US Mideast Influence Plummets Under Obama

To the extent that foreign policy will figure in the 2012 Presidential election, conventional wisdom thinkers are likely correct in predicting some Democrat success in reversing the perception that theirs is the party of weakness. They already are touting the killing of enemies like Osama Bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Muammar Gadaffi, and taking credit for “ending” the Iraq war as evidence of that. But while their talking points might win them some votes, they do not reflect the sorry state of US foreign policy under President Barack Obama and the disastrous course on which it is taking us, starting with the Middle East.

Hope and change comes to the Middle East?

Despite Obama’s toadying 2009 Cairo speechmisinformed and misguided, influence in the region has ebbed, and Obama’s love for Palestinian Arabs has gone unrequited. The most recent evidence of that was their decision to ignore his objections and press forward with their statehood gambit at the UN. And why not? When Obama warned them of “repercussions” if they did not withdraw their anti-Israel settlement resolution in the Security Council in February, they did not, and there were none. There was talk of sanctions if they formed a unity government with Hamas; and their leaders told the US to take their aid and shove it. The unity government came to pass, but the sanctions did not.

Similarly, Obama’s embrace of the so-called Arab Spring has done nothing to prevent it from turning into a blustery autumn. If anything, subsequent events have exposed declining US influence with the amorphous groups behind it. Libya’s new leaders have steadfastly refused US requests to extradite Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the mass murdering mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In 2009, he was released on false pretenses and hailed as a hero on his return to Gaddafi’s Libya. Yet, even after dropping the bomb that killed the Libyan dictator, the US does not have enough influence with the beneficiaries for them to stop protecting this killer of 189 Americans. In Egypt, an even more dangerous failure, Obama unceremonious dumped longtime ally Hosni Mubarak. Our thanks so far from those Obama supported has been increasing anti-American sentiment, tacit support for terrorists in the Sinai, and a likely Muslim Brotherhood victory in November’s parliamentary elections. Egypt-Israel tensions are increasing after Egyptian-tolerated terror attacks and Israel’s response to them, and the sacking of Israel’s Cairo embassy by Obama’s new friends. As a result, the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, which has made another full-scale Mideast war virtually impossible for three and a half decades, is at risk.

The Saudis were furious at Obama’s treatment of Mubarak and issued a rare rebuke of US policy by condemning “foreign influence” in Egyptian affairs. Those angry Saudis had been working closely with Mubarak’s Egypt (and clandestinely with Israel) to counter growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. With that bulwark now gone, Iran is widely expected to flex its muscles in Iraq once the US leaves under another Obama initiative that Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) saidit “was a statement of failure, not success [and] puts at greater risk all that so many Americans and Iraqis fought, sacrificed and… gave their lives to achieve.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran not to “miscalculate,” but the Iranians seem as concerned as they were when putting down the 2009-2010 popular rebels, which Obama shamefully delivered into the mullahs’ hands.

Turkey, once a reliable ally, has moved squarely into the Islamist and pro-Iran camp since Obama took office; so much so that it refused US offers of aid (but not Iran’s) after a recent earthquake. It has given Iran access to the various and sundry military hardware it received courtesy of the US taxpayers, which Ahmedinejad and Company can now pick apart to simulate or counter. After a UN report rebuffed Turkey’s manufactured snit over Israel’s self defense against its pro-Hamas “flotilla,” the Turks responded by expelling the Israeli ambassador and formally downgrading in the two countries’ relations. There was not even a peep about that strategic disaster from Obama. In fact, several sources tell us that his minions put “intense pressure” on Israel, not Turkey. Obama urged Israel to genuflect and accede to Turkey’s demand for an apology–despite a pro-Israel report from an anti-Israel world body. More evidence of waning US influence.

The President’s failed outreach and flaccid sanctions have only enabled Iran to move closer to its goal of nuclear weapons. Contrary to the administration’s claims that the Iranian regime is “isolated,” its power and prestige has transcended the Sunni-Shiite divide. Sunni Hamas (and soon Egypt?) has become its client, and Shiite Hezbollah has taken the reins of government in Lebanon. Iran’s ally and longtime US antagonist, Syria, is the one Arab country where Obama has not supported a dictator’s ouster since, after all, as Clinton told us in March, strongman, Bashir Assad, is a “reformer.” Assad responded to that ridiculous justification for inaction by recently expelling the US ambassador.

And what of our good friend Israel? It is clear enough, as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, that Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus.” Worse than Obama’s betrayal of our one reliable ally in the region, however, are the consequences of it. To the extent that there was a real peace process in the region–a highly dubious notion–Obama has single-handedly killed it. His hectoring of Israel has not given it any reason to take those dangerous and one-way “risks for peace.” With Clinton–of ‘Assad is a reformer’ fame–little more than an Obama lapdog, the entire administration regularly blames the lack of a peace deal on Israeli “settlements,” while ignoring Arab cries for genocide. Then they seem dumbfounded when the Israelis opt for security over suicide and build nonetheless. (If Israeli homes on the West Bank were really the problem, there would have been peace prior to 1967. More reality ignored by this administration.)

I recently heard an administration spokesperson assert that Obama’s policies have “won back” friends and prestige for the US overseas; prestige, she claimed, that was lost by former President George W. Bush. Unfortunately for everyone, her assertions do not stand up to facts. The upshot of Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been:

• Increasing influence by an Iran on the brink of achieving its goal of nuclear weapons.

• Damaged relations with the Saudis, whose new heir apparent, Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, is more likely to fashion a Saudi Arabia that is even more retrograde as opposed to being closer to the United States.

• Less influence in Libya than we had when Gaddafi was in charge.

• An Egypt ripe for a Muslim Brotherhood takeover that openly persecutes Christians and is about to rip up its peace treaty with Israel, making a full-scale Mideast war likelier than any time since it was signed.

• Hezbollah running Lebanon.

• Iranian ally Syria running amuck with impunity.

• An Islamist Turkey, openly flaunting its pro-Iranian and anti-US credentials.

• And our close friend, Israel, sensing enough betrayal to ignore Obama’s pressure for it to return to what its former Foreign Minister Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders.”

Quite an accomplishment: undoing the work of generations in less than three years.



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