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World View: Obama Repudiates the Carter Doctrine at Bizarre GCC Meeting

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This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Iran attempts to seize Singapore-flagged ship in Persian Gulf
  • Obama concludes bizarre meeting with GCC at Camp David
  • The Truman Doctrine and the Carter Doctrine

Iran attempts to seize Singapore-flagged ship in Persian Gulf

The Alpine Eternity. (Marinetraffic.com)
The Alpine Eternity. (Marinetraffic.com)

In what is apparently going to be a repeating pattern, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) on Thursday launched five patrol boats and fired at a commercial ship in international waters passing through the Persian Gulf, in an apparent attempt to either disable it or to seize it and force it into an Iranian port.

On April 24, four IRGCN patrol boats surrounded the Maersk Kensington, a US-flagged cargo vessel, and harassed it for a while before letting it go.

On April 28, IRGCN patrol boats fired shots at a commercial cargo vessel passing through the Strait of Hormuz, and then forcibly boarded the ship and directed it to an Iranian port. The vessel was the Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged ship. The Tigris and its crew were forcibly held for several days before they were released.

In the new incident, it appears that Iran was trying to repeat the April 28 incident. The intended forcible seizure was of the Alpine Eternity, a Singapore-flagged ship whose owners Iran claims owe money to Iran.

The first volley of shots, probably from machine guns, were across the bow. At that point, the vessel called the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for help, and turned toward UAE waters. The UAE sent three of its coast guard boats out. The IRGCN boats pursued and fired additional shots, apparently hitting the Alpine Eternity but not disabling it. Once it entered UAE waters, the IRGCN boats broke off. CNN and The National (UAE)

Obama concludes bizarre meeting with GCC at Camp David

As President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry continue to have one embarrassing foreign policy humiliation after another, it’s very hard to understand why Obama seems completely immune from learning any lessons and acting more intelligently.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an organization with six member on the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). GCC members have been expressing increasing alarm that Obama seems to be ready to concede anything and everything to Iran, putting GCC members at risk.

According to Marwan Bishara, Al-Jazeera’s senior political analyst, Gulf leaders know that if they are being invited to Camp David, then they are going to be either squeezed or humiliated, “as what happened with the Palestinians in 2000.” He said that Gulf leaders have no respect for Obama for a number of reasons:

  • He coordinated an entire campaign agreement, rapprochement with Iran — what they call “pivot to Iran” — without getting back to them.
  • There’s a whole nuclear deal with Iran that eventually will allow Iran to enrich uranium in the long term, and there’s no similar thing happening in the Gulf.
  • In his interview a few weeks ago, Obama said that the threat to the Gulf region is not coming from Iran, but will come from domestic discontent, which was extremely alarming to the Gulf leaders. Bishara pointed out that the U.S. enjoys the luxury of great distance from Iran, while Gulf countries are right next door.

Bishara didn’t mention — but other analysts have — that there is a generational issue. Obama is a Gen-Xer who considers himself to be the smartest person in the room, no matter who else is in the room, and who treats anyone who disagrees with him with extreme contempt.

The news all week was asking the question whether Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud was “snubbing” Obama by not coming. Well, of course he was. Salman and other Gulf leaders are in their 70s, and consider Obama to be a kid who has no clue what’s going on in the Mideast — an appraisal that I would agree with. So of course these older leaders are not going to want to come to Camp David to be ordered around and humiliated by Obama.

The GCC meeting was described as a negotiation, but Bishara pointed out that no one believed it was a negotiation. It was clear that Obama was going to tell them that the nuclear deal with Iran was going ahead, and they should just get used to it. No wonder they didn’t want to come to Camp David. Saudi Gazette

The Truman Doctrine and the Carter Doctrine

The GCC leaders knew in advance that the Camp David meeting was a “take it or leave it” announcement by Obama, with no negotiating. But if there HAD been negotiating, then what the Gulf leaders wanted was a reaffirmation of Jimmy Carter’s Carter Doctrine.

I’ve written many times about the Harry Truman’s Truman Doctrine of 1947, which made America policeman of the world. The doctrine is highly controversial today, but its justification is that it’s better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. Every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman.

In his State of the Union address on January 23, 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced what has been called the Carter Doctrine. It was essentially an application of the Truman Doctrine to two specific regions: the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Here are some excerpts:

“This last few months has not been an easy time for any of us. As we meet tonight, it has never been more clear that the state of our Union depends on the state of the world. And tonight, as throughout our own generation, freedom and peace in the world depend on the state of our Union. …

At this time in Iran, 50 Americans are still held captive, innocent victims of terrorism and anarchy. Also at this moment, massive Soviet troops are attempting to subjugate the fiercely independent and deeply religious people of Afghanistan. These two acts—one of international terrorism and one of military aggression-present a serious challenge to the United States of America and indeed to all the nations of the world. Together, we will meet these threats to peace. …

In response to the abhorrent act in Iran, our Nation has never been aroused and unified so greatly in peacetime. Our position is clear. The United States will not yield to blackmail. …

We continue to pursue these specific goals: first, to protect the present and long-range interests of the United States; secondly, to preserve the lives of the American hostages and to secure, as quickly as possible, their safe release, if possible, to avoid bloodshed which might further endanger the lives of our fellow citizens; to enlist the help of other nations in condemning this act of violence, which is shocking and violates the moral and the legal standards of a civilized world; and also to convince and to persuade the Iranian leaders that the real danger to their nation lies in the north, in the Soviet Union and from the Soviet troops now in Afghanistan, and that the unwarranted Iranian quarrel with the United States hampers their response to this far greater danger to them. …

This situation demands careful thought, steady nerves, and resolute action, not only for this year but for many years to come. It demands collective efforts to meet this new threat to security in the Persian Gulf and in Southwest Asia. It demands the participation of all those who rely on oil from the Middle East and who are concerned with global peace and stability. And it demands consultation and close cooperation with countries in the area which might be threatened. …

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

That’s what the GCC leaders would have liked Obama to reaffirm. Instead, at the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting, he said the following:

“In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determine urgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners.”

It’s pretty clear that Obama has repudiated the Carter Doctrine, as well as the Truman Doctrine.

It’s probably worthwhile mentioning that even if Obama had reaffirmed the Carter Doctrine, he would probably not have been believed, after his repeated irrational behavior in Mideast policy, especially his flip-flop on his chemical weapons “red line” in Syria, allowing the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons with impunity, which it continues to do to this day. Carter’s State of the Union address, 1/23/1980 and Maxwell AF Base (1983) and Al Arabiya (Riyadh)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Maersk Tigris, Alpine Eternity, Singapore, Iran, Strait of Hormuz, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy, IRGCN, Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Marwan Bishara, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Truman Doctrine, Carter Doctrine, Syria, chemical weapons
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