Coherent Policy...I Think Not

Bill Neinast

The messy, mushy Obama Administration’s foreign policy was the topic here last week.  During the ensuing week, an attempt was made to find at least one thread of a coherent policy in the mix.

If there is a thread, it is barely visible.

The first inch of the thread might be the President’s whirlwind, worldwide apology tour at the beginning of his first term. He told the world not to expect intervention, aid, or protection from the U.S.  We were not going to be the bully on the block any longer.

He quickly followed this up with an expedited withdrawal from Iraq without even a half hearted attempt to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have permitted some U.S. military presence.  The disastrous and escalating violence throughout that historic land is his legacy.

Next, he suggested aiding the rebels attempting to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya by establishing a no fly zone over their enclaves.  There, though, he led from behind and expected England and France to do the yeoman’s work.

Then he threw our friend, ally, and protector of Israel under the bus in Egypt so that the Muslim Brotherhood could ascend to power and begin to establish a strict Muslim society in the country.

The thread is continuing to add length by current musings from Washington that we might negotiate with the Taliban (not the Afghani government) and pull up stakes in that country early next year, rather than later.  Here comes Afghanistan post Russian withdrawal and Iraq post U.S. withdrawal all over again.

While this is going on, a line is drawn in the sand in Syria and Assad is warned not to cross it with chemical weapons.  When the line is crossed, Obama just scratches his chin and says, “We’ll think about it.”

Finally, what about Iran’s nuclear arsenal?  Like the line in the sand in Syria, the Ayatollahs are told that they will not be allowed to join the nuclear fraternity.  Nonetheless, they merrily go about their uranium enrichment programs.  Oh, that’s right, the uranium is just for peaceful generating programs. 

The immediate effects of this withdrawal mentality is to encourage a lot of nose thumbing and eye poking by other countries. Russia laughingly refuses to assist the U.S. and others in restoring order in Syria while Iran and Lebanon freely funnel military support to Assad.  

To add insult to injury, Russian President Putin refuses to return Edwin Snowden to the U.S. and may offer him asylum in that country.  If asylum fails there, three of our southern neighbors, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia are offering him refuge.  Can anyone imagine that happening ten years ago?

Where this thread might be heading was surfacing back home.  The mantra of the administration has been that bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on the run, so the war is over.  President Obama and soon to be ex-Secretary of Homeland Security Nepolitano have been particularly vocal in this sentiment.  Rarely, if ever , will they refer to terrorist attacks like the one at Fort Hood as terrorists attacks.  Instead, they are called something like workplace violence. 

Quietly, the armed forces are being reduced in size both at home and abroad.

All of this activity, or lack thereof, could be a harbinger of a return to the policy of “Fortress America” with the rest of the world left on its own.  

A century ago, that policy made sense.  The U.S. was an isolated fortress.  Two oceans made the coasts almost impenetrable and weak, friendly neighbors on the northern and southern borders provided security with limited forces.

Those conditions no longer prevail.  Intercontinental missiles, long range stealth bombers, missile launching, silent running nuclear submarines, huge nuclear powered aircraft carriers, and drones make the U.S. as subject to attack as England was to German bombers and missiles in the 1940’s.

Our southern neighbors also are not so friendly as before. Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia offering asylum to Snowden certainly do not look friendly.  Even if all of South and Central America organized a unified threat against this country, they would not be able to match the war making technology and lethality of even a down sized U.S. military.  

They could, however, provide manpower, materials, and routes for smuggling weapons of mass destruction across the borders.  

While all of this is going on, unless drastic changes are made in international treaties, the country would still be bound by its word to protect much of Central Europe (Under the NATO treaties, an attack against one is an attack against all), Israel, Taiwan, and South Korea.


Will we be able to fulfill those obligations from Fortress America?

So here’s the perspective.

President Obama removed this country from the twin peaks of power and respect.  International scorn for the country has replaced respect and fear.

This would not be of too much concern if the U.S. were a Fortress America. As noted, however, such a safe fort is no longer possible.

If some Hitler-like maniac gains control of a country with access to intercontinental weapons, who will be our partners and protectors?

Can we afford to withdraw to the mythical Fortress America?

In answering that question, remember that a participating architect in designing this policy was Hillary Clinton.  If Republicans continue to knock each other off by campaigning on who is the most socially conservative among the candidates, she probably will be the next President.

With that prospect, the most appropriate closing may be a paraphrase of a political gem: Hillary, you are no Angela Merkel or Golda Meir.


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