Foreign and Defense Policy

10 questions for Barack Obama on the eve of his return to foreign policy

Image credit: mistydawnphoto /

Image credit: mistydawnphoto /

Barack Obama will kick off an “intense” two week focus on foreign policy beginning with a commencement address at West Point tomorrow. He then heads to Europe, commemorates the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and stops by Poland just to let everyone know America is still, well, alive.

The news brought to mind an old adage that counsels it is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. And while I do not suspect our president of being a fool, there is a corollary that the White House might take to heart. Obama has been slammed up one side and down another for a weak foreign policy – even The New York Times accused him of playing “small ball” – and the White House is clearly beginning to feel the sting. But there’s a problem for the president in articulating a foreign policy vision; he will have to do something. There lies the rub, as he discovered after warning Syria’s Bashar el Assad that the use of chemical weapons was a red line. Since that ignominious moment, things have only gotten worse. So unless the president is planning on explaining that the United States is on hiatus from global leadership, he will be challenged to answer the questions piling up about why the US seems AWOL on the world stage. And once answered, those listening will expect action.

What will the president need to explain? Here’s a by-no-means exhaustive list:

  1. Why the Obama administration has waited more than three years to do anything meaningful for the people of Syria, and is only now considering training rebels.
  2. Why the Obama administration has watched the metastases of al Qaeda and related groups from Yemen to Egypt to Syria to Lebanon to Iraq to Libya to Mali to Somalia to Nigeria, all the while continuing to insist that the group is in trouble.
  3. Why the Obama administration plans to exit Afghanistan, leaving behind fewer troops than recommended by military leaders, leaving the Taliban and al Qaeda to once again take territory.
  4. Why the Obama administration has stood by as China has preyed upon putative US allies in the Pacific.
  5. Why the Obama administration has ignored the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles, and the export of that technology.
  6. Why the Obama administration supported the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi and then ignored Libya.
  7. Why the Obama administration did nothing as Russia invaded a neighboring nation, and continues to refuse to arm the Ukrainian military to defend itself.
  8. Why the Obama administration has conceived of vital trade agreements with Asia and Europe, but refused to do what is necessary to sell those agreements to Democrats in Washington.
  9. Why the Obama administration is approaching an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that fails to address Iranian enrichment capacity, Iranian delivery vehicles, or Iranian support for terrorism.
  10. Why the Obama administration abandoned the people of Iraq to the forces of Iran and al Qaeda, and now refuses to assist the Iraqi government in fighting the latter.

I could continue, but suffice it to say that it will take more than two weeks to erase the series of calamities that Obama’s inaction has enabled around the world. Tomorrow might be a start…and for our own security, prosperity and moral standing, let’s hope it is.

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3 thoughts on “10 questions for Barack Obama on the eve of his return to foreign policy

  1. Obama’s foreign policy is the weakest since at least 1900. It is deliberate neglect of international power, a great gift to the tyrants of the world and a danger to the US.

  2. Obama’s foreign policy? As if he alone, alongside our inactive congress, is the single point of failure?

    Both Tom Sullivan and Danielle Pletka seem to miss the 50 years prior of a forceful bully force we employed globally. Purposefully going around sticking our nose into something and causing further escalation of issues, manipulation of battles that never even truly existed to enter ourselves into Vietnam, and walking atop of foreign leaders expending larger dollar amounts expanding our defense budget to make the excuse legit and calling ourselves Americans?

    Frankly, I doubt either of you from the comfort of your air conditioned homes have any idea the amount of foreign diplomacy that is done in private behind the coverage of media you rely on.

    You brand Obama with a sense of arrogance toward his inactive foreign agenda, pointing fingers as if it is some kind of trend rather actually doing a bit of research and recognizing any substance behind what is really happening around you…I question who the truly arrogant is when you must announce it as if you’re all knowing!

    • James, I actually admire your wishful thinking. Add up the escalations of nasty world events since Obama took office.And BTW isn’t “diplomacy in private” done in air conditioning?

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