Obama's foreign policy: Delay, delay, delay

Obama’s delay defense can be dated to Feb. 29, when the State Department announced a bargain to trade 240,000 tons of food for a pledge by North Korea to freeze its missile and nuclear weapons programs. Diplomats talked up the dubious possibility that Pyongyang was ready to make peace with the outside world. But the more pragmatic objective was obvious: a few months of peace and quiet.

That brings us to the weakness with Obama’s strategy: It hands control over events to the likes of 28-year-old Kim Jong Eun. Sure enough, the reprieve Obama thought he had purchased in north Asia expired after only 16 days, when North Korea announced the long-range rocket launch that took place early Friday. The agreement turned out to be a trap. Now that the Obama administration has withdrawn the promised food aid, the regime will have a cue to carry out the nuclear weapons test that many experts are now expecting.

In Syria, too, delay may prove disastrous. As the senior State Department official for the Middle East, Jeffrey Feltman, told Congress on March 1, “it’s important that the tipping point for the regime be reached quickly, because the longer the regime assaults the Syrian people, the greater the chances of all-out war in a failed state.” Yet in the following six weeks Obama has been passive, delegating Syria to the feckless diplomatic hands of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Some 1,000 more Syrians have been killed; last week’s “cease-fire” is crumbling. At this rate, the “all-out war” Feltman predicted will be underway long before November.