In the old postwar, pre-Obama world, the United States accepted a 65-year burden of defeating Soviet communism. It led the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. The American fleet and overseas bases ensured that global commerce, communications, and travel were largely free and uninterrupted. Globalization was a sort of synonym for Americanization. Continue reading “Obama’s Ironic Foreign Policy”→
What’s worse than the silence of Western Christians concerning the Muslim persecution of their coreligionists in the Islamic world? Answer: Cynically exploiting that persecution for a political agenda—in the case of a recent Daily Beast article, to excoriate the state of Israel and its supporters. Continue reading “Exploiting Christian Persecution to Demonize Israel”→
About every day or so, a throat-clearing Middle East pundit weighs in to warn us of the Obama’s administration’s dereliction of traditional American engagement. They rightly lament “lead from behind” in Libya. After Benghazi, Libya has turned into something like Somalia. Far more are dying there from sectarian chaos than during the latter years of the hated Moammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship.
The Sunni reactionary establishment of the Gulf is right to deplore Obama’s incoherent flip-flop-flips in Egypt and Syria. The oil lords logically conclude that a directionless president will do nothing to stop Iran’s race to get a bomb — and all the subsequent Middle East WMD catch-ups to match it.
Even Obama’s pet Turkey seems confused that its favorite administration is now nowhere to be seen. The Iraqis were given a fresh start after the surge and hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. aid — and still claimed that they wanted the U.S. out. Obama gladly called their hand. Now, left to themselves, they are reverting to the pre-surge violence, whining about security and sectarianism — and back asking us for even more money. Rule One: never bluff an isolationist to yank all his forces from your country. Continue reading “The Double-Dealing Middle East Is Double-Dealt”→
The standard critique of President Obama’s foreign policy is now generally well-known—mercurial, paradoxical, and passive. “Leading from behind” seems at odds with the traditional American commitment to ensure—preferably with allies or, if need be, alone—the continuance of the postwar global system of sovereign borders, free trade, safe commerce, and open communications.
Many of Obama’s recent foreign policy initiatives have resulted in a diminished United States and they have found little success. The reset with Russia earned us a strange sort of contempt from Vladimir Putin. Moscow almost gratuitously thwarts the U.S., gloating that we offer loud self-righteous sermons to others that are not backed by consequences.
n the immediate future, I do not think the United States will be intervening abroad on the ground — not in the Middle East or, for that matter, many places in other parts of the world. The reason is not just a new Republican isolationism, or the strange but growing alliance between left-wing pacifists and right-wing libertarians.
Some of the new reluctance to intervene abroad is due to disillusionment with Iraq and Afghanistan, at least in the sense that the means — a terrible cost of American blood and treasure — do not seem yet to be justified by the ends of the current Maliki and Karzai governments. Few Americans are patient enough to hear arguments that a residual force in Iraq would have preserved our victory there, or that Afghanistan need not revert to the Taliban next year. Their attitude to the Obama administration’s unfortunate abdication of both theaters is mostly, “I am unhappy that we look weak getting out, but nonetheless happier that we are getting out.” Continue reading “America Is Intervened Out”→
When — not if — is the only mystery about an Iranian nuclear bomb.
All the warning signs are there.
In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama on two occasions went out of his way to warn the Iranians that the development of a nuclear weapon “would be a game-changing situation, not just in the Middle East, but around the world.” Obama later added, “It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon; it would be a game changer.”
Strong language. And Obama twice this year again used “game changer” in reference to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, warning him not to dare use chemical weapons. In March, Obama announced to Assad that “the use of chemical weapons is a game changer.” A month later, Obama again warned Assad not to resort to WMD use: “That is going to be a game changer.” Continue reading “‘Game Changers’”→
To believe in the current Iranian, post-Syrian peace initiative, we would have to believe that the Iranian theocracy concedes, in a stunning Qaddafi-like turn-around, that its decade-long effort to obtain nuclear weapons was a terrible strategic mistake that earned it only ostracism and crippling sanctions that have no chance of being ended by a resolute West. Continue reading “What Iran Is Asking Us to Believe”→
To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, this is the way Syria ends: Not with a bang, but a whimper. We are back where we started — lots of people dying — as the crisis recedes with a high five and a sigh, rather than with America blowing some stuff up. Continue reading “Goodbye Syria, On to Iran!”→
The Syrian fiasco arose from two mutually contradictory desires. Barack Obama sincerely wanted Bashar Assad to stop killing his own people. Barack Obama also really was not willing to use force to ensure that Assad would stop killing his own people. At Harvard, those desires would not be antithetical. Elsewhere they are.
The desire to avoid the use of force was understandable. Obama ran for president as an anti-war candidate. He damned Bush’s “bad war” in Iraq, while critiquing the conduct of the “good war” in Afghanistan. He had no success with his own bombing in Libya. And he was embarrassed by even a rhetorical entry into the Egyptian quagmire. The president sensed rightly that the country was “tired” after Afghanistan and Iraq. Continue reading “Obama’s Box Canyon”→