Obama's foreign policy: A new definition of "success"
The president has used several tactics in his re-election run. Once he was blaming the congress for his lack of success in the economy. I guess someone told him that running against the congress would mean running against incumbent democrats so he toned it down. However some vestiges remain. I have had Obama-apologists say that the republicans are at fault for thwarting his initiatives. No matter if you point out that for two years the dems had control of both houses of congress and the White House, the response will be “two years is not enough time.” All this reinforces the simple truism that facts cannot change people’s opinions. This is particularly true when it comes to foreign policy. It would seem that since much of foreign policy is done unilaterally, that Obama’s failures would be more stark. However, the opposite is the case. Consistently, Obama gets higher marks on foreign policy than on domestic policy. More importantly, he also consistently outpolls Romney by double-digits on foreign policy. Indeed, with regard to foreign policy, Karen Finney a former Democratic spokeswoman told the Huffington Post, "Look at the progress the president can make when he doesn't have Republicans obstructing him."
To some of us this is a head scratcher. What are those successes? Here are the ones that they crow about
• Ending the war in Iraq
• Killing bin Laden
• Killing al-Qaeda’s leadership with the drones
• Being part of the coalition in the no-fly zone over Libya
• The new US base in Australia
There may be others but I can’t find them. It is ironic that Iraq may currently be the most stable country in the Arab world – other than Turkey – largely in part to George Bush. Yet pulling out all our troops may undermine all the progress earned by American sacrifice. We still have troops in Japan and in Germany and we should keep the troops in Iran. Killing the al-Qaeda leadership is directly tied to Bust. The Libyan no-fly zone is interesting given the juxtaposition of hand-sitting in Iran and Syria. The new forward base in Australia is an accomplishment however poking a finger in the eye of the Chinese.
Let’s look at the failures. I am not going to list trying to close Guantanamo or the attempt to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York since there was strong political opposition. But what about
• The failure to support the protests in Iran
• The failure to support the protests in Syria
• The increased threat from North Korea
• The characterization of the Muslim Brotherhood as “secular”
• The deterioration in relations with Pakistan
• What about the lauded “reset” with Russia
• The leak of the covert operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities
• The apologetic Cairo speech
• America’s popularity in the Middle East at levels below those in Bush’s last year
• Our impotence in Egypt
• Hanging the Poles out to dry by canceling the defense missile shield
• Offending our closest allies – Canada with the Keystone Pipeline and the Brits over the Falklands and don’t get me started on Israel
• The overt sympathetic appearance to Hugo Chavez
• All the bowing, scraping and apologies projecting the image of decline and impotence
So apparently, bin-Laden trumps all. The American public is continuing to give the president high marks on foreign policy despite what looks to me like a dismal record.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com