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The Silver Lining of Obama's Weak America ^ | November 13, 2013 | Daniel Pipes

Posted on 11/13/2013 10:45:50 AM PST by Kaslin

That the socialist French government of François Hollande just blocked a bad deal with Tehran, emerging as the hero of the Geneva negotiations, is on one level a huge surprise. But it also follows logically from the passivity of the Obama administration.

American foreign policy is in unprecedented free-fall, with a feckless and distracted White House barely paying attention to the outside world, and when it does, acting in an inconsistent, weak, and fantastical manner. If one were to discern something so grand as an Obama Doctrine, it would read: "Snub friends, coddle opponents, devalue American interests, seek consensus, and act unpredictably."

Along with many other critics, I rue this state of affairs. But the French action demonstrates that it does have a silver lining.

From World War II until Obama waltzed in, the U.S. government had established a pattern of taking the lead in international affairs and then getting criticized for doing so. Three examples: In Vietnam, Americans felt the need to convince their South Vietnamese ally to resist North Vietnam and the Vietcong. During much of the Cold War, they pressured allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to resist Soviet pressure. During the 1990s, they urged Middle Eastern states to contain and punish Saddam Hussein.

In each case, Americans rushed ahead on their own, then beseeched allies to work together against a common enemy, a completely illogical pattern. The nearby and weak Vietnamese, Europeans, and Arabs should have feared Hanoi, Moscow, and Baghdad more than the distant and strong Americans. The locals should have been begging the Yankees to protect them. Why was this persistently not the case?

Because the U.S. government, persuaded of its superior vision and greater morality, repeated the same mistake: seeing allies as slow-moving and confused hindrances more than as full-fledged partners, it brushed them aside and assumed main responsibilities. With rare exceptions (Israel, and France to a lesser extent), the American adult unthinkingly infantilized its smaller allies.

This had the untoward consequence of leaving those allies with an awareness of their own irrelevance. Sensing that their actions hardly mattered, they indulged in political immaturity. Not responsible for their own destinies, they felt free to engage in anti-Americanism as well as other dysfunctional behaviors, such as corruption in Vietnam, passivity in NATO, and greed in the Middle East. Mogens Glistrup, a Danish politician, embodied this problem, proposing in 1972 that Danes save both taxes and lives by disbanding their military and replacing it with an answering machine in the Ministry of Defense that would play a single message in Russian: "We capitulate!"

Barack Obama's approach pulls the United States back from its customary adult role and has it join the children. Responding to crises on a case-by-case basis and preferring to act in consultation with other governments, he prefers "leading from behind" and to be just one of the pack, as though he were prime minister of Belgium rather than president of the United States.

Ironically, this weakness has the salutary effect of slapping allies hard across the face and waking them to the fact that Washington has too long coddled them. Jaundiced allies like Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Japan are waking to the reality that they cannot take pot-shots at Uncle Sam, assured in the knowledge that he will save them from themselves. They now see that their actions count, a sobering new experience. For example, Turkish leaders are trying to light a fire under the administration to get it to intervene in the Syrian civil war.

Thus does Obama's ineptitude have the potential to turn reluctant, self-absorbed partners into more serious, mature actors. At the same time, his incompetence promises to change the U.S. reputation from overbearing nanny to much-appreciated colleague, along the way reducing ire directed at Americans.

Of course, a weak foreign policy presents the danger of catastrophe (such as facilitating an Iranian nuclear breakout or not deterring a Chinese act of aggression that leads to war), so this silver lining is just that, a small recompense for a much larger grey cloud. It's not something to be preferred. Still, should two conditions be fulfilled – no disaster on Obama's watch and a successor who reasserts American strength and will – it just might be that Americans and their allies look back on this period as a necessary one with a positive legacy.

TOPICS: Editorial; Egypt; Foreign Affairs; Germany; Israel; Politics/Elections; Russia; Syria; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 0bamadmin; china; egypt; europeanunion; france; germany; iran; iraniannukeprogram; israel; laurentfabius; leadingfrombehind; lebanon; nato; russia; saudiarabia; syria; turkey; unitedkingdom; waronterror

1 posted on 11/13/2013 10:45:50 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Wishful optimistic thinking. Obama has three years to do to American foreign policy what he did to the healthcare industry.

2 posted on 11/13/2013 10:53:21 AM PST by AU72
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To: Kaslin

Holy $hit that’s a stretch.

I doubt America will ever be fully appreciated in the world (most parts), let alone liked and admired. The world hated us even after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end to the cold war.

Our influence has suffered greatly thus far (past 5 years). And if Russia and China ever really understood how weak we are right now (leadership) they would act on their fantasies. Our allies may be trying to ramp up their own defenses. But they are way behind their future potential enemies. And their citizens don’t have the stomach to demonstrate the kind of will that affects influence as America has done in the past.

We are now a sedated giant.

3 posted on 11/13/2013 10:58:32 AM PST by Tenacious 1 (Liberals want to be eaten last. I don't want to be eaten at all!)
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To: Tenacious 1

Or a dead corpse.

We’ll see.

4 posted on 11/13/2013 11:04:03 AM PST by Hardraade (
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To: Tenacious 1

If the plan is for the US to be irrelevant, then can we at least save some money by stopping all foreign aid?

5 posted on 11/13/2013 11:30:02 AM PST by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: Tenacious 1

I will really be surprised if Putin or the Chinks don’t make some sort of big move soon...that is, while O’bumbles is around. This is their chance, and I think they know it!

6 posted on 11/13/2013 11:36:00 AM PST by gr8eman (Bandying nice with wannabe commies is over! You're either for freedom or you're not!)
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To: gr8eman

Taiwan? Mideast oil? North Korea? If I were China (evil and all), I’d claim and defend the polar region for oil, take Taiwan back and take North Korea for a naval base.

Russia needs a large scale war in the ME so they can get involved and take some oil rich territory even if it is just a port.

7 posted on 11/13/2013 11:43:30 AM PST by Tenacious 1 (Liberals want to be eaten last. I don't want to be eaten at all!)
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To: Kaslin

During the recent shutdown, our pouty president refused to go to the APEC conference, citing the shutdown, and sent John Kerry instead. This was to teach us a lesson.

The lesson actually learned is that Asia can go right along without us. Note John Kerr's relative position in this group photo compared to Putin, who is front and center in the green shirt. If he was any more front and center, he'd be the leader of Indonesia.

8 posted on 11/13/2013 4:41:07 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: Vince Ferrer

That picture speaks volumes

9 posted on 11/13/2013 4:46:02 PM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: AU72

Truth be told, no matter how much we rant and rave about Obama, the real problem is that we have a huge chunk of our population that voted him in because he would do all the work and prevent us from having to do anything.

That is control, toxic control. It’s no different than a foolish woman who wants a man to make a living so she can enjoy the fruits of his labor, without realizing that if something happens to the man (like he dies or runs off with his secretary), she is without the ability to survive.

A Republican president requires the population to do the majority of their own work, like having a wife that is a real partner. A wife worthy of the name handles her own life and integrates it into that of her husband. She does not want her husband burdened with making all the choices, big and small.

So realistically, we’ve become a nation of trophy wives. It’s no wonder we’re reaching an expiration date and beginning to fail on the world stage.

Until attitudes change and we stop coddling dysfunctional elements, we’re going to remain in decline and maybe stay at the bottom. As long as we remain determined to make someone take care of us, the world will treat us like a concubine. We get a comfortable life with no work, but we will not get respect and will never be able to direct our own future.

10 posted on 01/03/2014 1:33:12 AM PST by CorporateStepsister (I am NOT going to force a man to make my dreams come true)
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To: CorporateStepsister

I’m still in mild shock at how bad I misread the 2012 election. I could not understand how any rational voter could re-elect him. The conclusion is that the majority of voters are not rational.

11 posted on 01/03/2014 5:48:38 AM PST by AU72
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To: AU72

I was shocked too; the man was taking a wrecking ball and breaking all his promises, but he won. Electing a Republican (a sincere one) is giving an adult the reins and we for some reason lost the 2012 election despite an obvious want of serious leadership that would inspire respect.

12 posted on 01/03/2014 8:55:29 AM PST by CorporateStepsister (I am NOT going to force a man to make my dreams come true)
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