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March 6, 2010

Obama administration's Syrian engagement policy: 'Fruitless ingratiation with despots, disregard for human rights, and predictable (horrible) results'

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives, Political News and commentaries

That's the way Jennifer Rubin describes Barack Obama's approach to foreign policy - and how Syria aligns with the Obami's overall approach: "Syria Engagement, or How America Loses Its Soul":

Elliott Abrams, former Deputy National Security Adviser, recounts the series of unilateral gestures and offerings that the Obami have served up to Syria - from sending high-level envoys to appointing a new ambassador to removing U.S. objections to Syria joining the WTO. On and on it has gone as the Obama administration has tried to wean Bashar al-Assad from the embrace of the Iranian regime. But this was doomed to fail:
"Engagement" constitutes "appeasement" if it fails to change Syrian conduct, and the failure to change is overlooked while the "engagement" continues and accelerates. This would not just be fooling ourselves but condoning, rewarding, and thereby inducing even more bad conduct by the Assad regime. Which is precisely what has happened during this year of American engagement.
So Syria continues to fund terrorists, to assist Iran in rearming Hezbollah, and to brutalize its own people. Moreover, as we saw this week, Syria delights in hugging the Iranian regime even tighter and whacking the U.S. ever harder -- just in case we had any doubt about the Syrians' contempt for our approach. It seems the Obami misread Assad, not recognizing that he is "a vicious dictator dependent on Iran's regime for political, financial, and military support" and fantasizing that there is a peace deal with Israel in the offing.
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As Jennifer pointed out in a previous piece, the administration can't seem to learn from their much misguided, far-left ideology-based (my description, not hers) "engagement" policy:

The Obami (believe) ... they must redouble their efforts -- engage more! They seem never to learn from experience -- never to examine the motives and conduct of our foes as a means of assessing whether our policies are working. For a group that declared ideology to be "so yesterday," they seem to be trapped in the the grips of their own. They are convinced that despotic regimes will respond to unilateral gestures and American obsequiousness. Repeated failure seems not to impact their analysis. Too bad there aren't any realists to be found.

And as James Traub noted in Foreign Policy, "Virtually all conversations with Obama administration foreign-policy officials, no matter where they begin, come to rest at "engagement."" And it seems that everyone but the administration knows it to be a dismal failure:

[...] To critics on both the left and right, however, it has come to mean "bad diplomacy" -- cynical or naive, depending on which side you come from.

These days -- these shaky days -- the critics seem to be gaining the upper hand, making those Obama officials increasingly defensive about their policy toward autocratic states, whether in the Middle East or Eurasia, Iran or Sudan. Having spent years thinking hard thoughts in universities and think tanks, magazines and books, they cannot believe that they are losing the definitional war over their own policy.

Clearly, Obama's foreign policy is at the very least as Rubin describes - "fruitless ingratiation with despots, disregard for human rights, and predictable (horrible) results." But the best description I've seen so far comes from Eliot A. Cohen's WSJ piece in which he says, If the first year of President Barack Obama's foreign policy were a law firm in Charles Dickens's London, it would have a name like Bumble, Stumble and Skid." Because that's exactly what the administration's policy of "engagement" has done so far:
It began with apologies to the Muslim world that went nowhere, a doomed attempt to beat Israel into line, utopian pleas to abolish nuclear weapons, unreciprocated concessions to Russia, and a curt note to the British to take back the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office. It continued with principled offers of serious negotiation to an Iranian regime too busy torturing, raping and killing demonstrators, and building new underground nuclear facilities, to take them up. Subsequently Beijing smothered domestic coverage of a presidential visit but did give the world the spectacle of the American commander in chief getting a talking-to about fiscal responsibility from a Communist chieftain.

The lovely town of Copenhagen staged not one, but two humiliations: the first when the Olympic Committee delivered the bad news that the president's effort to play hometown booster had failed utterly, before he even landed back in the U.S.; the second when the Chinese once again poked the U.S. in the eye by sending minor officials to meet with Mr. Obama, as they, the Indians and Brazilians tried to shoulder him out of cozy meetings aimed at sabotaging his environmental policy. Even smitten foreign admirers--in the case of the Nobel Prize, some addled Norwegian notables--managed to make him look bad.

Given these and many other examples of the gross ineptness and failure of their foreign policy to date, one can only watch in exasperation as the Obambi are so wrapped up in their ideological-based, "suck-uppery to despots," agenda that they can't find it in themselves to admit they're wrong and correct it.

So as America's position deteriorates around the world, remember folks, you voted this clown into office once already, don't make the same mistake again in 2012.

Related: Another Obami Foreign-Policy Debacle

Posted by Richard at March 6, 2010 9:55 AM

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