If only in the interest of intellectual hygiene, it would be refreshing if the Obama administration would stop ascribing moral impetuses to its foreign policy.
Today, US forces are engaged in a slowly escalating war on behalf of al-Qaida penetrated antiregime forces in Libya. It is difficult to know the significance of al-Qaida’s role in the opposition forces because to date, the self-proclaimed rebel government has only disclosed 10 of its 31 members.
Indeed, according to The New York Times
, the NATO-backed opposition to dictator Muammar Gaddafi is so disorganized that it cannot even agree about who the commander of its forces is.
And yet, despite the fact that the Obama administration has no clear
notion of who is leading the fight against Gaddafi or what they stand
for, this week the White House informed Congress that it will begin
directly funding the al-Qaida-linked rebels, starting with $25 million
in non-lethal material.
This aid, like the NATO no-fly zone
preventing Gaddafi from using his air force, and the British military
trainers now being deployed to Libya to teach the rebels to fight, will
probably end up serving no greater end then prolonging the current
stalemate. With the Obama administration unwilling to enforce the no-fly
zone with US combat aircraft, unwilling to take action to depose
Gaddafi and unwilling to cultivate responsible, pro-Western successors
to Gaddafi, the angry tyrant will probably remain in power indefinitely.
and of itself, the fact that the war has already reached a stalemate
constitutes a complete failure of the administration’s stated aim of
protecting innocent Libyan civilians from slaughter.
Not only are
both the regime forces and the rebel forces killing civilians daily.
Due to both sides’ willingness to use civilians as human shields, unable
to separate civilians from military targets, NATO forces are also
killing their share of civilians.
In deciding in favor of
military intervention on the basis of a transnational legal doctrine
never accepted as law by the US Congress called “responsibility to
protect,” President Barack Obama was reportedly swayed by the arguments
of his senior national security adviser Samantha Power. Over the past 15
years, Power has fashioned herself into a celebrity policy wonk by
cultivating a public persona of herself as a woman moved by the desire
to prevent genocide. In a profile of Power in the current issue of the National Journal
, Jacob Heilbrunn explains, “Power is not just an advocate for human rights.
She is an outspoken crusader against genocide...”
writes that Power’s influence over Obama and her celebrity status has
made her the leader of a new US foreign policy elite. “This elite,” he
writes, “is united by a shared belief that American foreign policy must
be fundamentally transformed from an obsession with national interests
into a broader agenda that seeks justice for women and minorities, and
promotes democracy whenever and wherever it can — at the point of a
cruise missile if necessary.”
As the prolonged slaughter in Libya
and expected continued failure of the NATO mission make clear, Power
and her new foreign policy elite have so far distinguished themselves
mainly by their gross incompetence.
But then, even if the Libyan
mission were crowned in success, it wouldn’t make the moral pretentions
of the US adventure there any less disingenuous. And this is not simply
because the administration-backed rebels include al-Qaida fighters.
fact is that the moral arguments used for intervening militarily on
behalf of Gaddafi’s opposition pale in comparison to the moral arguments
for intervening in multiple conflicts where the Obama administration
refuses to lift a finger. At a minimum, this moral inconsistency renders
it impossible for the Obama administration to credibly embrace the
mantel of moral actor on the world stage.
Consider the administration’s Afghanistan policy.
the past week, the White House and the State Department have both
acknowledged that administration officials are conducting negotiations
with the Taliban.
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton defended the administration’s policy. During a memorial service
for the late ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who at the time of his death
last December was the most outspoken administration figure advocating
engaging Mullah Omar and his followers, Clinton said, “Those who found
negotiations with the Taliban distasteful got a very powerful response
from Richard – diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our
Of course, the Taliban are not simply not America’s
friends. They are the enemy of every good and decent human impulse. The
US went to war against the Taliban in 2001 because the Bush
administration rightly held them accountable for Osama bin Laden and his
terror army which the Taliban sponsored, hosted and sheltered on its
But the Taliban are America’s enemy not just because
they bear responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the US. They
are the enemy of the US because they are evil monsters.
the supposedly moral, anti-genocidal, pro-women Obama administration
needs to be reminded why it is not merely distasteful but immoral to
engage the Taliban. So here it goes.
Under the Taliban, the women
and girls of Afghanistan were the most oppressed, most terrorized, most
endangered group of people in the world. Women and girls were denied
every single human right. They were effectively prisoners in their
homes, allowed on the streets only when fully covered and escorted by a
They were denied the right to education, work and
medical care. Women who failed to abide in full by these merciless rules
were beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and stoned to death.
Taliban’s barbaric treatment of women and girls probably couldn’t have
justified their overthrow at the hands of the US military. But it
certainly justified the US’s refusal to even consider treating them like
legitimate political actors in the 10 years since NATO forces first
arrived in Afghanistan. And yet, the self-proclaimed champions of the
downtrodden in the administration are doing the morally unjustifiable.
They are negotiating, and so legitimizing the most diabolical sexual
tyranny known to man. Obama, Clinton, Power and their colleagues are now
shamelessly advancing a policy that increases the likelihood that the
Taliban will again rise to power and enslave Afghanistan’s women and
girls once more.
Then there is Syria. In acts of stunning
courage, despite massive regime violence that has killed approximately
two hundred people in three weeks, anti-regime protesters in Syria are
not standing down. Instead, they are consistently escalating their
protests. They have promised that the demonstrations after Friday
prayers this week will dwarf the already unprecedented country-wide
protests we have seen to date.
In the midst of the Syrian
demonstrators’ calls for freedom from one of the most repressive regimes
in the Middle East, the Obama administration has sided with their
murderous dictator Bashar Assad, referring to him as a “reformer.”
Heibrunn notes in his profile of Power, she and her colleagues find
concerns about US national interests parochial at best and immoral at
worst. Her clear aim — and that of her boss – has been to separate US
foreign policy from US interests by tethering it to transnational
organizations like the UN.
Given the administration’s contempt
for policy based on US national interests, it would be too much to
expect the White House to notice that Syria’s Assad regime is one of the
greatest state supporters of terrorism in the world and that its
overthrow would be a body blow to Iran, Venezuela, Hezbollah, Hamas,
Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida and therefore a boon for US national
The Syrian opposition presents the likes of Obama and
Power with what ought to be a serious moral dilemma. First, they seem to
fit the precise definition of the sort of people that the
transnationalists have a responsibility to protect.
being gunned down by the dozen as they march with olive branches and
demand change they can believe in. Moreover, their plan for ousting
Assad involves subordinating him to the transnationalists at the UN.
to a report last week in The Washington Times
representatives of several Syrian opposition groups have asked the
administration to do three things in support of the opposition, all of
which are consonant with the administration’s own oft stated foreign
They have requested that Obama condemn the
regime’s murderous actions in front of television cameras. They have
asked the administration to initiate an investigation of Assad’s
murderous response to the demonstrations at the UN Human Rights Council.
And they have asked the administration to enact unilateral sanctions
against a few Syrian leaders who have given troops the orders to kill
The administration has not responded to the
request to act against Assad at the UN Human Rights Council. It has
refused the opposition’s other two requests.
These responses are
no surprise in light of the Obama administration’s abject and consistent
refusal to take any steps that could help Iran’s pro-democracy,
pro-women’s rights, pro-Western opposition Green Movement in its nearly
two-year-old struggle to overthrow the nuclearproliferating,
terror-supporting, genocide-inciting, elections-stealing mullocracy.
personal contribution to the shocking moral failings of the
administration’s foreign policy is of a piece with her known hostility
towards Israel. That hostility, which involves a moral inversion of the
reality of the Palestinian war against Israel, was most graphically
exposed in a 2002 interview. Then, at the height of the Palestinian
terror war against Israel, when Palestinian terrorists from Hamas and
Fatah alike were carrying out daily attacks whose clear aim was the
massacre of as many Israeli civilians as possible simply because they
were Israelis, Power said in a filmed interview that she supported
deploying a “mammoth” US military force to Israel to protect the
Palestinians from the IDF.
In periodic attempts to convince
credulous pro-Israel writers that she doesn’t actually support invading
Israel, Power has claimed that her statements calling for just such an
invasion and additional remarks in which she blamed American Jews for US
support of Israel were inexplicable lapses of judgment.
there have been so many lapses in judgment in her behavior and in the
actions of the administration she serves that it is hard to see where
the lapses begin and the judgment ends. Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran
and Israel are only the tip of the iceberg. Everywhere from Honduras to
Venezuela, from Britain to Russia, from Colombia to Cuba, Japan to
China, Egypt to Lebanon, to Poland and the Czech Republic and beyond,
those lapses in judgment are informing policies that place the US
consistently on the side of aggressors against their victims.
in the pre-Obama days, when US foreign policy was supposed to serve US
interests, it would have mattered that these policies all weaken the US
and its allies and empower its foes. But now, in the era of the purely
altruistic Obama administration, none of that matters.
matter is that the purely altruistic Obama foreign policy is empowering
genocidal, misogynist, bigoted tyrants firstname.lastname@example.org