The fruits of Smart Power: Czechs walk out on missile defense

June 16, 2011

It may come as a surprise to the Smartest President Ever(tm) and his brilliant foreign policy team, but when you pull the rug out from under an ally in order to appease the guys they fear, they aren’t likely to want to play with you anymore:

The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday.

The Bush administration first proposed stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic, saying the system was aimed at blunting future missile threats from Iran. But Russia angrily objected and warned that it would station its own missiles close to Poland if the plan went through.

In September 2009, the Obama administration shelved that plan and offered a new, reconfigured phased program with an undefined role for the Czechs. In November 2009, the Czech Republic was offered the possibility of hosting a separate early warning system that would gather and analyze information from satellites to detect missiles aimed at NATO territory.

Defense Minister Alexander Vondra told the AP that the Czech Republic wanted to participate but “definitely not in this way.”

“Shelving the plan” is much too antiseptic a description for what really happened. As I wrote at the time:

This is an utter, craven appeasement of Moscow, which has never wanted this system installed in its former empire, making ridiculous claims that it somehow threatened Russia. As originally conceived, the radar stations and roughly a score of interceptor missiles were to protect Europe from a growing Iranian threat. They represented no threat to Moscow. In fact, the Bush administration offered to cooperate in a partnership with the Russians on a European missile shield. Russia’s outrage was in fact a cover for their fear of a continuing loss of influence over their former subject peoples in Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland and the Czech Republic saw this in a similar manner. They cooperated with the US over Afghanistan and Iraq (even sending troops to both places) and agreed to the missile-shield proposal. This was done not just out of a sense of interests shared between fellow democracies, not just out of a sense of worry over Iranian ambitions, but out of a very real geopolitical calculation that closer military ties to the world’s remaining superpower would protect them from a resurgent Russian bear. For the last eight years they have stuck their necks out to help us, and now President Obama has made fools of them.

And Washington expected Prague to accept a consolation prize? Seriously? Why not give them some DVDs, too?

Way back when, Ed Morrissey points out, the Obama Office of the President-Elect (1) transition team promised to “restore our standing in the world.” This is just the latest example of how that’s working out in practice.

The building of alliances and friendships between states is the result of painstaking diplomacy in which each side not only seeks to meet its own best interests, but to assure the other side that such an alliance is in their best interests, too. It’s a mutual exercise in trust-building that includes confidence that one party won’t stick a knife in the other’s back.

And like the husband who comes home to find someone else in his bed, it only takes one betrayal to wreck all that effort. As with Britain, as with Israel, and as with Poland, Obama administration foreign policy seems to be all about pimp-slapping our friends to appease our rivals, going out of its way to betray that trust, as if telling these nations “you won’t leave us; you’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Except the Czech Republic decided otherwise and left. As Team Obama pursues the “Welcome Back Carter” (2) style of diplomacy, don’t be surprised to see other nations decide their best interests are served elsewhere, too.

Footnotes:

(1) I’d forgotten about this bit of egoism.

(2) Glenn Reynolds famously worried that “Jimmy Carter, part two” might be the best-case scenario. I’m worried he’s right. Though, while reading Schweizer’s book “Reagan’s War,” the resemblance between Carter and Obama’s approach to national security is stunning.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


And you mocked Smart Power?

January 20, 2011

I'm so happy I get to stay!

So, Hu Jintao was feted last night at a state dinner, where the world was treated to a big announcement from President Obama of an important agreement between our landlords China and the poor house United States. What do you think it was? A way to euthanize the North Korean regime peacefully?  A deal to bring China’s undervalued currency up to realistic levels? An agreement by China to release the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner from house arrest?

Don’t be so pedestrian, folks! I’m talking something really big: we get to keep the pandas!

Let’s also never forget that throughout our history our people have worked together for mutual progress. We’ve traded together for more than 200 years. We stood together in the Second World War. Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans have helped to build America, including many who join us here tonight.

The Chinese and American people work together and create new opportunities together every single day. Mr. President, today we’ve shown that our governments can work together as well, for our mutual benefit. And that includes this bit of news -— under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas.

There you have it, my friends, straight from the lip of the most powerful man in the world*. These are the fruits of the Smart Power we were promised in 2008.

Via Allahpundit, who collects some of the best snark on this.

*No, not Hu Jintao. The other guy!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Smart Power in action: the cartoon version

December 4, 2010

This is a darned accurate summary of Obama administration diplomacy in the Middle East, as revealed in the State Department cables released by Wikileaks, courtesy of Mere Rhetoric:

Be weak towards our enemies and hard on our friends. Is it November, 2012, yet?

PS: These animations have become sort of an Internet rage, recently. You can make your own at Xtranormal.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama to Qaddafi: “Please, may we have our terrorist back?”

August 22, 2010

Scotland (with at least the tacit approval of London, Gordon Brown’s denials notwithstanding) released convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, ostensibly on compassionate grounds and let him return to Libya. At the time, it was claimed, he had just six months to live.

A year later, he’s doing fine, living in a luxury villa in Tripoli.

And, a year after “compassionate grounds” turned out to be a heartless joke played on the relatives of those who died in Megrahi’s act of mass murder, the Obama Administration is asking Libya to -pretty please!- send Megrahi back to a Scottish jail:

The Obama administration asked Friday that the only person convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 be returned to a Scottish prison.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, told reporters accompanying the vacationing leader that the U.S. has “expressed our strong conviction” to Scottish officials that Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi … should not remain free. The comments came on the first anniversary of Al-Megrahi’s release.

Brennan criticized what he termed the “unfortunate and inappropriate and wrong decision,” and added: “We’ve expressed our strong conviction that Al-Begrahi (sic) should serve out the remainder – the entirety – of his sentence in a Scottish prison.”

Oh, yeah. I’m sure Libyan dictator “Daffy” Qaddafi will get right on it.

Just as soon as he’s done laughing at us.

Smart power” strikes again.

(via American Thinker)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

The Obama administration asked Friday that the only person convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 be returned to a Scottish prison.John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, told reporters accompanying the vacationing leader that the U.S. has “expressed our strong conviction” to Scottish officials that Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi (AHB’-dehl BAH’-seht AH’-lee ahl-meh-GRAH’-hee) should not remain free. The comments came on the first anniversary of Al-Megrahi’s release.

Brennan criticized what he termed the “unfortunate and inappropriate and wrong decision,” and added: “We’ve expressed our strong conviction that Al-Begrahi should serve out the remainder – the entirety – of his sentence in a Scottish prison.”


It’s the thought that counts?

June 5, 2010

Memo to Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State:

Dear Madame Secretary,

The Queen’s birthday is next week.

yours,

–Phineas

Doh


Smart Power goes to Canada

March 30, 2010

America wants Canada to keep at least some forces in Afghanistan. Canada, after all, makes an important contribution to the war effort there, and Prime Minister Harper has been under pressure to withdraw. So, in the era of Smart Power(tm), how does Secretary of State Clinton go about doing this?

By first insulting the Canadians at a meeting hosted by Canada:

Clinton rebukes Canada at Arctic meeting

It was supposed to be a meeting of polar pals. But a high-level session on the vast opportunities opening up in the Arctic got off to a chilly start Monday, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Canada for leaving several players off the guest list.

The Canadian government invited foreign ministers from the other four countries with Arctic coastlines — Russia, Norway, Denmark and the United States — to hold talks on developing the region, which is being transformed by climate change.

Within a few years, the Arctic’s ice blanket could melt for at least a few months a year, opening up access to huge oil and gas reserves, as well as a new shipping lane. Under a United Nations treaty, the Arctic countries can claim ownership of natural resources up to 200 miles off their coasts.

Clinton noted that the three other nations in the Arctic region — Sweden, Finland and Iceland — had complained they were not included in the meeting. She said she also was contacted by representatives of indigenous groups in the area that had been left off the list.

“Significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region,” Clinton said, according to a prepared copy of her remarks to the meeting, which was closed to press. “And I hope the Arctic will always showcase our ability to work together, not create new divisions.”

You would think the Secretary of State of the United States would understand the basics of diplomacy, including the idea that issues between two nations rarely stand in isolation and that the status of one may affect the other. Or how about common courtesy, such as not chastising a valued ally in public over minor protocol issues?

Of course, this boorish behavior rests on one of the pillars of Obama Doctrine, that the United States has no real friends or enemies, and that conflict is reduced when we are an impartial arbiter between all. As Seth Cropsey described it in his article “Remedial Diplomacy,”

Barack Obama’s theory is that partisanship is the source of conflict. There should be no more red states or blue states. Every political choice is a false choice, an example of old thinking. Similarly on the international stage. If the United States distanced itself from its allies and drew closer to its adversaries, conflict would be reduced. The United States could then serve as the international mediator rather than as the guarantor of global order and an agent of democratic political change.

But, the real world doesn’t operate that way. Cozening up to North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela, while backhanding Great Britain, Israel, Canada, Poland, and the Czech Republic will only signal to our allies that we’re unreliable while telling our rivals that we’re feckless.

This is what they meant by “smart power?” It’s more like a recipe for a weakened United States and, therefore, a more dangerous world.

(via Hot Air)


Smart Power! The Top-Ten Obama Foreign Policy Screw Ups

December 23, 2009

Remember when the incoming administration promised us a new era of “smart power,” of foreign policy done right? President Obama, inexperienced but with superior judgment. Vice-President Joe Biden, the wise sage of the Senate with a firm grip on reality. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who braved danger while accumulating vast experience in foreign affairs as First Lady. Enemies would become friends, our friends would respect us again, and all the world’s ills would be solved by engagement without preconditions. It was a foreign policy straight out of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Meet your Smart Power(tm) Team!

Meet your Smart Power(tm) Team!

(I think Tigger is played by Joe Biden…)

We’ve now had nearly a year of enlightened direction of our foreign relations. What have we to show for it? Plenty, if you’re into farce. Nile Gardiner of the Telegraph reviews the last year and presents a list of the Team Obama’s biggest foreign policy follies:

This has hardly been a stellar year for the projection of American global power. Weakness, rather than strength, has been the hallmark of US foreign policy under Barack Obama, from the Iranian nuclear crisis to dithering over the war in Afghanistan. Instead of strong American leadership, the White House has all too often offered humiliating apologies for America’s past and embarrassing gaffes.

Here is a list of the ten biggest foreign policy follies of Barack Obama’s first year in office. I’ve tried to make the list inclusive of all corners of the world, ranging from Tehran to Tokyo to Khartoum, and frankly could easily have expanded it to a top 20 or even top 30 list. There are plenty to choose from, including some of the most cringe worthy moments in modern American history.

I’ve talked about some of Obama’s notable gaffes before: for example stabbing Poland and the Czech Republic in the back over missile defense; backing a stooge of Venezuelan dictator Chavez against the constitutional government of Honduras; and a general policy based on appeasement. Gardiner’s list includes some I’ve overlooked, notably:

9. Embracing Genocidal Killers in Sudan

I’ve included this in the list because it illustrates the extraordinary lengths to which the Obama administration will go to appease the most evil tyrannies on the face of the earth. In October Obama extended the hand of friendship to the brutal regime in Khartoum led by Omar Hassan al-Bashir, responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands in Darfur, offering to lift sanctions if there were “concrete steps in a new direction”. The moral bankruptcy of this approach was summed up by Obama’s hugely controversial special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Major General J. Scott Gration:
“We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries — they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.”

Read the whole thing, while I go find a brick wall to bang my head against. In just his first year, President Barack Obama has succeeded in something I thought impossible: making Jimmy Carter look like a tower of strength.

Is it 2012 yet?  Praying

(hat tip: Power Line)


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