Commentary Magazine


Topic: dangerous food fight

Obama’s Perfect Record of Foreign Policy Failure

Obama has a knack for devising national security policies that do the opposite of what he intends — or at least tells us he intends. He engaged the Iranians to pierce through all that “mistrust”; they have come to view him with contempt. He avoided support for the Green Movement to prevent accusations of “foreign meddling”; the protesters hold up signs pleading with the U.S. not to legitimize the regime. He bashes Israel to ingratiate himself with the Palestinians; they resort to rock throwing and dig in their heels, awaiting the next round of concessions to be delivered to their doorstep. He announces the return of our ambassador to Syria; Bashar al-Assad cozies up to Iran and refuses any cooperation on human rights, Hezbollah support, or the Middle East “peace process.” Obama has a perfect record: our national interests are always undermined.

And now he declares a “no nuclear retaliation” stance against any Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty signatory that might hit us with chemical or biological weapons. As Charles Krauthammer points out:

Apart from being morally bizarre, the Obama policy is strategically loopy. Does anyone believe that North Korea or Iran will be more persuaded to abjure nuclear weapons because they could then carry out a biological or chemical attack on the United States without fear of nuclear retaliation?

The naivete is stunning. Similarly the Obama pledge to forswear development of any new nuclear warheads, indeed, to permit no replacement of aging nuclear components without the authorization of the president himself. This under the theory that our moral example will move other countries to eschew nukes.

The result? Certainly, it won’t be to deter North Korea or Iran from pursuing their own nuclear plans, which in turn will encourage others to do the same. Instead, as Krauthammer sums up, the more likely consequence of all this is: “Fend for yourself. Get yourself your own WMDs. Go nuclear if you have to. Do you imagine they are not thinking that in the Persian Gulf?” And we certainly must expect that Israel has gotten the “fend for yourself” part loud and clear. His nonproliferation will proliferate nuclear weapons, just as his Middle East “peace effort” foments violence and heightened tension.

So why is it that Obama is so often unproductive in his foreign policy forays? After all, with George W. Bush out of the way, Obama’s arrival was supposed to herald a new era of international cooperation. Alas, the kumbaya moment is fast becoming a dangerous food fight. Well, it turns out there aren’t “shared values” between the U.S. and its foes. It turns out that Obama’s personal charm is lost on despots. It turns out that American military force and the threat of it are the best guarantors of international peace and security. It turns out that downplaying human rights encourages thuggish behavior. It turns out that turning on our allies does not impress our enemies. In sum, nearly everything Obama believes about foreign policy is wrong and has been disproved by history and the current behavior of our adversaries. So until his vision aligns with reality, expect Obama’s “perfect” track record to continue.

Obama has a knack for devising national security policies that do the opposite of what he intends — or at least tells us he intends. He engaged the Iranians to pierce through all that “mistrust”; they have come to view him with contempt. He avoided support for the Green Movement to prevent accusations of “foreign meddling”; the protesters hold up signs pleading with the U.S. not to legitimize the regime. He bashes Israel to ingratiate himself with the Palestinians; they resort to rock throwing and dig in their heels, awaiting the next round of concessions to be delivered to their doorstep. He announces the return of our ambassador to Syria; Bashar al-Assad cozies up to Iran and refuses any cooperation on human rights, Hezbollah support, or the Middle East “peace process.” Obama has a perfect record: our national interests are always undermined.

And now he declares a “no nuclear retaliation” stance against any Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty signatory that might hit us with chemical or biological weapons. As Charles Krauthammer points out:

Apart from being morally bizarre, the Obama policy is strategically loopy. Does anyone believe that North Korea or Iran will be more persuaded to abjure nuclear weapons because they could then carry out a biological or chemical attack on the United States without fear of nuclear retaliation?

The naivete is stunning. Similarly the Obama pledge to forswear development of any new nuclear warheads, indeed, to permit no replacement of aging nuclear components without the authorization of the president himself. This under the theory that our moral example will move other countries to eschew nukes.

The result? Certainly, it won’t be to deter North Korea or Iran from pursuing their own nuclear plans, which in turn will encourage others to do the same. Instead, as Krauthammer sums up, the more likely consequence of all this is: “Fend for yourself. Get yourself your own WMDs. Go nuclear if you have to. Do you imagine they are not thinking that in the Persian Gulf?” And we certainly must expect that Israel has gotten the “fend for yourself” part loud and clear. His nonproliferation will proliferate nuclear weapons, just as his Middle East “peace effort” foments violence and heightened tension.

So why is it that Obama is so often unproductive in his foreign policy forays? After all, with George W. Bush out of the way, Obama’s arrival was supposed to herald a new era of international cooperation. Alas, the kumbaya moment is fast becoming a dangerous food fight. Well, it turns out there aren’t “shared values” between the U.S. and its foes. It turns out that Obama’s personal charm is lost on despots. It turns out that American military force and the threat of it are the best guarantors of international peace and security. It turns out that downplaying human rights encourages thuggish behavior. It turns out that turning on our allies does not impress our enemies. In sum, nearly everything Obama believes about foreign policy is wrong and has been disproved by history and the current behavior of our adversaries. So until his vision aligns with reality, expect Obama’s “perfect” track record to continue.

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