Recently, on a liberal web site, I read with amusement, an article titled, “100 Days, 100 Foreign Policy Achievements.” If this is true, then the Pope needs to start drawing up the canonization papers and just get the official annointing over with now. Surely, Obama will heal the country, the planet and perhaps the universe. At this rate, God himself had better look out because it would appear there is a new sheriff in town. Never mind the fact that the majority of these “ahievements” are appointments or policy reviews that any new administration undertakes upon assuming power. For example, listed as an achievement is this little ditty at #55: “By appointing Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State, the second most prominent Democrat in the United States…” One has to wonder what Vice President Biden thinks about not being the second most prominent Democrat. Speaking of appointments, besides the “car czar” which I knew about, I was surprised to learn that we no have a “southern border czar’ and a “Guantanamo closure czar.” And finally in this area are such things as elevating the UN post to cabinet-level status. Clearly, these are all moves which will make the United States more secure. Also, if you look into these 100 “achievements,” you will find that 19 of them are following through on policy initiatives of the Bush administration. In fact, Bush himself has said that the closure of Guantanamo was an objective, but stating that desire and doing it were two different things. One can only surmise that Dan Fried, the “czar” in charge of this, will achieve these goals. Of course, he’s finding it difficult to find countries to send these scum bags to, unless you count releasing some into the US.
A lot of his achievements are, upon closer reading, not really achievements, but words. His few actual actions, like releasing the so-called “torture memos” and the resulting brouhaha created, cannot be viewed as achievements under any rational thought processes. That decision- politically motivated- will do irreparable harm to American foreign policy and, most importantly, our ability to counter terrorism in the future. Dropping the phrase “war on terrorism” (achievement #16) does not end terrorism! But, in Obamaworld, there are no longer dangerous elements out there hell bent on attacking the US because we dropped a phrase. Some achievement…
The parallels between Obama’s first 100 days as regards foreign policy with that of Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy are obvious. In Carter’s first month in office, he ordered the removal of nuclear weapons in South Korea and a reduction in troops stationed there (which faced Congressional disapproval). One can surmise that these acts were an antecendent to a nuclear North Korea which seems emboldened under Obama’s America. Remember how the centerpiece, the guiding principle of Carter’s foreign policy was human rights. With Obama, it appears to be self-flagellation of America and apologizing for America on foreign policy (for bowing before foreign kings, if you will). It is one thing to admit “mistakes” in private (if they are, indeed, mistakes), but to do so publicly undermines the United States. There is no need for it- he already, like their American dupe counterparts- has the foreign masses eating out of his hands. He could stand before adoring European crowds and insult them and still get cheered. And what did Carter’s foreign policy achieve? Although Egypt and Israel normalized relations, this was more a move of geopolitical reality on Egypt’s part. The larger question and one that dogs Mideast relations ever since is no closer to resolution than it was 1978- the Palestinian problem. His foreign policy created a Marxist state in Nicaragua through Carter’s direct assistance to the Sandinistas. We ceded the Panama Canal. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and established a communist government there that was as popular and accepted there in proportion to the number of Soviet troops present. And of course there was the grand daddy of them all- Carter’s abandonment of a staunch ally which only achieved the capture of the US embassy in Tehran and the ensuing hostage crisis. In other words, a huge middle finger extended at the United States.
In a very real way, the analogies between Obama’s first 100 days and the entirety of the Carter foreign policy is very close. And for what? One of the achievements listed is the “stimulus package” which Obama argued for among his counterparts in the G-20. The result was a rebuke from them. In fact, the head of the European Union, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, described it as “a pathway to hell.” Obama’s outreach to the Russians where he is using Bush’s missile defense proposal as a bargaining chip to get Russian cooperation in getting Iran to abandon their nuclear aspirations, was met with a cold shoulder. This is akin to Carter’s idea of reinvigorating the SALT negotiations which only resulted in a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
And then there is Obama’s budget, not unlike that of Carter’s. In 1977, Carter’s first budget cut $6 billion from the defense budget which was, at that time, a lot. Today, only the defense department appears to be immune from “stimulus” spending. The primary purpose of the federal government is the defense and security of the United States, a goal obviously lost on liberals. Obama’s rhetoric may play well with the masses in Europe and Latin America, but all that rhetoric will eventually tanslate into a foreign policy vacuum from which he cannot redeem himself.
Good intentions in foreign policy only go so far until they finally confront reality. In reality, although foreign governments bemoan American “cowboy foreign policy,” a phrase often ascribed to Bush, the bottom line is that in foreign relations, despite complex intertwined international relationships, it is essentially every man for himself. At least Bush had the balls to recognize this fact and act on it. Is it any wonder we need a “Guantanamo czar?” Do we see critical foreign governments banging down the doors to accept detainees from Guantanamo? The reality is that for every terrorist we unilaterally take down, it also makes them safer. So while Obama can stand before the world (or bow to Saudi kings) and claim that the United States has lost its moral compass, while he can wow the crowds in Europe and Latin America by appealing to their basest instincts, while he talks and adversaries act, eventually he will be faced with reality.
The reality is that it has been 2,790 days since September 11, 2001 without a terrorist attack on US soil. Prior to that, the most deadly terrorist attack was the Oklahoma City bombing which Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security seems more concerned about with her warnings of returning Iraqi vets may be prone to recruitment by homegrown, right-wing groups. Say what you will about George Bush, but I see 2,790 days! Obama has started this country down a dangerous path with the “change of tone” and outright pandering to adversaries. So far, that pandering has resulted in a ballistic missile launch by the North Koreans, the announcement by Tehran that they were resuming nuclear enrichment programs, the Taliban 60 miles from the Pakistani capital, a cold shoulder from NATO on a commitment of troops to Afghanistan (considerably much, much lower than what he expected or needs), lecturing at the hands of two-bit despots like Ortega, Castro and Chavez, emboldened drug cartels operating across the southern border, etc. At this rate, these could not be labeled “achievements.” At the very least, they are laying the groundwork for an unmitigated disaster in foreign policy. Obama’s term is facing up to the equivalent of the Carter Administration foreign policy train wreck. What those on the left define as “achievements,” rational people elsewhere see as the foundations of foreign policy weakness. And that is the important difference here. Whereas the Obamatrons see achievement, our enemies see opportunity. To borrow a mantra from Obama, we can only hope their opportunities do not translate into action.