Foreign Policy

Obama Administration’s embarrassing foreign policy fumble

Facepalm

Just days after an U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power claimed that the United States had “exhausted the alternatives” to a military strike against Syria, the Obama Administration is seriously considering a deal brokered by Russia that may prevent a war.

The details are still in the works, but the deal, which Bashar al-Assad’s regime has accepted, would require that the Syrian government to relinquish its supply of chemical weapons to international intermediaries. Syria also says that it will ratify the chemical weapons ban treaty.

The Obama Administration remains skeptical, though the President has called the proposed deal a “positive development,” and wants the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that would make the deal enforceable. Meanwhile, members of the United States Senate are working on a new resolution that would authorize force against Syria in the event that Assad’s government doesn’t turnover its chemical weapons arsenal.

European countries offer asylum to Syrians, Obama pushes for strike

President Obama’s quest for support in what would be an air strike against Syria has taken much of our attention during the past several weeks.

Since the number of Syrians fleeing the troubled country is increasing, countries like Italy and Sweden have found peaceful, meaningful ways of offering aid without being directly involved in conflicts. Sweden has recently announced that the country is admitting all Syrian refugees who apply, which is a solution to thousands of Syrians whose lives are at a greater risk now that rebel forces are gaining support of radical Islamist groups. On Friday, Italian coast guard rescued hundreds of Syrian and Egyptian refugees off the coast of Sicily. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced that 5,000 Syrian refugees would be welcomed next month. The EU member that has offered over 340 million euros in humanitarian aid to Syrian victims is now granting refugee status to fleeing Syrians.

Syria May Prove America’s True Character

The situation in Syria has become something of a fascinating study in the distinction between the principles of politics versus the principles of morality; and, strange as it sounds, it may be the thing that reminds Americans who we are as a people and what we will - and will not - accept from humanity living outside our borders.

The seriousness of potential war — especially one tied to images of children dying while foaming at the mouth — has a not-so-funny way of shining a light on just how shallow ideological passion can be. The libertarians and the traditional liberals are adamant that we stay out of the conflict; the more progressive (those who support Obama and generally the anti-war crowd) Democrats and the neoconservative hawks seem to be aligned in thinking that we must defend the red line President Obama drew in the sand. (Although now he’s insisting it wasn’t his red line at all…).

In short, there seems to be no easy partisan divide on whether we act or shutter the windows and wait for the fall out. But if this makes you uncomfortable, David Freddoso has an excellent piece in yesterday’s Conservative Intelligence Briefing on why it shouldn’t:

It would be rather disappointing to see Democrats who typically oppose all wars vote in favor of this one just to save a president’s rear end.  It would be dispiriting to think (as many liberal pundits have suggested) that conservatives are only breaking against this war because Obama is president.

And sure, there’s probably some of that going on here, especially among the public — a great deal of partisanship out there, one might say. But in fact, both characterizations are misleading, especially when it comes to elected officials.

Conservatives unlikely to side with Obama on Syria

It isn’t always quite easy to predict where some conservatives will stand on some issues simply because they have been somewhat inconsistent when faced with matters of great importance to their base, but the unpredictability seems to be withering. Especially when it comes to foreign policy.

In a statement issued Saturday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claimed he believed that the “United States has significant national interests at stake in the conflict in Syria,” but while Congress doesn’t engage in a full debate into the matter, he sees “no good options” and firmly believes that the President still has quite some work to do to convince them an air strike is the best way to go about this problem.

While Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) congratulated President Obama on reaching out to Congress for authorization before a strike, she didn’t seem to come to terms with the rationale the President is using to justify the attack. According to the congresswoman, “President Obama has not demonstrated a vital American national security interest in the conflict in Syria or a clear strategy outlining what the use of force would accomplish. The American people do not support a military intervention and I cannot vote for one.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also issued a statement after Obama’s announcement. According to Ryan, the President has some work to do to recover from his grave missteps in Syria. He needs to clearly demonstrate that the use of military force would strengthen America’s security. I want to hear his case to Congress and to the American people.”

Chatting with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Thomas Massie

“[T]he House and the Senate control the purse strings. It’s the only check that we have besides some oversight on the Executive Branch. And so I’m going to be part of that group that goes into this August recess and goes back home and says, ‘I will not vote for a continuing resolution that funds ObamaCare.’” - Rep. Thomas Massie

The last couple of election cycles have led to several interesting, liberty-minded Republicans being sent to Congress. On Tuesday, United Liberty had a chance to chat with one of those Republicans, Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District.

Elected last year with strong supports from grassroots groups, Massie quickly established his libertarian tendencies by taking strong stands for civil liberties and economic freedom. He’s an approachable guy and very down to Earth.

Along with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Massie fought hard to get a vote last week on an amendment to the defense appropriations bill to defund the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance of American citizens.

Massie offered an inside baseball account of how a vote on the amendment, which was offered by Amash, came to pass in the face of fierce opposition from President Barack Obama, congressional leaders from both parties and the nation’s security apparatus.

Floundering Old Guard Republicans re-launch attacks on Rand Paul

Back in March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) propelled himself to the forefront of Republican politics when he led an inspiring 13-hour filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan.

For the entirety of his procedural protest, Paul and several of his colleagues, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), highlighted the constitutional problems with President Barack Obama’s drones policy, which is largely consistent with the views of his hawkish predecessor and many of today’s conservatives. Paul would go onto win the CPAC straw poll the following week and has been a frequent voice of opposition to the Washington political establishment on foreign policy.

The reaction from the Old Guard Republicans was expected. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) both sided with President Obama on drones and foreign policy and admonished Paul from the Senate floor with the latter referring to his colleague from Kentucky a “wacko bird.” Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Paul’s foreign policy views “dangerous” and tried to label him as an “neo-isolationist.” Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s token Republican, has also taken shots at Paul on foreign policy, though with little effect.

What Is Going On In Egypt?

Over the past week, swelling protests in Egypt against the ruling regime boiled over, finally giving way to violence. Clashes erupted between secularists (who are aligned with the military) and Islamists (who are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood); eventually Mohamed Morsi was ousted from the Presidency, exactly one year after he was democratically elected to the office. Egypt now stands on the brink of descending into full-blown chaos, and while Egyptians attempt to move the nation “back to democracy,” they risk losing their whole nation to civil war. This past week has left some wondering what Egyptian democracy even means anymore.

Punk rock is still politically dead

Back in November, Mark Judge wrote an interesting piece at Acculturated entitled, “Punk Rock’s Moment,” that explained how the punk rock genre and cultural has an opportunity to “become relevant once again” after President Barack Obama’s re-election.

“Punk is often considered an anarchic or at least liberal art form, but politically it has been all over the map. Most famously there was Johnny Ramone, the right-wing guitarist for the Ramones,” noted Judge. “And while the famous Washington, D.C., harDCore scene, once lead by Fugazi, was–is?–full of left-wing activism, the ‘straight edge’ philosophy of some of the band–no booze no drugs–could almost be considered monastic. The Replacements was always more about parties and poetry than elections.”

Judge explained that the Dead Kennedy was one of the “great satirical punk bands of all time,” pointing to the band’s ability to question their own beliefs, which is something he says is sorely missing in today’s punk scene. Instead, he explains, punk bands of today are “afraid to touch [their] messiah,” President Obama.

“Satirical art has collapsed under Obama. The left is afraid to touch its messiah, and the right is reduced to silly gestures like doing ‘freedom raps’ and other ham-fisted foolishness,” wrote Judge. “When I was coming up in the 1980s, punk groups like Fugazi, Husker Du, the Replacements and the Dead Kennedys meant energy, passion, and, sometimes, political activism. But they also meant self-reflection and aiming the lance at even your own sacred cows.”

Big Brother Looking Out for Us or Just Looking at Us?

Mike Herrera is a songwriter and record producer from Bremerton, Washington. He hosts The Mike Herrera Hour every Friday night on IDOBI.com. You can catch more of Mike’s musings on Tumblr.

What if I told you that the government knows you are reading this? In an article on June 6, 2013 by Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian, more damning evidence surfaced that “NSA PRISM program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others. The top-secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook.” However, one day before from Greenwald again, “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.” Did he say daily? With these two huge stories on top of all the recent White House scandals — including kill lists, Predator drones, and the IRS debacle — this could read as a racy Hollywood drama much like the aptly named TV show, Scandal.

The real life scandals are worse! I feel consciously detached from the fact that some if not all of us are being recorded by the government. Many US foreign policies and our ongoing policing of the world has made me nervous to be an American on foreign soil many times over. I’m suddenly hit from behind by the fact that a large majority of US citizens don’t have a clue and don’t really want to know that everything you search online is recorded, every email saved in a government file. Ignorance is bliss. But when it suddenly affects those individuals, it’s too late.

The Bigger Problem with Susan Rice

Much ado has been made over President Obama’s selection of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to serve as the next National Secrutiy Advisor because of her role in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya. But Benghazi is only a symptom of a larger problem with Susan Rice: she’s a hardcore interventionist.

Rice

Since her involvement in the Clinton Administration’s response to the Rwanda Genocide - during which she served on the National Security Council - Rice has never objected to an American intervention.

Now seen as a “voice for intervention,” Rice was quoted in the aftermath of Rwanda::

“I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

Eh, excuse me: Going down in flames?

What’s also concerning is that Susan Rice has viewed foreign policy as an extension of politics; in 1994, she is quoted as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

 


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