Foreign Policy Through the Looking Glass

Posted: Dec 02, 2010 9:06 AM
What drives Obama’s approach to international affairs?

We need to face the world as it is, but our president sees the world the way he wishes it were--instead of seeing the cold hard realities that define it.

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Sadly for this great country of ours, it’s pretty darn hard to point out even a few—if any—Obama administration foreign policy successes since taking the White House nearly a full two years ago.

In fact, the successes that most reasonable people would agree on, such as ongoing Predator drone strikes on al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pakistani tribal areas, are basically just continuations of the policies of the George W. Bush administration.

In listing flagging policies, it’s hard to know where to begin.

For example, there has been no progress on halting Iran’s runaway nuclear or ballistic missile programs. As it stands today, the ayatollahs will be atomic before you know it; an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach us is not far off either.

North Korea detonated a nuke, launched a long-range missile, proliferated nuclear know-how to the likes of Burma and sank a naval corvette of our South Korean ally with the loss of some 40 lives.

Despite repeated mashing of the “reset button” with Russia, Moscow continues to steamroll Washington, building a nuclear reactor for Iran, selling arms and weapons technology to Syria and Iran, signing a nuclear agreement with Venezuela and publicly honoring members of a recently nabbed U.S.-based spy-ring.

China has been equally unwieldy for the administration, continuing its unprecedented military build-up while disadvantaging U.S. firms with trade barriers such as inhibiting market access and maintaining an undervalued currency.

Venezuela is a growing problem. Under President Hugo Chavez, it is starting a “civilian” nuclear program with Russia’s help and becoming the Latin American operating base for Hezbollah and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Qods Forces.

And so on.

Despite all of Obama’s promises, stemming from the 2008 presidential campaign that he would deliver a better foreign policy than his Republican opponent, he hasn’t restored, much less advanced, America’s position in the world.

Indeed, we may be in retreat. ...

What Obama and many on the Left have failed to realize is that it is not purely high-minded ideas that drive international politics, it is the calculation of raw national interests that stirs a country’s behavior.

The president wrongly thought he could turn “Obama-mania” abroad into concrete results. Instead, like many liberals in the past, he’s been mugged by the reality of the brass-knuckles world of international politics.

And while diplomacy can be a fabulous tool for resolving tough international disputes, it is only effective when accompanied by a credible threat of force. Otherwise, diplomacy can be reduced to little more than idle talk.

Unfortunately, Obama’s brand of foreign policy is attenuating American influence across the globe, making us look anemic and encouraging—not deterring—those who would challenge our national security or do us harm.

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