American Elephants


Foreign Policy is Hard. A Crumbling Worldview. by The Elephant's Child

In today’s press briefing, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked why the administration was unwilling to negotiate with terrorists in the case of journalist James Foley, yet in the case of Bowe Bergdahl  he was willing to release five important Taliban leaders from Guantanamo.

“I think, again, what the president made clear at the time of the Guantanamo transfer was that his commitment to the men and women that serve overseas is a bedrock one, that we will leave no man or woman behind. That’s what he was keeping faith with, and that’s something that’s unshakeable for him,” Schultz said.

“As we’ve made previously clear, the administration determined that it was lawful to proceed with a transfer in order to protect the life of a U.S. servicemember held captive and in danger for almost five years, notwithstanding that Congress did not receive the 30 days’ notice. Again, we disagree with GAO’s conclusion and we reject the implication that the administration acted unlawfully.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes earlier called the beheading of James Foley a” terrorist attack.”

The fact of the matter is, we’ve actually seen, you know, ISIL seek to advance too close to our facilities, certainly for our own comfort. And so the president’s decision to take military action a number of weeks ago was out of direct concern that if they were able to get into Erbil, that they could pose a threat to our personnel and our consulate there. So, we have seen them posing a threat to our interests in the region, to our personnel and facilities in the region, and clearly, the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he’s an American and we see that as an attack on our country when one of our own is killed like that.”

Can’t let accusations that the president possibly didn’t do enough to try to get Foley back. Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism said that it attempted to rescue the American citizens held by ISIS last summer. Se added that they could not reveal details of the operation. Then more administration spokesmen kept revealing more details. The Pentagon had a statement, Marie Harf, embarrassing State Department spokesperson, had a statement. I don’t know who else had a statement, but we have learned way too many details. We really didn’t need to reveal any details of a failed operation, supposedly based on bad intel.

Except the president’s advisers are quite determined that everybody should know that he did too care, and he ordered an operation, and it’s not his fault if r else screwed up. The misunderstanding is that the most important thing at this time when the president is relaxing on vacation, is to know that he’s completely on top of everything. No it’s not, and he isn’t.

What we must remember about ISIS, or any of the terrorist organizations, is that they advance by causing terror. The more they can scare every observer, the more people will do their bidding. They want to do the awfulest, most horrifying thing ever seen — to impress upon the rest of the world that — resistance is futile.

The president’s worldview is crumbling under the assault of events. He was convinced that getting us out of Iraq completely, closing Guantanamo, and getting us out of Afghanistan would make him an historic figure. Giving everyone medical insurance, and moving the nation away from dreaded fossil fuels and into safe, natural energy from the wind and the sun would be transformative. He would be the strongest  possible contrast with the hated George W. Bush. But the world is isn’t as simple as he presumed.

If he was elected to get us out of Iraq, he is now faced with getting us back in. Drone strikes and air strikes may not be enough, yet he is unable to admit error. What next?




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