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Obama defenders and their false premises

In response to Politico’s Dylan Byers Plays Goalie Against Obama’s Ukraine Critics:

This might be the first time I’ve seen a pack of straw men pick up and move goalposts.  What a completely idiotic last-ditch defense of Obama’s catastrophic foreign policy.

I’m not sure a tag team of Ronald Reagan and George Washington could get us out of the holes Barack Obama has dug around the world, if they took charge today.  We’re watching the culmination of years of bad calls.  The short answer to Byers’ “what would you do differently?” challenge is “not let Barack Obama anywhere near the White House, preferably beginning in 2009.”

Byers must have gotten the latest talking points memo from Obama HQ, because all of his dead-enders are singing that tune today.  Without even reading the op-ed Mitt Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal, they’re saying he’s not allowed to claim vindication unless he can outline his precise 7-point plan for talking Vladimir Putin into renouncing control of Russia and setting himself on fire.  Of course, Obama’s media partisans are motivated not only by their enduring support for the man they put in office, but lingering shame over how they treated the man who should have replaced him in 2012.  A lot of them were very willing accessories to Obama’s foolish arrogance.

Romney’s core point is exactly what nonsense like Byers’ goalie Tweet is supposed to obscure: timing is everything in foreign policy.  

Why, across the world, are America’s hands so tied?

A large part of the answer is our leader’s terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, “a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community–and to the White House–that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more. That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion.

Putin is thinking six moves ahead.  Obama still thinks he can win the game by improvising a really great speech that will convince Putin to tip over his king.  Obama didn’t even know he was in a fight until Putin had already drop-kicked him out of the Middle East and pinned him to the mat in Ukraine.  To the everlasting shame of our biased media, and to the cost of the free world, they helped ensure Putin would not face a President who had his number.  Seriously, go back and watch footage of Obama making a fool of himself in his foreign policy debates with Romney.  Barack Obama had no idea what was about to hit him from Syria and Russia, any more than he knew what he was doing in Libya.

The essence of skilled foreign policy lies in avoiding crises, not whipping up great strategies to resolve them on the fly after tanks start rolling, or bullets start flying.  Romney again:

Able leaders anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them. My career in business and politics has exposed me to scores of people in leadership positions, only a few of whom actually have these qualities. Some simply cannot envision the future and are thus unpleasantly surprised when it arrives. Some simply hope for the best. Others succumb to analysis paralysis, weighing trends and forecasts and choices beyond the time of opportunity.

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.

Romney winds up by wishing Secretary of State John Kerry well, saying he must succeed for the sake of the country.  In other words, we’re hosed.

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