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State, national columnists

How foreign is our policy?

By From page A9 | April 06, 2014

Many people are lamenting the bad consequences of Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and some are questioning his competence.

There is much to lament, and much to fear. Multiple setbacks to American interests have been brought on by Obama’s policies in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Crimea and – above all – in what seems almost certain to become a nuclear Iran in the very near future.

The president’s public warning to Syria of dire consequences if the Assad regime there crossed a “red line” he had drawn seemed to epitomize an amateurish bluff that was exposed as a bluff when Syria crossed that red line without suffering any consequences. Drawing red lines in disappearing ink makes an international mockery of not only this president’s credibility, but also the credibility of future American presidents’ commitments.

When some future president of the United States issues a solemn warning internationally, and means it, there may be less likelihood that the warning will be taken seriously. That invites the kind of miscalculation that has led to wars.

Many who are disappointed with what seem to be multiple fiascoes in President Obama’s foreign policy question his competence and blame his inexperience. Such critics may be right, but it is by no means certain that they are.

Like those who are disappointed with Barack Obama’s domestic policies, critics of his foreign policy may be ignoring the fact that you cannot know whether someone is failing or succeeding without knowing what he is trying to do.

Whether the Affordable Care Act, for example, is a success or a failure, depends on whether you think the president’s goal is to improve the medical treatment of Americans or to leave as his permanent legacy a system of income redistribution, through “Obamacare,” and tight government control of the medical profession.

Much, if not most, of the disappointment with Barack Obama comes from expectations based on his words, rather than on an examination of what he has done over his lifetime before reaching the White House.

His words were glowing. He is a master of rhetoric, image and postures. He was so convincing that many failed to connect the dots of his past life that pointed in the opposite direction from his words. “Community organizers,” for example, are not uniters but dividers – and former community organizer Obama has polarized this country, despite his rhetoric about uniting us.

Many were so mesmerized by both the man himself and the euphoria surrounding the idea of “the first black president” that they failed to notice that there were any dots, much less any need to connect them.

One dot alone – the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose church the Obamas attended for 20 years – would have been enough to sink any other presidential bid by anyone who was not in line to become “the first black president.”

The painful irony is that Jeremiah Wright was just one in a series of Obama’s mentors hostile to America, resentful of successful Americans, and convinced that America had too much power internationally, and needed to be brought down a peg.

Anti-Americanism was the rule, not the exception, among Obama’s mentors over the years, beginning in his childhood. When the young Obama and his mother lived in Indonesia, her Indonesian husband wanted her to accompany him to social gatherings with American businessmen – and was puzzled when she refused.

He reminded her that these were her own people. According to Barack Obama’s own eyewitness account, her voice rose “almost to a shout” when she replied:

“They are not my people.”

Most of Barack Obama’s foreign policy decisions since becoming president are consistent with this mindset. He has acted repeatedly as a citizen of the world, even though he was elected to be president of the United States.

Virtually every major move of the Obama administration has reduced the power, security and influence of America and its allies. Cutbacks in military spending, while our adversaries have increased their military buildups, ensure that these changes to our detriment will continue, even after Barack Obama has left the White House.

Is that failure or success?

Thomas Sowell is an author, economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Thomas Sowell


Discussion | 25 comments

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  • rlw895April 06, 2014 - 8:45 am

    As usual with Sowell, where to begin? Let's go with Syria. There certainly were consequences, just not the type Sowell recognizes.

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  • Salty DogApril 06, 2014 - 10:54 am

    rlw895 Did Mr Sowell misquote Nacy Pelosi today.

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  • rlw895April 07, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Thank Good for small blessings. There's always next time. But never fear, I will be vigilant.

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  • mike kirchubelApril 06, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Many people are lamenting the bad opinion pieces of tommy sowell and some are questioning is competence. There is much to lament and much to fear. I feel sad for him.

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  • FDCApril 06, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    And the same comment apply to you, Mikey, the crypto racist. But I don't feel sad about you.

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  • Basically more tage team action.....April 06, 2014 - 2:48 pm

    Conservative Pundit...... Liberal Pundit..... Republican President.... Democrat President they are all given their Marching Orders by the International Banking Cartel... and they want all countries of the world under Central Banking Control, So Obama succeeded in Libya for them, but probably due to military resistance is having problems in taking out Syria, the Ukraine and Iran for them.... Remember the Illuminati has goals of Global Domination and play all aspects on both sides of all the wars..... Why does the United States have to help the City of London Bankers take out all these Countries that have done nothing to us and do not want us in their country? So many of you are a bunch of duped war mongers.

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  • rlw895April 07, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Mike: It only "seems" that way, to quote one of his favorite words it "seems." He's become a cheerleader for the misinformed, it "seems." I feel sorry for him too, that he has to churn out a column a week. Must be tough, when he has so little new material, it "seems."

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  • rlw895April 07, 2014 - 9:08 am

    Next most obvious question: What setback to American interests has been in Crimea?

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  • So rlw was 9/11 an inside job?April 07, 2014 - 9:27 am


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  • Very funnyApril 07, 2014 - 9:22 am

    The system will not let me post the show notes? Today on Infowars.... check it out.

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  • http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/04/17/324371/-US-Attorney-Todd-Graves-in-Missouri-The-ninth-victim-of-Gonzogate#April 07, 2014 - 9:34 am

    In general Google... jeb bush prosecutor death pool medicare fraud .... look at US Attorney Todd Graves in Missouri: The ninth victim of Gonzogate ..........The Bush Crime Family consider themselves magicians. While we look in one place, the trick is played in the other. They claim that this or that US Attorney did not go after voter-fraud, or immigration, or terrorism with sufficient fervor; yet, upon further investigation, the truth is found not in what they are saying, but, in what they are doing behind the curtain............. Once again, I understand this diary is lengthy. But, this scandal spreads from Texas, to Missouri, to Arkansas, and to Washington, D.C.; it spans several years, there are several fired, resigned, and dead attorneys, along with violations of the Patriot Act, the Anti-Trust laws, and probably a RICO criminal syndicate underlies the entire matter. The tags indicate just how deep this particular scandal in Missouri goes into the depths of the Bush Crime Family........... BUT THE DEMOCRATS ARE JUST AS BAD.... See the Clinton Death lists.

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  • rlw895April 07, 2014 - 10:34 am

    There will never be a filter good enough for you!

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  • I think I really don't like You !April 07, 2014 - 11:14 am

    There was no 757 Aircraft wreckage at the Pentagon !

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  • Former 9/11 Commissioner admits missile hit the PentagonApril 08, 2014 - 8:03 am


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  • Mr. SmithApril 07, 2014 - 11:13 am

    Another great column by Sowell. Of course, to mikey kirchubel and rlw, it is a "grate" column, complete with accurate depictions of Obama's words and deeds to date--a fact which infuriates the "many people" alluded to by mikey. How many people would that be, mikey? Seven-point-one million?

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  • http://www.whodidit.org/cocon.htmlApril 07, 2014 - 11:29 am

    Who did 9/11! ...... ( for the most part the Democrats in on it, are not named here ).... I think I really do not like you either or either of you ! Peas in a Pod you are! Amateur disinfo agents!

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  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - The pods openApril 07, 2014 - 11:38 am


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  • Satanism in the Army and Zombies in San FranciscoApril 07, 2014 - 11:51 am


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  • Buzzsaw : Army of Satan - The Roots of Black Magic In MilitaryApril 07, 2014 - 1:52 pm


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  • The Flip side of this is.....April 07, 2014 - 2:15 pm

    It does pay to pray to Jesus...as a mass humanity needs to be more Good than Bad to survive. Prayer does have power.

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  • rlw895April 07, 2014 - 11:28 pm

    Mr.S: A new curse, "may StR be visited upon you."

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  • Thou art usless beyond repair....April 08, 2014 - 7:06 am

    Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage, with the only wee think-able bits, being foul, moldy, curdled, tofu scum.

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  • That was directed at rlw.... A dry paste upApril 08, 2014 - 11:04 am

    rlw you seem to desire my attention so I gave you some.....hypocrite

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  • Mr. SmithApril 08, 2014 - 8:46 am

    Rlw: Fight fair, Mr. Remainder biscuit!!! What did I do to deserve the "nuclear option?"

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  • rlw895April 08, 2014 - 10:48 am

    Hey, you should thank me for diverting her attention for a moment. ADHD.

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