The president's happy talk and sad results
AUG 10, 2015
President Obama is putting on the hard sell to market the nuclear deal he reached with Iran. On July 14, in announcing the agreement, he said: “This deal shows the real and meaningful change that American leadership and diplomacy can bring—change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure. We negotiated from a position of strength and principle—and the result is a nuclear deal that cuts off every pathway to a nuclear weapon.”
He promised that this agreement would put Iran and the entire region on a path away from “violence and rigid ideology,” a path towards “tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflicts,” a path that “leads to more integration into the global economy, more engagement with the international community, and the ability of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive.” In conclusion, he said, “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”
Stirring words. But are they credible? Aside from the specifics of the Iran deal, it is possible to look back on the president’s litany of pronouncements about the Middle East to assess the reliability of his promises. Here are a few highlights.
JUL 21, 2015
Is Iran more like North Korea or Libya? That is the question politicians and the public must ask themselves as they consider President Obama's nuclear deal.
How do charges of Israeli crimes in the Six-Day War match up with similar charges against American forces in other wars?
JUL 13, 2015
Martin Kramer has performed a valuable public service by investigating the origins of the film Censored Voices and its claims of Israeli soldiers committing war crimes during the Six-Day War. Beyond the specifics of this particular documentary and that particular conflict, his article, “Who Censored the Six-Day War?,” raises larger issues relating to actual or imaginary war crimes committed by the armed forces of liberal democracies, whether Israeli or American, British or French.
How did a man with such a hard-right reputation become one of the most liberal presidents ever?
JUN 19, 2015
By Evan Thomas
Random House, 619 pages, $35
ONE MAN AGAINST THE WORLD
By Tim Weiner
Henry Holt, 369 pages, $30
Has the United States ever had a weirder president than Richard Nixon? The fact that his only close competitors in this regard are his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, and his indirect successor, Jimmy Carter, could help to explain why the ’60s and ’70s were such troubled times for this country. But even LBJ (who loved to lecture aides while sitting on the toilet) and Mr. Carter (who claimed to have been attacked by a “killer rabbit” and to have experienced “lust in his heart”) could not match Nixon for sheer bizarreness. Evan Thomas’s terrifically engaging biography contains many choice examples.
MAY 7, 2015
President Obama has nominated Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford waged war effectively in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But it's one thing to be a battlefield commander, even a four-star theater commander, and another thing to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs — a job that is more political than strictly military.
What kind of chairman will he be? History suggests that he will struggle to make his mark.
Statistics being touted by the Pentagon have a whiff of the Vietnam War about them.
APR 23, 2015
Nearly eight months have passed since President Obama pledged to take on the terrorist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” Mr. Obama vowed. How is that campaign going?