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'Stupid stuff' worth talking about

Let’s not let the opportunity go, even though government is on vacation. Hillary Clinton commented about the Obama maxim, “Don’t do stupid stuff.” She said that isn’t an organizing principle. Americans who are listening and reading are probably scratching their heads.

'The victims were killed by Saddam Hussein’s government following a Shi’ite uprising here following the 1991 Gulf War.'
Photo by Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images
  • Stupid stuff?
  • Organizing principle?

According to USA Today, David Axelrod clarified with one example: Invading Iraq is an example of stupid stuff.

Now, let’s discuss.

Hillary Clinton classifies failing to help rebels in Syria was “stupid stuff”. If American intelligence had been working properly, CIA operatives would have cultivated timely relationships with rebels who may have been less prone to be radicalized. That is a supposition.

However, answering “who are the rebels” never became clearly understood. Surely, the rebels included remnants of al Qaeda because Bashar al-Assad and his government are Shiite and al Qaeda is aligned with Sunnis. Sunnis make up 74% of the Syrian population and Shia comprise 13%, yet al-Assad is Shiite and rules with an iron fist. Since the government was not pluralistic it did not ensure equality for most people. Sunnis revolted.

Consider the parallel in Iraq. Sunnis (30%) were in power under Saddam Hussein, but the majority of the population were Shia (60%) and Kurds (10%). That is the reverse situation from Syria. People in these countries are fighting for equal treatment and representation in government. If not that, they are fighting for control, one at the expense of the other.

Was it “stupid stuff” to remove Saddam Hussein from power? Well, more stupid was leaving Iraq in the first war without having addressed the need for a pluralistic democratic government. George Herbert Walker Bush left too soon without accomplishing the mission. Therefore, when George W. Bush and carryovers from Bush I saw the chance to complete the mission, they invaded. “Stupid stuff” was leaving too soon the second time without having completed the job.

The “organizing principle” is that when there is a power vacuum, meaning a leadership vacuum, some entity will seek to fill it.

Americans left Iraq and now the Islamic State seeks to fill it. Maliki is trying to hang on to a piece of it. Americans are scrambling to inject themselves back into the equation to be relevant and to prevent the Islamic State from acquiring Iraq, Syria, and more.

“Stupid stuff” is believing that you can afford the luxury of a vacation when government is dysfunctional and bankrupt, and when foreign policy demands immediate and steady attention.

“Clinton, who is pondering a presidential run in 2016, criticized the administration's refusal to arm rebels against Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria early on, saying that decision may have contributed to the rise of a militant army that has now swept across parts of Syria and Iraq.
She also questioned Obama's statement that his foreign policy philosophy includes the maxim, "don't do stupid stuff." Clinton told The Atlantic that "great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

White House officials have not commented publicly on the article. But long-time political adviser David Axelrod posted a tweet Tuesday that appeared to be a response to Clinton.
Axelrod wrote, "Just to clarify: 'Don't do stupid stuff' means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision."”

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