Obama’s Flimsy Foreign Policy in Djibouti

It’s been obvious to even the most casual observers (excluding liberals) that the hallmark of the disaster that has been the Barack Obama administration is “weakness.” That weakness has been most pronounced in the administration’s pantywaisted foreign policy, a policy shaped and deployed for a time by the Democratic candidate put forward in hopes of replacing him, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The sheer number of examples proving this are far too numerous to mention in this space, but one such example the mainstream media has chosen to ignore more so than the rest is that of his failure in Djibouti.

The media can be forgiven for its oversight to some degree – the small East African country doesn’t come up as a subject in most public schools. Just a tad bigger than New Jersey, the country wouldn’t rate on anyone’s radar for the most part but for the fact it sits on a strategic bit of land on the Horn of Africa that controls access to both the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Djibouti’s location is of tremendous importance to the significant cargo tonnage that passes by it on the open sea, and the country has become an important transshipment point and refueling depot for global shipping.

More critical to the interests of the United States, though, is the fact that the country is the home of Camp Lemonnier, a United States Naval Expeditionary Base that has been a critical piece of our ongoing War on Terror. After negotiating an agreement for its use just months prior to 9/11, the base has been a critical hub for aerial operations, including drone warfare.

The leader of this small country is Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, who Barack Obama has entertained as a regular guest at 1600 Pennsylvania. Guelleh has been at the reins of Djibouti’s politics since 1999, grasping them with an iron hand ready to crush dissent wherever he finds it.

Guelleh has a formidable résumé of human rights abuses. Consistently elected with Saddam Hussein-like landslide victories, he most recently won a fourth term this April and netted a reported 87% of the popular vote. However, rather than simply relying on vote fraud, Guelleh has employed a holistic approach to dictatorial tyranny and hasn’t shied away from embracing the full range of human rights abuses. Arbitrary arrests, lack of due process, torture, and press censorship are just a few of the tools he regularly uses to keep the populace quiet. His underlings, themselves masters of the art of corruption, have a habit of targeting human rights activists and opposition leaders who fail to keep in line.

The East African strongman feels no need to hide his tyrannical tendencies, either. Late last year, as his presidential “campaign” was in full swing, the country’s police force quelled a public demonstration in a most effective manner – by firing indiscriminately into the assembled crowd. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, at least nineteen people were killed. Obama’s State Department issued a tepid two-paragraph statement “expressing condolences” to those dead and wounded “by these attacks,” conveniently failing to mention who carried them out and not even daring to cite Guelleh’s name at all.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the weak-kneed Obama administration has lacked the gumption to protect the vitally important Camp Lemmonier as Guelleh has started to shop around his good graces to our greatest geopolitical rivals. Camp Lemmonier will soon come under pressure from the main threats to the security of the United States, namely the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. Earlier this summer, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese Central Committee met with Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense and signed an agreement to cooperate on military and anti-terrorism issues. Seemingly innocuous on its face, the agreement paves the way for Russia to obtain what they have long sought – an African port.

Late last year, China announced that it had reached an agreement with Guelleh to locate the country’s first post-1949 overseas military installation in Djibouti. Although the Russians have attempted to negotiate for the same, their attempts have come to naught. However, as part of China’s pact with Guelleh, Djibouti has no say in the Chinese military’s movements in the country. As a result of this disastrous agreement, China will cut Russia in on its planned new base, which already has two substantial quays (one of over 1,500 feet). A docking area of this size is perfect for the heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to make it a regular port of call, which is exactly what will happen on a regular basis beginning in the very near future.

Obama’s lack of political and foreign policy spine has placed the security of American fighting men and women and their ability to defend American interests in serious jeopardy in Djibouti, allowing Russian and Chinese belligerents within spitting distance of one of the most important U.S. installations in the region. This state of affairs represents a clear and present danger to American sailors and marines, but it is a even more certain that the suicidal course navigated by the present administration will remain unaltered if Hillary Clinton manages to lie, cheat, and steal her way into the White House.