During his campaign for President, Mr. Obama continuously alluded to the so-called “grave” post September 11th distractions and foreign policy missteps made by his predecessor. These statements would generally represent quotidian electoral protocol if he were running against an incumbent President seeking a second term. However, considering Mr. Bush’s lame duck status it was obvious Mr. Obama probably had another purpose in making such proclamations. They were an attempt to use a President made deeply unpopular by years of Democratic Party and major media disingenuity as a guileful electoral tactic. Driving this gambit was election polling which clearly favored Mr. McCain on matters of foreign policy and our nation’s security. It therefore became necessary to place a distinguishing National Security feather in Mr. Obama’s empyrean bonnet of change to woo an otherwise circumspect populace.
Despite Mr. Obama’s sustained attacks on President Bush, our electorate remained unconvinced of his National Security credentials. To address this perceived deficiency Mr. Obama reflexively promised more “specifics” would be delivered in the later stages of his campaign. To help sell Mr. Obama’s qualifications, his campaign staff build up significant anticipation for a July 2008 speech titled “New Strategy for a New World”. In it, Mr. Obama said the following, which perhaps best summarizes the entire content;
“I am running for President of the United States to lead this country in a new direction – to seize this moment’s promise. Instead of being distracted from the most pressing threats that we face, I want to overcome them. Instead of pushing the entire burden of our foreign policy on to the brave men and women of our military, I want to use all elements of American power to keep us safe, and prosperous, and free. Instead of alienating ourselves from the world, I want America – once again – to lead”
The theme was familiar, often repeated throughout Mr. Obama’s campaign and perhaps easily condensed into one terse sentence; Bush was bad, imperial and led us in the wrong direction. This was not a departure from past articulation and a clear signal Mr. Obama’s “strategy” did not involve more specificity. It was to further the mantra with a new, seemingly appealing ending; I will change our ways and lead us in the right direction. Conclusively, the public had once again received generalized themes to complement lofty “policies” such as “talking” to those with whom we disagreed- as if that had never been tried. It should have been a moment in which we all realized there were no specific plans to which Mr. Obama would commit. But at that juncture campaign momentum took over and our country was hooked by the marketing; nobody cared about the fine print. It was precisely at this point, we failed as a country by not holding Mr. Obama to account for his plans or correctly anticipate the coming danger in his lack of articulation.
Fast forward to year one of Mr. Obama’s Administration and the world is unquestionably, but not surprisingly a more dangerous place. Mr. Obama’s policies to expedite our withdrawal from Iraq have predictably put our troops in danger and allowed the enemy to gain a foothold in our vacuum. Since Mr. Obama’s election, North Korea has become increasingly hostile and moved beyond just possessing nuclear arms technology to threatening our country with its use. Under Mr. Obama, Iran continues unabated on the march towards nuclear armaments, now seemingly endorsed by Mr. Obama, with Israel the only hope for extinguishing that threat. In Russia, Mr. Obama has dusted off old, discarded vestiges of our nuclear relationship and attempted to present these policies as some type of contemporary wisdom while nothing could be further from the truth. Finally, the global goodwill supposedly generated by Mr. Obama’s election which would help empty Guantanamo Bay of its prisoners has instead led to consideration of housing terrorists in our neighborhoods and paying remote South Pacific Islands to take inmates. Change, indeed.
Mr. Obama’s contemporary foreign policy has not only made us less safe, but also threatens the aspirations of freedom yearning people across the globe. For example, the desire to have fair and democratic elections in Iran, a cornerstone for any democratic society, was roundly greeted by Mr. Obama with tepid and curious remarks more akin to that of a third world dictatorship than the historical beacon of democracy. In Honduras, when the government followed their Constitution and rule of law to prevent a clear dictatorial power grab by Mr. Zelaya, Mr. Obama sided with an opposition composed of dictators and third world tyrants. This is not to be outdone by Mr. Obama’s implied willingness to use Georgia’s democratic aspirations as a negotiation tactic with Russia or pitch the independent pining of Taiwan as a potential burnt offering to the Chinese. Comprehensively, these actions represent a stunning reversal of American foreign policy modus operandi virtually unequaled in our history.
Whether you agree or disagree with the war in Iraq or various policies pursued in the “War on Terror, it is virtually inarguable Mr. Bush spent a majority of his time since September 2001 successfully keeping us safe. Accordingly, his personal recreation mirrored his work and was therefore fascinating only to those of us who appreciated sacrifice. In contrast, Mr. Obama has made personal recreation a cornerstone of his appeal while allowing ill-advised policies to hurtle us towards disaster. For our sake let’s hope he dribbles less; the shot clock is running down.