Four little words – “Don’t do stupid stuff” – define the Obama Doctrine in all its non-glory, and the key word in this matrix is “do.” It implies in effect that wisdom is measured in negative energy, that by declining to act one can stay out of trouble, that passivity is the key to a guilt-free existence and a serene and an untroubled world.
Never use force, don’t threaten force, and no one will blame you for anything. Pull out of wars and your foes will stop fighting. Don’t send men to war and your hands will be clean.
In the belief that less is not only more but the sum of all wonders, he vacated Iraq, dithered with Russia, drew lines in the sand that Syria crossed with impunity, and ran for re-election in 2012 on his “smart” and “evolved” foreign policy, which was possible only because his foes hadn’t yet fully capitalized on the openings left by his innocent lunacies. By June 2014, they had.
In 2011, against the advice of generals who urged a residual force of 23,000, Obama pulled all of his forces out of Iraq, removing at once all restraints upon Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and losing access to an intelligence system that could have detected the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in its earlier stages.
Soon after, he refused — against the advice of Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus — to arm and equip pro-western rebels in Syria, ensuring therein that President Bashar Assad would keep power, and creating a vacuum into which sinister forces would flow. The two came together in 2013, when radical forces from Syria rolled into a weakened Iraq, raping and killing, and wiping out Christians en masse.
Mistake number three was when Obama blew off repeated reports of this rampage, dismissed the fall of Fallujah and Mosul as in any way serious, coming alive only when ISIS’s threat to the Kurdish capital city blasted him out of his reveries. By that time there had been hundreds of rapes, many beheadings, and hundreds of thousands were dead.
“One kind of error can come from doing too much,” Robert Kagan wrote in a July column for the Washington Post. “The other can come from doing too little ... not using sufficient force quickly enough ... or from hoping there is an alternative to force until it is too late to act effectively.”
Meanwhile, to add to it all, Obama’s weaknesses as shown to Assad in Syria had not gone unnoticed by Vladimir Putin, who found this a good time to annex Crimea, and start moving in on Ukraine, in the prescient belief that no one would stop him. Obama not only went toward losing the once-won war in Iraq, he opened the way for the reconstitution of the Soviet Empire. “Stuff” gets no more “stupid” than this.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” they saying (often attributed to Edmund Burke) goes, and life has been proving it right. Barack Obama isn’t a bad man, but he is the kind of good man whom every real brute hopes to have drawn as his counter, the one Hitler wanted to face instead of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Stalin wanted to face instead of Harry S. Truman, and the one whom the Islamic State and Putin are thrilled to be facing, as he unwinds not only the gains made against Islamist fanatics by both of the Bushes, but those made by Truman and Reagan as well. Can he learn that the failure to act can also be “stupid”? Can he ever begin to be wise?Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."