Monday, September 28, 2009

Who Does Obama Think He’s Kidding?

Melanie Phillips

Last Wednesday, Barack Obama addressed the UN. If this was supposed to be a triumphant projection of the wonders of his foreign policy, his timing was singularly unfortunate. It was as if he had unveiled his shiny new bus after the wheels had come off and the engine had fallen out.

His speech set out the approach that we all know by now: soft power, apologizing for America, hand of friendship extended to enemies of America, upholding human rights for enemy combatants, desire to channel foreign policy through the club of terror UN, “engaging with the world” and “leading by example” – particularly by apologizing for America. This approach was to be the antidote to the supposed gung-ho militarism of George W. Bush. Swords would be beaten into ploughshares, genocidal lunatics would swap recipes and holiday snaps with their erstwhile victims and there would be peace on earth and the brotherhood of man. But we can see that everywhere Obama has applied this policy approach it has failed, humiliating America by revealing it to be weak, incompetent and naïve to the point of imbecility and thus strengthening the enemies of America and the free world.

In the Middle East, his policy has collapsed. Obama’s giant grovel to the Muslim world in Cairo failed to shift any belligerents or impress the rest.

His extended hand of friendship to Iran’s murderous regime had the effect of abandoning those Iranians who are fighting and dying for freedom from tyranny, while failing to stop, delay or in any way deter Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

He made America less safe by abandoning the central European missile defense shield against Iran, showing contempt for Poland and the Czech Republic along the way.

He has rewarded North Korea for its continued belligerency by agreeing to its demand for bilateral talks.

His engagement with Syria has failed to end its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

As far as Israel and the Palestinians are concerned, Obama marched his troops to the top of the hill only to have to march them down again with their tail between their legs. In response to his bullying over the settlements, Israel faced him down by agreeing to a Palestine state; but stipulating that for this to happen, the Palestinians must accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. With the Palestinians loudly refusing to do so, thus demonstrating that it is they who refuse to accept a two-state solution, Obama has nevertheless forced “peace process” negotiations to restart between Israel and a Palestinian leadership which refuses to accept the existence of Israel and says there is nothing to discuss. While he grovels to America’s enemies, Obama continues to treat its ally, Israel, as an enemy. As former UN ambassador John Bolton observed:

The most significant point of the speech was how the president put Israel on the chopping block in a variety of references, from calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegitimate to talking about ending ‘the occupation that began in 1967.’

On TV Bolton also said:

As I say, I think it’s the most anti-Israel speech I can remember by an American president, and the important thing is, when you have the Palestinians in as a weak of a position as they are now, and to have Barack Obama be their lawyer in effect, puts them in a very strong bargaining place.

Meanwhile, Obama is now dithering disastrously over his own policy in Afghanistan which he is trying to ditch. Having previously announced a “surge” there of more troops he is now refusing to provide them, thus causing a major rift with the American commander in Afghanistan. As the Times reports:

He has now ordered a major review of that very strategy and refused to heed the demand by General Stanley McChrystal, the US ground commander in Afghanistan, for an urgent increase in the number of troops. General McChrystal said that without more forces immediately the war could be lost within 12 months.

The Washington Times cuttingly explains why Obama has produced the ‘worst foreign policy ever’:

Actions in Mr. Obama's world are consequence-free. The only country the Obama team has tried to strong-arm is Honduras, which is desperately trying to stave off a socialist takeover by an anti-American autocrat whom the State Department has concluded is worthy of full U.S. support. This has delighted Cuban dictators Raul and Fidel Castro and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, who are very willing to let the United States carry their water. Venezuela, meanwhile, has signed a major arms deal with Russia, continues to build the anti-Gringo “Bolivarian” bloc, bullies U.S. ally Colombia and plans to launch its own nuclear program.

Then there is the catalogue of Mr. Obama's embarrassing moments on the world stage, a list which includes: giving England's Queen Elizabeth II an iPod with his speeches on it; giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a collection of DVDs that were not formatted to the European standard (by contrast, Mr. Brown gave Mr. Obama an ornamental desk-pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, among other historically significant gifts); calling “Austrian” a language; bowing to the Saudi king; releasing a photo of a conference call with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the president was showing the soles of his shoes to the camera (an Arab insult); saying “let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s”; saying the United States was “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world”; suggesting Arabic translators be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan where Arabic is not a native language; sending a letter to French President Jacques Chirac when Nicolas Sarkozy was the president of France; holding a town-hall meeting in France and not calling on a single French citizen; and referring to “Cinco de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when he meant Cinco de Mayo. Also of note was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton giving Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a “reset” button with the Russian word for “overcharge.”

It would be hilarious if it weren’t so frightening that the leader of the Western world, in the face of a war to destroy that world, should be so utterly incompetent and out of his depth. The biggest and most immediate danger, of course, concerns Iran. The U.S. hand of friendship has been spurned. Iran is poised to get the bomb. The question, though, is whether underneath all the boilerplate leftism, the gross naivety and astounding incompetence, Obama is – when push comes to shove – a pragmatist. His adviser, the appalling bigot Zbigniew Brzezinski, has said the U.S. should shoot down Israeli warplanes should they attack Iran. But as I have remarked before, despite his own manifest distaste for Israel, Obama might yet be sweating on Israel doing precisely that. His people say they are acutely aware of the danger that he may be judged by history as the U.S. President who allowed Iran to go nuclear on his watch, with the unconscionable consequences that would follow. As his foreign policy goes belly-up, Obama will have to choose whether to continue with his suicidally idiotic approach or dramatically switch course.

We will soon know whether pragmatist Obama will win over ideologue Obama. Meanwhile, however, America’s 44th President is fast turning into a lethal joke. Iran, North Korea and Russia are laughing. Those who fear for the future of the free world are shuddering, aghast. Contributor Melanie Phillips is the author of the powerful and frightening Londonistan, and she blogs at The Spectator.

No comments: