One point about the Obama Administration is significant but has been little remarked on — the global failure of its foreign policies.
These failures have taken different forms in different parts of the world; but looking at the big picture one fact is obvious: Obama’s leftism and denigration of the US do not appear to have won the US a single friend even among leftist and anti-US regimes and individuals.
One cannot call this Obama’s own failure with certainty, because his personal agenda, if any, remains a mystery. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the most left-wing US President ever, and his far-left Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have failed to modify the anti-Americanism of any significant left-wing government or movement anywhere is the world.
Some years ago Irving Wallace wrote a novel, The Man (1964), about an Afro-American becoming president through a series of accidents. Within a few months his resolute statesmanship had crowds in Africa cheering the American flag. It hasn’t exactly worked out like that.
There was some hope at the time of Obama’s inauguration that his administration might lead to a softening of relations with Iran. Instead, relations have moved to the verge of war.
In Egypt Mubarak has been removed with Obama’s encouragement — now 19 American NGO workers, who had been teaching civics unmolested under Mubarak, have been arrested and it has been announced that they will be put on trial. The aim is plainly a break in relations with the US. It is also reported that Egypt is again allowing arms shipments into Gaza. Influential figures in the new Egyptian Government have been telling the US they no longer want its aid despite the fact that Egypt’s precious tourism industry has been wrecked. Does this mean they are looking to a resumption of Russian aid?
And don’t forget Obama has managed to alienate Israel as well.
Could the “Arab Spring” have been handled better from the US point of view? It is impossible to say, but it is hard to imagine how it could have been handled worse.
The crazy states of North Korea and Venezuela have not modified their behaviour in the slightest since Obama succeeded George W. Bush, except perhaps to get a bit crazier. Hugo Chávez raves against Obama as incoherently as he did against Bush and is increasing the systematic violation of human rights.
The same goes for Putin’s Russia. We all know that it was Ronald Reagan who converted the Russia of Gorbachev and Yeltsin from the supreme enemy into, at least temporarily, something like a friend, and did so without compromising, but on the contrary by reaffirming, US principles.
It is China, not the US, that is increasingly penetrating the wealthier parts of Africa. Gaddafi, before he was overthrown and murdered, gave some signs of moving towards rationality and a friendlier stance. His successors’ position is ambiguous.
And what about Obama’s whacko scheme to turn America’s space agency NASA into a feel-good psycho-therapeutic agency to make Muslims feel better about their lack of achievements in modern science? I haven’t exactly noticed any Muslim gratitude.
The list goes on and on, but at the bottom line, it appears Obama and Clinton have not won the US the friendship of so much as a single Somalian goat-herd. Worse yet, the US’s important natural allies in the Third World, the Christian communities in Asia, the Middle East and North and Central Africa, have been attacked with apparent impunity. No-one seriously expects a pro-US regime to survive in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal. It is a near-miracle and a fantastic tribute to their sense of duty that US servicemen keep fighting there with so patently hopeless an outcome.
Afghan officers have been quoted as asking: why should they risk their lives when it is obvious that the Taliban will return in force after the US withdrawal? They will probably not be as fortunate as the South Vietnamese officers who were sent to re-education camps. Have any plans been made to evacuate Afghanistan’s small Westernised elite when the US pulls out?
Pakistan is no friendlier towards the US than it ever was, as proved by its long sheltering of Osama bin Laden.
In Britain and Europe, of all the obscene creatures who cheered and gloated over the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I do not know of one whom the Obama presidency has moved to recant.
Speaking of Britain, still the US’s major ally, Daily Telegraph correspondent Con Couglin wrote recently: “When the Obama administration announced that it was to end US combat operations in Afghanistan in the summer of 2013 — a year earlier than agreed — it did so without bothering to inform its British counterpart, despite the fact that the UK has a full division committed to fighting alongside American troops in southern Afghanistan.
“Only a few days previously, at Chequers, [British Prime Minister] David Cameron gave Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, his personal pledge that British forces would continue combat operations until the Afghans were ready to take care of their own security, rather than being tied to some artificial timetable.
“At a stroke President Obama had undermined the Prime Minister’s position. If this is how the Afghan mission is being handled, then what is the point of Prince Harry being asked to risk his life for a cause no one believes in?”
Hundreds of British (and other) servicemen have died in Afghanistan only to have the rug pulled from under the Western commitment.
The one possible success, in Iraq, was set in motion by President Bush, not Obama. In South-East Asia the US appears to have good friends and is quietly strengthening its position. But this is because, at present, it has little or no competition there. India is largely anti-Muslim, but is big and wealthy enough not to need the US, and China has not yet impinged on US areas of influence too much.
It wasn’t meant to be like this. Obama was meant to bring the Third World onto America’s side.
Hal G.P. Colebatch, PhD, is a Perth author and lawyer. This article is slightly longer than the version that appeared in the printed edition of News Weekly.