Vali Nasr, Dean of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, has written a dandy piece that exposes the sausage making that is foreign policy in the Obama Administration. The piece, The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan, is written by someone who is a Hillary Clinton loyalist, but that is irrelevant to the piece. Nasr exposes the truth about the petty politics that dominate the lack of decision making in the Obama White House.
The key part for me is captured in these two paragraphs:
One could argue that in most administrations, an inevitable imbalance exists between the military-intelligence complex, with its offerings of swift, dynamic, camera-ready action, and the foreign-policy establishment, with its seemingly ponderous, deliberative style. But this administration advertised itself as something different. On the campaign trail, Obama repeatedly stressed that he wanted to get things right in the broader Middle East, reversing the damage that had resulted from the previous administration’s reliance on faulty intelligence and its willingness to apply military solutions to problems it barely understood.
Not only did that not happen, but the president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics. Their primary concern was how any action in Afghanistan or the Middle East would play on the nightly news, or which talking point it would give the Republicans. The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy has less to do with its accomplishments in Afghanistan or the Middle East than with how U.S. actions in that region have been reshaped to accommodate partisan political concerns.
Nasr is not honing a political axe. He is telling the truth. This mirrors exactly what I have heard from friends at DOD, State and the intelligence community. This is despicable conduct for a Commander in Chief. Unfortunately, it is the modus operandi of Mr. Community Organizer. Rather than worry about achieving a strategic objective that will enhance the security and interests of the United States, he is focused resolutely on burnishing him image and playing to a domestic audience.
Obama’s ability to lie and deceive himself is breathtaking. We saw this on display last week with his cries of the Wolf Sequester. The Sequester, he repeatedly warned, would bring doom and despair. He did that for one reason–playing politics with the debt issue rather than actually trying to forge a compromise and work on a practical solution.
He is doing the same in Afghanistan. We are going to withdraw without regard to what we leave behind. As Nasr correctly observes, the crux of the war is Pakistan. Afghanistan is a mere sideshow. However, it will continue to be a danger because jihadists will continue to seek out safehavens where they can train and plot future attacks.
And Barack’s answer? Just withdraw and declare victory. That’s Barack, always looking for the easy out as long as he can look good in the process.