Paul R. Hollrah
June 2, 2014
In scanning and reading through the 90 or 100 emails I receive each day, things that others think I should see and read, I find some to be of interest, and some... not so much. However, on occasion, I find myself downloading something truly special... something that adds a great deal to our understanding of the world we live in. Such was the case with an article by Richard Fernandez, published by the Belmont Club on May 11, 2014. The article is titled The Day Obama's Presidency Died.
In comparing the death of the Obama presidency to the end of World War II in the Pacific, Fernandez writes, "Almost nobody in Japan heard about the Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942) until after the war (three years and three months later). The Emperor Hirohito, upon hearing of the debacle, ordered a comprehensive cover-up. The wounded were isolated on hospital ships. All mail was censored. Surviving enlisted men and officers were held incommunicado until they could be shipped off to distant battlefields, from where it was hoped they would never return. The sunken ships themselves were gradually written off over the course of the war until their loss blended in with the general demise of the imperial fleet. To coordinate this effort, Hirohito created a special office of cabinet rank (not unlike Obama's stable of czars)."
He suggests that, "If the US had not won World War II, Midway would never have existed in Japanese history. The average man, of course, read nothing in the papers, heard nothing on the radio, saw nothing in the newsreels. But perceptive Japanese 'felt' something momentous had happened though they could not identify its cause. Its impact, though denied in the press, shuddered through the whole imperial fabric. From that day forward, events seemed to take a downward trajectory. Only after the war did the Japanese know the root of their misfortunes."
Bringing the impact of the Battle of Midway closer to home, and comparing the failures of the Japanese high command to the too-numerous-to-mention failures of the Obama presidency, Fernandez quotes Cohen and Gooch, authors of Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy Of Failure In War (Free Press 1990), who suggest that "all military failures fall into three basic categories: failure to learn from the past, failure to anticipate what the future may bring, and failure to adapt to the immediate circumstances on the battlefield."
According to Cohen and Gooch, "when one of these three basic failures occurs in isolation, the results, while unpleasant, can often also be overcome. Aggregate failures occur when two of the basic failure types, usually learning and anticipation, take place simultaneously, and these are more difficult to surmount. Finally, at the apex of failure stand those rare events when all three basic failures occur simultaneously – an event known as catastrophic failure. In such an occurrence, the result is usually a disaster of such scope that recovery is impossible."
Reading those words, it was immediately evident that, in more ways than one, the Obama presidency falls into the category of "catastrophic failure." With each passing day we are confronted with examples of multiple failures in which Obama and his people have failed to learn from past history, have failed to anticipate the disastrous consequences of their actions, and have failed to adapt to unforeseen events in the political arena.
Arriving in the Oval Office in January 2009, with little or no practical experience in any field of endeavor, Barack Obama invariably saw himself as the smartest man in the room... maybe in the entire country. His pre-election speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and his post-election speech in Cairo provided a brief glimpse into what was to become his disastrous foreign policy.
Someone in the Obama entourage must have read a chapter or two of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Sun Tzu is quoted as saying, "To win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." As Fernandez explains, "Obama's advisers persuaded him that it would be possible to 'turn' America's enemies by taking control of them instead of fighting them..."
But how was that to be accomplished? As Fernandez explains, "Instead of relying on the regular military, the Obama administration would take over the most dangerous jihadi groups through intelligence agencies." It was theorized that, "Through this mechanism, (Obama and his team of leftist theorists) would become their patrons and cement the relationship with diplomatic deals with their Gulf funders." Drones and hunter killer squads would be used to create a fast-track career path for favored jihadis... American agents... to rise within the jihadi ranks. In time, the US would own the jihad and "neuter" it from within.
"But, of course, there had to be a genuine political component, as well. A bone needed to be thrown to genuine Muslim aspirations. Why not give the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt and hand over Syria to al-Qaeda? And why not use American diplomatic muscle to force a deal between Palestine and Israel? That way, al-Qaeda could have their own countries and presumably be satisfied with that."
Fernandez concludes that the scheme had a certain "superficial attractiveness." It sounded "wildly daring, incredibly smart," and its creators must have felt like "Cortez on a peak in Darien." They would likely think to themselves, "Boy, are we cool to have thought of this..." The only problem with the scheme was that, as Fernandez suggests, it could never be sold to an American public who had already lost so many of their sons to fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it could never be sold to "crusty old guys" who'd see it as a "crazy-assed" scheme.
The solution to their quandary? "Don't tell anyone and conduct a secret foreign and counter-terrorist policy which, when it succeeded, could be unveiled as proof of Obama's genius."
Being the naïve and inexperienced neophytes they are, Obama and the members of his inner circle failed to remember the lessons of Neville Chamberlain and Chiang Kia-shek.
In 1938, with Adolph Hitler flexing his military muscle in Germany, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain traveled to Munich with the intention of appeasing Hitler with diplomatic niceties. Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement of 1938, ceding the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, and returned to England, proclaiming "peace for our time."
In a speech before parliament that could have been written by Barack Obama's speechwriters, Chamberlain said, "The real triumph is that it has shown that representatives of four great powers can find it possible to agree on a way of carrying out a difficult and delicate operation by discussion instead of by force of arms, and thereby they have averted a catastrophe which would have ended civilization as we have known it... It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Czechoslovakia will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past..."
Less than a year later, Hitler invaded Poland and a great world war ensued. Between September 1939 and May 1945 more than 60 million people, 2.5% of the world population, lost their lives.
Following World War II, the Chinese Civil War between the nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek and the communist forces of Mao Zedong resumed. Hoping to bring an end to the conflict, President Truman sent Ambassador Averill Harriman to China with an offer the nationalist Chinese could not refuse. If Chiang refused to take the "agrarian reformers," as the communists were referred to, into his government, the US would cut off all military and economic aid.
The Chinese refused, the US cut off aid, and the communists took control of the Chinese mainland. Chiang Kai-shek escaped to the Island of Formosa (Taiwan), along with some 2 million nationalists, where they have lived under constant threat of invasion ever since.
Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's mentor and second-in-command, have sought to restore the Islamic caliphate that has not exercised real power since the 13th century, and which formally ended in 1924 upon dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Zawahiri believed that once the caliphate is re-established, Egypt would become a rallying point for the rest of the Islamic world, leading the jihad against the West. Zawahiri wrote, "Then history would make a new turn, God willing, in the opposite direction against the empire of the United States and the world's Jewish government."
Like Chamberlain and Harriman, Obama is convinced that, by the mere force of his personality, he can charm the Russians, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban into doing his bidding. He consistently fails to learn from the past, fails to anticipate the ultimate outcome of his policies, and fails to deal with current circumstances in a wise and prudent way. He has set the United States onto a downward trajectory from which it may be impossible to recover, and were it not for the fact that American presidents are limited to two 4-year terms, the Obama foreign policy might well represent the giant step forward toward the worldwide Caliphate that radical Islam has been pursuing since the 6th century. Left to his own devices, Barack Obama would be all but certain to get us all killed.
Meanwhile, Fernandez has it right. Of all of the Obama scandals arrayed before us, it is the Benghazi debacle that will be Obama's Battle of Midway, the "poison pill" of his presidency.
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