At West Point today, President Obama marched out his army of straw men and continued his ungracious habit of taking credit for successful actions attributable to his predecessor. But at bottom, the policy he outlined will be of little comfort to our allies and to the cause of freedom in the world.
There were as many straw men as cadets. The president railed against "critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak" and insisted that "U.S. military action cannot be the only—or even primary—component of leadership." He kindly informed us that "a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable." He thanked himself for the decision "that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war" in Syria, as if anyone anywhere had suggested doing so.
Once again, the president caricatures the views of his critics rather than addressing them fairly—not much of a contribution to a good national debate over foreign policy. And on Syria, the new plan he announced—vaguely saying he'll "work with Congress to ramp up support" for some Syrian rebels—is precisely the proposal that many members of his own Cabinet, and scores of analysts outside the administration, have been making for two years. He offered no explanation whatsoever for why he is now accepting advice he has been rejecting for all that time.