Bumps And Noise

If further indication of foreign policy competence and engagement is required, we have it. The President offered a sterling analysis of American foreign policy failures on 60 Minutes; “bumps in the road” says he. Those “bumps in the road” are in fact dead Americans, sacrificed to failed policy, the inability to anticipate, the brushing away of facts on the ground and the triumph of ideology over reality.

The existential threat to Israel from Iran and a radicalized Arab world is ‘noise’. The President ignores that ‘noise’ and the Israeli Prime Minister along with it. The President can point to sanctions and it is true that current sanctions are the strongest yet. Those sanctions have seriously hurt the Iranian economy;, they have not, however, had any impact on the nuclear program which proceeds apace.

The ‘noise’ from Israel is a desperate cry to establish a firm deterrence related to Iran. The Prime Minister’s base line analysis is that an American ‘red line’ is the key to a last ditch effort at deterrence. His point is that deterrence based on American policy may be the only available option that could avoid a military confrontation. The entire rationale for deterrence is to avoid hot conflict; noise?

Were Israel to act alone against Iran they would do so with American arms. In the Middle Eastern analysis that is equivalent to America actually pulling the trigger. If we are to be blamed, which we will be, why not a strong policy aimed at preventing that eventuality? Noise!

Okay, Osama is dead and terrorists are being killed by drones. I congratulate the President for those efforts. However, those efforts cannot be categorized as strategic thinking. Dead bad guys are a good thing, live bad guys capable of generating intelligence is better. We’re we to execute both possibilities; I would congratulate the president on, as he likes to put it, ‘a balanced approach’.

Killing Osama was a great accomplishment, keeping our mouths shut about it for a week or two so that the intelligence that was gathered could be analyzed before the rats ran to their holes would have demonstrated a maturity of vision and discipline that is clearly absent. The SEAL’s came out of bin Laden’s compound with bags full of intelligence material; there is absolutely no way it could have been analyzed before the President’s announcement of the mission.

Our ‘policy’ of reset has failed. Russia is, if anything, more aggressive. They have blocked sanctions against Iran and support the Assad regime in Syria. Russia is committed to delivering massive amounts of military equipment to Hugh Chavez in Venezuela; Monroe Doctrine indeed! China felt comfortable slapping the Secretary of State around. Support for North Korea, no problem, blocking sanctions against Iran, predictable as China makes massive in investments in the Iranian energy industry. China has also set about the business of creating confrontation and intimidation throughout East Asia. No red line for China in its continuing efforts to intimidate Japan over possession of Japanese islands, in dispute over little more than China’s declaration of their status. Should the U.S. become involved in the aftermath of a strike on Iran the opportunity for China to take aggressive action in East Asia will be served up on a nice silver platter with little that anyone can do about it. If I were in Taiwan, I’d stock up on canned goods.

The Middle East is in flames fed by radicalized Islamists and anti Americanism. The Brotherhood is on the verge of controlling a significant percentage of the Middle Eastern body politic which will result in more ‘flames’ in the region, more anti Americanism, more radicalism and more violence. No red line over religious persecution in Egypt; 100,000 Christians have fled Egypt over the past year.

Friends (what few we have) and enemies alike seem befuddled over American policy or the absence thereof. Perhaps the only thing missing is the ‘noise’ of a fiddle to play as the fires burn.

  • Mike

    What do you suggest? Should we bomb Iran tomorrow? Put ground troops in Syria? Sink the Chinese navy? Put it all on the credit card like Bush did and continue complaining about the defecit? If the president’s policy is weak, tell us what a strog policy would look like. Give us a plan.

  • There are a lot of potential plans, all of them highly flawed. They are flawed because the Iranians never intended to negotiate away the program. The options are all bad because the Iranians never believed anyone other than Israel would set up to stop them in a serious manner. Is the economy hurting? Yes! Has it slowed down the nuclear program? No!

    The options:

    1) Punish them as a means to motivate serious negotiations. First up would be the relatively minor military installations that could threated the Gulf of Hormuz including missile installations. They could be hit with minimal if any civilian casualties. If no progress the inland missile sites are up next. Progressive punishment until serious negotiations begin, which I do not believe will happen but we don’t know because for seven years the message was one of international weakness.

    2) Attempt to decapitate their political leadership including the IRGC. This would create a context whereby the Green Revolution folks would have their openin to take things into their own hands

    3) An EMP strike aimed at destroying nuclear facilitiesby way of destroying the electronics necessary to run them.

    The ‘airstrike’ option has been seriously studied and it’s a 50/50 proposition absent U.S. military support.

    All of these options could motivate Iranian strikes, the unleashing of their extensive terror network, including cells on U.S. soil. Negotiations absent a price to pay for failure has been the case for seven of the last eight years. To be put into this situation is a classic example of the carrot absent the stick approach that has been applied…….until it was nearly too late.

    Keep in mind as well, that it has been long understood if not stated, that Israeli policy is that they WILL use nuclear weapons in the event they feel they are on the verge of being overun.

    I have oversimplified the options in the interest of time and space.

  • Mike

    Good post with no lack of specifics. I won’t presume to comment on the military aspects. Our military leadership has shown itself well able to perform their assigned missions. I will say that I doubt the feasability or effectiveness of option 2.
    But I think the president has made it perfectly clear that containment is not an option and that nothing is off the table. It’s a question of timing. If, as Mr. Netenyahu seems to believe, Iran is months away from a device, we have that much time to work with.
    It is a fundamental tenet of international relations that war must always be the last resort. Without that tenet diplomacy makes no sense. We assume that our opponent has enough healthy sense of self preservation to avoid a war he cannot win. If we see no movement we prepare to issue ultimatums. I fail to see how the president has deviated from sensible, forceful diplomacy in this matter.

  • Mike,

    I would make one additional suggestion to you. Have a serious look at the theology surrounding the 12th Imam and what must be present for his resurrection. In short he demands war and chaos in advance of his reappearance. This is the theology or, if you will, sub theology that drives the Iranian leadership. The Mullahs, The President and a rapidly growing majority of the IRGC subscribe to this theology. It may help you understand Iranian positions and reactions. Regardless of what the President says, regardless of what the Israeli Prime Minister says, regardless of ‘traditional’ diplomacy; this theology is what drives them. The Ayatholla and the Iranian President both say that their talking to the 12th Imam in real time, preparing the way. The more you know about this theology the more frightened you’ll be.

  • Mike

    Landreaux,

    I have no illusions about the rationality of religious fanatics of any stripe. We can only hope that in spite of their delusions their desire to go on living will pull them back from the brink. Such men send others to their deaths without a second thought but generally give more consideration to their own miserable carcasses.

  • I think waht Landreaux said normally is true; i just believe these people don’t care about their own lives as demonstrated all along in the suicides when they bomb. Are we wanting to go to war? no! but they are wanting to war with us & they have declared war on us. What are we to do then; just keep retreating? just keep apologizing? I just can’t believe the stupidity of obama in this whole matter starting with his apology tour; just weakening any respect of the USA for more than just this. Also the White House knew days before the attack to either get our people out or step up our military around them. This has been nothing more than a cover up all along of obama’s inability to lead this country.

  • There is a reason why Islamic leaders are so focused on Jihad and Martyrdom. They care about their lives but no so much the lives of the faithful. While we’re on the subject there is a translation of the Koran that claims that those ‘virgins’ the martyrs will meet in heaven are actually grapes. Just saying!

  • Mike

    What apology tour? Please give some evidence for this tour. Give some evidence that the president knew the embassy would be attacked. If true, it would amount to treasonable dereliction of duty and grounds for impeachment and prosecution.

    Landreaux, I would appreciate your input on this

  • Bones

    It’s worth noting that Factcheck.org found no validity to this ‘apology tour’ line that keeps coming up. Mostly because the ‘tour’ was devoid of apology.

    http://factcheck.org/2012/08/romneys-sorry-apology-tour-dig/

    Politifact also did an analysis on this with similar conclusions

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/31/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-said-barack-obama-began-his-presidency/

  • Landreaux

    OK, Mike,

    I care little if one does or does not agree with the ‘apology tour’ or uses that tag line. It’s not the issue, it is much more broad and complex than that! Did the President make apologies maybe, maybe not. But the context of his policy is clearly apologetic. The issue is whether or not you have a firm understanding of the dynamics in the Islamic world. Going back to his Cairo Speech I wrote 1,700 words about the President’s absence of clarity and an interpertation of history that was, shall we say, purpose directed. The President’s use of Koranic quotations was selective and often out of the context of the entire Sura. Apology or not if those were the President’s true views, it was sadly misinformed.

  • Tim Arnold

    Yep, It’s settled. Factcheck.org (sponsored primarily by the Annenberg foundation) didn’t find the word apologize in any of those speeches. But, I can’t shake this uneasiness over the remote possibility that a brilliant political science grad with charm, wit, sharp oration skills, a bent toward Marxist Socialism, and a hidden addenda to bring about a marginalized, diminished America though redistribution by inciting class warfare, and placation might be able to further his cause without blatantly appearing to, and thus provide just enough fodder to his adoring fans in the press to assuage any dissenter, and to ultimately befuddle the masses, to coin Marx.

  • Mike

    Landreaux

    Thanks for the response. When I first ran across this site, I was impressed with the quality of your articles and the general civility of the discussions. Obviously, I often disagree with you, but I have not found any fault with the way you state your case. It’s refreshing to find a conservative spokesman who deals intelligently with issues and can criticize the president without calling him disrespectful names or spreading manufactured myths about him.

    But I think it’s a sad state of affairs that I am surprised and impressed by such a thing. It should be the norm. And I’m not saying that all the nonsense and vitriol is on your side. Mr. Romney said he likes being able to fire people who provide him with goods and services. Many liberals scurried to turn that into “I like firing people”. I never hear that from a liberal without calling him/her on it. If I hire someone to do a job for me and he does a poor job, I fire him. We all do.

    Your work here tells me that you understand the need for reasoned discussion. Facts matter. Either the president made an apology tour or he didn’t. Either he knew in advance about the attack on our embassy or he didn’t. Mr. Romney either said he likes to fire people or he didn’t. There can be no useful dialogue based on rumors and lies.

    I know that you are not responsible for every comment on this site, but when someone accuses the president of treason and de facto murder with no evidence, I think you should address that in your reply. I assure you that if anyone accuses Mr. Romney of such a thing, I won’t hesitate todemand proof.

  • Mike,

    Sometimes no response is the best response. And thank you for the kind words, much appreciated.

  • Mike

    Landreaux,

    True—sometimes. But you did respond to Hammond. You responded without addressing two blatant lies, the second of which was a particularly foul slander. The purpose of dialogue is to refine our understanding, to discover the truth. How can we do that without exposing lies and slander?