Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, March 12, 2010

Obama’s 10 Biggest Foreign Policy Blunders

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When Barack Obama took office in January of 2009, it was amidst an atmosphere of generalized transcendence. New eras would dawn, we were told. Oceans would fall. Planets would heal. In general, it sounded a lot like the Bible, except this time we were supposed to worship the guy peddling hope on what looked like a Che Guevara poster.
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Obama made it sound so easy. In his Inaugural Address, he disguised the insipid as the profound with cotton candy rhetoric like “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” and “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Finding reality unmolested by his eloquence, Obama has to be disappointed. It turns out that not only are our safety and ideals at times in tension, but that it’s the President of the United States who gets paid to cut the Gordian Knot. Also, reflexively clenched fists tend not to belong to those in search of a handshake.


In fact, after more than a year of trying to make the international stage look like a Santa Monica coffeehouse (lots of accents, lots of emoting, little actual violence), all Obama has to show for it is a catalog of errors. His top 10:


1. Joining Hugo Chavez’s Book of the Month Club – Last April, the still-fledgling President was attending the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago when Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez interrupted a meeting to present him with a book on U.S. imperialism in Latin America. Rather than ignoring Chavez’s overture, Obama shook the tyrant’s hand and posed for photos where the two looked like long-lost friends. That image must have been comforting to Venezuela’s political prisoners, who can be sentenced to up to 24 years just for publicly opposing the Chavez regime.

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2. Turning a Deaf Ear to Iranian Protestors – When Iran erupted in popular revolt after widespread suspicion that last summer’s presidential elections were rigged to ensure a second-term for resident lunatic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Obama struggled to discover a pulse. Though it was one of the first broad-based movements against the Islamic Republic’s fundamentalist government, the President’s public reaction consisted of little more than saying that he did not want to be seen as “meddling”; in the meantime, Iranians were murdered in the streets by their government. A year later, with Iran even closer to the nuclear threshold, it’s clear that Obama’s silence was a bigger win for Tehran than Washington.

3. Getting Shipwrecked in the Middle East Peace Process – Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations are where American presidencies go to die. After he failed to pressure Israel into suspending their settlement activities, Obama told Time Magazine "This is just really hard … This is as intractable a problem as you get. If we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high." Oh … so he thought the Middle East Peace Process was going to be easier? What exactly does it mean to have an “intellectual” in the White House?

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4. Denigrating American Exceptionalism and Western Civilization Simultaneously – Asked at the G-20 Conference whether he believed in American exceptionalism, Obama replied “"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Some might call that elusive. Others – with more clarity – might call it being a wise-ass undergraduate. The primary message was that the very notion of exceptionalism is a nationalist narcotic – something we tell ourselves for the purpose of self-validation. But there are more subtle undertones as well. Notice Obama’s other targets were Great Britain and Greece – two of the most important cultures in the development of modern western civilization. What nation, we might ask, rightfully deserves the title of “exceptional” in the President’s postmodern point of view?

5. Selling Central Europe Down the River – In September, Obama reneged on America’s promise to located missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic – two nations that, given their history, have an understandable sensitivity to being left out in the cold by allies. The gambit was calculated to help “reset” U.S. relations with Russia, which had been staunchly opposed to the missile defense project since its inception. But what, one might ask, is “provocative” about a system that can only be used for defense?

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6. Buttressing a Burgeoning Dictatorship in Honduras – While Central America doesn’t often get front-page coverage in the American press, Obama’s decision to support Honduran President Manuel Zelaya after he was removed from office for trying to stage an unconstitutional coup was an exercise in Orwellian linguistics. Obama accused Zelaya’s opponents of being the insurrectionists (this despite the fact that it was Obama’s man in Tegucigalpa who was resisting the Honduran Supreme Court and the nearly unanimous Honduran Legislature) and called for the would-be dictator’s immediate return. It was a slap in the face towards a region of the world where respect for the rule of law has historically been fragile.

7. Splitting the Difference in Afghanistan – Obama’s initial posture towards the original front in the War on Terror was admirably decisive relative to the rest of his foreign policy – the selection of General Stanley McChrystal to be the U.S. military commander, the influx of new troops, and the emphasis on counterinsurgency strategy all showed real promise and strategic insight. But when Obama announced in December that the plan would be an 18-month surge followed by a drawdown of forces, he gave every Taliban fighter in the region the signal to lay low for a year and a half, wait coalition forces out, and resume havoc upon our departure.

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8. Weakening America’s Position in the Global Economy – While Obama can’t seem to get his position on free trade straight (during the campaign he was against it, though his aides told foreign governments that it was all bluster; as President, he’s been more rhetorically in favor of free markets while approving several protectionist policies), his damage to America’s credibility as a stable borrower has been unambiguous. With the national debt skyrocketing, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told an audience at Peking University in China last summer that their assets in America would be safe. The audience’s reaction? Uproarious laughter.

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9. Going Wobbly on Terrorism – Whether its civilian trials for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, attempting to close down Guantanamo, trying to minimize the significance of the Christmas Bomber or the Fort Hood shooting, or being seemingly unaware that there’s such at thing as terrorism in Yemen, Obama has been asleep at the switch on the most immediately pressing national security issue of his presidency. It turns out that it’s easier to choose hope over fear when you don’t bother with the facts.

10. Making a Global Apology Tour – Obama has spent the better part of his 14 months in office traveling the globe in a hair-shirt, flogging himself in the streets on behalf of his country. Obama has apologized for a history of American arrogance (to the Europeans, no less!), for Guantanamo’s use as a recruitment tool, for American insensitivity to the Muslim World, for conducting the War on Terror in an abrasive fashion, and even for being too aggressive at the CIA. The President seems to have confused effective foreign policy with step nine in an AA program.


http://cfif.org/v/index.php/commentary/45-foreign-policy/543-obamas-10-biggest-foreign-policy-blunders

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