Mickey Mouse Foreign Policy

By | September 19, 2013 | 0 Comments



The administration’s military adventure in Syria will be an “…Unbelievably Small, Limited Kind Of Effort.”
Secretary of State John Kerry

U-S-L, K-O-E, M-O-U-S-E
Caller to Dennis Prager radio show

I vaguely recall watching a cartoon as a child. Mickey Mouse was the captain of a ship, or rather attempted to be. But as the drawing illustrates, Mickey was too small to see where he was steering the ship, and too weak to turn the wheel effectively.
In fact, he may actually have been facing backwards towards the stern. But some people – especially liberals – habitually look backwards. They think they are still living in the era of racial segregation. They look back fondly on the social disruptions of the 1960s. They think the economic theories of Marx are innovative ideas worth trying, not outmoded notions that have been tried many times and failed each time.
From this and similar cartoons we get the term “a Mickey Mouse operation.” It wasn’t that Mickey wasn’t trying to do a good job – it was just that he was too small and inexperienced. Many amusing adventures ensued.
But in real life, when those who are too small and inexperienced attempt to steer a ship through troubled waters, the results aren’t at all amusing. On the contrary, they are often downright dangerous.
● In Libya, President Obama engineered the overthrow of Kadaffi, an unstable dictator. But as a result, Muslim extremists were strengthened, and now Libya itself is unstable and rent by civil strife. No one can predict which obnoxious faction will prevail, but it is predictable that Libya will be anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-freedom.
● In Egypt, Obama engineered the overthrow of Mubarak, an authoritarian but pro-Western strongman. But as a result, Morsi – a representative of the radical Muslim Brotherhood – won a disputed election. The Brotherhood began to impose a totalitarian Islamic state, and persecution of Christians intensified. Fortunately, the army deposed Morsi amid bloody violence. And now, both sides denounce American interference.
● In Syria, dictator Assad probably used poison gas against his own people, just as his father did. Now Obama wants to strike Syria and weaken Assad. But the most militant among the rebels are Muslim extremists allied with Al Qaeda. Weakening the secular Assad will inevitably strengthen the extremists. And then, as in Egypt, both sides will hate America, while Christians will be persecuted even more ferociously.
What can we conclude from this sad litany?
In order to decide whether someone is succeeding or failing, first we must determine what he is trying to do. Norman Podhoretz is the retired editor of Commentary magazine. He is a keen observer of the political scene and well worth listening to. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Podhoretz analyzes Obama’s recent actions.
The title tells the story: “Obama’s Successful Foreign Failure.” Podhoretz believes that Obama’s apparent failures and bungling are actually clever successes. He believes that Obama’s motive is to weaken America’s influence in the world – that is, to make sure that America is no longer exceptional. Podhoretz concludes that Obama’s apparent bungles are not bungles at all, but intentional – and successful – efforts to diminish America’s prestige.
I am reluctant to attribute motives. Only God can see our hearts. All we can see is people’s actions. Nevertheless, sometimes speculating on people’s motives is instructive. And sometimes, motives are obvious.
For example, if I am late for work and run for the bus, and I accidentally knock down an elderly lady, you can conclude that I was careless and selfish, but probably not malicious. On the other hand, if I hit the lady over the head with a brick and take her purse, you have a right to conclude that I am a dangerous criminal. In law, this is called “express malice” – that is, an action that can only be motivated by ill will.
Do President Obama’s recent actions descend to the level of express malice? Norman Podhoretz believes so. I don’t believe so. But I also believe that, in a practical sense, it doesn’t really matter. If I accidentally knock down an elderly lady while I am running for the bus, and she hits her head on the sidewalk and dies, she is just as dead as if I hit her over the head and stole her purse. And her relatives and friends are just as grief-stricken.
Similarly, if the current Middle East mess is the result of Obama’s bungling, it is just as big a mess as if it were the result of his intentional efforts to reduce America’s influence in the world. Let others speculate on his motives. I content myself with analyzing the results of his actions. That is a big enough job – and a sad enough one as well.
We can argue about whether America should continue to be the world’s policeman, or whether we should focus our attention solely on protecting our homeland. But in either case, we need to project a credible image. Mickey Mouse is an amusing cartoon character, but a laughable warrior chief.
If you doubt this, consider Benghazi. After repeated calls for more security were ignored by the State Department, an American diplomatic mission was invaded. Our ambassador, his assistant, and two former SEALs were killed. But a year later, we have done precisely nothing. Not only has nothing been done to punish those responsible or to prevent a recurrence; the investigation has been impeded. There could be no clearer example of a Mickey Mouse operation.
On second thought, the most appropriate image of the Obama presidency might not be Mickey Mouse attempting to steer the ship, but Mickey attempting to direct the universe. There is a certain conceit that comes from Ivy League diplomas, even if they are in fields entirely unrelated to the current problem. There is a certain unearned self-esteem that comes from narcissism. And there is a certain arrogance that comes from leftists’ belief that only they have the superior intelligence and special knowledge to rule over the unwashed masses, who are too ignorant to know what is good for them.
These faults in combination spur some people to undertake terribly important jobs far beyond their training or capabilities. These people give hubris a bad name.


Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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