November 23, 2010
Has U.S. Foreign Policy Ever Been This Screwed Up?
American foreign policy is in a state of total disarray. I don't think that our foreign policy has been in straits this dire since the early 1960s, when we rushed headlong from the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis straight into Vietnam. At least then our foreign policy was consistent in its anti-communism. Today's is incoherent, counterproductive, and sometimes downright idiotic (e.g., when Hillary Clinton went to Russia to push the "reset button"). The Obama administration is either doing nothing to preempt the coming disasters or actually making them worse. It's time for a full-blown, radical reevaluation of our foreign policy.
Let's look around the world at several case studies to see just how much trouble we could be in for:
Afghanistan: The Russians must be laughing their tails off watching the U.S. get stuck in Afghanistan, just as they did in 1979. But the deaths of American service personnel in a pointless war to prop up a corrupt and incompetent government aren't very funny. Invading Afghanistan was the right thing to do in 2001 when we went after Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network, but we should have been out of there by 2004, when the war seemed like a total success.
Here is the situation: al-Qaeda fled from Afghanistan long ago to nuclear-armed Pakistan, where we can't go after them. The Taliban has now been defined as the enemy -- but the Taliban never plotted or carried out any terrorist attacks against the U.S.
President Obama -- who is "uncomfortable" using the term "victory" in Afghanistan -- said that we would withdraw troops in 2011. That was a lie. Now he says we'll be out by 2014. That's simply crazy. The U.S. defense budget last year was $660 billion. If we cannot defeat illiterate tribesmen who lack tanks, aircraft, or uniforms after nine years of fighting with a half-trillion-dollar defense budget, something is very wrong. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former field commander in Afghanistan, once said, "We can't kill our way out of this." If a top commander admits that we cannot win a war by killing the enemy, why are we still there -- and why are we committing our forces for another four years?
Iraq: Iraq had been a festering sore in the Middle East for two decades when we invaded in 2003, rightly fearing that Saddam still possessed the chemical and biological weapons we knew he had -- and used - in the 1980s. Left-wing critics of George W. Bush immediately politicized the war and accused Bush of shedding "blood for oil." Too bad that wasn't true. After spending four thousand American lives and billions of dollars deposing a ruthless dictator, the very least we should have gotten out of the deal was a tanker a day full of Iraqi oil and ninety-nine-cent gasoline. But we didn't get even that. George W. took a Wilsonian turn and decided that the war was all about establishing Iraqi democracy. Bad idea. Iraq somehow turned out a European-style parliamentary democracy (why not an American presidential system?) that has severe difficulty forming governments. Instead of a pro-American regional ally and a guaranteed oil supply, we get P.C. blather from our government about green jobs, electric cars, and Iraqi democracy.
Iran: The theocratic dictatorship of Iran was created in 1979, when Islamic radicals overthrew the Shah, seized the U.S. Embassy, and held 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days. Night after night, the blindfolded hostages were paraded before screaming mobs chanting "death to the Great Satan" and burning the American flag in the streets of Tehran. The U.S. has not had diplomatic relations with Iran for thirty years and has named Iran to the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
Today, Iran is enriching uranium in violation of International Atomic Energy Agency (an arm of the U.N.) protocols, ostensibly to build an innocent nuclear power plant. According to the IAEA, every nation on earth has the right to a nuclear power plant. We would gladly give Iran enriched uranium for a "power plant" because the level of enrichment for that application cannot possibly be used for a nuclear bomb. By maintaining an indigenous enrichment capability, Iran will be able to enrich to the 80%-90% weapons-grade level. Iran is unquestionably working on the bomb.
What could the Iranians do with the bomb? At the very least, they could threaten to nuke any ship passing out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, thereby obtaining immediate control over oil from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The global economy would be paralyzed overnight. At worst, the Iranians could give a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group, who could detonate it in one of the "Great Satan's" cities. Nuclear terrorists would not leave the telltale radar signature of an intercontinental ballistic missile to divulge the origin of the bomb; the Iranians would shrug and say, "We have no idea how that happened!" If such an event actually transpired, does anyone seriously believe President Obama would order a nuclear counterstrike on the mere suspicion that the Iranians might have been responsible?
On the other hand, if we preemptively strike Iran to destroy its enrichment program, the Iranians will surely try to close the Strait of Hormuz and cripple the world economy anyway. It's a no-win situation. Don't worry, though -- Obama's policy toward the Iranians is to apologize for the CIA's involvement in overthrowing socialist weirdo Mohammed Mossadegh -- all the way back in 1953. (Yeah, Barry, that'll stop 'em from getting nuclear weapons for sure.)
NATO: Almost a decade after the 9/11 attacks were committed by Muslim terrorists and after nine years of combat in two Muslim countries, President Obama insists that "we are not at war with Islam." But we are, apparently, still fighting the Cold War. As the leading member of NATO, we have troops in Europe nearly twenty years after the Soviet Union collapsed. Why?
Perhaps the name of NATO should be changed to EROUS -- for "Europeans Ripping Off Uncle Sam." We have trade deficits with all our major NATO partners (except for the Netherlands), meaning we give them our money and pay for their defense. The U.S. defense budget is $660 billion, or 4.7% of GDP; Great Britain, our most important NATO ally, spends $69 billion, or 2.5% of GDP. Germany's defense budget is $48 billion, a piddling 1.3% of GDP. NATO "ally" Iceland has no army at all. Media reports that refer to "NATO forces" in Afghanistan are a joke. Britain and Canada have fought valiantly in Afghanistan (as have non-NATO Australians), but for the rest of our "allies," the Afghan mission is more like a Boy Scout camp-out on Uncle Sam's dime.
Today, NATO is an alliance without a purpose. NATO is a collective-defense alliance, meaning that American troops are committed to die for the defense of other members -- like Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. After the collapse of the USSR, we -- incredibly-- expanded, not disbanded, the alliance. Today, NATO even includes Albania. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
The Rest of the World: Sixty-five years after World War II ended, we still have troops in Japan. The U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy are the de facto defense forces of Japan, the third-richest nation in the world. Why? China's $100-billion defense budget is now the second-largest in the world. The Chinese are developing anti-aircraft-carrier missile technology that could end American hegemony of the seas. Where do they get the money? From us -- our trade deficit is about $250 billion per annum, and the Chinese now hold $2.4 trillion of our $13.5-trillion national debt. American troops have been in Korea continuously for sixty years; today, North Korea has nuclear weapons, and its reclusive dictator Kim Jong-il could be mentally ill. Pakistan is a seething cauldron of fanatics. It already has nuclear weapons and is probably harboring Osama bin Laden. Terrorists assassinated presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto and attacked the Red Mosque and the headquarters of the Pakistani military. Ten per cent of Mexico's population has emigrated illegally to the U.S., but we have failed to seal the border. Mexico is descending into third-world gangland anarchy right on our doorstep, but Washington chose to sue Arizona for asking suspected illegals for I.D.
An honest appraisal of the situation is downright depressing. In a few years, everything might come unglued. Hopefully that won't happen, but the current trajectory of things doesn't look very good, and our political leadership seems absolutely clueless about how to advance American interests in an increasingly dangerous world.