The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take: Robert Gates Delivered ‘Absolutely Devastating’ Takedown of Obama’s Foreign Policy

President Obama fails to understand that when America leaves a vacuum in a strategic location, bad actors quickly fill it, Charles Krauthammer said tonight.

Appearing on Friday’s Special Report, Krauthammer discussed an op/ed Robert Gates and Condoleeza Rice penned, which criticized Obama for calling no-fly zones a “half baked idea” and leaving much of the Middle East out of America’s influence. Krauthammer noted that as the president’s long-time secretary of Defense, Gates’ attack was “absolutely devastating”:

WALLACE: “There was a brutal op-ed piece today in the Washington Post, written interestingly enough by Condi Rice, George W. Bush’s secretary of state, and former Bush and Obama defense secretary, Bob Gates about Syria. Here are some of the highlights, ‘Putin’s move into Syria is old-fashioned, great-power politics; he, Mr. Putin see as vacuum created by our hesitancy to fully engage in places such as Libya and stay the course in Iraq. No fly zones and safe harbors for populations are not half-baked ideas.’ Charles, it doesn’t get much rougher than that. Gates and Rice throwing President Obama’s words — the half based line came from him the last news conference — obvious that Gates and Rice, throwing president Obama’s words right back at him.”

KRAUTHAMMER: “—And in a way that’s utterly mocking. The sentence you read about Putin’s move is old-fashioned, great power politics — is followed by a parenthetical that says, “which still exists in the 21st century.” That is to mock a president who believes that when the calendar turned on January 2000, that was the abolition of 5,000 years of power politics. And as he said at the U.N., the control of territory no longer is a measure of power in this century. This is a man truly living in a make-believe world and they wanted to emphasize that. And the fact that one of those who wrote this, as you say, had served Obama himself as defense secretary for more than one term, is absolutely devastating. When they talk about the vacuum created, Obama doesn’t recognize the entire idea of a vacuum, that bad guys or geopolitical adversaries like the Russians and the Iranians will come in, and have come in as a result of the evacuation by Obama of Iraq, and essentially as you said, giving up on Syria entirely. There’s been no Syria policy. At most when Obama began the bombing campaign, the objective, even though he pretended it was to destroy ISIS, was to hold the line in Iraq so Baghdad wouldn’t fall. And it’s Iran that’s going to ensure that, not the United States. And to do nothing in Syria. Which is what is going on now. Here’s the tragedy. I think that Condi and Bob Gates are correct that we should and could be doing a no fly zone and protect a zone as we did the Kurds in Iraq for a decade when Saddam was in power. The problem is, because Obama has delayed on everything, it could be too late. The Russians now control Syrian air space. American pilots are instructed to retire if they encounter the Russians, the Russians don’t have the same orders. So we cannot establish that kind of zone, because we will have to engage the Russians and Obama will never do that.”

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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