AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS RUDDERLESS IN THE AGE OF OBAMA
North Korea, at once the most heavily armed and least stable country in the world, tears up the 1953 Armistice with its democratic (American ally) to the south. This, following years of military and political provocations; including the sinking a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean submarine in March of 2010. While its hard to take seriously a nation led by a twenty-something dictator who resembles a demented panda bear and pals around with Dennis Rodman; the communist dictatorship has nuclear weapons, is developing a missile capable of hitting Los Angeles, and has in the last few weeks released videos promising to nuke America!
What was President Obama’s strong response to all this?
In Benghazi, Libya, on the anniversary of 9/11 last year, militants with links to al Qaeda attacked the American Consulate. During an 8 hour siege, five Americans were killed; including Ambassador Chris Stevens, the first of our Ambassadors to be so murdered in decades.
What, again, was the President’s response?
China routinely makes cyber attacks upon our military and civilian computers, hacking and stealing information; some of which has deep national security implications (such as our Top Secret military technology). This, while they have launching their first aircraft carrier as the start of their goal of building a “Blue Water” navy; and are unilaterally seizing disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Just what is the President doing in response to Chinese provocations?
In February two Russian bombers, armed with nuclear weapons, flew into American airspace and over the Island of Guam. They withdrew before scrambled American jet
fighters could intercept them. This is widely seen as another example of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin reasserting his country’s global power and traditional confrontational stance toward the United States.
So much for Hillary Clinton’s famous “restart” of relations between Russian and America. What Putin seems intent on restarting is the Cold War!
Again, the question is: Where is Obama?
The answer in all these cases is that the Administration’s response was to have no response.
It seems that the Obama administration’s answer to difficult foreign policy challenges is to largely ignore them and hope they go unnoticed. Its an ostrich strategy: burying ones head in the sand, refusing to look at a threat rather than dealing with it.
As the Middle East burns and Asia smolders Americans wonder where is the President. Foreign policy in the Obama Age seems rudderless, as the President spends his time playing golf and politics rather than his job as Commander in Chief and Leader of the Free World. In his second term it is increasingly a “Where’s Waldo” presidency, with Obama nowhere to be seen on foreign policy.
As Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post was already noting in his first term, Obama the lion of the campaign trail seems a tame housecat on the world stage.
‘For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.’
Its an increasingly dangerous world for America and her friends. Made more dangerous do to a lack of American leadership.
Al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups have spread violence from the Philippine Islands to sub-Saharan Africa (and, thanks largely to the late unlamented Hugo Chavez, Hezbollah has set up training camps in South America as well). In Mali, Al Qaeda was well on the way to taking over that country, having already established its own government in the northern part. In absence of American action, it took the French (!) to finally intervene in order to prevent such a disastrous contingency.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country in the world, has been taken over by the radical Muslim Brotherhood, the intellectual father of Al Qaeda. It has all but torn-up the Camp David Accords that brought peace with Israel; cutting off normal relations while its President, Mohammed Morsi, calls the Israelis (and Jews in general) “bloodsuckers” and “the descendants of apes and pigs.” Meanwhile, in the streets of Cairo mobs attack our embassy, burning our flag while Morsi does nothing.
President Obama’s response?
To cut off (or threaten to cut off) foreign aid to Egypt? No. To recall our Ambassador in protest? No. Waldo’s government took the bold step of giving the Egyptians 20 of our top fighter jets, as well as 200 of our all-but-unstoppable M-1 Abrams super-tanks!
Bet that makes our Israeli allies feel more secure.
Syria has become a killing field, with Iran and Russia supporting the bloody dictator, Assad, while the Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates support the insurgents. This is part of the larger bid by Iran for hegemony in the Middle East, as well as our “restarted” friend Vladimir’s attempt to make Russia again relevant in the region (something it hasn’t been since the fall of the Soviet Union).
Speaking of Iran, the clock is ticking down as it grows ever closer to building its first nuclear weapon. It already has missiles capable of hitting Israel, which it has promised to destroy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned repeatedly that when Iran’s bomb is on the verge of going critical, Israel will act; with or without America.
So, where’s Waldo?
Playing golf with Tiger.
It is ironic that a man who campaigned so hard and successfully to be President of the United States doesn’t seem to really want the job. That a guy who is now Commander in Chief of the world’s mightiest military only wants to disband it and make war on Republicans.
Second terms are notoriously tricky for all Presidents, who loose relevance as their time in the White House runs down and they become lame ducks. This is the first President in my memory who has made himself irrelevant, on the world stage, by the end of his first term. By “leading from behind”, Obama has made America irrelevant.