Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Misunderstanding Foreign Policy, Obama's White House Speech, Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad
The President’s Speech from the White House hall attempted to hit all the necessary buttons. He went for a big emotional appeal on the horrors of chemical warfare, especially on children. He attempted to portray himself as a peace president. He ended the Iraq War, the troops are coming home from Afghanistan, endless wars that have been going on for a decade. He’s not Bush. He has invoked that for five years, but hasn’t got tired of it yet. He’s not going to do War. He’s not going to do Libya nor Kosovo. He has authority to do a retaliatory strike. Then he punched the patriotism button “The American Military doesn’t do pinpoint strikes”
The problem is, of course, that he was speaking with (as somebody said) Kerry’s foot in his mouth. The “unbelievably small” one. Yesterday, in passing, he invoked his Nobel Peace Prize, which was embarrassing, but he seems unaware that the Swedes momentary enthusiasm for the first black president was incredibly misplaced. He did not repeat that error in this speech. Yet he made no case for a limited retaliatory strike. You expected him to wave some papers and declare “Peace in our time.”
Ideally, when a dictator uses chemical weapons on his own people, a pinpoint strike with a very large bomb on the courtyard of the palace the very next day would effectively make the point. It’s the dithering around, the indecision, the failure to know where the palace courtyard is that make it clear that we haven’t been taking foreign policy seriously.
Charles Crawford, who was HM Ambassador in Sarajevo (1996-1998), Belgrade (2001-2003), and Poland (2003-2007) wrote in the Telegraph that “Monday 9 September, 2013 was the worst day for US and wider Western diplomacy since records began.”
“At the Foreign Office here in London. We had the bizarre spectacle of US Secretary of State John Kerry giving a businesslike account of diplomatic incentives.”
If one party believes that it can rub out countless numbers of his own citizens with impunity using chemicals that have been banned for nearly 100 years because of what Europe learned in World War I, if he can do that with impunity, he will never come to a negotiating table … If you don’t draw those lines, and the civilized world is not prepared to enforce those lines, you are giving complete license to people to do whatever they want.
“However, almost in the same breath John Kerry blew up the logic of his own position by assuring a bemused world that any bombing by the United States would be “unbelievably small.”
You know the rest. Kerry bumbled on about if Assad gave up his weapons in the next week, and Putin tossed out a line about demanding Assad to put his weapons under international control, and Obama seeing the fly and not recognizing the hook— bit. In the middle of a civil war? This is not going to happen. It is impossible. Chemical weapons are impossibly dangerous to handle. A new process of setting up a monitoring and destruction regime would give Assad a boost of legitimacy…
Obama has been uninterested in foreign policy, which interferes with fundamentally transforming America, and forgets that the main job of the President of the United States is paying attention to foreign policy. He is sure that the problems in the Middle East are all the result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He thinks the only bad guys are al Qaeda, and does not recognize the central role in terror of the Muslim Brotherhood. He got rid of all the dictators in North Africa, without recognizing that they at least kept a lid on things, and has left chaos in his wake.
This is not going to end well.
P.S. America is a Constitutional Republic, not a Constitutional Democracy.
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