Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama: An Unqualified Success

It really is starting to feel like going after Obama's grasp of foreign policy is not unlike dynamiting fish in a bucket. But every time it looks like he has committed the ultimately breathtaking blunder which will never be topped, he manages to outdo himself more stunningly than I'd ever had the audacity to hope.

The latest oral-pedal event took place in Oregon this weekend, when the junior Senator declared that "tiny countries" like Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Cuba should not be considered serious threats, and should be engaged directly by the highest levels of the USGOV. The 'reasoning' here is that previous US Administrations engaged in direct talks with the USSR, which was a "greater" threat, and that it was on the strength of those talks that the Berlin Wall fell, Communism collapsed, etc., etc.

Once again, words simply fail me. Ed Morrissey's above-linked fisking of the latest Obama silliness is worth reading in its entirety, in order to grasp the full breadth of Obama's awe-inspiring incoherence on matters of past and present geopolitics. Indeed, watching Obama stammer and stumble through his speech, it was easy to imagine a part of him screaming, "do you even hear what the devil you're saying here, dude?!" The premise that the mere size of an opponent's national acreage or military budget should determine our assessment of the threat it represents goes way beyond the merely naive:

[T]he danger in Iranian nuclear weapons has nothing to do with the capacity of its Shahab-3 ballistic missiles. Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist organizations will allow them to partner with any small group of lunatics who want to smuggle a nuclear weapon into any Western city — London, Rome, Washington DC, Los Angeles, take your pick. That’s the problem with nuclear proliferation; it doesn’t take a large army to threaten annihilation any longer, which is why we work so hard to keep those weapons out of the hands of non-rational actors like Iran. The Soviets may have been evil, but they were rational, and we could count on their desire to survive to rely on the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction. The Iranians believe that a worldwide conflagration will have Allah deliver the world to Islam, so a nuclear exchange may fall within their policy, and that’s assuming we could establish their culpability for a sneak nuclear attack to the extent where a President Obama would order a nuclear reprisal.

Let's be charitable here. Let's work temporarily under the assumption that Obama does understand the radical asymmetry at work with a nation like Iran, much of whose military leverage rides on the support of non-conventional forces like Hezbollah, and which therefore represents a greater threat than a simplistic accounting of its stand-up military would indicate. Let us assume, further, that he understands the prestige that direct, high-level, unconditional talks would confer on such a nation. Let's say that he was short-handing his message for a political speech, but that his actual plans if elected would possess a great deal more subtlety. Even granting such a mountain of mulligans, however, we are still left with a prospective leader who is so strikingly unable to refrain from giving a damningly mistaken impression of his plans --despite his much-vaunted eloquence-- that any rational, reasonably well-informed observer of history and world affairs who simply took him at his word would be forced to conclude that he is either a rank neophyte, a certifiable dunce, or a knowing enemy propagandist.

By contrast, we have John McCain, who today fired back at Obama's latest foray into aggressive self-disqualification. For all his faults --and they are legion-- McCain has shown an admirable grasp of the stakes in our dealings with Iran, and an excellent ability to put the relevant issues into words which do not require an army of spin doctors and media apologists to finesse into an easily digestible paste:

Senator Obama has declared, and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the President of Iran without any preconditions, likening it to meetings between former American Presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union. Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment. Those are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess. An ill conceived meeting between the President of the United States and the President of Iran, and the massive world media coverage it would attract, would increase the prestige of an implacable foe of the United States, and reinforce his confidence that Iran’s dedication to acquiring nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and destroying the State of Israel had succeeded in winning concessions from the most powerful nation on earth. And he is unlikely to abandon the dangerous ambitions that will have given him a prominent role on the world stage.

Say what you will about McCain, but when it comes to matters like these, he Gets it. And, unlike the current crop of Democratic candidates (or our current President), he is actually able to be intentionally funny when the situation calls for it.

Ah, Obama. I wonder what he'll say next...

1 comment:

Mr.Hengist said...

I've been thinking all morning about a reply I wanted to write to this blogpost, but then I read this supurb and succinct piece in the WSJ (May 19, 2008). Noocyte and I hold John Bolton in the highest esteem, and I have only this comment to add: The Bush Administration policy on talks with Iran is that there will be no direct talks until Iran ceases to enrich uranium. Uranium enrichment is but the most egrerious of their violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory party. The logic is simple: until Iran complies with their treaty obligations it is counterproductive to enter into further talks, because we can expect that any agreement that would have resulted will meet with the same level of compliance as our previous agreement.
Neither the Europeans nor Obama grasp appear to grasp this. I would have supposed that the Europeans are not so naive, and they're simply resigned to the inevitability of Iran becoming a nuclear power, as they have neither the will nor the means to stop it or deter the Iranians. However, when we look back over the course of these negotiations we can see that the Europeans would issue a deadline to Iran, which Iran would ignore. This would prompt a memo of consternation from the Europeans who would then set a new deadline, only to have the cycle repeated. Their willingness to be repeatedly publicly humiliated leads me to lean toward the explanation that they are, as Noocyte and others have theorized regarding Liberal behavior, acting out their fantasies of how the world should work, rather than coming to terms with how it actually is. For Obama and the cosplay Liberals, negotiations are a kind of magic pixie dust - sprinkle it on your problem neighbors and it goes a long ways towards solving our problems. Throw in negotiated concessions (which must never be allowed to be called appeasements) and that ought to fix pretty much everything.