Obama’s inconsistency, incoherence has created a foreign policy mess for America

Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort one feels when holding contradictory beliefs, thoughts, ideas, or values simultaneously. It’s based on the idea that it is inherently human to want consistency — it makes us feel secure and, frankly, sane.

What, then, to do with political policy decisions that should induce these feelings of discomfort given their glaring inconsistencies but that apparently produce no such feelings since no one in the press or the White House is commenting on the confusion? For example, how can the nation under President Obama be simultaneously weakening the military and drawing back on foreign policy, yet going ahead with what the Free Beacon calls “imperialist meddling in Nigeria”:

As the pressure mounts from America’s media elites and hashtag aficionados, what will he do when strongly worded condemnations fail to persuade Boko Haram’s elected leader Abubakar Shekau to release the hundreds of girls his group has (allegedly) enlisted in its quest for religious freedom?

We already know the answer: President Obama, who has previously engaged in dangerous rhetorical aggression by describing Boko Haram as a “terrorist organization,” has decided to send a team of U.S. military officials to Nigeria to locate the girls. Now other world powers are getting involved.

Why? Well, for some reason, the imperialist elite has decided that war with Nigeria is a national priority.

It’s strange how they do that. We seem to have developed a tendency under the Obama administration to forget the outcries about missing weapons of mass destruction being less than optimal rationale for war under Bush. Now we apparently just unilaterally decide when and where we can insert ourselves in world affairs, dependent upon if the media is available to spin a tale of necessity.

Generally speaking, the Obama administration seems to understand that the selling point is to make the meddling look non-aggressive and more like a humanitarian mission. Righteous indignation about helping locate those missing Nigerian girls will sell a lot of t-shirts or something. In any event, Michelle Obama’s hashtag is starting to make more sense. It was simply the first storyboard in a larger marketing effort.

As Stiles at FB puts it, this is a pattern that has been well established under Obama (major points for the Cranberries lyric):

These events have followed a wearily familiar pattern, one we have already seen in south Asia and the Middle East, but that is increasingly being applied to Africa as well. Many have called for “action.” These “terrorists” must be brought to “justice.” The region must be “stabilized.” Only the “enlightened” western nations—and their tanks, and their bombs, and their bombs, and their guns—can solve this conflict, we are told.

But what’s increasingly odd is that while we put our ears back and show our teeth in cherry-picked conflicts that really are little more than domestic insurgencies, we are simultaneously cutting back on defense spending and drawing down our military presence, leading to a foreign policy that the Armed Services Chairman recently called a “mess”:

Americans, McKeon argued, ought to be asking what the nation’s central foreign policy goal is, and what role the U.S. military has in advancing it.  He said:

“Put plainly, our foreign policy is a mess. We have no coherent strategy.  I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be pivoting to Asia, pivoting to the Middle East, or pivoting back to Europe.”

The long and short of it is that if we’re drawing back militarily — the wisdom about which reasonable people can disagree and which many libertarians find appealing — there should be a coherent and consistent plan that applies to all our dealings with foreign powers and circumstances. Because while the Obama administration may escape the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, the rest of the country is starting to feel a little queasy.


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