Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Rant: Obama's Foreign Policy Drones On

It is early Friday morning. Too much coffee. Read too many newspapers and watched too many news and talk shows. Ready to rant.

This posting likely will be misinterpreted, but let's charge on.  I start saying that I wish a hideous outcome for the jihadis and their "cause." I detest them; they are intolerant, stupid, murdering, and cowardly scum.  In my years overseas, along with other Foreign Service officers, I was directly involved in several actions against the Islamists. In one case I remember very well, working with the local services, we got a very bad guy scooped off the street, and sent to an "undisclosed location." In another assignment, working closely with the local services and those of a friendly third country, we managed to have a couple of prominent jihadis, who had killed a lot of people, end up very, very dead, their bodies riddled with bullets and torn apart with explosives. I slept fine. Unlike way too many people in the Obama Administration, my colleagues and I took seriously then and now issues of classification and protection of sources, means, and people. We certainly never said a word to the press, and not even to colleagues who did not have a need to know, or to our own families. It was serious stuff involving millions of dollars of taxpayer assets and putting at risk many lives, American and foreign. The Bush White House never said a word, either--no puff pieces on how the President had given the "go." I say all this not to brag but to underline that along with many other Foreign Service officers who served in the "hard places," I have some "street cred" which allows me to be critical of Obama's "war on terror."

Obama is not serious about the war on terror anymore than he is about almost anything else. For the Obamistas the anti-terror effort is just another program to be augmented, abandoned, or otherwise used to benefit the Dear Leader. It is akin to the auto bailout, "middle class tax cuts," student loan interest rates, or the "war on women." How's it polling? People want the terrorists dealt with?  Prisoners lead to legal and political issues? OK, then no prisoners; let's make the Dear Leader into the world's foremost terrorist killer.

Let me digress with a personal reflection. Many years ago I served in a very raucous and war-torn Central American country. One of my jobs was to be the bayonet dummy for visiting groups of secular leftists and radical religious personnel. Once a week, I would brief them on the political and combat situation in the country; then they would spit on, shout at and hurl insults at me. When they got home they would write newsletters for their backers about how they told off the Empire.  One point was always the issue of political prisoners. These visitors would get very angry with me when I would tell them there were no political prisoners despite decades of warfare. They assumed I was covering for the local regime. They were too stupid to ask, "Why are there no prisoners after thirty years of war?" I think the answer is obvious. 

The Obama war on terror involves taking no prisoners. Like the dopey academic leftists they are, the Obamistas get themselves all tangled up in endless legalisms, and Eric Holder stupidities, which makes killing a better, i..e, easier, option politically. They have turned the word "drone" into a verb which means killing.  Al Jihadi, the number two of al Qaeda in (fill in the blank) got droned today . . .  Drone strikes, however, do not make a foreign or a defense policy. Drone strikes are easy. They are useful on many occasions, but they are not substitutes for the hard work of real counter-terrorism warfare. Dead jihadis do not talk. Obamistas rather incinerate a building full of people rather than "waterboard" or sleep deprive one jihadi. Drones, however, make for better press releases than quiet work in the shadows.


  1. Ave Diplomad, long time reader, first time commenter. I've been enjoying your work since Iowahawk's "The UN: Bringing Lingonberries to a Needy World," brought me (in considerable confusion) to Diplomad 1.0.

    I was MSG in the mid 90s, hopefully you have fond memories of my comrades.

    *gearshift* I was wondering about your opinion on Panetta's speech to India (if indeed it was to India). Is this shift a good thing or not.

  2. For the record, your telling of personal history does not come off as bragging.

    I am of mixed mind with regard to the killing of terrorists. We used to say, 'When in doubt, let GOD sort em out'. That was a creed designed for self preservation and still makes sense in context. As you point out, Obama appears to make these type decisions based on political leverage either lost or gained. That is troublesome. Had Bin Laden been captured (as surely he could have been) and interrogated properly (meaning sleep deprived, water boarded and any other form of hard interrogation that might break his will) who knows how much might have been learned.

    The drone issue also troubles me as it is so impersonal and in Obama's hands, used so frequently, it is hardly different than the IEDs used by terrorists. It troubles me not because I am against using drones to target our enemies. I find it troubling because I have so little reason to put faith and trust into Obama's decisions and more importantly his motivations.

  3. Ok, Dip -- agreeing with everything you have said above, let me ask a tough question. What has happened to our colleagues currently serving? I no longer maintain close ties with the FS (it's been 15 years since I retired) but from incidental hints I see here and there I have the impression the Department is almost universally liberal, supports Obama overwhelmingly, and goes along with Hillary's political drift without reservation. (You can tell I am no lover of the current drift of the DOS.) I don't get any feeling that the true professionals are tempering policies like R2P and other mideast clusterfarks, nor are there any leaks indicating, for example, that the Poland desk is clamoring for the US to walk back Obama's recent "death camps" comment. In my days in the FS I was aware of a fair amount of back current cutting in both directions. Criticisms of both Pat Derian on one side, for example, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick on the other, were widespread in those times. Are there any dissenting voices in Foggy Bottom, or is everyone in lockstep with Obama's policies as they have developed in places like Egypt, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, and now droning our enemies? I just don't get a feeling than anyone is opposing Obama's policies. He can call for short-sighted and even wrong-headed policy and everyone just says "ok". I hope I'm wrong and the press just doesn't report the dissent.

  4. Thanks for the rant. Held mucho value.

  5. A President flipping cards to determine who gets on a 'kill list' is asinine. It isn't even a doctrine- it is a methodology. A methodology in search of a doctrine, which would be made to support a policy. If any President laid out a policy (ex. 'no quarter for terrorists' or some such) and the put forward that there would be a doctrine of placing the State Dept's terror watch list into a kill list, then that would be a policy with a doctrine available to support it.

    That hasn't happened. Under multiple Presidents, arguably since the first terror acts of the post-WWII era. Obama is just the most egregious example since he is clueless of matters of foreign diplomacy, warfare and... history. That puts us all in peril.