IN STAKING out a seemingly hard-nosed, unsentimental position on Iran, Obama and his advisers would have us believe that unlike their predecessors, they are foreign policy "realists." Unlike Jimmy Carter, who supported the America-hating mullahs against the America-supporting shah 30 years ago in the name of his moralistic post-Vietnam War aversion to American exceptionalism, Obama supports the America-hating mullahs against the America-supporting freedom protesters because all he cares about are "real" American interests.
So too, unlike George W. Bush, who openly supported Iran's pro-American democratic dissidents against the mullahs due to his belief that the advance of freedom in Iran and throughout the world promoted US national interests, Obama supports the anti-American mullahs who butcher these dissidents in the streets and abduct and imprison them by the thousands due to his "hard-nosed" belief that doing so will pave the way for a meeting of the minds with their oppressors.
Yet Obama's policy is anything but realistic. By refusing to support the dissidents, he is not demonstrating that he is a realist. He is showing that he is immune to reality. He is so committed to appeasing the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei that he is incapable of responding to actual events, or even of taking them into account for anything other than fleeting media appearances meant to neutralize his critics.
Rice and Axelrod demonstrated the administration's determination to eschew reality when they proclaimed that Ahmadinejad's "reelection" is immaterial. As they see it, appeasement isn't dead since it is Khamenei - whom they deferentially refer to as "the supreme leader" - who sets Iran's foreign policy.
While Khamenei is inarguably the decision maker on foreign policy, his behavior since June 12 has shown that he is no moderate. Indeed, as his post-election Friday "sermon" 10 days ago demonstrated, he is a paranoid, delusional America-bashing tyrant. In that speech he called Americans "morons" and accused them of being the worst human-rights violators in the world, in part because of the Clinton administration's raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993.
Perhaps what is most significant about Obama's decision to side with anti-American tyrants against pro-American democrats in Iran is that it is utterly consistent with his policies throughout the world. From Latin America to Asia to the Middle East and beyond, after six months of the Obama administration it is clear that in its pursuit of good ties with America's adversaries at the expense of America's allies, it will not allow actual events to influence its "hard-nosed" judgments.
TAKE THE ADMINISTRATION'S response to the Honduran military coup on Sunday. While the term "military coup" has a lousy ring to it, the Honduran military ejected president Manuel Zelaya from office after he ignored a Supreme Court ruling backed by the Honduran Congress which barred him from holding a referendum this week that would have empowered him to endanger democracy.
Taking a page out of his mentor Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's playbook, Zelaya acted in contempt of his country's democratic institutions to move forward with his plan to empower himself to serve another term in office. To push forward with his illegal goal, Zelaya fired the army's chief of staff. And so, in an apparent bid to prevent Honduras from going the way of Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua and becoming yet another anti-American Venezuelan satellite, the military - backed by Congress and the Supreme Court - ejected Zelaya from office.
And how did Obama respond? By seemingly siding with Zelaya against the democratic forces in Honduras who are fighting him. Obama said in a written statement: "I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of president Mel Zelaya."
His apparent decision to side with an anti-American would-be dictator is unfortunately par for the course. As South and Central America come increasingly under the control of far-left America-hating dictators, as in Iran, Obama and his team have abandoned democratic dissidents in the hope of currying favor with anti-American thugs. As Mary Anastasia O'Grady has documented in The Wall Street Journal, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have refused to say a word about democracy promotion in Latin America.
Rather than speak of liberties and freedoms, Clinton and Obama have waxed poetic about social justice and diminishing the gaps between rich and poor. In a recent interview with the El Salvadoran media, Clinton said, "Some might say President Obama is left-of-center. And of course that means we are going to work well with countries that share our commitment to improving and enhancing the human potential."
But not, apparently, enhancing human freedoms.
FROM IRAN to Venezuela to Cuba, from Myanmar to North Korea to China, from Sudan to Afghanistan to Iraq to Russia to Syria to Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration has systematically taken human rights and democracy promotion off America's agenda. In their place, it has advocated "improving America's image," multilateralism and a moral relativism that either sees no distinction between dictators and their victims or deems the distinctions immaterial to the advancement of US interests.
While Obama's supporters champion his "realist" policies as a welcome departure from the "cowboy diplomacy" of the Bush years, the fact of the matter is that in country after country, Obama's supposedly pragmatic and nonideological policy has either already failed - as it has in North Korea - or is in the process of failing. The only place where Obama may soon be able to point to a success is in his policy of coercing Israel to adopt his anti-Semitic demand to bar Jews from building homes in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. According to media reports, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has authorized Defense Minister Ehud Barak to offer to freeze all settlement construction for three months during his visit to Washington this week.
Of course, in the event that Obama has achieved his immediate goal of forcing Netanyahu to his knees, its accomplishment will hinder rather than advance his wider goal of achieving peace between Israel and its neighbors. Watching Obama strong-arm the US's closest ally in the region, the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab states have become convinced that there is no reason to make peace with the Jews. After all, Obama is demonstrating that he will deliver Israel without their having to so much as wink in the direction of peaceful coexistence.
So if Obama's foreign policy has already failed or is in the process of failing throughout the world, why is he refusing to reassess it? Why, with blood running through the streets of Iran, is he still interested in appeasing the mullahs? Why, with Venezuela threatening to invade Honduras for Zelaya, is he siding with Zelaya against Honduran democrats? Why, with the Palestinians refusing to accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination, is he seeking to expel some 500,000 Jews from their homes in the interest of appeasing the Palestinians? Why, with North Korea threatening to attack the US with ballistic missiles, is he refusing to order the USS John McCain to interdict the suspected North Korean missile ship it has been trailing for the past two weeks? Why, when the Sudanese government continues to sponsor the murder of Darfuris, is the administration claiming that the genocide in Darfur has ended?
The only reasonable answer to all of these questions is that far from being nonideological, Obama's foreign policy is the most ideologically driven since Carter's tenure in office. If when Obama came into office there was a question about whether he was a foreign policy pragmatist or an ideologue, his behavior in his first six months in office has dispelled all doubt. Obama is moved by a radical, anti-American ideology that motivates him to dismiss the importance of democracy and side with anti-American dictators against US allies.
For his efforts, although he is causing the US to fail to secure its aims as he himself has defined them in arena after arena, he is successfully securing the support of the most radical, extreme leftist factions in American politics.
Like Carter before him, Obama may succeed for a time in evading public scrutiny for his foreign-policy failures because the public will be too concerned with his domestic failures to notice them. But in the end, his slavish devotion to his radical ideological agenda will ensure that his failures reach a critical mass.
And then they will sink him.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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