Obama's scary interview.
11:35 AM, Mar 3, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
On the eve of the Netanyahu visit to Washington, President Obama gave a lengthy interview to Jeffrey Goldberg that shows a chief executive who has learned next to nothing about the world in his five years in office.
First, kudos to Goldberg: he pressed Obama repeatedly, challenging vague formulations and seeking clarity. Goldberg pushed Obama hard, especially on Iran and Syria.
Obama isn’t good off the cuff, especially when challenged; he is far better with a prepared speech. And what emerged is an awful portrait of the president and his conception of the world.
Take Syria. Here’s what Obama said:
“I think those who believe that two years ago, or three years ago, there was some swift resolution to this thing had we acted more forcefully, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the conflict in Syria and the conditions on the ground there. … Over the last two years I have pushed our teams to find out what are the best options in a bad situation. … But I’ve looked at a whole lot of game plans, a whole lot of war plans, a whole bunch of scenarios, and nobody has been able to persuade me that us taking large-scale military action even absent boots on the ground, would actually solve the problem. And those who make that claim do so without a lot of very specific information.”
Who are these people who have inadequate information, misunderstand the conflict in Syria, and think there is much more the United States could have done? They include both of Obama’s secretaries of state, Clinton and Kerry, his former defense secretary Leon Panetta, and his former CIA director David Petraeus—all of whom wanted much more U.S. support for the Syrian rebels. And perhaps more to the point, take the case of Fred Hof.
Hof has been working on Syria and the broader Middle East since the 1970s, first as a career Army officer and then for the State Department. He was given the rank of ambassador and the title of “special adviser” on Syria by Obama in 2012. Hof has left the government and is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where he writes regularly about Syria at the Council’s web site. He knows far more about Syria than Mr. Obama and saw the same intelligence Mr. Obama did (in fact, he no doubt read a lot more of it). And what he writes is filled with growing anguish and anger about Obama’s failure to act in the face of mass murder by the criminal regime in Damascus. But to Obama, any such criticism “fundamentally misunderstands…conditions on the ground there,” which of course only Obama really understands.
Obama’s “arguments” about Syria in the Goldberg interview are insulting to his former (and, in Kerry’s case, current) top advisers, whose advice he rejected, and misleading about their advice. He describes a situation where ignorant critics seek “large scale military action,” which is akin to the administration’s claim that those who want sanctions on Iran are “warmongers.” But that is a false description, for what was recommended time after time was serious help to the rebels, and a one-time strike (“incredibly small,” said Kerry, not “large scale”) at chemical weapons assets. So we have the president deriding those who disagreed with him—who include his top aides and top experts—and refusing, even now, to understand that his policy of passivity in Syria has produced nearly the worst of all possible worlds: 150,000 dead, 6 million homeless, and a menacing gathering of perhaps 25,000 jihadists at the heart of the Middle East.
On Israel, Obama was harsh and unfriendly to Netanyahu just days before the Netanyahu visit—quite a welcome to Washington. But the errors of his own analysis are striking. He says we must give the Palestinians “the dignity of a state,” but the Tunisians and Egyptians and other Arabs who rebelled in the “Arab Spring” had a state. They lacked dignity because that state treated them with contempt, giving them no real freedom and jailing them if they asked for it. Under Mr. Obama corruption in the Palestinian Authority has exploded and they have gone five additional years without an election.
Mr. Obama says this:
“Palestinians would still prefer peace. They would still prefer a country of their own that allows them to find a job, send their kids to school, travel overseas, go back and forth to work without feeling as if they are restricted or constrained as a people.”
12:32 PM, Feb 27, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In a Wednesday interview with Andrea Mitchell, Secretary of State John Kerry resisted Mitchell's assertion that "genocide" was taking place in Syria:
Hosted by Michael Graham4:00 PM, Feb 24, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol on President Obama's influence with foreign leaders and Ted Cruz's role in the GOP.
7:09 AM, Feb 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Juan Williams and George Will, last night on Fox News:
Netanyahu at an IDF base on the Golan Heights treating Syrian civilians attacked by Assad.9:04 AM, Feb 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an IDF base on the Golan Heights that treats wounded Syrian civilians who safely made their way across the border. Netanyahu visited the wounded and then later, surrounded by IDF doctors, nurses and soldiers, addressed the press in this Youtube video:
House majority leader Eric Cantor challenges Obama’s foreign policy.2:41 PM, Feb 18, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Yesterday, in front of a Presidents’ Day crowd at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, House majority leader Eric Cantor unloaded one of the most comprehensive critiques to date of the Obama White House’s foreign policy.
The White House’s Syria policy is so bad that even the secretary of state is against it—or is he?3:10 PM, Feb 4, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
It was hardly a surprise when last week’s much-anticipated Geneva II conference bringing representatives of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime together with opposition members came up empty. Nor was it surprising that, as recent press reports show, the administration’s plan to rid Assad of his chemical weapons has come up way short—to date, Syria has shipped out only 5 percent of its unconventional arsenal. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defended the Russian-led chemicals weapons initiative, saying “it’s not falling apart, but we would like to see it proceed much more quickly than it is.”
If Tehran breaks its promises, we’re unlikely to know. Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
President Obama is rushing to implement the six-month interim agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that went into effect last week. Together with five other world powers, he is now working to negotiate a long-term agreement aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. He regards his opening to Iran as a signature achievement of his presidency and has proudly declared that diplomacy opened a path to “a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.”
10:01 AM, Jan 30, 2014 • By DAVID SCHENKER
Tuesday, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama boasted that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” The assertion was premature. In early January, Syria’s Bashar Assad regime indeed started the process of transferring its chemical weapons arsenal abroad. To date it’s destroyed only 5 percent of its unconventional arsenal and it’s unlikely Damascus will finish the job. Despite international commitments to the contrary, precedent suggests that Assad will retain a residual supply for future contingencies.
Feb 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 20 • By LEE SMITH
So what if the sectarian conflict raging from Beirut to Baghdad claimed yet more lives last week? From the Obama administration’s perspective, all’s well with its Middle East policy. Not a bombing in the Lebanese capital, nor clashes throughout Iraq, nor even reports that Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime systematically tortured and executed 11,000 detainees can shake the White House’s confidence in its strategic vision. For Obama envisages, as he told the New Yorker last week, a “new geopolitical equilibrium” emerging in the Middle East.
1:41 PM, Jan 22, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
The Middle East Media Research Institute translates a recent article by Saudi columnist Khalaf Al-Harbi, published in the Saudi government daily Okaz, arguing that the number of Arabs Ariel Sharon “killed is nowhere near that of those who died at the hands of Arab rulers, especially since the onset of the Arab Spring.”
Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
The memoir of former defense secretary Robert M. Gates has landed with a bang. Gates has harsh words for President Barack Obama’s wartime decision-making and quotes Hillary Clinton saying that her opposition to the surge in 2007 was political. There is more than enough to outrage partisans—and even non-partisans—on both sides of the political spectrum. But outrage about the book will only further the very problem Gates was trying to highlight.