British Defence Sec’ty blames Obama for dithering on Af-Pak

posted at 11:37 am on November 25, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

British support for the war in Afghanistan has slipped, and Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth publicly blamed Barack Obama’s dithering on the issue for the decline.  In a speech that will call into question Obama’s handling of foreign policy — and especially the “special relationship” — Ainsworth blasted the “period of hiatus” in American leadership.  It’s the latest salvo in increasingly strained ties between the historically-linked nations:

Mr Ainsworth took the unprecedented step of publicly criticising the US President and his delays in sending more troops to bolster the mission against the Taliban.

A “period of hiatus” in Washington – and a lack of clear direction – had made it harder for ministers to persuade the British public to go on backing the Afghan mission in the face of a rising death toll, he said.

Senior British Government sources have become increasingly frustrated with Mr Obama’s “dithering” on Afghanistan, the Daily Telegraph disclosed earlier this month, with several former British defence chiefs echoing the concerns.

But Mr Ainsworth is the first Government minister to express in public what amounts to personal criticism of the US president’s leadership over the conflict which has so far cost 235 British lives. …

The Defence Secretary’s blunt remarks about the US threaten to strain further a transatlantic relationship already under pressure over the British release of the Lockerbie bomber and Mr Obama’s decision to snub Mr Brown at the United Nations in September.

I seem to recall how Obama promised to restore our standing in the world and repair our relationships with our allies. How’s that going?

Obama has repeatedly insulted the British since assuming office, first with refusing a joint press conference — protocol for decades when the British PM visits the US — and then with the botched gift exchange, and the snub mentioned by the Telegraph. Obama also dumped four Gitmo detainees in Bermuda without notifying the British government until it was a fait accompli, even though the British have responsibility for Bermudan security.  The snub at the UN was the last straw.  And even the Lockerbie issue, in which the British were clearly in the wrong, may have gone much differently had Obama not spent the last several months insulting the British.

The “period of hiatus” remark should really sting.  The Commander in Chief has back-burnered the decision on Afghanistan for months while British soldiers fight and die for a war in which they’ve accepted American leadership.  Watching Obama take his sightseeing trip to Asia while the question of American direction remained unsolved — and for no other purpose than to do meet and greets — has to particularly rankle the Brown government as it attempts to explain that the war is actually more important than the Obama White House makes it seem.

This goes beyond war leadership.  It shows the disaster that Obama has made out of American foreign policy — a disaster so obvious that even Newsweek has begun to admit it:

Well, not only are things not getting fixed, they may be getting more broken. What was justly considered Bush’s mess in all these places is rapidly becoming Obama’s mess. In the Mideast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have outmaneuvered Obama, forcing him to retreat publicly from a call to freeze settlements. Iran has so completely spurned Obama that the president’s careful and patient call for diplomacy and avoidance of sanctions is beginning to look like appeasement. And in Afghanistan, while a decision on troop deployments appears imminent, the public display of mixed signals by senior military and U.S. officials over many months has created a dangerous power vacuum, further undermining America’s already low credibility. …

The one hope for forward movement on all these issues may be to rethink them entirely—not just the strategy but the personnel, too. That’s not to say Holbrooke, Mitchell, and Co. should go, but their efforts should be subordinated to higher-level engagement, especially from Clinton. The secretary of state must play a much more active role on a regular basis; only Clinton, apart from Obama himself, has the necessary political star power, acumen, and gravitas to make a difference. It’s clear that she can no longer afford to allow herself to remain at a strategic distance or to be sidetracked on women’s issues, only occasionally parachuting in for ill-briefed appearances as she did in the Mideast.

Second, the Obamaites should reconsider the premises of what they’re doing on all fronts: it may be wise to reverse field entirely on a number of issues. For example, with additional troops likely to be deployed to Afghanistan soon, it may be wise to seek to negotiate with the Taliban, which we are not doing. At the same time it may be better policy not to negotiate with Tehran, as we are now doing. The West should consider new ways to isolate the discredited regime in Iran and find fresh methods of encouraging the still-insurgent election dissidents.

In other words, that Bush foreign policy and leadership is looking better and better, given the “smart power” alternative we’ve seen in 2009. We’ve had a “period of hiatus” in pursuing American interests, and the man at the top still doesn’t seem terribly engaged yet on them. And if our closest allies have begun to speak out about it publicly, what do you think our enemies make of the situation?


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Don’t worry.

There’s another speech on the way, and that will be the decisive blow to Islamic terror that Obama promised in the campaign but has failed to deliver until now.

Good Lt on November 25, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Instead of “dithering,” let’s start using the word “pussyfooting.”

Oink on November 25, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Ogabe immediately got on the hotline to London: “I want my DVD’s back, jerks!”

Bishop on November 25, 2009 at 11:41 AM

I certainly can’t blame Ainsworth or the British for their irritation with us. Whoever is the next US President will have an extremely difficult job in trying to restore our credibility with just about the whole world.

jwolf on November 25, 2009 at 11:42 AM

I seem to recall how Obama promised to restore our standing in the world and repair our relationships with our allies. How’s that going?

Bow wow.

Loxodonta on November 25, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Blimey.

UltimateBob on November 25, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Obama wishes we were like, for example, Germany, were the leader of the country was teh leader of domestic policy and has a subservient role in foreign policy. This foreign policy stuff just gets in the way where his tru interests lie.

WashJeff on November 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM

“Smart power” indeed

Doctor Zhivago on November 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Mmmm mmmm mmmm
Barack Hussein Hiatus

LibTired on November 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Obama has gone out of his way to express his contempt for the Brits.

As Barry’s pastor and spiritual mentor once said, “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

cruadin on November 25, 2009 at 11:45 AM

My apologies to all my British friends for the 4 year period of hiatus of American leadership. We will try and rectify the problem soon.

Abby Adams on November 25, 2009 at 11:45 AM

I seem to recall how Obama promised to restore our standing in the world and repair our relationships with our allies. How’s that going?

Uh, down the crapper?

“Mission Accomplished”.

Del Dolemonte on November 25, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Yeah, but Ainsworth has never appeared on the cover of GQ, so what does he know?

TXUS on November 25, 2009 at 11:46 AM

LibTired on November 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Heh.

Abby Adams on November 25, 2009 at 11:47 AM

mm mm mm
Barack Insane Obama
Of presidents he is the worst
He’ll dither ’till December 1st

mm mm mm

Daggett on November 25, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Wow! Newspeak turning on The One. What happened? Someone cut off their Kool Aid?

“America’s already low credibility”? I thought that Barry had “restored” our credibility throughout the world. Where’s the LOVE?

GarandFan on November 25, 2009 at 11:48 AM

The Brits have some splaining themselves…

That being said odumbo sucks!

Sonosam on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

“Dither-o-rama Obama”. Sounds like the title of a Kinks tune.

BHO Jonestown on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Well, this was inevitable.

AnninCA on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

only Clinton, apart from Obama himself, has the necessary political star power, acumen, and gravitas to make a difference

Obama doesn’t have the acumen and gravitas to make a difference, and his star power has proven quite ineffective as well.

hawksruleva on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Kindergarten diplomacy.

Johan Klaus on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

“Smart power” indeed

Doctor Zhivago on November 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM

“I are smarter than u” power

Loxodonta on November 25, 2009 at 11:50 AM

Does anyone else see the resemblance between Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth and Milton from Office Space?

Mark Boabaca on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

“I’m smart because I got into Harvard based solely on the color of my skin! And, hey, I’m on the cover of GQ!”

SouthernGent on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

How do you solve a problem like Barack?

BPD on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

I seem to recall how Obama promised to restore our standing in the world and repair our relationships with our allies. How’s that going?

According to plan.

Think “opposite”, Barry’s MO.

fogw on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Obama wishes we were like, for example, Germany, were the leader of the country was teh leader of domestic policy and has a subservient role in foreign policy. This foreign policy stuff just gets in the way where his tru interests lie.

WashJeff on November 25, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Obama is busy changing this country to socialism, soon to be communism.

Johan Klaus on November 25, 2009 at 11:54 AM

How do you solve a problem like Barack?

BPD on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

“Uhhh… Let’s throw money at it!” –every lib ever

Abby Adams on November 25, 2009 at 11:55 AM

So Obama’s dithering is making people rethink their military commitments? How shocking! It’s a good thing no talking heads have pointed this out yet or they might just be accused of politicizing the war…

Mord on November 25, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Yeah, but being president is hard! I mean I want to change things, isn’t that enough!

j_galt on November 25, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Well, this was inevitable.

AnninCA on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Yes Ann, everything that has already come to pass was inevitable. You’re so amazingly insightful!

AsianGirlInTights on November 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM

For example, with additional troops likely to be deployed to Afghanistan soon, it may be wise to seek to negotiate with the Taliban, which we are not doing.

Are you kidding, Newsweak? That is NEVER going to happen.

Everyone in this administration has never been anything but a lawyer or career politician. Not one of them has any experience at all negotiating with anyone except other lawyers and beltway (or Chicago) insiders. And you think they’d have a chance negotiating with a radical terrorist group?

Time to put down the kool-aid and realize that we’re pretty much screwed for the next 3 years.

UltimateBob on November 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Every news cycle brings new, additional, outrageous evidence about our jerk president. Today, in addition to further proof that Obama is destroying America’s standing in the world, we have the announcement that Obama is putting off his announcement about troop additions until he can have a good photo op at West Point. Obama continues to believe that his speaches and photo ops shield him from analysis of what he does. He clearly disrespects the military, and showing up at West Point will not change that, no matter what he says there.
On top of that we have the photo of him with his GQ magazine with his picture on the cover.
Obama’s actions and speeches should be used in Psych 101 textbooks as a classic case of narcissism.

GaltBlvnAtty on November 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Who cares, Britian is a former ally of ours. We’ll now bow to Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China and North Korea. They are our real friends.

rjoco1 on November 25, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Obama will not make a decision about Afghanistan until healthcare is done. All other considerations are secondary. Every self-imposed deadline is met with a new deadline while the bill slowly inches closer to his desk.

Mord on November 25, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Boooooooooooooooosh!!!eleventy!!!!!111111!!

/ Bleeds Blue
/ Grow Fins

gwelf on November 25, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Mr. Ainsworth states the obvious and calls a proverbial spade “a spade.” What’s interesting is that Newsweek is beginning to realize, at long last, that “smart diplomacy” is really Orwellean and idiotic.

BottomLine5 on November 25, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Well at least Obama has:
closed Gitmo
ended rendition
stopped spying on terrorists
ended DADT
ended the evil war in Iraq

/ leftard

gwelf on November 25, 2009 at 12:07 PM

AsianGirlInTights on November 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Leave her alone! She’s on a journey from the dark side to the light. This too shall pass. The outcome is inevitable. LOL*

Loxodonta on November 25, 2009 at 12:07 PM

If the mental dwarf has made a decision, why not begin implementation forthwith. The fact that he has to wait until Tues. and go to West Point speaks volumes about him and his self-absorbed ego.

rjoco1 on November 25, 2009 at 12:08 PM

Ogabe immediately got on the hotline to London: “I want my DVD’s back, jerks!”

Bishop on November 25, 2009 at 11:41 AM

You mean the ones that aren’t compatible with our DVD players?

=)

/Brits

gwelf on November 25, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Somehow the opinion of a New Labour socialist fu*ktard politician doesn’t carry a lot of water. He is only trying to deflect attention and blame from Britains new toilet bowl existence under the progressive left.

BL@KBIRD on November 25, 2009 at 12:13 PM

How do you solve a problem like Barack?

BPD on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Impeachment. Now.

MrScribbler on November 25, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Yeah, but being president is hard! I mean I want to change things, isn’t that enough!

j_galt on November 25, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Bingo, man; Bingo.

Tennman on November 25, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Very nice of Britain to slam America now but where was this spirit when they made a hash out of Iraq and bowed out of it with such reckless disregard for responsibilities? I hate Obama as much as anyone but Britain doesn’t have any credibility on this issue.

promachus on November 25, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Instead of “dithering,” let’s start using the word “pussyfooting.”

Oink on November 25, 2009 at 11:40 AM

The British would probably prefer “wanking”

ya2daup on November 25, 2009 at 12:16 PM

She’s on a journey from the dark side to the light. This too shall pass.

Loxodonta on November 25, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Kind of like a turd, huh Lox?

DarkCurrent on November 25, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Mr Ainsworth will be getting his Obama-pod for Christmas and all will be well.

booter on November 25, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Instead of “dithering,” let’s start using the word “pussyfooting.”

Oink on November 25, 2009 at 11:40 AM

The British would prefer the word “wanking”

ya2daup on November 25, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Iran has so completely spurned Obama that the president’s careful and patient call for diplomacy and avoidance of sanctions is beginning to look like appeasement.

It has always looked like appeasement. It’s just that certain types are no longer able to ignore the obvious.

MarkTheGreat on November 25, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Well, this was inevitable.
AnninCA on November 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Some people saw this as inevitable. 52% didn’t see this coming. Or, they did and didn’t care. Oh well….

joejm65 on November 25, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Regardless of Britain’s credibility on this issue, we have an important, traditional, American ally speaking out with accurate criticism of our president. He was supposed to be improving our world standing, many apparently thought, and he is accomplishing the opposite. Each event like this chips away at his standing in the US, which is important.

GaltBlvnAtty on November 25, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Obama doesn’t need a Reset button, he needs an Easy Button.

jnelchef on November 25, 2009 at 12:22 PM

I don’t really care whether BO bows to the Queen or not (I do not think an American President should bow to anyone). However, the fact that he:

1) bowed to the Saudis
2) bowed to the Japanese

has convinced me that there is definitely a message here from BO. It is the combination of items 1 and 2 with the fact that he did not bow to the Queen that tells me this tool is making some kind of statement.

yubley on November 25, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Dithering“?

Obama?

That’s “tactical inaction” to you buster!

Just as “surrender and retreat” is now called “an exit strategy“.

profitsbeard on November 25, 2009 at 12:22 PM

ya2daup on November 25, 2009 at 12:16 PM

So can we call Obama, A Wanker!?

PappaMac on November 25, 2009 at 12:24 PM

The one hope for forward movement on all these issues may be to rethink them entirely…..

and

Second, the Obamaites should reconsider the premises of what they’re doing on all fronts, it may be wise to reverse field entirely on a number of issues.:…

Good Lord! Tragic incompetence. It really is stunning.

aquaviva on November 25, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Obama has repeatedly insulted the British since assuming office

you forgot to mention Obama sent back a bust of Churchill that the Brits sent us in symbolic affirmation of our close ties right after 9/11; taking it out of the White House and sending it back was an equally symbolic but damaging and incredibly offensive act by this anti American and anti British dirtbag.

elduende on November 25, 2009 at 12:28 PM

1) bowed to the Saudis
2) bowed to the Japanese

has convinced me that there is definitely a message here from BO. It is the combination of items 1 and 2 with the fact that he did not bow to the Queen that tells me this tool is making some kind of statement.

yubley on November 25, 2009 at 12:22 PM

We need to get a nanny-cam on his second floor residence to find out how many times a day he bows to Mecca.

fogw on November 25, 2009 at 12:32 PM

The secretary of state must play a much more active role on a regular basis; only Clinton, apart from Obama himself, has the necessary political star power, acumen, and gravitas to make a difference.

Clinton is the one Newsweak Newsweek looks to for “gravitas??” Is the Democratic Party that devoid of anyone with foreign policy chops? Clinton looked experienced only by comparison to a total naif, Obama. Newsweek is forgetting how she was humiliated over her Northern Ireland and Tuszla fantasies. To say she has “gravitas” is to admit the administration overall has none.

A good, serious choice might be Joe Lieberman, who at least is an adult with a serious view of the world. But Obama would never do that.

irishspy on November 25, 2009 at 12:36 PM

I certainly can’t blame Ainsworth or the British for their irritation with us. Whoever is the next US President will have an extremely difficult job in trying to restore our credibility with just about the whole world.

jwolf on November 25, 2009 at 11:42 AM

They’ll be looking forward to working with Sarah.

1921 C DRUM on November 25, 2009 at 12:37 PM

The Truth Hurts.

juanito on November 25, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I’ve said for months that fading public support for Afghanistan IS the Obama strategy.

Think about it. We’re in a war. In October, we suffered the highest casualty rate to date. And what did he do? He snuck up to Dover in the middle of the night, saluted, and got back on his plane. He did NOT address the American people.

Since August, rather than bucking up the public, all we’ve seen in the headlines is Karzai corruption, impossible tribal conflicts, Taliban renewal, suicide bombings and troop ambushes. Oh, and battling leaks from the White House.

He has allowed public support to erode. He’s given the public no reason to support the mission. I finally came to believe they were hoping support would erode to the point he could throw up his hands and declare defeat.

And now we have this messy announcement of his “decision”. More leaks, with the strategy of making it old news by the time he faces the press corps. It’s a political ploy, not a wartime strategy. What a loser.

God be with our troops.

jeanneb on November 25, 2009 at 12:39 PM

It’s time to worry when a non-entity like Bob Ainsworth starts criticizing you.

Track-A-'Crat on November 25, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Common.

Obambi consulted his Taliban counterparts on what size of US contingent that the Taliban insurgents think would be “FAIRLY COMPETITIVE”.

Taliban has an access to Obambi’s think tank. That’s a fact.

TheAlamos on November 25, 2009 at 12:43 PM

The Europeans complain when the US leads and they complain when we don’t.

It’s getting tiring even when, as in this case, it has some merit.

SteveMG on November 25, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Ready on Day One!

AnotherOpinion on November 25, 2009 at 12:57 PM

We need to get a nanny-cam on his second floor residence to find out how many times a day he bows to Mecca.

fogw on November 25, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Five.

1921 C DRUM on November 25, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Boooooooooooooooosh!!!eleventy!!!!!111111!!

/ Bleeds Blue
/ Grow Fins

gwelf on November 25, 2009 at 12:04 PM

They’ve got other things to keep them busy today-getting their clown cars ready for tomorrow’s Macy’s parade.

Del Dolemonte on November 25, 2009 at 1:09 PM

What was justly considered Bush’s mess in all these places

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSHHHH!!!!!!!

Sponge on November 25, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Not to hijack, but make sure you let Best Buy know how you feel about its pro-Muslim, anti-Christian advertising campaigns:

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/11/23/a-storm-is-brewing-at-best-buy/

voxpopuli on November 25, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Obama……….You have to be a real shmuck to screw up our relationship with Great Britain.

saiga on November 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM

I sure hate to say it but Ainsworth’s criticism sure appears to be because Obama is a Negro. There can’t be any other reason.
Bleeds Blue

betsyz on November 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Plus, I think it’s funny….he told everyone what he was going to do before he was elected. He was going to change America’s image in the world. That clearly meant that he is going to alienate our allies and cater to our enemies. It’s better to befriend your enemies instead of fighting them, right? I mean, kumbaya and all?

Gun? Meet temple…….guh.

Sponge on November 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM

I’m sure his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize will be the event of the decade. “I want to thank my five Secretaries of State for all the efforts they’ve made toward peace.” At that point, Hillary walks out and forms her 2012 PAC.

leftnomore on November 25, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Leave Brittney Bambi alone! Leave him ALONE! He’s only been looped in to all the strategic and secret briefings since the election 55 weeks ago.

*tears – mascara runs*

He’s only been in politics and publicly opining on this since the war began. Just leave him alone! Do you hear me…LEAVE HIM ALONE!

*Gasp* *Sob*

Laura in Maryland on November 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM

voxpopuli on November 25, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Heads up: concern troll provocation!

ya2daup on November 25, 2009 at 1:48 PM

She’s on a journey from the dark side to the light. This too shall pass.

Loxodonta on November 25, 2009 at 12:07 PM
Kind of like a turd, huh Lox?

DarkCurrent on November 25, 2009 at 12:16 PM

OMG–to think I almost didn’t come back. Now I have to clean off my monitor…

lovingmyUSA on November 25, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Laura in Maryland on November 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM
simplesemen, grow fish,bleedsblueing..take your pick..
http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/leave-brittany-alone/2020A37807365BF457AB2020A37807365BF457AB

lovingmyUSA on November 25, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Obama sucks. Sorry to the Brits for the next 3 years. Hopefully by that time the electorate will be over hopenchange and elect a capitalist and not an incompetent communist.

search4truth on November 25, 2009 at 4:15 PM

You know, if the British had been a little more supportive of Bush I would feel more sympathy for them. There is an old saying, beware your heart’s desire, for surely you will get it…and they wanted Obama to win.

Terrye on November 25, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Mark Boabaca on November 25, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Barack Obama: Bob, we’re gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs into storage B. We have some new people coming in, and we need all the space we can get. So if you could just go ahead and pack up your stuff and move it down there, that would be terrific, OK?
Bob Ainsworth: Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler…

bryan2369 on November 25, 2009 at 5:21 PM

In other words, that Bush foreign policy and leadership is looking better and better, given the “smart power” alternative we’ve seen in 2009. We’ve had a “period of hiatus” in pursuing American interests, and the man at the top still doesn’t seem terribly engaged yet on them. And if our closest allies have begun to speak out about it publicly, what do you think our enemies make of the situation?

It’s not so much that they think Bush is looking better and better. They’re still clinging to “Bush is awful,” and only grudgingly admitting Obama isn’t so great. I guess the next stage is to admit that as bad as Bush was, Obama is even worse.

I don’t think we’ll get any admission that Bush had any good policies until, say, 2037.

There Goes The Neighborhood on November 25, 2009 at 8:36 PM

you forgot to mention Obama sent back a bust of Churchill that the Brits sent us in symbolic affirmation of our close ties right after 9/11; taking it out of the White House and sending it back was an equally symbolic but damaging and incredibly offensive act by this anti American and anti British dirtbag.

elduende on November 25, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Well, maybe the return of that bust to the next American president, at the beginning of the next Administration, can signal the symbolic reversal of this damage to the Special Relationship — and serve as the real ‘Reset’ button.

Of course, Britain will have to want to return it :-)

RD on November 27, 2009 at 4:18 PM