Obama’s foreign policy failures


Running in a tight race against a credible Republican opponent, Barack Obama is lying to make his disastrous foreign policy record look better and to make Romney’s look bad. He’s also trying to portray Romney as a FP novice. The media are, of course, aiding Obama by spreading his lies and indoctrinating the American people into believing that he’s handled foreign policy well. Politico, for example, has published an article touting Obama’s record while trying to portray Romney and other Republicans as incompetent and ignorant on foreign policy.

But the truth is quite different: Obama’s foreign affairs/national security record is downright disastrous; the Romney campaign is right to point it out; and if Gov. Romney himself speaks about it repeatedly at campaign rallies and during the presidential debates (the first of which will be dedicated to foreign policy), he will win. As the 9/11/2012 terrorist attacks on American diplomatic posts have shown, the economy alone won’t be enough to win this election, and foreign policy will matter greatly.

Luckily for Romney, Obama’s foreign policy record is downright disastrous. To wit:

1) He has pursued a shameful policy of appeasement (which he calls “reset”) towards Putinist Russia. It consists of huge unilateral American concessions which Russia is not obliged to, and does not, reciprocate, combined with ignoring Russia’s sordid human rights record and its anti-American policies around the world – to the degree that even Ambassador Michael McFaul, who was himself harrassed by Putin’s Nashi thugs*, refused to blame the Kremlin and still cowardly appeased the Russians.

As a part of reset, Obama cancelled President Bush’s missile defense plan for Europe (which, contrary to Obama’s claims, would provide complete coverage of Europe much sooner than Obama’s, and which has been vindicated by the National Research Council); agreeing to an unequal, disastrous New START treaty which obliges the US to unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal while Russia is allowed to grow its own; ignoring Russia’s continued occupation of Georgia’s internationally-recognized territory; ignoring Russia’s diplomatic and weapons support of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and other anti-American regimes around the world, and the diplomatic shielding of North Korea; ignoring Russia’s deliveries of nuclear fuel to Iran (which Iran is enriching to ever-higher grades); and ignoring Russia’s own sordid human rights record. He has even threatened to veto the Sergei Magnitsky Act, which would sanction those Russian officials who violate human rights.

Now Obama is mulling unilateral cuts in the US nuclear arsenal, potentially down to just 300 warheads, while Russia is growing its own, and he has promised Russia “flexibility” on missile defense after this election (i.e. if he wins, there will be no missile defense in Europe).

What benefits has the US accrued as a result of the “reset”? None whatsoever. Instead of reciprocating, Russia is supporting and arming anti-American regimes around the world, including the genocidal regime of Bashar Assad; delivering nuclear fuel to Iran; occupying Georgian territory; making repeated threats to use nuclear weapons against America and its allies; refusing to endorse strong sanctions against Iran, Syria, or North Korea (and vetoing them); flying nuclear-armed bombers near and, at one time, into US airspace; and holding bomber exercises near Alaska whereby they said they were “practicing attacking the enemy.”

So Russia, by its own admission considers the US “the enemy” and has practiced attacks against it (specifically, against Fort Greely). So much for “reset”.

2) Obama has also appeased China. He has turned a blind eye to its massive human rights violations, its huge military buildup (which his administration is constantly downplaying and understating, even to the point of censoring DOD reports on it and thus denying Congress the information it needs), to its support of anti-American regimes around the world (such as those in North Korea, Iran, Syria, and formerly in Libya) and to its aggressive policies towards its neighbors (Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and others). Obama has also refused to sell Taiwan the F-16C/D fighters it needs for its self defense, instead proposing to modernize its obsolete F-16A/B fighters.

Obama has also failed to address China’s mercantilist trade policies which continue to undermine the US economy and steal American jobs.

3) Obama has utterly failed to stop the Iranian nuclear program, despite his 2008 pledge to AIPAC to thwart it. He has failed to even significantly slow it down. Since 2009, Iran has greatly increased its number of centrifuges and supply of nuclear fuel, and is working on an ICBM that could reach the US, an ICBM which US intel says Tehran will have  in 2015 – 5 years before Obama’s substandard, ridiculous “Phased Adaptive Approach” to missile defense is scheduled to provide anti-ICBM coverage. Indeed, Obama has shown that if you’re a friend of the US, like Hosni Mubarak, you can be out in a second, but if you defy the US, like Iran, you’re immune. Obama has also granted Russia, China, and other countries huge waivers from his own sanctions, whose loopholes are so huge you could drive a truck through them.

4) Obama has betrayed Israel by calling on it to accept borders based on the indefensible pre-1967 armistice lines, when Israel was 9 mines wide at its narrowest point and the bulk of its population lived within the range of Arab artillery. His administration has tried, and is still trying, to stop Israel from acting in self-defense on the question of the Iranian nuclear program; and his treatment of PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been shameful. Also, during his entire presidency, he couldn’t be bothered to visit Israel even once. I repeat: as President, Obama has never visited Israel.

5) As President, Obama involved the US in an unnecessary, unconstitutional war in Libya which resulted in the toppling of Muammar Quaddafi. Now that the US has liberated the Libyan people, how are they repaying the US? By murdering the US Ambassador to Libya over a silly film about Muhammad which has never been endorsed by the US government.

6) Barack Obama has appeased the Castro regime – relaxing the sanctions previous administrations imposed on it – and Hugo Chavez, shaking hands with him and denying that he’s had a significant national security impact on America, even though he’s sponsoring FARC, a communist terrorist organization listed as such by the State Department. Meanwhile, Chavez continues to lead what he calls a “Bolivarian” movement of countries aimed against the US and its few allies in Latin America.

7) While the rest of the world has been moving fast ahead on free trade agreements, the US, under President Obama, has been at a standstill. Obama has signed zero FTAs, and hasn’t initiated negotiations on even one. Meanwhile, the EU, China, and others have signed, or started negotiations, on dozens of FTAs.

8) He has spectacularly mishandled the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He issued a statement of condemnation (while also berating the authors of the film that putatively caused the attack)… then flew off to a campaign rally in Las Vegas. He purported to condemn the perpetrators… and excused them at the same time. As Mark Steyn has rightly put it:

“So, on a highly symbolic date, mobs storm American diplomatic facilities and drag the corpse of a U.S. ambassador through the streets. Then the president flies to Vegas for a fundraiser. (…) The president is too lazy and cocksure to have learned any prepared remarks or mastered the appropriate tone, notwithstanding that a government that spends more money than any government in the history of the planet has ever spent can surely provide him with both a speechwriting team and a quiet corner on his private wide-bodied jet to consider what might be fitting for the occasion. So instead he sloughs off the words, bloodless and unfelt: “And obviously our hearts are broken . . . ” (…)

The president is too busy to attend the security briefing on the morning after a national debacle, but he does have time to do Letterman and appear on a hip-hop radio show hosted by “The Pimp with a Limp.” In the real State Department, the U.S. embassy in Cairo is guarded by Marines with no ammunition, but they do enjoy the soft-power muscle of a Foreign Service officer, one Lloyd Schwartz, tweeting frenziedly into cyberspace (including a whole chain directed at my own Twitter handle, for some reason) about how America deplores insensitive people who are so insensitively insensitive that they don’t respectfully respect all religions equally respectfully and sensitively, even as the raging mob is pouring through the gates.”

You can read more about Obama’s FP failures here in Lanhee Chen’s excellent memorandum on the matter.

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