May 28, 2014

President Obama's Foreign Policy Pivot Fails on Many Levels (Part 1)

The president today made a speech at West Point today to a graduating class that was full of problematic statements. The speech was so full of...misinformation, that I've been forced to break down my breakdown of it, into more than one part. in this part I will focus on the president's cherry picking of facts in his speech.  But that's just the starting point.

In order to support his positions, the president, no stranger to cherry-picking facts to support his positions, did not disappoint in this speech, if cherry picking is something you were looking forward to hearing.

Here's the first example of cherry picking his facts:
Al Qaida's leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more.
True - but al Qaida is still an existential threat worldwide. The president has selected a narrow window to define success, because beyond that window, the problems are nowhere near being fixed.  Of course, the president tries to minimize the geo-political threats, because it helps justify a minimized military, enabling more social engineering programs.
In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise, who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away, are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low, and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.
He has parsed his words carefully -"rarely" been stronger. Yet relative to China, America is losing it's military superiority advantage. And while no nation has any reason or power to invade the United States, North Korea and Iran are both working diligently towards long range nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States. Russia and China still do of course. The threats faced today are not the same as they were during the Cold War.

Wasn't it president Obama who chided Mitt Romney when he stated that the 1980's called and wanted their foreign policy back during the presidential debates? Mitt Romney was of course right that Russia is the biggest geopolitical threat (you could argue China is a bigger threat now). And while Russia is poised to indulge in a nefarious landgrab in the Ukraine, Obama argues that the world is a different place. Well, if it is, then comparing the dangers of today to the different dangers of a different era is most definitely cherry picking.

But there's more egregious examples.
And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine -- it is America that the world looks to for help.
Exactly what is America doing about the kidnappings in Nigeria or the violent unrest in the Ukraine? Effectively, zilch.  The world may have looked to America, but with missing leadership from an American president, that is not likely to continue.  At least it will not until someone else comes along who can create a sense of global leadership that an apology tour and obvious disinterest didn't do.

When the president bases his speech on selectively choosing facts, or portions of the whole picture to act as a foundation for whatever else it is he has to say, you know his arguments have started on shaky grounds.

Next I'll take a look at the implications of the president's pivot and vision for America's future beyond Afghanistan and Iraq.

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