Dr. Herbert London: Obama’s ‘Strategic Patience’ Means Inaction

President Barack Obama speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 14, 2016, following a meeting with his National Security Council to get updates on the investigation into the attack in Orlando, Florida and review efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Dr. Herbert London, president of the London Center for Policy Research and a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Militant Islam, joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Breitbart News Daily to discuss his latest article, “Obama’s Strategic Patience.”

London’s thesis is that President Obama is “unwilling to engage the world, in the way in which it really exists.”

“In his view, there’s a kind of historical movement, an almost Marxist inevitability to historical forces, and that things will ultimately straighten out, and that the nations of the world will all work together to maintain stability,” London elaborated. “Now, this is a very naive point of view, but it’s a point of view that not only does Obama share, but a good part of the Democratic Party, and some Republicans share as well – that in fact, the United States can no longer play a significant role in trying to create the kind of equilibrium that once existed in world affairs.”

“We can’t be a policeman of the world. That is undoubtedly true. We don’t have the resources to do that,” he conceded. “But the intervention of the United States in world affairs is critical. That is something that Obama does not understand. Neither do a good many of the isolationists, whose tendency of course is to keep the United States out of foreign policy positions completely.”

London advised the President to “exercise leadership on the diplomatic front,” through such measures as organizing a Red Sea analogue to NATO, “to serve as a counterweight to whatever ambitions the Shia nations of Iran have.”

“If the Iranians are intent on building an empire – which appears obvious, as is demonstrated through their control of Sanaa, and Damascus, and Baghdad – it’s very obvious to me that what you need is a group of Sunni nations working together, that would serve as an offset to whatever the Iranians are attempting to do,” he said.

“The United States could provide logistics, might even provide special forces, certainly military intelligence, and undoubtedly the kind of special forces that would be necessary to train. But the hard work, the real lifting, would be done by these Sunni nations. There would be a kind of NATO that would be established to deal with extremism in the area, including Sunni extremism, even though these would be Sunni nations,” he envisioned.

“Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf states would obviously be part of this team. Israel might be an unregistered member of this little organization. But the United States would be the one nation that could hold these nations together, that would serve as the diplomatic glue to make it happen,” he continued. “That’s one of the reasons it becomes so important for the United States to think about the kind of role, the vision that is necessary in order to promote the kind of future, with some stability in that area that has known nothing but disarray.”

London said the same was true for Asia, where Asian states “deeply concerned about what the Chinese ambitions could be” should be organized into an effective counterweight force.

“The unilateral creation of the air perimeter zone in the South China Sea represents an opportunity” for the United States to bring together nations like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines into a “formidable force that would serve as a kind of NATO of Southeast Asia,” in London’s estimation.

“Again, the role here is not that the United States would necessarily send all of its surface vessels and submarines into the area, but that the United States would provide the kind of logistical support, the kind of material support, the kind of special forces activity – if you wanted to have an organization led by the Japanese, I can assure you the South Koreans wouldn’t be very happy,” he observed. “And if the Japanese are not providing that leadership, the question becomes, who provides the leadership? And that’s where the United States comes in.”

“There’s a vacuum in many parts of the world that the United States once filled,” London warned. “Just as there isn’t a vacuum in nature, there is no such thing as a vacuum in international affairs. That vacuum will be filled. And unfortunately, at the moment, it’s being filled by the Russians, by the Chinese, by the Iranians, by ISIS. And that’s the problem that we are facing.”

Marlow compared the current state of world affairs to classroom kids getting out of hand, testing what they can get away with, in the absence of clear and commanding authority. London applauded the analogy, saying “there are many parts of the globe where the United States is being tested, and it’s fairly obvious we are not meeting that test.”

“The South China Sea is one example, where we’ll fly a B-52 over the reefs that have been created artificially by the Chinese, and kind of wave. We’ll send one battleship into an area within the 12-mile radius of these new islands that have been created by the Chinese,” London observed.

“We will not even maintain the claims on some of the islands in the so-called South China Sea perimeter,” he added. “For example, the Philippine president, Duterte, just a week ago made the following statement – and I’m paraphrasing, but I think I’ve got it very close to the actual quotation –  he said, look, we have had claims on the Spratly Islands for a number of years, we believe that our claims are legitimate. The United States stood by those claims, but since the United States will not back them up by sending in a real carrier force, in order to demonstrate the strength that is needed, we will now attempt to befriend the Chinese, because you cannot rely on the United States.”

He said this statement “represents the feeling that is very, very widespread in the Far East, and in the Middle East, that the United States cannot be relied on.”

For instance, London reports hearing the same sentiment from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, summarizing his words as, “I love America, but America doesn’t love me.” As the Philippines felt pressured into making deals with China, so Sisi struck a $2 billion arms deal with Russia, “consummated in large part because the United States would not fulfill its obligation to provide spare parts for the Apaches and F-16s” promised to Egypt.

“If we don’t live up to obligations, in the mutual defense arrangements we have with other nations, obviously they can’t believe in the United States as an ally,” he said. “And if you look at Israel, certainly there have been great questions raised by the Netanyahu government, about whether, in fact, the Obama government is one that you can rely on.”

“All across the globe, there is this question, which will be the great issue that the next President will have to address: Can our allies rely on the United States?” London said. “If not, why not? What role does the United States want to play for itself?”

He recommended finding a position “somewhere between going to war, and putting many forces on the ground,” and a position of “doing nothing.” Supervising the creation of the NATO-style alliances he envisioned for the Middle East and Asia would accomplish that goal.

London had an answer for those who would recommend an isolationist course instead. “Fortress America doesn’t work, in large part because we don’t live isolated in the world,” he said. “I’d like to build barriers, and think that we’re not part of world affairs, but the fact is that we are part of the world. As Trotsky once said – and I don’t often quote Trotsky – you may not want war, but war wants you.”

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