American Elephants


The Pursuit of a Foreign Policy Legacy Is Not Going Well by The Elephant's Child

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Back at the beginning of his first term, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton announced a foreign policy “pivot” to Asia. The road of good intentions chose another direction, and the big events continued to happen in the Middle East. Civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS with accompanying terrorism and brutality, regime change in Egypt and Libya, and the continuing Iranian quest for nuclear weapons and regional dominance are the problems that have dominated the news and Obama’s response to those events has comprised his foreign policy record, and it is not a record that makes much of a legacy.

Obama dismissed ISIS as a “JV team,” was angered by the coup in Egypt, made a botch of Libya with the help of his Secretary of State who dismissed the whole thing with “We came, We saw, He died” and a round of laughter, when reporters told her he was dead. It is slowly becoming clear Obama has lied extensively to the American people about his “Iran Deal.”

The Mullahs in Iran really had no interest in a deal. They are interested in destroying Israel and in destroying America, and do not intend to be delayed or restrained. Obama believes that they care about their people and will use the funds returned to make life better for Iranian families. He believes he can turn the Middle East over to the Persians to run, and remove all American interference in that part of the world, which will mean peace. He apparently believes that all the problems in that part of the world are Bush’s fault for invading Iraq, and he has no interest in being disabused of his fanciful notions.

You can’t build a foreign policy legacy out of trying to avoid any confrontation at all. Obama’s playing his last hand and betting on the  Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, by pretending they are not treaties, but some kind of deal that does not require the consent of Congress. But that has been his operating plan for some time.

So far on this trip, Obama has insulted Teresa May, Britain’s new Prime Minister, telling her that Britain would have to go the the back of the line for any trade deals since they didn’t pay attention when he told them to vote BREXIT down. Face-conscious China insulted President Obama by failing to provide the red-carpet stairway provided to all heads of state, forcing him to descend from the belly of Air Force One, a clear snub. Irwin Stelzer reported in the Weekly Standard:

When Obama raised the issue of China’s militarization of the islands it has constructed in the South China Sea, President Xi Jinping told him China would “unswervingly safeguard” its claims in the area. When the American president raised the issue of human rights, Xi told him not to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came when Xi praised the Paris agreement to limit carbon emissions, the issue on which Obama had come to take a victory lap, “It was under Chinese leadership that much of this progress was made.”

Xi was wrong on both of these counts: the Paris accord will not limit emissions, and China was a reluctant signatory to the agreement forged in Paris, largely by Obama, and whereas America agreed to drastic cuts in emissions, China made no such promise. All it agreed to do, at some date in the distant future—perhaps 2030 if that proves convenient—is to begin slowing the rate of increase of its emissions relative to the growth in the country’s GDP. Not a word about ending China’s financing coal plants in other countries—92 in 27 countries is the current count of the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative, enough new coal-fired capacity to offset all the plant closures and emissions reductions planned in the United States for the next decade. No surprise that Xie Zhenhua, China’s senior climate change negotiator in Paris, says the deal struck there is “fair and just, comprehensive and balanced.”

The Senate will not ratify the treaty. Even if all the nations who have signed actually implemented their plans, it would reduce the growth of emissions only about half as much as the claimed 3.6º Fahrenheit which some scientists claim would reduce drought, floods, and other catastrophes which are not caused by increases in temperature. The Coalition of the Least Developed Nations agreed to go along because the rich nations agreed to give them at least $100 billion, but no one has started raising any money yet anyway. The panic about climate occurs only in the computer programs of the climate scientists who depend on climate panic for their jobs, their grants, and their reputations.

Obama  apparently insulted the new Philippine president who then called President Obama the ‘son of a whore,’ so in general the big G-7 meeting didn’t go too well. Obama is off to Laos as the first U.S. President to visit that country.

ADDENDUM: Reports in from Laos, and snippets of President Obama’s speech, suggest that he’s up to his old tricks of apologizing for his country  with little understanding of what actually went on in Laos, which was not as he suggests indiscriminate bombing. He actually said:

Over nine years — from 1964 to 1973 — the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs here in Laos — more than we dropped on Germany and Japan combined during all of World War II.  It made Laos, per person, the most heavily bombed country in history.  As one Laotian said, the “bombs fell like rain.”  Villages and entire valleys were obliterated.  The ancient Plain of Jars was devastated.  Countless civilians were killed.  And that conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children.

Our planes were bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail to prevent supplies coming down that trail to kill American troops from reaching Vietnam. It was a  purposeful effort to save American lives, not indiscriminate and trying very hard not to kill civilians. Ask anyone who was there.


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Our Leader-From-Behind-in-Chief (LFBiC) continues to be an embarrassment to the US. Not to himself; being embarrassed requires a self-awareness that Obama does not have and has never had. All he sees are people he thinks should admire him, and can’t understand why they don’t.

So our history-making president continues with his historic firsts (first black POTUS (a novelty which lasted about a minute), first President to see a reduction in the national credit rating, first President since WWII to not see a single period of 2% growth during his time in office, the first President that is openly disliked by pretty much every other world leader) by visiting Laos. Whee. Not to belittle Laos (it’s a beautiful country with wonderful people), but somehow I think Obama’s historic first visit there has less to do with diplomacy and more to do with the simple fact that he’s not really welcome anywhere. And being out of town gives him the excuse to avoid dealing with issues that should be occupying his attention, were he not so obtuse.

Comment by Lon Mead




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