Mike Curtiss (1
Historians look for cause and effect before they pump out their
rationale for the hateful deeds of humankind. Without
acknowledging that sin and the devil himself are responsible for
much evil in this world, we will never reach the proper
conclusion, which requires confession, repentance and
How will sinful mankind ever reach heaven if the news media, the
universities and colleges deny the existence of hell, death and
the grave? We need to spend our last days deep in prayer.
Mike Curtiss .
The mystery remaining about the Obama administration’s foreign
policy is not whether it has worked, but whether its failures
will matter all that much. That is no rhetorical question, given
that it is hard to permanently damage, in just three years, the
position abroad of the United States, given its vast military
power and enormous economy.
The Obama administration’s policy was predicated on three
assumptions. First, world tensions and widespread dislike of the
United States were due to George Bush’s wars and his cowboyish
style. Therefore, outreach and reset would correct the Bush
mistakes — given that unrest did not really antedate, and would
not postdate, the strutting Bush. The unique personal narrative
and heritage of Obama and his tripartite name, of course, would
earn America fides in inverse proportion to Bush’s twang and
evangelical way of speaking about God.
Yet most problems really did transcend Bush, and so reset
accomplished little. Hugo Chávez is more hostile to
America than ever, whether symbolically by accusing the Obama
administration of spreading cancer among Latin American leaders
or concretely by entertaining Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is no
new warmth from Cuba or Nicaragua — as there never could have
been from their Stalinist heads of state.
Putin has as much contempt for Obama as he did for Bush. Our
policies remain the same: trying to encourage Russian reform
without causing a war or neo-Soviet adventurism.
The decision to reach out to Assad with recognition and an
embassy failed; Syria became more unhinged and violent, not
less. The verdict is still out on the Arab Spring; the Obama
administration stopped taking credit for it once the illiberal
Muslim Brotherhood began its ascendance. The Palestinians are
now talking of a third intifada, and they hope that, when the
shooting starts, their new friend the United States will hector
Israel in a way it did not under Bush.
Outreach to Iran was a disaster; the serial face-to-face talks
and the quiet neglect of the Iranian dissidents did not work.
Now we are reduced to the sort of catch-up sanctions that would
have earned Bush the charge of warmongering from the Left.
Unofficial U.S policy seems to be a silent hope that tiny Israel
does the unthinkable that a huge United States would not, while
Saudi Arabia expands its pipelines to nullify the value of the
Strait of Hormuz in a way we are refusing to do at home with
Obama likes Prime Minister Erdogan even more than he hates Prime
Minister Netanyahu. But what he thinks the Israelis have done to
the Palestinians pales in comparison to what he must know the
Turks have done to the Kurds, Greeks, and Armenians. It is open
to question whether Erdogan will be calmed by such affability or
will find it useful should he wish to settle old scores with the
Kurds, on Cyprus, or in the Aegean.
Lecturing China while borrowing ever more money from it does not
I don’t think Japan and South Korea feel any safer with Obama in
office — despite claims of a new focus on Asia at the expense of
old Europe. The more Obama talks of eliminating nuclear weapons,
the more both these neighbors of North Korea will probably
consider acquiring them.
There is no need to review the reset flip side of estrangement
from the Czech Republic, Britain, Israel, and now Canada —
allies who believe in staid things like democracy, human rights,
and alliances in times of peril. It is hard to calibrate U.S.
policy toward the EU, since the entire enterprise is unraveling,
and the Europeans seem puzzled that we are emulating the very
failure they are learning from. Mexico is more violent and
unstable than ever before, and more emboldened to sue U.S.
states in American courts of law. Fast and Furious, promises not
to deport any more illegal aliens, and the administration’s
lawsuit against the state of Arizona did not have a warming
effect on our relationship.
The second Obama idea was the dream of reenergizing the United
Nations and working to eliminate all nuclear weapons. But the
likelihood is that the atomic club will be larger, not smaller,
when Obama leaves office. The madness of North Korea transcends
the U.S. presidency, although for now it is playing out in
ridiculous matters of succession.
Obama claimed he was doing U.N. work in Libya; but in truth he
exceeded a U.N. mandate for humanitarian help and no-fly zones
by stealthily bombing “from behind.” How odd that by ignoring
the U.S. Congress and the War Powers Act and instead championing
but not obeying the United Nations, Obama snubbed both in a way
his cowboyish predecessor never had. Restricting oil leases on
federal lands by 40 percent and stopping the Keystone pipeline
did not translate into a gas-guzzling America’s doing its fair
share to lower world oil prices and protect the global
environment from careless new Third World exploration and
Third, Obama promised to win the good war in Afghanistan, and to
end the bad war in Iraq, in addition to junking or amending the
supposedly unconstitutional and counterproductive war on terror.
Here there is some confusion. He got out of Iraq, but on the
Bush-Petraeus timetable long ago negotiated with the Iraqi
government. In Afghanistan no one believes the situation is
better — four commanders and three years after Bush left office.
Obama tweaked the war on terror in cynical fashion, mixing
euphemism and realpolitik. Rhetorically, we learned of overseas
contingency operations and man-caused disasters, while mention
of Islamic terrorism became taboo.
Yet Obama, in fact, embraced or expanded all of the Bush-Cheney
protocols — from Guantanamo and tribunals to renditions and
Predator drones — on the apparent tripartite and correct
assumption that (1) these measures were both lawful and vital to
the security of the United States; (2) opposition to them had
been entirely partisan and would evaporate once he put his own
brand upon them; and (3) the Republicans would be flummoxed,
unsure whether to damn Obama for his blatant hypocrisy and the
damage he had done through his earlier opportunistic attacks on
the very policies he would come to expand — or to be relieved
that a liberal Democrat was continuing the Bush war on terror
and employed its tools, which brought such dividends as the end
of bin Laden and the Predatorization of top Taliban and al-Qaeda
Did the Obama setbacks matter all that much? So far, in the very
short term, perhaps not.
Few envisioned that the Arab world and the European Union in
their own respective ways would implode, quite apart from
anything the United States did. The recession has put China on
the defensive, and heightened the contradictions between free
markets and closed minds. Russia is in serial crises from
demography to democracy. The tsunami reminded the world how
vulnerable an aging and shrinking Japan really is.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., fracking and horizontal drilling
redefined our oil and gas outlook, despite, not because of, the
Obama administration. The insolvency of Mediterranean Europe has
taken attention from the near insolvency of the U.S. Treasury.
The EU pact, and styles of governance in China, Russia, and the
Arab world, remind us that the U.S. Constitution remains
exceptional. And the stagnant American economy has muffled
domestic objections to vast cutbacks in defense and our new
follow-rather-than-lead foreign policy.
In other words, we are back to the deceptive quiet of a 1913,
1938, or 2000, consumed by internal problems, suspicious of the
world abroad, assuming that foreigners’ challenges are worse
than ours, and convinced that no one would be so stupid as to
start a stupid war.
Let us hope no one does. But if someone should be so crazy,
others might follow. Then we would learn that our old allies are
now neutrals; our new friends are enemies; and the old
deterrence will be as hard to regain as it was once to acquire.