Obama's Foreign Policy
David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post, "... foreign policy could actually be President Barack Obama's strong suit as he campaigns next year." American Thinker asked foreign policy experts if they agreed.
Candidate Obama in 2008 criticized President George W. Bush for being a unilateralist and having an attitude of America First through superiority. Obama called for a change in the way foreign affairs is conducted through his concept of diplomatic engagement, having bilateral support for resolving conflicts. The US should be part of a globalized world, engaging rogue states without preconditions. The experts interviewed considered different areas of the world in answering the question: Is the United States better off, worse off, or the same regarding foreign affairs since Obama became President?
The War On Terror
The attitude of those interviewed, is that they would give President Obama a sliver of success in this arena because he was able to take out high value terrorist targets. As Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee summarized, the President should be given credit for abandoning his theories and adopting many Bush policies; yet, this strategy of not taking prisoners means there is not much intelligence gathered. On the other hand, when intelligence is gained, as in the Bin Laden raid, it was quickly made public. Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA cannot understand "why this administration releases so much information. We got a cache of information from the Bin Laden raid and I am thinking 'why are you saying that?'" Ambassador James Woolsey, another former CIA Director, answered, "when this administration does this it is not just strange, but idiotic."
Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FLA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is disappointed that the President has decided to completely withdraw all troops against the advice of the military commanders. He cites the fact that America released Ali Musa Daqduq, a terrorist associated with Hezb'allah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard, to the Iraqi government. Rooney is also upset that the President gave up the debate with the Iraqi Prime Minister as to which country would be responsible for prosecuting American soldiers if they were suspected of getting into trouble. Rooney feels that in both cases the President should have been tougher, that he could have leaned on the Iraqis privately, and "that he is not a good negotiator. What kind of message does this send, especially to Iran, who has an interest in Iraq? This was one place I thought we had a chance of a partnership." Instead, the experts see this withdrawal as telling those around the world that America can be pushed around.
As with Iraq the President has ignored military advice for political reasons, keeping a campaign promise as he runs for re-election. Woolsey strongly emphasizes, "There was no reason to have the surge and to press to withdraw a vast amount of fighters by next September, making them unavailable during the fighting season. The only reason to pull out that large a number of troops so early is that he wanted people to see on television a month or so before the election pictures of troops coming home. This could prove to be a disastrous decision. With Iraq and Afghanistan there is a very good chance he is going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."
Then there is this administration's decision to negotiate indirectly with the Taliban terrorist, Mullah Omar, pursuing the policy of engaging the enemy. Hayden explained, "Once the administration decided that the way out of this is a political settlement, that you are not going to totally win this on the battlefield, you have to talk to people. However, with the American commitment to withdraw forces, the enemy knows that you will be less strong tomorrow than you are today. That's hardly an incentive for them to negotiate seriously now."
This arena can be considered another failure. Congressman Rogers summarized to American Thinker that nations are confused and told of a meeting with a very senior Middle Eastern intelligence official who stated, "tell us what your foreign policy is; we don't understand it."
The President reached out, as part of his policy, and asked the Iranians to return the UAV they had captured. Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) serves on the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations. He believes that this was yet another example of making America look weak and foolish since "there was never a chance that Iran would return the lollipop. Let's not forget that Iran planned and almost pulled off a blatant political assassination in Washington DC." Woolsey argues that Obama's attempts to negotiate have allowed the Iranians time to develop a nuclear weapon. He does not understand "why this administration is dragging its feet on sanctioning Iran's Central Bank. They are behaving as if they are getting ready to live with an Iranian nuclear weapon, which will change the whole picture in the Middle East. Iran will have a lot more power behind their threats to dominate the region. This policy has been absolutely worse than worthless." All interviewed agree that the dealings with Iran are a failure since there is a pattern of disrespect for America.Pakistan
A former high-ranking CIA official explained that under the Bush Administration there were decent relations. The Bush policy was to find a way to work together, that they were able to find people who were willing to work with America. However, they were not naïve and did not trust those in the Pakistani military or intelligence. Congressman Rooney sees the relationship deteriorating since Obama become President. He relays the story that during a recent trip, "Pakistan told us to our face they plan on swapping out our relationship with a Chinese relationship. Now our relationship is just horrible. Before we had a relationship where we were comfortable with each other. We need to send a message that this is a two way street. The US should give aid to the Pakistani intelligence and military in exchange for cooperation." If not, Pakistan will become a failed state with nuclear weapons, which will be based on a failed foreign policy.
It appears that the Obama Administration has betrayed a long-standing ally. They make Israel feel as if America does not have its back. Elliott Abrams, a former Bush Middle Eastern advisor, feels that President Obama has managed to achieve very poor relations with both the Arab and Israeli governments. The relations with Israel are terrible since this administration has decided to force Israel to make concessions without a quid pro quo from the Palestinians. Abrams recounts, "Obama started out with his speech in Cairo where he did not visit Israel. This gave Israelis the impression that he was pro-Arab and that the President did not understand their situation at all. He also had a miserable relationship with the Israeli Prime Minister from the first day. Remember Obama became President first and then Bibi Netanyahu came in a couple of months later. So it wasn't as if he had done anything that infuriated Obama and the White House. The day he came into office they were hostile to him. Obama has a completely bizarre policy, demanding a complete construction freeze of the settlements which no other President has ever done as a pre-condition for negotiations. The criticism has been completely unbalanced."
Abrams sees this policy as a complete failure. Furthermore, "The President does not have close relations with any of the foreign leaders unlike Clinton and Bush. He seems to hold himself aloof. Personal relationships matter and either he does not care much about them or he is not good at them." Woolsey agrees and goes further saying that Newt Gingrich has it correct, that "the Palestinians are an invented people. President Obama is being nice to the Palestinians, never criticizing them; yet, leaning hard on our ally, Israel, which has produced absolutely nothing useful."
With the death of President Kim Jong II will President Obama be able to do something he has not done for the past three years, establish some kind of diplomatic relationship? Hayden sees that Jong's death will result in instability over the issue of succession. Since the regime will be focused on internal matters there will be no time for external negotiations. However, Hayden does refer to Kim Jong Un as "his father's son." Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, sees the policy toward "the bullies of the world, the outlaws, the North Koreans and Iranians, as a failure. They don't fear us. The world is a more dangerous and insecure place."
The experts point to a number of instances in the last few years where China has shown a lack of respect for the US. They do not play by the rules, having an "in your face" incident when the military unveiled a stealth jet during Secretary of Defense Gate's visit. There is also the attempt by the Chinese to dominate the South China Sea as well as recently imposing tariffs on American SUV's coming into their country. Hayden does not view China as an enemy; yet, also sees the need to have a strong American presence in the surrounding areas in order to "make it more difficult for the Chinese to do something they or we will regret in the future."
A high-ranking former CIA official is worried that America is way too dependent on creditors such as China, fearing it creates a fragile national security. He stated, "We should not be indebted to another country since they hold power over us. We need China more than we should, which means we sacrifice leverage. This is not a good position to be in."
All interviewed scoff at the supposed "re-set," defining re-set as cuddling. For example, the Russians were able to get this Administration to concede the placement of the missile defense program in Poland and the Czech Republic; even though it would have countered anything Iran develops.
Congressman Rogers told American Thinker that at the end of a meeting a Russian General commented; "Its great to see this Administration admitting you are a nation in decline."
President Obama has failed to stand up to Russia or create a mutual relationship. He loses the tough negotiations because he is constantly negotiating from a position of weakness. Congressman Rogers cites the uncooperativeness of both Russia and China in the handling of Iran. Since Obama has become President, the relationship with Russia has been a set back, not a re-set.
Everyone interviewed agrees with Congressman Rooney that Europe no longer knows what role America plays in the world and no longer "looks at us at the shining city on the hill."
Congressman Rogers told of an incident where a bust of Winston Churchill, sent to America during the George W. Bush Administration to symbolize century old allies standing together, was packed up and returned by President Obama. He used this example to show an overall policy of insulting friends.
Border Nations: Canada and Mexico
President Obama certainly has not done anything to bolster the relationship with America's border nations. Congressman Poe cannot understand why Obama chose to lose the opportunity of working with a close and stable ally. The Keystone Pipeline project would have ended up in his district, creating more American jobs and allowing the oil to come from Canada instead of Saudi Arabia. He wonders if President Obama's reasons for the delay, requiring an environmental review, are seen by the Canadians as an insult, since "no one has ever accused Canada of being a polluting nation. If any nation does it in an environmentally safe way it is the Canadians."
Congressman Gosar, whose State borders Mexico, sees America's relationship worsening. There are the drug cartels, which move freely in and out of the US because of an unsecured border, and the debacle of putting guns into the hands of known criminals, which caused at least 200 Mexican casualties. Then there is the lifting of the moratorium on drug laundering money by this administration. He noted, "this President misuses facts and lies about them. For example, the administration said that the moratorium was lifted with the cooperation of Mexico; yet, Calderon, the Mexican President, is vehemently denying it and saying 'we don't know what you are talking about.' We had an opportunity to build up this relationship and instead are tearing it down."
The way this administration deals with America's border nations is to avoid making tough decisions, never wanting to be held accountable, and lacking transparency.
The consensus of those interviewed is that America has a precarious position in many areas of the world and after thinking long and hard could not come up with too many parts of the world where the US is better off since Obama became President. As Congressman Poe clearly stated, "It seems to be a trend to treat our enemies better than we treat our allies. Instead of negotiating from a position of strength we negotiate from a position of timidity, a policy that is the antipathy of President Reagan." Despite his rhetoric as a Presidential candidate that blamed President Bush's policy and style, going nation-by-nation Obama's foreign policy is a failure. There cannot be anything worse for foreign affairs than if Obama is re-elected, except Ron Paul becoming President.