A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
April 28th, 2011
By Tom Carter
Mismanaged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, inept responses to Libya, silence on Syria, failure in the Middle East peace process. President Obama continues to demonstrate that he isn’t up to the job.
President Bush botched the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in several ways. Most everyone understood the reasons for invading Afghanistan and taking down the Taliban. The 9/11 attacks were planned and directed by al-Qaeda in that primitive country, which the ruling Taliban permitted them to use as a base. However, the rationale for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein was poorly presented and relied too much on the widely accepted belief that WMD were available to Saddam and that he would use them or farm them out to terrorists. There were, of course, more than enough other reasons behind the Iraq war, all of them spelled out in the supporting congressional resolution, but the Bush Administration lost control of the message.
Then it all went to hell. The Bush Administration had no plan or administrative structure to deal with the continuing unrest in Iraq after the initial mission was accomplished, nor did they understand the scope of the “nation-building” swamp they would stumble into in Afghanistan, complicated by the counter-productive actions of Pakistan. The Obama Administration continued the Bush plan in Iraq and doubled-down on the ill-conceived and poorly understood war in Afghanistan.
The misguided and inept foreign policy of the Obama Administration has been obvious in that region. They relied for the most part on hope, change, and a new U.S. sense of mea culpa expressed in both President Obama’s words and his actions, including obeisant bows to lesser world leaders. From the beginning, it was obvious that support for Israel was limited at best and sympathy for the Palestinian cause was foremost; protests in Iran that just might have brought that regime down were ignored, the Iranian people left to their fate; popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and elsewhere were supported through confused jawboning but no direct action; then along came Libya.
After much confusion and conflicting statements from the U.S. government, President Obama decided to take direct action in support of Libyan rebels — but only in a secondary role, blessed by the UN, under the umbrella of NATO. He promised that it would be a very short operation and that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Libya, even though NATO (particularly France, of all countries) understood the obvious fact that air power alone was unlikely to get the job done. First the U.S. applied most of the NATO force against Libya, then we supposedly backed-off and left most of it to other countries, then we were back in again because of the lack of capability of those countries, et cetera ad nauseum. Meanwhile, we still don’t know the exact nature of the rebels attempting to depose Gaddafi and how much influence anti-U.S. elements like al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood would have in a post-Gaddafi regime.
And now Syria, a country led by a brutal dictator and supported and often controlled by Iran, exploded in a popular effort to depose that repressive regime. The reaction has been brutal, with many people gunned down in the streets. Not hardly a peep from the U.S. Our ambassador remains in place, keeping his mouth shut. No action by the UN, and NATO doesn’t seem upset. All this mostly because the U.S. is sitting on its hands, apparently still wistfully hoping that President Obama’s oft-stated effort to engage Syria in a positive way can somehow end positively, including contributions to the Middle East peace process. Meanwhile, Syria continues to provide support, with Iranian resources, to anti-Israel terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza.
When Israel announced the expansion of some housing in its capital, Jerusalem, the Obama administration went nuts. Absolutely nuts. Everyone — president, vice president, secretary of state — was mobilized against Israel.
When the Syrian government mows down unarmed innocents in the streets — nothing. For more than two years now, we’ve seen the worldview of the Obama administration, expressed in foreign policy.
The Obama Administration’s worldview is routinely expressed in many ways in other parts of the world, too. Perhaps the worst example is the behavior of Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. As quoted by ABC News, Posner told reporters:
During two days of talks about human rights with China [in May 2010], the US raised examples of problems on its own soil and cited Arizona’s controversial new immigration law as an example of “racial discrimination.”
“We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session and as a troubling trend in our society, and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination. And these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”
I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because he appeared to be inexperienced, unqualified, lacking in substance, and notably naive on foreign policy issues. When he was elected, I thought his intelligence and education plus the influence of skilled, experienced advisers would help him become an effective and unifying president. The country needed an effective president worthy of our support and respect after the years of Bush and Clinton, and I hoped Obama could be that president. I was wrong.
In my view, there’s virtually nothing President Obama can do to redeem himself between now and November 2012. Not only in foreign policy but in all other areas he has proven that he’s not up to the job, and we shouldn’t risk giving him another four years in hopes that he will muddle through.
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