Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Where Is Obama’s ‘Broad Coalition’?

Potential allies against ISIS doubt America’s commitment to being engaged abroad.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

19 Thoughts on “Where Is Obama’s ‘Broad Coalition’?

  1. “. . . for allegedly using chemical weapons before backing off.”

    There is no way to distinguish “dissidents” from “opportunistic Islamists” and, anyway, it’s a certainty that they are one and the same. Only yesterday we were swooning over the Arab Spring as though millions of Muslims had gotten the “democracy” bug. We have got to stop naively searching for the mythical “good guys” in Muslim areas. We have no way in heck to plumb the sick mysteries of Islamic culture and searching for the good Muslims is like a snipe hunt on the best of days. They are all crabs in a bucket.

    The hunt is on these days to ferret out the “serial aggressions” of Vlad the Terrible. Before we get too intoxicated with that let’s first tally up who has the most troops stationed overseas, who’s invaded what countries since 1999, who was meddling in Ukraine politics, and who was responsible for the jet-assisted NATO rush to the Russian border. Juluia Gorin has the back story and its central premise isn’t Russian perfidy.

    • Michael D Marcus on September 18, 2014 at 11:34 am said:

      Ace,
      I’m confused by your post. What point are you trying to make here. Please elaborate.

      • Sure.

        1. Chemical weapon use by Assad not established. Most likely the “rebels” used those weapons.

        2. There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between “dissidents” and “opportunistic Islamists.” Establishing policy on the basis that any U.S. official can differentiate between the former – who should be supported — from the latter — who shouldn’t — will fail. Libya: QED.

        3. The unseemly rush to paint Vladimir Putin as the new International Satan overlooks the U.S. role in overthrowing the former Ukrainian government and 20 years of U.S. military activity around the world, two instances of which directly affected one country on Russia’s border or screwed over a people with whom Russia has had close ties. Had the U.S. not helped to overthrow the previous Ukrainian government there would have been no Russian aggression in Ukraine, serial or otherwise. Our inexplicable rush to extend NATO to the Russian border and site “anti-Iran” missile radars on its borders could have justifiably been seen by the Russians as aggressive moves. I’m not buying the demonization campaign. It’s juvenile, manipulative, and dishonest.

        • 1. I agree
          2. I agree
          3. Obama did say he would be more flexible during this time of his reign. He does have to feign that he doesn’t like what Putin is doing. Obama is adept at making his minions believe that he is against what Putin is doing.

          4. The 2016 vote is not far off. He doesn’t want his TRUE ENEMY using anything he does to secure the vote. )I doubt he really needs to worry about that because the media has selective amnesia. To quote Vinnie Barbarino, “What?”)

    • “There is no way to distinguish “dissidents” from “opportunistic Islamists” and, anyway, it’s a certainty that they are one and the same. Only yesterday we were swooning over the Arab Spring as though millions of Muslims had gotten the “democracy” bug. We have got to stop naively searching for the mythical “good guys” in Muslim areas. We have no way in heck to plumb the sick mysteries of Islamic culture and searching for the good Muslims is like a snipe hunt on the best of days. They are all crabs in a bucket.”

      I agree

  2. Empress Trudy on September 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm said:

    A few reasons

    1) American fecklessness. Obama is fundamentally unreliable and our allies perceive that anything he does is for domestic politics alone. There is no benefit to anyone except Obama.

    2) Arab fecklessness. They NEVER fight other people’s battles, ever. Better everyone else is exterminated first and then and only then, if ISIS comes for them they can petition the US to ‘do its job’. Or not, as the case may be. Arab leaders are for themselves so it’s not crucial of the population is wiped out as long as its profitable.

    3) European post neo colonialism. Let the swarthies and WOGS slaughter each other and then swoop in to ‘civilize them’. Or sell them tools and fighter aircraft or whatnot.

    4) Fear of European Muslims. Any European involvement that aids one group of Muslims pitted against each other as a ‘war on all of Islam’. European governments are barely hanging on vis a vis the next angry arsonist mob. No need to stir things up. Just blame it on the Jews.

    • andy pickering on September 27, 2014 at 11:06 am said:

      from and english/uk perspective, the obama administration much like his predecessors is one of aggressive pomp over a balanced and long term proposal for ending the threat from terrorist who see themselves as heroes and freedom fighters…president obama’s approach seems more personal than dealing with the real problems..the power vacuum put in place in iraq and its neighbour by aggressive foreign policy was not dealt with nor taken into consideration in advance…i think the situation grew out of hand by the usa and its allies trying to shoulder the burden of middle eastern countries whose ideals and cultures are worlds apart from our own…without a foundation of support from the indigenous population…now once bitten and twice shy they will not appreciate further foreign incursions regardless of being invited by their government or not…if i saw the uk bombed to the dark ages by masses of middle eastern warriors and a huge vacuum left behind for up and coming warlords to take over..i would not trust another foreign intervention nor welcome it….a couple of people who were beheaded is a sad fact, but it is not as if they did not know the dangers in advance…the vaunted so called army of isis or isul is just a beacon saying come and get us usa…come and get us europe…you armed us,we know your tactics now…lets have a rematch….its a chimera , protect our own borders , deport foreign dissidents and their supporters..make our countries strong and safe first..lets not have a protracted fox hunt…it is a waste of good soldiers lives and will cripple our respective economies..

  3. Today’s WSJ A1 below the fold, Obama will preapprove targeting of drone missile strikes… shades of Johnson’s ghost.

    I guess I don’t understand, I thought drone strikes were a tactical mission? Which certainly carries out strategic goals, which should be clearly spelled out, which then allows the military to fullfil it mission.

    It makes me wonder if Obama trusts our military?

    • “It makes me wonder if Obama trusts our military?”

      How many in any military trust Obama?

      I don’t think even a Muslim military or rebel group would trust him, even knowing he’s Muslim.

      And even Barbara Walters believes in Obama, though she is disappointed that he didn’t turn out to be the next “Messiah.”

  4. Joel Farber on September 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm said:

    I do not doubt Dr.Hanson’s critique of Obama’s atitude(s) toward the IS, but I wonder if the consequences would be all bad. There is something to be said (and Machiavelli would have said it much better than I could) for letting the IS bleed Hezbollah white and Iran at least pink. Israel and the U.S. may come out of this in better shape than we went in.

  5. Karl Horst (Germany) on September 19, 2014 at 2:52 am said:

    Dear Mr. Hansen,

    To answer your question on “why the reluctance for allies to join the U.S.?” let me see if I can explain.

    Europeans are very cautious about involving ourselves in joint US military actions, especially with an ally who has a 70-year history of poorly managed and poorly supported military campaigns. It’s been a history of too little, too late and often without sufficient commitment to see things through to the end…whatever that end might be…which has been evident in Viet-Nam, Nicaragua, Panama, Somalia and the current quagmire in the Middle-East.

    For nearly 2-decades, your government has lacked the ability to fully appreciate the long term effects of their actions, and instead of discussing this in any meaningful consensus with your allies, you charge ahead with a sense of moral superiority and assume you can treat your allies with disregard. In a way similar to how the British treated the Australians during WWI in Gallipoli, and trust me, the Australians have never forgiven the Brits for that.

    While your military will always be able to claim victory over the German army during WWII, (a job well done thank you very much!) this was probably the last time the claim of US victory in war can be made by your country. When President Bush claimed “Mission accomplished” we looked around and wondered what “mission” was he talking about?

    Keep in mind that Germany is half the size of Texas, and we’ve recently spent 2 trillion in reunification with our Eastern brethren. We eliminated conscription a few years ago and have a very small standing, full time military. Generally speaking in terms of the numbers of total European (NATO) troops, our ability to finance, train, support and provide the any significant manpower in a conflict dominated by professional US soldiers is questionable at best.

    But having said that, you must understand our caution is not towards your soldiers and airmen, but with US policy makers and political leaders. The German people have a long and happy history with US forces stationed here in Germany and will always stand with you. From the Army training grounds in Graffenwoehr to the airbases in the Hunsrück, we will welcome your troops and their families with open arms. While we may not agree with your policies, we will always still stand with, and support your fighting men and women.

  6. Have we learned nothing from the time we helped “rebels” against Russia and then they became our enemy? How many of the current “rebel” groups have we assisted in the past only to see our own weapons used against innocent citizens and the U.S.?

    Obama has told them when we are coming so they can dig tunnels, etc.
    We can’t even find tunnels at our Mexican border. Not that they need tunnels anymore.

    If we are sending troops in, I hope we don’t repeat the Vietnam War. We have to go in BIG this time.
    We also need the intelligence of Israel on our side.

  7. A week ago CNN reported that according to estimates by the CIA there are between 20 to 30 thousand IS fighters. That is at best half of all seats at Soldier Field in Chicago or less than half of Olympiastadium in Munich. So the problem here is, speaking in terms of military strategy, how can the U.S. destroy a well organized horde of marauding and pillaging Muslims. They do not operate a tank battalion, but a fleet of pick-up trucks equipped with Russian anti-aircraft machine guns or dushkas. IS is not backed by Russia it depends on looting and barter to secure its supplies and cannot manufacture its own supply of weaponry and munitions. On top of it all it operates in fairly accessible terrain. IS faces attacks from F15s and still manages to hold its ground. It is hard to believe. I think it is time for the armchair commander in chief to step aside and forget about all that nonsense of coalition building or support from Europe. What is needed here is rather the leadership of an able general who, like a Patton or McArthur, turns these 30 thousand IS fighters into martyrs before the midterm elections.

    • ISIS and its pickup trucks and AKs is being sold as an existential threat to the U.S. And Syria is a threat to common decency and the Interstate Highway System. Sign me up for the long war, already!

    • John Lewis on September 20, 2014 at 10:18 am said:

      Size isn’t everything. With modern armies perhaps only one in ten is a shooter, so ISIS’s 20000 is probably equivalent to about 100,000.

      And, of course, Mohammed and his Companions with their tiny Bedouin force conquered much of the Middle East, including Persia and Egypt. Muslims regard this as a genuine miracle: that so few people, but inspired by God, could conquer so many.

      Remember too that the US armed forces have been Obamized. Decapitation of senior commanders, and removal (from Afghanistan) of middle-level leaders with field experience, will not be easy to overcome, and the fighting ability of the US Army must be rated as unknown at present. Most likely a massive bloodletting will be necessary, and that post-Obama, before it is brought back to an effective force.

  8. “. . . that is a terrible way to wage coalition warfare, but we are reaping what we have sown.”

    I wish that this sentence has been phrased: “. . . but we are reaping what Obama has sown.” And ditto in some of the previous paragraphs.

  9. John Lewis on September 20, 2014 at 9:01 am said:

    Even before Obama the US was developing a rather bad reputation for leaving allies high and dry. At least one always had the sense that previous Presidents did this not because they wanted to but because domestic politics forced them to. Obama on the other hand betrays with pleasure and indeed with enthusiasm, and this is understood. Middle Easterners are probably better students of abnormal psychology than Americans, and they understand this creature better than you do. They also probably do not think it important that the United States does not want to be engaged abroad. The jihadists will come after you, whatever you think, whatever you want. And, I must point out, disengagement is all but impossible in a world where a terrorist can board a flight in Beirut in the evening (Emirates have a nice one) and be in New York City the following morning. As for your humorous “southern border”, the question is, “how big a force could be moved across without eliciting a reaction.” My guess is at least a regiment.

  10. John Lewis on September 20, 2014 at 10:10 am said:

    There seems to be a dreadful naiveté’ about Obama’s plan to equip “good” rebels in Syria. First of all,
    they will be fighting on the side of ISIS. Second, it is not at all clear that “good” rebels can still be found,
    and it is not at all likely that the dim bulbs in the US State Dept and the CIA could find them if they do
    exist.

    Most likely Obama does not intend to try. Rather, my guess is that he intends a nice juicy betrayal of the country he hates, and will be funding and equipping ISIS. At best, as Mark Steyn says, it is a palliative measure to tide the Democrats through the November elections.

  11. Whose Boots Will Be On The Ground? The Puss ‘n Boots Coalition??

    There needs to be a name for the coalition The Obama Administration is creating to fight ISIS.
    Will the Coalition be named The Coalition of Unwilling, The Hell No We Won’t Go Coalition or The PUSS n Boots Coalition led by Nancy Sinatra singing These Boots Are Made for Walking?

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