On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, Obama ribbed Mitt Romney for, among other things, insulting the United States’ closest ally, Great Britain in a what is best described as a gaffe more than an insult. On the other hand, Obama’s foreign policy criticized alternately as, on one hand, unchanged from that of George W. Bush and on the other as a dramatic change from America diplomatic strategy stretching back to the Truman. Some have even labeled it a politically motivated “disaster for the world at large and, ultimately, for the United States itself.”
What amazes Mr. Hill is how much of a break the Obama foreign policy represents compared with the bipartisan consensus stretching back to Truman. That culminated in President George W. Bush’s second inaugural address, which he likens to an “emancipation proclamation for the world.” But, he says, “The democracy wave that began 20 years ago [at the end of the Cold War] is now turning backward.” Why? “The conduct of the Obama administration.”
- Guantanamo Bay, which Obama promised to close but left open when trial in civilian courts proved unworkable (and Obama is still using Bush legal framework in lieu of any alternative),
- Israel, where Obama Administration preconditions paralyzed peace talks and forced Obama retreat,
- Iran, where an initially soft approach has turned back to the hard sanctions favored under Bush, and
- Russia, where a “reset” of relations and cancellation of American missile defense systems to Poland and the Czech Republic but netted no closer relations with American’s one time Cold War rival. In fact, Russia vetoed an American resolution on Syria at the UN and Obama’s investment in Medvedev has begun to seem pointless with Putin back in the driver’s seat in the Kremlin (if he was ever really out of it). Russia is more authoritarian and oppressive to its people than ever since the end of the Cold War.
Libya may Obama’s only success story, and the ramifications of “leading from behind” there are still unclear.
Indeed, it may be that Obama’s diplomatic ear is tone-deaf, lacking the sophistication required in international diplomacy.
There’s a poignant line in the Disney/Pixar animated film when young Dashiell “Dash” Parr is reprimanded by his protective mother Helen “Elastigirl” Parr for nearly revealing his secret powers.
“But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special,” Dashiell says.
“Everyone’s special, Dash,” says Helen.
And then the line: “Which is another way of saying no one is,” says Dashiell.
With that, I give you Obaman diplomacy:
When every country is a “close and strong ally,” are any of them really that close or that strong?
With his eyes turned more towards reelection than America’s future and standing in the world, Obama (and his foreign policy speech writers) may have had his keyboard stuck on copy/paste. By seeing through eyes that neglect America’s unique “exceptionalism” in the world, Obama Administration foreign policy have threatened our stature on the world stage. In hitting the “reset” button, Obama has failed to consider the ultimate result in that reset on America and the world.
Perhaps it’s time to hit the reset button, again, but this time in the White House.
- Will Americans stick with Obama? (amyloutarry.wordpress.com)
- Feaver: Barack Obama’s feckless foreign policy (newsday.com)
- Obama’s “Classic Republican Foreign Policy” (theamericanconservative.com)
- Top ten Obama foreign policy failures (aei-ideas.org)
- McCain, Rice Slam Obama’s Foreign Policy (blogs.voanews.com)
- In speeches, Obama and Romney set up contrasts (newsvine.com)