Charles Krauthammer’s latest column in the Washington Post takes on President Barack Obama’s claim that he could not possibly be conducting a foreign policy of appeasement, given that his administration succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.
The charge of appeasement has become a potent theme of recent Republican presidential debates, infuriating the White House and its defenders in the media. Sen. Rick Santorum pointed out, in response to Obama’s bin Laden defense, that the administration was merely continuing the policies of George W. Bush.
Krauthammer adds that Obama’s bin Laden defense is little more than question-begging. Killing bin Laden, Krauthammer reminds us, was not a policy question:
Barack Obama didn’t appease Osama bin Laden. He killed him. And for ordering the raid and taking the risk, Obama deserves credit. Credit for decisiveness and political courage.
However, the bin Laden case was no test of policy. No serious person of either party ever suggested negotiation or concession. Obama demonstrated decisiveness, but forgoing a non-option says nothing about the soundness of one’s foreign policy. That comes into play when there are choices to be made.
Krauthammer highlights two of Obama’s worst–and most consequential policy choices: his decision to “reset” relations with Russia, selling out our European allies; and his decision to allow the 2009 protests against the Iranian regime to be crushed.
These, Krauthammer suggests, fit the classic definition of “appeasement”–with the expected results.
The Russians are back on the warpath about missile defense. They’re denouncing the watered-down Obama substitute. They threaten not only to target any Europe-based U.S. missile defenses but also to install offensive missiles in Kaliningrad. They threaten additionally to withdraw from START, which the administration had touted as a great foreign policy achievement…
Finally, adding contempt to mere injury, Vladimir Putin responded to recent anti-government demonstrations by unleashing a crude Soviet-style attack on America as the secret power behind the protests. Putin personally accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of sending “a signal” that activated internal spies and other agents of imperial America.
For his exertions, Obama earned (a) continued lethal Iranian assistance to guerrillas killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, (b) a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador by blowing up a Washington restaurant, (c) the announcement just this week by a member of parliament of Iranian naval exercises to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, and (d) undoubted Chinese and Russian access to a captured U.S. drone for the copying and countering of its high-tech secrets.
The killing of Osama bin Laden is not evidence of Obama’s leadership. It is exception that proves the appeasement rule.