

    with due respect to the long time lags in replacement of major platforms, once they’re put into the pipeline they will start their reassuring effect, F35 notwithstanding. Certain interim moves can additionally be made (ie. resolve the problem with F35 lags by re-starting the F22 line, and extending the A10)

    Similarly with the impact of entitlement spending: it’s going to have to be dealt with regardless, and the relative pittance to rebuild military capability is a rounding error by comparison.  Besides, what’s needed to fix foreign affairs is policy, not equipment based.

    • #22
  23. Joseph Kulisics Inactive
    Joseph Kulisics
    @JosephKulisics

    Dan Hanson:One lesson I think needs to be learned on the right is that whatever military action they take has to be resolved within the span of an administration. One of the key ‘faults’ of the Iraq campaign is that it had to be carried on through multiple administrations to be successful, and all it would take is one idiot-in-chief to destroy the whole project.

    I basically agree, and I would just add that there is a good answer. I read an article once describing modern Chinese military doctrine as built around incidental punishment. Basically, the Chinese realized that they didn’t have the resources for a protracted occupation of Vietnam and that they couldn’t hope to pacify the country, so instead of trying, when the Vietnamese angered the Chinese leadership by deposing the Khmer Rouge, partly to test the strength of the Soviet commitment to Vietnam, the Chinese launched a punishing, short invasion. I believe that the Sino-Vietnamese war lasted around a month. Why aren’t we doing the same thing? We didn’t need to occupy Iraq. We could have just decapitated the regime and reserved the right to do the same to any successor with which we had a serious conflict. Punish violent opposition with time-limited, overwhelming force. Reward acceptable and diplomatically manageable differences of opinion with peace.

    As for the future of defense, I’m hoping that mass-produced, autonomous drones and our technical advantages will save the west.

    • #23
  24. Richard Fulmer Inactive
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    Joseph Kulisics:

    …As for the future of defense, I’m hoping that mass-produced, autonomous drones and our technical advantages will save the west.

    Great idea.  For the short term – and perhaps longer – we need to concentrate on effective and inexpensive weapons that can be designed and built quickly and in large numbers.  This side-steps the issues inherent in a democracy in which long-term defense investments are impossible.  Decades long procurement cycles were possible only when both parties favored a muscular foreign policy.  The increasing speed with which technology changes has likely made big-ticket military hardware obsolete in any case.

    • #24
  25. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Quinn the Eskimo: Crucifixion has returned as punishment in parts of the world and Americans wonder which of 58 genders they are.

    Western problems brother.  Don’t microaggression me!

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Richard Fulmer: America might, for a time, become a dangerous enemy, but only until the next election or poll.

    That has been true since at least 1975.

    • #26
  27. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    After the Carter mistake, the U.S. didn’t elect another obvious pacifist for 28 years.

    Yes, we re-elected Obama, but his foreign policy failures weren’t as obvious then as now.

    We’re probably good for another 28 years before the people forget again.

    • #27
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    SPare, I agree with you on the F-22 and the A-10. The way to “fix” the F-35 is to realize that being all things to all branches is not a reasonable design goal and to proceed – or not – with that in mind.

    • #28
  29. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Concretevol:

    Quinn the Eskimo: Crucifixion has returned as punishment in parts of the world and Americans wonder which of 58 genders they are.

    Western problems brother. Don’t microaggression me!

    Someday, there will be as many genders are there are people.  That’s a lot of bathrooms at any public accommodation.

    • #29
  30. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Concretevol:

    Quinn the Eskimo: Crucifixion has returned as punishment in parts of the world and Americans wonder which of 58 genders they are.

    Western problems brother. Don’t microaggression me!

    Someday, there will be as many genders are there are people. That’s a lot of bathrooms at any public accommodation.

    They’re called trees. Dogs have been using them for years.

    • #30
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