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Ticking Clocks

Jackson Diehl observes that Obama is very big on foreign policy deadlines — withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and a peace deal in the Middle East. He explains:

Obama’s foreign policy record hardly figures in this fall’s midterm election. That’s at least in part because of its inconclusiveness: It has neither failed nor produced tangible outcomes. A year from now, thanks to the timetables, the record should be in — just in time for the 2012 presidential campaign.

That’s a generous characterization. In fact, we haven’t impeded Iran’s nuclear program, we haven’t stop the slide of Turkey and Syria into Iran’s orbit,  and we haven’t moved the Palestinians from their rejectionist stance. Things may well get worse, but it’s not too soon to pronounce that the Obama team has yet to achieve a single success in foreign policy. To the contrary, allies are alienated, Russia has been emboldened by appeasement dressed up as a “reset,” and our human rights policy is derided by the left and the right.

As for those timetables, Diehl suggests:

Process is always important to good policy — and yes, the Bush administration sometimes demonstrated what can go wrong when there are no deadlines. Yet in the Obama administration, the timetable is becoming an end in itself. It reflects a president who is fixed on disposing of foreign policy problems — and not so much on solving them.

Or more specifically, we have a president fixed on shrinking America’s role in the world and vainly attempting to avoid confrontation (with Russia, Iran, et al.). It also fits with Obama’s imperious and arrogant presidency — the president speaks, the world should follow. After all, where’s the “Cairo effect,” that seismic shift that was to occur after Obama gave his sympatico-with-the-Muslim-world speech?

It’s telling that one country never has a deadline, at least not a real one, imposed by Obama: Iran. The door is ever open, the escape hatch is there. In that case, the clock is running out on us — to stop Iran before it goes nuclear. Obama appears not to have a solution to that one, and so we drift, ever closer, to what was once unacceptable and is now frightfully possible.


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