Victor Davis Hanson has written an accurate, but unbelievably frustrating analysis of the current state of our foreign policy under Obama/Clinton. In it, he takes the position of a casual, outside observer who is merely watching the U.S. reaction to various world events. The conclusion he draws: we have a schizophrenic approach.
Honestly, you could base that assessment solely on our response to Egypt. As I wrote at the time, President Obama played the part of a confused spectator and unbelievably seemed taken by surprise by the entire episode. He and Hillary Clinton sent mixed messages that essentially had us running two different foreign policies concurrently.
But Hanson goes far beyond just that situation in his analysis. First, Russia:
Autocratic and dictatorial Russia has become a veritable friend. America will say very little about the Russian government's involvement in the chronic assassination of journalists and dissidents. We don't mind passing along nuclear-weapon information about our British allies to Russia if it furthers better relations with Moscow and results in a treaty. We apparently are more worried about offending Vladimir Putin than about offending our Polish and Czech allies. We eagerly sign an arms treaty that most people believe favors Russia more than ourselves, and we shrug when Russia does not, as promised, help thwart Iranian nuclear proliferation.
In the last two years scarcely a week has gone by in which we did not in some way criticize democratic and once allied Israel. Perhaps if the Israeli government had stoned some homosexuals, or assassinated a leading Lebanese reform figure, or bombed its own cities, we might either have kept silent or publicly promised not to meddle in Israeli affairs. Or we might have apologized for something we purportedly did decades ago that offended Israeli sensibilities.
In the last three budget years, we have borrowed $4 trillion, some of it from China, mostly to expand our existing entitlements, almost all of which China does not extend to its own people. We cannot quite assure Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, or the Philippines of past levels of support, since we are worried that our old high military profile would now only provoke Chinese sensibilities. And yet we are depressed when our creditor China in turn seems to resent even the barest mention of its deplorable human-rights violations or its treatment of Tibet.
Then, Cuba and Venezuela:
Left-wing governments that brutalize their people and deny them freedom ? like Cuba's or Venezuela's ? offer interesting opportunities for new relations. The president's mixed heritage, his patrimonial tie to Islam, his exotic nomenclature, his progressive Chicago past ? all that allows him to meet and conduct business with Third World leaders in a way impossible under a white southern conservative like President Bush. That is a rare advantage that we should not squander by mindlessly supporting the removal of such dictators by their own angry people.
Then, the War on Terror:
The Guantanamo Bay detention center is al-Qaeda's chief recruiting tool, and that is precisely why we closed it ? at least virtually. Military tribunals, renditions, preventive detention, and Predator drone attacks during the Bush administration raised "serious" constitutional questions, and that is why we, also virtually, stopped all such problematic protocols. An architect of 9/11, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is currently facing a virtual civilian trial in Manhattan. Iraq is both our worst disaster and our greatest achievement. As proof that we are withdrawing according to set deadlines from Afghanistan, we are sending thousands more troops there.
And the list keeps going and going. Read it if you can stomach it. I say that because keeping us safe is the President's primary obligation. It's what Americans should have been thinking about when they elected perhaps the single most unprepared man to take on foreign policy that has ever held the office of President of the United States. Hillary knew it in the campaign, Joe Biden knew it in the campaign, and we should have known it.
We do now. So do our friends...and our enemies.