A few thoughts crossed my mind in the wake of President Obama’s rather dramatic retreat (August 31, 2013) from engaging in military action in Syria, until Congress weighs in on the matter (story here). So often, we Americans view the world only from our rather ego-centric “we are the greatest” vantage point, that we fail to even consider trying to understand the world from where others’ stand. I’ve mentioned this idea before, of trying to step into other world leaders’ shoes and look at the world from where they stand. Most Americans truly lack any understanding of history and for decades military history has been relegated to a niche corner of historical study in most college and university history departments. Along with our national lack of taking the study of military history seriously, we also have so many elected officials, to include this American president, who reside in a hazy, feel-good strategic vacuum, lacking even a rudimentary understanding of international relations or serious strategic-thinking.
For decades Americans continue to meander along this path of grasping at emotional catchphrases rather than taking the time to read some history, especially the history of our adversaries. What the politicians delight in spreading falls into the category of malicious gossipy releases of dubious “intelligence” that they present to create a larger-than-life nemesis for us to rally against. If we were presented with more facts, rounded out with well-researched historical data, more Americans would begin to understand that the world does not revolve around America and that other people in the world possess legitimate hopes, dreams, aspirations, grievances, and a long history worth listening to.
Calling Bashar Assad another “Hitler” doesn’t really articulate a national vital American interest. President Obama’s flunky who dropped this lame-brained rationale, “just muscular enough not to get mocked” (LA Times story here), as to the scope of the military action the President has in mind, demonstrates the shocking shallowness of his strategic understanding. He views military action as a personal face-saving exercise, not from a serious national security view.
B.H. Liddell Hart, the famous British military historian and military theorist, suggested that the advisory organs of government might benefit from establishing an “enemy department” (Strategy by B.H. Liddell Hart, chapter XV, Hitler’s Strategy – available here). He stated it would be useful to study the war from the enemy’s viewpoint in a detached analytical way. Our elected officials allow sheer political posturing of the worst sort to substitute for presenting the public with unvarnished, unemotional facts. Watching this latest Obama circus move from one ring to the next, where at the end we have Secretary of State, John Kerry, left on the high-wire, with his footing thrown off-balance, valiantly trying to save face for this President and avoid an embarrassing public free-fall, where the safety net might not be waiting, leaves one stunned by the amateurish moves by this President. It’s been obvious for years that this President rode the Affirmative Action train to power and while many will scream racism at this statement, what it means is Affirmative Action should be coupled with demanding bringing minority students up to par with other students, not doling out degrees without commensurate scholastic merit. This man has a Harvard degree, which he flaunts constantly, but he is completely clueless on American history, world history, military history and his overblown ego makes him unfit to lead this country. It isn’t just he who loses credibility for his endless bungling on the world stage; it’s America’s reputation and standing in the world that keeps taking these harsh blows to our national credibility. For those who want to toss out Vladimir Putin as the evil, on-the-move force on the world stage, well, no wonder when he is faced with this American circus. What a bunch of clowns in this White House!!!