Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Flunks First Test on Foreign Policy

Here is an article from Charles Krauthammer-

By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER | Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009 4:20 PM PT

The Biden prophecy has come to pass. Our wacky veep, momentarily
inspired, had predicted last October that "it will not be six months
before the world tests Barack Obama."

Biden probably had in mind an eve-of-the-apocalyp
se drama like the
Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead, Obama's challenges have come in smaller
bites. Some are deliberate threats to U.S. interests, others mere
probes to ascertain whether the new president has any spine.

Preliminary X-rays aren't encouraging.

Consider the long list of brazen Russian provocations:

(a) Pressuring Kyrgyzstan to shut down the U.S. air base in Manas, an
absolutely crucial NATO conduit into Afghanistan.

(b) Announcing the formation of a "rapid reaction force" with six
former Soviet republics, a regional Russian-led strike force meant to
reassert Russian hegemony in the Muslim belt north of Afghanistan.

(c) Planning to establish a Black Sea naval base in Georgia's
breakaway province of Abkhazia, conquered by Moscow last summer.

(d) Declaring Russia's intention to deploy offensive Iskander missiles
in Kaliningrad if Poland and the Czech Republic go ahead with plans to
station an American (anti-Iranian) missile defense system.

President Bush's response to the Kaliningrad deployment‹the threat was
issued the day after Obama's election ‹ was firm.

He refused to back down because giving in to Russian threats would
leave Poles and Czechs exposed and show the world that, contrary to
post-Cold War assumptions, the U.S. could not be trusted to protect
Eastern Europe from Russian bullying.

The Obama response? "Biden Signals U.S. Is Open to Russia Missile
Deal," as the New York Times headlined Biden's Feb. 7 Munich speech to
a major international gathering. This followed strong messages from
Obama's team even before the inauguration that Obama wasn't committed
to the missile shield. And just to make sure everyone understood that
Bush's policy no longer held, Biden said the U.S. wanted to "press the
reset button" on NATO-Russian relations.

Not surprisingly, the Obama wobble elicited a favorable reaction from
Russia. (There are conflicting reports that Russia might suspend the
Kaliningrad blackmail deployment.) The Kremlin must have been equally
impressed the other provocations ‹ Abkhazia, Kyrgyzstan, the rapid
reaction force ‹ elicited barely a peep from Washington.

Iran has been similarly charmed by Obama's overtures. A week after the
new president went about sending sweet peace signals via al-Arabiya,
Iran launched its first homemade Earth satellite. The message is
clear. If you can put a satellite into orbit, you can hit any
continent with a missile, North America included.

And for emphasis, after the roundhouse hook, came the poke in the eye.

A U.S. women's badminton team had been invited to Iran. Here was a
chance for "ping-pong diplomacy" with the accommodating new
a sporting venture meant to suggest the possibility of warmer

On Feb. 4, Tehran denied the team entry into Iran.

Then, in case Obama failed to get the message, Iran's parliament
speaker in Munich responded to Obama's olive branch.

Executive summary: Thanks very much. After you acknowledge 60 years of
crimes against us, change not just your tone but your policies, and
abandon the Zionist criminal entity, we might deign to talk to you.

With a grinning Goliath staggering about sporting a "kick me" sign on
his back, even reputed allies joined the fun. Pakistan freed from
house arrest A.Q. Khan, the notorious proliferator who sold nuclear
technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

Ten days later, Islamabad capitulated to the Taliban, turning over to
its tender mercies the Swat Valley, 100 miles from the capital. Not
only will Shariah law now reign there, but the democratically elected
secular party will be hunted down as the Pakistani army stands down.

These Pakistani capitulations may account for Obama's hastily
announced 17,000-troop increase in Afghanistan even before his various
heralded reviews of the mission have been completed.

Hasty, unexplained, but at least something. Other than that, a month
of pummeling has been met with utter passivity.

I would like to think the supine posture is attributable to a rookie
leader otherwise preoccupied (i.e. domestically), leading a foreign
policy team as yet unorganized if not disoriented.

But when the State Department says that Hugo Chavez's
president-for-life referendum, which was preceded by a sham
government-controlled campaign featuring the tear-gassing of the
opposition, was "for the most part . . . fully consistent with
democratic process," you have to wonder if Month One is not a
harbinger of things to come.

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