July 24, 2009 | Commentary on Asia, National Security and Defense

O's Foreign Failures: Bad Guys Refuse to be Charmed

Most Americans have noticed that President Obama's economic policies aren't getting the job done. Fewer, however, realize that the administration's foreign policies are flagging after just six months in the White House, too.

Yup, that's right: All that Obama hopey-changey, blame- America-first, anything-but-W stuff hasn't restored, much less advanced, America's position in the world as was promised.

In fact, quite the opposite: Weak-kneed, apologetic "Obama-plomacy" is already being exploited across the globe--at great expense to our national security.

Start with Iran: The Obama administration has extended an unclenched fist toward the mullahs, but the theocrats have done little more than slap it away--repeatedly.

In fact, today they have even more uranium-enriching centrifuges spinning, meaning Iran is moving closer to having the bomb. Many analysts believe the fateful moment is just around the corner.

Yet the administration wants to give Tehran more time (till the end of the year) to see the error of its ways. Sorry, Mr. President: After 20-plus years of involvement in a mostly clandestine nuclear program, that's just not likely.

This "What, me worry?" attitude is putting Israel and the Arab Middle East increasingly on edge as they await the day Iran joins the Mushroom-Cloud Club.

And where was the leader of the Free World when Iranians were demonstrating--indeed, dying--for liberty on Tehran's streets recently? Spending weeks dithering with talking points to ensure he didn't look like he was "intervening."

Over in Asia, North Korea has launched missiles, set off a nuke and threatened war. The regime is refusing to come back to the nuclear-negotiating table and is holding two arrested US journalists. It's also likely trying to send bad stuff to the junta in Myanmar (possibly for transshipment to Iran or another rogue regime).

While he's rightly surged US troops in Afghanistan, Obama was unable to charm the Europeans into giving more troops, despite our mutual interest in keeping the country out of terrorists' mitts.

And then there's Russia. We made unilateral concessions in a strategic-arms agreement that may undermine the strength of our conventional forces by eliminating dual-mission bombers and submarines.

Obama's hope was that in exchange for the (in principle) nuke-arms-reducing pact, we'd get the Kremlin's help stopping Tehran's nuclear program. Oops: After the summit, Moscow publicly delinked the two issues.

Nor have we reached an understanding with Russia on the missile-defense bases the Bush administration was planning to build in Eastern Europe to protect us from Iran.

Speaking of Eastern Europe: America's fawning over Russia has left these nations wondering about Obama's commitment to their security in the looming shadow of an increasingly growly Moscow bear. In an open letter to Obama last week released in a Polish newspaper, 20 former senior officials from the region expressed concern about current US policies.

In Latin America, the Obamanistas totally botched the situation in Honduras, siding with power-grabbing, deposed President Manuel Zelaya--and thus with his ally, Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez.

They've also back-burnered getting Congress to ratify free-trade agreements with our best ally in Latin America, Colombia, as well as Panama--and have gone cheap on helping Mexico fight the surging narcotraficantes just over the border.

Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri and the rest of the al Qaeda gang haven't given up the ghost yet, either, despite Obama's can't-we-all-just-get-along speech in Cairo.

Sadly, there's nothing to balance out this string of losses in the wins column, sports fans. The hapless Washington Nationals have a better record.

OK, foreign policy is a tough business. But Obama overpromised on foreign affairs--and, so far, he's underdelivered.

The president wrongly thought he could turn his perceived popularity abroad into results. Instead, like many liberals in the past, he's come face-to-face with the reality of the dog-eat-dog world of international politics, where some of the pooches are self-interested pit bulls. If current trends continue, we're going to end up on the wrong end of someone's canine teeth.

Indeed, as many have correctly said over the years, getting domestic policy wrong can cost people their jobs--and it has. But getting foreign policy wrong can cost people their lives--and it will.

Peter Brookes is senior fellow for National Security Affairs in the Davis Institute at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Peter Brookes Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

First Appeared in the New York Post