President Barack Obama's foreign policy decisions have been driven more by his own ideology than by the wisdom of intelligence advice and expert policy debate, said Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.
In a column for The Washington Times,
Hayden said the administration's positions in Iraq, Libya, Iran, and in the case of the Bergdahl prisoner swap demonstrate a deliberate American retreat constructed mainly around the president's personal beliefs about America's role in the world.
"I hope I'm wrong, but like a lot of other folks, I'm seeing a pattern here. The lodestar of current American security policy seems to be to reduce our burdens and minimize our involvement — often in the face of hard evidence pointing toward alternative options," Hayden wrote.
"Recent policy decisions seem to be outside some of those left- and right-hand bounds, bending or ignoring facts to accommodate a predetermined vision."
Hayden said Obama's decision to end the American presence in Iraq, in direct opposition to the advice of top state and defense officials, has sparked violence and emboldened al-Qaida.
"Iranian influence has soared, and the country has become a pipeline for jihadist fighters and Iranian arms to competing factions in Syria," he wrote.
In Libya, the United States successfully ended the authoritarian Gadhafi regime yet hasn't made the commitment to ensure the country could grow into a stable democracy, Hayden said.
Hayden also said that the prisoner swap to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is another example of Obama's prioritizing his ideology: his wish to withdraw from Afghanistan before he leaves office, without consideration of other risk factors.
"The president has a vision. We will be out of Afghanistan before he is out of the Oval Office. No exceptions. This is not conditions-based, or at least it’s not based on any conditions in South Asia," he wrote.
The biggest concern at the moment, Hayden said, is how the Obama administration will manage the deal coming up for review in July of Iranian's nuclear program.
"We have already conceded that the Iranians will be allowed to enrich uranium. The question is, how much time can we put between their permitted enrichment program and a weapon? Right now, the Iranians are too close, within sprinting distance if they so choose. We need to push them back," Hayden wrote, adding that there are a number of critical limitations in a new deal that must be imposed.
"Will the vision guy be so committed to an agreement that it won't matter?" Hayden asks.
"Will we see, as seems to have been the case in the Sgt. Bergdahl deal, a deliberative interagency process truncated and congressional consultations bypassed? And will the fact guys demur, reluctant to publicly and forcefully just say 'No?'
"We'll likely find out within the year," he concluded.
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