Obama’s Unraveling Foreign Policy

Secretary of State John Kerry has long been an admirer of Bashar Assad. He absurdly characterized Assad as “a man who wants change” and advocated the return of Israel’s strategic Golan Heights to the Syrian dictator. Of course, had Israel heeded Kerry’s advice, ISIS, Hezbollah or Iran or perhaps all three would today be swimming in Israel’s Sea of Galilee.  In February 2009, in a sickening display of corrupt morals or lack of scruples, or perhaps both, Kerry was photographed having an intimate dinner with Assad and his wife. In 2011, the year that Assad commenced genocide against his people, he described the autocrat as a “very generous” man.

Kerry hasn’t lost a step since that time. His assessment of regional threats continues to be marred by poor judgment and delusion.  On Face the Nation, Kerry stated that “we have to negotiate with [Assad].” His State Department quickly backpedaled and tried to clean up the mess by issuing a nonsensical clarification but the very fact that such a statement would be uttered speaks volumes of Kerry’s abject lack of understanding. Imagine if a leader of the Allied command had issued a proclamation of willingness to negotiate with Hitler during World War II. Such a scenario of course would have been unthinkable but in the Obama White House, appeasement and vacillation rule the day.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Kerry astounded analysts when he announced that he had “great respect – great respect – for the religious importance of a fatwa.” The alleged fatwa that he was referencing was purportedly issued by Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, opposing acquisition of nuclear weapons. Kerry has now officially incorporated Islamic fatwas into US foreign policy and is relying on the edicts of a medieval mullah as a cornerstone of his ongoing talks with the Islamic Republic.

Moreover, in an effort to appease the mullahs, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, recently issued a report to the Senate which removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats. Iran is the world’s premier state sponsor of terrorism and employs proxy militias such as Hezbollah to foment regional instability and expand its hegemony. It has either directly or indirectly through its proxies, committed acts of terrorism on five continents. Yet the report is inexplicably devoid of such references. The only logical conclusion that one can draw is that the administration fears alienating Iran during the nuclear negotiations or alternatively, sees Iran as a positive regional force and a potential ally. Either conclusion is frighteningly surreal and demonstrates with utmost clarity how far removed from reality this administration has become.

But while coddling the mullahs, the administration has been busy at work trying to undermine the region’s only democratic leader. A number of high-level Obama campaign operatives worked relentlessly with a left-wing organization called One Voice and its left-wing Israeli affiliate V-15, to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One Voice was also the recipient of a State Department grant of $350,000. Though One Voice and the State Department denied that any money was channeled into the campaign, a US Senate panel has commenced an investigation into possible links between the State Department and efforts to meddle in an overseas election campaign of a long-time ally.

Clearly, One Voice is nervous. Shortly after lawmakers began questioning One Voice’s use of State Department funds, the nonprofit organization filed for a new IRS status that would enable it to engage in political activism. Its current status precludes such activity. It would indeed be interesting to see how quickly the IRS moves to grant One Voice’s application given the way the government agency dragged its heels on 501c3 exemptions for groups perceived to be right-wing or pro-Israel. My guess is that the IRS will move rather quickly on this one.

Despite Obama’s best efforts to publicly disparage Netanyahu – who among us can forget “chickensh*tgate” – and the State Department’s covert meddling campaign, Netanyahu secured a clear and decisive victory over his left-wing rivals. Israeli voters, who overwhelmingly distrust Obama, did not take kindly to Obama’s interference and the voting outcome reflected that.

Irrespective of Obama’s personal animus toward Israel’s democratically elected leader, the Israeli-US alliance transcends personality differences and endures because of shared moral values and strategic interests. That used to be the conventional wisdom before Obama’s ascendancy but the president has done all that is within his power to translate his loathing for Netanyahu to wrecking relations with the Jewish State. During Operation Protective Edge, while Hamas was hurling rockets at Israeli civilian population centers, Obama held up shipments of Hellfire missiles to Israel. His Secretary of State in the meantime, was busy adopting the talking points of Israel’s sworn enemies trying to force the Israelis to accept a ceasefire arrangement – unanimously rejected by the Israeli cabinet – that made no mention of Israel’s security concerns.

But the Mideast is not the only place where Obama has fouled things up. In 1994 the United States (along with Great Britain and the Russian Federation) signed a security agreement with Ukraine whereby the signatories would guarantee Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and Ukraine would in exchange, relinquish its arsenal of nuclear weapons, relics of the Cold War.

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances as the memorandum of understanding came to be known, proved to be as worthless as the paper it was written on. Russia’s land grab in Crimea as well as its territorial infringements in eastern Ukraine and Obama’s feckless response to this naked aggression has caused great harm to American credibility. The United States still refuses to supply the poorly equipped Ukrainian army with weapons sorely needed to combat a Russian-backed insurgency.

The lack of seriousness in which the administration regards the dire situation in eastern Ukraine was amply demonstrated by National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Appearing on the Charlie Rose show, Rice was asked about military setbacks experienced by Ukrainian forces in the recent fighting. Her response? Uncontrollable laughter as though she was some vapid, giggling high school teen. It was an embarrassing display, even for an Obama official.

We are currently witnessing the unraveling of a pusillanimous American foreign policy marked by vacillation, indecision and naiveté where dictators are coddled and allies are undermined; where sound decisions based on geo-political dictates are substituted by fatwas and other bizarre religious edicts and where discussion on serious foreign policy issues is addressed with laughter and giggles. The Obama administration has substantially undermined the credibility of the United States among friends and enemies alike. The next administration, Democrat or Republican, will be forced to pick up the shattered pieces of a broken, dysfunctional and directionless foreign policy, the sad but natural result of eight years of Obama.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.