Anarchy in Washington: Is Anybody in Charge?

by | Sep 19, 2014


Pentagon chief contradicts Obama on ground troops – Obama contradicts him back

The President pledges “no combat troops” in Iraq.

The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, says he may recommend combat ground troops in the battle against ISIS.

The President, in a speech, reiterates “no ground troops,” and “no combat troops.”

While Hillary Clinton, Obama’s presumptive heir, waits in the wings as her scheme to arm the Syrian rebels is implemented and the fuse is lit on the Levantine tinderbox. It isn’t a very long fuse….

So what is going on with the US government, and especially over at the Pentagon? Are they directly challenging the President – who is then acting to quickly quash them? Sure looks like it.

Amid reports of a titanic battle within the Obama administration, the conflicting messages being put out there by various wings of the national security establishment remind us of the Empire’s sheer size and the scale of the bureaucracy: it is large enough to constitute what are, in effect, competing governments – a condition statists of every variety always told us was unworkable.

In short, when it comes to the making of American foreign policy what we have in Washington is what appears to be the functional definition of anarchy! And the libertarians haven’t even taken over yet.

The mess that is the Obama plan for defeating ISIS perfectly illustrates the central dictum of what I call “libertarian realism” – a theory of international relations that attributes foreign policy decision-making to primarily domestic political pressures, i.e. to the chief motivation of politicians everywhere, which is to maintain and expand their own power and their own term in office. The result is that US policy – or, indeed, the foreign policy of any nation – has little to do with facts on the ground, or how to utilize them to serve legitimate national interests. Instead, it’s all about how to appease the various domestic pressure groups with a stake in the matter.

This is why war propaganda is such a vital component of modern warfare, arguably the most important weapon in any country’s arsenal. That’s because the real target is domestic public opinion, with the targeted cities of the enemy only a secondary consideration.

Left with the Iraqi mess he inherited from the Bush administration, President Obama had few viable options. Constrained by his own campaign promises and public opposition to any further fighting in Iraq, he is nevertheless confronted with the blowback – and his “plan” reflects the only possible means to deal with it within the theoretical framework of libertarian realism. The public opposes troops on the ground – and so the President sticks that in his “plan.” The political elites want to aid the Syrian rebels, so he sticks that in there, too. A general who knows better tells the country the truth: it will take ground troops to accomplish the mission. Yet the mission being accomplished is beside the point – because the real mission is winning the hearts and minds of the American people. That’s the battlefield this President – and every President – must fight on.

The Sunni-Shia civil war we encouraged throughout the region for our own purposes has now given birth to the monstrous ISIS, the Frankenstein creature that crawled out of the chaos we created. Like those scary mutations depicted in post-nuclear war movies, all scales and fangs, ISIS gibbers and glories in its monstrousness, doing for the War Party what Bill Kristol and his fellow neocons could never have pulled off by their own efforts. All it took was a few Youtube videos and the social media savvy of the ISIS public relations department.

Funny how that worked out, eh?

Reprinted with permission from