Like the Bourbons, Barack Obama and his national security advisers have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They have not forgotten that they were first elected in 2008 to “end” Middle East wars, and the administration’s response to the attacks in Paris last week reveals that they have yet to learn any different.
Thus Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser and the president’s strategic id, instructed ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that the United States would have to be “nimble” in attacking the Islamic State. This has been a consistent theme of administration talking points since Obama launched his anti-ISIS campaign back in September 2014.
But if the goal is to “ultimately destroy” ISIS – as, of course, it must be – being nimble is not the way to go about it. And so it should hardly be surprising that the administration’s “light footprint” approach has not prevented ISIS from holding its ground or expanding its reach outside of Iraq and Syria. Indeed, it’s convinced everyone from our Sunni allies to the Iranians and the Russians that we’re not serious. Whatever order there was in the region is dying in large measure from American nimbleness.
Rhodes’s prescription for “nimble power” is much like its predecessors “soft power” and “smart power” in that it doesn’t reflect much in the way of actual power. At this point, it can only be understood as a fig leaf for retreat and disengagement; its purpose, however, is not simply to give the illusion of action but to discredit actions, especially the use of substantial U.S. land forces, that might reverse the outcome. Only in an Obama era can the death of a single American soldier or the commitment of a few dozen special operations forces be considered an “escalation.” Dean Rusk, this ain’t.
The Paris attacks, and the tide of refugees now flooding into Europe, are reminders that the wars of the Middle East are neither over, nor are they “contained.” The full consequences of the Obama retreat have yet to be felt here at home, but they’re coming, whether they come in the form of a particular terrorist wave or, ultimately more profoundly, in the form of a further disintegration of international order. America has been at the center of this order, and when the center does not hold, things do fall apart.
During the debate in Las Vegas, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Jim Webb how, if were he elected, “he would not be a third term for Obama.” Webb said that “there would be a major difference between my administration and the Obama administration,” and it would concern “the use of executive authority.”
As the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign closed the books on its first month of operations, campaign manager Robby Mook emailed supporters with a rather remarkable claim: Hillary Clinton "didn't have a lot of the usual resources that other candidates might have" to launch a campaign. Tellingly, Mook provided only two examples to back up his assertion: "No big email list" and not even a Facebook page (!) in place until 30 days ago. Here's how the email begins:
Here's video, via Fox News, of the power outage at the State Department today:
The power went out in the middle of the State Department briefing.
Fox reported that there are widespread outages across Washington, D.C., including at the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the White House, the Capitol, and of course the State Department. Some Metro stations have also lost power.
Bret Stephens is the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist. He is also author of a new book, America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming World Disorder, detailing the Obama administration’s foreign policy blunders. Recently I spoke with Stephens about his book, how this White House has caused trouble for America abroad, and if there’s hope on the horizon.
The White House has argued that President Obama's executive amnesty order last week was made well within the existing law. But in remarks in Chicago tonight, President Obama went off script and admitted that in fact he unilaterally made changes to the law.
President Obama made the admission after getting heckled for several minutes by immigration protesters.
“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are…of fatal tendency. …
White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri defended President Obama's planned executive amnesty by saying it "doesn't" shred the Constitution:
Asked the MSNBC host, "What's your response to the Washington Post editorial that said that the president's frustration with Congress 'doesn't grant the president license to tear up the constitution'?"