Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama’s foreign policy is just more evidence of an over-powerful executive

Posted on September 22, 2014 at 12.31 pm

This week’s column is about the way the President apparently micromanages drone strikes and now bombing in Syria—and how that’s just a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Remember the “kill list”? In 2012, the New York Times broke the shocking story that President Obama hand selects the targets for drone bombing campaigns in Middle Eastern countries like Pakistan and Yemen. The irony was sharp and the ethical concerns sharper:

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

Now, as air strikes begin in Syria in an attempt to stop the advance of ISIS, it seems Obama’s extremely hands-on war management style continues: The Wall Street Journal reports that “Obama plans to tightly control strikes in Syria.”

Just how tight will that control be? Well, I’ll give you a hint: It sounds a lot like the control he exercises over drone strikes:

The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential signoff for strikes in Syrian territory, officials said. […] By demanding the Pentagon gets his signoff on any strikes in Syria, Mr. Obama can better ensure the operation remain focused on his main goal for that part of the campaign: weakening the militants’ hold on territory in neighboring Iraq.

Sounds familiar, right?

Obama has been accused of micromanaging in the past. Back in 2009 the charge came up regarding economic policy. In 2006 he reportedly said, “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it. It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” In 2011, the First Lady emphasized how detail-focused her husband tends to be, saying he “reads every word, every memo, so he is better prepared than the people briefing him.”

There’s an extent to which that diligence is a good thing, and a welcome contrast to Obama’s more recent reputation for claiming ignorance of all kinds of important things. So I’m not interested in attempting some sort of pop psychology analysis of Obama’s plan to handpick the targets and people he bombs.

Maybe, as some have suggested, it’s a guilt thing. Or maybe, as others have posited, Obama is attempting to take the role of restrainer of the dogs of war. Or maybe, as the President himself supposedly said, he’s just “really good at killing people.”

I don’t know which, if any, of these, is the reason behind the President’s decision to micromanage these wars. Again, I’m not a psychologist.

No, what I see here is a much bigger problem—namely an out-of-control presidency which would have too much authority whether the President were Republican or Democrat, smart or dumb, a micromanager or an easygoing delegator.

Read the whole thing here.

How Barack Obama spends his leisure time is the least of our worries

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 1.42 pm

This week’s column is born out of frustration with seeing otherwise thoughtful, reasonable libertarians and conservatives alike wasting their breath on stuff which really doesn’t matter. Who cares how often the President golfs?! Let’s look at how often he hand-picks people to die, instead.

I don’t know if it’s a longstanding American tradition to waste political discussion on topics that really don’t matter, but in the last decade or so, we seem to have really honed this skill:

  • The frequency and cost of President Obama’s golfing trips is a favorite topic.
  • Apparently he doesn’t lift heavy enough weights at the gym.
  • Any time the Obama family takes a vacation, the rumblings of criticism instantly begin, with left and right constantly quibbling over whose President took pricier trips.
  • Michelle Obama, too, is a frequent target of criticism. Her dresses cost too much. She eats her food too quickly.
  • And earlier this month we hit a new low, with multiple nationally-known commentators tactlessly suggesting (based on her appearance) that the First Lady is actually a man.
  • There were even complaints when Michelle Obama Skyped into the Oscars, despite the fact Laura Bush and Ronald Reagan both participated in Oscar ceremonies during their own time in the White House.

The current obsession is President Obama’s decision not to visit the United States’ southern border to—let’s be realistic—do photo ops while making some vague comments about immigration policy.

Now, I’m far from a fan of the President—but this critique just doesn’t make sense. It especially doesn’t make sense after all the aforementioned complaining about the cost of his other trips.

Ironically, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who did go to the border, managed to squeeze in an awful lot of photo ops despite declaring, “I’m not interested in photo ops.” He even tweeted the photos…on multiple Twitter accounts. If that’s not a photo op, I don’t know what is.

But here’s the thing: None of this truly matters.

And spending time talking about this kind of frivolous stuff distracts from the very real abuses of liberty and power the Obamas impose on us when they’re not on vacation.

Honestly, I’d like to see the President on vacation more often. At least when he’s on the golf course, he can’t completely override the rule of law with his pen and his phone! Let him vacation all day, every day if it means he’ll stop expanding the size and scope of government at home and abroad. Maybe if he’s occupied elsewhere, the rest of us can get busy actually making our communities and the world more prosperous, safe, and free.

Read the whole thing here.

3 out of 4 of Americans oppose re-invading Iraq because it is a really stupid idea

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 11.39 am

This week’s article is about the bipartisan push for a re-invasion of Iraq:

In the last two weeks, a terrorist group too radical even for Al-Qaeda to support, the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL), has swept through the Iraq, taking city after city en route to Baghdad.

This new round of chaos has been a dog whistle to the always eager interventionists. Suddenly, hawks like Dick Cheney, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham are booking interviews like it’s 2003, and they all have the same message: America has to go to war again to fix this mess.

Meanwhile, though President Obama initially said there would be “no boots on the ground,” he’s backtracked on that promise in record time. Servicemen are already on their way to Iraq, and drone strikes (which are a terrible option) have been suggested as well. (To his credit, Obama is at least speaking in more cautious terms than his neoconservative counterparts, though it remains to be seen if his actions will be similarly restrained.)

Obama, Cheney, and pals may be ginning up a new push for war, but most Americans have very different ideas. A recent poll shows that a whopping 74% of Americans oppose sending combat troops to Iraq, and a mere 16% are for it.

This is consistent with poll after poll in the last few years that show Americans are overwhelmingly sick of war and tired of our government’s refusal to mind its own business abroad. This desire for peace spans partisan lines, and it definitely includes rejecting of re-invasion of Iraq.

So why the huge difference between what most Americans want and what Washington is trying to force on us? Well, it’s simple: Most Americans are willing to admit how awful U.S. foreign policy has been for the last decade plus and the Washington establishment is not.

The same poll which showed that 3/4 of Americans don’t want more war in Iraq also found that “more than two-thirds say the renewed violence in Iraq is a result of a centuries-old conflict that was worsened by the 2003 invasion launched by President George W. Bush.”

In other words, the people who opposed invasion the first time around were right—and people like Cheney and, now, Obama who want to continue and expand our involvement, have been proven wrong.

As Ron Paul put it, it doesn’t make any sense to listen to the people who got Iraq and America into this mess to begin with: “They cannot admit they were wrong about the invasion being a ‘cakewalk’ that would pay for itself,” and their foreign policy advice isn’t exactly credible anymore.

That’s not to suggest that Saddam Hussein was a good guy, or that Iraq would be a paradise today if the Iraq War had never been started by President Bush and continued by Obama. But it is to point out that al-Qaeda, which spawned this chaos-wreaking ISIL group, did not exist in Iraq before the 2003 invasion. The war our government started under glaringly false pretenses literally created a multitude of new terrorists, and it is that intervention which is a direct cause of Iraq’s current disaster.

Read the whole thing here.