Crises are exploding throughout the world.
And the leader of the free
world is making things worse.
On the Korean peninsula, North Korea just
upended eight years of State Department obfuscation by showing a team of US
nuclear scientists its collection of thousands of state-of-the-art centrifuges
installed in its Yongbyon nuclear reactor.
And just to top off the show,
as Stephen Bosworth, US President Barack Obama’s point man on North Korea, was
busily arguing that this revelation is not a crisis, the North fired an
unprovoked artillery barrage at South Korea, demonstrating that actually, it is
But the Obama administration remains unmoved. On Tuesday
Defense Secretary Robert Gates thanked his South Korean counterpart, Kim
Tae-young, for showing “restraint.”
On Thursday, Kim resigned in disgrace
for that restraint.
The US has spoken strongly of not allowing North
Korea’s aggression to go unanswered. But in practice, its only answer is to try
to tempt North Korea back to feckless multilateral disarmament talks that will
go nowhere because China supports North Korean armament. Contrary to what Obama
and his advisers claim, China does not share the US’s interest in denuclearizing
North Korea. Consequently, Beijing will not lift a finger to achieve that
Then there is Iran. The now inarguable fact that Pyongyang is
developing nuclear weapons with enriched uranium makes it all but certain that
the hyperactive proliferators in Pyongyang are involved in Iran’s uranium-based
nuclear weapons program. Obviously the North Koreans don’t care that the UN
Security Council placed sanctions on Iran. And their presumptive role in Iran’s
nuclear weapons program exposes the idiocy of the concept that these sanctions
can block Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal.
Every day as the regimes in
Pyongyang and Teheran escalate their aggression and confrontational stances, it
becomes more and more clear that the only way to neutralize the threats they
pose to international security is to overthrow them. At least in the case of
Iran, it is also clear that the prospects for regime change have never been
IRAN’S REGIME is in trouble. Since the fraudulent presidential
elections 17 months ago the regime has moved ferociously against its domestic
But dissent has only grown. And as popular resentment towards the
regime has grown, the likes of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, supreme dictator
Ali Khamenei and their Revolutionary Guards have become terrified of their own
people. They have imprisoned rappers and outlawed Western music. They have
purged their schoolbooks of Persian history. Everything that smacks of anything
non-Islamic is viewed as a threat.
Members of the regime are so
frightened by the public that this week several members of parliament tried to
begin impeachment proceedings against Ahmadinejad. Apparently they hope that
ousting him will be sufficient to end the public’s call for revolutionary
But Khamenei is standing by his man. And the impeachment
proceedings have ended as quickly as they began.
The policy implications
of all of this are clear.
The US should destroy Iran’s nuclear
installations and help the Iranian people overthrow the regime. But the Obama
administration will have none of it.
Earlier this month, Gates said, “If
it’s a military solution, as far as I’m concerned, it will bring together a
So in his view, the Iranian people who risk death to
defy the regime every day, the Iranian people who revile Ahmadinejad as “the
chimpanzee,” and call for Khamenei’s death from their rooftops every evening,
will rally around the chimp and the dictator if the US or Israel attacks Iran’s
Due to this thinking, as far as the Obama
administration is concerned the US should stick to its failed sanctions policy
and continue its failed attempts to cut a nuclear deal with the
As Michael Ledeen noted last week at Pajamas Media, this
boilerplate assertion, backed by no evidence whatsoever, is what passes for
strategic wisdom in Washington as Iran completes its nuclear project. And this
US refusal to understand the policy implications of popular rejection of the
regime is what brings State Department wise men and women to the conclusion that
the US has no dog in this fight. As State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told
The Wall Street Journal this week, the parliament’s bid to impeach Ahmadinejad
was nothing more than the product of “rivalries within the Iranian
THEN THERE is Lebanon. Since Ahmadinejad’s visit last month,
it is obvious that Iran is now the ruler of Lebanon and that it exerts its
authority over the country through its Hizbullah proxy.
threats to overthrow Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government if Hizbullah’s role
in assassinating his father in 2005 is officially acknowledged just make this
tragic reality more undeniable. And yet, the Obama administration continues to
deny that Iran controls Lebanon.
A month after Ahmadinejad’s visit, Obama
convinced the lame duck Congress to lift its hold on $100 million in US military
assistance to the Hizbullah-dominated Lebanese military. And the US convinced
Israel to relinquish the northern half of the border town of Ghajar to UN forces
despite the fact that the UN forces are at Hizbullah’s mercy.
midst of all these crises, Obama has maintained faith with his two central
foreign policy goals: forcing Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949
armistice lines and scaling back the US nuclear arsenal with an eye towards
unilateral disarmament. That is, as the forces of mayhem and war escalate their
threats and aggression, Obama’s central goals remain weakening the US’s most
powerful regional ally in the Middle East and rendering the US incompetent to
deter or defeat rapidly proliferating rogue states that are at war with the US
and its allies.
Having said that, the truth is that in advancing these
goals, Obama is not out of step with his predecessors. George H.W. Bush and Bill
Clinton both enacted drastic cuts in the US conventional and nonconventional
arsenals. Clinton and George W. Bush adopted appeasement policies towards North
Korea. Indeed, Pyongyang owes its nuclear arsenal to both presidents’ desire to
be deceived and do nothing.
Moreover, North Korea’s ability to
proliferate nuclear weapons to the likes of Iran, Syria and Venezuela owes in
large part to then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s insistence that Israel
say nothing about North Korea’s nuclear ties to Iran and Syria in the wake of
Israel’s destruction of the North Korean-built and Iranian-financed nuclear
reactor in Syria in September 2007.
AS FOR Iran, Obama’s attempt to
appease the regime is little different from his predecessors’ policies. The Bush
administration refused to confront the fact that the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq are to a large degree Iranian proxy wars.
The Bush administration
refused to acknowledge that Syria and Hizbullah are run by Teheran and that the
2006 war against Israel was nothing more than an expansion of the proxy wars
Iran is running in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama’s failed “reset” policy
towards Russia is also little different from its predecessors’
Bush did nothing but squawk after Russia invaded US ally
Georgia. The Clinton administration set the stage for Vladimir Putin’s KGB state
by squandering the US’s massive influence over post-Soviet Russia and allowing
Boris Yeltsin and his cronies to transform the country into an impoverished
Finally, Obama’s obsession with Israeli land giveaways to
the PLO was shared by Clinton and by the younger Bush, particularly after
Rice – who compared Israel to the Jim Crow South – was arguably as
hostile towards Israel as Obama.
So is Obama really worse than everyone
else or is he just the latest in a line of US presidents who have no idea how to
run an effective foreign policy? The short answer is that he is far worse than
A US president’s maneuver room in foreign affairs is
always very small. The foreign policy establishment in the Washington is
entrenched and uniformly opposed to bending to the will of elected leaders. The
elites in the State Department and the CIA and their cronies in academia and
policy circles in Washington are also consistently unmoved by reality, which as
a rule exposes their policies as ruinous.
The president has two ways to
shift the ship of state. First, he can use his bully pulpit. Second, he can
appoint people to key positions in the foreign policy bureaucracy.
entering office, Obama has used both these powers to ill effect. He has traveled
across the world condemning and apologizing for US world leadership. In so doing
he has convinced ally and adversary alike that he is not a credible leader; that
no one can depend on US security guarantees during his watch; and that it is
possible to attack the US, its allies and interests with
Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world combined with his
aggressive stance towards Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal, his bid to disarm
the US nuclear arsenal, and his ineffective response to North Korea’s nuclear
brinksmanship and Iran’s nuclear project have served to convince nations from
the Persian Gulf to South America to the Pacific Rim that they should begin
developing nuclear weapons. By calling for nuclear disarmament, he has provoked
the greatest wave of nuclear armament in history.
GIVEN HIS own
convictions, it is no surprise that all his key foreign policy appointments
share his dangerous views. The State Department’s Legal Adviser Harold Koh
believes the US should subordinate its laws to an abstract and largely unfounded
notion of international law. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele
Flournoy believes terrorists become radicalized because they are poor. She is
advised by leftist extremist Rosa Brooks. Attorney-General Eric Holder has
decided to open criminal investigations against CIA operatives who interrogated
terrorists and to try illegal enemy combatants in civilian courts.
these cases and countless others, Obama’s senior appointees are implementing
policies that are even more radical and dangerous than the radical and dangerous
policies of the Washington policy establishment. Not only are they weakening the
US and its allies, they are demoralizing public servants who are dedicated to
defending their country by signaling clearly that the Obama administration will
leave them high and dry in a crisis.
When a Republican occupies the White
House, his foreign policies are routinely criticized and constrained by the
liberal media. Radical Democratic presidents like Woodrow Wilson have seen their
foreign policies reined in by Republican Congresses.
Given the threats
Obama’s radical policies are provoking, it can only be hoped that through
hearings and other means, the Republicans in the Senate and the House of
Representatives will take an active role in curbing his policies. If they are
successful, the American people and the international community will owe them a
debt of gratitude.