There is a pattern that has emerged here not unlike we have seen before. President Obama says one thing, and his Secretary of Defense says something contradictory.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Iraqis don’t have the will to fight ISIS. They’re chicken, or words to that effect. Au contraire, the President said they’re brave fighters who just needed to relax and recover in the heat of battle? Someone yelled, “Drop your weapons;” they did and fled without them.
President Obama and his Secretary of State are negotiating with the Chinese to get the Chinese to pressure North Korea to back off their aggressive nuclear weapons development. Meanwhile, Ash Carter is telling the Chinese to stand down building islands in the South China Sea, or else.
Keep them off balance, that’s the strategy. The questions, who are off balance?
“Carter: China Isolating Itself in Pacific
By Aaron Mehta4:02 p.m. EDT May 27, 2015
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR, Honolulu – US Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned China Wednesday that attempts to expand its influence in the South China Sea will ultimately lead to isolation for the Pacific power.
Speaking in Honolulu at the change of command for US Pacific Command, Carter reaffirmed that the US does not respect Chinese attempts to broaden their sovereign territory through the development of man-made islands in the region.
China has claimed those lands, which the Pentagon estimates to be about 2,000 acres in size, as part of its territory, a move other nations in the region believe is a power grab to increase its control of the region. About 1,500 of those acres have been developed since January, showing the rapid acceleration of China’s activities.
“We want a peaceful resolution of all disputes, and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant,” Carter said in his prepared remarks. “We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features.
“And there should be no mistake: The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.””
Look, the President and Secretary of Defense Carter need a long weekend at Camp David to sort things out. Needed is a comprehensive review of U.S. foreign policy with Secretary of State Kerry in attendance. They need to get their executive branch act together because there is too much freelancing going on out there.
There are <20 months remaining on the Obama watch, and it would be refreshing for him to produce cohesive action for the balance of his term.
He could do a lot of work to produce a foundation for comprehensive policy, making it easier for the next President. Or, he can continue to dog it with very risky outcomes and end on a note of great instability like his predecessor.