In “Sizing Up Obama,” I wrote:
On the one hand, we have FDR II, replete with schemes for managing our lives and fortunes.
On the other hand, we have Carter-Clinton II, ready to: kowtow to those who would bury us, create the illusion that peace will reign perforce, and act on that illusion by slashing the defense budget (thereby giving aid and comfort to our enemies).
I have said a lot more about Obama’s schemes for managing our lives and fortunes. (See this, this, this, this, this, and this.) I also have addressed Obama’s apparent willingness to compromise our sacred honor. But it is clear that I have been preoccupied with Obama’s economic agenda, to the neglect of his foreign follies.
While the war in Iraq winds down to a successful conclusion, and the outcome of the war in Afghanistan depends on Obama’s willingness to buck the surrender lobby (of which Obama is a leading member), there is the problem of Iran:
The price of a pre-emptive attack on Iran might be high, but the price of inaction will be even higher. Legitimate U.S. interests in the Middle East (i.e., access to oil) will be threatened by a regime that has proceeded thus far in the face of sanctions and is unlikely to be fazed by more sanctions. The economic hardships caused by the “oil shocks” of the 1970s will be as nothing compared with the hardships caused by Iranian dominance of the Middle East.
Where will Western Europe, Russia, and China be in our hour of need? Western Europe will be busy emulating Vichy France, in the hope that its obseqiousness toward Iran is rewarded by dribbles of oil. Russia and China will actively support Iran (covertly if not overtly), in the expectation of profiting from higher prices on the oil they sell to Western Europe and the United States. Eventually, Russia and China will exploit the inevitable decline of American military power, as our defense budget disappears into the maw of Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other misbegotten ventures.
What has happened since I wrote those words on September 26? Just about what you would expect. Here is Charles Krauthammer, writing on October 16:
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? . . .
. . . 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? . . .
. . . 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 Washington 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.
It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved — to accommodate the Russian position! Sanctions? What sanctions? “We are not at that point yet,” she averred. “That is not a conclusion we have reached. . . . It is our preference that Iran work with the international community.”
But wait a minute. Didn’t Obama say in July that Iran had to show compliance by the G-20 summit in late September? And when that deadline passed, did he not then warn Iran that it would face “sanctions that have bite” and that it would have to take “a new course or face consequences”?
Gone with the wind. It’s the U.S. that’s now retreating from its already flimsy position of just three weeks ago. We’re not doing sanctions now, you see. We’re back to engagement. Just as the Russians suggest.
Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.
No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever, or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naïveté, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.
And so it goes, in the Orwellian world of Obama, where a temporary illusion of peace is attained through accommodation and surrender.