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World plunges towards chaos: why won't Obama change course?

There is a direct, precise link between the foreign policy choices made by the Obama/Clinton/Kerry team, and the two crises which the world finds itself facing this morning.

In 2009, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton agreed to the New START treaty with Russia, which allowed Moscow a ten to one advantage in tactical nuclear weapons. The President further weakened U.S. influence in Europe by attempting to renege on anti-missile commitments to Eastern Europe. Both were specifically part of the Administration’s “Reset” policy, which, combined with the reduction of funds for the Pentagon, was supposed to significantly improve Washington’s relations with the Kremlin. Earlier this year, that diminishment of American military presence in Europe was finalized by the withdrawal of all U.S. tanks from the continent.

Clearly, the policy was an utter failure. Moscow was emboldened to dramatically ramp up its military spending, and continued to develop a far more aggressive stance towards its neighbors. It was not unreasonable to assume that Mr. Obama would have learned from his mistake and taken a different course. But in response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, the White House reacted only minimally. Indeed, the one action that would have definitely grabbed Mr. Putin’s attention—the opening up of federally held land for oil and gas exploitation, a move which would have directly impacted Moscow’s ability to finance its huge military (the Russian economy is heavily dependent on the high prices it obtains from its energy sales) --was never even seriously considered.

Russia’s involvement, either directly or indirectly, in the shooting down of the civilian Malaysian airliner is a consequence of that failure.

Then there is the Middle East, and the Israeli need to defend itself by launching an incursion into Gaza.

For a brief period of time towards the end of the G.W. Bush Administration, it appeared that there was a chance for improvement in that troubled part of the planet. Whatever one’s views of the Iraq War, the people of that nation (who had suffered for so long under Saddam Hussein) actually had a chance for a better life. They voted in free elections for the first time. The presence of American troops provided a measure of stability. But Mr. Obama’s premature withdrawal of those forces placed Iraq into a tailspin, opening the door for extremists. The President’s support for the so-called Arab Spring, which assisted Islamic extremists in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere created an environment where the most dangerous elements of the region gained vastly more influence. Support for violence against Israel was greatly enhanced. Any chance for a more stable Israeli-Palestinian relationship was lost. The danger to Israel was pointedly and substantially expanded due to the White House’s very obvious estrangement from the Jewish state.

As a consequence, 1,200 rockets were launched by terrorists into Israel, leaving it no choice but to respond with armed force.

It would be charitable to state that policy mistakes can be forgiven if, once the consequences become apparent, different, corrective measures are taken. But despite clear evidence from one end of the planet to the other, the Obama Administration continues on its disastrous path. Since there is little indication that the President will change course, the question of why he fails to do so must be examined. The possibilities are deeply unsavory.

The first is that he simply rejects the entire international, American-led framework which has prevented another world war since 1945, and he is willing to endure any international chaos rather than admit that the U.S. must play an indispensable role in the globe’s stability.

The second option is that he is so blinded by egotism that he cannot bring himself to admit a mistake. There is some evidence of this in the astounding comments from the White House press office that the world is “more tranquil” than ever.

The third possibility is the most worrisome. Surrounded by a coterie of shadowy advisors with deeply questionable pasts, including individuals such as Bill Ayers, an individual linked to an aggressively unorthodox belief that America is the source of the planet’s problems rather than its cure, the President may be pursuing foreign policy goals directly the opposite of everything the U.S. has adhered to until his election. If this is the case, he has been dishonest with the nation, refusing to openly admit that he is doing so. Or, perhaps, this is the “fundamental transformation” he has spoken of, without providing any real details.

The world is spinning out of control, plunging ever closer to the depths of conflict not seen since the end of the Second World War, and Mr. Obama’s policies bear substantial responsibility for that.

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