Free Markets, Free People

Foreign Policy OJT

Frankly, that’s precisely what’s going on with the developing situation in Iran. Our President is both inexperienced and naive, and in the world of foreign relations, that can be a fatal mix.

As I pointed out about Gitmo below, the president hadn’t done his homework when he announced his pre-election decision to close the prison there. And, as mentioned, his decision has been a fiasco.

Iran is the same sort of problem for him. He announced a policy of engagement as though nothing of the sort had ever been put forward before. And, in so announcing his policy, he apparently didn’t understand or chose to overlook the fact that two of the regimes about which he spoke (Iran and NoKo) had absolutely no real desire to engage him.

Part of the problem is Obama believes the hubris about his abilities. Unfortunately, the Iranian regime doesn’t and has no real reason or necessity to actually engage him. Professor Faoud Ajami takes Obama to task over his performance so far:

Mr. Obama may believe that his offer to Iran is a break with a hard-line American policy. But nothing could be further from the truth. In 1989, in his inaugural, George H.W. Bush extended an offer to Iran: “Good will begets good will,” he said. A decade later, in a typically Clintonian spirit of penance and contrition, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came forth with a full apology for America’s role in the 1953 coup that ousted nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

Iran’s rulers scoffed. They had inherited a world, and they were in no need of opening it to outsiders. They were able to fly under the radar. Selective, targeted deeds of terror, and oil income, enabled them to hold their regime intact. There is a Persian pride and a Persian solitude, and the impact of three decades of zeal and indoctrination. The drama of Barack Obama’s election was not an affair of Iran.

Obama obviously thinks more of his abilities to persuade than are proven on the world stage. Again hubris. The magic “Cairo speech” which is assumed to have done in a week or so what wasn’t possible for decades in the region:

That ambivalence at the heart of the Obama diplomacy about freedom has not served American policy well in this crisis. We had tried to “cheat” — an opening to the regime with an obligatory wink to those who took to the streets appalled by their rulers’ cynicism and utter disregard for their people’s intelligence and common sense — and we were caught at it. Mr. Obama’s statement that “the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as had been advertised” put on cruel display the administration’s incoherence. For once, there was an acknowledgment by this young president of history’s burden: “Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.” No Wilsonianism on offer here.

Mr. Obama will have to acknowledge the “foreignness” of foreign lands. His breezy self-assurance has been put on notice. The Obama administration believed its own rhetoric that the pro-Western March 14 coalition in Lebanon had ridden Mr. Obama’s coattails to an electoral victory. (It had given every indication that it expected similar vindication in Iran.)

But the claim about Lebanon was hollow and reflected little understanding of the forces at play in Lebanon’s politics. That contest was settled by Lebanese rules, and by the push and pull of Saudi and Syrian and Iranian interests in Lebanon.

Mr. Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo did not reshape the Islamic landscape. I was in Saudi Arabia when Mr. Obama traveled to Riyadh and Cairo. The earth did not move, life went on as usual. There were countless people puzzled by the presumption of the entire exercise, an outsider walking into sacred matters of their faith.

As someone said, it’s 3am and Obama is continuing to hit the snooze button. He needs to learn very quickly, and especially when it comes to foreign affairs, that you can’t vote “present” when you’re the President of the United States.


20 Responses to Foreign Policy OJT

  • I’d only disagree in that I don’t think the President’s naive. He’s an ideologue. If he were naive he would be more likely to change if his programs didn’t work.

    Simply put, he doesn’t think he knows better; he knows that he knows better.

  • “Our President is both inexperienced and naive, and in the world of foreign relations, that can be a fatal mix.”

    Yep, its a combination of Jimmy Carter redux and Neville Chamberlain-type appeasement. In short, the worst of both worlds.

    I bet that in the major world capitals where Bush was allegedly hated and the election of The Clown™ was hailed, those same leaders are privately wishing that Bush was back in power. At least they knew they could rely on the US to defend democracy. Now, all they have is Howdy Doody.

    • jimbo haven’t you coughed up that hairball yet?  put a dab of furr ball medicine on your nose, before it kills you.

  • pedro is not surprised that prudence and caution are unvalued and indeed unrecognized after 8 years of the texas cowboys.  zee crazy old guy from arizona would no doubt have already ordered the bombers into the air, because, you know,  it worked out so well for the texans.

  • I dont know if Obama is suprised that his rhetoric hasnt had the desired effect or if he really doesnt care about the region at all. I think he has made up his mind to deal with Armadejahan (spelling) if not having details worked out and a pesky revolution is not in his plans. I doubt he cares about Israel as displayed by his attitude towards them and he has let the Iranian leadership know as much.

    I think he feels he will stop attacks by placating the dictators and they will take up all the slack in his rope before tightening the noose around his neck.

    Obama wants to socialize America and standing up to Iran isnt in the plans or would be a detractor from those plans.

  • Or Pedro is still drinking the Kool-aid and still doesn’t know the difference.
    Show me a case where Bush ‘ordered the bombers’ in a case like this.
    No? None? Gee, HUGE Surprise Pedro.
    Why don’t you let Obama stand by himself for a few minutes without leaning on the George W. Bush brand crutch that he carries around in the same truck as the Teleprompter.
    Oh, that’s right, because when he shows up, he votes “present”, and as we Texans say, “that dog won’t hunt” when you’re President.
    By the way, we enjoy all this land that used to belong to you guys!

  • Between what you’ve written her, and the previous Barone post, there’s little left to be said other than to agree.

    His lack of experience at actually running, managing, leading, any organization was ignored in the ecstatic rush of Hope and Change; now the dangers of not even considering this lack are becoming apparent.

  • It does appear as if Obama does not know anything about our relationship with Iran prior to the Bush43 years.  He has that naivety about him that truly believes that all that is required is for the leaders of other nations to understand that you want to be friends, that you want to be nice to them.  And once they understand that, they will relax and negotiate on any issue you wish, as long as you’d like.
    So he’s President now, and the only thing he’s gotten from his attempt at a more measured and diplomatic approach is provocation after provocation, and a dismissive wave of the hand (or an accusatory one, when it suits their purposes).  He may very well be honestly perplexed by this, wondering how it’s possible that he could be treated so shabbily.  After all, he’s not George Bush!!!

  • Not true.

    He’ll continue to vote present as long as he has enough cover.

    I think the real wake-up call he’s going to have to answer will be in the mid-terms

  • enjoy zee wasteland that ees tejas while you can looker,  some chinamen are on their way with survey crews as we speak.   bush of course, ordered nothing. el vice presidente was calling all the shots and he used cruise missiles.  they needed to save zee bombers for zee photo ops of  senor bush.   the flight suits showed hees codpiece very nicely.

    • You mean it was Al Gore who ordered those cruise missile launched in ’98, during the Clinton administration?

  • Pffft!  Pedro just stole it from the native Americans…

  • General Ali Fazli, who was recently appointed as a commander of the Revolutionary Guards in the province of Tehran, is reported to have been arrested after he refused to carry out orders from the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to use force on people protesting the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

  • i dunno, boys. no one despises bambam more than i do, but even if he deigned to speak up for the iranian theocratic dictator-wannabe that lost the election, what *really* would it do? over the last 55 years, the USA and its presidents spoke out forcefully whenever there was a flicker of hope being seen in an uprising in a communist country. from east berlin in 1953, to hungary, to berlin when they built the wall, to czechoslovakia, all through the southeast asian decades of debacle, tiannamen square, on down to the kurds in the first gulf war. spoke out, they did! spoke manfully! spoke forcefully! fanned the flames of freedom!!
    and then, of course, in each and every case, the totalitarian government in question crushed each and every rebellion, killing hundreds and sometimes thousands of people doing so. in each case, the crush rebels – before they were herded off to prison or the firing squad – the rebels spoke bitterly about how useless and ultimately harmful those tough american *words* had been for them. “we thought you would help us!” should be the epitaph on graves from hungary to china to kurdistan. hell, we couldn’t even be bothered to smuggle in some weapons to help. in prague in 1968, the brave rebels ended up throwing *rocks* at the oncoming soviet tanks. we had anti-tank weaponry to spare….we just didn’t send any. but by god, our president spoke out!
    empty words aside, we *didn’t* help them, did we. all we did was to act noble and talk tough – and end up looking foolish and weak and stupid, as the folks we “stood up for” got themselves butchered. even on the rare occasions when we *did* commit troops to help – cuba and vietnam – we did so in a halfass way that ended up in disaster. if we’re not willing to fully commit american troops and money and lives to help the iranians pick a dictator who’s maybe 1% less corrupt than the one they already have, (and its pretty clear we’re not), why should we even bother to travel down the proven path of national dishonor that ‘speaking out’ will take us?

  • “Wasteland that ees Tejas” – typical arrogant Cambridge Yankee dude…awesome job!
    Eees so wasteland vato, why you want it back?
    Oh, and you’re talking about Iraq?  The place the UN resolutions allowed for military response, and the AUMF.  Oh, yeah, right, Bush & Cheney launced the bombers & cruise missiles all alone.
    I’m looking for a real, example…but you ain’t got one…except for the one’s El Presidente Clinton launched.
    Try again.

  • Needs a Reagan, and we ain’t got one (on either side of the aisle).

  • They are digging pretty dig when they come up with this ide …
    Sidney Blumenthal, a top aide in the Clinton White House, may return to government work as a counselor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • I would like to suggest that all who are interested read Tuchman’s <i>The Zimmermann Telegram</i>.  TAO is eerily like her depiction of Woodrow Wilson: a know-it-all autocrat, convinced that he and he alone through diplomacy can bring peace, almost completely uninterested in foreign affairs because he wants to concentrate on his social program, blind to the machinations and evil intentions of our enemies, and in general a despicable, deplorable man.

  • far and away the most terrifying thing about the obama-wilson similarities is the observation that the thin-skinned, dangerously naive control freak autocrat wilson was….re-elected. well, ok, it gets even scarier: IIRC, wislon had a stroke in office. his wife and aides decided they weren’t about to give up all that delicious power by letting congress know, so his *wife* ran the country (stealthily) in his stead.
    the blood curdles.