Filed under: China, Foreign Policy, History, Middle East, Military, National Security, Russia, The United States | Tags: "Naive and Weak", It's About Perceived Power, The Obama Foreign Policy
Reporting from Manila, Major Garrett said that Obama is growing frustrated with recent editorial criticism portraying his foreign policy as weak and naive.
We seem to have gotten in the habit of thinking that when there are hard foreign policy problems that there may actually be a definitive answer; typically, those who offer that definitive answer come up with the use of force as the definitive answer,” Obama said. “You would think, given that we’ve just gone through a decade of war, that that assumption would be subject to some questioning.”
Obama then said as a student of history and as commander-in-chief he understood the limits of military power. “Very rarely have I seen the exercise of military power providing a definitive answer.” Obama may believe himself to be a “student of history” but it’s clear that he skipped class a lot.
“If there are occasions where targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them,” Obama said here during a press conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. “We don’t do them because somebody sitting in an office in Washington or New York think it would look strong. That’s not how we make foreign policy. It may not always be sexy. But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.”
He must have missed the day when Teddy Roosevelt’s phrase “Speak softly and carry a big stick” was discussed. It’s fairly simple. If your adversaries believe you to be strong, and capable of doing real damage to them, they will be more apt to avoid annoying you.
President Obama turns it upside down, and informs our adversaries right off that we have no intention of doing anything in any way violent ever, and then asks them to pretty please do something they have no intention of doing. Where did he get the idea that would work?
The Washington Post, certainly not a “neo-con” paper editorialized:
FOR FIVE YEARS, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.
“power in world politics is perceived power, and perceived power is a vector that results from perceived military capability, and perceived political will.”