Liddick: Obama speech spins fictitious foreign policy
January 26, 2015
"Tonight … the United States is more secure." — Barack Obama, State of the Union message to Congress, Jan. 20, 2015.
True, we all have to keep an eye on the measureless dread of global warming which the president identified as an immediate security threat, but otherwise — all's well. Nothing measures the distance between the president's delusions about the world and its reality like this snippet from his latest State of the Union. Except perhaps: "In Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these (terrorist) networks."
Which works poorly when your featured "partner," in Yemen has just been run out of town on a rail by a radical, Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia. At least President Obama admitted on Saturday that Yemen was "a dangerous place," although he offered no help or support to the man who stuck his neck out a mile to assist us in "containing" some of the nastiest, most violent America-haters on the planet.
We may want to "leverage our power with coalition-building," but the president's words and actions make that difficult. Is it any wonder that around the world, leaders are having difficulty finding a reason to support our international initiatives, such as they are? When one ignores a strategic associate like Mansur Hadi if assisting him threatens the slightest inconvenience to the fairy story of a world becoming safer, one's allies are to be forgiven their qualms.
"We're supporting a moderate opposition in Syria …" People who know the region call this a unicorn: the "moderate Syrian opposition" is a mythological beast that everyone has heard of, but no one has ever seen. Three years ago there was a remote possibility that one might have been created, but the president and Secretary Clinton were too busy disavowing red lines to do anything about it, more's the pity. Secretary of State Kerry and the president have recently suggested that a negotiated settlement brokered by Russia, an ally of Syria's bloody-handed president Assad, might offer good possibilities for peace. This is the man who has made two-thirds of his nation refugees, so one might wonder if the peace they have in mind is the peace of the grave.
And yes — Russia: "We're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine's democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies." Which might come as a surprise to those Ukrainians whose relatives have recently been killed in attacks by Russian-backed rebels, who have openly defied negotiated cease-fires and are now seizing more of eastern Ukraine by military force. Expect no action as Vlad the Terrible continues to orchestrate the dismembering of a neighbor state and involves himself with wannabe nuclear proliferator Iran.
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"Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we've halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material." This must come as a surprise to the IAEA, whose latest report notes no reduction in the size of Iran's "stockpile of nuclear material," only a reduction in purity of part of it. Development of facilities continue apace, including a plutonium breeder reactor at Arak; the Iranians have promised only not to start it. Tehran continues to exchange information with North Korea and this month inked a deal with Russia. Look for an Iranian bomb either this year or the next.
Finally, "… new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails … ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress." First, there has been little or no progress in nuclear talks with Iran. Second, Iran's nuclear program hasn't even slowed down. They've only promised not to do things they weren't ready to do anyway. Third, the "sanction" bill referred to, sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, applies only if the June 30 deadline for an agreement is missed. That the president insists a bill which will impose penalties for leaving negotiations in June will drive Iranians from negotiations in February is another measure of the distance separating Barack Obama from reality.
It also indicates his course: petulant insistence that his is the only possible way forward, his the only solution. This was confirmed when the president said that "… together, we can do great things …" and called for cooperation and bipartisanship from Congress, but issued four specific veto threats; a historical high for State of the Union messages.
Memo to the president: leaving one's friends in the lurch will not encourage more friendship. Mulishness is not a useful analytical tool. And threatening Congress won't get you cooperation.
You seem to be confused.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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