When President Obama was elected, liberals were giddy with expectation that he would transform the world. He got a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing. His historically inaccurate and counter-productive Cairo speech was cheered as one of the greatest foreign policy speeches ever. But virtually everything liberals believed about Obama and his foreign policy proved to be dead wrong, with disastrous consequences. Here are 10 of them:
1. The president really was pro-Israel and would defend the Jewish state when the chips were down. In the interim agreement with Iran that trades sanctions relief for nothing verifiable or consequential and repeated public outbursts against the Jewish state (“condemning” Israel for building in 2010 and accusing Israel of inciting another intifada in 2013), the president at every turn has undercut Israel when it counted most. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I understand that the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva — as well they should be because they got everything and paid nothing. Everything they wanted; they wanted relief of sanctions after years of a grueling sanctions regime, they got that. They are paying nothing because they are not reducing in any way their nuclear enrichment capability.” Israel is alone like never before. Does any liberal actually believe the president will use force in Iran if need be?
2. President Obama was oh so smart to get all our troops out of Iraq. Iraq has receded into sectarian chaos and Iran’s influence has surged. In conjunction with inertness on Syria, we have allowed the “Shia crescent” and Iran’s influence to expand and solidify.
3. We could reset relations and do business with Russia. No sooner did Hillary Clinton leave office than did the administration concede this was all a farce. The administration allowed Russia into the WTO, pulled missile defense sites out of Poland and the Czech Republic and tried to derail human rights sanctions against Russian officials. In return, Russia now supports Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, has increased domestic repression and evades Iran sanctions.
4. It is better to work with Middle East despots who are “stabilizing” than messy democratic movements. The rulers (e.g. Hosni Mubarak) were unstable and/or entirely unwilling to give up their despotic ways (as in Iran). Instead we incurred the ire of Middle East peoples and failed to capitalize on historic opportunities (e.g. the Green Revolution).
5. We betrayed our “values” by military trials and keeping Gitmo in operation and invited terrorism. Under this president military trials continue and Gitmo is open. The president no longer attributes terrorist attacks (in Benghazi, for example) to our anti-terror policies.
6. Israel is the key to the Middle East and is the problem in the “peace process.” This old saw has been disproven a hundred times over. The region’s terrorist attacks, Arab Spring revolts and the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons (and state sponsorship of terrorism) have nothing whatsoever to do with the Jewish state.
7. We can make ourselves more innocuous and defer to international bodies to enhance our security. The phrase “leading from behind” has now become an insult. Lack of U.S. leadership is the single biggest complaint from our allies, and gave us terror havens in Libya, Mali and elsewhere, not to mention more than 100,000 dead Syrians in a civil war that is destabilizing our allies.
8. The threat is from “al-Qaeda” not from Islamic jihadism. Obama’s notion that Osama bin Laden’s death put al-Qaeda on its heels evidenced a fundamental misunderstanding that jihadism, whether practiced by Shia or Sunni entities (e.g. Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al-Sharia, the Haqqani network or al-Nusra), have one thing in common: Their Islamist ideology. We have paid a price for taking our eye off the ball as we took victory laps in the wake of OBL’s death.
9. We can slash defense to solve our budget woes without harming military readiness. The administration’s secretary of defense now bemoans the lack of readiness stemming from the sequester cuts (not to mention those that preceded the sequester). Meanwhile, our debt has ballooned.
10. We can have a world without nukes. Iran is on the cusp of a nuclear weapons capability. The Saudis and other Gulf state leaders threaten to get their own nuclear weapons. The president, unless he changes course, will preside over the end of the Non-Proliferation Treaty structure and usher in a horrific era of WMD possession, blackmail and use in the Middle East
Bonus item: The president is the best foreign policy expert in the administration. That is what the president believed and yet each and every one of these wrong ideas and disastrous results were his own. He has surrounded himself with weak and incompetent national security officials, but it matters not at all who is in those chairs. The only one who matters — and the author of this national security fiasco — is Obama.