Search This Blog

Friday, August 19, 2016

Passing the Foreign Policy Baton by Robert E. Hunter

Passing the Foreign Policy Baton

by Robert E. Hunter
President Barack Obama has 22 weeks left in office. But in practice, his useful mandate will expire on November 9, the day after the presidential election. That does not mean he will be unable to exercise his duties as commander-in-chief for the 72 days remaining in his term. However, given his inclination not to do “stupid stuff,” he is unlikely to leave any poisoned chalices for his successor. That has happened before. In 1961 the outgoing Eisenhower administration and especially the CIA confronted the young and untested President John F. Kennedy with a plan to invade Cuba and rid it of the upstart Fidel Castro, and we all know how well that played out. At least it enabled Kennedy, early in his presidency, to become more skeptical of some of the advice he was being fed (though not skeptical enough to prevent sliding into the Vietnam morass). More recently, following the 1992 election, the outgoing George H.W. Bush administration decided to intervene in Somalia. As only the president-elect, there was not much Bill Clinton could do about that, and he inherited a mess that, with his own inexperience helping it along, led to the tragedy commemorated by Hollywood as Blackhawk Down. That chalice was indeed poisoned.
By contrast, Obama is in a position to help his successor. There are special reasons for his doing so. One is that foreign policy and national security issues are more discussed in this year’s presidential campaign than at any time since perhaps 1968, although on that occasion, the candidate who hinted that he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam War was elected but kept the war going several more years.

No comments: