Obama, Fending Off Imaginary Hawks


For RealClearPoliticsMark Salter writes: You can usually measure the pervasiveness of the criticism directed at President Obama’s policies by how many straw men he slays in their defense. By that calculation, his address Wednesday to West Point graduates — which, in the opinion of the Washington Post, “marshaled a virtual corps of straw men” — is practically an admission that his world leadership is as feckless as his harshest critics insist.

“What would we do without him? How does he always manage to find the middle distance between two nonexistent points of view?”

Bravely rowing with the current of war-weary American public opinion, the president rebuked imaginary calls “for invading every country that harbors terrorist networks.” He chastised unnamed hawks who “say that every problem has a military solution,” and upbraided heretofore unheard critics “who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.” And because he has steadfastly resisted such intemperate importuning, America’s global leadership is as strong as ever.

Never mind that Obama has had to dispatch his secretaries of state and defense to reassure anxious friends and allies around the world they can still trust America’s commitment to their security and a stable world order. Never mind that doubts on that score are far more prevalent today among allies and adversaries than they were when that rash, obtuse George W. Bush was in charge. Never mind that leading Democrats and usually reliable defenders such as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius now worry that this president is incapable of learning from his mistakes. Read the rest of this entry »

Woodward on Obama’s Foreign-Policy Speech: ‘Sometimes It Is Best to Just Be Quiet’

“There’s so much talk, and I don’t think talk solves lots of these problems.”

“A speech like this does not have that effect. “Sometimes it is best to just be quiet, and not try to theorize and not try to explain here, and I think the explaining is just not working.”

— Bob Woodward on Fox News Sunday.

(more) National Review Online

Obama at West Point: The Psychology of Surrender


For Breibart.com writes: From the vantage point of the just-about-to-graduate cadets at West Point, it must be very cool to have the Commander-in-Chief be your commencement speaker.

Perhaps the ‘wow-factor’ is diminished when the speech is one that underlines why America isn’t important and how the biggest war of the last decade is about to be lost.

“The President’s speech is full of these surreal assertions that bear no resemblance to the actual world we live in”

For those who really must go to the source the full text is here. For those with shorter attention spans see the excellent and almost instantaneous analyses by my Breitbart colleagues Joel Pollak and Charlie Spiering​.

Here is another take. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Five Straw Men Obama Used in West Point Foreign Policy Address


For Breitbart.com,  writes:

President Obama outlined his foreign policy on Wednesday during a speech at the graduation ceremony at West Point.


Throughout his speech, Obama used “straw man” arguments, setting up “critics” or “skeptics” that existed to disagree with the president before being knocked down by his rhetoric. While some of these positions are held by political

strawmanfigures such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) or Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), these politicians chafe at having their views presented in a narrow context. For the sake of his speech, Obama presents these positions as the extreme, while carefully positioning himself in the middle.

Here are five examples:

1. Those who believe America is in decline

Obama assured West Point graduates that “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world” and those who think differently are just wrong.

“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,” he said.


2. Those who warn against foreign entanglements

President Obama pointed out that throughout history, foreign policy has fallen into two camps, one of which were “self-described realists” who were reluctant to go to war.

“[T]here have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic well-being,” he said.

Remember when President Obama was in this camp? Not anymore. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] CNN: ‘Icy Reception’ for Obama During West Point Visit


For MediaiteNoah Rothman reports:

Obama’s “philosophical” speech to the 2014 graduates West Point about a new direction for America’s foreign policy was “not a great” U.S. Army cadets bow their heads in prayer during the invocation before U.S. President Barack Obama's  address at West Pointspeech for that audience, said CNN anchor Jim Clancy on Wednesday.

“It was a philosophical speech. It was not a commander-in-chief speaking to his troops. And you saw the reception. I mean, it was pretty icy.”

Clancy did not criticize the substance of President Obama’s speech outlining a shift in tactics, specifically as it relates to America’s approach to fighting terrorist groups.

[Also see: A Sad, Half-hearted Address to the Wrong Audience By Bing West at NRO]

[And Allapundit‘s brilliantly-headlined item: Obama leads America to glorious victory over straw men at West Point at HOT AIR]

However, he did think that the defining of a new foreign policy doctrine was not something the attendees wanted to hear…(read more)

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Mediaite YouTube

What Really Causes International Conflicts? It’s Not What You Think.


War: The Gambling Man’s Game

Kori Schake writes:  Geoffrey Blainey’s The Causes of War is a genuinely wonderful book. I had it pressed on me by one of the Pentagon’s most thoughtful people, and while it’s not a new book, it should be at the top of the reading lists of people interested in international relations. Like much else in the book, Blainey is straightforward in his title: he is examining why wars occur. He quotes Clausewitz to the effect that of all the branches of human activity, war is the most like a gambling game, and Blainey’s approach is very much marked by game theory.


Blainey argues that assessments of relative power drive decisions on war and peace, and that war occurs when nations misjudge their relative power. He writes, “War is usually the outcome of a diplomatic crisis which cannot be solved because both sides have conflicting estimates of their bargaining power.” Disputes about issues central to states’ interests can be negotiated when there is a clear hierarchy of power—the weaker compromises to prevent war. When there is doubt about the weaker party, compromise is elusive and wars occur, because “war itself provides the most reliable and most objective test of which nation or alliance is the most powerful…war was therefore usually followed by an orderly market in political power, or in other words, peace.”

Read the rest of this entry »