I will keep it short and simple. I do not understand why Democratic leaders who approve of the President's foreign policy level headedness over the last 6 years are not making sure they are heard on CNN. MSNBC probably had better guests, but most of the viewers of that channel are people like us who don't need to be told that our foreign policy has been better under Obama. Instead, the only Democrats who are heard in the mainstream are people like Hillary, Feinstein, and Harman who are taking mild shots at Obama and implicitly endorsing McCain's views on this issue(so much for the stereotype that female politicians are not obsessed with war). So you would think there would be at least three high profile democrats not part of the administration who would be demanding to be heard on these shows and defend the president without any apologies.
I will say it and will say it loud to any politicians who read this regarding the middle east "DONT DO STUPID STUFF!!!!!!".
How do we get Democrats to grow a spine and defend this and explain with the benefit of high paid advisors on how to explain this better than I can. If I were to criticize Obama, it would be lack of leadership in getting surrogates to explain the benefits of his strategy better.
Is Obama perfect? Far from it. I wasn't thrilled with the Libya embassy handling. But it was not as bad as the many other bad things that have happened to the US overseas over the decades and he did not rush into any knee jerk moves that would have cost us many billions of dollars and more lives. Remember when the same people went batshit crazy over Obama not invading Syria. Well, what would that have gotten us? ISIS would have emerged just as strong anyway since Assad is not their friend. Yeah, moving slow means more bad things will happen in that duration. But it's not the end of the world. It's not like doing something in a haste will save any more lives.
The reader comments associated with the NYT discussionon this topic are a lot smarter than any of the many days of analysis I see on ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN.
I didn't even bother reading the entire discussions by the four panelists. Just read the readers comments and wonder why you don't hear our insipid Democratic Party leaders say some of the same stuff on CNN with the same kind of conviction.
for those who don't want to click on a link(you get only 10 free views a month on NYT, though you can always clear your cookies to get more), I have included a few of the comments below which are in response to one of the panelists SHadi Hamid who bashes Obama's foreign policy. Weigh in with your support for DON'T DO STUPID STUFF.
is a trusted commenter Citrus Heights Yesterday
Unless you have actually sat down and disused Mr. Obama's statements with him personally, you have no right present your interpretation of what he thinks, believes, or what his motives are, as fact.
It is totally irresponsible, rude, and immoral of you to do so. That you are from some kind of supposedly legitimate institution allows those who are just looking for reasons to denigrate Mr. Obama as fact, and repeat them as such. The difference between you and the birthers, is your analysis is couched in pseudo psychological terms, but serve the same purpose: to undermine the legitimacy of the presidents actions.
He may not have a strategy at the moment, however I have been watching him, and I will be surprised if he does not formulate one in the near future. In the meantime you Mr. Hamid, and your fellow amateur psychologists, will continue to engage in spurious criticisms of the presidents policies, while being unable to offer any rational alternative on your own. What you suggest he should do has been done many time with disastrous consequences. May I remind you of the decision to invade and occupy Iraq for one?
With your great wisdom, maybe you can tell us how to find and put ISIS out of business, although I doubt it. We do not need anymore "Deciders," and certainly not any more wannabe John Wayne's, guns ablazin as he rides into the sunset, "Mission Accomplished."
16 hours ago
Actually, President Obama has, and is executing, an excellent strategy, even at this moment.
It's to ignore pompous, bloviating know-nothing careerists, with fancy over-aggrandized titles and positions at ideologue institutions with partisan agendas.
President Obama actually, if not always, works in the interests of all of the American people. Whose interests do you represent?
is a trusted commenter
Yeah, well, everyone's a backseat driver. "It would all have been so easy if they'd just done what I said!"
I for one don't see any way an American "strategy" can disentangle the mess that is the Middle East, because Obama is absolutely right -- these are the currents of history and the Arab countries are now fighting the battles that Europe fought beginning with the Reformation and arguably, given Putin's little putsch, are not complete today.
Sunni vs. Shiite, king or kelptocrat or army vs. fundamentalist, Muslim vs. minority, tribe vs. tribe -- it's a tangled mess and Obama is wise to understand that there isn't terribly much we can do to comb it out.
Sure, there will be times we have to intervene to defend our country or prevent atrocities, but if we take the Bush approach and bomb everybody with a beard, we're only going to make things worse and become, ourselves, the victim of ancient Middle Eastern hatreds and the painful process of social change.
New Jersey 15 hours ago
Plus ca change...
The militarist right in this country will always push for "action". They will always be concerned about our "credibility" and "honor". Following their advice will always lead to massive expense, misery, death and destruction and (frequently) a new status quo that's worse than the existing status quo they found so intolerable (see: Iraq).
And when confronted with the disasters that their bellicosity produced (whether in Viet Nam, Afghanistan or Iraq) do they ever concede the error of their ways? Nope; the excuse is always the same: we should have gone harder, stayed longer, had a stronger will.
Queens, NY 11 hours ago
Of for heaven's sake, when Bush/Cheney (or was it Cheney/Bush) attacked Iraq they did not have a STRATEGY either. What they had was an AGENDA, and trust me, an agenda is not the same as a policy. Their agenda was to overthrow Saddam, but they had no strategy as to how to govern afterwards
Northern California 17 hours ago
Does this author suppose that Congress would have authorized military action in Syria last summer? Does this author suppose that Congress would authorize military action right now? Would the "weight of events" push Congress to do anything but oppose everything the President proposes?
New York, NY 16 hours ago
Why is it so easy to forget, at times like this, that the president has a very successful history of restraint when appropriate, of working with others to attain limited military goals and of course the killing of Osama bin Laden? Any why is it so easy for conservative chicken hawks to forget the terrible and costly human toll of our pointless interventions in the Middle East? The only reason this president's strategy is Don't Do Anything Stupid is because so many stupid things have been done before. Talk is cheap. Human lives are not.
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Eau Claire, WI 19 hours ago
It should be self-evident that "don't do stupid stuff" is the ONLY rational policy. That does not mean that you don't do ANYTHING, it just means you don't McCain every crisis. We are seeing the sad results of interventionism in the Middle East and beyond. We may ultimately have to intervene again in some of those areas but we need to exhaust all reasonable approaches to resolving the issues we face there. And above all, we need to ask, before we do anything, "Is this, on the face of it, STUPID?" It isn't always possible to know but it seems that in recent years we weren't even asking the question.
this comment on Twitter
North Carolina 19 hours ago
While Obama seems to have difficulty with articulating his foreign policy, I much prefer it to the Bush policy - shoot first and then shoot again - and other the other republican warmongers.
I believe he has kept us out of at least two wars - Libya and Syria. And although he backed off the red line on Syrian use of chemical weapons he eventually - with help from other nations - demonstrated that negotiations do work.
Finally I wholeheartly agree that where other nations are more effected by a crises than the U S, they have to put more skin into the game - be it money and/or troops. This goes for the crises in Ukraine where the Europeans have to step up to the plate before the US should provide whatever resources are necessary. And in the Mideast where the Arab nations need to do a lot more heavy lifting before the US should get involved.
Ever since the placement of the Shah in Iran, the US has pursued a misguided and costly string of STUPID policies in that region for which the only return we have gotten is the hatred of tens of millions of Muslims.
Give me Obamas approach any day. But he does need to spend more time showing the American people how his approach is working better than his predecessors over the last 60 years.
Palo Alto, ca 19 hours ago
Republicans based their 2012 presidential nominating convention on the claim that the president attacks business and business leaders. "We build that," depended entirely upon deliberately misrepresenting President Obama's reminder that execs don't produce output, jobs, and economic growth independently of taxpayer dollars' and government's infrastructure, security, and educating workers.
Shadi Hamid of Brookings does a similar trick, claiming that President Obama has built an independent and insufficient foreign policy, based on strategic drift and a refusal to reconsider his approach, no matter how facts change. Mr. Hamid claims the Obama administration has, "rejected the advice of allies abroad as well as senior officials within his own administration," and that our President's lack of faith in American power has sapped our will to act. Hamid even accuses the Obama administration of, "an insularity and ideological rigidity that surpasses even the Bush administration".
Chicken hawks and press can assert their patriotism by opposing a foreign policy they make up of whole cloth, while whining past the waters edge, citing unnamed allies and senior officials. They can avoid their responsibility to actually advise on actual policy choices, and the requirements, goals and risks of actual policy choices.
Until chicken hawks and the press are interested in actual policy choices, requirements, goals, and risks, we'll do better listening to what @digby said (Heather Parton).
Planet Earth 17 hours ago
Under what authority does the author think Obama had to attack Syria last year absent Congressional approval, or attack Syria today without the same? An attack on ISIS in Syria, is an attack on Syria.
The government of Iraq allows us, and wants us to assist them against ISIS. Syria has not given us that green light.
The concept that engaging in military action in a sovereign nation without its approval should have died with the Bush/Cheney administration. The author wishes to bring it back to life, like some grotesque zombie.
los ángeles 8 hours ago
Quite the opposite. Obama has made and continues to make decisions that weren't popular with his supporters or his detractors. He does not lead by trying to make his party happy nor does he try to anger those that hate him. He does what he believes in and I'm happy to have him at the helm in these turbulent times. FYI "stupid stuff" is selling arms to Iran. "Stupid stuff" is invading Iraq on deeply flawed intelligence. "Stupid stuff" caused this problem with ISIS and our president by taking a measured approach will get us through it and we will all be the better for it.
In Reply to vulcanalex
Asheville NC 13 hours ago
Obama is not against the very notion of having a strategy. He is against the notion of acting before you've figured out a strategy. I think that was clear from his original remarks. Why twist them?