‘Black Hawk Down’: Read the book because the movie can never do the men who died justice

blackhawk-down

If you ask most people what they think of Black Hawk Down, then the vast majority of the time the response you’ll get will probably be something along the lines of, “Good movie.” That is understandable, given that it was a blockbuster film in 2001 produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Ridley Scott.

If you are like me, then perhaps you’ve always had an itch regarding the movie and, more importantly, the event — the downing of two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the subsequent deaths of 18 American soldiers Oct. 3-4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Sure, it made for a night out at the theater, but perhaps you’ve felt that it was somehow insulting to only know the tale through its Bruckheimerization.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been working on a book in my spare time that will eventually see the light of day (we’re at the artwork stage now, so hang tight!). There are parts of the novel that required knowledge of Task Force Ranger, and at some point I admitted to myself that it would be literary heresy to not read Mark Bowden’s masterpiece to assist with authenticity. It is safe to say that there probably is not a more comprehensive retelling of the ill-fated attempt to capture two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

And if you do not think any of this is still relevant, then I suggest you start reading The New York Times. The paper reported Sunday in a piece titled In Somalia, U.S. Escalates a Shadow War:

The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993. …

In March, an American airstrike killed more than 150 Shabab fighters at what military officials called a “graduation ceremony,” one of the single deadliest American airstrikes in any country in recent years. But an airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.

Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon was investigating the strike.

Who, exactly, are we fighting? Why are we there? Should we be there?

Mr. Bowden’s book provides many of the answers, which unfortunately raise more questions:

“In books and movies when a soldier shot a man for the first time he went through a moment of soul searching. Waddell didn’t give it a second thought. He just reacted. he thought the man was dead. He had just folded. Startled by Waddell’s shot, Nelson hadn’t seen the man drop. Waddell pointed to where he had fallen and the machine gunner stood up, lifted his big gun, and pumped a few more rounds into the man’s body to make sure. Then they both ran for better cover.

They found it behind a burned out-car. Peering out from underneath toward the north now, Nelson saw a Somali with a gun lying prone on the street between two kneeling women. The shooter had the barrel of this weapon between the women’s legs, and there were four children actually sitting on him. He was completely shielded in noncombatants, taking full cynical advantage of the Americans’ decency.

“Check it out, John,” he told Waddell, who scooted over for a look.

“What do you want to do?” Waddell asked.

“I can’t get that guy through those people.”

So Nelson threw a flashbang, and the group fled so fast the man left his gun in the dirt.” — Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (New York: Grove Press, 1999), 46.

If you want to know what it’s like to have an entire city honed in on killing you and those you hold dear, then I suggest reading Black Hawk Down. The book can be a bit arduous at times — it’s like trying to eat a steak the size of your head — but there is no escaping it because a.) Mr. Bowden leaves no stone unturned, and b.) the experience for the men on the ground was grueling.

Perhaps the best endorsement of the book that I can give is this: I did not know much about the author before picking up the book, and was surprised to find out he is not a veteran. He’s just a reporter who did a damn good job telling a story.

Black Hawk Down is a book about courage and fear, the nature of war, success and failure on the battlefield, and most importantly the experiences of the men who fought valiantly to save one another in situation that was so surreal that it seem like “a movie.”

 It was not a movie — it happened — which is why those who care about national defense issues should read it sooner rather than later.

Kudos to Mr. Bowden for writing a book that will be read by military men and women for generations to come.

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Gen. Mattis on Iraq: I’m not sure why Obama is publicly taking options off the table

James Mattis, Ryan Crocker, Dafna RandThe House Intelligence Committee takes its job very seriously, which is why Ret. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis was called in on Thursday to discuss the U.S. strategy for destroying the Islamic State group. With over four decades of military service under his belt, the general knows a thing or two about combat. Unfortunately, his assessment of how the commander in chief is handling the Middle East conundrum before him is not kind.

The Washington Post reported Thursday:

“You just don’t take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do,” said Mattis, who served as the top U.S. general overseeing operations in the Middle East before leaving military service last year. …

Broadcasting up front an unwillingness to use ground troops in Iraq, despite an expanded mission there, creates problems, both Mattis and [former U.S. diplomat Ryan] Crocker said.

“Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground,’ ” Mattis said. “If a brigade of a our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.”

While it is quite obvious that there are in fact “boots on the ground” in Iraq (i.e., Special Forces), it makes no sense whatsoever to show up at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Fla., as Mr. Obama did, and assure troops that under no circumstances will they be deployed. It sends the wrong message to allies, it emboldens enemies, and it makes the job of those tasked with securing victory exponentially harder to complete.

If the president was being honest with the American people, then he would sound much more like U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno than a run-of-the-mill politician.

The New York Times reported Wednesday:

Airstrikes have halted the advance of the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, General Odierno, now the Army chief of staff, told journalists from four news organizations, including The New York Times, in what aides said were his first public comments on the current situation in Iraq. Ultimately, though, “you’ve got to have ground forces that are capable of going in and rooting them out,” he said, referring to the Islamic extremists.

The airstrikes “will not be the end all and be all solution in Iraq,” he said. Similarly, he added, the jihadis cannot be allowed to have a safe haven across the border in Syria.

The general was careful not to say that ground troops had to be American, but the fact remains: ground troops will be necessary. If Joe Scarborough was on to something, and his theory that Mr. Obama is actively engaged in next-level “Art of War” strategic planning happened to be correct, Americans could breath a sigh of relief — but he’s not. The cable news host is wrong, and the public comments that multiple generals are making, while tactful, are their way of begging someone — anyone — to get Mr. Obama to listen to reason.

If you are still unconvinced that the president is in over his head, then notice that the White House has not been cornered into answering the following question: Who will govern cities and towns all across Syria when Islamic State is defeated? It is almost as if reporters know that nobody knows the answers to the “Then what?” questions and they don’t want the American people to see just how lost and confused U.S. foreign policy is as the country begins to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels (“No, seriously, these are the good guys, we swear!”).

As the situation in Iraq and Syria continues to unfold, look for whatever comments you can from men like Gen. Mattis and Gen. Odierno. Take note of what they’ve been saying, because those who refuse to take their sound advice on how to deal with Islamic State should be taken to task upon the unraveling.

Obama needs Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to help save him in Iraq, which means he has failed

Syria Obama

As Iraq and Syria are being run over by Islamic radical nut jobs, the “blame Bush” crowd has been rather quiet. Perhaps that’s because it was only a few years ago that Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama administration were casting the relative stability in Iraq as a the next big “great achievement” … for them.

Let us Flash back to Joe Biden in 2010:

“I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government,” said Biden.

“I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.”

Now, it’s a complete different story. Business Insider reported Thursday:

Extremists from the al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS have blurred the border to Syria, captured Iraq’s second largest city, and advanced toward the capital. Kurds have taken Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the northeast that borders Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran is deploying Revolutionary Guard forces to fight ISIS.

And, according to current and former U.S. officials, the administration of President Barack Obama indirectly facilitated the mayhem.

“Top State Department officials long argued that the civil war in Syria was the root cause of ISIS’s rise because it gave them a haven in which to operate and recruit,” Adam Entous and Julian Barnes of The Wall Street Journal report.

For the last two years, the main criticism on Obama’s policy toward Syria has been that the “United States, rather than read the signals early on and arm the Syrian opposition when it was making substantial gains, allowed a vacuum to form and then fretted when that vacuum was filled by jihadists.” …

Obama then left Syria to fester, which eventually led to ISIS consolidating territory across Syria and Iraq while the militants gained experience, lured new recruits, captured weaponry, made territorial advances, indoctrinated Syrian children, and piled up cash.

Where does one start with all of this? This is what happens when the U.S. “leads from behind.” This is what happens when you have a president whose instincts tell him it would be a good idea to speak to graduating West Point cadets less about being leaders and more about Climate Change.

When an American president desperately needs the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to help save the day, you know that he has failed — miserably.

Obama Hashtag diplomacy

America now finds itself in a no-win situation. Essentially, we need a bunch of state-sponsored terrorists to kill a bunch of Sunni terrorists and then hope that the end result somehow results in a safer world for Americans. What are the chances of that happening? At the moment: Slim to none.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday:

Some military officials now believe ISIS is the single greatest terrorist threat the U.S. and its allies face—stronger than the al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen or Africa and far more powerful than al Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan. Other senior U.S. officials say ISIS has yet to carry out any attacks directly targeting the U.S.

“It makes you want to kill yourself,” a senior U.S. official said of the intelligence on ISIS, which was presented by U.S. and Gulf allies during the May [security] meeting in Jeddah.

It. Makes. You. Want. To. Kill. Yourself.

Why would an official say such a thing? Answer: Because he or she saw the enormity of the task before us and knew that a.) it was either too late to stop the blow back from reaching American shores, or b.) that the Obama administration was not capable of doing what needs to be done to reverse the jihadist tide.

This is going to get much worse before it gets better, in large part because the president is a political creature. The Middle East only presents a U.S. president with a multitude of difficult choices, and up until this point Mr. Obama has done his best to simply wash his hands of the matter. Only, that isn’t an option any longer. The world’s attention is on him and its waiting for an answer.

As Business Insider points out, his choice to simply look away since 2008 allowed problems to “fester.” The problem — Islamic terrorism — a term the White House didn’t even allow the State Department to use, never went away. In fact, it thrived in the chaos created by Syria’s civil war. And now it can not be denied any longer.

ISIS seeks to create an Islamic caliphate, and regardless of the upcoming battles it faces with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Iraqis or coalition partners, it is now a force to be reckoned with. If you believe in the power of prayer, I suggest saying a few for Mr. Obama; he’s going to need as many as he can get in the months ahead.

Related: Remember Obama’s failure to secure a status of forces agreement with Iraq as it burns

Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, north of Baghdad, June 12, 2014. (Associated Press)
Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, north of Baghdad, June 12, 2014. (Associated Press)

Remember Obama’s failure to secure a status of forces agreement with Iraq as it burns

A president can declare a war to be over, but that doesn’t mean it actually is — the enemy has a lot of say in the matter.

In December, 2011 the last American troops left Iraq. The Obama administration couldn’t get them out fast enough — and as a result a status of forces agreement with the country was never secured. It’s now 2014, and the consequences of having a commander-in-chief who is in over his head continue to be revealed to the world.

Business Insider reported Tuesday:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, has taken control of Iraq’s second largest city.

Iraqi police and security forces reportedly fled Mosul prior to the attack, leaving the facilities of the city open for plunder. Mosul was a key area of focus for U.S. forces in an effect to stabilize Iraq, and large amounts of military hardware was left in the city for the Iraqis.

Iraq’s parliament speaker said that ISIS took control of the city’s airport and obtained helicopters. ISIS also took control of U.S. Humvees, which they are now proceeding to send to Syria.

NBC’s Richard Engel, after talking with a former U.S. commander in Iraq, puts it further in perspective via Twitter:

Richard Engel Twitter Iraq2

Richard Engel Twitter Iraq

Let that sink in: Even at the height of violence in 2006/2007 a provincial HQs was never seized by insurgents. The implications are “very serious.” And the sad thing is that it could have been prevented.

In Focus Quarterly reported in 2012:

Given that the U.S. would never agree to leave its people to the mercy of an Iraqi court, Iraqi demands for this condition seemed to be a calculated plan of Shia politicians who needed America out of the way in order to finally advance Iranian hegemony in Iraq. But recent reporting by The New York Times’ Michael Gordon paints a more complicated picture of U.S. incompetence and disengagement. Most notably, the Obama administration’s insistence that any Status of Forces Agreement be ratified by Iraq’s parliament set the stage for the inevitable failure of any agreement.

Simply put, while a number of Iraqi political leaders may have privately wished for continued American involvement to serve as a buffer and broker between both domestic rivals and neighboring regimes, far fewer were willing to support this position in a public, contentious debate. No one wants to be regarded as an American stooge in the prideful arena of Iraqi politics. Backing parliamentarians into a corner by demanding public ratification doomed a new SOFA to failure.

Pathetic. There is really no other way to say it.

Foreign Policy magazine had an interview with Jim Jeffrey, the former US Ambassador to Iraq, in 2012. Here’s what came to light (via The Long War Journal):

Jeffrey didn’t necessarily support the larger troop footprint envisioned by military leaders at the time, which reportedly ranged from 8,000 to 16,000 to 24,000 troops, depending on the military official. But he said he firmly believed that troops in Iraq past 2011 were needed and wanted by the Iraqi government.

Jeffrey said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki personally discussed the idea of extending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq via an executive agreement, which would not have to go through the Iraqi parliament.

“Maliki said at one point, ‘Why don’t we just do this as an executive agreement?'”

Again: pathetic.

The Obama administration failed to secure a SOFA with Iraq — a deal that could have been worked out — and for the past three years it’s blubbered around while Syria has turned into Jihad Central. It bombed the hell out of Libya and declared victory, and then walked away as that too descended into one big giant terrorist training ground. It’s sent five top Taliban commanders back out into the field. Now, American-made Humvees are being confiscated in Iraq and sent into Syria, where over 150,000 people have died, and the chaos (the perfect breeding ground for terrorism), looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic scenario from your worst nightmares.

To add insult to injury, ISIS also has its hands on helicopters. Great. Grand. Wonderful.

ISIS stolen helicopter

And in case you missed it, ISIS military commanders have s**t-eating grins on their faces because of what’s going on in Iraq and Syria right.

AQ offshoot stolen Humvee

The primary role of the commander-in-chief is to keep the nation safe. It isn’t to “slow jam” the news with Jimmy Fallon. It isn’t to do “Funny or Die” videos to sell health care public policy because the federal government couldn’t get a website to work for hundreds-of-millions of dollars.

The president’s number one task is to protect Americans from those who seek to do them harm at home or abroad, and Mr. Obama’s fundamental misunderstanding of what motivates and drives the world’s worst actors has left him woefully unprepared for the job.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laughs at Mr. Obama. Vladimir Putin laughs at Mr. Obama. Terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and every other failed state and pseudo-lawless region of the world all laugh at Mr. Obama. That is because instead of doing the right thing since taking office, all-too-often the president decided to do “the opposite of Bush” — even if the decision was not in the long-term national security interests of the American people.

The United States needed a commander-in-chief and it fittingly elected a community organizer from a city that “organized” itself into “Chiraq.”

Hopefully, 2016 will be the year that Americans decide that the presidential election should be taken a bit more seriously than a vote for the next winner of American Idol.

Lesson from the Sgt. Bergdahl terrorist swap: Obama, Harry Reid are dangerously stupid on defense

Obama Reid

It’s official: Gitmo terrorists Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari — who were all deemed in 2008 to be at “high risk” for returning to the battlefield if released — are now free, and the U.S. obtained Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the release. There are many lessons here, but perhaps the most glaring is: President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are scary-stupid on national defense.

Let us address President Obama and his administration first. The White House listened to wary military officials who said the Taliban Five were incredibly dangerous men who were likely stay in the terrorist game for the rest of their lives, and it responded: Release the terrorists and “suck it up and salute.”

Time magazine reported Tuesday:

Officials in the Pentagon and intelligence communities had successfully fought off release of the five men in the past, officials tell TIME. “This was out of the norm,” says one official familiar with the debate over the dangers of releasing the five Taliban officials. “There was never the conversation.” Obama’s move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should “suck it up and salute,” says the official familiar with the debate.

How do you close Gitmo if you can’t close Gitmo? Empty it! How do you stop the bleeding from a VA scandal when the “blame Bush” strategy isn’t an option? Trade a bunch of terrorists for an American POW who seemingly deserted his post in the middle of the night.

Which brings us to Sen. Harry Reid, who is “glad” that the Obama administration just gave five terrorists a “Get out of Gitmo Free” card.

“I’m glad to get rid of these five people,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the release of the Taliban Five. June 3, 2014.

Someone needs to inform Sen. Reid that the terrorists in question are not dead or reformed — they’re free. That means that while he pats himself on the back for having five new empty beds at Gitmo there are five guys who would love to kill Americans who are occupying beds as free men in the Middle East.

What planet are we living on where Chris Matthews realizes that if the Taliban was so obsessed with securing release of these five individuals then perhaps they might not be the type of men the U.S. wants roaming freely about the Middle East.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday:

Chris Matthews: Do you think the war against the United States from the Taliban point of view is going to be over when we check out of there? Do you honestly believe they’re going to stop attacking us and our interests?

Col. Morris Davis: I don’t think we measure our behavior by what the Taliban thinks. Legally the war is coming to an end, and that’s what we’ve cited to the courts for a decade now.

Chris Matthews: You’re making these legal points which I question, because I don’t think they cease to be hostiles. But my question is this, if those guys get back in there and start killing American GIs who are stationed at our embassy or anywhere else, whose head is that on? Yours or the president’s? But it’s somebody’s, because the person who lets them go is responsible for them now! Right now.

Perhaps most bizarre of all is that President Obama claims to have rightfully acted when he did not notify members of Congress — not even those on intelligence committees — of his prisoner release by invoking the very same authority that Democrats called President George W. Bush a “war criminal” for using. The difference between George W. Bush and President Obama is that Bush was putting members of the Taliban behind bars — not letting them loose.

The Washington Post reported Monday:

Current law, signed by Obama in December, stipulates that the defense secretary must notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before transferring anyone from Guantanamo Bay and provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to again threaten the United States or its interests.

Obama did not send such a notice to Capitol Hill until Monday — two days after the detainees were sent to Qatar, where they will live for at least the next year, in circumstances that neither the administration nor the emirate has explained publicly.

The Obama administration’s excuse for not notifying Congress: it was an “oversight.”

The National Journal reported Wednesday:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein took at shot at the Obama administration on Tuesday for failing to give lawmakers 30 days’ notice about a deal to release five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only POW from America’s war in Afghanistan.

“It’s very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us,” Feinstein told reporters in the Capitol.

A defense bill that President Obama signed into law in December 2013 requires that Congress be notified 30 days ahead of releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

Feinstein said that National Deputy Security Adviser Tony Blinken called her Monday night “apologizing” for failing to notify lawmakers sooner.

“He apologized for it and said it was an oversight,” Feinstein said. When asked whether he used the word “oversight,” Feinstein clarified: “In so many words, I can’t say. That was my impression.”

So either Mr. Obama is a liar or completely inept, according to Sen. Feinstein. How do you release five “high risk” terrorists from Gitmo without notifying the appropriate members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees? You don’t — unless you were in the middle of a Veterans Affairs scandal and you wanted to change the headlines.

The only problem for the White House is that the new headlines are not what it expected to see.

Hotair reported Tuesday:

Chuck Todd: What does this mean for the future of Gitmo? What does this mean for the future of the rest of those detainees that are sitting there? … Does this mean this is this part of winding down the war and is this how Gitmo is essentially going to get shut down? … What’s caught the White House off guard here — they were expecting criticisms of Gitmo, criticisms of the detainees that were choose —  they did not expect this criticism of the attempt to go get Bergdahl and the way that it was done. And that appears to be what caught them off guard and that’s why I think they look like they’re on their back feet on this one.

Again: How do you close a detention center you don’t want open? Answer according to the Obama administration: Let the inmates free.

Instead of focusing on Sgt. Bergdahl — before the Army has even had a chance to try him in a military court — Americans would be wise to turn their attention to Mr. Obama and the dangerous stupidity he displays as America’s Commander-in-Chief.

Note to Harry Reid: You’re “glad” to get rid of these Gitmo terrorists? When their handwork boomerangs back on American civilians, servicemen and allies, then the blood of innocents will be on your hands.

 

 

Libya hearing exposes White House shell game

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., revealed Tuesday that U.S. diplomats in Libya made repeated requests for increased security for the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi but were turned down by officials in Washington (Photo Credit AP).

At Wednesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Chairman Darrell Issa’s questioning made one thing certain: The Obama administration’s initial explanation — that the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were directly related to Islamic rage over a YouTube video — becomes more troubling with each passing day.

Before questioning began, Army Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, former head of a Special Forces site security team who was closely involved with operational planning for security in the region, testified to the increasing attacks on Western interests in the months preceding the Benghazi attack. He traveled to Benghazi after a successful attack on the British ambassador’s convoy, and was aware of online threats made against Mr. Stevens. And yet, months later, Stevens would die attempting to exit an escape hatch in a smoke-filled room. His would-be rescuers would then perish in a mortar barrage.

Referencing a July 9 cable from Mr. Stevens provided by State Department whistleblowers, Rep. Issa showed that Mr. Stevens requested additional security support but was denied by Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary of state for international programs, ostensibly because it wasn’t a formal request. Ms. Lamb maintained Wednesday that the U.S. Consulate had the “correct” amount of security on the day of the attack, even though, as Mr. Issa pointed out, the compound was overrun within minutes.

Read the rest over at Times247.com

Obama’s ‘Finger Painting Foreign Policy’ makes a mess; media think he’s Jackson Pollock

Asked whether Egypt was an ally of the United States, the president wasn’t sure. He might have wanted to figure that one out before forking over $1.5 billion dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Mideast has been a basket case long before President Obama took office. It’s a place where you can still find women being stoned, executions of gay people, and bizarre meltdowns of large swathes of the population over cartoon drawings. It wasn’t too long ago that the Taliban brought women to soccer stadiums and blew off their head with semi-automatic rifles, and on a sunny Spring afternoon you could hear a child say, “It’s such a nice day outside. I’d fly a kite, but it’s against the law.”

Given that, I’m willing to cut any American president a little slack when it comes to dealing with irrational nut jobs with a deep-seated desire to remain in the stone age. However, that is no excuse for having a bad foreign policy, which is the case with Mr. Obama. At best, I consider it “Finger Painting Foreign Policy,” in which he takes a globular mess, rubs his hands in it, makes a bigger mess and then smiles with what he’s accomplished — while the media likens him to Jackson Pollock. An example of his thought processes might go something like this:

“I’ll use military might with this guy over here in Libya on “humanitarian grounds,” but not this guy over here in Syria who commits genocide while the United Nations watches with its thumb up its butt. I’ll support the ouster of this guy whose been our ally in Egypt for decades so we can replace him with … a bunch of guys who maybe, sorta could be good guys or maybe sorta could be really bad guys. I’m going to kill a whole lot of civilians with drones, but tell everyone I’m not killing a whole lot of civilians with drones.”

Don’t believe it? Let’s look at the President’s most recent interview with Telemundo, in which he said: “I don’t think that we would consider [Egypt] an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.” When you elect a Lawyer in Chief or a Professor in Chief, those are the sorts of answers you get. Unfortunately, the United States needs a Commander in Chief, one who knows that defenseless ambassadors in an unstable Islamic country need Marines before they’re apparently raped and murdered — not after. The better answer (from a Democrat’s perspective), would have been to say, “Yes, Egypt is still an ally,” but to then acknowledge that there are elements within the new regime that are trying to undermine that status, and that the United States will do everything within its power to strengthen Egypt’s saner-heads coalition.

What President Obama did when asked to give an answer that was either ‘A’ or ‘B’ was to respond with ‘Z4.’ Those are the mixed signals that Mitt Romney talked about, and the mixed signals that produced one of the most uncomfortable State Department press conferences in a long, long time.

Even NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, has to shake his head and “sit down”:

“Yeah, I almost had to sit down when I heard that. For the last forty years, the United States has had two main allies in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the other ally in the Middle East being Israel. For the President to come out and say, well, he’s not exactly sure if Egypt is an ally any more but it’s not an enemy, that is a significant change in the perspective of Washington toward this country, the biggest country in the Arab world. It makes one wonder, well, was it worth it? Was it worth supporting the Arab Spring, supporting the demonstrations here in Tahrir Square, when now in Tahrir Square there are clashes going on behind me right in front of the US embassy?”

President Obama is in over his head on foreign policy, and the nation is drowning in debt. But hey, he’s promised to add 100,000 teachers in his second term. (I’m not sure if that number includes the Chicago teachers who have been on strike or not.)

Like I said — finger painting.