WaPo: “President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy”

posted at 10:01 am on March 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

That’s not me being reductivist or twisting the meaning of yesterday’s lead editorial at the Washington Post. It’s a quote of their own headline, which is itself a good recapitulation of their overall message. Barack Obama and John Kerry talked about “19th century act[s]” and Vladimir Putin’s lack of game on “soft power,” but all that did was highlight the fantasy world both inhabit when it comes to the threats in this 21st-century reality:

FOR FIVE YEARS, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.” …

Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.

The Post’s editors have a ready response from the rebuttal that will surely follow from the White House, which is that no one wants American troops on another military front on the other side of the globe. That’s not the point, though — the point is that we have to stop sending signals of retreat and weakness, or else other nations will pay the price:

But it’s also true that, as long as some leaders play by what Mr. Kerry dismisses as 19th-century rules, the United States can’t pretend that the only game is in another arena altogether. Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not. While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that’s harmful to U.S. national security, too.

As Mr. Putin ponders whether to advance further — into eastern Ukraine, say — he will measure the seriousness of U.S. and allied actions, not their statements. China, pondering its next steps in the East China Sea, will do the same. Sadly, that’s the nature of the century we’re living in.

Well, that’s the nature of the world most of us inhabit, anyway. But the Post is a little late to this party. While they note that Russia paid no price at all for their incursion into Georgia in 2008 when George W. Bush was President, they fail to note that Republicans such as John McCain, Sarah Palin, and later Mitt Romney all argued that we had to start sending tougher signals to Putin. The media ridiculed them for their positions; Obama glibly told Romney during a presidential debate that the ’80s wanted their foreign policy back. For all of this, Obama got rewarded while his critics got marginalized.

It’s good now to see the Post shocked, shocked at the fantasy world of utopians who thought a “reset button” would solve all the problems between Russia and the US while Russia continued to occupy Georgian territory, no less. That doesn’t keep them from receiving a Captain Louis Renault Award, on behalf of the broader American media market that kept insisting that putting a 21 in front of the century meant that the nature of power, nationalism, and empire-building had changed.

Their winnings … our losings.

Marco Rubio offers eight steps that the Obama administration must take to get back to a realistic position of power in the real world, vis-a-vis Putin:

Sixth, we should renew a push for eventual membership in NATO by the Republic of Georgia and aim to provide the country with some of the defensive capabilities the Georgians have requested ever since they were invaded by Russia in 2008.

Seventh, the Obama administration should immediately add more Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which places travel bans and other sanctions on them – something President Obama failed to do in December. Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.

Finally, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately halt his effort to force a Senate vote on Rose Gottemoeller next week to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As I, Sens. John Cornyn and Jim Risch said yesterday, we shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.

This is a critical moment in world history. The credibility of the alliances and security assurances that have preserved the international order is at stake. If Putin’s illegal actions are allowed to stand unpunished, it will usher in a dark and dangerous era in world affairs.

The White House took a couple of Rubio’s steps already, sending Kerry to Kyiv and halting the G-8 conference. Step 0, the one needed to enable these to form a foreign policy for the real world, consists of waking the hell up.

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The totally useless Obama Administration is more interested in having the IRS & NSA target Americans for destruction then Non Americans like Russia and China.

leader4hru on March 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Wasn’t Joe (just go to your balcony and shoot 2 blasts with the shotgun) Bite me, the foreign policy expert and that’s why The One picked him for Vice President. Where is he anyway? Is he trying to learn that Indian accent so he can go into a 7-eleven or is he still trying to figure out that web number for that (non)stimulus bill. Hey Joe where are you???? This is a big F-n Deal!!!!

One_If_By_Land on March 3, 2014 at 12:45 PM

From the WaPo comments-first someone from here on Planet Earth…

I called it after the first year observing Obama’s failures. He has no sense of triage – and the affirmative action tongue bath administered by the mainstream media set up a cascade of failures to follow. Obama is, without a doubt, the worst president in US history, in part because a big chunk of the country simply projected their hopes and unrealistic expectations on him. The unicorn empire is discovering Obama can’t levitate. They are also discovering that Obama is a petty, small-ball community organizer, not a man with uniting leadership skills and the resolute humility and strength to compromise and work within our constitution. He’s weak, lacks honed principles, and he’s flat out deceptive. Liar of the decade.

Immediate, totally predictable O’Cultist “response”:

racist troll alert.

Oh, and there is plenty of Bush-Blaming going on over there too.

Del Dolemonte on March 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

I’ve said it before. It is an article of faith on the Left that virtually all the conflict in the world is traceable to American adventurism and imperialism. Obama and his clown posse actually believed that if he ran around the globe, apologizing for America and kissing the rings and a$$es of every thug on the planet and promising to lead us out of the darkness that all this unseemly conflict would end.

It turns out that most international conflict has absolutely nothing to do with US adventurism and imperialism and everything to do with the local and parochial interests of the parties involved. Conflict goes on, and the thugs Obama bowed to are just laughing up their sleeves at the naivete and ignorance of Obaama and the Leftist academics he relies on for foreign policy advice.

Obama and Kerry do indeed live in a foreign policy fantasy land, but it’s part of the larger fantasy land where Leftist academia resides 24/7, in which an evil America is the source of all the world’s suffering. It’s no wonder that when they apply this idiotic template to world events, the results are at just as big a divergence from reality as their underlying Leftist dogma.

novaculus on March 3, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy? Look, the man just held a Press Conference during which he said, “What Putin can NOT do is violate international law, invade another country unprovoked, and put boots on the ground in that country.”


What was Obama’s response? “The United States will NOT participate in the PLANNING MEETING for the Super 8 Meeting…and John Kerry will issue another couple of ‘Red Lines’.

easyt65 on March 3, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Obama could have been the President that brought America energy independence, which would have been one hell of a legacy. Instead he will be remembered as “what we get when we elect a black President for no other reason than to elect one”.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Substitute any positive agenda, which he had the votes and good-will to accomplish. Instead, he spent his time on partisan wishlists, buying off cronies, and wasting money on himself.
Geraldine Ferraro was right.

NYT Published: March 12, 2008:
Ms. Ferraro, the former congresswoman and vice-presidential candidate who backs Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, told The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif.: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

She made the comments last week, but on Tuesday, the Obama camp latched on to them, calling them outrageous and demanding that Mrs. Clinton repudiate them.

In an interview on Tuesday night, Ms. Ferraro defended her comments and said she was furious with the Obama campaign, accusing it of twisting her words.

“Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist,” she said. “I will not be discriminated against because I’m white. If they think they’re going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don’t know me.”

AesopFan on March 3, 2014 at 2:52 PM

If there any other works of fiction or nonfiction about slavery you could recommend, please do. I am trying to educate myself on this mysterious period of American history.

will77jeff on March 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM

I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin for the first time last year, and finally understood why Lincoln called its author “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

Although President Lincoln’s comment was certainly made in jest, in truth, Stowe’s novel was indeed instrumental in awakening the abolitionist cause, which was a major factor in turning a nation against itself for four arduous years.

Ignore the people who deride its protagonist, Uncle Tom; he was a complex man and a genuine hero.
(But remember, it was still fiction.)

AesopFan on March 3, 2014 at 2:57 PM

…sending Kerry to Kyiv and halting the G-8 conference.

Can someone clear this up (perhaps on the show today). I haven’t read that the G-8 has been “halted” if that means cancelled. Only that “preparations” for the conference have been put on hold (suggesting temporarily). Yet, in some accounts, I’ve read that the conference will not be held (at least not in Russia and not with Russia in attendance).

Which is it, and why do I feel the soft slipper of the West merely nuzzling the throat of the Russians, ready to be removed at the first sign of an excuse?

IndieDogg on March 3, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Joe where are you???? This is a big F-n Deal!!!!

One_If_By_Land on March 3, 2014 at 12:45 PM


kjatexas on March 3, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Our current administration has apparently bought into the false concept that diplomacy is all words and no actions.

True…effective…diplomacy is the ability couch real promises and real threats in innocuous sounding words and phrases…but serve absolutely no use unless there is a constantcy in following through with the implied promises and threats. Regardless of what our esteemed President thinks, he is not always the smartest guy in the room. And when it comes to foreign policy, he has been the guy that requires grading to be on a curve.

TKPedersen42 on March 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Obama skipped out on the Top-level briefing Saturday, after his “Pink line in the sand” speech Friday. A caller to Mark Levin today reported that Plugs Biden, Obama’s FP guru, was in Arizona playing golf at the time the briefing was being held in DC. Obama has a big golf weekend coming up in S FL this weekend…… China’s watching, N Korea’s watching, Iran’s watching….. Egypt saw….. Libya saw….. Syria is seeing….. Georgia sees Russian soldiers in their streets….. the Irani people watched…..Israel is exhibiting extreme patience …. Hey let’s go tee up a few rounds and make it to an early Happy Hour….

rockindubya on March 3, 2014 at 8:38 PM