US Foreign Relations

I seem to remember back around the time of President Obama’s inauguration, we were being told that President Bush had done great harm to the reputation of our country and that Obama would fix it. Obama would repair all the damage done with regard to US foreign relations. Am I creating a straw man? Here’s one article from November 5, 2008 which indicates this thought:

“President-elect Barack Obama”—the phrase alone does more to repair the tarnished image of America in the world than any action George W. Bush might ponder taking in his final weeks of power. The very fact of a black president with multinational roots unhinges the terrorists’ recruitment poster of a racist, parochial, Muslim-hating United States. It revives Europeans’ trans-Atlantic dreams just as their own union seems to be foundering. It is bound to inspire reformers everywhere who seek to break through their own socio-political barriers. It revivifies America as a beacon of democracy—not through thumping arrogance and brimstone but, more elegantly and potently, by sheer example.

Then after that, our new president toured around the world pointing out America’s past “arrogance” and apologizing for past behaviors. The whole idea was that if the President would make nice with these other countries, then maybe they won’t hate us so much and maybe they’ll stop doing bad things to America.
Then there’s September 11, 2012. In Libya, the US Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens and three staffers were murdered by protesters. Stevens was working in the country to assist in the transition of power away from Muammar Gadaffi. He was working to help bring peace to the Libyan people when Libyan protesters killed him.
Additionally, in Egypt, protesters attacked the US embassy, tore down the US flag and set it on fire.
I guess at this point, I would ask how that whole “improving foreign relations” thing is working out? A US ambassador murdered on the job hasn’t happened since the Carter administration. (h/t Marc)
So here we have a president who said himself that if he didn’t turn the economy around in three and a half years, he’d be a one-term president. He hasn’t turned it around, and in fact it is worse. So the whole domestic policy and economic policy area isn’t working out too well for President Obama. One of the goals for him was to improve US foreign relations. That hasn’t worked out so well either.
Domestic, foreign, economic. It seems President Obama has hit the failure trifecta.

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Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
9 years ago

The other disturbing factor is that the administration helped to oust Gaddafi. Isn’t it pretty clear that these four men be alive today if Gaddafi had not been overthrown?

KenW
KenW
9 years ago

Patrick,
The blood of the dead is still warm and the “political” blame game starts!
I’ll reserve what is going through my mind at the current moment as I have done work with the U.S. State Department before.
You should be directing your questions to U.S.A. American Company “YouTube” which the U.S. Government and President Obama has no control over.

E. Brynes
E. Brynes
9 years ago

More often than not, these anti-American “protests” by aggrieved Muslims are staged incidents reflecting the manipulation of local political factions. There is little that can be done about them except to see them as the provocations they are. It is those who stage the incidents who deserve attention, especially when, as in the case of Egypt, we’re dishing out foreign aid to them.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Why are we in Libya again?

Phil
Phil
9 years ago

This is from the New York Times this morning:
In Tripoli, Libyan leaders also vowed to track down the attackers and stressed their unity with Washington.
Yussef Magariaf, president of the newly elected Libyan National Congress, offered “an apology to the United States and the Arab people, if not the whole world, for what happened.” He pledged new measures to ensure the security of foreign diplomats and companies. “We together with the United States government are on the same side, standing in a united front in the face of these murderous outlaws.”
This is also from the Times:
After having served as the deputy ambassador during Colonel Qaddafi’s rule, Mr. Stevens became the Obama administration’s main interlocutor to the rebels based in Benghazi who ultimately overthrew him with the help of NATO airstrikes. Mr. Obama rewarded Mr. Stevens with the nomination to become the first ambassador in a post-Qaddafi Libya, and he arrived in May with indefatigable enthusiasm for the country’s prospects as a free, Western-friendly democracy.
“The whole atmosphere has changed for the better,” he wrote in an e-mail to friends and family in July. “People smile more and are much more open with foreigners. Americans, French and British are enjoying unusual popularity. Let’s hope it lasts.”
The first excerpt is a partial answer to Patrick’s question,”I would ask how that whole “improving foreign relations” thing is working out?”
The second is in answer to Monique’s strange comment. This was a dangerous posting for the career diplomat but one he apparently was ready for and looked forward to.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“Why are we in Libya again?”
Good question. Lets start with the President’s energy policy…
A better question might be, isn’t anyone tired of this bullsh#t yet?

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

Why are we in Libya? Why are we in 90% of the countries we’re in?
Here’s an amazing list: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases
Brazil? Portugual? Bulgaria? Italy? Singapore? Japan?
C’mon. Maybe that makes sense back in the day when you’d need a week to get a boat there, but nowadays when we send fighter jets from Iowa to the Middle East and back without every stopping, there’s no need to have US military citizens in these countries anymore.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

@Phil-you have to understand that under Islamic religious doctrine,government and religious authority are inseparable and any “secular”government is subject to the overriding authority of the mullahs.
Kemal Ataturk changed this in Turkey and it lasted for a long time there,but is now turning back to Islamic civil/religious rule.
Benazir Bhutto was a good example of what happens to a political leader in an Islamic country who doesn’t defer to the religious authorities.
We have to understand that we are dealing with a mindset that allows for no compromise-it’s hard for a lot of Americans or non Moslems in general to grasp.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Posted by Patrick
“Maybe that makes sense back in the day when you’d need a week to get a boat there, but nowadays when we send fighter jets from Iowa to the Middle East and back without every stopping, there’s no need to have US military citizens in these countries anymore.”
We can send jets around the world with mid-air refueling, but they need a base when they get there. We cannot consider continually sending “missions” from Iowa to the Middle East.
Many of the bases mentioned control passage by sea in their parts of the world. Notice that we did not fully support black rule in South Africa until the Cold War ended. South Africa controls the narrow passage around the Cape of Good Hope. Although we did require that South Africa “dismantle” it’s nuclear weapons, I understand that they were transferred to Israel. (a “conspiracy theory” perhaps).

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Patrick – Perhaps I have become cynical working in DC, but something I have learned from the Federal government is that departments, agencies, offices, and bases have to be filled with people – lots of people (“If you build it, they will come”). Those people tend to vote for and support those politicians to whom their vocational and financial futures are tied. Close down the hundreds of bases around the world and we’ll have a lot of military personnel and contractors – literally millions of people – very visibily sitting around in the U.S. doing nothing while collecting generous benefits. They may be doing very little on the bases in Germany, Japan, Portugal, etc. now, but out of sight is out of mind to the electorate.

Mike678
Mike678
9 years ago

KenW,
Are you blaming american values (free speech) for extremist actions? Are you saying we should become less free in the US because a bunch of intolerant loons go on a rampage? Or should we instead put the blame where it belongs…on a group of intolerant thugs who murder innocents…

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
9 years ago

I regards to foreign policy, when Mitt Scissorhands Romney hired the GOP party loyalist, and John Bolton protege Richard Grenell, a gay Republican, as his foreign policy spokesman, anti-gay GOP criticism erupted. The pressure on Romney to dump Mr Grenell was immense from the kooks on the right . Scissorhands Romney folded like a cheap lawn chair and the conservative ideologue Grenell was forced to walk the plank.
If the limp-wristed Scissorhands Romney does not have the guts to stand up to the right-wing-nuts in this country, how is going to stand up to the conservative idiots in Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya etc ? ?

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Recycling old spam now, Sammy? At least until now you kept your trolling material fresh.

KenW
KenW
9 years ago

Mike678, No I’m not blaming American values of free speech. In this new world of ours where you are a mouse click away (about 3 sec. max) from spreading over the world you must think about all the ramifications of your intent and how it will be perceived by others. What I’m saying is four American died because somebody in America used that free speech afforded to them to knowingly incite riots which caused the deaths. To immediately assign POLITICAL blame for this tragedy undermines any political party’s credibility to deal with foreign affairs. As the fallout from GOP contender Mitt Romney’s statements are already hitting the fan and blowing back into his face. Now the problem we need to understand was the riots about the film or used as a cover for coordinated attacks on symbolic 9/11 which would be an animal of a different skin. How many people do you know attend protests carrying rocket propelled grenades (RPG)??? Major question is who made the film and uploaded it to YouTube? That last question has been answered and history tells us if you look closely most all major wars were started over religious fights. CNN is reporting the main filmmaker a man identified in the casting call as Sam Bassiel, on the call sheet as Sam Bassil and reported at first by news outlets as Sam Bacile but federal officials consider that man to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud. An entirely different name was filed on the paperwork for the Screen Actors Guild: Abenob Nakoula Bassely. A public records search showed an Abanob B. Nakoula residing at the same address as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Several other aliases, Mark Basseley Youssef, Yousseff M. Basseley, Nicola Bacily and Malid Ahlawi, Thomas J. Tanas, Ahmad… Read more »

ANTHONY
ANTHONY
9 years ago

Hussein the Destroyer…..you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. He is a muslim apologist/appeaser. Incompetence on display with Lady Hillary the Blunderer. Egypt is an ally, Egypt is not an ally…Bushes fault.

Mik6678
Mik6678
9 years ago

Ken..blah blah…. In the end, your diatribe shows you blame the filmmaker for the intolerant violence of others. Who did the filmmaker kill? Do these violent, intolerent clowns not bear any blame? Isn’t the filmmaker showing the violent intolerant nature of these people? Where were you when the Coptic Christians were murdered in Egypt? Sad…

KenW
KenW
9 years ago

Mik6678,
The movie trailers uploaded to YouTube which Muslims are upset about were edited out of the original film, doctored and voice overs by the film producer to show the Prophet Mohammed portrayed as a womanizer, buffoon, ruthless killer and child molester.
Islam forbids all depictions of Mohammed let alone insulting ones that display him as above.
The Coptic Christians; film producer and script consultant lied to the film cast and crew, altered the film extensively in postproduction knowing exactly what they were doing would incite riots which could lead to death and then gained extra distribution support via anti-Islam activists, Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Morris Sadek and Pastor Terry Jones (who sparked deadly riots last year).
The authorities and intelligence analysts are still trying to determine if this was a riot or coordinated planned attack. Libyan authorities have arrested one person already and have three other persons of interest in sight.
However it is turning out that the U.S. State Department as early as September 4 had credible intelligence that planned attacks were in store for 9/11. Ambassador Stevens and staff presence at Benghazi were meant to be confidential. Was he at the wrong place at the wrong time and how is it he did not perceive something might happen on 9/11.
If this new information and security failure to pass information on is fully collaborated then this really had nothing to do with the film but an act of terrorism. But a big SHAME ON YOU U.S. State Department for not protecting your own!
The film is just there stirring up anti-American protests.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Meanwhile back on planet earth…
“‘This Does Not Represent Us’: Moving Photos of Pro-American Rallies in Libya”
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/09/does-not-represent-us-moving-photos-pro-american-rallies-libya/56803/
Phil, spot on. Ironically, neo-cons like some of the folks on this blog want to give these Islamaphobes and murderers incited by them exactly what they want.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Patrick, I must have missed those massive pro-America demonstrations in Libya during the Bush years. Can you provide a link?
btw, I didn’t support that foreign policy decision to project U.S. power in the civil conflict Libya, but let’s at least acknowledge that the majority in Libya supported it.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Sorry to confuse the issue again with the facts, but here goes nothing…
http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2011/11/21-arab-public-opinion-telhami

– While a majority of Arabs polled continue to express unfavorable views of the United States (59%) the number of those who have favorable views of the US has increased from 10% in 2010 to 26% in 2011. This improvement could be related to the perception of the American handling of the Arab Spring, as 24% of those polled identified the US as one of the two countries they believe played the most constructive role in the Arab Spring.
– A majority of Arabs polled (52%) remain discouraged by the Obama administration policy in the Middle East, though this is down from 65% in 2010 and up from only 15% in 2009. A plurality of those polled (43%) have negative views of President Obama while 34% have positive views. This constitutes an improvement from 2010 for Obama, but a decline from 2009.
– When asked about the two steps by the United States that would improve their views of the US the most, 55% said an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and 42% said stopping aid to Israel.

So, Patrick, is your opinion (like my own) that Obama has failed in his foreign policy because of his continued support for Israel and failure to jump start the peace process?
btw, in Libya the U.S. has a 60% approval rating. If you include “Somewhat Favorable” with “Highly Favorable” that number jumps to 90% approval. That’s an incredible statistic given the context of the regional opinions above.
http://www.iri.org/sites/default/files/2011%20December%2019%20Survey%20of%20Eastern%20Libya%20Public%20Opinion,%20October%2012-25,%202011.pdf

Mike678
Mike678
9 years ago

Come on Ken–say it…say it…. Who is responsible for these deaths? The murderers that did the deed in Libya or the filmmaker(s)? You appear to be blaming everyone else besides the murders themselves! Why is that?
They had to do it because it’s their religion? Seriously? It’s also legal to stone women in many of these these countries. Is that OK too?

KenW
KenW
9 years ago

Mike678, It is now known on September 4th Egypt’s General Intelligence Service sent to all Egyptian security sectors, warning that Sinai- and Gaza-based Global Jihad cells were planning attacks on the US and Israeli embassies in Cairo. It is not known or confirmed if that information was passed on to US or Israel. So it was known that Jihad terrorist cells were infiltrating the protesters to the film Innocence of Muslims written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula with intent to incite rioting in the Arab countries. The U.S. intelligence community sent a cable to the embassy in Cairo, Egypt, warning of the concern about the reaction to the anti-Muslim film produced in the US that was gaining attention online 48 hours before the protests in Cairo and in Benghazi, Libya. The cable however was not sent to the embassy in Tripoli, Libya, or the consulate in Benghazi, where protests over the film ended in a deadly attack. U.S. officials have said there was no intelligence ahead of the attack in Benghazi, which intelligence officials still believe was not planned. Ambassador Stevens was supposed to attend an evening function at the Benghazi Hospital but was caught by surprise by the protest and subsequent attack. If he had left earlier for the function he would be alive today. The instigator of all of this is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (alias: Sam Bacile he has over 15 aliases) of Cerritos, CA 90703 is an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian who wrote the movie script while in federal prison, produced the film and distributed the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims which is causing the uproar with Muslims across the world is believed he has acted as a federal informant, was arrested with $45,000 in a paper bag and charged with manufacturing and distribution of PCP, pleaded… Read more »

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Russ-if you think the US is popular in those countries where they are rioting,why not go for a visit and report back?Oh,I forgot-we’re “Islamophobes”.I know quite a few people who left those joyful lands precisely because of the “religion of peace”-and many of them were born into Moslem families.

Mike678
Mike678
9 years ago

Ken,
If you can’t understand the difference between inciting and actual murder, then I feel very sorry for you. We have free speech in this country. I am not going to be muzzled by a bunch of ignorant, intolerant thugs. If you don’t realize the superiority of our laws/culture over theirs,then you don’t deserve it either…

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Joe, I’ve been to Middle East a few times. Never been to North Africa, but I’d go in a heart beat if I could afford it.
btw I was talking about the film makers when I said Islamaphobes. Curious you took that personally.

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