April 1, 2014
Many people are lamenting the bad consequences of Barack Obama's foreign policy, and some are questioning his competence.
There is much to lament, and much to fear. Multiple setbacks to American interests have been brought on by Obama's policies in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Crimea and -- above all -- in what seems almost certain to become a nuclear Iran in the very near future.
The president's public warning to Syria of dire consequences if the Assad regime there crossed a "red line" he had drawn seemed to epitomize an amateurish bluff that was exposed as a bluff when Syria crossed that red line without suffering any consequences. Drawing red lines in disappearing ink makes an international mockery of not only this president's credibility, but also the credibility of future American presidents' commitments.
When some future President of the United States issues a solemn warning internationally, and means it, there may be less likelihood that the warning will be taken seriously. That invites the kind of miscalculation that has led to wars.
Many who are disappointed with what seem to be multiple fiascoes in President Obama's foreign policy question his competence and blame his inexperience. Such critics may be right, but it is by no means certain that they are.
Like those who are disappointed with Barack Obama's domestic policies, critics of his foreign policy may be ignoring the fact that you cannot know whether someone is failing or succeeding without knowing what he is trying to do.
Whether Obamacare, for example, is a success or a failure, depends on whether you think the president's goal is to improve the medical treatment of Americans or to leave as his permanent legacy a system of income redistribution, through Obamacare, and tight government control of the medical profession.
Much, if not most, of the disappointment with Barack Obama comes from expectations based on his words, rather than on an examination of what he has done over his lifetime before reaching the White House.
His words were glowing.
He is a master of rhetoric, image and postures. He was so convincing that many failed to connect the dots of his past life that pointed in the opposite direction from his words. "Community organizers," for example, are not uniters but dividers -- and former community organizer Obama has polarized this country, despite his rhetoric about uniting us.
Many were so mesmerized by both the man himself and the euphoria surrounding the idea of "the first black president" that they failed to notice that there were any dots, much less any need to connect them.
One dot alone -- the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose church the Obamas attended for 20 years -- would have been enough to sink any other presidential bid by anyone who was not in line to become "the first black president."
The painful irony is that Jeremiah Wright was just one in a series of Obama's mentors hostile to America, resentful of successful Americans, and convinced that America had too much power internationally, and needed to be brought down a peg.
Anti-Americanism was the rule, not the exception, among Obama's mentors over the years, beginning in his childhood. When the young Obama and his mother lived in Indonesia, her Indonesian husband wanted her to accompany him to social gatherings with American businessmen -- and was puzzled when she refused.
He reminded her that these were her own people. According to Barack Obama's own eyewitness account, her voice rose "almost to a shout" when she replied:
"They are not my people."
Most of Barack Obama's foreign policy decisions since becoming president are consistent with this mindset. He has acted repeatedly as a citizen of the world, even though he was elected to be President of the United States.
Virtually every major move of the Obama administration has reduced the power, security and influence of America and its allies. Cutbacks in military spending, while our adversaries have increased their military buildups, ensure that these changes to our detriment will continue, even after Barack Obama has left the White House.
Is that failure or success?
Japan recently turned over to the United States enough weapons-grade nuclear material to make dozens of nuclear bombs. This was one of President Barack Obama's few foreign policy "successes," as part of his nuclear disarmament initiative. But his foreign policy successes may be more dangerous than his "failures." Back in 2005, Senator Barack Obama urged the Ukrainians to drastically reduce their conventional weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles and tons of ammunition. Ukraine had already rid itself of nuclear missiles, left over from the days when it had been part of the Soviet Union.
Would Vladimir Putin have sent Russian troops so boldly into Ukraine if the Ukrainians still had nuclear missiles? The nuclear disarming of Japan and Ukraine shows how easy it is to disarm peaceful nations -- making them more vulnerable to those who are not peaceful.
Ukraine's recent appeal to the United States for military supplies, with which to defend itself as more Russian troops mass on its borders, was denied by President Obama. He is sending food supplies instead. He might as well send them white flags, to facilitate surrender.
Critics who say that President Obama is naive and inexperienced in foreign policy, and blame that for the many setbacks to American interests during this administration may be right. But it is by no means certain that they are.
Another and more disturbing possibility is that Barack Obama, in his citizen-of-the-world conception of himself, thinks that the United States already has too much power and needs to be deflated. Rush Limbaugh, Dinesh D'Souza and some other critics have seen Obama's repeated sacrifices of American national interests as deliberate.
Monstrous as that possibility might seem, it is consistent not only with many otherwise hard to explain foreign policy setbacks, but also consistent with Obama's having been raised, literally from childhood, with anti-American mentors, beginning with his mother. He continued to seek out such people as an adult.
The ranting Reverend Jeremiah Wright was just one of these anti-American mentors.
President Obama's undermining of stable and unthreatening governments in Egypt and Libya, opening both to Islamic extremists, while doing nothing that was likely to keep Iran from going nuclear, seems more consistent with the views of Rush Limbaugh, Dinesh D'Souza, et al., than with the views of most other critics.
What is also more consistent with the Limbaugh and D'Souza thesis are such personal quirks as Obama's gross rudeness to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House and his otherwise inexplicable public debasement of himself and the United States by bowing low to other foreign leaders.
There was nothing to be gained politically by such actions.
Nor by such things as his whispered statement to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that he should tell "Vladimir" that he -- Obama -- could follow a more "flexible" foreign policy after his last election was behind him.
What could be more "flexible" than denying Ukraine the military supplies needed to deter further Russian aggression? Or leaving Japan without material needed to create a nuclear deterrent quickly, while an aggressive China is expanding its military forces and its territorial demands in the region?
Domestically, the unbroken string of Barack Obama's grievance-mongering mentors included Professor Derrick Bell at the Harvard Law School, author of rantings on paper similar to Jeremiah Wright's rantings in his church.
Professor Bell was a man cast in the role of a scholar at top tier universities, who chose instead to take on the pathetic role of someone whose goal was -- in his own words -- to "annoy white people."
Derrick Bell was not a stupid man. He was a man placed where he should never have been placed, where there was no self-respecting role for him to play, without going off on some strange tangent. That Barack Obama literally embraced Professor Bell publicly in law school, and urged others to listen to him, says much about Obama.
It says much about those who voted for Obama that they paid so little attention to his life and so much attention to his rhetoric.
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