Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that I think US foreign policy is now, and has for a long time, been sophomoric. It is not something that originated with Barack Obama, not by a long shot, but it is also nothing Obama has reconciled his administration to improve upon. Worse, US foreign policy may be an even greater disaster today than at any other time in our post-World War II experience. I believe this because the stakes are much higher than at any other time since 1945.


We are used to politicians handing out empty promises by the dozens. We mostly aren't paying attention anyway, and this explains why Americans never seem to make the connection between a president taking our country to war, and the thousands of American soldiers coming home in caskets. We are talking about real people, not televised statistics, who gave up their lives because they promised to serve their country in the Armed Forces. They have parents, sweethearts, wives, and children of their own; many people feel the loss of a single soldier.

Occasionally, war is necessary; too often, it is not. Taking America to war, even half-assed as President Bush did in 2003, has devastating consequences beyond the economic strain. At some point, the American people must come to the realization that our young warriors are a precious resource; we must not waste them frivolously. Sending our troops into battle is an indication that our diplomatic efforts failed. It should tell us that we need better men and women at the helm of the Department of State. We need better individuals serving as president. Notice I did not say “smarter people.” I said “better people;” wiser individuals; people who understand the devastation that results from failed foreign policy.
Mr. Obama told us that in his administration, the United States would seek a partnership relationship with other nations. There is nothing wrong with partnerships. The problem resides in the fact that the United States is not looking for friendships in the world of nations, as if we are looking for playmates. We are looking for other nations with shared interests, with whom we can establish mature relationships. Our presidents and Secretaries of State seem confused about this.

Mr. Obama, and others, seek short-term successes—evidenced by the fact that Mr. Obama wants his policies to appeal to a wide political base. This is very much similar to an analogy I saw recently over at Geeez. Mr. Obama wants to be King of the Prom. I simply wish he’d be an American president. The “prom thing” doesn’t appear to be working after four years; it isn’t working in Syria, Iran, North Africa, or with Israel, who can’t even get a date to the prom. One wonders how long things have to be so bad before a light bulb comes on inside Mr. Obama’s head. Where is that smooth, sophisticated, intelligent man overwhelmingly elected by the American people?

He never existed in the first place.

Our foreign policy situation is getting worse by the day. It isn't simply a matter of covering up events in Libya, although it was bad enough. No, it is also a matter of downsizing the Department of Defense to increase available funds for domestic socialist programs. Does Mr. Obama, or anyone with a lick of sense, think our enemy isn't watching this farce? Where is that basic understanding that an enemy will pounce when they believe it is in their advantage to do so? Can we sustain the additional loss of diplomatic personnel or expensive embassies?

Why are we trying to make nice with people who have categorically stated that we are their enemy? What advantage does the United States have to speak with representatives of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, of the Muslim Brotherhood? More importantly, how do we ever convince another country that the US is a trustworthy ally following the debacle with Hosni Mubarak?

When we are dealing with an area or region of the world that still thinks removing men’s heads (or women’s genitals) is an acceptable behavior, how do we advance our agenda or our nation’s prestige by apologizing for previous president’s policies?

How is it possible to maintain a world leadership role from the back of the bus? How do we appear to others as a mature, thoughtful, honorable people when our president keeps spiking the bin-Laden football at every opportunity? How do we maintain national dignity when our representatives are such people as Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright, and Warren Christopher?

Finally, how do we appear to others in the world when we cull out anyone who has the temerity to speak out against fundamentalist Islam, berate them publicly  fire them from government service, all at the behest of groups with ties to Islamic extremism? Appeasement has never worked in the court of international opinion, and it certainly doesn't work here at home. Nevertheless, this is what we have now in the United States.

US foreign policy is an utter disaster. It didn't begin with Barack Obama; but it must end with Barack Obama.

Updated thanks to Tocsin

26 comments:

  1. "US foreign policy is an utter disaster. It didn't begin with Barack Obama; but it must end with Barack Obama."

    Obama's foreign policy has been , by and large, inept and ultimately damaging to our national interests. But sadly, as evidenced by Romney's foreign policy positions, it will continue....marking at least three consecutive Administrations following the same path.

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  2. Beginning with the Vietnam war, politicians waged the wars, not the military. Unless one plans on winning, why do we go there? Telling our enemies when we are leaving is sure madness.

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  3. I find it very difficult to respect ANY elected public servant or any appointed public servant who shills for his agenda on entertainment shows, particularly the late-night shows. Such appearances as entertainers demean our political system and our political process -- yes, governance itself.

    It seems to me that we are completely losing the understanding that governance is a serious business, not something to be yukking it up about on television.

    More to the point of this blog post, I am APPALLED that President Obama went on Comedy Central's The Daily Show to discuss foreign policy, Benghazi-gate in particular.

    Politics has devolved nearly to the point of being a circus! A side show! Never mind that lives are in the balance in every possible way.

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  4. "At some point, the American people must come to the realization that our young warriors are a precious resource; we must not waste them frivolously."

    Amen. And bellicose conservatives need to learn this as much as anybody.

    I have come to the conclusion that since we cannot fight a war the General Tecumseh Sherman way, we should stay out of it.

    Too many on our side are more than ready to sacrifice others to invade Iran or whatever other idiotic ideas they have on their minds.

    Beware people beating war drums who have never been to war.

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  5. You mean Mittens, Silver?

    How's your Farsi?

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  6. "At some point, the American people must come to the realization that our young warriors are a precious resource; we must not waste them frivolously."

    I couldn't agree more, Sam. It would be nice if we could find some adults to send to Washington.

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  7. "At some point, the American people must come to the realization that our young warriors are a precious resource; we must not waste them frivolously."

    You've GOT to be kidding. W/O a war to fight, you would prefer our military train in simulators? Only one thing keeps them on top, the fact that they regularly go, "in harms way."

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  8. ...America's foreign policy IS the issue. Defense policy is but one (albeit major) aspect of it.

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  9. FJ, they can get ALL the practice they need---on OUR borders!

    Sam, you mentioned Condoleezza Rice. I hope you meant Susan Rice?

    If and when we ever get a few politicians that WORK FOR US, instead of campaigning for re-election right from day 1, we MIGHT stand a chance of getting something done RIGHT for a change! We certainly did NOT see that happen lately!

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  10. I'm interested in the meme that's developed around those serving in the military. The "support the troops" idea.

    No it is well and proper to say that the military should be given the means to accomplish their mission with dispatch. But to float this jingoistic Lee Greenwood rhetoric because you can't talk about the bullshit mission is quite another thing.

    Is Sam (Warren?) suggesting that we get into a war with Iran? Put troops in Syria? Or just bomb and kill a bunch more innocent people who don't count because they aren't evangelical Christians?

    All this talk but it is extremely difficult to get an image of what you think is reasonably possible?
    What's a sound foreign policy?

    Do everything Likud tells us to do so that we can establish our "moral leadership" in the world? Yes, you are that comic.

    Bash thousands of Muslims whenever a rogue sect acts against us? In other words ignore the many Muslims who would like to be on good terms with the U.S. because the fringe right has a pathological paranoia about Islam?

    Yes, attack the nations that harbor practitioners of clitorectomy. Does that include Israel where it is practiced by Ethiopian Jews?

    Rather than whining, why not try to establish your vision and maybe find out you have points in common with others? But you can't do that, can you?

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  11. AA …

    No, I meant Condoleezza Rice. We have influential policy makers that appear guided by their hearts, rather than their heads. Dr. Rice made the erroneous assumption that “Palestinian Democracy” in some way equates to its western definition. It does not. And so when Rice “insisted” that the Palestinian people democratically decide who should lead them, they democratically elected a terrorist state. How that result advances American interests is beyond me …

    One should wonder, “How credible is US foreign policy when, on the one hand, it condemns terrorist states, and on the other propagates them.” The point is that we can, and we must do better in the formulation and implementation of US foreign policy. I never once mentioned it would be easy.

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  12. @ Ducky

    … why not try to establish your vision and maybe find out you have points in common with others? But you can't do that, can you?

    Coming from you, this could be the best example of hypocrisy in the last 100 years. But I am not surprised.

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  13. @ CI

    I was very unhappy with Romney’s “foreign policy” performance. I didn’t expect much, given he has never previously been in that position, so I wasn’t disappointed per se … but when he had the opportunity to bring the issue to the level of an adult conversation, all he did was stutter and further confuse the issue. He said to Obama, “Attacking me isn’t a policy.” He was right about that. And neither is criticizing Obama a policy that he intends to follow, if elected. I don’t want to see an isolationist country; neither do I want our government wasting money creating nations at locations where nations have never existed.

    I thought the shooting of the 11-year-old girls was a sad event, but it was Laura Bush who set this into motion when she went to Afghanistan and told these women that they can be free. It was a damn lie. They can’t be free, beginning from the moment when the last US soldier leaves Afghanistan, for another 2,000 years. As I mentioned above, we have influential people injecting emotion into an area that demands objectivity. Afghanistan isn’t ripe for the adoption of western values.

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  14. @ Silverfiddle

    I’m not certain we can lambast bellicose republicans as catalysts for war in Afghanistan and Iraq when democrats overwhelmingly supported funding legislation. I suspect the reason for this rather substantial bipartisan effort is that in 2001, 2003, and 2006, 60-70% of the American people supported the effort to bash the heads of those who attacked us on 9/11. Voting for war was another emotional vs. objective reaction to fundamentalism by a small number of people. Yes, we had to do something, but in my view, we dispatched our sophisticated military to stamp out a few cockroaches.

    We can argue whether Iraq had anything to do with “international terrorism,” which became Mr. Bush’s mantra, but we cannot find fault with the notion that Moslems were easier to kill in Iraq than they were hiding in the Hindu Kush. We killed a bunch of fundamentalists, but I submit it is easier to kill people than it is the ideas so prolifically propagated by extremist madrassas. Our foreign policy has been ill considered.

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  15. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday endorsed Barack Obama's bid for re-election, citing the Democratic president's efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan and tackle terrorism as well as an improving U.S. economy.

    ... what a surprise this is!

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  16. There was an interesting item from Efraim Halevy a day ago in the NY Times called "Who Threw Israel Under the Bus?"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/opinion/who-threw-israel-under-the-bus.html?_r=0

    Halevy was director of the Mossad from 1998 to 2002 and the national security adviser from October 2002 to June 2003.

    It is rather thought provoking and puts great perspective on the subject.

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  18. Great thread. Some solid, intelligent discourse for a change.

    Corrections needed to make the author more credible:

    It was Madeleine ALBRIGHT not Albrecht

    Also Warren Christopher not Christopher Warren

    Tocsin

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  19. @ Tocsin

    Thank you very much for pointing out those errors. I have made corrections.

    Sam

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  20. "Obama has handled foreign policy almost flawlessly."

    AAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

    Thanks for the chuckle liberalboyy.

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  21. Can THIS be true?

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered additional security for the U.S. mission in Benghazi ahead< of the terrorist attack but the orders were never carried out...

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  22. Average American,
    We administrators occasionally let Liberalmann's comments remain for comic relief.

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  23. It may be true that Clinton is attempting to cook up plausible deniability, but I don't think it’s true that Clinton ordered an increase in security for Benghazi. The woman detests military personnel. As first lady, she once complained that the aircrews on Air Force One were wearing uniforms.

    We have a whacko in charge of the State Department. It is a likely consequence of electing Barack Obama as president in 2008.

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  24. Obama's foreign policy in Afghanistan is more then failed it's outright folly and foolishness. That is eventhough the Taliban have time and time again prove by their own actions that the are nothing but a group of ruthless thugs with not honor and would only keep their word in anything that they might promise. They would keep their word only as long as it would suit them and no longer. In spite of the facts Obama still feels and is very willing to make void all the brave sacrifices that the US troop have made in that country because his has the delusion that some worthwhile alliance between the Karzai goverment and the Talibancan be made. Just how unrealistic get Obama get?
    It would be a good idea for the people in the Karzai goverment to heed the wisdom of Sun Tzu in THE ART OF WAR. Which teaches "We cannot enter into an alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs."
    To put this in a more current and updated way it may be said that "We cannot enter into an alliance with the Taliban until we are acquainted with their designs."
    With the Taliban we all may be sure that their intentions are evil.

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  26. I am reluctant to think the 3rd debate actually portrayed Romney's position on foreign policy. I am not saying he lied exactly. I just think he gave Obama nothing to shoot at.

    Maybe this is vain hope but I agree with all the posts here in that if we proceed as we have been in foreign policy we are screwed.

    I see Romney as picking a good team of folks. For instance he picks Ryan because our economic policy is a disaster and Ryan has heard the courage to try to tackle the problem in a room filled with senior folks.

    Because of this, I think there is reason to have hope he will pick someone with courage for foreign policy.

    Romney is still an unknown in some ways but we are certain of failure if we continue.

    Here is thing. If Romney gets elected its on us to do more than trade insults on this page. If he gets elected it time we start communicating with our elected representatives.

    If America fails it is our fault.

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