Speed Reads

Foreign policy

Washington Post slams Obama's West Point speech

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On the heels of a tainted Memorial Day weekend trip to Afghanistan (where the top CIA agent in Afghanistan was accidentally outed) and bad news from the inspector general's report on the VA, President Obama awoke to another tough development this morning: an editorial in the Washington Post utterly destroying his speech at the West Point graduation ceremony yesterday.

It was blistering. The worst attacks are often on someone's perceived strength, and the Post pulled no punches in pummeling Obama for using his superb rhetorical skills as a crutch and a weapon of obfuscation. The president is accused of responding to valid criticisms "not by adjusting policy but rather by delivering a big speech" — and then of marshaling "a virtual corps of straw men" (essentially setting up a false choice between isolationism and adventurism) in that "big speech."

The most fundamental rebuke is of the so-called "Obama doctrine," which the Post's editorial board clearly felt was unprecedented, somewhat arbitrary, and too restrictive (in terms of narrowly defining the criteria that could trigger future American intervention):

This binding of U.S. power places Mr. Obama at odds with every U.S. president since World War II. In effect, he ruled out interventions to stop genocide or reverse aggression absent a direct threat to the U.S. homeland or a multilateral initiative. Those terms would exclude missions by previous administrations in places such as Somalia and Haiti and Mr. Obama's own proposal to strike Syria last year — but not the war in Iraq, which was a multilateral campaign. [Washington Post]

Next week, President Obama heads to Europe where he will, no doubt, attempt to hit the "reset" button. Again.