Obama Foreign Policy

Appeasing America’s enemies has been a mainstay of American foreign policy for the last six years and now President Obama has the gall to criticize Sony Pictures for its decision to cancel the release of the film The Interview. America won’t stand up to anti-American tyrants, but a private company should stand up to the North Koreans. O, the hypocrisy.

Obama declared that Sony “made a mistake” in its decision to shelve the film and pledged that America would respond to the North Korean hack attack on Sony “in a place and manner and time that we choose.” No doubt the North Koreans are shaking in their boots. At the rate he’s going, Obama will probably end up extending diplomatic recognition to North Korea, following his new approach with Cuba.

On December 17, Obama announced that the U.S. will begin to normalize relations with Cuba. The Washington Post criticized the decision in an editorial, accusing Obama of giving the Castro regime an undeserved bailout (see here). This is true, but as the paper also printed an article in which reporters tripped over themselves in their haste to praise the decision (see here), it seems the editors at the Post can’t make up their minds about the issue.

Calling the Cuba deal a “breakthrough,” the Post article reports that the new policy “emphasizes pragmatism over ideology, engaging enemies rather than isolating them and setting aside historic grievances in order to reshape the future.” According to the Post, Obama’s speech “read like his entire foreign policy philosophy in microcosm.”

Okay, but let’s review that policy. Soon after Obama took office in 2009, the Benghazi Liar a/k/a Hillary Clinton gave Russia’s foreign minister a mock “reset” button (Obama’s version of the Staples “Easy” button) to symbolize the start of a new era of relations between the U.S. and Russia. Obama later scrapped missile defense projects in Poland and the Czech Republic because of Russian objections and entered into a new nuclear arms reduction treaty that generally favored Russia.

As we know, dealings with Russia have not been easy at all, despite the button. Russia responded to Obama’s “pragmatism” and “engagement” by taking Crimea from Ukraine, creating other unrest in eastern Ukraine, and opposing American positions on Syria and Iran’s nuclear program. And now, Putin apparently is courting Kim Jong Un of North Korea in the wake of the Sony hacking incident.

After taking office, Obama also pursued engagement with Iran’s mullahs. During this courtship, he looked away when Iranians demonstrated for democracy and ignored deadlines for negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Evidently, Obama believed his personality would cause the mullahs to slap themselves on the forehead and realize they were wrong all along. Time to stop the nuclear program, accept the right of Israel to exist, and become buddies with the Great Satan. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

True, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran, but that was mostly the doing of Congress, which dragged Obama along kicking and screaming all the way. Obama has not kept the pressure on Iran with either sanctions or negotiation deadlines and it’s all but certain that Iran will soon have nuclear weapons or at least possess quick “breakout” capability.

Given Obama’s track record, we shouldn’t expect much from his “engagement” with Cuba or his vow to respond to North Korea. Perhaps Obama or Joe Biden will lecture North Korea like they lectured Russia, explaining that we now live in the 21st century and that nations should not act like it’s the 19th century. But that will be hard to do as the Internet and hacking didn’t even exist in the 19th century.

Obama’s critics think he is either incompetent or naïve. The latter is more likely as Obama seems to believe that America’s enemies are not enemies, but victims of past American aggression. Thus, America must become a better international citizen, which for liberals means that, as Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, American policy should be “subservient to, dependent on, constricted by the will – and interests – of other nations.”

This may be true, but based on Obama’s recent unilateral and heavy-handed actions on domestic matters, he may sympathize with authoritarian regimes simply because the authoritarian impulse lies deep within him. The ability of a leader to impose his will on others with little hindrance may explain his attraction to and appeasement of Russia, Iran, and now Cuba.

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