President Obama’s foreign policy remarks last night remind me of the Woody Allen joke: One woman says about a restaurant, “The food is terrible.” Another replies, “Yes! And the portions are so small.” In the case of Obama we can add that the service was awful.
Danielle Pletka remarked to me this morning, “Once we got to foreign policy after 10 p.m., the president delivered comments utterly divorced from the reality of al-Qaeda’s rise, Iran’s now U.S.-approved nuclear program, China’s military threat, not to speak of the horror of Syria or the disaster in Egypt.” She observed, “For the world, the speech was the same as the day to day reality of US foreign policy: uninterested, disengaged, in retreat.”
That was the near-uniform reaction of foreign policy conservatives, who are increasingly worried the president believes his own spin. Former U.S. spokesman at the U.N. Richard Grenell e-mailed, “He seems to pay attention to national security issues when his political advisers tell him to make a speech or issue a statement . . . If they were paying attention to Iran then he would have never said ‘Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium’ -even the Iranians deny that this is true.”
It is not merely one speech that is so disturbing, but the pervasive sense that Obama has checked out of serious foreign policy discussions and now relies on jaw-dropping bumper stickers.
Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies pointed to the president’s platitude that we can negotiate with Iran as we once negotiated with the Soviet Union. “But surely the point is not whether we can negotiate but whether we can negotiate successfully,” he cautioned. “And not the least in Congress among Republicans and Democrats alike. ”
Obama seems not to grasp who is at risk and why. May notes that Obama admits Hezbollah threatens America’s allies. “But Hezbollah – which is funded and instructed by the Islamic Republic of Iran — threatens not just America’s allies. It threatens us, too – having murdered more Americans than any other terrorist organization except al-Qaeda.” Obama boasts that the Afghanistan war will end, “[b]ut it should matter whether it ends with a favorable outcome or with the Taliban, closely allied with al-Qaeda, poised to regain power. And by the way, for Afghans, the war will hardly end if and when America troops bug out. Should that not at least be recognized?”
All of this is especially problematic since the president now is seeking both to hide the interim Iran deal and threaten Congress with a veto in regard to Iran. The interim deal has been so widely panned that the president refuses to release it — but then demands we let diplomacy have a chance. His lack of sobriety on the subject is so glaring he has made it that much harder for fellow Democrats to take a “trust me” on this subject.
The president’s deliberate blindness conveys not just to Americans but the world a juvenile level of irresponsibility. Show the American people the critical Iran interim deal? Who is going to make him? Confront the mass atrocities in Syria and the influx of 7,000 jihadis? Not his problem. Speak up for Chinese, Iranian and Egyptian freedom advocates? Too busy.
This president is far worse as commander in chief than Jimmy Carter, who was naive but serious and sincere; Carter also learned something when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Obama is the least serious commander in chief we have had, disastrously at one of the most dangerous times since WWII. Democrats and Republicans have a responsibility to step up to the plate in the absence of presidential leadership. Obama’s grievous defeats and grievous errors are America’s. All members of Congress who blindly follow him will be equally responsible for the dangers that result.