Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"The Hundred Days" Update

I posted on April 3, upon congressional approval of President Barak Obama's budget, about the practice of judging new presidents after their first one hundred days, noting how arbitrary the practice is. I submitted at that time that a better milestone is at least upon the approval of the new president's budget, or perhaps as late as the end of the congressional session.

The last 26 days have vindicated me, as few policies of any major significance have been changed or initiated by the Obama Administration since then. The Administration did score a minor victory against the Somali pirates, but a comprehensive strategy to defend the freedom of the seas has yet to be announced. One significant policy change supported by Obama has been approved by Congress: killing the successful school voucher system in the District of Columbia that allowed parents to rescue their children from one of the worst public school districts in the United States.

Obama's policy of criticizing the U.S., which he applied often this month during his travels abroad, is counterproductive to advancing American interests. Instead of making terrorists and anti-American dictators hate the U.S. less, Obama validates their views, in addition to appearing weak. Obama's policy, which also validates every foreign liberal critic of the U.S., reflects the common liberal view that terrorism is created by American actions, instead of by an immoral ideology that is based upon a hatred for who Americans are more so than a reaction to what Americans do. It is because Islamic militants hate Americans in the first place that they dislike what Americans do to defend themselves or advance their interests.

Liberals criticized the Administration of President George W. Bush for its alleged counterterrorism excesses out of some supposed concern about foreign opinion, when they should have been defending America against any criticism by foreigners that even the liberals know to be false or unfair. In other words, instead of complaining about how Bush had hurt the image of the United States among Muslims and others, I challenge liberals to defend the U.S. image. But the liberals have preferred to score political points against Bush and the Republicans than defend the U.S. I suspect that the liberals focus on how Bush supposedly created more terrorists through aggressive interrogations of September 11 plotters in order to avoid having to acknowledge how many terrorists he captured or killed, let alone deterred from attacking the U.S. again. In short, liberals refuse to give Bush any credit for thwarting any terrorist attack like September 11 for over seven years because they insist, despite the lack of an attack, that he supposedly made us less safe by angering Muslims with his domestic counterterrorism strategy or by liberating Iraq from a state-sponsor of terrorists and defeating the terrorists who flocked there to try to defeat the U.S. Obama's recent statements about the aggressive interrogations will have a chilling effect on American counterterrorism.

The other troubling pattern that has emerged in Obama's foreign policy is his willingness to engage in talks with anti-American dictators, including terrorist sponsors. Talking with dictators legitimatizes them, especially when it is a superpower doing the talking, which provides these rogues with domestic propaganda in order both to gain favor among their populations and to demoralize dissent. Talks with other foreign governments are a tacit recognition of the dictator's legitimate authority, let alone a sign of respect for his equal status with the state that enters into negotiations with him. Furthermore, the talks are a kind of strategic victory for such dictators because negotiations represent a reward for the bad behavior that the dictator used in the first place in order to get the attention of the U.S. and force the Americans to the bargaining table, who thus appear weak by showing up to negotiate.

I must respond at this point to the liberal argument to refute criticism by conservatives for the policy of negotiating with dictators that the practice must have been acceptable to Republicans because the Bush Administration had tried to negotiate with North Korea (although, by this argument, one would have expected the anti-Bush Obama to reject negotiations with North Korea because they were Bush's policy), and the further liberal argument that Bush had failed to prevent that dictatorship from acquiring nuclear weapons. It was the Clinton Administration that first negotiated with North Korea and appeased the North Koreans by giving them aid in return for a promise not to acquire nuclear weapons, which they broke. When the Bush Administration discovered North Korea's violation of the agreement, it engaged North Korea in six-party talks that included all of the regional states besides the U.S. and North Korea: South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, so as to bring leverage upon North Korea without rewarding North Korea with bilateral talks with the U.S. alone. Although the Bush Administration failed to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, it accomplished much more than the Clinton Administration: it punished North Korea by withdrawing aid to North Korea and imposing economic sanctions on the Hermit Kingdom, got the United Nations to impose harsh sanctions on North Korea, implemented an international interdiction program on the high seas to prevent North Korean nuclear proliferation, and implemented missile defense.

An even worse aspect of Obama's foreign policy is that he seems to be the only one making any concessions before engaging in any negotiations. For example, Obama loosened the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which will provide an economic lifeline to that failed socialist state without any concessions by the Cuban dictatorship of human rights to the Cuban people in return.

Although Obama has mostly followed Bush's policies in the War on Terrorism, Obama's rhetoric and behavior, which is probably motivated by a desire to differentiate himself stylistically from Bush, is undermining his ability to protect the United States from terrorist attacks and defend American interests against a rise in left wing authoritarianism.

No comments: