Free Markets, Free People

Prepare for more foreign policy disasters

One of the foreign policy promises Barack Obama made was that during his presidency, America would have a “light footprint” on world affairs. Our first indicator of what that meant was the action in Libya when the US “led from behind”. The Obama administration belived that pulling back from our strong presence and position in the world would help mollify other powers and usher in a new era of peaceful cooperation with America as a partner and not necessarily the leader.

How has that worked out?

Ask Russia, China and a few others:

The White House was taken by surprise by Vladimir V. Putin’s decisions to invade Crimea, but also by China’s increasingly assertive declaration of exclusive rights to airspace and barren islands.

Neither the economic pressure nor the cyberattacks that forced Iran to reconsider its approach have prevented North Korea’s stealthy revitalization of its nuclear and missile programs. In short, America’s adversaries are testing the limits of America’s post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan moment.

“We’re seeing the ‘light footprint’ run out of gas,” said one of Mr. Obama’s former senior national security aides, who would not speak on the record about his ex-boss.

What we’re actually seeing is naivete in foreign policy head toward a predictable conclusion. Foreign policy isn’t bean bag and it has been established many times in history that the retreat of a great power from the world’s stage will see other seemingly lesser powers attempt to fill or take advantage of that power vacuum.

The “light footprint” didn’t “run out of gas”, the light footprint was foreign policy destined for failure from its inception. Mr. Obama and his foreign policy team were warned about that constantly and preferred to ignore both the warnings and history.

Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment. History suggests that such eras — akin to what the United States went through after the two world wars and Vietnam — often look like weakness to the rest of the world. His former national security adviser Thomas Donilon seemed to acknowledge the critical nature of the moment on Sunday when he said on “Face the Nation” that what Mr. Obama was facing was “a challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe, an order that we have a lot to do with.”

But while Mr. Donilon expressed confidence that over time the United States holds powerful tools against Russia and other nations, in the short term challengers like Mr. Putin have the advantage on the ground.

Mr. Obama is managing “an era of American retrenchment” he initiated.

It doesn’t look like a period of weakness to the rest of the world, it is a period of weakness that is compounded by our weak leadership. We’re engaged in bringing our military down to pre-WWII levels and we’ve made it clear that we’re not interested in fulfilling treaty obligations with the likes of the Ukraine. How else would one interpret our actions?

And, of course, one of the best ways we could address this particular crisis is to up our shipments of natural gas to Europe so they weren’t dependent of Russian pipeline supplies that flow through the Ukraine. That would give Europe some leverage because they wouldn’t be held hostage by their need for Russian petro supplies. But on the domestic front, the Obama administration has made building the necessary infrastructure to cash in on our growing natural gas boom almost impossible.

Are Russia and others testing the limits? You bet they are and all of those interested in those limits are watching this drama unfold. To this point, it appears Russia sees no downside to its action. Should that continue to be the case, you can be assured other nations will also “test the limits.”

This is Mr. Obama’s 3am phone call. And it appears he has let it go to the answering machine.


22 Responses to Prepare for more foreign policy disasters

  • And even the answering machine was turned off!

  • Not being George W. Bush is not a foreign policy. Not invading countries is not a foreign policy. Wishing to demonstrate your sophistication by announcing you are unencumbered by the false historical narratives of the past is not a foreign policy. Assuming the world will be nice if we’re not militarist is not a foreign policy.
    —Peggy Noonan
    That’s right. It is just weakness and delusion.
    The KGB versus Harvard.

  • “The KGB versus Harvard.”
    Worse, KGB versus Punahou.
    But we KNOW, Vlad is probably hidding in the Kremlin, dreading Michelle’s Mandela Funeral burning laser eyes or Barack’s fearsome Punahou death gaze.

    • …and the Russian markets rally strongly on news of weak response.
      Really. People with “skin in the game” know how to read Pres. ScamWOW.

  • Wow,  now THIS is harsh.  THIS will certainly show them we mean business! They won’t mess with the US after this!

    • Be interesting to see how serious the French are tomorrow when they’re scheduled to deliver the “Vladivostok” and the “Sebastapol”,  French built helicopter carriers to the Russian navy.

    • “No cash for their clunkers!”

  • But so what? The Eurotrash also were VERY in the tank for Obama, so this is a well deserved reckoning. Just “let it burn” on a bigger scale.
    I feel awful for the Baltic states. They’re as good as gone once Putin correctly ascertains that NATO won’t do a thing to help them. End of History, peace dividend and all that.

  • With no apologies to the original giver of the speech…..
    “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we handed back Eastern Europe to the masters of the former Soviet Empire, when we lied about providing affordable health care for the sick and jobs for the jobless, this was the moment when the oceans not rising and the temperature not getting hotter caused us to embrace more regulation and useless bureaucracy that helped wreck our economy; this was the moment when we backed out on our commitments to our allies, and completely destroyed our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we remade this once great nation into a lame, helpless, hapless, toothless, feckless nation that reflected nothing of our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you for electing me, so I could quasi legally destroy the United States of America.”

  • … and it isn’t just foreign policy …

    The firestorm began when [EPA administrator Gina] McCarthy’s comments were reported by The Wall Street Journal last week while the agency head discussed federal gift guidelines. McCarthy said that federal officials chased her down for a “dinky” North Pole pin someone gave her at an event to which she said, “I threw the f–ing thing away.” She also said that a jar of moose meat she got from a little girl at a hearing in Alaska “could gag a maggot.”

    … the wonders of a Baccalaureus

  • I believe pulling the US missile shield out of Eastern Europe was an earlier indication then leading from behind in Libya, Bruce.
    Really, one could go back prior to Feb 2009 for examples. Obama came up with a very weak response to the invasion of Georgia, and IIRC actually came up with a second response after he saw how the adults handled it. By contrast, McCain came up with a strong response very quickly. Hillary came up with your typical politician/diplomat response.

  • 2009: Boy, Obama’s sticking it to those wingnuts now, huh?

    2010: Ha! It’s the law! Go Obama! Eat it, wingnuts!

    2011: He’s untouchable! Can’t pin a thing on him!

    2012: Mitt Romney? Hahahahaha, stupid wingnuts!

    2013: Um, er, yes, sure, there’s been a few problems…

    2014: Obama who? Never heard of him. I don’t know him!  Chicago cock crows three times

    • 2009: Boy, Obama’s sticking it to those wingnuts now, huh?
      2010: Ha! It’s the law! Go Obama! Eat it, wingnuts!
      2011: He’s untouchable! Can’t pin a thing on him!
      2012: Mitt Romney? Hahahahaha, stupid wingnuts!
      2013: Um, er, yes, sure, there’s been a few problems…
      2014: Obama who? Never heard of him. I don’t know him!  Chicago cock crows three times
      2015: Obama? He’s old news, HILLARY! is gonna stick it to those wingnuts!

  • The irony is that with 79% participation and 93% of those voting to join Russia, the Crimean referendum is more legit than Obama. Regardless, it’s no surprise Obama has no respect for the will of the Crimean people — he has no respect for the will of the American people, either.

  • Breaking: Change in Plane’s Path was Entered via Computer – New York Times

  • Able leaders anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them. My career in business and politics has exposed me to scores of people in leadership positions, only a few of whom actually have these qualities. Some simply cannot envision the future and are thus unpleasantly surprised when it arrives. Some simply hope for the best. Others succumb to analysis paralysis, weighing trends and forecasts and choices beyond the time of opportunity.

    President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.

    • Bush!!!!(sputter sputter sputter) Georgia!!!!! (and forget the fact that the Obama/Clinton response when they took office was to deal with the Georgia issue by sending the Russians a “reset” button and a personal smiling visit by Shillery”)