Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Foreign Policy on the Fly

-cross-posted at The Shining City on a Hill

In a world where power politics is the international language, being clear in both words and actions are critical when communicating with the rest of that world. Back in February, the President said Qaddafi must go. Then he dithered on a no fly zone and created a leadership vacuum long enough for the Arab League and the United Nations to come up with a plan that he could get on board with only after being talked into it by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. When he finally agreed to go with the no fly zone, he pulled the ouster of Qaddafi off the military strategy table. This left many scratching their heads.

Obama weakened his hand when he used humanitarian reasons as the premise for going in without including a statement of intent regarding the removal of Qaddafi. Thus, there was no articulation of an end game. This is a grave failure since a complete military objective with a stated outcome should always be established before sending Americans into battle.

Securing a no fly zone so that civilians are not slaughtered by a suicidal megalomaniac like Qaddafi shows America’s concern for life, but we can’t just set up no fly zones everywhere in the world where there are humanitarian problems unless it can be clearly stated there is a greater military and geopolitical reason for doing so. There has to be more to it specifically as it relates to our military interests in the region.

The confusion is further compounded by Mr. Obama’s telegraphing of the intent to not use ground troops. There are two things a president must know how to do if he is to be taken seriously as a leader. First, never make a threat you can’t fulfill. Second, never tell the enemy what you’re not willing to do. It’s fine if you don’t want to use ground troops, but by stating that publicly the President boxed himself in. Situations are fluid, and one can’t guarantee that an emergency situation may require a flip-flop on that statement. Besides, who on the ground was doing the spotting for the precision guided missiles?

The problem is even further compounded by the President’s speech last night. He didn’t make anything clearer. In fact, this morning, Ambassador Rice indicated a willingness to arm the Libyan rebels. Is this a policy change? Is this a new initiative? Why was this not mentioned in the speech last night?

And why is the UN delaying taking over command and control? Are they not ready to do so? Is the President rushing them and they need more time? Are they unwilling to do so because they’re upset at the President’s poor handling of the communication aspects of the operation? Or, is it simply that it’s just a stupid idea for America to hand off control and leadership to other nations when we know that America is best suited for a leadership role in these types of operations?

All of these questions are not designed to pad this article. If the administration knew what it was doing and wasn’t running our nation’s foreign policy on the fly, these questions wouldn’t come up. This Qaddafi must go, no we’re not doing this to oust Qaddafi confusion was tough to get through yesterday. Today, we have a different plan to arm the rebels to oust Qaddafi but we’re not sure yet because we want to float that idea first. This is not how you run foreign policy.

Obama was for ousting Qaddafi before he was against it before he was for having the rebels do it with our guns. So tell me, what’s tomorrow’s plan?

Liberals will read this and say that no matter what Obama does, he can’t win in the eyes of conservatives. Obama would have had Sarah Palin’s support of a no fly zone on February 23. He would have had John Bolton’s support for taking out Qaddafi. All he had to do was exercise a clear and concise foreign policy that everyone could wrap their heads around. Instead, he has created a crisis of confidence in his leadership abilities with how he has so haphazardly handled the situation. He has put himself in a political no win scenario even if he does oust Qaddafi because it will look like it was done by the gang that can’t shoot straight. This is not a Monty Python movie. This is a serious military and geopolitical operation.

Let’s not miss the big picture here either. You have uprisings in Bahrain and Syria as well as other countries in the region. The area is simmering with revolutionary desires. We’re not looking into that? We’re not using our intelligence services to find out if this is being instigated by Muslim extremists interested in a Caliphate? Are we working with allies in the region to create friendships and alliances with the right people on the ground in these movements?

Taking out established regimes, even if they are dictatorial, requires precision intelligence and diplomatic boots on the ground. Before hastily flip-flopping on Mubarak and Qaddafi, the President should know who the rebels are. He knows there are elements of the Muslim Brotherhood deeply involved in Egypt. In fact, some reports are showing that they are muscling in on what originally was a pro-democracy movement. If a theocracy is established in Egypt, we have Obama’s ineptitude to thank. If the moderates and the military fight that off and do establish a secular government in Egypt, it will be no thanks to Obama who has been silent, and sometimes even conciliatory on the role of the Brotherhood.

Before we go running around setting up no fly zones and backing rebels everywhere, the administration needs to get serious and tighten up its operation.

For America’s sake, let’s hope that doesn’t dampen our patriotic spirit and willingness to support the efforts of our military. We should always support our country and our military at a time of war. But it’s never easy to have your country involved in a volatile region like the Middle East when there is such a lack of confidence in our president.

We need to have the confidence to get it done right now or we will have to have an even stronger will to battle the growing threat of those who want to a world caliphate down the road as they solidify their support from Muslims in the region. Many are not confident that President Obama sees this. That’s why there is such grave concern about how he is handling our country’s foreign policy.

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