Can Obama Reset Our Foreign Policy?

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

This weekend’s Meet the Press edition brought a remarkable comment from the network that is President Barack Obama’s chief apologist. The assertion was that the train wreck that is Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is to be expected as America searches for its “leadership” role in a post-military dominated effort. I have no idea what David Gregory or the rest of the Obama supporters on Meet the Press were trying to convey and my guess is that they didn’t either. It appears too much in the nature of Vice-President Joe Biden’s ill-fated assessment of Mr. Obama immediately before their assumption of office:

“Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Well, six months have passed – in fact almost six years have passed – and it’s still not apparent they were right. In fact, by almost any standards and by the assessment of almost any international leader, they are wrong – dead wrong – wrong in most every way imaginable. And apparently the only defense now is to claim that they are pursuing a yet indefinable strategy for which there is neither a blueprint nor a measure for success. But that would be par for the course with Mr. Obama – action without accountability.

Let’s assume that NBC is promoting the official line of the Obama Administration – they usually are – and that the basis of America’s foreign policy must change – move away from one based on military might. So what form should that foreign policy take? I suppose we could adopt the French position of cultural superiority. That appears the preferred method of Secretary of State John Kerry whom, when confronted with the Russian invasion of the Crimea, sniffed:

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text. It is serious in terms of sort of the modern manner with which nations are going to resolve problems.”It worked about as well from Mr. Kerry as it has for France over the past 50 years.

We could blame some ethnic or religious minority for the ills of the world. But Hitler, Hamas and Iran have already played that card. We could just pull up the draw bridge and return to isolationism as some on the right have suggested but we know from experience that a vacuum in leadership is readily filled and not by anyone as beneficent as the United States has been over the last half century.

I understand that Americans are war weary and well they should be. President George W. Bush made an awful mistake – not in invading Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and not in Iraq to crush Saddam Hussein. The mistake was in remaining and engaging in nation building on the assumption that a group of people (tribes really) who have lived in the Sixth Century for the past 1500 years either wanted or understood the concept of Western-style democracy. Just as in Yugoslavia, once the heavy-hand of a dictator was lifted in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ancient tribal jealousies and ethnic hatred quickly bubbled to the surface and 1500 years of barbarous and brutal conflict began anew.

Mr. Obama compounded the mistake by signaling defeat and leaving those we placed in power to the tender mercies of all those who were not. In terms of the effect on America’s standing in the world, Mr. Obama’s actions were the greater gaffe because they demonstrated to the world that America, under Mr. Obama, was weak and untrustworthy.

But there is an alternative upon which to base our foreign policy – economic might. Mr. Obama has demonstrated an unceasing ignorance regarding the economy and its strengths and weaknesses. He is the penultimate community organizer – unaware of how wealth is created but convinced that it is there for his purposes. He is incapable of understanding how to migrate foreign policy to one based on economic might.

Even though under Mr. Obama’s watch, America is no longer the largest economy in the world – China passed us several months ago – we still have a stronger and more tested economy than does China. Their economy is still based on the centralized planning of the Communist party which recently has seen the benefits of introducing a freer market but which retains absolute control capable of crushing any aspect of the free market it wishes.

The economic might of America –even at No. 2 – is a fearsome leverage for affecting international leadership. Let me give you three instances:

    1. We are suffering a massive migration of children, presumably from Central America, illegally crossing our southern border. There are several things, all using economic resources, that can be done. First, there is the need to care for these children. We can do that and we do not need to increase the budget by billions of dollars. The State Department should inform Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that the cost of caring for the children illegally entering the United States from those countries will be deducted from foreign aid currently provided. For instance, in 2013, Guatemala received in $93.6 Million and Honduras received $58.2 Million. And the State Department should inform Mexico, which has aided and abetted the migration of those children, that it will be charged for a) any child that cannot be readily identified as coming from one of those countries, and b) for all of the children from that country once current foreign aid for that country is exhausted. The economic burden placed on American taxpayers for the misconduct of these countries should be placed back on the offending country. When that penalty is felt, the promotion of that illegal migration will end.

And while we are ending the benefits to those countries for support of this conduct, we should look hard at and remove federal funding (including grants and other forms) for the immigration advocates and other organizations – domestic and foreign – that have spurred and supported the notion that illegal immigration is appropriate and will go unpunished.

  1. The current conflict in the Ukraine. At the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Empire, the United States and its allies demanded that the Ukraine remove and destroy its not insubstantial store of nuclear weapons. In returned we provided assurances to the Ukraine that we would protect it from advances by its neighbors – particularly Russia. Mr. Obama’s steady stream of weakness and capitulation has ended with turning our backs on the Ukraine as Russia invaded the Crimea and as it seeks to invade the Eastern corridor between the Crimea and Russia. Russia’s economy is so weak that quick, firm economic sanctions would crush its economy and the Putin led government overnight. Even the weakest of sanctions imposed by Mr. Obama has resulted in significant capital flight from Russian, and foreign investors are concerned about the course of things. Tough economic sanctions at the outset would have resolved the crises by now.
  2. The current Israeli/Hamas conflict. This is included to demonstrate that economic policy is not always appropriate. There is no moral equivalency in this conflict. One side has dedicated its very existence to the elimination of the other, including all of its people. What Hitler began, Hamas is vociferously intent on concluding. This is war and war is settled in the end by one side inflicting sufficient death and destruction on the other side so as to either physically defeat the other side’s capabilities to continue, or create sufficient damage so that the people on the other side remove their leadership and sue for peace.

Israel is perfectly capable of prosecuting this war. They do not need military intervention by the United States. What they do need is economic assistance in at least two forms. The first is the cessation of foreign aid to the Palestinian authority that now cooperates and funds Hamas. We should go further. We should cease foreign aid to the wide variety of Middle East countries that are in turn providing financial and military support to Hamas. Secondly, we need to provide sufficient financial support to Israel to allow it to purchase the necessary weapons – primarily defensive weapons such as the Iron Dome – in order to protect its people while prosecuting the war.But Mr. Obama will not pursue a new foreign policy leadership based on economic might because he is basically economically illiterate. He also won’t pursue it because the use of economic might must, like military might, be abrupt and forceful. That does fit Mr. Obama’s view of the world where the United States is just one of many. To see the stupidity of such a view, simply look at the actions of the United Nations without America’s veto.