Foreign policy by crisis

By Rufus Foshee | Jun 13, 2009

What the United States has long called foreign policy is formulating solutions crisis by crisis.

Much foreign policy has been unilateral. The United Nations has been in place for six decades, yet the United States has failed to reach out to governments for help in dealing with the border states.

Many have overblown expectations of President Obama's powers. Several of his proposals have kicked back in his face within hours after having been made. His approaches to Russia and Iran remain the most glaring.

His plea to Saudi Arabia, delivered by Secretary Gates on May 5, for help in bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan under control, is now the international joke. Though Obama let down Air Force One in Riyadh a few days later, if he got a response the White House is keeping it a secret.

Obama's June 4 Cairo speech did not go down at all well. Both foreigners and Americans consider much of what the president had to say as condescending and dictatorial. One caller to C-SPAN demanded to know what right Obama had to ask such questions, then referred to the president's audacity.

If one reads some of the most important books by experts on current affairs, Fareed Zakaria's "The Post American World," for example, one may conclude that American attitudes are in left field. Something is seriously wrong when such policy experts find American thinking totally out of step with the global world in which it proposes to live and prosper.

Zakaria's distinctive view is that the United States is being left behind while it squanders billions, time and energy on a horse in Iraq that it refuses to acknowledge as dead. While American strategists scratch their heads about how long and how many in Iraq, the rising nations, even in South Africa, have moved on.

If one reviews the failures in Iraq or the effort to rein in Iran, then looks at how little effort has been made and is being made to court the rapidly developing nations, one may find it shocking.

Many hold that the international economic crunch that has reduced the flow of money in Russia and Iran will beat them down; they will be more easily brought over to the western way of thinking and doing things. Pure delusion. Is there anyone willing to argue that no one is more economically on their knees than the United States?

It is true that the common man in many developing nations is not happy with his diminished state. But do you know any Americans who are thrilled with their diminished well-being?

Is Obama prepared to present proposals that will bring closer together economies of the world and push for all to prosper? Among the 10 fastest growing economies are small Equatorial Guinea and South Korea.

Bush 43 was determined to scare Americans at all times at all cost. Instead of scaring the same people, Obama seems determined not to allow Americans to think that he is less macho. So much thinking power and other resources have shifted from Iraq, though that is still a mess, to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Many of Obama's staunchest supporters have become disappointed that he has mostly ignored Iraq but shifted the troops to Afghanistan, therefore just changing battlefields without clearly defined motives.

Are there any attempts in formulating foreign policy that are not controlled by the Pentagon? How long has it been since top powers in Washington offered any solutions except military ones?

The president must not allow himself to be bullied by those wearing more brass than an old-fashioned cafeteria in New York. Bill Clinton allowed Colin Powell and others to bully him. Bush 43 was totally at the mercy of whatever the brass boys said.

Clinton suffered a hangup with the military brass because he had not served. Neither has Obama served; he does not seem to have the same hangup but seems unable to stop his warmongering.

Obama has simply changed battlefields, thinking that his staunchest supporters who supported his anti war in Iraq campaign, would not notice that he had just transported more troops to Afghanistan to continue the battles. In addition, more there is focus on Pakistan.

Reviewing whatever might have been foreign policy over the past 30 years, one is not able to find any that was not dictated by the Pentagon. Having the Pentagon draft foreign policy is like having lobbyists draft congressional legislation, which is very common. In cases with the Pentagon at the helm, the probability holds that the results will benefit the Pentagon brass. Iraq is the brightest example. The military industrial complex is as complex as it is enormous and expensive.

In his farewell address to the nation in 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower had this to say: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

From SourceWatch also: “His children suggest that in an earlier draft of the speech, he referred to the 'military-industrial-congressional complex.'" Wouldn’t it be revealing to know who pressured that change?

Secretary Clinton presented a proposal on the Israel/Palestinian issue on May 28. Within hours Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the future of the settlements "will be determined in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and in the interim, normal life must be allowed to continue in those communities."

His was a total rejection of Clinton's proposal.

Time for a reality check. Obama enthusiasts must take off the rose colored glasses, realizing that those in the Middle East do not look at the U.S. president as if he were at a campaign rally. They hold to the concept that "we judge by action, not words."
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