Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

June 21, 2014

Mr. Obama's midterm test

Midway through his second term, President George W. Bush found himself facing a foreign-policy disaster largely of his own making. He had ordered an invasion of Iraq without a sufficiently large force to occupy the country and without a well-considered plan for its reconstruction. Under his direction, the Iraqi military and government were dismantled with nothing to take their place, and by 2006 the nation was on the verge of a full-blown sectarian war.

Without explicitly acknowledging his miscalculations, Mr. Bush changed course. He replaced his defense secretary and his field commanders. He ignored the advice of a bipartisan commission to essentially accept defeat.

, deciding that U.S. national security would be harmed by Iraq’s fracturing. He ordered a surge of troops and a new strategy that helped restore stability.

At the same midpoint of his second term, President Obama faces a similar challenge, and at a news conference Thursday he offered some indications of a similar willingness to rethink. Mr. Obama had gambled that the United States could withdraw from Iraq and (by 2016) Afghanistan while staying aloof from the civil war in Syria. The result has been growing turmoil that he can no longer ignore: humanitarian catastrophes in both Syria and Iraq; widening territory under the control of a vicious al-Qaida offshoot with a goal of sending attackers into the United States; and, once again, a potential bloody disintegration of Iraq.

The immediate challenge this poses for the United States is confounding. Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has put sectarian interests above national goals, so to join him in beating back the terrorist challenge might only widen the country’s divide. But even if Mr. Maliki continues to ignore American advice to be more inclusive, an al-Qaida-style “caliphate” stretching from Syria into Iraq would be too dangerous for the United States and its allies. Mr. Obama is trying to square that circle, and the measures he outlined Thursday represent a judicious start.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Money not always the answer I really have to stop and think sometimes. I challenge my thought processes when I write these columns. I am having a hard time with this one. It appears to me that every time a governmental agency or any of the entities that spend other people’s mon

    July 29, 2014

  • Teachers unions' destructive behavior You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to

    July 26, 2014

  • Workers of the world, curb your ambitions A group of Democrats introduced legislation this week to protect low-paid shift workers from last-minute changes in their schedules. The idea fits into an intriguing category of economic activism: Not trying to lift low-paid workers out of poverty, n

    July 26, 2014

  • State of the reunion ‘Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 26, 2014

  • Fear indifference ‘Perhaps the Catholic church would volunteer to pony up some cash for the illegals’ care then? Hmm?”“Pope should stay out of it. Matter of civil laws, not church laws.”“Thinking that the pope should want the illegals to go to Argentina to get better

    July 25, 2014

  • A push for felon voting rights If advocates have their way, voting rights could be a new reality for the nation’s incarcerated.Full voting rights for felons is as hot a topic in Washington as voting rights in reverse pushed by voter-ID-tickled Republicans. But with new legislation

    July 25, 2014

  • Big insurers need better oversight Could Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. threaten the stability of the financial system? The U.S.’s top regulators are asking themselves this question as they consider whether Berkshire and other large insurers should come under Federal Reserve

    July 25, 2014

  • Questions for Obamacare after the ruling Tuesday, I outlined what we knew about Halbig v. Burwell, the case in which a federal appellate court ruled that subsidies for purchasing insurance under Obamacare can only be made available on marketplaces established by states. Now I propose to out

    July 24, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks