Obama’s foreign policy failures
posted at 3:09 pm on September 27, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
My family regularly engages in policy discussions through email. These thoughts from my father-in-law, Dr. Joseph Sternberg, came through cyberspace this morning, and he gave me permission to share them:
Some thoughts on foreign policy from Dr. Joseph Sternberg, Scientific Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, 1971-1974
Obama’s foreign policy has been a failure. It is up to Romney to propose policy changes.
1. At the close of the Bush presidency, the U.S. was clearly unpopular in the Muslim world. President Obama announced a new policy of friendship and understanding in his speech in Cairo. Polls today show that Muslims are more anti U.S. than ever.
2. With great fanfare, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reset the button with Russia. The first product of this new relationship was revising the plans for European ballistic missile defense. The Russians claimed that the proposed system threatened their ability to destroy other nations. I have had personal involvement in the ballistic missile defense area for many years. My last involvement after I retired was as a member of a Committee set up to review the technical adequacy of the Army’s program and to contribute to the technical solutions. The Russians’ claim is absurd. We have told the Russians that the proposed system is not a threat to their offensive capability. The Russians are competent in ballistic missile defense and know this themselves. But they press on. Obama was caught explaining that after the election he would have more flexibility. This is a scandal. The stated objective of the Russians is to increase their influence in the countries that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union and to decrease the influence of the West. We have undercut Poland in our anxiety to satisfy the Russians. And now it is reported from Russia that an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to recalibrate his relationship with the U.S. is underway. Perhaps a new reset ceremony.
3. A new hand was offered to Iran. We have been careful not to provide support for democratic elements in Iran. We continue to participate in talks that have no result. Iran has plunged ahead with its nuclear weapons program and has repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel.
4. The Obama administration was not the first to attempt to improve relations with Syria. But it was the first to publicly call Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a reformer. Poor judgment by Clinton, to say the least.
Now, failures are to be expected. Obama, based on his world view, believed that these initiatives would be successful. He cannot be criticized for trying, but he most certainly should be criticized for his false assumptions and persistence in continuing his failed policies.
What policies should Romney propose?
1. First of all, he should emphasize that costly military activities in recent years have shown that the U.S. is not antagonistic to Islam. In Bosnia, Muslims were protected from Christians. The U.S. entered Afghanistan to drive out Al Qaeda. The current Muslim government is supported by the U.S. Iraq has a Muslim government.
2. The U.S. will not water down the free speech amendment in its Constitution no matter how many times the Muslims riot. The U.S. will not sign any UN statement affecting free speech and will ignore any such UN statement that might appear.
3. The U.S. government will neither approve nor disapprove of videos, cartoons, etc. that are considered offensive by religious groups. We will not apologize for them. It is not the function of the U.S. government to criticize or apologize for expressions of free speech. Clinton, just the other day, addressed the Pakistanis, imploring them to understand that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the anti-Muslim video. How strange. The rioting mobs are not rioting because the U.S. government was involved in the production of the video. They have rioted because the U.S. did not suppress the video and imprison or execute those who made it. Her speech was a clear sign of weakness with a smell of panic involved. It is no surprise that some Pakistani cleric issued a fatwa to kill the maker of the film.
4. We don’t appreciate being threatened with attack by Iran if Israel should carry out an attack against Iran. We don’t control Israel. The Iranians should understand that if they attack U.S. forces under such circumstances, the U.S. response will not just be defensive. We will destroy all of the Iranian oil and gas facilities along the Persian Gulf in addition to keeping the Straits of Hormuz open.
5. Obama’s promise, accidentally overheard, that after the election he can be more flexible on European missile defense is a scandal, as noted above. He clearly believes that if we did what the Russians want, there would be a loud outcry in the U.S. So wait until he is reelected when he can sell out U.S. interests and allies. At the least this shows that Obama is fundamentally dishonest.
6. The Administration has obviously been toying with the idea of releasing the blind sheik, Abdel-Rahman, now in prison for his role in the first World Trade Center bombing. This would be taken by Islamists as an admission of the lack of impartiality of U.S. courts. How ironic. Attorney General Eric Holder has pushed to try other terrorists in U.S. courts. Does he or does he not believe in the validity of trying terrorists in U.S. courts? Obama tries to avoid this question by deciding which reputed terrorists are to be killed instead of tried in court.
7. Appeasement did not persuade Hitler to give up his ambitions. Similarly appeasement will not deter the Islamists from their objective of violently spreading Islam in Europe and the U.S. Appeasement is always taken as a sign of weakness and only encourages the aggressor. It is the path to war, not peace, as Neville Chamberlain believed.