In the aftermath of WWII, the world stood, jaws agape and watched China taken by a notoriously hated band of overbearing Communists. This while an ally of the most powerful force on the planet (with tons and tons of war material left from war production that could have aided that ally), fled to a small island and lost their country. Worse, in the next war, these same Communists made life miserable for our troops in Korea. A fading echo of that day is the charge against Truman for being the man who "lost China." At the time, his losing China and getting in over his head in Korea, got Truman ousted in favor of a man who understood the realities of the world.
The very next day the rehabilitation of Truman began. It continued, buoyed by his folksy charm and longevity and through exceedingly kind historians. The pillar that would probably be his permanent image makeover was the McCoullough work, Truman.
But the fact is, that through the latter years of his tenure, Harry was in over his head.
Fast forward to the present administration. They have the historical advantage of two cautionary tales, Truman and Chamberlain. By being more assertive than Truman and by not being a complete rube a la Chamberlain (the Munich Accords) Obama could have coasted through all 8 years by having a credible threat of American might in his pocket. But he did exactly the opposite.
First, he went on an apology tour. By denigrating his country, however honorable he thought the message, all he inspired was contempt. Predictably, the world snickered behind its collective hand and realized immediately that as long as this guy was around, America could be played.
He then, after ignoring Al Maliki for months on end, and doing nothing about a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Iraq, sent Joe Biden over to try to create one, with just over thirty days left before the deadline. Just picking Biden for the job twigged our friends and enemies alike that we were not serious. We were LEAVING. So Obama declared victory (you can't declare them, they have to be earned) and yanked us out precipitously. This virtually assured us that the 4000 or so of our guys who died over there died for nothing. And things would get worse; more in a bit.
Meantime, in Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt, forces that had been impotent for decades found themselves in a world where they could at least try to seize power and nothing would stop them.
In February of 2011, following the lead of Tunisia and rumblings in Syria, elements of Al Qaeda in North Africa, the Muslim Brotherhood (both Muslim terms for excrament) and a smattering of regular Libyans rose up to depose Gaddafi. The two choices available to the US were 1) Support Gaddafi. This was not tempting despite the fact that he had handed over his chemical weapons and nuke research, was kissing the west's asses and making oil deals or 2) Do nothing and play power broker later. Obama/Jarrett chose…
You guessed it. Door number three! We'll sit on our hands and see if a short-term political advantage opens up. Such an opening wasn't forthcoming. So it was on to door number four - lead from behind and help the little people of the "people's revolution," not knowing who we were helping. Actually, the administration probably did know if they were listening to the intelligence community they are so happy to sell out to cover their own screw ups. Anyway, with ill-informed people calling for Gaddafi's ouster, Obama facilitated just that by neutering the Libyan forces and letting our REAL enemies take charge of more than half the country. He compounded this error by, in keeping with his apology tour philosophy, insisting on a "small footprint" in Libya. So small in fact, that Hilary denied the diplomatic functionaries in that hell hole the requisite security to assure their survival. One needs NO HINDSIGHT to know this. There is a paper trail. Libya was lost. Obama's incompetence is the reason.
In the meantime, Cairo really heated up. Inspired by their ally's success in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood turned up the temperature in Egypt. What does the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight do? Why not, double down! This time in a show of feckless naiveté or mercenary political cynicism, Obama nakedly sided with the MB. We threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus.
Let's tease this out a bit.
Truman, our standing lesson to all presidents since, came to DC through the careful handling of more than nefarious political hacks back in Missouri. As a local political operative he learned how to schmooze. In congress he learned how to wheel and deal over a game of poker. It wasn't hard to get what you wanted from someone on a stroll around Key West, especially since they came there for a deal to begin with. But on the world stage, requiring nuance and a certain level of acceptance of things "un-American"…despite the labors of his advisors, Harry was not equipped. How could he help this Chiang fellow, by golly, he just didn't like him very much.
Mubarak has always been seen on the left as barely tolerable. He was politically tough. His kind of tough, in a barely civilized Middle East was seen by many as a necessary evil. He kept the policies of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat. Let's see…why is that important? Well, it was Sadat that turned his back on the Soviets and towards the West. He made major capital improvements in Egypt. He achieved, defended and enforced a peace deal with Israel and ignored the Muslim Brotherhood's calls for the primacy of the Religion of Silly and backward policies. When the MB had him killed, they thought they'd have more power and this young Mubarak would be their face man. They were wrong. Mubarak, correctly, crushed the angry zealots and kept them under his boot for 40 years. Yeah, cruel, I know. Anyway, the Left in the West made occasional noise about Mubarak's tactics from time to time, but never had a suggestion as to how to treat the slime we now see running roughshod through Libya, Syria, Iraq and all over Africa without using strong-arm tactics. You see, the slime controls its people with the use of tactics worse than Mubarak's and breathtakingly stupid promises dug up in the Koran to keep their movement going. Compared to them, Mubarak is the humanitarian of the century - and a bloody Einstein.
And so, ignorant of history, Obama opted for gaining two or three days of good polls with his political base and let Egypt slide into the hands of people who would like to run Egypt the way ISIS runs Northern Iraq. But there was hope. Despite this administration's incompetence, the Egyptian citizens quickly realized that the MB was not the answer to Egypt's needs and dumped them. Did our State Department recognize the opportunity and throw in with the more moderate group taking power? With el-Sisi? No. That would have lost a point or two in the polls among the Occupy Wall Street daisies.
So a few weeks ago, when the seeds of this blog started to take shape, we stood by like the ugly chick at the dance and watched el-Sisi make not only one, but two head-to-head state visits to Putin's Russia. The easiest and most important ally to maintain in an important region was giving up on us and turning toward a man who doesn't think the Cold War is over. El-Sisi will receive weapons and advise on how Russia does things. And Putin is the power broker in that region now. If Egypt hadn't gone over, Putin's position would have been fluid, at best. Further, we see an Egypt that isn't going to consult with us before making its own military moves in North Africa; in itself, not an offense. But it is the clearest demonstration of the diminishing cache the U.S. has left in the world.
Meanwhile, back in Iraq, the most uncivilized, backward bunch of psychotic religious rubes are racing around Iraq in our tanks and troop carriers, with buckets of money and firing our weapons at civilians and military alike while Obama dithers. Here's a little scoop for you…He's known about the merry band of lunatics for years. So, our guys died for nothing. The bad guys knew Obama was leaving.
So, until the history books re-romanticize the image of this president, but forever among those who respect real history, Obama will be the man who lost influence in Syria, stood helplessly as countries in Africa fell victim to Al Qaeda, blew opportunities in Iran, and lost Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and - most needlessly - Egypt. Through their towering incompetence and political opportunism (a la Mussolini) this administration has done untold damage all over the world and throughout the domestic body politic. But losing Egypt after throwing away the gains of two wars will be seen as the foreign policy humdinger.
A middle school child would have better heeded the lessons from Chamberlain/Truman than this president has.
Note: Before publishing this essay, A tentative, murky, half-measure plan was announced by the administration to deal with ISIS, now the wealthiest terrorist group in history. It's going to take more than knocking out mortar tubes and individuals to end this bunch. Stay tuned.