Saturday, March 15, 2014

And What Is Peggy Noonan's Foreign Policy?


Admittedly, Peggy Noonan makes at least a couple of legitimate points Friday about the Ukrainian crisis, a major feat for an individual still pining (video from The Daily Show from May, 2013, below) for her old employer, Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6).

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, Noonan seems to say, when she notes "A Mideast dictator last year used poison gas on his own population and (her emphasis) strengthened his position." That is sadly true even if, as it appears, Bashir al-Assad has agreed to work with the United Nations to give up his nuclear weapons.( Alas, Ms. Noonan forgets this evidently trivial detail.)

"Mr. Putin," Nonan points out, "doesn't move because of American presidents, he moves for his own reasons" and finds

... he does move when American presidents are weak. He moved on Georgia in August 2008 when George W. Bush was reeling from unwon wars, terrible polls and a looming economic catastrophe that all but children knew was coming. (It came the next month.) Mr. Bush was no longer formidable as a leader of the free world.

Mr. Putin moved on Ukraine when Barack Obama was no longer a charismatic character but a known quantity with low polls, failing support, a weak economy. 

She recognizes also the "crazy" excuse, writing "after the invasion Mr. Putin murked up the situation and again bought some time—and some tentativeness among his foes—by contributing to the idea that he was perhaps crazy—"in another world," as Angela Merkel is reported to have told Mr. Obama."  It happens continually in American society, whether someone commits a petty crime, shoots up a school, or is a serial criminal.  The cry is heard from disparate corners that the person is "crazy," often as a way to avoid recognizing that the individual is evil or operating out of a rational assessment of risk and rewards. In Putin's case, it may be both of those.

She should have stopped there. But she couldn't help herself.   She concludes

Not being George W. Bush is not a foreign policy. Not invading countries is not a foreign policy. Wishing to demonstrate your sophistication by announcing you are unencumbered by the false historical narratives of the past is not a foreign policy. Assuming the world will be nice if we're not militarist is not a foreign policy.

What is our foreign policy? Disliking global warming?

The blithe connection of climate change to foreign policy, coming without anything- explanation, refutation, quotation- merely reflects the speciousness of Noonan's argument.    We tried sending USA armed forces- or, as Peggy might have it, invading- two nations (Afghanistan and Iraq) in the recent past.  How did that work out? Dirty little secret, among the media, though the American people seem to understand: we lost in Iraq and are losing in Afghanistan.  (I was in favor of the latter involvement, but facts are facts.)

The cheap shots against President Obama are common to her party. The Republicans don't like the Affordable Care Act and have tried 50 times to repeal it in order to replace it with... nothing.  The Republican House opposes an extension of unemployment insurance in order to replace it with... nothing. They- including Noonan- criticize the President's Ukrainian policy and suggest replacing it with... nothing.

And can we have an end to this Repub obsession with the myth that Obama believes being non-Bush is a policy? Drone strikes, including insidious signature strikes, have increased under this President. The U.S. military has spent over $1 billion in Libya and helped NATO overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.. The Patriot Act was extended, Guantanamo Bay remains operative, and the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by Obama, grants executive authority to detain citizens indefinitely without charges. And Jon Perr reminds us

President Barack Obama never prosecuted anyone involved in the design and execution of President Bush's program of detainee torture. While the memos authorizing these potential war crimes have seen the light of day, those who ordered and perpetrated them did not. Attorney General Holder announced, "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department." (Ultimately, none were, as Holder in August 2012 ended his last investigation into two detainee deaths. President Obama went further in seemingly backing away from any legal action against the Bush torture team...

President Obama has given George W. Bush and his band of un-American cronies a free pass for any and all horrific and criminal acts they proudly perpetrated against people here and abroad. And what he gets for it is "not being George W. Bush is not a foreign policy." Peggy: declare victory, take your ball, and go home.



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