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?

What Exactly Do Libertarians Think About Foreign Policy?

Robert Gates

Most people who care about such things have heard by now that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has written an insider’s account of working with both administrations. Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War will be released to the general public next Tuesday and, if the excerpts are any indication, it looks to be quite the compelling read.

While the comprehensive work will surely have much to offer, a small conceit included in what’s been released stands out, especially since the opinions — or lack thereof — regarding national security interests on the part of self-described libertarians are sure to be a major part of candidates’ platforms in the coming election. If conservatives seeking office are smart, that is. Here’s the gem:

Military service doesn’t legitimize anti-gun positions

From time to time, gun rights advocates find themselves in a discussion of the Second Amendment with someone who claims to be a military veteran that supports gun control. Most of the time, it’s easy to dismiss these people as pretenders or whatever, though military service doesn’t make one automatically pro-gun.

That’s the case with Lt. Col. Robert Bateman in a piece over at Esquire:

People, it is time to talk about guns.

My entire adult life has been dedicated to the deliberate management of violence. There are no two ways around that fact. My job, at the end of the day, is about killing. I orchestrate violence.

I am not proud of that fact. Indeed, I am often torn-up by the realization that not only is this my job, but that I am really good at my job. But my profession is about directed violence on behalf of the nation. What is happening inside our country is random and disgusting, and living here in England I am at a complete loss as to how to explain this at all. In 2011 the number of gun deaths in the United States was 10.3 per 100,000 citizens. In 2010 that statistic in the UK was 0.25. And do not even try to tell me that the British are not as inclined to violence or that their culture is so different from ours that this difference makes sense. I can say nothing when my British officers ask me about these things, because it is the law.

Bateman makes his desire for gun control amply clear throughout the rest of the piece, yet he manages to make Army officers as a whole look like complete and total idiots. After all, he can’t understand basic sentence structure:

Rand Paul: “The American soldier, a volunteer, in defense of liberty”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spoke before a room brimming with cadets at The Citadel yesterday in a speech that was rightly considered an early stump effort toward an eventual Presidential run.

And, as The New York Times helpfully points out, he did address points that were not even remotely subtle nods toward presenting himself a viable candidate in the coming election, with emphasis on one special issue in particular:

Mr. Paul was speaking as a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees, and he never mentioned his prospective presidential run. But allusions to it have been unavoidable throughout his trip to this early primary state. He drew applause in the packed hall when he reprised a line of attack against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her handling of the terrorist assault on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, saying that it had been a “dereliction of duty” and should “preclude Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office again.”

Veterans Affairs Backlog May Foreshadow Obamacare Provision

Veterans Affairs

It would appear the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ answer to the backlog of VA disability claims is to burden high-performing offices with some of those unanswered claims to help offset the build up.

While the effort to do something — anything — should be applauded, this kind of shuffling off of responsibility to high performing offices like the one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota seems almost like a punishment for efficiency. And, while some legislators have been vocal about the travesty of delaying disability payments to those who defend us abroad, President Obama — if his recent speeches to service men and women are any indication — is more interested in getting buy-in from our military for his policy positions, rather than focusing on what needs to be done to spur the provision of their benefits.

Speaking to servicemen and women and veterans this past week, most recently at Camp Pendleton, the President spent most of his time trying to convince them that a failure to reverse sequester cuts was detrimental to veterans and the actively enlisted, and that this was the fault of Congress and, most especially, House Speaker John Boehner.

Meanwhile, those who have a vested interest in some of the fixes to address the disability claim backlog are asking some rather interesting questions:

Benghazi Whistleblowers: Troops Could Have Intervened

We’re learning more about what did and didn’t happened during the attack on the consulate in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four American citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. According to a military special operator who spoke to Fox News, military support could have been on the ground at the consulate before the second attack.

“I know for a fact that C-110 CIF was doing a training exercise in the region of Northern Africa but in Europe. They had the ability to react and respond,” the unidentified special operator turned whistleblower told Fox News. “They would have been there before the second attack. They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick reaction force that could facilitate their exfil out of the problem situation. Nobody knew how it was going to develop, and you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisors say hey, we wouldn’t have sent them there because the security was unknown situation.”

“If it’s an unknown situation, at a minimum you send forces there to facilitate the exfil or medical injuries,” he added. “We could have sent a C-130 to Benghazi to provide medical evacuation for the injured.”

No More Tanks: Army Tells Congress to Stop Spending

Abrams tank

Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like  ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.

If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.

More Calls for Intervention in Syria

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Pressure is building on President Obama to involve the United States more deeply in the brutal civil war in Syria that may have claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and created more than a million refugees. Late last week, the editorial board of the Washington Post called for “aggressive intervention by the United States and its allies to protect the opposition and civilians.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) apparently believes that the Post didn’t go far enough because the editorial explicitly ruled out sending U.S. ground troops. He wants the U.S. military to secure suspected chemical weapons caches there. But where Graham is leading few will follow, aside from his frequent co-conspirator, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The American people are not anxious to send U.S. troops into the middle of yet another civil war in the region.

The Iraq War, 10 Years Later and How I Was Wrong

Iraq War

Today is the 10 year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. It is a good time reflect on what, if anything, was gained. It is also a time for those of us to learn about what, if anything, can we learn from the mistakes of the war.

I supported the Iraq War when it began. I looked at the evidence leading up to the war and I came to the conclusion, as most Americans did, that the regime of Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the status quo that was in place after the end of the Gulf War was simply unsustainable. Also, I was also intrigued by the possibility of bringing democracy to the Middle East to combat the appeal and vision of radical Islam. Furthermore, I do believe the Bush Administration sincerely believed that Iraq possessed WMDs. I do not think this was an attempt to steal Iraqi oil or other conspiracy theorist nonsense.

However, I was wrong. I’m enough of a man to look at the evidence that has emerged in 10 years and more importantly the results of the war and acknowledge that I was wrong to support the Iraq War. I do not believe the war has served the interests of the United States. I also believe that the high losses, in both blood and treasure do not justify the results achieved.

Sequestration Will Not Make the United States Less Safe

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Will sequestration undermine U.S. national security? Hardly. Today, the Cato Institute released a new infographic putting these minor cuts in perspective.

Military spending will remain at roughly 2006 levels—$603 billion, higher than peak U.S. spending during the Cold War. Meanwhile, we live in a safer world. The Soviet Union has been dead for more than two decades; no other nation, or combination of nations, has emerged since that can pose a comparable threat. We should have a defense budget that reflects this reality.

To be clear, sequestration was no one’s first choice. But the alternative—ever-increasing military spending detached from a legitimate debate over strategy—is worse. We should have had such a debate, one over the roles and missions of the U.S. military, long before this day of reckoning. And politicians could have pursued serious proposals to prudently reduce military spending. Instead, they chose the easy way out, avoiding difficult decisions that would have allowed for smarter cuts.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.