HOW OBAMA WEAKENED US POWER/update
Barack Obama’s crime has been to see the world as it is rather than as many Americans would like it to be. The president’s foreign policy acknowledges the limits as well as the reach of US power. In the age of rising states, America cannot presume it will always get its own way. To own up to as much does not make for great domestic politics.
In other words, Americans do not get it and, therefore, do not give his the credit that is his due. For example?
Mr Obama has persuaded Russia to abandon the truculent victimhood that marked Vladimir Putin’s presidency. Differences with Beijing over economic policy and trade have been expressed in courteous tones. New alliances have been nurtured in Asia as a hedge against Chinese assertiveness. Iran has been isolated by the offer of an open hand. Perhaps most importantly, the administration has launched a serious effort to rescue the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Not being a trained national psychiatrist, I am not sure how accurate Stephen's analysis of the Russian mind set is. I do know that the price not only the US, but NATO as a whole, paid for the famous"reset button" was exorbitant. Just how exorbitant was revealed last week.
As a good will gesture, the US publicly humiliated Poland and the Czech Republic by breaking prior agreement with them to placate Russia, a move unlikely to go unnoticed by East Asian countries courted by Hillary Clinton. Instead, the Obama administration chose to place the fate of NATO’s planned missile-defense system in the notoriously untrustworthy hands of ever more Islamist Turkey. In return, Turkey demands that it have access to all date gathered by the missile defense system, that Israel will have none and that all Turkey's neigbors including Iran be excluded from the threat list. Let us not forget that the system is designed in part to assure Israel that, if push comes to shove, it can live with a nuclear Iran.
How Stephens can claim that Iran has been successfully isolated is really beyond me given the fact that Turkey responded to Barack Obama's repeated overtures by drawing ever closer to Iran and Putin has activated the long delayed the Bushir nuclear facility. Even Hamid Karzai is bragging about receiving bags of Iranian money. Ahmadinejad has never been less isolated in his life. Indeed, he feels so secure that he decided to throw a bone to Obama in the form of a letter calling for renewed nuclear negotiations with Europe a few days before the Congressional elections. Obama is not capable of playing checkers with Ahmadinejad, not to mention Chess.
The same has proven to be true about China. The rise of China may have been inevitable but the speed with which it rose is directly related to this clueless president. Since demand is local but supply is global and more specifically Chinese, the Obama stimulus served merely to transfer more American wealth into Chinese hands. It is disheartening to see economists continue to advocate more useless stimulus. Courteous requests to permit the Chinese currency to rise, were met prevarications and strategic muscle flexing. The NYT reports:
The Chinese government on Thursday abruptly ended its unannounced export embargo on crucial rare earth minerals to the United States, Europe and Japan, four industry officials said. The embargo, which has raised trade tensions, ended as it had begun -- with no official acknowledgment from Beijing, or any explanation from customs agents at China's ports.
I wish I knew any evidence of American success in halting nuclear proliferation beyond a useless convention designed solely to throw dust in the eyes of Obama critics. I do know that reading that the Head of Pakistan's Nuclear Program anounce that Pakistan Has the Right to Use Nuclear Weapons Should the Need Arise did not make me feel safer.
Barry Rubin provides a detailed account of the failed American Middle East policy.
So, sorry Philip Stephens, you are wrong. Americans would not like to fire Obama because he speaks truth about American power but because he actively diminished it. Unfortunately, the upcoming election would do very little to restrain his ability to further diminish the relative power of the United States. But, then, Philip Stephens, like other leftists pundits, quite approve of that prospect. They much prefer autocracies as they are unencumbered by the"uninformed" views of the great unwashed.
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