I weep: our foreign policy has been reduced to hashtags

April 25, 2014
Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

Well, I weep and I mock.

For those not familiar with Twitter, “hashtags” are labels preceded by a number sign, as in “#politics.” They were developed to make it easier for people to search for related messages on the system, though people also use them as asides to provide commentary, humor, or snark.

A few weeks ago, the United States Department of State, faced with the slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine by Russia, apparently decided that hashtags were also effective tools of superpower diplomacy. Thus we saw this from State’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki:

My reaction, you’ll be surprised to learn, was one of dismay and disgust. This is hardly the serious diplomacy one would expect from a department once headed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Hay, Dean Acheson, and George Schultz. One would think that, having been roundly mocked here and overseas (You mean you didn’t hear the giggling from Moscow?), the State Department would have given up on managing our foreign affairs like it was a popularity contest, complete with cheerleading. But, no. No, some genius at State decided this was a winning strategy and deployed it again, only this time with an exhortation to Putin:

“Promise of hashtag??” You have got to be kidding me. “Yes, Vlad, be nice to Ukraine. You wouldn’t want to fail the spirit of the hashtag, would you?” Someone last night speculated that an intern forgot to substitute the real hashtag in place of the placeholder word “hashtag,” but that’s immaterial. The whole idea that anyone should think that using catchy social media slogans as a tool of diplomacy would be seen as anything other than self-inflicted humiliation is laughable. That the “strategy” originated at the highest levels of State is infuriating.

And so I couldn’t resist commenting:

And then I offered examples of the promise of hashtag and its power in US foreign affairs:

Others pointed out that the promise of hashtag was global. For example:

Indeed, Lincoln ended the Civil War with it:

But this one, I think, summed up the depth and gravity of State’s strategic thinking in this crisis:

While this baby speaks for me:

But I did offer Ms. Psaki and her co-workers a friendly and much-needed hint:

No, they do not, and it’s in part because people who think they do are in charge of our foreign policy that the world has become a much more dangerous place. It’s a common joke that both sides make to wish for the day “when the adults will be in charge, again,” but, in this case, it’s no longer a joke.  We’re facing foes around the globe who operate via the calculus of power, will, and national interest, while we are represented by community organizers who treat serious matters of state as occasions for virtual rallies.

Argh.

RELATED: More at Twitchy here and here. Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s foreign policy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bill Whittle: Obama is making us a “turncoat nation”

May 27, 2011

Bill Whittle returns today with a video that absolutely savages the “Smart Diplomacy” of Barack Obama and his administration. Noting that it takes years and decades of efforts to build up trust between nations, Whittle shows with devastating clarity how, one by one, Obama is trashing those relationships and, in the process, harming our national security and turning us into a nation of turncoats:

Two things from the video I’ll point out: first, I had a feeling Bill was a big fan of Victor Davis Hanson. I am, too, and I can’t recommend his books highly enough, whether you’re interested in Military History, Ancient Greece, the decline of California, or current affairs in general. Hanson has a way of using the past to illuminate the present that few can match. Whittle points to one of his books, How The Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security, part of the Encounter Broadsides series. Not only do I second Bill’s recommendation of Hanson’s book, but I’m a fan of the entire series. They’re inexpensive, brief polemical works on important issues that will give you the arguments you need to deal with liberal co-workers and friends.

The other item Bill mentions is the stab-in-the-back betrayal of Poland and the Czech Republic in 2009 after they stuck their necks out for us by agreeing to host missile defense sites over strenuous Russian objections. At the time I was outraged and called it “appeasement and betrayal,” and my opinions haven’t changed. Barack Obama’s, amateurish, ham-handed, and ideologically driven foreign policy is wrecking America’s traditional alliances and gaining nothing —nothing— in return.

At this point, I don’t care if the Republican nominee in 2012 is Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, John Huntsman — or even Alf! We have got to vote him out of office.

RELATED: Two good articles you may want to look at. In the first, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy describes Obama’s Middle East policy as “ObamaCare for Israel.” It’s an apt analogy, and McCarthy uses it as an example of Obama’s Alinskyism as applied to foreign relations. After that, check out Stanley Kurtz’s article on Obama’s hard-Left leanings in foreign policy: “Pro-Palestinian-in-Chief.” Kurtz wrote the brilliant Radical in Chief, a political biography of Obama chronicling his lifelong attachment to Socialism. The book discussed the implications of Obama’s radical Leftist politics for domestic policy; “Pro-Palestinian” can be considered a companion piece for foreign affairs.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sarah Palin: We deserve an explanation about Libya

April 26, 2011

I’m having cognitive dissonance here. On  the one hand, I’m assured by the Left and the major media (but I repeat myself), and by many on the Establishment Right, that Sarah Palin is a chillbilly airhead who has no idea what she is talking about and would be a disaster as president.

But then, after expressing puzzlement over the administration’s conflicting reasons for going to war (kinda-sorta) in Libya,  she goes and writes something like this:

At this point, to avoid further mission creep and involvement in a third war – one we certainly can’t afford – you need to step up and justify our Libyan involvement, or Americans are going to demand you pull out. Simply put, what are we doing there? You’ve put us in a strategic no man’s land. If Gaddafi’s got to go, then tell NATO our continued participation hinges on this: We strike hard and Gaddafi will be gone. If, as you and your spokesmen suggest, we’re not to tell Libya what to do when it comes to that country’s leadership, and if you can’t explain to Americans why we’re willing to protect Libyan resources and civilians but not Syria’s, Yemen’s, Bahrain’s, Egypt’s, Israel’s, etc., then there is no justification for U.S. human and fiscal resources to be spent.

I would also ask you to better explain your thinking on Libya. We can’t afford any actions that don’t take care of crucial U.S. needs and meet our own interests at this point. You are the Commander in Chief, so please explain what you believe is our “interest” there and not elsewhere.

Mr. President, your hesitation and vacillation in the Middle East breed uncertainty. It’s symptomatic of the puzzling way you govern. See, uncertainty is one of the factors over which you have control, and I would think you’d want to eliminate that additional element that helps breed problems like higher oil prices. Higher oil means exorbitant gas prices weighing down our economy.  Consistency and strength – and greater domestic energy production – will help fix higher gas prices and help heal the economy. But only with leadership. These sorts of problems don’t fix themselves.

Uncertainty breeds higher prices because those who thought themselves our allies suddenly find that may not be true(1), they may not be as secure as they thought and their oil supplies may not be as safe, all of which leads more risk being associated with Mideast oil, and contributes to higher costs passed on to us at the pump. Basic economics and common sense, both of which are alien to our president.

It seems to me the woman dismissed as a “Caribou Barbie” and a quitter(2) has a better grip on our national interests than the Smartest President in History ever will.

Darn her for confusing me by being right when our Cultural Elites (all bow) insist she’s wrong.

Go, ‘Cuda!

TANGENTS:

(1) Hey, if we unceremoniously dumped Mubarak, who, while a bloated dictator, at least often served our interests and wasn’t as bad as a lot of them, then who’s next? You can bet a lot are worried.

(2) An argument I no longer treat as serious, unless it can be made in the context of the Alaskan ethics law as it existed at the time of her resignation.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Good news! Blogger unretires!

March 20, 2011

One of my favorites from the early days of my blog reading is back: The DiploMad 2.0. He (or she) is an anonymous former Foreign Service officer who’s come out of blogging “retirement” because the current administration is so inept, he can’t take it anymore. Here he is on the Obama and Clinton’s casual approach to going to war:

Does Obama consult with the US Congress?  Bush did that, remember?  Does he ask Congress for an expression of support for the use of military power?   Bush, did that, and we still hear from the left that he got insufficient authorization.  No.  Obama and Clinton get permission from the UN, the EU, and the Arab League instead.  I guess when you’re a liberal, that’s all that counts. No need to bother with the Congress or in making a case to the American people.

So, now we are in a war with no clear objective: Is it to establish a “No Fly Zone,” or get Qaddafi out? What if we get a NFZ, which our military will establish quickly, but Qaddafi doesn’t go or continues his war without aircraft? What then? Are we on the hook to protect Libyans from Libyans? How long before the pictures of dead and dying Libyans, supposedly killed by our missiles and bombs, have the UN, the Euros, and the Arab League backing out? Guess who will get left holding the bag of sand?

Code Pink, where are you?

Welcome back, DiploMad. You’ve been missed.

(Now, if I could only get Arthur Chrenkoff blogging again…)


Bill Whittle: “Obama’s friends and enemies”

February 20, 2011

I’ve said many times over the past couple of years that the guiding principle of the Obama administration’s foreign policy can be summed up by “Hug your enemies, pimp-slap your allies.” The studied insults toward and downright betrayals of allies such as Poland, Israel, and Great Britain, and the almost fawning treatment given toward those who despise us speaks to the truth of that.

Bill Whittle has noticed the same pattern and, in this latest video looks at events both great and minor over Obama’s term so far and concludes that this is not incompetence, but deliberate, ideologically-driven policy.

Fair warning, the video contains some horrific images in one segment:

I’ll disagree with Bill on one point: while I’m certain Obama’s foreign policy is driven by the same Socialist ideology that informs his domestic policies, it is also incompetent. Just look at its execution. The latest example in Egypt is a case study in blundering. “Ideology” and “incompetence” are not mutually exclusive, and in Barack Obama they’ve come together in a particularly dangerous mix.

Dangerous for us, that is.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Allen West at CPAC: Burnin’ down the house!

February 13, 2011

Congressman and retired Lt. Colonel Allen West (R-FL) gave the closing address to the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, and it’s safe to say they liked him… a lot. Like Bolton, Representative West “gets it;” he recognizes America as an exceptional place and a force for good in the world, and is not shy or diffident about his willingness to defend our nation’s interests and allies.

Thirty-six minutes long. Get yourself a cup of coffee or a bowl of popcorn, sit back, and enjoy, my friends:

Somehow, I don’t think Congressman West would be taking a reset button to negotiations in Moscow.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bolton: the ‘Stache rocks CPAC

February 12, 2011

Foreign affairs and national security issues are my primary interest*, so I was glad to see they got some extended attention at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference in DC, which has mostly (and understandably) focused on domestic policy issues. I was even happier that the speaker was John Bolton (and his mustache), who is not shy about insisting that the primary duty of the federal government in foreign affairs is to defend American interests, not to be a team player in the Club for Transnational Statists. He is a very, very sharp observer of foreign affairs and what they mean for the United States. Click on the image below to watch his speech, courtesy of The Right Scoop. At 25 minutes, it’s worth every second:

Let’s just say I’m in 99% agreement with The ‘Stache.

John Bolton is considering running for president in the next election, in order to make sure national security issues are brought before the public. To be honest, I don’t think he’ll get out of Iowa, but I do think he’d make a fine National Security Adviser for President Palin.

*Though I often get distracted. I really need to get back to covering them more.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Liberal foreign policy explained

February 10, 2011

America to blame? Check. Fawning over our enemies while insulting our allies? Check. Childlike notions of “fairness” as a basis for national policy? Check.

By Jove, I think she’s got it!

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Looking back: Reagan 1980 campaign ad

July 6, 2010

The contrast with the current occupant of the Oval Office is stark, indeed:

(via Big Peace)


VDH on Obama’s foreign policy

April 13, 2010

When trying to comprehend the origins of President Obama’s foreign policy, in which the places of allies and enemies are reversed, historian Victor Davis Hanson offers four possibilities:

All of which raises the question: Why Obama’s shift in foreign policy? I offer four alternatives, uncertain of the answer myself.

a) Obama in 2007 and 2008 created a campaign narrative of Bush the cowboy, and then found himself trapped by his own “reset button” rhetoric, which meant he could hardly credit his maligned predecessor by building on the multilateral work that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had established from 2006 onward (cf. the similar quandary of libeling Bush as a war-mongering anti-constitutionalist and then using new, kinder, gentler anti-terrorism euphemisms to mask the adoption of embracing Predators, tribunals, renditions, wiretaps, intercepts, and continuance in Iraq and Afghanistan);

b) Obama sincerely believes that states that were pro-American under Bush are now somewhat dubious, while other states’ anti-American rhetoric during 2001–08 was understandable and so rightfully now earns them empathy and attention as a reward;

c) Obama genuinely believes that those abroad who are more statist and voice rhetoric that dovetails with his own equality-of-result efforts at home are sympathetic, inasmuch as they too define “freedom” in holistic terms of state entitlements rather than individual liberty, free markets, and free expression — so to the degree a leader casts himself as a “revolutionary,” he finds resonance with an equally progressive Obama; or

d) Obama has no idea of what he is doing, and wings his way from one embarrassment to another, from snubbing Gordon Brown to gratuitously insulting Benjamin Netanyahu to abruptly changing the terms of commitments with the Czechs and Poles to constructing nonexistent Islamic historical achievements to browbeating Karzai to courting Putin to bowing to the Saudis, etc., all as he sees fit at any given moment — with an inexperienced but impulsive Hillary Clinton and gaffe-prone Joe Biden as catalysts rather than arresters of Obama’s own haphazardness.

Myself, I largely see it as “D” with a dash of “C.” I also think he’s generally uninterested in foreign affairs, except as a stage to shine on; his major interest is in remaking the US domestically into a social-democratic welfare state. Regardless, the forecast for US foreign relations isn’t good. Read the rest for some depressing thoughts.


Smart Power: How to lose friends and influence no one

March 28, 2010

In the nearly 15 months since Barack Obama was inaugurated as President and Hillary Clinton installed as his Secretary of State, our Smart Power team has done something I thought impossible: make me yearn for the days of Jimmy Carter as a model of a strong and effective foreign policy. Consider three recent items:

First, he has managed to do almost certainly fatal damage to our “special relationship” with Great Britain, an alliance forged between FDR and Winston Churchill in crucible of the Second World War. After that, the two nations cooperated closely in the Cold War against Soviet communist aggression, operating hand-in-glove whether the governments in Washington and London were Democrat or Republican, Labour or Conservative. In the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the welcome death of the USSR, America and Britain have continued to work together, even to the point war.

No more. The special relationship is dead, and Obama and Clinton own the corpse:

BRITAIN’S special relationship with the US — forged by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war — no longer exists, says a committee of influential MPs.

Instead, America’s relationship with Britain is no more special than with its other main allies, according to a report by the Commons foreign affairs committee published today.

The report also warns that the perception of the UK after the Iraq war as America’s “subservient poodle” has been highly damaging to Britain’s reputation and interests around the world. The MPs conclude that British prime ministers have to learn to be less deferential to US presidents and be “willing to say no” to America.

Gosh, I’m not sure why they would conclude that, after the respect Obama has shown for the UK, such as returning a bust of Churchill loaned by London as a show of solidarity after 9/11, or insulting Prime Minister Brown and the Queen with gifts from the Wal-Mart bargain bin. I mean, why should they be bothered by his failure to acknowledge the sacrifice made by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or other acts of deliberate rudeness? And why should Whitehall care that Secretary Clinton is willing to negotiate the status of sovereign British territory? Nial Gardiner implores Conservative leader David Cameron to do all he can to preserve the relationship, but, really, what is Britain to do when Obama repeatedly spits in her eye?

Special Relationship, we hardly knew ye.

Then we come to something just appalling. Regardless of what one thinks of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel is a close ally of the United States, until recently the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, and certainly one of the most humane and ethical nations on the planet. Thus for the President of the United States to treat the Prime Minister of Israel as a recalcitrant child beggars belief:

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

Translation: Obama says to Netanyahu, “You just think about that young man, and you’d better have a different answer when I get back, or there will be no TV for you!” It reminds one of the rumors of his bizarre behavior in Copenhagen and calls into question his vaunted judgment and even his maturity. Israel is a key ally in our war with jihadist Islam and for the furtherance of Western interests in the region, in general. And yet, time and again, Obama and Clinton have gone out of their way to turn minor incidents into causes celebres requiring the public pillorying of Israel and to put it on the same moral level as the despotisms that surround it. (More at Legal Insurrection, Fausta’s blog, Hot Air, the Telegraph, Contentions, and The Jawa Report)

This is “smart power?”  Raised Eyebrow

Finally, what can be said but Russia skunked us?

Face it. The only conclusion one can draw from these and other blunders is that we are lead by callow and incompetent (and even delusional) leaders. Their conduct of American foreign policy has been a disgrace.

The only question is whether this mangling of American interests is unwitting or the fruit of deliberate choice.

You can guess my answer.  Doh

ADDENDUM: At least Obama and Clinton have created a bipartisan consensus on their policy toward Israel – both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats hate it.


Obama’s top-ten insults against Britain – updated!

March 2, 2010

More than a few have noticed President Obama’s odd disdain for Great Britain and the thinly-veiled ways he and his aides have expressed contempt for one of our closest allies. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed in the UK, either. The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner has written scathing columns about Obama’s slaps in Britain’s face, and in today’s article he compiles his list of the top ten:

5. Refusal to recognize Britain’s sacrifice in Afghanistan

It is particularly galling that the president cannot even be bothered to acknowledge the sacrifice made by over 250 British servicemen and women on the battlefields of Afghanistan alongside their American allies – especially evident during his lacklustre speech at West Point in December. Britain currently has as many soldiers stationed in Afghanistan – 10,000 – as all the other major European powers combined. In contrast to George W. Bush, who frequently thanked the British armed forces and people for their role in the War on Terror, Obama has spectacularly failed to do so.

Be sure to read the rest.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t one of Obama’s campaign promises to restore our standing in the world? He has a funny way of going about it.

UPDATE: And just like that, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decides to get in on the act during a visit to Buenos Aires, insulting Britain by effectively siding with Argentina’s attempts to seize British territory:

QUESTION: (In Spanish)
Interpreter: The journalist was just asking how the U.S. intends to negotiate to get the United Kingdom to sit at the table and address the Malvinas issue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.

Seems superficially reasonable doesn’t it? Just get everyone together to talk and perhaps compromise? Bull. There is no compromising here.  Britain has possessed the Falklands for nearly 180 years, the residents are British, think of themselves as British, and expect to remain British – as they have every right to do. The Falklands are a part of Britain no less than Jersey and Guernsey. Put it this way: this is no different than if the US reopened the Oregon boundary dispute and demanded the “return” of Vancouver Island from Canada, and then Britain, Canada’s ally, said “sure, let’s talk,” pressuring Canada to discuss what would be, in essence, acquiescence to territorial conquest.

And this was the woman who promised during the last campaign to bring “smart power” to our foreign relations? Keep this up and she’ll need more than a reset button to fix our relations with Britain. (More at Hot Air)

LINKS: More at Sister Toldjah.


Obama as a world leader: not even Bush-league

January 22, 2010

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. From across the Atlantic, Nile Gardiner considers Obama’s record so far as a world leader and gives us 10 reasons why he’s no George W. Bush:

When it took office a year ago, the Obama administration boasted of a new strategy of “smart power”, designed to restore America’s “standing” in the world. In essence this new approach to foreign policy was designed to distance the new US government in every way possible from the Bush administration, supposedly hated in every corner of the earth, from Berlin to Buenos Aires.

Hence, the hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy have been the naive engagement of an array of odious dictatorial regimes, grovelling apologies before foreign audiences, lamb-like timidity in the face of intimidation, the ending of the War on Terror, and the trashing of traditional alliances. But has this liberal foreign affairs revolution succeeded in advancing American interests and security across the globe? Hardly. Under Obama’s leadership the United States now appears significantly weaker and far more vulnerable, faced with an array of deadly threats that grow more menacing by the day.

When President Bush was in power he may not have been hugely popular abroad, but the United States was widely feared on the world stage, her enemies were hunted to the ends of the earth, and her real allies were treated with respect. As Barack Obama is discovering to his cost, the world stage is not an extension of the set of American Idol, and global leadership is not about winning popularity contests. The doctrine of “smart power” looks increasingly like an empty shell, a naive approach that has reaped no dividends and threatens to usher in an era of American decline, unless it is reversed.

But what do you really think, Nile?

I’ll let you read his list; suffice it to say I agree with them all to one degree or another. Put simply, Barack Obama has so far been the weakest American president on the international stage since Jimmy Carter, and I fear his administration’s ineptitude has left this nation one crisis away from a disaster. Some even argue that Obama and the left-liberals have chosen a policy of deliberate American decline. I’m inclined to agree. (Behind that link is a brilliant article by Charles Krauthammer, by the way. Read it.)

Back to Mr. Gardiner’s list, I’ll leave you with one that especially struck me as true:

5. Bush believed in the Special Relationship

I don’t recall George W Bush ever throwing a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office or giving the British Prime Minister an insulting pack of DVDs. President Bush recognized Great Britain as America’s closest friend and ally, and placed the Special Relationship at the very heart of US foreign policy. Under Obama, the Anglo-American alliance has reached its lowest point since the Suez Crisis of 1956, a damning indictment of his world leadership. Bush possessed a genuine affection for the British people, their great heritage and their role in the world. Barack Obama cannot even bring himself to mention Britain in a major policy address or acknowledge the sacrifice of British forces in Afghanistan.

Britain isn’t the only ally to get a cold shoulder from Obama: Israel, the Czech Republic, and Poland, among others, all have sad tales to tell. But his treatment of the UK seems especially petty and personal, a sign of immaturity. The guiding principle of his foreign policy is a perverse form of appeasement: “hug your enemies, slap your friends.”

For all his faults, President Bush at least never made that mistake.


The Hermit King steps out

December 24, 2009

Interesting. Long a minor actor in geopolitics, South Korea is preparing to play a larger role in global security matters:

More than 56 years after the end of the Korean War ushered in a long period of relative military isolation, South Korea is finally taking steps towards a regional security role commensurate with the country’s advanced economy. But South Korea’s rise as a military power is complicated by its domestic politics — and a belligerent North Korea.

Despite a technologically advanced military and a Gross Domestic Product that, at just shy of $1 trillion, makes it the world’s 15th-wealthiest country, the Republic of Korea has rarely deployed troops outside its borders. In 1999, Seoul sent 400 soldiers to boost a U.N. force trying to stabilize East Timor when that country broke away from neighboring Indonesia. The Timor deployment was South Korea’s first overseas military operation. South Korean troops had fought alongside the U.S. in Vietnam.

South Korean medics and engineers subsequently joined the U.S.-led coalitions in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003. The Afghan mission was curtailed after the Taliban kidnapped a South Korean church group in Afghanistan and murdered two of its 23 members. The extremists released the surviving captives when Seoul promised to stick to a planned withdrawal by the end of 2007. The Iraqi mission ended peacefully in 2008. That year, Seoul also sent a warship to patrol Somali waters for pirates.

But South Korea’s planned second deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 will mark its true debut as a regional military power. In response to U.S. President Barak Obama’s call for a bigger international coalition in Afghanistan, Seoul has pledged a Provincial Reconstruction Team and a powerful infantry force to accompany it, for a total of around 500 troops.

The author argues that the PRT is merely a political cover for the deployment of combat troops, meant to keep South Korea’s rather pacifist Left from putting up too strong an opposition. But the move seems not to be engendering  much resistance in South Korea, regardless, as there seems to be public sentiment for the nation pulling more of its own weight after decades of being protected from Mordor North Korea. South Korea has gone so far as to commission three small aircraft carriers. Once fitted with aircraft, this will give Seoul a power-projection capability few Asian nations have.

In my opinion, this is can be an unalloyed good for the world: a stable democracy with a powerful economy should shoulder some of the burden of protecting constitutional government and freedom of the seas in a dangerous world. (While recognizing the political difficulties for Tokyo are much, much greater, I’d love to see Japan do something similar.) The United States should be mentoring South Korea in this, just as, under George W. Bush, we agreed to promote democratic India as a potential global power.  The time is now to strengthen old alliances and build new ones among democratic, capitalist powers facing the twin threats of jihadism and the rise of Russian and Chinese aggressive nationalism and geopolitical ambition.

Sadly, we are lead by exactly the wrong president.

(via Real Clear World)


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)


Coup in Honduras, and our flaccid foreign policy

June 28, 2009

This morning the Honduran military arrested the country’s president and sent him into exile in Costa Rica. While most reports are describing this as a coup d’etat, Honduras’ largest newspaper, La Prensa, claims that President Zelaya was removed from office under order from the country’s Supreme Court:

An official statement of the Supreme Court of Justice explained that the Armed Forces acted under lawful grounds when detaining the President of the Republic, and by decommissioning the
materials to be used on the illegal poll which aimed to bring forth Executive Power against a judicial order.

Other sources verified that the president of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, will assume the presidency of the republic in a few hours.

Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was detained this morning by the military in compliance with an order of the courts of law.

(translation by Fausta Wertz)

The most up-to-date coverage can be found in this post by Fausta, and I refer the reader there. Plenty of good links to follow.

My concern is with the United States’ response:

WASHINGTON — U.S. diplomats are working to ensure the safety of
deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and his family as they press
for restoration of constitutional law and his presidency.

President Barack Obama called Sunday for “all political and social
actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the
tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter” as the Central
American crisis unfolded.


For those conditions to be met, Zelaya must be returned to power, U.S. officials said.

Secretary of State Clinton also jumped in:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the action taken against Honduras’ president should be condemned by everyone.


She says Honduras must embrace the principles of democracy and respect constitutional order.

Two things I’ll point out about this:

First, how is it that it took days for the Administration to strongly condemn the theft of an election and subsequent massacres in Iran, yet the removal at the request of the legally constituted courts and legislature of a president allied to one of our enemies and who was trying to emulate his ally by becoming  populist dictator is worthy of immediate condemnation? Why do President Barack Obama and his State Department seemingly coddle dictators while giving constitutionalists the cold shoulder?

Second, do the Administration and State know the situation in Honduras? Even cursory research indicates a situation more complicated than it first appears. Zelaya is allied to Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the former a current enemy of us and the latter an old foe. He was violating the constitution and defying a court order by trying to hold a referendum seeking approval for extending his term, something prohibited by the constitution. Latin American constitutions often give the military the role of “defender of the constitution” (add irony as needed), and it’s quite possible, given the support and direction provided by the legislature and the court, that the military acted not to sieze power, but to prevent a seizure of power by the president. In other words, it may have been an act in defense of constitutional order and the rule of law. It may also not have been, but we should be aware of the subtleties here.

Is Washington aware of this? Did they consult with the embassy in Tegucigalpa before rushing to the microphones? (Again, if they could wait for days on Iran because they didn’t want to meddle, why the rush to meddle now?) Somehow I doubt it. Both statements look like variations on boilerplate used by the government for decades.

It’s been argued that Obama is simply more comfortable with, and therefore more solicitous toward, anti-American dictators than with genuine democrats, which explains his various moves. His background makes him open to thuggery. Perhaps, but it’s also possible that what we’re seeing are the spastic reactions of a foreign policy tyro, a naif who really doesn’t know what he’s doing, being far more interested in domestic affairs and having only the most superficial knowledge of the world beyond our borders. Both are possible, and both are in their way very disquieting.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey thinks this is another indication Obama’s priorities are out of step with the rule of law.