Monday, November 2, 2009

Obama Agenda: Foreign Policy

Let’s continue our tour through Obama’s agenda. With the resolution of the Honduras situation this week and Obama continuing to dither over Afghanistan, now is a good time to examine Obama’s foreign policy agenda.

Obama was a big critic of Bush’s foreign policy. He claimed it was arrogant and made it harder to “rally international support for our leadership.” He also claimed Bush used foreign policy “as a political wedge” issue to divide Americans -- even though it was actually the Democrats who did that. In the end, Obama promised to “meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe” to get the world to rally behind American leadership.

It is, therefore, no small irony that Obama has angered the French by snubbing Sarkosy, angered Britain by snubbing Gordon Brown and by dealing behind Whitehall’s back with Bermuda about terrorists, snubbed the Poles in their commemoration of the invasion of Poland by the Nazis (and by telling them on that same day he would abandon them on the missile shield), started a trade war with Canada, and spat on just about everybody else. Not to mention his indiscriminate giving of gag gifts and his penchant for giving back diplomatic gifts.

In any event, let’s go through his goals and plans:

1. World Liberalism. Right out of the gates, Obama promised a thorough adoption of a number of liberal sacred foreign policy cows. Strangely, things haven’t gone as planned:
Debt Forgiveness. Obama promised to cancel 100% of the debt of the world’s heavily-indebted poor countries. No action.

Fight Global Poverty. Obama promised to spend $50 billion in foreign aid to cut “extreme poverty” around the world in half by 2015. He mentioned this in his 2010 budget as a “goal”, but took no real action.

World Health Aid. Obama promised to launch a Health Infrastructure 2020 to give aid targeted at developing countries health care systems. No action.

Small Business Aid. Obama promised to create an agricultural initiative to create a fund that will provide seed capital and technical assistance to small and medium enterprises. No action.

Tax Havens. Obama promised to create an international tax haven watch list of countries that do not share information returns with the United States. No action.

Climate Change. Obama promised to bring the United States into the suicide pact that is climate change theology. But he disappointed the world by not submitting Kyoto the Senate, and now it looks like the Copenhagen Treaty is in trouble because the Senate hasn’t passed a cap and trade law, and China and India won’t participate in a new treaty until we agree to cut our emissions. No action.

Nuclear Weapons/Proliferation. Obama made several promises vis-a-vis nuclear weapons:
• He promised to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet, one of Obama’s first acts was to authorize the transfer of nuclear equipment to India in violation of the treaty. . . an evil for which Bush was roundly criticized. He then poured salt (or is it SALT 2?) into the wound by letting Hillary state that this arrangement (which violates the Treaty) can “serve as the foundation of a productive partnership on non-proliferation.”

• He promised to seek reductions in US and Russian stockpiles. On April 1, Fools Day, Obama and Medvedev agreed to pursue a new agreement by the end of the year to reduce the number of strategic warheads from 2,200 to around 1,600. Woo hoo, an agreement to agree on an insignificant reduction.

• He promised to stop the development of new nuclear weapons. No action.

• He promised to work with Russia to take US and Russian missiles off “hair trigger alert.” No action. In fact, Russian Presidential Security Council Chief Nikolai Patrushev recently declared that Russia reserves the right to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes on both a “large, regional and even local” scale to safeguard Russia from aggression, and he singled out Obama’s United States and NATO as foes who still pose threats to Russia.

• He promised to institute a global ban on intermediate-range missiles. No action.

• He promised to secure all loose nuclear material within four years and to negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear material. No action.

2. War On Terror. Obama promised to refocus the war on terror (in fact, he has even informally banned the phrase).
End The Use of Torture & Extreme Rendition. Obama promised to stop both torture and extreme rendition. He signed an executive order on January 22, 2009 that claims to end these practice, but really doesn’t. It did however, establish a task force to study these issues. Yipee!

Guantanamo. Obama promised to close Guantanamo and to ensure that the terrorists housed there receive all the rights afforded by international law. On his second day in office, he signed an executive order that promised to close Guantanamo within one year. That won’t happen. White House counsel Greg Craig has been offered as a scapegoat for this failure.

On May 15, Obama also announced that he would keep the current system in place for handling the inmates. In fact, he even tried to strip them of more rights.

Iraq. Obama promised to remove American troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010. There appear to be about the same number of troops there right now as before the surge, and Obama has stated that he plans to keep 35,000 to 50,000 troops in Iraq through 2011.

Afghanistan. Calling Afghanistan the “good war,” Obama promised to send two more brigades to conduct a non-surge surge. He did that and it didn’t work. So now his generals are very publicly asking for 40,000 more troops, and Obama seems incapable of coming up with a plan -- largely because his own party is split on whether or not to continue the war.

Obama also promised to use his messianic powers of persuasion to get the Europeans to contribute more forces and to remove the restrictions those countries placed on the troops they did send. Most of the Europeans right away ruled out sending more troops, and some are discussing pulling out entirely. On September 29, 2009, Obama finally met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He achieved nothing.

Pakistan. Obama promised to condition US military aid to Pakistan on their shutting down training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a base to strike into Afghanistan. Obama did sign a law placing such conditions on Pakistan’s aid for the next five years. Whether or not this is verifiable remains to be seen.

Anti-Extremist Schools. Obama promised to establish a $2 billion Global Education Fund to “offer an alternative to extremist schools.” No action.
3. Russia. Obama promised to “address the challenge posed by an increasingly autocratic and bellicose Russia” by (1) supporting democratic partners in the region and upholding principles of sovereignty in Eurasia; (2) strengthening the transatlantic alliance so that it speaks with a unified voice to Russia; (3) decreasing the dependence of Europe on Russian energy; and (4) engaging directly with Russia on issues of mutual interest. Um, fail. He slapped down Poland and abandoned Georgia, thereby ensuring that no alternative to Russian gas would be available to Europe. He has done nothing to stop Germany and England from becoming Russian natural gas addicts. And he’s pandered and kowtowed to the totalitarian Vladimir Putin.

4. Middle East. Obama promised a realignment of United States policy in the Middle East. Good luck with that.
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Obama promised that resolving this conflict would be a key diplomatic priority. He also promised to “never distance” the United States from Israel and to support Israel’s right to self defense (including continuing US cooperation with developing an Israeli missile defense system). So far, his diplomatic efforts have lost the good will of the Palestinians: “All hopes placed in the new US administration and President Obama have evaporated.”

He also promised to continue military and economic aid to Israel ($30 billion over the next decade). No action to date.

Iran. Obama planned tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Obama promised to offer Iran (1) membership in the World Trade Organization, (2) economic investments, and (3) normal diplomatic relations, if Iran abandons its nuclear program and its support for terrorism. If Iran refused, Obama promised increased economic and political pressure. Iran rebuked Obama’s offer before he made it. He has since ignored Iran. He ignored the uprising by the Iranian people. He has been unable to stop Russia from adding to Iran’s nuclear capability. And now even the French are upset that he's been so weak.

The Arab World. Obama promised to use his unique talents to explain to the Arab world that we “are not at war with Islam.” So far he’s given one speech in Egypt and one in Turkey, claiming that the United States is a Muslim nation. Only 19% of Americans think this will improve our relations with the Muslim world.
5. Asia. Obama plans to seek new partners in Asia, while maintaining strong ties with allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia, and work to ensure that China plays by international rules.
Japan. Japan’s recent elections have resulted in a new government that wants United States military bases removed from Japanese soil.

China. Obama promised to use all tools available to demand that China (1) respect human rights, (2) fight intellectual piracy, (3) end their suppression of Tibet, (4) improve the safety of their products, (5) end their currency manipulation, which “contributes to massive global imbalances and provides Chinese companies with an unfair competitive advantage,” and (6) to end their support of repressive regimes in Sudan, Burma, Iran and Zimbabwe. Other than sending Geithner to beg the Chinese to buy American debt, no action to date.

North Korea. Obama promised to use “sustained, direct and aggressive diplomacy” to handle North Korea, promising to impose “strong international sanctions” against North Korea for any violation of United Nations resolutions. They’ve been shooting rockets into the Pacific ever since. No action.
6. Africa. Obama promised to make Africa a top diplomatic priority. He promised to open consulates in “hopeless corners” of Africa. He promised to immediately take steps to end the genocide in Darfur by “increasing pressure” on Sudan. And he promised to create a Global Energy and Environment Initiative to ensure that African countries have access to low cost energy. No action to date.

7. Latin America. Obama promised to rebuild diplomatic links throughout the hemisphere through aggressive, principled and sustained diplomacy. He promised to promote democracy in Cuba by allowing unlimited family travel and remittances, which he has done. He also promised to offer Cuba normal relations and a lifting of the embargo if Cuba takes significant steps toward democratization, which hasn’t happened.

He also promised (threatened) to rethink trade agreements, saying he will stand firm against agreements that “undermine our economic security” and promised to use trade agreements to “spread good labor and environmental standards around the world.” No action to date.

Finally, he promised to foster regional security through an initiative to cooperate in combating drug gangs. No action to date.

That’s it. Not much to write home about, is it?


BevfromNYC said...

Really, let's have a little sympathy. How can he possibly get any of those things started? He inherited a huge mess. That's why he's been busy playing golf (24 times), attending fundraisers (23 times), vacationing in Hawaii and Cape Cod, and stumping for various Democrats running for office! Oh, and I almost forgot - declaring war on Fox News...

[Hey, this is fun. Now I see why Libs kept doing this with Bush!]

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You're right about his priorities.

What's interesting about this, is that people overestimate what it takes to do these things. It's not like the President needs to do these things personally. He's the big picture guy -- he has a staff of millions in the bureaucracy, whose job it is to implement his policies.

One half an hour meeting on each issue every couple of months is really all it would take get the right people moving in the right direction. All he needs to do then is a little supervision and swooping in for the finale.

Yet, he can't be bothered.

If I were a supporter of his, I'd be furious.

StanH said...

As an American, I’m furious. His ineptitude is in full display, and as a parlor sport is fun to watch. But, this is dangerous for our country, though I want Barry to fail, I do not want America to fail. I hope there are responsible democrats that are watching this fool (Barry) stumble about.

Writer X said...

He continues to vote "present," even in foreign issues. But at least his golf game has improved!

What a failure--and it's only his first year! Oy.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, There is a real danger to this country (and our allies) because of his behavior. Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc. will all test him and keep testing him. And the more he shows he's not up to the task, the greater the likelihood of something really serious happening that will endanger American lives.

Look how Clinton's failure to deal with al queda resulted in a series of attacks, culminating in 9/11.

When you let someone who is determined to do evil get away with it, don't be surprised if they do evil.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, It's a pattern that goes back his whole life. He's the empty suit, voting present time and time again.

What fascinates me is that his handlers don't seem to be any better. I don't think Bush did much in the White House either, but his team went to work in all areas. Obama's team seems to be as lazy (and incompetent) as Obama.

Writer X said...

Andrew, and rather than laying out the agenda and his accomplishments (or lack of) as you've done here, the media treats us to more stories about the Obama marriage, his golf games, and Michele Obama's fashion sense. In other words, seems the only thing his handlers (and the MSM) can report is the glossy stuff to hide what's really happening. His handlers are sharp enough to keep showing that the emperor is, in fact, wearing clothes but even that is wearing thin.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, It's hard to point out all this technical stuff. . . and people really don't want to know. :-(

You know, seriously, there was a time when the media actually would have kept track of things like this. Not anymore.

DCAlleyKat said...

Andrew: There is a real danger to this country (and our allies) because of his behavior. Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc. will all test him and keep testing him. And the more he shows he's not up to the task, the greater the likelihood of something really serious happening that will endanger American lives.

Look how Clinton's failure to deal with al queda resulted in a series of attacks, culminating in 9/11.

We are indeed in danger! Thanks for the reminder Andrew. Right now every moment this administration puts off Afghanistan military needs our sons and daughters pay the price for his indecision/weakness!

AndrewPrice said...

DCAlleyKat, people often don't follow foreign affairs because they think it won't affect them. But it really does. Consider just a couple of examples of how you and I can be drawn in by Obama's mistakes:

1. If Russia attacks Poland (they simulated a nuclear strike on Poland today), we are at war with Russia because of NATO membership.

2. If China gets their hands on oil that we currently buy (like in Venezuela) the price of gas skyrockets here and we have shortages.

3. If Iran gets an atomic bomb, there is a very good chance that an American city will be destroyed.

And there are a million more examples. That's why it's important that a President pay attention to the world.

BevfromNYC said...

Writer X: The MSM are finally coming around especialy since the Friday stimulus report. Nobody not even the most ardent Huffington Post Obamabots bought the "created or saved" crap and hit back. I have been following the Robert Gibbs daily WH press briefings and the WH press corps is asking hard questions and Gibbs doesn't give them any answers. The press is getting frustrated and testy at the WH.

Andrew you are exactly right and this just points up over and over again his lack of executive experience. Will the Dems understand that now? Probably not, but then maybe that is a good thing. He's facing much deeper and more bitter disappointment from the left that from the right.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You're right. I think they are catching on, and they are getting upset. And I think what really has bothered them is his inability to deliver on the promises he made to the left. So now they're looking around at everything else, and they are slowly discovering that there isn't anything there to commend him.

You can almost feel the disappointment (turning into anger) on the left.

StanH said...

You can make a good argument that the most important duty that a President has is foreign policy. Turn your back on crazy people, at your own peril. Barry is, and will be tested, subsequently America is tested. The sad part many of his advisors or confidants, Zbigmiew Brezezinski, Madeline Albright, etc. are just as clueless as Barry.

Unknown said...

Andrew: He is alienating both the left and the right, and has failed to do anything for the middle. It has been abundantly clear that he is exactly the empty suit we said he was during the election. And yet he doesn't seem to slip below fifty percent in popularity. His negatives are way up, admittedly, but people vote on the popularity index. At times I can only shake my head in horrified amazement.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, It is amazing that all of these "credentialled" people, who've spent so much time deaing with foreign policy, don't seem to have picked up on something that seems pretty obvious to most everyone else in the world.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That depends on which poll you follow. I follow Rasmussen because he's been the most consistent and most consistently accurate and he keeps finding Obama below 50%.

Individualist said...

4. Middle East. Obama promised a realignment of United States policy in the Middle East. Good luck with that.

Now Andrew I believe that Obama has done something in regard to this, why in Saudi Arabia the country the houses the Holy Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina.

What he did was I'll give you a hint. It involves a gesture exercising the knees and the abdominal muscles. Although I am not sure how much "luck" he has had with that good or bad.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, Ironically, despite his attempts to cede power in the Middle East to the Arabs, they seem incapable of taking it. How's that for funny. . . funny tragic, but funny nonetheless.

Individualist said...

Andrew ... LOL

Obama's been trying cede power wherever he goes.....

It's easier to be liked when one does not have to make any tough decisions

AndrewPrice said...

Liked yes, respected no!

Individualist said...


Could not have said it any better myself

Tennessee Jed said...

Two things jump out at me after reading this phenomenally good post. 1) Maybe the reason he has trashed all our European allies is he actually is a closet angry racist.

Second, if I were running for President, the guy I'd want to run the campaign, or at least frame the issues and platform is Andrew.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed!

I would be happy to help you run for President! :-)

I have avoided calling him a racist because I'm not sure it's anything personal, but he certainly seem to have an anti-European bias, which shows most clearly in his foreign policy.

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