Saturday, October 13, 2012

Smart Diplomacy

Is there anywhere in the realm of foreign policy--and I remind you, Smilin' Joe Biden was added to the presidential ticket in 2008 to give the ticket some foreign policy bona fides--is there anywhere in which the Obama Administration can be said to have done a good job?

How about that Russia reset?
The so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which had been renewed twice by the U.S. and Russia, was a major post-Cold War success.

It led to the deactivation of more than 7,650 strategic warheads from the old Soviet Union, and seemed to put the former USSR onto a far more peaceful path. It helped seal President Reagan's hard-won U.S. victory in the Cold War against its former foe.

But after four years of Obama's weak stewardship of our nation's national security, the Russians are saying "nyet" to renewing the deal in 2013. It's easy to see why.

Everywhere they look, they see U.S. weakness and a failure to respond to overt provocations by others.

They see world affairs as the U.S. retreats from previous strong alliances, such as those with Britain and Israel, and ignores or downplays others, including our ties with Japan.

Why continue to disarm after losing a cold war if your enemy is already busy disarming itself?
Nope, not there. How about the Libya debacle?
Coming to the defense of the nation's intelligence community after Vice President Joe Biden blamed bad intel for the administration's false explanation of what led to the killings of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, the former CIA director and second-ever Homeland Security Department secretary said the White House is to blame.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said the White House didn't listen to the intelligence community leading up to the September 11 attack on the U.S. facility in Libya and inaction led to the deaths of U.S. officials in Benghazi.
Not there, either. How about Turkey?
Nonetheless, the administration’s blandishments and encouragements, and later its reproaches and betrayals, have pushed Turkey out on a ledge, apparently alone. If some are gloating that a boastful Erdogan is finally getting his comeuppance with his troubles on the Syrian border, the fact is that the administration has let an ally, albeit a troublesome one, expose its weaknesses, a posture dangerous both to itself and American interests.
Nope, nothing there on the Syrian border.  How's Afghanistan, the "good war" that Obama supposedly supported, doing these days?
In his first year in office, Mr. Obama’s thinking about what he once called “a war of necessity” began to radically change. He concluded that the Bush-era dream of remaking Afghanistan was a fantasy, and that the far greater threat to the United States was an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan. So he narrowed the goals in Afghanistan, and narrowed them again, until he could make the case that America had achieved limited objectives in a war that was, in any traditional sense, unwinnable.

In June 2011, a month after United States special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, Mr. Obama declared that America had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of troops by 2014. In a major milestone, on Feb. 1, 2012, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops were scheduled to come home.

A milestone was reached in August 2012, when the United States military reached 2,000 dead in Afghanistan, based on an analysis by The New York Times of Department of Defense records.

Another milestone was reached in September, when the American military completed the withdrawal of the 33,000 troops deployed in the “surge’' ordered by Mr. Obama in late 2009. Another 86,000 troops remain.

Some Afghan officials hailed the move as proof that they were ready to take over their country’s security, but more worried voices were raised in the heartland of the surge, in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces in the south and southwest where the 2010 influx of Marines and Army soldiers largely subdued the Taliban on their home turf. Post-surge, the capital cities of those provinces are more peaceful than they have been in many years, and the Taliban operate only clandestinely in the rural areas. But operate, they still do.

As the surge ended, American officials acknowledged that they have all but written off what was once one of the cornerstones of their strategy to end the war here: battering the Taliban into a peace deal.

The once ambitious American plans for ending the war were replaced by the far more modest goal of setting the stage for the Afghans to work out a deal among themselves in the years after most Western forces depart, and to ensure Pakistan is on board with any eventual settlement. Military and diplomatic officials said that despite attempts to engage directly with Taliban leaders, they now expect that any significant progress will come only after 2014, once the bulk of NATO troops have left.
"Vietnamization" is failing again.

Do our enemies fear us?  Do our allies trust us?  Do the undecideds of the world "like" us more than they did four years ago?

I'm still looking for a success.  In almost four years I'm sure there's got to be one, if for no other reason than the Stopped Clock Principle.

There's a "foreign policy" presidential debate coming up, maybe I'll learn of some successes then.

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