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In this instant age, even the very recent past is forgotten. This means that very recent history can also be rewritten. Witness President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s re-telling of their foreign policy story and the way “reporters” have embraced it. “Of course” they strongly support Israel. They have “always” maintained a “strong sanctions regime” against Iran. They have done “everything they [we] can” to help the Syrian people. The list goes on. Thus, we must start deconstructing foreign policy mythology. Let’s start with the assumption that this administration’s foreign policy is smart, caring and sophisticated – a myth easily dispelled with an honest look at the record.
Smart? Was it smart to alienate and abandon our allies while catering to potential enemies?
Recall that Obama, Clinton and Panetta: embraced a minimalist response to Iran’s nuclear program; sought a “reset” in relations with Russia by offering a reduction in our own nuclear arms before asking anything in return; devastatingly revoked plans to install missile defenses on Polish and Czech soil; provided a lavish and welcoming reception to Chinese leaders at the White House while giving a strangely cold and “unavailable” reception to the British upon their first visit; unceremoniously “returned” the bust of Churchill which England had sent as a gift in a show of post-9/11 allegiance; chose Syria’s Assad as “peace intermediary” in the Middle East; made public, preemptive demands upon the Israelis while making no such demands upon the Palestinians; centered policy around “talking” with the world’s worst tyrants and offering them concessions in exchange for keeping their ruthlessness confined within their own borders; bowed to Hugo Chavez; and sent fawning letters to the “Supreme Leader” of Iran.
Caring? To the dismay of human rights groups and citizens stuck in repressive regimes, Clinton began her career as Secretary of State by indicating that she would not include human rights in her list of topics for discussion with the Iranian, Chinese, Syrian and North Korean governments.
Recall that this administration: turned a blind eye to Russian resurgence and oppression in Georgia, Chechnya and Ukraine; was silent in response to the cries of brave young Iranian protestors for help; has said nary a word for innocent Iranians languishing in notorious prisons or innocent North Koreans suffering in concentration camps; responded to every obstruction and hostile act of the totalitarian North Korean regime with more offers of concessions in exchange for its ever-elusive “cooperation;” focused on economic disagreements with China while ignoring the plight of Chinese democracy advocates; came very close to ignoring the bloodbath in Syria (and did ignore it at first). Nowhere is the lack of humanity more evident than in the Obama administration’s Syria policy – a policy so indifferent to human suffering and so counterproductive to Middle Eastern struggles for democracy that it can only be called abhorrent.
Sophisticated? The response to recent events in Libya makes clear this administration’s lack of foreign policy sophistication. But this too will soon be forgotten.