Obama Foreign Policy

Chuck Hagel witnesses a familiar act

Featured image Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has walked back his harsh statements about the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Ya’alon had declared that Israel cannot rely on the U.S. to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, accused the administration of broadcasting weakness throughout the world, and warned that its perceived weakness was inviting further terrorism against U.S. targets. Ya’alon told his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel that his comments “were not intended to express opposition, »

Obama presents false choice on Ukraine

Featured image President Obama declared today that the U.S. will not take military action in Ukraine. I think most of us had worked that out. “What we are going to do,” Obama declared “is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message.” The clear message will be this — please, please don’t invade more territory. In ruling out military »

Report: Susan Rice wants affirmative action towards Russia

Featured image To date, Team Obama’s response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea has been criminally lame. But now Susan Rice reportedly wants to take affirmative action. Unfortunately, the affirmative action she contemplates is affirmative action in the legal sense — affirmative action on behalf of women. The post of U.S. ambassador to Russia has been vacant for three weeks. Al Kamen of the Washington Post reports “we’re hearing that national security adviser »

This cannot stand

Featured image The Times of Israel has a handy summary (and Breitbart has more here) of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s remarks earlier this week concerning the perils of Obama administration foreign policy from Israel’s perspective. It’s a sort of “emperor has no clothes” moment, with Ya’alon “declaring that Israel cannot rely on the US to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, accusing the administration of broadcasting weakness throughout the world, and warning that »

Obama’s “hopey” Iran policy

Featured image Don’t look now, but negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are about to begin again. The New York Times writes: Tensions between the West and Russia over events in Ukraine have cast a shadow over the second round of talks set to begin on Tuesday in Vienna on a permanent nuclear agreement with Iran. Although the talks have no direct connection to Ukraine, their success hinges on solidarity among »

Biden on the case

Featured image In the course of the Democratic primaries in 2008 Barack Obama provoked me into assessing his reading of the Cold War and the uses of diplomacy. I took a look in “The Kennedy-Khrushchev conference for dummies.” Meeting with JFK in Vienna in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, Khrushchev sized up Kennedy as a weakling and a lightweight. Kennedy lamented: “I never met a man like this,” Kennedy »

The 1930s are calling

Featured image Commentators with a cruel memory have recalled the moment from one of the 2012 presidential debates when President Obama cited Mitt Romney’s warning about the growing threat from Russia and dismissed it with a superficially sophisticated putdown: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” When I hear President Obama threatening to impose consequences on Vladimir Putin et al., or imposing them, as he did today, »

Russian markets rally on news of Obama’s sanctions

Featured image The Obama administration has sanctioned eleven Russian and Ukrainian officials. All are cronies of and/or senior advisers to Vladimir Putin. I’m in favor of sanctioning Putin’s advisers and cronies. But no one should confuse these measures with action that has any chance of influencing Putin’s behavior. Certainly, there is no such confusion in Russia. Greg White, Moscow Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, reports that Russian markets, “relieved” by »

Did the U.S. provoke the Russian bear?

Featured image Jack Matlock, Jr., a former ambassador to the Soviet Union and a long-time foreign service officer, blames U.S. policy for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Matlock is a bipartisan blamer. He indicts President Clinton, President (George W.) Bush, and Congress. Only President Obama is spared. What were our sins? They fall largely into two categories. First, we took military action in Serbia and Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval. Second, we »

How will foreign leaders be able to trust America after Obama?

Featured image International credibility is to foreign affairs what political capital is to domestic matters. Without it, an American president can exert little influence and thus can get little done. President Obama has used up nearly all of his political capital. He began his administration with 69 percent approval and 12 percent disapproval. Today, he is underwater at 40-54 according to the latest Gallup poll. This presents a problem for Obama, but »

Team of Nitwits reconvened

Featured image Bloomberg News reports that 60,000 Russian troops are massed across the Ukraine border. What are they doing there? They are apparently awaiting the results of the secession or consolidation vote concluding in Crimea. They are standing by to enforce the will of the people, of course, and perhaps extend it further into Ukraine. It is an impressive and audacious display of force. Readers familiar with Hitler’s prewar playbook know what »

How to get Putin’s attention while doing the right thing

Featured image Charles Krauthammer presents his plan for how to “stop — or slow — Putin.” I agree with all of the items on Krauthammer’s list. However, I’m pretty sure they won’t stop Putin and they may not slow him much. My idea is to punish Putin by doing what we should have done long ago — attacking his Middle East client state, Syria. It’s the only non-outlandish action we can take »

Soft Power on parade

Featured image Samantha Power is a preening phony, but I never thought she was stupid. As the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, she has emitted the lame statement below condemning the regime of Syrian president for life Bashar al-Assad as out of step with the “whole world.” Among the many true statements one could make to condemn Assad, Power can’t pull an arrow from the quiver. If Assad has her »

Obama needs to stop believing his own BS

Featured image Leon Wieseltier considers what Obama needs to learn from Putin’s aggression against Crimea. In essence, he concludes that Obama needs to stop believing his own bullshit. Wieseltier is far too elegant a writer to put it this way. Instead, among other things, he writes: [T]he Ukrainian crisis is not a transient event but a lasting circumstance with which we will be wrestling for a long time. We must mentally arm »

The message in the missiles

Featured image Earlier this week Israel seized a ship carrying high-trajectory missiles bound for Gaza from Iran. The Obama administration wants it known that the United States collaborated with Israel in tracking the ship. Yet I can’t find any comment by an administration official on the message in the missiles. For that, we must turn to Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking yesterday in Los Angeles at the Museum of Tolerance: We shall expose what »

Netanyahu draws a line

Featured image Whenever Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at AIPAC’s policy conference in Washington, as he did earlier this week, he devotes some part of his speech to basics that are too often neglected in discussions of Israel’s role in the Middle East. As always, Netanyahu’s speech is worth reading in its entirety. I want to draw attention in particular to Netanyahu’s introductory point. It stands in stark contrast to anything »

“Trust but verify” vs. “Trust and concede”

Featured image Michael Rubin persuasively argues that President Obama’s misreading of Vladimir Putin was not idiosyncratic. Rather, it reflects the broad leftist consensus (fantasy, I would say) of how the world (outside of the domestic realm) works. That view, in essence, is that if we’re nice enough to our adversaries there’s a good chance they will stop being adversarial. Rubin identifies some of the government officials and academics who applauded the Obama-Clinton »