The president grows ever cockier on foreign policy

posted at 4:27 pm on October 21, 2011 by Tina Korbe

He has a reputation as “Mr. Cool,” but the president has proved himself to be surprisingly hot at presiding over the takedown of brutal strongmen. Now, as he announces the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and as policy experts debate the degree to which the president’s decisions contributed to the success of the Libyan uprising, my question is: Has the president forgotten to whom he owes much of the credit for the success of the strategies he’s pursued abroad? Certainly, Barack Obama and his entire administration never forget to whom they owe the down economy, whatever Vice President Joe Biden might say to the contrary.

When it comes to foreign policy, the president has resembled George W. Bush far more than he promised he would. Yes, he opened his foreign policy with a grand apology tour and, yes, he most recently offered to apologize to the Japanese for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Neither of those even slightly resemble Bush. He also “led from behind” in rather un-Bush-like fashion when it came to Libya.

But let’s review a few of his other policies: He continued the surge in Afghanistan; he didn’t close Gitmo despite his campaign promise to do so; he recognized the wisdom of military tribunals; he has utilized drones in Pakistan; and he kept the troops in Iraq far longer than he said he would. That all sounds like G.W., if you ask me.

What exactly led to the capture and kill of Osama bin Laden or to the success of the mission in Libya or to any other of the president’s foreign policy successes can’t be credited to any one person — but the president should at least acknowledge his predecessor had it right on a number of issues.

Which brings us to the president’s decision to withdraw the troops from Iraq. Obama has never exactly been a humble guy, but my guess is he wouldn’t make this particularly consequential decision if he weren’t feeling especially cocky about his overall success on the foreign policy front. He thinks he has the political capital to do this — but he doesn’t. What’s made the American people trust Obama on foreign policy hasn’t been any decision in line with the Obama doctrine of apology. What’s made the American people trust Obama on foreign policy is that we’ve seen he’s wise enough to change his mind about key Bush policies.

Withdrawing the troops now betrays a certain naivete on Obama’s part — a certain optimistic belief that the American people think he knows best about these issues. But, as much as we all want to see the troops come home, none of us want to see the United States’ ability to defend its interests abroad weakened. This decision will do just that. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano explains:

Rather than a symbol of success, the withdrawal of U.S. troops seems more like the outcome of an Administration in retreat.

With Syria in turmoil, Iran on the march, a more isolated Israel, and Turkey’s ever-more ambivalent policies, now is the worst time to see a diminished U.S. influence in ensuring continued progress in Iraq. A total troop pullout will leave Iraqi security forces much more vulnerable to terrorism, sectarian conflict, and Iranian meddling, and it will leave them much less capable of battling al-Qaeda in Iraq and pro-Iranian shia militias.

In part, Obama and his Obama Doctrine are to blame for the Iraqi government walking away from U.S. support—though it knows this premature decision makes the future of the country’s peace and prosperity risky business. The Obama Administration’s clear preference to disengage from Iraq as quickly as possible has made it more difficult to negotiate with Baghdad from a position of strength. Iraqi leaders, sensing the Obama Administration’s eagerness to head for the exit, are reluctant to take political risks to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution.This was a deal-breaker.

Now the Obama Administration’s policy for the Middle East is moving from leading from behind to watching from the sidelines.

Has the president gotten cocky? Obviously. But it has ever been true and ever will be true that pride goes before a fall.

Update: This post originally mistakenly stated in one spot that Obama planned to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan rather than Iraq. It has been corrected above.


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Even in Libya Tina, he owes Bush. If Bush didn’t invade Iraq, Gaddafi doesn’t give up his WMDs. If he has his WMDs, he doesn’t get toppled. So Bush gets credit there too.

milemarker2020 on October 21, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Why did we invade Libya? Who gets the $30 BILLION? Soros? Muslim Brotherhood? Lockerbie families? US reimbursement?

faraway on October 21, 2011 at 4:34 PM

he didn’t close Gitmo despite his campaign promise to do so

And he made a big deal of signing and executive order to close it by the end of 2009.

forest on October 21, 2011 at 4:34 PM

” But it has ever been true and ever will be true that pride goes before a fall.”

Too bad he won’t be the only one falling…

Seven Percent Solution on October 21, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Fail

Joe Mama on October 21, 2011 at 4:37 PM

I can’t wait until Obama gets his comeuppins in Nov. 2012. I pray the election is a wipe out. Pride goeth before a fall….indeed.

Winebabe on October 21, 2011 at 4:38 PM

The Obama Administration’s clear preference to disengage from Iraq as quickly as possible has made it more difficult to negotiate with Baghdad from a position of strength. Iraqi leaders, sensing the Obama Administration’s eagerness to head for the exit, are reluctant to take political risks to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution.This was a deal-breaker.

Is this really true?

Obama deserves to be a little cocky on foreign policy, because the GOP is utterly schizophrenic on it. Granted, you have to be careful what you say considering the wold is listening in. It was ridiculous how the GOP couldn’t get behind a singular narrative on Libya. The right narrative on Libya is that Obama was 3 weeks late and forced the intervention to be longer than it needed to be.

ninjapirate on October 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Which brings us to the president’s decision to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan.

Iraq?

pain train on October 21, 2011 at 4:42 PM

He is a man with a knack for embracing fail. Which makes me concerned that Iraq will degenerate and Libya will be far worse than any of us imagine.

NotCoach on October 21, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Lest we forget that with each death of a leader in a Muslim country…Obama is ticking off the Muslim people. Sure they want their dictators gone, but what are they heading toward now? More dictators, and brutality.

Thank Obama folks!

capejasmine on October 21, 2011 at 4:42 PM

That “Mussolini” pose of Obowma really makes me believe…

… that when he looses the election (if we have one) he will not go quietly into the night.

Seven Percent Solution on October 21, 2011 at 4:43 PM

He doesn’t like the brutal strongmen because he thinks they’re his competition.

Alana on October 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Gotten cocky? Don’t you mean cockier? He’s always been an arrogant, petulant child. Why would it be any different now. This just feeds his already inflated ego.

BillyWilly on October 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Into the ether goes the protest and crying and whining and the terrible treatment of Dubya the Warmongering Fascist Chimp.

Bishop on October 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

You misquoted there. It’s Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

jimw on October 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

This “zero troops” by year’s end is nonsense. I know about a score of Air Force people who have just deployed to Iraq for six months to a year. There is precisely no talk of redeploying them early. We will continue to keep several thousand (mostly Air Force) troops in Iraq to run airfields and other support functions for years. It’s going to be like Southern Watch in the 90s. What fun.

WarEagle01 on October 21, 2011 at 4:46 PM

What exactly led to the capture and kill of Osama bin Laden or to the success of the mission in Libya or to any other of the president’s foreign policy successes

Tina’s off her luvin’ rocker.

That neoconservative applause will re-elect Obama.

maverick muse on October 21, 2011 at 4:46 PM

You misquoted there. It’s Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

jimw on October 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

That took longer than I figured it would. I thought 4:30 at the latest.

Oldnuke on October 21, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Even in Libya Tina, he owes Bush. If Bush didn’t invade Iraq, Gaddafi doesn’t give up his WMDs. If he has his WMDs, he doesn’t get toppled. So Bush gets credit there too.

milemarker2020 on October 21, 2011 at 4:31 PM

To restate this: it’s funny how far back blame goes but how recent credit is given.

The War Planner on October 21, 2011 at 4:48 PM

I’m sure PBHO is the one who actually shot Khadaffi…

HE HAD TO HAVE DONE IT!! YANKEE CAP AND ALL!!

Khun Joe on October 21, 2011 at 4:49 PM

“Marky Markos” (Daily Kos) was wondering why Republicans weren’t giving Obama his “props” for “taking out Qaddafi”….

…I’m willing to give him his props for this AND what is going to come next.

Because what’s coming after this is going to make Vietnam look like a weekend vacation at Disneyworld….

TeresainFortWorth on October 21, 2011 at 4:52 PM

I’m just guessing here but the Brits and the French had absolutely nothing to do with getting the Qaddafi. Right?

oldernwiser on October 21, 2011 at 4:56 PM

So far, he’s given the terrorists over 20,000 ground to air missiles, huge amounts of explosives and IED ingredients, etc. Who knows the actual amounts and/or various armaments. After the backstabbings of Mubarak and Gaddafi (he had been working with America for a decade), our few remaining allies in the Middle East don’t trust us. Now Uganda…

Karmi on October 21, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Bush(41)kicked butt in Iraq with Schwarzkopf leading the troops and he still lost because he blurted out – in the blundering fashion that seems to be the Bush family trademark – “read my lips tombstone, not new taxes attacks!”

kregg on October 21, 2011 at 4:58 PM

I’ve never known anyone to match Obama’s willingness both to take credit for others’ good work and to avoid responsibility for his own mistakes.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 21, 2011 at 4:59 PM

From Drudge:
REPORT: Woman beaten with frozen armadillo…

Should be a law against this….

VBMax on October 21, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Because what’s coming after this is going to make Vietnam look like a weekend vacation at Disneyworld….

TeresainFortWorth on October 21, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Yeah…

… with all that oil sitting around and 30,000 missing anti-aircraft missles, the next few months should be a hoot.

/

Seven Percent Solution on October 21, 2011 at 5:08 PM

It’s the Peace Prize talkin’. That’s all it is. You get a gold medal around your neck and suddenly you’re all tough.

Happens all the time. Ask Arafat.

Lily on October 21, 2011 at 5:13 PM

I’m willing to let him bask in the afterglow of the Gadaffi takedown while I smile and fantasize about retaking the Senate due to his FAIL on the economy.

a capella on October 21, 2011 at 5:23 PM

At this point, the only reason Iraq remains important is its physical proximity to Iran. While our troops were next door in Iraq, I think our presence acted as a deterrent to Iran’s nuclear ambitions–slowing if not stopping development to a degree, anyway.

With us gone, looks as if Iran will realize its dream of regional hegemony sooner rather than later. Why the West is seemingly reconciled to a nuclear Iran baffles me. I kept thinking there must be some deeper strategy at work, some hidden master plan, but at its core there is only moral cowardice and lack of resolve. Appeasement will continue and eventually lead where appeasement always goes.

troyriser_gopftw on October 21, 2011 at 5:23 PM

What foreign policy success? Just because he is willing to let the CIA kill a few people with drones, how does that become foreign policy success.

Axis of Evil:

Iran — Still getting nukes

North Korea — Still has nukes and is still threatening every where including helping Syria develop nukes

Speaking of Syria….yeah he put in an ambassador and that really helped….

Israel — Obama’s policies and cozying up to the terrorists of the PA/PLO and Hamas have thrown the Jews directly under the bus

Egypt — Abandoned Murbarak to install the just as murderous Muslim Brotherhood

Iraq – pulling out all troops, al-sadr still alive and Iran gets away with killing American troops with impunity

Afghanistan…abandoning the efforts there, supporting a totally corrupt drug dealing regime and directly negotiating with the terrorist Taliban

Pissed off the UK by taking sides with Argentina over the Falklands

French/Sarkozy hate Obama

Arabs in Africa, Sudan et al still getting away with genocide against Black Africans

Just cut $500 billion from defense and is asking to cut more

So, please, the idea that Obama has success in FP is silly, only people like Bill O’Reilly would clam that Obama is a success

georgealbert on October 21, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Don’t forget that the Bush SOFA was driven largely by the anti-war protests here at home and the Democrat victory in the 2006 elections. It was a largely domestic political appeasement with the hopes that the agreement would help drag McCain’s sorry old a$$ across the finish line in the 2008 elections.

Didn’t work for Vietnam, not working for Iraq.

The problem with Iraq wasn’t Saddam, just as the problem in Iran isn’t Imadinnerjacket. The problem is that those countries are muslim. That means they have a highly theocratic form of government from a religion that teaches hatred and conquest over those who don’t hold that faith as well as the over-arching teaching that muslims are destined to rule the world. We ignore these facts at our peril. Thus, helping them rebuild or providing foreign aid isn’t viewed with gratitude, it is viewed as the duty of the infidels to provide such aid to the Uman and the sovereign right of the muslims to receive such tribute from the infidels.

The only way to pacify the middle east, until they get their heads wrapped around the fact that they are wrong in their conquest-based religion is the same solution that has been applied over the centuries — absolute defeat and crushing destruction of their ability to make war. Worked for Europe, worked for Jefferson, worked for the British. These people, as stated above, don’t understand charity, they gifts or aid as a right. It might sound cold-hearted, but it is the only thing that is going to keep our children and grandchildren from being subjugated by these savages.

AZfederalist on October 21, 2011 at 5:29 PM

This dude is a killing machine!

BKeyser on October 21, 2011 at 5:30 PM

el Douche

catmman on October 21, 2011 at 5:37 PM

The funny thing is is that I bet if one looked moderately closely, you’d find a bunch of SCOAMF quotes from late 80′s to early 90′s about how American imperialism is impinging on Libya.

joeindc44 on October 21, 2011 at 5:41 PM

That picture of bho! I have been told, but don’t know for a fact, that if you put a turkey out when it is raining he will drown because his face is in the air and is so stupid he will not get out of the rain and dang, it dies from drowning?
L

letget on October 21, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Obama’s definitely going to play up foreign policy, bragging about how he bagged Gaddafi. What a joke.

RELATED: This is graphic, but there’s new video of Gaddafi pleading with his captors to spare his life. And the rebels were debating whether they should kill him: ‘New Footage Shows Muammar Gaddafi Begging for His Life’.

Donald Douglas on October 21, 2011 at 5:54 PM

The question is whether he is disposing of dangerous dictators or just lighting fires that may smolder a bit before they consume the entire Mideast. Sadly the left has lots of experience with setting fires with bad results for everyone.

tim c on October 21, 2011 at 5:57 PM

What’s made the American people trust Obama on foreign policy hasn’t been any decision in line with the Obama doctrine of apology. What’s made the American people trust Obama on foreign policy is that we’ve seen he’s wise enough to change his mind about key Bush policies.

Tina, the American People do not trust Obama on ANYTHING. Trust is earned and he hasn’t earned anything other than contempt.

bluefox on October 21, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Has the president gotten cocky? Obviously. But it has ever been true and ever will be true that pride goes before a fall.

.
NO. You don’t understand.
.
The role of Democrats is to lecture Republicans on all things governmental, moral and intellectual. The role of Republicans is to look stupid when called upon and to race around looking competent when convenient.
.
If you have any doubts, refer to Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) who asserts:

“But after a few minutes, the president’s tone got serious — and condescending.”

The Republican governor not only says that Obama was “patronizing” during their Oval Office sit-down, but says the president “lectured me,” the paper quotes Brewer as saying in “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border.”

ExpressoBold on October 21, 2011 at 6:02 PM

georgealbert on October 21, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Quite a list. I hope Tina reads it and corrects her statement about the American people “trusting” Obama.

bluefox on October 21, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Foreign “policy” my backside . . . his so called successes have been the assassinations of heads of state and foreign political leaders. As long as he has enough predators to raise havoc around the globe he’s bound to kill somebody, sometime. He’s not a “wartime president”, he’s an assassin and is equivalent to a Mafia hit man.

rplat on October 21, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Everything Obama has done in regard to the war effort has been for political show. He used the infrastructure set up by Bush and used the military for photo ops. Anyone who believes he is doing the right thing in leaving Iraq is exceedingly naive. Bush may have set up the date of withdrawal, but under any Republican President, we would not have withdrawn before containing Iran. I have great suspicion about the idea that Maliki would not protect our troops and I’d suggest that this never would have been used as a ploy if a Republican was POTUS.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 6:13 PM

Lesson to future republican presidents…before every conflict…say your changing parties and have fun.

tomas on October 21, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Is this really true?

Obama deserves to be a little cocky on foreign policy, because the GOP is utterly schizophrenic on it. Granted, you have to be careful what you say considering the wold is listening in. It was ridiculous how the GOP couldn’t get behind a singular narrative on Libya. The right narrative on Libya is that Obama was 3 weeks late and forced the intervention to be longer than it needed to be.

ninjapirate on October 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM

No, the right narrative is that there was no American interest at stake and we shouldn’t have gotten involved in a civil war.

Obama shouldn’t be cocky because it was the Iraq war that scared Qadaffi into giving up his weapons programs. Obama has become that which he and the Dems campaigned against, NEOCONS.

RedRobin145 on October 21, 2011 at 6:19 PM

RedRobin145 on October 21, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Naive.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Every single time I see that picture of Dear Leader, I seriously yearn for a pigeon flyover!

pilamaye on October 21, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Has the president GOTTEN cocky? No. He has been cocky and arrogant since the first I ever heard of him.

DrStock on October 21, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Wag the Atomic Dog

tomas on October 21, 2011 at 6:23 PM

I’d even go a step further and say Obama has enjoyed being CIC because he loves controlling the thing he hates most – the U.S. military.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Naive.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 6:21 PM

.
No, RedRobin145 is quite correct. Qadaffi did indeed give up his pretensions to nuclear programs after Dubya took out al-Tikriti and engaged AQ in Iraq. Bashar al-Assad was scared sh!tless about his tenuous hold on Syrian control after Dubya toppled the Iraqi dictator.

ExpressoBold on October 21, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Which brings us to the president’s decision to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan.

ummm, Tina, you meant Iraq, no?

maineconservative on October 21, 2011 at 7:07 PM

I don’t think he could execute a better plan to destroy oil and America at the same time. What better way to get your green/AGW agenda pushed forward than to back the destruction of every organized government in the Middle East. With no clear leaders, it’s not like these nations are going to be able to produce a lot of oil and I wouldn’t think western companies would be all too excited to drill for oil in all the chaos. I suspect we’ll see Iran take over Iraq and then maybe a war between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Iran. Egypt and Libya both may devolve into civil war. Turkey may end up in conflict with Israel as it’s economy goes down the tubes. Of course on our end we’re making it impossible to drill for oil just off our coast and in Alaska as well as fighting a Canadian pipeline.

BUT don’t worry, companies like Solyndra will save us all! /

ReaganWasRight on October 21, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Of course on our end we’re making it impossible to drill for oil just off our coast and in Alaska as well as fighting a Canadian pipeline.

BUT don’t worry, companies like Solyndra will save us all! /

ReaganWasRight on October 21, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Ah, but if he is successful in that, the peasants will be at the gates of the White House with pitchforks and torches demanding the domestic production of petroleum.

This could backfire bigtime, people in the US aren’t ready to become 3rd world peasants yet. Just look at the precious OSW protesters, you think they would stand still if their iPods, iPads, and blogs went dark?

AZfederalist on October 21, 2011 at 7:20 PM

What better way to get your green/AGW agenda pushed forward than to back the destruction of every organized government in the Middle East.

This is why I referred moths ago to the Obama Doctrine being little more than the “tossed salad” approach. The left has agitated in the ME for decades. Obama comes along and they were able to literally throw the place up in the air with little care as to where the pieces fell. Those same characters are doing the same on a global basis, including here with the occupests. Create chaos to create change.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 7:21 PM

ExpressoBold on October 21, 2011 at 6:31 PM

I was referring to the neocon terminology. The rest is correct.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 7:25 PM

I was referring to the neocon terminology. The rest is correct.

Connie on October 21, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Naive? In the context of Obama’s foreign policy, I am correct. Google Obama neocon so you can see articles from people on the Right and Left saying the same thing I am.

RedRobin145 on October 21, 2011 at 8:55 PM

Just look at the precious OSW protesters, you think they would stand still if their iPods, iPads, and blogs went dark?

AZfederalist on October 21, 2011 at 7:20 PM

That would make a good ad:-)

bluefox on October 21, 2011 at 9:48 PM

RedRobin145 on October 21, 2011 at 8:55 PM

Obama is not a neocon. He is a narcissist who enjoys controlling our military because he hates our military.

Connie on October 22, 2011 at 12:59 AM

I’m more than willing to credit Obama for Libya.

He owns it, as well as what comes next.

Remember when Jimmah cold-shouldered that evil autocrat the Shah?

I do. I was in the AO at that time.

schmuck281 on October 22, 2011 at 1:38 AM

Obama is not a neocon. He is a narcissist who enjoys controlling our military because he hates our military.

Connie on October 22, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Obama is more of a hypocrite due to continuing most of W’s policies when it comes to fighting terrorists.

RedRobin145 on October 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Obama is not a neocon. He is a narcissist who enjoys controlling our military because he hates our military.

Connie on October 22, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Obama is more of a hypocrite due to continuing most of W’s policies when it comes to fighting terrorists.

RedRobin145 on October 22, 2011 at 12:22 PM