Friday, February 26, 2010
American neutrality on the Falklands is a symptom of US foreign policy drift
UK Telegraph By James Corum World Last updated: February 26th, 2010 The Bush administration got a lot of things wrong – but at least they usually had some idea of who America’s adversaries were and who America’s friends were. For example, Bush’s policy of maintaining the special relationship with Britain was a simple recognition of the close bonds of alliance, friendship and interests that the British and Americans have had since World War I. In contrast, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are apparently clueless about some of the most basic aspects of foreign policy: supporting one’s friends and fencing in one’s adversaries. The declaration of neutrality on the issue of the sovereignty of the Falklands issued by the US State Department is clear proof of the uselessness of the Obama administration. In the grand scheme of things it makes little sense for America to give moral support to the Kirchner government in Argentina. Kirchner is no friend of the US and Kirchner’s government is in deep domestic trouble for its gross mismanagement of the economy and its attempts to suppress the press criticism of the regime at home. One has to wonder what benefit America gets out of hurting Britain on this issue. Perhaps Obama thinks that the more Leftist Latin American regimes will somehow approve of the US. If that is the case, he is truly mistaken, as most Latin American nations dislike the Argentineans, and have little sympathy for the mess Argentina got into over the Falklands. But this mess is just typical of the drift in US foreign policy – if one can say that it even HAS a coherent foreign policy these days. As I said, at the core of the problem is a simple inability to recognise and support our friends over adversaries. In his first year in office Obama made numerous apologies for America’s past to the Third World, he effusively greeted the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, he bowed low to the Saudi ruler, and called for a “reset” of relations with Russia – all the while implying that America was at fault for all these problems. At the same time he rudely undermined the security of America’s Eastern European allies by cancelling the ballistic missile defence with no notice and no prior discussion, he failed to push for a free trade agreement with Colombia – America’s strongest ally in South America – and he supported Chavez’s allies when they tried (luckily unsuccessfully) to unseat a democratic and pro-US government in Honduras. A big part of the problem is a Secretary of State who is a lightweight as far as foreign policy is concerned. Obama brought Hillary Clinton into the cabinet for domestic policy considerations. He needed to put Mrs Clinton – and her husband – under tight control. As a powerful senator from New York, she would probably have taken over as the de facto leader of the Democratic Party and been able to challenge Obama’s “Chicago Gang” for control of the party. Despite the acclaim that America’s mainstream media has heaped on Hillary Clinton over the years, her foreign policy background and experience before becoming Secretary of State was to accompany her husband on foreign trips and preside over “first wives” dinners for the spouses of visiting heads of state. One learns a lot about protocol and ceremonies – but this is no preparation for the real work of making policy. Clinton has no experience or education in foreign policy. She speaks no foreign languages and has never lived abroad. She lacks the intellectual temperament to be a foreign policy leader. Like Obama, she has long surrounded herself with sycophants. On assuming office, Obama’s vision of foreign policy was simple: he would repudiate past American policies and the whole world would melt before the president’s charm. The administration somehow thought that we really didn’t have enemies with agendas completely hostile to our own – there were just countries that had become offended by US actions and they would happily cooperate with America as soon as the evil Republicans were gone. Well, it hasn’t worked – and there was no Plan B. With a president overwhelmed by domestic problems, Hillary Clinton has failed to step in and set a foreign policy vision. Simply put, she does not have the brains or the experience to develop a coherent foreign policy vision for America. This is how we get policy mistakes on issues such as the sovereignty of the Falklands.