Barack Obama’s serial ineptness in foreign policy is not only continuing; it seems to be accelerating. The most recent example comes from a story in the New York Times in which we read this:
Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.
Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it.
Remind me again, but wasn’t one of the key selling points of Mr. Obama in 2008 that he would improve America’s relations in the world; that he would sit down with other leaders and reach agreements his predecessor did not; and that Afghanistan was the “good war” that America would prevail in under his inspired leadership?
Instead, America’s image in the world is worse than ever, the leaders of many other nations have sheer contempt for the president, and the Afghanistan war is in the process of being lost. Mr. Obama seems to think a retreat substitutes for a strategy and that a defeat is the same thing as a victory.
He’s wrong on both counts.
I realize President Karzai isn’t an easy individual to deal with. But that’s always been the case, yet relations have never been this chilly. And it seems as if it hasn’t quite dawned on Obama that a president doesn’t get to choose his interlocutors.
Afghanistan embodies the Obama approach to international relations in a single case study. The president’s approach to it has been confused, contradictory, inept, weak and unsuccessful. He is a (prickly) man who is simply overmatched by events and by other leaders. And in nation after nation, we’re seeing the bitter fruits of his artlessness and incompetence.