The reactions of other nations to the fickle Obama foreign policy is entirely predictable. Based on what they’ve seen, friends and foes are reading us, for better or worse, correctly.
Let’s start with Egypt. Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams explains the unequivocal repression of civil liberties: “The lesson that Egypt’s military government seems to have learned from studying the country’s recent past is that repression of all criticism is a good thing.” And it is one for which they have paid virtually no price. Naturally then, they feel empowered to double-down on secular as well as Islamist dissenters.
Then there is Iran. Since the announcement of an interim nuclear deal, the regime has revealed yet another reactor and declared it will always retain the right to enrich. Why shouldn’t they conclude this is permissible? After all, as the Senate Republican Policy Committee pointed out in a memo, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that “we will pause for six months our efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales.” Mind you the implementation for Iran’s portion of the bargain in the interim deal hasn’t yet been worked out. Nevertheless, the administration permits continued enrichment while removing some sanctions. Why wouldn’t Iran feel free to flaunt its defiance of international demands to end its illegal program?
In Syria the same dynamic plays out. We show no interest in acting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, even (especially!) after the use of WMD’s. Russia and Iran have moved in, secure in the knowledge they can aid in the massacre of the Syrian people with no adverse consequences. And Assad, of course, used WMD’s certain that the administration would not act against him. He got that right.
Likewise, we have shoved human rights off to the side. It shouldn’t surprise us that the human rights situations in Russia, China and Iran — not to mention in the “Arab Spring” countries — have deteriorated.
Our allies pay attention and react as well. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are planning their own nuclear defenses given the low expectations that the United States will halt Iran’s program. Likewise, it is evident Israel will go it alone when it deems necessary; waiting for the United States to act is slow-motion suicide for the Zionist experiment.
We might not like the lesson other countries learn from us — repression pays off, WMD’s are not actually “unacceptable,” Iranian aggression will go unchecked — but they are behaving logically based on a correct assessment of this administration’s interests (end wars!) and (un)willingness to act. We can imagine how they might now be conducting themselves if, say, the administration had negotiated a status of forces agreement to check sectarian and Iranian-inspired violence in Iraq; if it had not bugged out of Afghanistan prematurely; if it had used force against Bashar al-Assad; if it refused to lift any sanctions so long as Iran remained in violation of six U.N. resolutions; if it conducted an unceasing diplomatic and economic campaign against human rights abusers; and it had a policy — any policy ! — for addressing the Arab Spring. Well, coulda, woulda, shoulda I suppose — you go into the world with the president you have. In this case, he is a particularly maladroit and wrongheaded commander in chief. We can hardly be surprised at the results.