Most of the criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy concerns the failure of “reset diplomacy,” the inability to deal with Iran or North Korea, or the sense that we are ignoring allies and appeasing enemies.
All true. But under the radar, there are several developments that are far more disturbing than we seem to realize.
Take the RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone that went down in Iran in December 2011. The U.S. chose neither to attempt to retrieve it nor to bomb the wreckage. Why? Who knows? But it seems that, as in the case of the administration’s silence when Iranians hit the streets in protest during the spring of 2009, Obama was worried about provoking an Iranian response. Although Iran brags that it will reverse-engineer the drone, it is not likely to actually do so. However, it will very probably sell off key components to the Chinese and the Russians, who will duplicate it or at least find far more effective ways to neutralize its use.
Most recently, during a Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Barack Obama weighed in on the Falklands in a fashion that was both offensive and ignorant: “And in terms of the Maldives or the Falklands, whatever your preferred term, our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral. We have good relations with both Argentina and Great Britain, and we are looking forward to them being able to continue to dialogue on this issue. But this is not something that we typically intervene in.”
Almost everything in that statement was false or dangerous. Aside from the 57-state-type error of Maldives for Malvinas, the U.S. does not look forward to “dialogue” on the issue, but rather avoids it like the plague. And in the past, we were not neutral but eventually intervened with massive clandestine support for Great Britain, a NATO ally. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had previously used the term Malvinas, which is a sort of Argentine equivalent of “the Zionist entity” — a bankrupt construct loaded with cultural and political significance. Obama should know that the more he uses that term (or trills some sort of M-word for an archipelago somewhere on the map), the more likely it is that there will be an Argentine effort to replicate the 1982 attack, especially as the Peronist Kirchner regime seeks foreign scapegoats (cf. the recent nationalization of the Spanish oil firm Repsol’s stake in an Argentine company), and the British loudly reduce their military forces. Fears of massive American logistical and intelligence support for Great Britain alone keep the Argentinians guessing, and by extension not trying something as stupid as replaying the 1982 invasion.
The problem is not just that Obama has no knowledge of geography, but that he has none either about history or diplomacy. The Falklands, a windswept, lightly populated group of islands with a history of sparse European settlement, never fit the so-called colonialist model of oppression of indigenous peoples. The isolated and barren islands were always disputed by European powers, and are as much British as Guam is American. More importantly, Britain has fought side by side with the U.S. — after a past century of solidarity — in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet Obama insidiously is eroding that relationship by a gratuitous and uninformed effort at politically correct multiculturalism.
Then there is the talk of unilaterally downsizing our strategic arsenal, perhaps even to 1950s levels of 300 to 500 deployable nuclear weapons. In utopia that sounds noble, but with North Korea now nuclear, and Iran about to be, the number of rogue states that do not play by the rules of the nuclear club is growing, not shrinking. If we were to downsize our arsenal so radically, America would be on par with lesser powers like China, India, and Pakistan, which do not have global deterrent responsibilities. Obama seems indifferent to the fact that sophisticated Free World countries that could make nuclear weapons as they do Hondas or BMWs — Japan, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and most of Western Europe — depend on the vast size of the U.S. nuclear umbrella for their own strategic security.