Foreign Policy Archives

Political Cartoon: Enemies and Allies

From Michael Ramirez (click for a larger version):

Michael Ramirez

Treating your enemies better than your allies doesn’t seem to be working, for either our enemies or our allies.

An "Atta’ Boy" for Obama

On Sunday, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to visit the troops and speak to them.  They deserved a show of support, and I’m glad they got it. 

Iran Goes Nuclear, World Shocked

Last week, Iran announced it can produce weapons-grade uranium.  British PM Gordon Brown spoke out "strongly".

As Gordon Brown warned that the world’s patience is wearing thin, Ahmadinejad told scores of cheering Iranians that the Islamic Republic is capable of producing weapons-grade uranium.

Does this remind anyone of Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam as they got red-faced and growled, just before Bugs Bunny again showed them for the fools they are?  I took Brown’s actual words and tossed them through The Dialectizer, and they sound much more "in character", shall we say.

‘I bewieve the mood awound the wowwd is now incweasingwy one whewe, patience not being inexhaustibwe, peopwe awe tuwning to wook at the specific sanctions we can pwan on Iwan,’ Mr Brown said. ‘Dis is a cwiticaw time fow Iwan’s wewationship wif the west of the wowwd.’

Follow this by dropping an anvil on his head to complete the mental picture.

Rogue State \ˈrōg ˈstāt\ – See "Iran"

The Israel Project is a great source for keeping up with information about Israel and the Middle East.  Clearly it has Israel primarily in mind, but its information is generally not of the opinion variety.  Most often, it is an aggregation of information from many sources to make a point.

Like this article noting Iran’s duplicity just during Obama’s 1st year.  Below are some excerpts, with the original footnote links.  Does this sound like a county willing to deal fairly with the world?

January 2010

Jan. 2: Iran issues an ultimatum to the United States warning that if the United States doesn’t accept Tehran’s counterproposal by the end of January it will commence reactor fuel production at increased levels of enrichment.[5]

December 2009
Dec. 29: News emerges that Iran is close to clinching a $450 million deal to import 1,350 tons of purified ore uranium, or “yellowcake,” from one of the world’s biggest uranium miners, Kazakhstan.[6] The deal would be a direct violation of UN sanctions placed on Iran for refusing to halt its nuclear program and raises concerns in Washington. Iran and Kazakhstan deny that there’s any such deal.[7]

Dec. 22: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly dismisses a year-end deadline stipulating that Iran must send out of the country more than 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium “in one batch” to avoid additional UN sanctions.[8] The deadline, set by the world’s major powers – the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) – stipulates that in accordance with the Oct. 1 proposal, Iran must send out more than 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium “in one batch” to avoid additional UN sanctions. [9]

Dec. 18: The Times of London exposes secret Iranian intelligence documents that outline a four-year trial project that includes the neutron initiator, a final element for creating a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion, as well as uranium deuteride, which experts say can only be used in for nuclear weapons.[12] Intelligence sources say the documents date back to 2007, raising doubt over Iran’s claim that it stopped its weapons program four years prior.[13]

Nov. 3: A cargo ship filled with tons of Iranian weaponry en route to Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon is intercepted 100 miles (161 km) from Israel’s coast. It was carrying more than 500 tons of advanced weaponry and missiles, including Katyusha rockets, assault rifles, mortar shells, grenades, and anti-aircraft platforms.[19] The containers aboard were imprinted with the acronym IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines) and cargo slips proved the weapon containers were from Iran.[20]

Oct. 17: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that Iran is helping Venezuela explore and eventually mine its uranium deposits. Venezuela reportedly has 50,000 tons of uranium reserves.[26]

Oct. 1: Iran conditionally accepts the P5+1 proposal negotiated in Geneva, which would require Iran to deliver more than 70 percent of its low-enrichment uranium to Russia and France for refinement into fuel for a medical research plant, as well as permit IAEA inspectors to inspect the Qom facility within two weeks of the agreement.[28] The P5+1 includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany.

And that’s just excerpts, and just going back as far as October.  Read the whole thing(tm).

This is what a rogue state looks like.  This is what a country that doesn’t live up to its agreements, and continually demonstrates that it can’t be trusted, looks like.  Comparisons to other countries’ behavior, when using the word "rogue", need to take this into consideration.

Feel-Good Diplomacy

How’s that working out for President Obama?  Charles Krauthammer takes a look back at the past nine months and ticks off this administration’s biggest foreign policy initiatives.

What’s come from Obama holding his tongue while Iranian demonstrators were being shot and from his recognizing the legitimacy of a thug regime illegitimately returned to power in a fraudulent election? Iran cracks down even more mercilessly on the opposition and races ahead with its nuclear program.

What’s come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking human rights off the table on a visit to China and from Obama’s shameful refusal to see the Dalai Lama (a postponement, we are told)? China hasn’t moved an inch on North Korea, Iran or human rights. Indeed, it’s pushing with Russia to dethrone the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

What’s come from the new-respect-for-Muslims Cairo speech and the unprecedented pressure on Israel for a total settlement freeze? "The settlement push backfired," reports The Post, and Arab-Israeli peace prospects have "arguably regressed."

And what’s come from Obama’s single most dramatic foreign policy stroke — the sudden abrogation of missile defense arrangements with Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia had virulently opposed? For the East Europeans it was a crushing blow, a gratuitous restoration of Russian influence over a region that thought it had regained independence under American protection.

But maybe not gratuitous. Surely we got something in return for selling out our friends. Some brilliant secret trade-off to get strong Russian support for stopping Iran from going nuclear before it’s too late? Just wait and see, said administration officials, who then gleefully played up an oblique statement by President Dmitry Medvedev a week later as vindication of the missile defense betrayal.

The Russian statement was so equivocal that such a claim seemed a ridiculous stretch at the time. Well, Clinton went to Moscow this week to nail down the deal. What did she get?

"Russia Not Budging on Iran Sanctions; Clinton Unable to Sway Counterpart." Such was The Post headline’s succinct summary of the debacle.

Note how thoroughly Clinton was rebuffed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that "threats, sanctions and threats of pressure" are "counterproductive." Note: It’s not just sanctions that are worse than useless, but even the threat of mere pressure.

There’s more; read the whole thing(tm).  Now granted, nine months is not time enough to make great strides.  Heck, it’s barely enough time to win a "peace" prize.  But if the world has a collective thrill up its leg over the election of He Who Is Not Bush, it’s having a difficult time showing it. 

As I noted 3 years ago, the facade is just that; a false front.  Goodwill was not squandered because little of it was there in the first place.  The world is just as difficult to work with now as it has ever been, especially for those European leftists who keep trying to remake American in their image, those radical Islamists who hatched a massive terrorist attack plan while we had a Democrat in the White House, and a Russian government deeply paranoid of America, no matter who is in power.

Fine oratory, promises, and a medal given because of them, will not change the world.  There are too many enemies out there that will be placated only by a credible threat of force.  The more credible the threat, the less likely it is that it need be used. 

Sometimes, You Need a Cowboy

So how’s all that "capitulate to their demands and get them on our side" plan going?  Not so well, apparently.

Denting President Obama’s hopes for a powerful ally in his campaign to press Iran on its nuclear program, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday that threatening Tehran now with harsh new sanctions would be “counterproductive.”

The minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said after meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton here that diplomacy should be given a chance to work, particularly after a meeting in Geneva this month in which the Iranian government said it would allow United Nations inspectors to visit its clandestine nuclear enrichment site near the holy city of Qum.

“At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process,” he said. “Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.”

Mr. Lavrov’s resistance was striking given that, just three weeks before, President Dmitri A. Medvedev said that “in some cases, sanctions are inevitable.” American officials had hailed that statement as a sign that Russia was finally coming around to the Obama administration’s view that Iran is best handled with diplomacy backed by a credible threat of sanctions.

It also came after the Obama administration announced that it would retool a European missile defense system fiercely opposed by Russia. That move was thought to have paid dividends for the White House when Mr. Medvedev appeared to throw his support behind Mr. Obama on Iran, though American officials say the Russian president was also likely to have been reacting to the disclosure of the secret nuclear site near Qum.

See, if Iran gets a nuke, it’s highly unlikely that Russia will ever be a target, given how close these two have worked in the past.  So Obama, instead of proving his Jedi diplomacy skills, got played instead.  Apparently, Medvedev is immune to those Jedi mind tricks.

Even Obama’s supporter in the punditocracy are complaining about this administration’s efforts.

And, no, Obama hasn’t reset the American relationship with Russia. He was taken for a ride. Maybe his vanity won’t let him admit it. But, believe me, the Russians know they have taken him (and us) for a big ride, indeed.

Here are the facts:

After Obama agreed to cancel the missile defense program for Poland and the Czech Republic, the president got Moscow to give him an inch. Maybe, they said, we’d have to move on tougher measures against Iran if Tehran doesn’t satisfy us on its nukes. “Hallelujah!” said the president and his entourage.

All of this good cheer is now over. Lavrov greeted Clinton in Moscow with the bad news: “At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process. … Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.”

Just before Hillary arrived in Moscow, she warned that America was impatient. With whom? With the Iranians, of course. But her impatience with Tehran will be useless unless we get impatient with Russia.

“We did not ask for anything today,” she said. “We reviewed the situation and where it stood, which I think was the appropriate timing for what this process entails.”

Of course, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In fact, with the Russians, if you don’t demand and threaten a little, you get zero.

As history has shown us.  No, not everybody can be trusted, reasoned with or impressed upon.  Sometimes you just gotta’ be the cowboy.  They may complain about it and say they don’t like us, but being liked by the rest of the world shouldn’t really be a main goal of US diplomacy. 

That’s what Nobel "Peace" Prizes are for.

That’s what the Nobel Peace Prize has become.  This was evident when Yassar Arafat won it in 1994 for pretending to go along with a peace agreement with Israel while continuing hostilities.  This was evident when Al Gore won it in 2007 for his work on climate change of all things, because it might, maybe, in the worst of all possible worlds, lead to conflict.

When Jimmy Carter won it in 2002, it was not so much for his work on peace in the Middle East, because that was in 1978 and when he rightfully should have shared in it.  No, the belated award was a poke in George W. Bush’s eye, and the committee said as much.

Little by little, this award is becoming more about politics & intentions than about actual peace.  And today’s awarding of it to President Barack Obama continues that descent.

For one of America’s youngest presidents, in office less than nine months — and only for 12 days before the Nobel nomination deadline last February — it was an enormous honor.

The prize seems to be more for Obama’s promise than for his performance. Work on the president’s ambitious agenda, both at home and abroad, is barely underway, much less finished. He has no standout moment of victory that would seem to warrant a verdict as sweeping as that issued by the Nobel committee.

When even the Associated Press recognizes that this is entirely premature, that’s saying something.

Lech Walesa had this to say:

“So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far,” former Polish President Lech Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, said Friday. “He is still at an early stage.”

In 1983, Walesa actually did something to promote peace. That was well-deserved.

12 days after taking office?  Again we see, starkly, that for the liberal elite, talk is more important, promises more esteemed, than action actually is.  “If you want what we want in the way we want it, that’s good enough”, is the message.  The Nobel Peace Prize is slowly losing its meaning.

Even in Norway, where Mr. Obama enjoys huge popularity, the decision raised eyebrows among some. “It is just too soon,” said Siv Jensen, leader of Norway’s main opposition party, the Progress Party. “It is wrong to give him the peace prize for his ambition. You should receive it for results.”

She said that the decision to bestow the award on the president was the most controversial she could remember and was one of a number that had moved the prize further away from the ideals of Alfred Nobel.

Others made the same point in somewhat more diplomatic language. Amnesty International, which won the peace prize in 1977, congratulated Mr. Obama but said he couldn’t stop there. “President Obama has taken some positive steps towards improving human rights in the U.S.A. and abroad, but much remains to be done,” said Irene Kahn, Amnesty’s secretary general.

The Nobel Committee, by trying to give clout to someone who hasn’t produced results yet, is watering down the very clout that they’re intending to confer.  If results don’t matter, neither will the prize.

UPDATE:  Apparently now I’m a terrorist sympathizer.

Diplomacy With Iran, and Other Delusions

From Eliot Cohen:

Unless you are a connoisseur of small pictures of bearded, brooding fanatical clerics there is not much reason to collect Iranian currency. But I kept one bill on my desk at the State Department because of its watermark—an atom superimposed on the part of that country that harbors the Natanz nuclear site. Only the terminally innocent should have been surprised to learn that there is at least one other covert site, whose only purpose could be the production of highly enriched uranium for atom bombs.

Pressure, be it gentle or severe, will not erase that nuclear program. The choices are now what they ever were: an American or an Israeli strike, which would probably cause a substantial war, or living in a world with Iranian nuclear weapons, which may also result in war, perhaps nuclear, over a longer period of time.

Understandably, the U.S. government has hoped for a middle course of sanctions, negotiations and bargaining that would remove the problem without the ugly consequences. This is self-delusion. Yes, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy stood side by side with President Barack Obama in Pittsburgh and talked sternly about lines in the sand; and yes, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev hinted that some kind of sanctions might, conceivably, be needed. They said the same things to, and with, President George W. Bush.

That’s right, the much-maligned diplomat George W. Bush was part of a diplomatic effort, continued by Barack "Change" Obama, to get Iran to abandon the nuclear weapons program that they’ve denied but that the world knows they’re gearing up.  The talk and the Sternly Worded Letters(tm) from the United Nations have bought Iran the time they needed and brought us to the brink of either war on Iran or war from Iran. 

Rock, meet hard place. 

Cohen goes on to say that, at this point, it’s really too late and too difficult to remove the threat via a tactical strike, as Israel did in 1981, and an all-out war with Iran is a difficult proposition, because of the consequences to oil production, a potentially expanded war in the region, and because the Obama administration can’t even sell Afghanistan as "the good war" anymore. 

His suggestion is the kind of "meddling" that Democrats have shown distaste for in the past but which we’re left with after all the talking has proved fruitless; overthrowing the regime through something other than overt war.  The alternative is living with a nuclear Iran, and if you think they’re bothersome now, what with financing terrorism in the region, just wait until they have a  missile with a nuke on top and no one dare cross them.

At least we won’t have a nuclear Iraq with a regime also bent on terrorism.  You can thank Dubya for that, and reserve your thanks from the UN.  Over a decade of what passes for diplomacy and negotiation got us precisely nowhere.  History is repeating itself.

On Mending Our Fences in the World

Supposedly, George W. Bush squandered all the goodwill we got from the world as a result of the 9/11 attacks.  Enemies became friends, the uncooperative became helpful, and all was right with the world, until Bush screwed it up.  What is forgotten in all of this is that those that opposed us before 9/11 opposed us after it too, with a brief fair-weather friendship in between.  Nothing was actually squandered because nothing was actually gained, other than a brief facade that apparently many fell for.

Of course, when places like France started electing people more aligned to the Right, suddenly actual cooperation with the US was back, but this time the Left ignored it.  The narrative was already in place.  The Iraq war was "unilateral", except for the dozens of other countries helping out.  The world hates us now, except that those countries pretty much hated us before, too.  Going after terrorists, their enablers, and, oh yeah, a Ba’athist that had continually broken the terms of his cease-fire despite dozens of harshly-worded UN resolutions; that pushed the world away.

News flash; they were never really close enough to us to be pushed.  It was all an optical illusion.

But now we have a President who says he wants to mend our fences with the world, and get them to like us again.  He’s made some speeches that got huge crowds, which is all very nice.  But what is he doing to bring people back to loving the US?


WARSAW, Poland – Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.

"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama’s new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.

Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.


An editorial in Hospodarske Novine, a respected pro-business Czech newspaper, said: "an ally we rely on has betrayed us, and exchanged us for its own, better relations with Russia, of which we are rightly afraid."

The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection.

The Bush administration always said that the planned system — with a radar near Prague and interceptors in northern Poland — was meant as defense against Iran. But Poles and Czechs saw it as protection against Russia, and Moscow too considered a military installation in its backyard to be a threat.

"No Radar. Russia won," the largest Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes, declared in a front-page headline.

Say what you want about Bush, but he went after those with designs on killing us.  Obama is supposedly mending fences by ticking off our allies, in order to not offend a nuclear Russia. 

Why should Russia be offended at a missile shield in eastern Europe if they really have no designs on it?  How is this, as they claim, a security threat or political provocation?  How is that an affront, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency believes that Iran has (not "will have" but "has") the knowledge to make a nuclear bomb, which is arguably the most significant part of the process. 

But never mind allies who may need protection from a rogue state, we need to make sure Russia doesn’t get its feelings hurt.  The replacement?

Obama said the old plan was scrapped in part because the U.S. has concluded that Iran is less focused on developing the kind of long-range missiles for which the system was originally developed, making the building of an expensive new shield unnecessary.

The replacement system is to link smaller radar systems with a network of sensors and missiles that could be deployed at sea or on land. Some of the weaponry and sensors are ready now, and the rest would be developed over the next 10 years.

The Pentagon contemplates a system of perhaps 40 missiles by 2015, at two or three sites across Europe.

Because after all, 10 years is certainly not enough time for Iran to come up with a delivery system for a nuke, right?  Right? 

And this all begs a couple of questions; if Russia doesn’t like the system that was to be implemented, who’s to say that they’ll like the new one, and will Obama scrap this new idea if the Russians don’t like it? 

Way to mend those fences. 

Engaging Iran

You can’t engage in diplomacy with an enemy would simply will not be negotiated with.  Case in point:

The [Iranian] government appeared to fall back on a familiar playbook: trying to rouse Iranians through populist appeals against outside interference and dark accusations of foreign conspiracy. Mr. Rezai’s aides said the authorities did not even bother to conduct the limited recount they had agreed to. Mr. Ahmadinejad stepped out of the shadows to lash out at President Obama, who said Tuesday that he was “appalled and outraged” by the crackdown on protesters.

On Thursday, Mr. Ahmadinejad said: “We expected the British and European countries to make those kinds of comments. But we were not expecting Mr. Obama, who has talked about change, to fall in the same trap and follow the same path that Bush did.”

All Obama did was express his opinion on the treatment of protestors, and even that was too much for Ahmadinejad.  And comparing him to Bush; that must have hurt.  >smile<

And you know you got our President mad when he disinvites you from the July 4th wienie roast.  The invitation was rescinded supposedly because of recent events.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had authorized diplomatic posts earlier this month to invite Iranians to their Independence Day parties, sent out a cable rescinding the invitations.

“Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the unjust actions that the president and I have condemned,” she said. Embassies that had already invited Iranian diplomats were instructed to disinvite them.

So the past 30 years of "unjust actions" were OK, but this crossed the line?  C’mon, folks!  This simply shows that the Obama crowd is far too naive to be in charge of the really important decisions.  No Iranians had accepted the invitation anyway.  They simply do not wish to be engaged, and no amount of mustard and relish, or strongly worded letter from the UN, will change that. 

 Page 3 of 8 « 1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »