Obama’s foreign policy simply isn’t working and, more importantly, is putting America at greater risk
Pete Wehner on Obama’s foreign policy in The God That’s Failing…:
…President Obama looks to have been taken to the cleaners by the Russians. The United States bowed before Russian demands when it came to retooling a missile-defense system for Poland and the Czech Republic. We gave up something tangible and important — and in return we got a vague promise that Russia might be amenable to tougher sanctions against Iran. Now that vague promise appears to be inoperative — but the decision to scrap the Bush-era missile-defense program remains in place.
This episode captures Obama’s approach to international affairs and underscores its dangers. The president is weak and flaccid when it comes to our adversaries, and unreliable and unsteady when it comes to our allies. America’s enemies don’t respect us, and our allies increasingly don’t trust us. President Obama garners praise from the man attempting to lead a Marxist revolution in Latin America, Hugo Chavez, and is criticized by the hero of Solidarity, Lech Walesa. We pressure friends like Israel, Honduras, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and place our hopes in the goodwill and reasonableness of regimes like Russia, North Korea, and Iran. And in the process, some of the world’s foremost spokesmen for democracy publicly express their concern that Obama is “softening on human rights.”
It was not supposed to be this difficult when Obama ran for president, when tyrants would bend to the will of America’s “sort of god.” But reality is turning out to be a tough task master for our young president. All around the world, Mr. Obama is increasingly seen as impotent; he is both popular and largely ignored, viewed more as a celebrity than as an imposing leader.
It is all quite alarming and dangerous.
…Obama has been sucked into — or rushed into, depending on your assessment of his motives — talks that have forestalled sanctions and provided Iran breathing room. In fact, the Iranians are no longer in the spotlight, facing harsh judgment for their violations of existing sanctions, a secretive enrichment site, and human rights atrocities. No, they’re sitting in cushy meeting rooms in Geneva getting encouragement to keep at it. Are we further ahead or further behind from six months ago in preventing a nuclear Iran?
It seems that the entire engagement gambit was based on a false premise: the administration would be competent and maximize its leverage. Instead, we’ve tossed leverage away like confetti and have been, as Pete says, taken to the cleaners at each encounter with an adversary. At some point, even those inclined toward soft power will recognize that it’s time to get out of conference rooms if all we’re going to do is make concessions and provide cover for despots.
At some point, not even the mainstream media can spin sufficiently for the hapless Obama foreign policy. This Washington Post report is blunt….
In other words, Obama’s Middle East gambit, apparently inspired by those known Middle East policy wonks Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, has failed. Spectacularly so. Putting daylight between the U.S. and Israel and sneering at the Bush team for being too close to Israel didn’t really get the Obami anywhere, did it? The Post is candid that the fixation on settlements “backfired.” As virtually every pro-Israel conservative commentator predicted, “It raised hopes among Palestinians, who began to demand nothing less than a full freeze, and led to severe tensions in U.S.-Israeli relations.”
And all that ingratiating with the “Muslim World” in Cairo? Not much was gained; in fact, the parties are more estranged than ever. Our relations with Israel have not been this strained since…well, ever…and the administration’s credibility is arguably worse than any of its recent predecessors.
What can be learned from all this? Sanctimonious speeches and fractured history-telling don’t make for “peace.” Savaging your allies doesn’t get you anywhere. And ignoring hard truths — including the Palestinians’ unsolved internal divisions and refusal to renounce and root out terrorism — also doesn’t get you anywhere. Moreover, Obama’s appearance on the scene doesn’t change any of the fundamental issues; neither does chanting “diplomacy” or “dedication to the peace process.”
This should be a wake-up call for the administration. The Obama team might want to consider letting domestic pols run foreign policy. And they might put away some of their egocentric misconceptions about the power of Obama’s aura.
More Rubin on The Seminar Presidency:
David Ignatius concedes that Obama is conducting a do-over on Afghanistan. (“What’s odd about the administration’s review of Afghanistan policy is that it is revisiting issues that were analyzed in great detail — and seemingly resolved — in the president’s March 27 announcement of a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”) But what is most horrifying is the description of the process — academic, indecisive, and seemingly designed to get to the lowest common denominator…
Yikes. Works smoothly? Well, if the point is to reach some blissful, mushy middle ground on virtually everything without regard to the real-world consequences of the actions, then it’s like silk. But is the presidency a graduate course on international relations? This one appears to be — filled with platitudes and catch-phrases one would hear in the Ivy League (“interdependence” is right up there), disdain for military force (“Never solves anything!” — er, except slavery and Nazism), and the fetish for “consensus.” It’s all very smooth and polite and the results are very well disastrous.
A half-measure in Afghanistan, the quagmire of “engagement” with Iran, and jerking missile defense out of Europe may engender “consensus” among essentially like-minded advisers, but all will leave the U.S. more vulnerable and the world more dangerous…