Where is American Leadership?
Friday June 15, 2012
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From Snowmass Village, Colorado
As Colorado is in the Mountain Time Zone, I am now eight hours away from where I sat at this exact moment one week ago when I was in Paris with The Lad.
Woe to me.
Let's take a quick look at how we're doing in our place among what is poetically, if incorrectly, called "the family of nations."
When Senator Barack Obama was campaigning against Hilary Clinton in the 2008 primaries, and later against Senator John McCain in the 2008 general election he, as Mark Lagon wrote in Foreign Policy Journal,
"[He] came into office proposing a dramatic shift from George W. Bush's perceived unilateralism, and most of his predecessor's hard-edged counterterrorism tactics and massive deployments in wars abroad."
During the primary and general election debates, Obama consistently claimed he would meet with Iranian officials "without pre-conditions."
But, days after winning the election, months before he would take office, and perhaps minutes after seeing the actual intelligence, Obama, according to the BBC said,
"Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening. Iran's support of terrorist organizations, I think, is something that has to cease."
Which sent, at a minimum, a confusing signal to the Iranian leadership which does not understand the difference between campaign rhetoric and official policy.
During the Arab Spring a White House advisor coined the phrase "leading from behind" in a New Yorker Magazine article.
Obama never used that phrase, at least in public, but he allowed himself to take full credit for the fall of Ghaddifi in Lybia and Muburak in Egypt.
On the eve of Egypt's runoff election for President, the military junta (I know that's a Spanish word) is on the move. According to the U.K. Telegraph newspaper this morning:
"Egypt's military-led establishment was accused last night of staging a "complete coup" after the country's supreme court ordered that parliament should be dissolved and its power handed back to the army council."
The junta, as you know, is supported by something on the order of $1.3 billion per year in U.S. aid. While we are paying to keep the generals in caviar and limousines, we had to pay several millions to ransom Americans who were working for the pro-democracy NGOs the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.
The Syrian situation is no closer to resolution now than when the Arab Spring began. It is worse if you consider the Russians (again under the thumb of Vladimir Putin) and the Chinese (who are coming to believe this is the Chinese Century) have ignored pleas to help isolate Bashar al-Assad.
In fact, in an essay in the Asia Times - not a pro-western outlet - Peter Lee writes that during the recent summit between Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao they considered the future of Syria and its relation to Saudi Arabia and Iran.
"Absent from the discussion is the United States, which has abdicated any claims to moral or political leadership and contents itself by bleating from the sidelines as the Western media pleasures itself with fantasies of righteousness."
That may not be the official Chinese position, but it's online and we know how closely the Chinese monitor Internet traffic, so we can assume it is at least acceptable.
And, you will remember that Putin snubbed Obama by refusing to attend the G-8 meeting at Camp David last month.
Russia is the 8th nation in the G-8 (along with the U.S., France, U.K., Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan) so it cannot bode well for American global influence when Putin declined to participate.
Putin and Obama are scheduled to have a sit-down at the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico next week. In a Reuters piece, reporters Matt Spetalnick and Steve Gutterman write that notwithstanding Obama's claim that he was hitting the "reset" button in US-Russian relations, he has not met with Putin in three years and,
"Washington finds itself increasingly at odds with Moscow on issues from Syria and Iran to missile defense and human rights. Putin shows no sign of backing away from the anti-Western rhetoric and positions that have long been his hallmark."
Put aside, for the moment, the concept of "American Exceptionalism." President Obama is allowing the more basic concept of "American Leadership" to slip into the pages of world history.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links - important links - to all the stories referenced above PLUS the last in the series of Normandy Mullfotos. These are pretty good and you should take a look.
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