Saturday, July 26, 2014

That was then...

John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention in 2012..
Again and again, the other side has lied about where this president stands and what this president has done. But Prime Minister Netanyahu set the record straight—he said, our two countries have "exactly the same policy…"—"our security cooperation is unprecedented..." When it comes to Israel, I'll take the word of Israel's prime minister over Mitt Romney any day.
President Obama promised to work with Russia to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and signed an historic treaty that does just that. He promised to lock down nuclear materials around the world, and he has done just that. He refused to accept the false choice between force without diplomacy or diplomacy without force.
When a brutal dictator promised to kill his own people "like rats," President Obama enlisted our allies, built the coalition and shared the burden, so that today—without a single American casualty—Moammar Gadhafi is gone and the people of Libya are free.
So on one side of this campaign, we have a president who has made America lead like America again. What is there on the other side? An extreme and expedient candidate, who lacks the judgment and vision so vital in the Oval Office. The most inexperienced foreign policy twosome to run for president and vice president in decades
Emphasis added to point out his perceived successes.  But that was then, this is now:
  • Time Mag headline announcing a "Cold War II" after Russian complicity in the shoot-down of a passenger jet, with no significant consequences; 
  • Israel and HAMAS locked in battle after a failed secret 9 month peace effort was abandoned;
  • Iraq down the drain due to instability in Syria, where the administration failed to effectively intervene leaving over 200,000 dead civilians with a renewed precedent of allowing a dictator to remain in power after using WMDs;
  • part of Ukraine ceded to Putin, who remains one of the main interlocutors over the US-led Iranian nuke agreement talks (which the Iranians just violated without penalty);
  • and a teetering pause in Afghanistan after a contested election with the Taliban salivating as US troops prepare to bug out (after we traded 4 top terrorists for an Army deserter). 

Now this:
The U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuated its personnel on Saturday because of heavy militia violence raging in the capital, Tripoli, the State Department said. About 150 personnel, including 80 U.S. Marines were evacuated from the embassy in the early hours of Saturday morning and were driven across the border into Tunisia, U.S. officials confirm to CNN.
It's hard to imagine how things could be going much worse in all these hotspots.  Meanwhile, the US's fuzzy foreign policy has surely reduced the confidence and trust of our partners and allies around the world.  But this post isn't about reveling in failure to score points, as all these events are bad for America.  No, it's about confirming that blind arrogance sputtered by inept politicians trying to parlay past US failures (or media-fueled narratives of failure) into political victories does nothing to actually prevent bad things from happening once they get into power.  Photo-ops of politicians pushing reset buttons aren't magic. Words and deeds can and should come back to haunt those who use them just to get ahead or belittle opponents.

The president's current projection of nonchalance (going out fund-raising, drinking beer in pool halls, eating hamburgers and such) is no doubt a planned strategy, perhaps to show the world these terrible blow-ups are still beneath the level of alerting a US president.  However, the posturing has done nothing to solve the problems, while raising concern from the American people.  For any other leader it might be time to give a prime time address on foreign policy.   For this president it's not entirely clear whom he believes to be the main enemy.


Here's part of a statement from the guy who proclaimed that Obama had freed Libya:
He blamed the "freewheeling militia violence," caused by jihadist groups that have only grown in power since the ouster of former president Muammar Gaddafi, for creating an environment in which the diplomatic activities at the Libya embassy had to be suspended.
"A lot of the violence is around our embassy but not on the embassy, but nevertheless it presents a very real risk to our personnel," Kerry said.
Does the pottery barn analogy apply here?

No comments: