American Elephants


Educating Obama by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama

Barack Obama has entranced Americans with his ability to inspire an audience. He is the finest orator in recent memory. It’s when he doesn’t have a teleprompter that things get a little dicey. Which may be the reason for his refusal to debate in South Carolina in favor of town hall style meetings.

“Yes, We Can”, and “We are the change that we seek”, in that resonant voice, are magical phrases that promise, well, something swell anyway.

But the primary responsibility of a president is not oratory, although that can help, it is the foreign policy and security of America. Obama has, perhaps with appreciation for his own speech-making ability, promised to talk to almost everybody. He wants to speak to a summit of Muslim nations, to find out what is bothering them. The thing is, he seems a little confused about what we are doing and what we have done.

Michael Ledeen points out that “Senator Barack Obama wants to talk to our Middle Eastern enemies, notably Iran. He can’t imagine a happy resolution of the war without such talks. And he seems to think this desire is something new, maybe even revolutionary.”

He apparently does not know that it is not at all new, and certainly not revolutionary. It is instead the fully tested “policy” of the United States for the past thirty years, ever since the seizure of power by the mullahs in 1979. We have had high-level and low-level talks, public and private talks, talks conducted by diplomats, by spooks, and by a colorful array of intermediaries ranging from former Spanish President Felipe Gonzales to nephews of Rafsanjani, Iranian-American businessmen, former NSC and CIA members, and others with more dubious qualifications.

All failed. [Read the whole thing]

Obama has said that “foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain”. That experience, apparently, comes from living in Indonesia for four years when he was in the early years of grade school. Knowing the leaders, he asserted, is not important. I’m not clear on this. Because you negotiate with…?

He also believes that al Qaeda was not in Iraq until we invaded, that we shouldn’t be in Iraq because al Qaeda is only in Afghanistan. Never mind that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is called that because they are in Mesopotamia — Iraq. He’s said he would invade Pakistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, although we cannot cross the border into Pakistan, particularly now when there is such unrest in Pakistan. He believes that the Sunni Anbar Awakening occurred only because of the “Surge”, though it was well advanced before the surge began. And that there was no military solution to the conflict between Sunni and Shi’ia factions.

In South America, Columbia is a solid ally that has made great progress, yet is facing terrorism from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Ecuadorian Marxist leader Evo Morales. Obama opposes a free trade agreement with Columbia to please U.S. unions who are big donors. He also wants to “re-negotiate” the NAFTA treaties with our closest allies and neighbors — also a union demand.

It is encouraging that Obama is confident about his foreign policy abilities. I wish I were.

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