The Obama-Clinton-Kerry Legacy

Posted: Feb 19, 2014 9:56 AM
The Obama-Clinton-Kerry Legacy

Ukraine joins the long list of countries that have regressed into deeper shadow under President Obama and his two Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

The list of just those countries we know about because they have have made huge headlines include Iran and its lost Green Revolution, Egypt and the years of chaos begun when the president and his team had four policies vis-a-vis Egypt in as many days, Libya where "leading from behind" was coined, Syria where the red line faded into black, Lebanon and Jordan where the Syrians sought refuge, Iraq where the peace has been forfeited and civil war begun again, Afghanistan where our scamper is underway and the Taliban is waiting, and this week Venezuela and Ukraine where American fecklessness has emboldened the worst of the locals to imprison and kill.

Somewhere Hillary is writing her memoir and using a calculator to add up the number of miles she flew as Secretary of State. She will obsess on that number as it is the only thing her defenders can recall as an "achievement" of her time. Among those I have asked to list the former First Lady-Senatopr-SecState's achievements while at Foggy Bottom who came up empty: Lanny Davis, The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, Politico's Maggie Habermann, The New York Times' Mark Liebovich, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank among others, and it turns out that I am not the only one who has been using this question as a means to illustrate the utter emptiness and destructiveness-by-apathy-andentropy of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry years. Charles Krauthammer, my guest on yesterday's radio show, has been using the same technique to arrive at the same conclusion:

HH: With these fiascos underway in Kiev, a massacre, and in Venezuela, the arrest of opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez today, Hillary’s foreign policy trifecta is complete. She’s lost South America, she’s lost the Middle East, and she’s lot Eastern Europe. How does anyone recover from that and run for the presidency?

CK: By losing the Pacific Rim.

HH: (laughing)

CK: Then you get a straight flush. You get a royal flush. Look, you know, when people talk about Hillary being a superb secretary of State, I just ask one question. Name me one thing, just one, not three, give me one thing she achieved in her four years as secretary of State. I have yet to hear an answer.

HH: You’re right.

CK: She traveled a lot. So did Marco Polo. And you want him to be president?

"She traveled a lot. So did Marco Polo. And you want him to be president?" The people of Kiev certainly won't count her "reset" button as an accomplishment if the events of yesterday and the past three months are understood to be the results of that button's being pushed.

Nor the opposition in Venezuela, or the families of the gassed in Syria or the neighbors of Iran threatened by a nuclear program legitimized and a sanctions program ended. The mounting misery in Iraq and the coming Taliban push into the vacuum left by the president's withdrawal are twin legacies of reversing W, but most of the wrest of the wreckage is uniquely a work of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry tenure.

The consequences of this epic, tripartite incompetence? I asked historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson yesterday:

HH: Victor Davis Hanson, a week ago today, or yesterday, actually, President Obama made up wholesale changes to Obamacare, and it was sort of a scales falling from the eyes moment. A lot of people noticed what many of us have been saying for years, that he’s essentially lawless and unbound from any Constitutional restriction. And it’s shocked people. Do you think Kiev is going to shock people into realizing that the emperor has no clothes when it comes to foreign policy?

VDH: Yeah, I think the American people sense that, but I’m even more scared that I think even people abroad that might have been sympathetic to him, I think people in the Middle East, I think people in Europe, they just don’t listen to what he says. When he gets on the podium, it’s embarrassing now, Hugh, because it’s going to be make no mistake about it, let me be perfectly clearly, in point of fact, it’s going to be a little braggadocio, a little touch, macho stuff, and then he’s going to brag on something, trash George Bush, and then he’s going to pronounce some grand initiative. And nobody’s going to take it seriously, because never once in the past has anything he said proved to be true or called true. So you know, they’re going to say well, this is the guy who gave all the deadlines and the red lines, I should say, to Syria, the deadlines to Iran, pulled out of Iraq, played Spades with Reggie Love on the night of the bin Laden raid. Come on, they don’t take him seriously anymore, and that’s really, it’s kind of sad. I’m worried, because it’s our country.

HH: Well, it’s three years. It’s three years with essentially a vacant Oval Office.

VDH: That’s a very good point, Hugh, because we saw this, some of us our age, with Jimmy Carter and then that annus horriblus in late 1979 and ’80, they called all the chips in. And suddenly, there communists in Central America, China invaded Vietnam, the Russians went into Afghanistan, the Shah fell, they took hostages, but that was a four year term. And that happened in the last year. We’ve never seen something where we have three more years to go to this. It’s going to be really scary, because I think a lot of people, regional hegemons, whether it’s Iran or China or Japan, or maybe Turkey in the Aegean, they’re going to take risks and take gambles that they otherwise wouldn’t do, because they’re convinced it won’t lead to a wider war, because the United States, they think, has lost its deterrent effect, so they feel now it’s time to get up from the poker table and cash in your chips. And we’re much stronger than we seem, and I don’t think that’s quite right, but that’s how wars start when people think they can get away with something stupid.

Dangerous times ahead, and not just for the peoples on the front lines of Putin's, the PRC's or Iran's ambitions. Wherever a strong and purposeful America might have held back the ambitions and brutality of dictators, the watch is missing, the deterrent gone.

Sad to say, you ain't seen nothing yet.