Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

From An Angry Reader:

Victor

 Your gloating and myopic column pillorying President Obama’s foreign policy legacy was simple minded and juvenile. Why write something so stupidly one sided?????

 When Obama came into office we were losing 100 service people per month in a stupid war and as he leaves office, this number is down to one or two. This is a great result and legacy.

 He worked with Iraqi leaders to build an Army capable of retaking Mosul … and also improved cooperation between the different militias there. You didn’t mention this.

 Real experts on Iran are touting the multi-lateral agreement closing down Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material and weapons….they say this agreement will give legitimacy to a country that simply wants to be a player in the middle east and whose impact result in greater stability in this area.

 Under Obama we have not committed troops in the Syrian conflict …. one so complex and far from our national interest that this merits praise.

 He has also been allowing the CIA to conduct covert operations to stabilize Ukraine and punish the Russians for Crimea.

 Why be so unnecessarily one sided that you come off as just another right-wing ass?

 John G. Schuiteman, Ph.D.

Ashland, VA 23005

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Schuiteman,

It is angry letters like yours that seem to sow dissension since you are, I fear, at times intellectually dishonest.

I never wrote or implied the description “simple minded” or “juvenile”; Obama certainly has a vision and sought to implement it—one gleaned from his memoirs, his past associations, his apology tour, his Cairo speech, his various interviews, and his actions.

I was not “gloating” or “myopic” but rather factual in describing an Obama legacy—reset with Putin, abrupt withdrawal in late 2011 from a quiet Iraq, the Libya/Benghazi violence, the Iran deal, the Syrian calamity, estrangement from Israel, outreach to Cuba—that even in the eyes of many Democratic observers has not worked, at least from the view of enhancing global and U.S. security. But from Obama’s standpoint of scaling down U.S. influence, it has been a smashing success.

You are not factual in your letter. Obama came into office on January 2009; the fatality rate in Iraq that month was 16 deaths—not “100.” By December of 2009 it was 3 a month—less than the monthly accident rate in the U.S. military. No wonder Biden (who flipped on the war and, when a presidential candidate, opposed it) suddenly called the quiet in Iraq possibly the administration’s “greatest achievement.” By December 2010, 1 soldier had died that month, and when Obama finished pulling out in December 2011 (as he praised Iraq’s stability) it was 0 deaths. That decision was perhaps analogous to a hypothetical Eisenhower in late 1955 up for reelection like Obama, promising to get out of the Korean War that he did not “start,” and therefore yanking all U.S. troops out by election day 1956 from a relatively quiet Korea. What would Seoul look like today—something akin to Mosul or Baghdad?

Again, when Obama pulled all U.S. troops out there were 0 fatalities in December 2011. That ensuing vacuum resurrected radical Sunni Islamic terrorists under the new ISIS imprimatur, brought in Iran, collapsed Iraq, was a catalyst of the destruction of Syria, and 500,000 dead—and promoted now a steady reinsertion of U.S. troops.

Are you now bragging that, after yanking all troops out of a quiet Iraq as a good thing, it was a better thing that he put some back in to stabilize a now violent Iraq?

You become completely myopic when you write that Iran “simply wants to be a player in the middle east (sic) and whose impact result (sic) in greater stability in this area.”

Iran has little actual need for a nuclear program, given its vast fossil fuels reserves, but a great need if it wishes to acquire a bomb and to spread its influence throughout the region and expand its Shiite/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah arc. If the deal is not overturned, a rich and influential Iran will set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, if it has not already. If the deal was transparent, why did we send cash at night on a pallet to the Iranians? Has their anti-Western rhetoric or action scaled down after the agreement? Are they working for peace in Syria? Reaching out to Israel? Praising Obama for his compromise? Respecting ships in the Gulf?

Iran’s terrorism has been evident worldwide. There is no stability “in this area.” Obama’s Iran deal has had one good result: it created a new alliance between moderate Sunni regimes, such as Jordan, Egypt, and some Gulf states, and Israel, whose mutual fears of a nuclear Iran and the American-sponsored deal have brought them together.

Yes, we did not commit troops into Syria nor send aid to an ephemeral anti-Assad, anti-ISIS opposition, but we did threaten military action if WMDs were used (Obama’s “redline”); when they were used and we did nothing, we all but invited the Russians in for the first time since they were expelled by the Egyptians over 40 years ago. Our failure to provide aid to non-ISIS groups, or to create sanctuaries for refugees in the Syrian hinterland helped spur mass death and mass migrations to Europe —which may well be the straw that breaks the back of the European Union.

I would not bring up “punishments” for Ukraine and Crimea, which I do not think registered much with Putin. Obama’s own supporters have criticized his strange passive-aggressive reset with Putin, in which after empowering him (the silly plastic reset button, cancelling missile defense with the Poles and Czechs, trashing Bush’s readjustment to Putin over Ossetia, the open mic post-election promises to be “flexible,” the pass given years of Russian cyber attacks, the attack on Romney’s warning about Putin, etc.), Obama then ridiculed Putin in puerile fashion (class cut up, into macho displays for domestic consumption). Sadly talking trash and carrying a twig is a bad combination; yet we see just that mixture again with his most recent threats to China over stealing a drone, and his promises to hit back at Putin’s alleged cyber crimes. I fear they both will either laugh or cry at our braggadocio.

Obama has set a precedent: you can with impunity swallow whole countries, build artificial island bases, take U.S. ships or drones, hack government agencies, but don’t ever be even accused of hacking in a manner that in theory could hurt a liberal candidate—this for Obama is tantamount to a cause for war.

Victor D. Hanson, Ph.D.

Selma CA 93662

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