Opinion: Obama foreign policy ill-defined

August 14, 2013


“We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” — Ronald Reagan, March 23, 1983

President Reagan’s speech to the nation 30 ago launched a major arms buildup to confront the expanding military power and political aspirations of the Soviet Union. It followed the disastrous presidency of Jimmy Carter, whose nonperformance during the Iran hostage crisis led to the perception in the Muslim world that America was weak and had lost its resolve to confront enemies.

President Obama appears to believe killing Osama bin Laden, which he mentioned for the umpteenth time at his Friday news conference, and conducting drone strikes against terrorists in Yemen and elsewhere is enough to deter terrorists.

Now comes another threat.

The London Times reports Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who, in addition to his history of stealing elections and confiscating the land of white farmers, has signed an agreement with the Iranian regime to supply it with raw materials that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. Weren’t we assured that Iran wants nuclear power only to provide electricity to its people? Have we learned nothing from past behavior? Tyrants lie and Islamic tyrants are instructed to lie to “infidels” by their “holy book” in the pursuit of earthly objectives, even world domination, according to some interpretations of the Koran.

As the Times reports: “(Iran) is fond of declaring its near self-sufficiency in uranium supplies for its disputed nuclear program. As with many announcements by Tehran, however, those claims have only a slender basis in reality. It does have substantial uranium deposits and its largest uranium mine was opened recently amid great fanfare, but deposits are of poorer quality than those found elsewhere.”

Enter Mugabe, whose struggling economy has recently begun to show signs of life. “The European Union only recently lifted sanctions against 81 officials and eight companies in Zimbabwe,” notes Times writer Michael Evans. “These sanctions imposed in 2002 for human rights abuses and political violence remain in force ...” Sanctions have not deterred Iran in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

What now? There is talk of a response by the “international community,” which is neither international in its thinking nor a community in its fight against terrorism. As usual, any response will have to come from the United States, NATO and/or Israel.

Given President Obama’s ordered withdrawal from corrupt Afghanistan and U.S. public opinion mostly opposed to additional “foreign entanglements,” it falls to the president to lead. Leading is not something Obama has done well. Consider his failed “outreach” to the Muslim world and his equally ineffective “reset” with Russia. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton produced a red button, which she and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pressed. The Russian word for “reset” was wrongly translated as “overloaded.” Was that prophetic symbolism?

Can anyone articulate this president’s foreign policy and point to where it is working?

In a column for the Sunday Telegraph titled, “Obama’s not to be trusted on foreign policy,” Janet Daley writes, “But there must be at least a glimmering of doubt even in Europe — where the Obama presidency has been given an absurdly easy ride — that America, too, is adrift in the post-Cold War landscape: that it no longer has any clear conception of its global role.”

Endless speeches by the president are not a policy.

It bears restating that the Ayatollah Khomeini believed in the strength and resolve of Ronald Reagan. That is why on the day of Reagan’s 1981 inauguration he released 52 American hostages held for 444 days. Strong individuals deter bullies. Strong nations deter enemies and keep the peace.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


JudgeJoeBrown 8 months ago

Hmm, I wonder what ole Mitt would have done differently. Or anyone else for that matter. Probably not much since Obama's foreign policy is almost identical to the Cheney/Rumsfeld policies which would most surely have been continued by the clueless Romney.


Mike Gerhardt 8 months ago

The only foreign policy I have been able to descern is that this administration is pro-Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He has gone out of his way to reset relations with the Russian Federation back into the 1980's and has shown absolutely no foreign policy decisions other than that. As bad as Carter, I feel.


jafs 8 months ago

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" - Henry Kissinger.


FastEddy 8 months ago

Where is Henry Kissinger when you need him? Here is a list of the top 10 Secretaries of State. Sorry Hillary, you did not make the list.


jayhawklawrence 8 months ago

Cal has been given the same directive as all of the other right wing propagandists to attack foreign policy as the beginning of their campaign to define Hillary as non-presidential.

Watching these people is like watching geese. They all fly in unison and they all quack the same.

So much for intelligent and thoughtful commentary.


Orwell 8 months ago

Cal's problem is that he thinks everything can/should be reduced to a policy that fits on a bumper sticker. In fact if U.S. foreign policy were simple enough for Cal to understand we'd all be in trouble.


Pheps 8 months ago

Look. President Obama can not do everything. He is busy fixing Bush's economy. His healthcare is taking up his time too.

He has killed Osama. He has Al Queda on the run. He freed Libya. He started Arab Spring freeing Egypt's people. The world will have to wait a little while longer for the rest of his Nobel Peace Prize expertise.

Besides, if "peace through strength" is malarkey, Why did Lawrence buy an Armored Attack Vehicle?


FastEddy 8 months ago

"In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton produced a red button, which she and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pressed. The Russian word for “reset” was wrongly translated as “overloaded.”

Was this the first of a long list of errors for this administration? It' hard to say since there have been so many... they all kind of blur together. Aside from OBL (which this President repeats over and over and over) what has this administration accomplished in the foreign affairs arena?


Richard Heckler 8 months ago

Why did the BUSHCO government build a billion tax $$$ 600 room luxury USA embassy in Baghdad which obviously required a ton of military protection during construction?

This is smart foreign policy? Obama inherited a ton of reckless right wing foreign policy. Not always easy to change.


Richard Heckler 8 months ago

USA government foreign policy seems to revolve around protecting corporate America financial investments.

BUSHCO foreign policy was and still is a tax dollar money hole.

"Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security)

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

--- we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global protection for Wal-Mart,Oil,Coca Cola,Pepsico,diamonds,gold etc etc etc.

--- we need to strengthen our ties to dictator regimes friendly to American interests and Bogus values.

--- we need to promote the cause of the political right wing and economic rape for corp USA abroad.

--- we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in forcing others to accept our corrupt principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and immoral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the extortions of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness no matter how many innocent USA soldiers die.

The Plan Details and who benefits at the expense of taxpayers.,12271,1312540,00.html


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