Foreign Policy

Obama's foreign-policy misses

Not many outside of Washington are aware the Obama administration has dispatched close to 100 “military advisers” (read: mostly CIA) to the far reaches of East Africa to combat a menace in the Uganda/Democratic Republic of Congo regions knows as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The group has been around for decades, terrorizing that part of the continent and taking no prisoners. They brutally murder, maim and wreak havoc where and when they want.
I agree we should probably have our troops over there. Heck, they should’ve gone sooner, if what the White House says about the LRA’s activities has only worsened.

What I’m worried about is what the president chooses to call military campaigns such as this. If I’m not mistaken, the White House exercised its authority and sent military troops not for humanitarian reasons or to protect American interests and people. No, the president said this was clearly in the name of the national interests of the United States. In effect, he was saying this band of mercenaries represented a clear and present danger to the security interests of our nation. That’s a bit of a stretch, even for a military hawk such as myself.


Romney — putting the swagger back into foreign policy

It’s a scary world out there, if you read Mitt Romney’s white paper on national security. If he is elected, it’s going to get even scarier.

Romney as president would boost U.S. military spending and naval shipbuilding. He would dispatch aircraft carrier task forces to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf as a warning to Iran. He would expand the naval presence in the Western Pacific as a warning to China. The U.S. should be coordinating with Taiwan to determine its military needs and supplying them with adequate aircraft and other military platforms, he says.


How do you solve a problem like North Korea?

There are three things to remember about North Korea:

Never believe media reports about the “crazy” and “irrational” North Korean leader. Kim Jong-il might be bad and dangerous, but he is not mad.

North Korea is not about to get rid of its nuclear weapons, because they guarantee regime survival.

Any story about North Korea will invariably have the same headline (see above).


Stop the Europe-bashing

It’s open season on the Europeans at the moment. Following the lead of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who delivered a stiff warning to NATO the other day, everyone has been piling on. The latest was an article in The Washington Post by Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, under the provocative headline “Europe no longer matters.”

Nothing like kicking a man when he’s down. It must be said, the Europeans are an easy target. The other day in Washington, I heard Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) pointing out that the U.S. was subsidizing European social programs through its predominant financial contribution to NATO, as European military budgets declined. But here’s what I’m hearing in Europe at the moment: that America is weak.


Rand Paul and the Tea Party’s foreign policy

Listening to Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky) talking about foreign policy this morning, it was hard to believe that this was the same person accused by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of being on the side of terrorists for opposing the renewal of the Patriot Act.

I was curious to find out where the Tea Party stands on the burning foreign-policy issues that have been overshadowed by budget matters since the 112th Congress began. Not only did I agree with most of what Paul said, but many of the points he made had already found their way into this blog.


Obama stands up to Netanyahu

President Obama stood up to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in his Middle East speech, in which he defied the conventional wisdom, which holds that all efforts towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians are now at a standstill.

The fact is, though, he had to. Obama couldn’t let Netanyahu dictate the terms of the debate while in Washington, where the prime minister will address AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and Congress in the next few days. Nor could Obama wait until he spoke to AIPAC himself on Sunday, and miss the opportunity of a global audience that he had today.


Men of honor

Like the old Politiburo-driven popular front of “violence inherent in the system!” polemic, the Republican punditry today are quickly dispatched to call the Obama victory a historic “Bush-Obama” drama.

Who are these guys kidding? The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld adventure was a journey to the end of the night and an American disgrace that will never be forgotten. Our best warriors and men of honor of both parties like Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), former NATO chief Wesley Clark and Colin Powell’s chief Col. Lawrence Wilkerson brought the strongest dissent. It was a hoax from the beginning, said Wilkerson. The invasion of Iraq was “the wrong war,” said Clark. This war will instead be remembered as beginning to go forth with some credibility when George W. Bush’s secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was thrown out of office and Robert Gates was brought forth to try and retrieve any remaining shreds of American character.


Too much James Bond, not enough Henry Kissinger

If I had to grade President Obama’s interview with Steve Kroft on CBS’s “60 Minutes” last night, I’d give him a C+.

I know that’s apt to annoy a lot of people. The president certainly came across as sober, human, decisive and effective. But in the end, he didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. The interview was a bit too much James Bond and not enough Henry Kissinger.

Like all Americans, I was thrilled to hear Osama bin Laden met his fate last week and see America assert its influence in the Middle East. Still, the administration needs to resist viewing this successful battle as the end of the war. Coupled with the Arab Spring, the killing of bin Laden was certainly a significant blow to al Qaeda, but it remains largely symbolic. Placing too much weight on any one individual in our fight against Islamic fundamentalism is a dangerous path to start down. While bin Laden might have been the mastermind behind 9/11, it was the jihadist ideology he promoted that was at the heart of the attacks and continues to threaten us today.


Why continue giving billions to Pakistan?

Why are we giving Pakistan billions each year in assistance for fighting terrorism if they're so outrageously bad at it?

Chump change? I don’t think so. Since 9/11, we’ve given over $18 billion in U.S. aid to the country. For 2011, another $1.8 to $2 billion is earmarked for the country. And what do we have to show for it?

Earlier this year, the country held one of our CIA agents, returning him only after we paid millions more in essentially a ransom to get him back. Relations are strained. And now the country’s leaders are saying the United States overstepped its authority and violated the sovereignty of the nation of Pakistan.


What's next for US and Pakistan

The first anti-American demonstrations have already taken place in Pakistan, in the city of Quetta, which might have sheltered al Qaeda leaders in the past.

What's next for U.S.-Pakistani relations after the daring U.S. raid deep inside Pakistan by Navy SEALs? Anti-American sentiment has long been running high in Pakistan over the drone attacks along the border with Afghanistan and is now gaining traction in urban society. Pakistan’s charismatic opposition leader, Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, has been stirring things up in recent days, warning that if the Predator attacks continue, Pakistanis would block NATO supplies to Afghanistan.