Jewish World Review March 4, 2014 / 2 Adar II, 5774
U.S. is hurt by lax attention to foreign affairs
By Dan K. Thomasson
JewishWorldReview.com | As he faces the perhaps the most significant foreign policy crisis of his presidency, it has become abundantly clear that Barack Obama’s lack of attention to the nation’s overseas interests has seriously damaged America’s global position.
Is that too harsh an assessment of a president who likes to draw lines in the sand but is seldom willing to step over them? The 90 minute warning issued to Russia’s Vladimir Putin not to send troops to the Crimea when ignored produced an “OK, now what do we do?” moment, leaving Obama to scramble for a solution that would contain if not end the threat.
Perhaps the best assessment of the causes of the current mess comes from David J. Kramer, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia and Ukraine in the George W. Bush administration. Writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, Kramer said:
“Like his overall approach to foreign policy, Obama has been much too removed from the deteriorating situation in Ukraine the past few months and spoke out for the first time only 10 days ago after Ukrainian authorities used gruesome force against protesters in Kiev. Obama warned Ukrainian officials not to ‘step over the line,’ a phrase that lost meaning when he warned Assad not to cross a ‘red line’ at the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing about it.”
It is a disturbing pattern about this chief executive with the limited overseas knowledge that has plagued too many of his predecessors of late. Community organizing in Chicago and two years in the Senate doesn’t make good on-the-job training for dealing with the Putins of the world. Of course that has been the weakness with this president from the beginning — a lack of preparedness on not only overseas matters but domestic ones as well.
His almost obsessive focus on health-care reform during his first term has not served the national interest in maintaining world leadership. He has failed to assert his influence in Syria, watched benignly the crumbling of the Arab Spring, done little to change the Israeli/Palestinian picture. More important, it has taken most of his two terms to do what he promised to do quickly when campaigning in 2008 — end the Iraq and Afghanistan involvements that already have claimed too many American lives.
He doesn’t even seem to be able to get Hamid Karzai to sign off on the retention of a small security force in Afghanistan when the bulk of U.S. troops come home later this year.
What now can he do to pressure an end to the Russian incursion into Crimea? The task becomes difficult when as one analyst put it there is no longer a “big stick” available as an option. Saber rattling threats seem to me to be an impotent approach unless one is willing to start World War III. When the threat of military intervention is removed from the equation, sanctions and isolation from the international community become the only weapons.
Yet NATO with the United States in the lead can hardly stand still in this matter. In addition to banking sanctions, terminating all negotiations with Russia on promoting business or trade agreements, expelling Russia from the Group of Eight and cancelling the Sochi meeting, Kramer and others suggest NATO should call an emergency meeting to reassure allies that border Ukraine and to initiate mobilization of forces to be ready for any development.
There is absolutely no doubt that the next days will be the most difficult this administration has faced. Putin clearly has little or no respect for Obama as the long telephone conversation to try to resolve this made clear. Strengthening the Russian position, of course, is the huge number of ethnic Russians who occupy Crimea and consider themselves still to be a part of “the mother country.”
Whether or not Obama is up to meeting this challenge with the help of State Secretary John Kerry, who is being dispatched to Kiev, is problematic. Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, was given high marks for trying to keep the complexities of international affairs on an even keel and did a more than reasonable job until the Benghazi incident tarnished her reputation.
These are dangerous times.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
• 02/11/14: Women have reached society equality . . . in foul-language
• 02/05/14: Job No. 1 for Obama --- compromise
• 12/27/13: Fixing our schools
• 12/17/13: Geek babies? Say it ain't so
• 12/10/13: Bank profits rise as taxpayers subsidize employees
• 11/22/13: The myth vs. reality of President Kennedy
• 11/04/13: How could NSA spying surprise Obama?
• 10/01/13: Remember Valerie Plame and her hubby? She -- and her publisher -- hope you do
• 09/10/13: Public schools need lessons in effective education
• 08/21/13: NNCAA reforms can't come too soon
• 08/09/13: Military justice system failing in Fort Hood case
• 08/02/13: Bradley Manning's case offers cautionary tale
• 07/30/13: Disciplining students requires perspective
• 07/23/13: Not quite your great-great-grandfather's log cabin
• 07/12/13: Courting diversity in college enrollment
• 06/24/13: Post-arrest DNA collection is justified
• 06/18/13: Tax reform may have effective Dynamic Duo
• 06/14/13: Stop outsourcing government secrets
• 06/10/13: IRS couldn't survive one of its own audits
• 05/31/13: Higher ed gaining more support from states
• 05/24/13: Does Obama have Plausible Deniability?
• 05/20/13: Google Glass is progress at a cost
• 03/25/13: NCAA's March Madness still scores points
• 02/27/13: School safety radicals make things considerably worse
• 02/21/13: Wrestling needs a firm hold on Olympics
• 02/18/13: Obama may be able to do little about gun violence
• 12/17/12: When is a majority not a majority?
• 12/12/12: Government snooping's historical precedent
• 11/13/12: Petraeus learns a lesson the hard way
• 10/26/12: High court must settle affirmative action
• 10/16/12: Report confirms SATs flawed indicator
• 08/20/12: All the news fit to tweet?
• 07/27/12: Economic disillusionment marks young voters' views
• 07/20/12: Will Postal Service follow Pony Express route?
• 07/13/12: Paterno's statue should be covered up
• 07/10/12: 8.2 jobless rate endangers Obama's job
• 07/03/12: It's still the economy, stupid
• 06/19/12: Mitt Romney's chances look better
• 06/08/12: Pakistan not an ally worthy of the name
• 06/05/12: Americans have a right to be bloated
• 06/01/12: Quota system would dilute school's quality
• 05/27/12: Even now, Memorial Day means summer camp
• 05/18/12: Is there a public right to know too much?
• 05/09/12: American exceptionalism --- exceptional generosity
• 05/04/12: The Edwards trial is a sorry affair
• 05/02/12: Common sense needs to be taught . . . to school administrators
• 04/30/12: We must deal with college student debt rate
• 04/10/12: At least Ryan has a deficit-cutting plan
• 04/05/12: Celebrate one-year rent-a-teams?
• 03/12/12: A kinder, gentler day when fists settled disputes
• 03/05/12: Do conservatives want a victory or a statement?
• 02/27/12: Hillary vs. Jeb?
• 02/17/12: Why wait for the until GOP nominating convention?
• 02/17/12: Prez is not a god, just a cause of O.G. D.: Obama Governmental Dysfunction
• 02/13/12: Minor tardiness doesn't warrant court action
• 02/08/12: College rankings aren't always reliable
• 02/01/12: Millionaire Fans Watching Millionaire Players
• 01/30/12: Kiriakou case may plug leaks, stifle democracy
• 01/09/12: Feds need to find if Brit hackers targeted 9/11 families
• 12/23/11: NIH flu-strain decision endangers us all
• 12/09/11: U.S. Postal Service may be beyond saving
• 11/30/11: Do-gooder gets deserved earful
• 11/24/11: Lawmakers should pledge to think on their own
• 11/22/11: Iowa: Vital to GOP now, irrelevant later
• 11/16/11: Pentagon's senior mentor service takes hit
• 11/14/11: With Congress, expect more intransigence
• 11/08/11: Paterno's illustrious career faces tarnished end
• 10/31/11: The FBI is burned by its Boston informants
• 10/18//11: President Inexperienced again picked style and enthusiasm over caution. He must pay
• 10/10/11: Prosecutors routinely abuse plea bargaining
• 10/04/11: In Christie,shades of William Howard Taft
• 09/27/11: One word for Obama's prospects --- bleak
• 09/26/11: Obama quickly running out of time
• 09/23/11: Big-time college football is now all about the money
• 09/22/11: A trip to the dentist cleans out your wallet
• 09/06/11: College rankings a useless exercise
• 08/31/11: Thankful a mother isn't alive to see this hungry mess
• 08/30/11: Supercommittee should meet in secret
• 08/22/11: Is college still worth it? Some majors are
• 08/15/11: Pray for miracle from debt committee
• 08/09/11: S&P mixes credit ratings with politics
• 08/08/11: Politics again takes precedence over common sense
• 08/04/11: In modern society, a distinct pattern of senselessness
• 07/29/11: A debt solution: Throw the rascals out, all of them
• 07/21/11: Campaign finance reform --- you're kidding, right!?
• 07/08/11: Casey Anthony jury did its job
• 07/05/11: Nailing a prominent figure or institution should come at a heavy risk and an even greater price if proven a hoax
© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE