Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Foreign Policy

Sacrificing the Military to Entitlements

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Vladimir Putin, playing geopolitical chess while our president plays tiddlywinks, has effectively taken over Crimea. Armed men, looking suspiciously like Russian military personnel, have seized both airports and established border checkpoints decorated with Kalashnikovs and Russian flags. This comes after other armed men seized two government buildings and raised Russian flags, as the legislature appointed a pro-Russian regional

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, center, is escorted by U.S. Air Force Gen. Jack Weinstein after arriving at the missile alert facility and launch control center at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., Jan. 9, 2014. Hagel was on a two-day trip to visit commands in the western United States.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, center, is escorted by U.S. Air Force Gen. Jack Weinstein 

leader. Meanwhile Russian military forces are gathering on the border, with Russia’s parliament unanimously voting to approve deploying troops in Ukraine.

This is just Putin’s latest revanchist expansion of Russian power throughout the region. He’s been at this for a while. Remember that during the Bush administration he stole chunks of Moldova and Georgia, using the same argument of ethnic self-determination that served Hitler so well in 1938, when he made the Sudeten Germans the pretext for gobbling up Czechoslovakia. Remember when in 2005 Putin said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union––the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, as he put it–– “tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory”? And just as England and France did nothing except talk about Hitler’s aggression, so too the West has blustered Read more →

Obama’s Foreign Policy: Enemy Action

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

It’s often hard to determine whether a series of bad policies results from stupidity or malicious intent. Occam’s razor suggests that the former is the more likely explanation,

US Dept. of Labor via Flickr

US Dept. of Labor via Flickr

as conspiracies assume a high degree of intelligence, complex organization, and secrecy among a large number of people, qualities that usually are much less frequent than the simple stupidity, disorganization, and inability to keep a secret more typical of our species. Yet surveying the nearly 6 years of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy blunders, I’m starting to lean towards Goldfinger’s Chicago mob-wisdom: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.”

Obama’s ineptitude started with his general foreign policy philosophy. George Bush, so the narrative went, was a trigger-happy, unilateralist, blundering, “dead or alive” cowboy who rushed into an unnecessary war in Iraq after alienating our allies and insulting the Muslim world. Obama pledged to be different. As a Los Angeles Read more →

Our Icarus-in-Chief

Obama’s global fantasies are falling to earth along with him.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

In the last two weeks, we learned that Bashar Assad has dismantled only 5 percent of his WMD arsenal, despite President Obama’s soaring rhetoric Emblema_CIVto the contrary. Russia violated a long-observed agreement with the U.S. about testing missiles. Iran’s take on the negotiations over its bomb program bears no resemblance to our interpretation. Chinese officials now happily leak fantastic stories about using their military to punish Japan. All that is trumped by veiled threats from the Sunni Gulf monarchies, terrified of Iran, to buy a bomb or two from Pakistan. We hear other rumors that even China thinks the new leadership in North Korea is unhinged and is not worried about friendly warnings from Beijing.

Whether all these incidents are minor or serious, and whether they are random or interconnected and perceived as proof of the loss of U.S. deterrence, depends on which particular bad actor is studying them to try to guess whether the Obama administration will do anything should a provocateur start a war or attempt to redraw a regional map.

In short, our Icarus-in-Chief, without much foreign-policy experience but with youthful zeal and good intentions, soared far too high for his flimsy waxen wings. Now they are melting, and as the American commander-in-chief careens back to earth, lots of those below are wondering what will come next. Still, there is a lot of irony as Obama freefalls to earth. Read more →

Fight the Next War, Not the Last One

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Tuesday night President Obama will deliver another campaign speech, this one marketed as the State of the Union address. As such, we can expect to hear, through the usual white noise of “I,” “me,” and “my,” vacuous bromides like “moving America forward,” and empty promises “to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it,” as White House flack Dan Pfeiffer said. So after token references to economic growth, we can expect to be served heaping helpings of “income inequality” and “economic mobility,” the redistributionist chum for his hungry progressive base. Read more →

Obama’s Munich

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The interim agreement negotiated by the Security Council and Germany with Iran is a serious advance toward what Winston Churchill called the Munich agreement: “a total and unmitigated defeat” and a “disaster of the first magnitude.” Nothing in the agreement guarantees that Iran will fulfill its promises, or that inspectors will be allowed access to all of Iran’s enrichment facilities, let alone its secret sites, or that serious consequences will follow violations of the terms of the agreement. Read more →

The War on Human Nature

For nations as for individuals, pretending self-interest doesn’t exist is perilous.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

At some critical point, everyone makes choices based on incentives and his own perception of self-interest. Somehow the Obama administration has forgotten that natural law.

A therapeutic sense of self-sacrifice is fine in the abstract, but in the concrete such magnanimity causes far more harm to the innocent than does a realistic appraisal of self-interest and a tragic acceptance of the flawed nature of man. The theme of the present administration is that it possesses the wisdom and resources to know better what people should do than they do themselves. From that premise arose most of catastrophes that have befallen this administration. Read more →

America’s Wilderness Years

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Most two-term presidents leave some sort of legacy. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War. George W. Bush prevented another 9/11, and constructed an anti-terrorism protocol that even his critical successor embraced and often expanded.

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management via FlickrEven our one-term presidents have achieved something. JFK got Soviet missiles out of Cuba. LBJ oversaw passage of civil rights legislation. Jerry Ford restored integrity to the White House. Jimmy Carter finally issued the Carter Doctrine to stop Soviet expansionism at the Persian Gulf. George H.W. Bush won the first Persian Gulf War and got Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

And even our impeached or abdicated presidents at least left some positive legacies. Richard Nixon went to China and enacted détente. Bill Clinton through compromise balanced the budget and incurred budget surpluses.

But Barack Obama?

Read more →

How Historic Revisionism Justifies Islamic Terrorism

by Raymond Ibrahim // RaymondIbrahim.com 

How important, really, is history to current affairs?  Do events from the 7th century—or, more importantly, how we understand them—have any influence on U.S. foreign policy today?

By way of answer, consider some parallels between academia’s portrayal of the historic Islamic jihads and the U.S. government’s and media’s portrayal of contemporary Islamic jihads.  Read more →

For Obama, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Rasmussen reported last Friday that 52% of likely voters approve of Obama’s job performance. This number is both astonishing and depressing. The avalanche of Obama’s failures both domestic and foreign should have buried this presidency months ago. Yet despite the slow-motion implosion of Obamacare now catching the attention of even the court-journalists of the mainstream media, millions of American voters still think one of the worst presidents in modern history is doing a good job.Photo Credit:  U.S. Embassy New Delhi via Flickr

In any other administration, even without Obamacare, the litany of scandal and bungling would have politically crippled not just Obama but the Democrats as well. The murderous gunrunning of the Fast and Furious debacle, Attorney General Eric Holder turning the Justice Department into the Democrats’ Luca Brasi, the out-of-control EPA waging its economy-killing war on carbon, the National Labor Relations Board unleashed to browbeat business and revive a moribund labor movement, the SEC shaking down banks for billions, the IRS targeting political opponents, the trillion-dollar “stimulus” spent to achieve the worst economic recovery in history, the trillions more borrowed and created out of thin air to finance entitlement spending and payoffs to political cronies––and that’s just domestic policy.

Add the outrageous incompetence and indifference that got 4 Americans murdered in Benghazi, the subsequent lies and cover-up for political advantage, the waste of American money, toil, and blood in Iraq by the precipitate withdrawal of our forces, the likely reprise of that malfeasance in Afghanistan, the alienation of allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, the cozying up to the genocidal Muslim Brotherhood, the appeasement of the equally genocidal mullahs in Iran, the groveling to a rampaging Russia, the whole Syria “red line” humiliation over chemical weapons––any one of these foreign and domestic fiascos would have inflicted serious political damage if we weren’t living in the alternative political universe in which we suddenly found ourselves on January 20, 2009. Read more →

The Failure of American Leadership

Obama’s foreign policy of appeasement has created a dangerous void in the international order.

by Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Ideas 

The standard critique of President Obama’s foreign policy is now generally well-known—Photo Credit: Robert Hruzek vic Flickrmercurial, paradoxical, and passive. “Leading from behind” seems at odds with the traditional American commitment to ensure—preferably with allies or, if need be, alone—the continuance of the postwar global system of sovereign borders, free trade, safe commerce, and open communications.

Many of Obama’s recent foreign policy initiatives have resulted in a diminished United States and they have found little success. The reset with Russia earned us a strange sort of contempt from Vladimir Putin. Moscow almost gratuitously thwarts the U.S., gloating that we offer loud self-righteous sermons to others that are not backed by consequences.

The Obama administration’s approach to radical Islam and the larger Middle East has been especially confused. Al Qaeda is not, as the president assured, on the run, but more likely moving onward and upward. Read more →

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