John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Don’t Do Stupid Shit

Posted on June 2, 2014

Stupid crop

According the news reports, President Obama has come up with a simple way to describe his foreign policy philosophy:  Don’t do stupid shit.

It’s clever, in a Clintonian “it’s the economy stupid,” kind of way, but unfortunately for the President, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

You end up doing stupid shit, even when you try to avoid doing stupid shit, especially if you are President Obama.

To conduct smart foreign policy, sometimes you have to avoid the easy decisions.   You have to think three steps ahead, especially if you are the leader of the most important and powerful nation on earth.

The President doesn’t do that, and often ends up looking silly as a result.  And his silliness makes America look weaker than it actually is.

Mr. Obama’s foreign policy was formed as a reaction to President Bush.  In Obama’s mind, Bush blundered into Iraq, costing the American people trillions in blood and treasure.

Bush’s war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence, that is certain, and at the end of the day, you must reach the conclusion that mistakes were made.

But where Bush perhaps made a tragic mistake by being overly aggressive, Obama has gone overboard in the other direction.

You can’t  promise to punish Bashir Assad for using chemical weapons, for crossing the “red line”, and then do nothing when clear evidence mounts that Assad uses those weapons to defend his regime.

You can’t promise that you won’t negotiate with terrorists, and then negotiate with the Taliban to release five of their most dangerous leaders in exchange for an American soldier who went AWOL in Afghanistan.

You can’t send conflicting signals to our allies in Eastern Europe as to whether you will stand up to Russian incursions into the Ukraine.  It confuses our friends and our competitors.

American foreign policy has to be clear.  We can’t be overly subtle because we are the elephant in the room.  We can’t turn suddenly or not go where we are saying we are going to go, because that leaves the rest of the world scratching its collective heads.

Leaders lead, and as the world’s one indispensable leader, we need to chart a clear and convincing course forward.

The philosophy “Don’t do stupid shit” is not sufficient to lead the free world.  Yes, we shouldn’t do stupid shit, but we must strive to do smart stuff too.