Archive for the ‘Obama’s leadership’ category

Obama insists Trump win no indicator Democrats’ vision for U.S. is ‘a fantasy’

December 26, 2016

Obama insists Trump win no indicator Democrats’ vision for U.S. is ‘a fantasy’, Washinton Times, Douglas Ernst, December 26, 2016

hopenchangePresident Barack Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, speaks during an event to thank service members and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama is “confident” that he would have defeated Republican Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mr. Obama recently joined his former chief strategist, David Axelrod, for a wide-ranging interview on CNN’s “The Axe Files.” The president talked about his childhood, Hillary Clinton’s doomed presidential campaign, and his plans for the future after leaving the White House.

“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” Mr. Obama said, CNN reported Monday. “I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.”

The president then stressed that President-elect Trump’s ability to secure 306 Electoral College votes compared to Mrs. Clinton’s 232 is not an indicator that “hope and change” was a political illusion.

“In the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have suggested that somehow, it really was a fantasy,” the president said. “What I would argue is, is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of a one America that is tolerant and diverse and open and full of energy and dynamism.”

Mr. Obama said that although “it feels like the band is breaking up a little bit,” he would turn an objective eye on his performance once Mr. Trump becomes the 45th U.S. commander in chief.

“I have to be quiet for a while. And I don’t mean politically, I mean internally. I have to still myself,” Mr. Obama said, CNN reported. “You have to get back in tune with your center and process what’s happened before you make a bunch of good decisions.”

Cartoons and Video of the Day

December 20, 2016

LATMA-TV via Youtube

 

H/t Power Line

hillary-excuses

 

hiollarys-cro9wds

 

hack-axe

 

obama-cut-it-out

 

lib-bitter-cloingers

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

santahacked

 

H/t Freedom is Just Another Word

last

 

wall

 

worthless

The Consequences of Inaction

November 7, 2016

The Consequences of Inaction, Gatestone InstituteBarry Shaw, November 7, 2016

The reality is that the actors who are replacing a once powerful and influential America are malevolently reshaping both the Middle East and Asia in their own image.

“I announce my separation from the United States… I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia.” — Philippines President Rodrigo Dutere, in a speech to China’s leaders in Beijing, Oct. 20, 2016.<

Statements that relations were “steady and trusted” by US Assistant Secretary of State, David Russel did nothing to hide the fact that America’s self-imposed impotence is being felt in Asia.

Action, including inaction, has consequences. We have seen this in the failure of the US to respond to:

  • Syria’s effective genocide of its own people;
  • Russia’s unhindered aggression in the Ukraine, Crimea, Syria and in the oil-rich Arctic circle;
  • China building military islands in the South China Sea in an apparent attempt to control international maritime routes
  • ISIS’s metastization into 18 countries in three years;
  • Iran, now billions of dollars richer, stepping up its aggression into Yemen, continuing work on its offensive military program, and holding new Americans hostage for ransom;
  • North Korea continuing to develop its nuclear weapons for both itself and Iran;
  • Turkey now threatening adventures in both and Syria and Iraq, where it will probably be thwarted respectively by Russia and Iran.

Most recently, on October 9th, 12th and 15th, missiles were launched against US Navy ships off the coast of Yemen. They were launched by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and were deliberately fired at American warships.

These attacks followed one aimed at the HSV Swift on October 1. The missiles were all identified by the US Naval Institute as being Chinese-produced C-802 anti-ship missiles, sold to Iran, and now being fired at United States vessels by proxy fighters of Tehran.

Then, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to Iraqi demands that Turkey withdraw its troops from northern Iraq by telling Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi at the Eurasian Islamic Council meeting in Istanbul:

“It’s not important at all how you shout from Iraq. You should know that we will do what we want to do. First, know your place. The army of the Republic of Turkey had not lost its standing so as to take orders from you!”

This is the direct consequence of a deal done between the US State Department and Erdogan whereby the US is allowed to use the Turkish airbase at Incirlik in return for Washington turning a blind eye to Turkish actions against the Kurds. Turkey has been allowed to trespass into Iraq and Syria by the US Administration, under the pretext of adding Istanbul to an Obama coalition of nations fighting ISIS. However, facts on the ground clearly show that Turkey has disproportionately been targeting Kurds rather than Islamic State. Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish fighters, who were fighting ISIS in northern Syria, on October 20.

Egypt and Russia held a week-long joint military exercise in Egypt at the end of October. That followed renewed Russian supplies of military equipment to Cairo after Obama’s refusal to restock the government of Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with US-made weapons and equipment. The US had apparently been upset when in 2013 el-Sisi overthrew the Morsi-led government, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom the US would apparently and incomprehensibly like to be allied.

Philippines President Rodrigo Dutere announced his country’s separation from the United States on October 20, by declaring that he has realigned it with China as the two nations agreed to resolved their South China Sea dispute. Dutere made his remarks in Beijing on an official visit to which he brought two hundred business people, saying in his address to China’s leadership: “I announce my separation from the United States… I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia.”

Statements that relations were “steady and trusted” by US Assistant Secretary of State David Russel did nothing to hide the fact that America’s impotence is being felt in Asia.

Back to Iran, where a top admiral, Ali Fadavi, said that the US lacks the power to confront Iran militarily. He backed that up by having four Iranian naval speedboats harass US naval ships in the Persian Gulf.

2026Four armed speedboats of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps harass the US Navy destroyer USS Nitze, on August 24, 2016. (Image source: Fox News video screenshot)

Alon Ben David, chief military correspondent for Israeli TV Channel 10 News, wrote that American foreign policy is turning Iran into a world power by allowing it free range to act in Syria and Yemen, and even having the Obama Administration allow Iran to supply and support a Shi’ite militia taking part in the battle for Mosul.

The acts of global aggression are all the result of an American policy to do little or nothing to stop other actors from strutting the global stage in a dangerous and shifting world.

Many countries evidently believe that America’s role in recent years has been one of damaging everything it touches — or does not touch — leaving them nervously sitting on the sidelines, criticizing what they perceive as the mistakes of others. The reality is that the actors who are replacing a once powerful and influential America are malevolently reshaping both the Middle East and Asia in their own image.

The result has not been a more peaceful world but one in which the vacuum left by America vacating strategically important areas is rapidly being filled by troublesome power-players that leave countries once dependent on US protection feeling increasingly vulnerable.

The consequences of inaction can only soon be damaging to US interests at home as well as abroad.

Bad Ideas Created Benghazi

July 5, 2016

Bad Ideas Created Benghazi, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, July 5, 2016

Witch of Benghazi

The House Select Committee on Benghazi report confirms what we pretty much already knew. The Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton completely politicized this country’s foreign policy in order to ensure the reelection of Obama and to serve the future presidential ambitions of Hillary Clinton. Along the way Obama, Clinton et al. made dangerous decisions, such as establishing the consular outpost in Benghazi, and ignoring the consul’s pleas for more security. They also ignored the many warning signs of incipient attacks, bungled the response to the attack on September 11, 2012, and then obfuscated, spun, and outright lied in the aftermath. The House report adds new details that flesh out the story, but enough had already been leaked to confirm Clinton’s despicable sacrifice of American lives on the altar of her obsessive ambition.

Toxic ambition, sheer incompetence, and the self-serving politics of the individuals involved mean they bear the primary responsibility for this disaster. But Benghazi illustrates as well the climate of bad ideas that make such decisions possible. Bad politicians eventually go away, but malignant ideas and received wisdom are deeply rooted in our institutions, transcending individuals. The Benghazi fiasco illustrates two particularly tenacious ones.

The military intervention in Libya, the origin of the Benghazi tragedy, was another act of Western wishful thinking about “democratizing” and “reforming” the Muslim world. Despite the failure of George W. Bush’s efforts to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, the so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions encouraged the Wilsonian “freedom and democracy” promoters in 2011 to make Libya yet another poster-child for this doomed project. Moreover, intervention seemingly could be done on the cheap. No troops need be deployed, since jets and missiles could topple the psychotic Muammar Gaddafi––an autocrat straight out of central casting, whose genocidal bluster gave the West a pretext for intervention.

For Hillary and Obama, this was the perfect opportunity to show those neocon militarists what “smart power” was all about, and strike a contrast with the “cowboy” Bush’s “unilateralist” bumbling in Iraq. A UN resolution was secured, and a NATO-led coalition of 19 states assembled for enforcing a no-fly zone. The mission soon escalated into bringing about regime change and the death of Gaddafi.

For a while, this was a perfect, low-cost, quick little war that would illustrate the various shibboleths of moralizing internationalism: international diplomatic approval for the use of force, multilateral coalition building, a reliance on air power that minimized casualties among participating militaries, and a smaller role for the US, which would be “leading from behind,” as an Obama advisor said. This last idea reflected Obama’s belief that the US needed to diminish its role in world affairs and avoid the arrogant overreach that stained its history abroad, most recently in Iraq. This notion of America’s global sins is another bad idea reflecting ideology, not historical fact.

For Secretary of State Clinton, the Libya intervention would be the showcase of her tenure at State and proof of her superior foreign policy skills and presidential potential. Of course, we all know that the toppling of Gaddafi has been a disastrous mistake. Gaddafi was a brutal creep, but he kept in check the jihadists from Libya eager to kill Americans in Iraq and foment terror throughout the region. His departure created a vacuum that has been filled with legions of jihadist outfits across North Africa, including ISIS franchises. They are armed in part with weapons plundered from Gaddafi’s arsenals such as surface-to-air missiles, assault rifles, machine guns, mines, grenades, antitank missiles, and rocket-propelled grenades. Yet eager to protect her defining foreign policy achievement, Hillary kept open the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi even as other nations pulled out their personnel because of the increasing danger caused by the new Libyan government’s inability to control and secure its territory.

Four dead Americans were the cost of political ambition and adherence to the bankrupt idea that liberal democracy can be created on the cheap in a culture lacking all of the philosophical and institutional infrastructure necessary for its success: inalienable rights, equality under the law, transparent government, accountability to the people, separation of church and state, fair and honest elections, and the freedom of speech and assembly. The folly of expecting democracy in a culture alien to it became clear in the aftermath of Gaddafi’s downfall, when the Libyan National Transitional Council’s Draft Constitutional Charter proclaimed, “Islam is the religion of the state, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” The idea of exporting democracy, however, still has a tight hold on many in the West both on the left and the right, which means we have not seen the last of its bloody and costly failures.

Equally bipartisan has been the next bad idea: that al Qaeda, ISIS, et al. are fringe “extremists” who have “hijacked” Islam, and that the vast majority of Muslims are “moderates” grieved by this tarnishing of their noble faith. It was George W. Bush who said in his first address after 9/11 that Islam’s “teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah,” establishing the model for his administration’s policy of “outreach” to Muslims. Obama has taken this delusion to surreal extremes, refusing in the face of mountains of evidence to link the numerous ISIS attacks of the last few years to Islam, and proscribing “jihad” and “radical Islamist” from the government’s communications and training manuals.

It was this imperative to sever Islamic terrorism from its roots in traditional Islamic doctrine that in part accounted for the lies that Hillary, Obama, and their minions like National Security Advisor Susan Rice told in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. They peddled the narrative that a spontaneous protest against an obscure Internet video insulting Mohammed had morphed into a violent attack. This lie traded in the delusional belief that despite its 14-century-long record of invasion, murder, slaving, colonization, and occupation­­––all in fulfillment of the divine commands “to slay the idolaters wherever you find them” and “to fight all men until they say there is no god but Allah” –– Islamic doctrine could not possibly justify the actions of modern terrorists. So powerful was the need to protect this belief and, of course, her political future that Clinton lied to the faces of the parents of the four dead Americans, promising to “get” the hapless filmmaker, even as she knew on the very night of the attacks that there was no protest against the video near the consular outpost.

Nor are the various pretexts for this evasion of historical fact convincing. The worst is that making explicit the link between jihadism and Islam will endanger innocent Muslims and stoke “Islamophobia.” There is no evidence that this is the case, and hate crimes against Jews still vastly outnumber those against Muslims. Not much better is the notion that pious Muslims, supposedly offended by “blasphemers” like al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, will not cooperate with police and the FBI if we state simple facts about their faith and its history.

This idea is psychologically preposterous. It assumes that Muslim pique at infidel statements about their religion trumps their assumed desire to stop the violent “distorters” of their beloved faith. It also assumes that to Muslims, such insults justify keeping quiet about the planned murders of innocents––a damning indictment of the very people whom the “nothing to do with Islam” crowd are so anxious to mollify. Worse, it confirms the unique triumphalism of Islam, whose adherents expect from non-believers deference to their faith, even as Muslims across the globe are slaughtering and torturing people simply because they are non-believers. Such careful monitoring of our discourse about Islam, at the same time Muslim intellectuals routinely attack the West for its alleged historical sins against Islam, is a sign of weakness and fear that encourages our enemies to hit us again.

We’ve been operating by this double standard for decades, and terrorist groups have expanded across the globe, while jihadist violence has murdered Americans in Boston, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Orlando, to name just the deadliest attacks. It’s safe to say that the tactic of flattering Muslims and confirming their sense of superiority to infidels has failed to keep us safe.

But if we really want to be honest, we won’t just rely on the weasel-word “Islamist,” which still suggests that the beliefs of the jihadists are somehow a doctrinal aberration. Those of both parties who continually talk about “moderate Muslims” and use the word “Islamist” to distinguish them from jihadists should heed Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan: “The term ‘Moderate Islam’ is ugly and offensive; there is no moderate Islam; Islam is Islam.” Using “Islamic” rather than “Islamist” will recognize the continuity of modern jihadism with traditional Islamic doctrines. Whitewashing that fact has done nothing to stop jihadist violence, and it is an enabler of those ordinary Muslims who refuse to acknowledge Islam’s illiberal and violent doctrines.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton deserve the opprobrium history will inflict on them for sacrificing our security and interests to their personal ambition and ideological obsessions. But bad ideas had a hand in the killing of four Americans in Benghazi, and those bad ideas will continue to cripple us until we discard them and start facing reality.

Why Middle Eastern Leaders Are Talking to Putin, Not Obama

May 9, 2016

Why Middle Eastern Leaders Are Talking to Putin, Not Obama, Politico, Dennis Ross, May 8, 2016

John Hinderaker at Power Line writes,

Dennis Ross is a respected, if thoroughly conventional, expert on the Middle East. A Democrat, he has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations as an adviser and envoy. Ross served in the State Department as Hillary Clinton’s Special Advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia. Subsequently, he joined President Obama’s National Security Council staff as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, which includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia. So when Ross writes, in Politico, that Obama’s foreign policy weakness is hurting American interests, we should take notice.

— DM)

Putin and Middle Eastern leaders understand the logic of coercion. It is time for us to reapply it.

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The United States has significantly more military capability in the Middle East today than Russia—America has 35,000 troops and hundreds of aircraft; the Russians roughly 2,000 troops and, perhaps, 50 aircraft—and yet Middle Eastern leaders are making pilgrimages to Moscow to see Vladimir Putin these days, not rushing to Washington. Two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to see the Russian president, his second trip to Russia since last fall, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia is planning a trip soon. Egypt’s president and other Middle Eastern leaders have also made the trek to see Putin.

Why is this happening, and why on my trips to the region am I hearing that Arabs and Israelis have pretty much given up on President Barack Obama? Because perceptions matter more than mere power: The Russians are seen as willing to use power to affect the balance of power in the region, and we are not.

Putin’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria has secured President Bashar Assad’s position and dramatically reduced the isolation imposed on Russia after the seizure of Crimea and its continuing manipulation of the fighting in Ukraine. And Putin’s worldview is completely at odds with Obama’s. Obama believes in the use of force only in circumstances where our security and homeland might be directly threatened. His mindset justifies pre-emptive action against terrorists and doing more to fight the Islamic State. But it frames U.S. interests and the use of force to support them in very narrow terms. It reflects the president’s reading of the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, and helps to explain why he has been so reluctant to do more in Syria at a time when the war has produced a humanitarian catastrophe, a refugee crisis that threatens the underpinnings of the European Union, and helped to give rise to Islamic State. And, it also explains why he thinks that Putin cannot gain—and is losing—as a result of his military intervention in Syria.

But in the Middle East it is Putin’s views on the uses of coercion, including force to achieve political objectives, that appears to be the norm, not the exception—and that is true for our friends as well as adversaries. The Saudis acted in Yemen in no small part because they feared the United States would impose no limits on Iranian expansion in the area, and they felt the need to draw their own lines. In the aftermath of the nuclear deal, Iran’s behavior in the region has been more aggressive, not less so, with regular Iranian forces joining the Revolutionary Guard now deployed to Syria, wider use of Shiite militias, arms smuggling into Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, and ballistic missile tests.

Russia’s presence has not helped. The Russian military intervention turned the tide in Syria and, contrary to Obama’s view, has put the Russians in a stronger position without imposing any meaningful costs on them. Not only are they not being penalized for their Syrian intervention, but the president himself is now calling Vladimir Putin and seeking his help to pressure Assad—effectively recognizing who has leverage. Middle Eastern leaders recognize it as well and realize they need to be talking to the Russians if they are to safeguard their interests. No doubt, it would be better if the rest of the world defined the nature of power the way Obama does. It would be better if, internationally, Putin were seen to be losing. But he is not.

This does not mean that we are weak and Russia is strong. Objectively, Russia is declining economically and low oil prices spell increasing financial troubles—a fact that may explain, at least in part, Putin’s desire to play up Russia’s role on the world stage and his exercise of power in the Middle East. But Obama’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia did not alter the perception of American weakness and our reluctance to affect the balance of power in the region. The Arab Gulf states fear growing Iranian strength more than they fear the Islamic State—and they are convinced that the administration is ready to acquiesce in Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony. Immediately after the president’s meeting at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Abdulrahman al-Rashed, a journalist very well connected to Saudi leaders, wrote: “Washington cannot open up doors to Iran allowing it to threaten regional countries … while asking the afflicted countries to settle silently.”

As I hear on my visits to the region, Arabs and Israelis alike are looking to the next administration. They know the Russians are not a force for stability; they count on the United States to play that role. Ironically, because Obama has conveyed a reluctance to exercise American power in the region, many of our traditional partners in the area realize they may have to do more themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing unless it drives them to act in ways that might be counterproductive. For example, had the Saudis been more confident about our readiness to counter the Iranian-backed threats in the region, would they have chosen to go to war in Yemen—a costly war that not surprisingly is very difficult to win and that has imposed a terrible price? Obama has been right to believe that the regional parties must play a larger role in fighting the Islamic State. He has, unfortunately, been wrong to believe they would do so if they thought we failed to see the bigger threat they saw and they doubted our credibility.

Indeed, so long as they question American reliability, there will be limits to how much they will expose themselves—whether in fighting the Islamic State, not responding to Russian entreaties, or even thinking about assuming a role of greater responsibility for Palestinian compromises on making peace with Israel. To take advantage of their recognition that they may need to run more risks and assume more responsibility in the region, they will want to know that America’s word is good and there will be no more “red lines” declared but unfulfilled; that we see the same threats they do; and that U.S. leaders understand that power affects the landscape in the region and will not hesitate to reassert it.

Several steps would help convey such an impression:

⧫ Toughen our declaratory policy toward Iran about the consequences of cheating on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to include blunt, explicit language on employing force, not sanctions, should the Iranians violate their commitment not to pursue or acquire a nuclear weapon;

⧫ Launch contingency planning with GCC states and Israel—who themselves are now talking—to generate specific options for countering Iran’s growing use of Shiite militias to undermine regimes in the region. (A readiness to host quiet three-way discussions with Arab and Israeli military planners would signal we recognize the shared threat perceptions, the new strategic realities, and the potentially new means to counter both radical Shiite and Sunni threats.)

⧫ Be prepared to arm the Sunni tribes in Iraq if Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi continues to be blocked from doing so by the Iranians and the leading militias;

⧫ In Syria, make clear that if the Russians continue to back Assad and do not force him to accept the Vienna principles (a cease-fire, opening humanitarian corridors, negotiations and a political transition), they will leave us no choice but to work with our partners to develop safe havens with no-fly zones.

Putin and Middle Eastern leaders understand the logic of coercion. It is time for us to reapply it.

 

About Obama’s Receding Tide of War…

April 20, 2016

About Obama’s Receding Tide of War…, PJ Media, Claudia Rosett, April 19, 2016

Years ago, looking out at the Pacific surf from  a beach in Chile, a friend — alert to the ways of tsunamis — gave me some advice about what to do if suddenly the water all went away. “Run. Run for your life. Because it’s all coming back.”

That advice has come to mind all too often since President Obama made his 2012 reelection campaign proclamations about the receding tide of war. Not that the tide of war has receded anywhere except perhaps in the fantasies of Obama and his followers. But after more than seven years of U.S. policy predicated on such propaganda, it’s getting ever harder to read the daily headlines without the sense that there’s a deluge coming our way.

Just a modest sampling of some of the latest warning signs:

— Russian warplanes have been demonstrating that they can with impunity buzz our military aircraft and ships. Which is by now no surprise, because Russian President Vladimir Putin has already learned — in the flexible era of the Obama “reset” — that the U.S. is no serious obstacle to such stunts as Russia swiping the entire territory of Crimea from Ukraine, moving back into the Middle East, propping up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and offering fugitive Edward Snowden a home after the grand hack of the National Security Agency.

— China, while brushing off U.S. protests, keeps pushing its power plays and territorial grabs in East Asia — and has just landed a military jet on an island it has built, complete with runway, in the South China Sea.

— Iran, having pocketed the Obama-legacy rotten nuclear deal, has continued testing ballistic missiles, with Iran’s Fars News Agency advertising that two of the missiles launched just last month were emblazoned in Hebrew with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out.” Presumably these missiles are being developed just in case Iran feels a need to propel toward a target some highly unpeaceful products of its “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program? Meantime, Iran is wielding the nuclear agreement itself as a threat. Just this past week, we had the head of Iran’s Central Bank in Washington threatening that Iran will walk away from Obama’s cherished nuclear deal unless the Obama administration provides yet more concessions — in this instance, a U.S. welcome mat for Iran’s banking transactions, so Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, can avail itself of easy access to dollars.

— Saudi authorities have been threatening that if Congress passes a bill allowing the Saudi government to be held responsible for any part in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they will dump hundreds of billions worth of U.S. assets. (What’s most arresting here is less the prospect of a self-defeating Saudi fire sale on U.S. assets than the reality that the Saudis — beset by everything from relatively low oil prices to regional tumult, including an aggressively expansionist Iran — feel free to try to bully the U.S.).

— And oh, by the way, North Korea, has been visibly preparing for a fifth nuclear test. If they carry it out during the grand window of opportunity provided by Obama’s final nine months in office, this would be the fourth North Korean nuclear test on Obama’s watch. That’s not a good trend, especially given North Korea’s history of marketing its weapons and nuclear know-how to places such as the Middle East.

That’s before we even get to the carnage and refugee flows spilling out of such places as Syria and Libya; such terrorist outfits and networks as ISIS, the Taliban, Hezbollah, al Qaeda…and the mix-and-match extent to which various states not entirely friendly to the U.S. tend to officially deplore terrorism while also sponsoring or abetting it, as convenient.

Obama likes to lecture us that all these things are transient problems, speed bumps on the road to wherever that utopian arc of history finally bends toward some great big pot of justice at the end of the rainbow. In his view, as he told NBC’s Matt Lauer this past January, “there are no existential threats” confronting the U.S. today. Thus, as Fox News reported earlier this month in a superb documentary on “Rising Threats, Shrinking Military,” Obama is both gutting the U.S. military and reshaping it, the priorities here being not to win wars, but to be, above all, eco-aware and gender malleable.

In a televised inteview April 10, with Fox News host Chris Wallace, Obama opined that if you just step back and look at the big picture, there’s not much to worry about: “America’s got the best cards. We are the envy of the world. We have the most powerful military on earth, by a mile.”

That’s true, but it’s not a product of Obama’s brand of leadership, and it’s not enough to have the best cards if your leaders are busy throwing them away. America’s greatness is the incredible legacy of many generations of work and sacrifice under a system of capitalism and freedom, and of leaders willing at crucial moments to stand up for this country. It takes a lot of effort to run that down, but this is what Obama has been doing, with the apology tours, the terrible deals, the fading red lines, the hollow speeches, the inert declarations about standing “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the “international community,” the insults to America’s allies and the come-hither courting of America’s enemies.

None of the nations now defying, threatening or bullying America is likely, individually, to win a war with the United States. But collectively, they keep pushing the envelope, and finding no serious resistance. There is every sign that they are learning from each other, emboldening each other, and in some disturbing matters willing to work together. This is how wars start.

On April 17, novelist and political writer Mark Helprin published an important op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, under the headline “The Candidates Ignore Rising Military Dangers,” with the subhed: “Obama is weakening U.S. defenses and credibility, but there’s little debate about the growing risk of war.” The entire article is worth reading. But if you want a quick summary of what’s out there, it’s in the caption to a photo than ran with the piece: “War games last year in southern Russia involved troops from countries including Russia, China, Pakistan and Venezuela.” You can bet, whatever they are preparing for, it is not a receding tide of war.

Obama: ‘Mr. Trump is not succeeding me’

April 8, 2016

Obama: ‘Mr. Trump is not succeeding me’ Politico, April 8, 2016

(Did Obama just “endorse” Trump and/or Cruz? Perhaps they should thank him.– DM)

Obama no TrumpPresident Barack Obama is confident that Donald Trump won’t succeed him as president in 2017. | AP Photo

Democrats should thank Trump and Cruz for their honesty, Obama remarked, while also expressing that their rhetoric provides a look into what’s at stake in this election — which he said is about more than why Democrats can take America in a better direction than Republicans.

*******************

President Barack Obama in his most emphatic terms yet disputed the idea that Donald Trump will win this presidential election.

“I recognize that there is a deep obsession right now about Mr. Trump,” Obama told attendees of a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Thursday evening in Santa Monica, California. “And one of you pulled me aside and squeezed me hard and said, ‘Tell me that Mr. Trump is not succeeding you.’ And I said, ‘Mr. Trump is not succeeding me.’”

Obama credited Trump and his primary rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for exposing “some of the nonsense that we’ve been dealing with in Congress on a daily basis.”

“People act as if these folks are outliers. But they’re not,” Obama said, pointing to what Republicans in general say during interviews, on talk radio and in town halls. “They’re saying stuff that’s just as wacky as what we’re hearing out of the presidential candidates. It’s just nobody was paying attention.”

Democrats should thank Trump and Cruz for their honesty, Obama remarked, while also expressing that their rhetoric provides a look into what’s at stake in this election — which he said is about more than why Democrats can take America in a better direction than Republicans.

Obama recalled that during trips in Democratic circles he’s praised for his work the last seven-plus years but told that people aren’t that excited about this election.

“And I say I have no patience for that. I say thank you very much, first,” Obama said. “But then I say to folks, we cannot be complacent, and we cannot be cynical, because the stakes are too high. And we should take pride in what we’ve accomplished over the last seven and a half years, not because every problem was fixed, but because it showed the steady progress that happens when people who love this country decide to change it.”

“And that should be a spur, a call to action,” he added. “And it starts not just at the presidential level, but in us recognizing the enormous power of Congress and the difference between a Nancy Pelosi being speaker of the House and a Paul Ryan being speaker of the House.”