President Obama's stream of foreign relations disasters

President Obama has made an amazing stream of foreign policy blunders over the last several weeks. Photo: AP

NEW YORK, June 26, 2013 — It is hard to imagine a more hapless stream of foreign policy decisions than has been managed by the beleaguered Obama administration in recent days, effectively projecting US weakness into every major theater of international relations.

The first such disgrace for America came as president Obama met with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Annenberg, CA.

SEE RELATED: Karzai scuttles Obama’s Taliban plans

For more than a week in early June, US media faithfully carried water for the administration’s full frontal blitz against Chinese cyber-espionage, “Obama set to address cyber spying concerns with China,” blared from every media outlet, “We believe that all nations need to abide by international norms and affirm clear rules of the road as it relates to cybersecurity,” a US official told reporters prior to the summit at the Annenberg resort in California. “And so we’re going to do that with China, just as we would insist that every country meet their responsibilities.”

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel openly accused China of waging a cyber spying campaign against the United States during a security forum in Singapore.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, Edward Snowden, through the The Guardian, reported while the two presidents met that the NSA of the United States has conducted over 61,000 global hacking operations since 2009, “hacking network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one.”

The next foreign relations disaster came for the president at the G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland. The outcome for the United States was so bad that John Cassidy entitled his New Yorker piece on the meeting, The G8, Obama, and Syria:  Why Putin Came Out On Top.  Cassidy wrote, “The civil war in Syria dominated the meeting to such an extent that it ended in failure. Russian leader Vladimir Putin refused to sign onto a communiqué explicitly calling for the ouster of Bashar al-Assad, [and] the G8 was reduced to releasing a bland communiqué that called for the establishment of “a transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent.”

SEE RELATED: North Korea, China, United States nuclear threats and cyber attacks

Instead of genuine statesmanship, the US president, on the eve of the meeting, announced a decision directly hostile to Putin, to send small arms to the rebels. Cassidy writes, “Putin has got the better of his fellow leaders, and it’s no mystery why. Unlike them, he knows precisely what he wants, and what he’s willing to do to achieve it.”

The Atlantic ran their article on the summit under the headline, How Putin Won the G8.

At a CNN moderated forum, Russian president Putin further embarrassed the US and Obama’s G8 eve announcement criticizing Western nations for failing to ensure that weapons it plans to supply to Syrian rebels do not fall into the hands of al Qaeda.

“Where will those weapons end up,” Putin questioned how weapons could safely be supplied to rebels if the U.S. recognized one of the key opposition groups was al Qaeda’s affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Immediately following the G8 Summit, Mr. Obama traveled to Berlin, where he announced the US will engage in its first formal direct talks with the Taliban, dropping his long-standing demand that the movement renounce ties with al-Qaeda in order for talks to progress.

Barely had this giddy announcement fallen from his lips when another announcement came, this one from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. “Last night two big rockets were launched at Bagram (air base) which hit the target. Four soldiers are dead and six others are wounded.”  Earlier that same day 5 Afghan policemen killed in a Taliban insider attack in Helmand.  

In addition to this shameful display of American weakness, Mr. Obama managed to so fully offend Afghani president Karzai, that the latter instantly denounced Obama’s peace negotiation plans, highlighted several points of diplomatic affront, and pledged to boycott all peace efforts just announced by Mr. Obama.  A day of shameless groveling ensued, “In a turbulent 24 hours of nonstop diplomatic moves, Secretary of State John Kerry called Mr. Karzai three times,” reports the Times, “America complied unambiguously with Mr. Karzai’s demands.”

Con Coughlin entitled his Telegraph account of this debacle, Obama Gives the Taliban the Upper Hand.  

A couple of days later, Mr. Obama’s wonderful peace dialogue partners, the Taliban launched a remarkable attack in central Kabul penetrating Afghanistan’s single most heavily fortified facility, the presidential palace, the CIA and ISAF headquarters, the Ministry of Defense, as well as an international hotel.

In the meantime, Edward Snowden seeks refuge from Espionage Act charges on a worldwide manhunt that has taken him through Hong Kong to the Sheremetyevo’s transit zone in the Moscow airport.

Along the way, Hong Kong, in coordination with Beijing, opted to outright ignore United States request/demands for the return of Snowden, an embarrassment and a direct and plain affront to Washington.  Speaking during a visit to India, Mr. Kerry said it would be “deeply troubling” if it became clear that China had “willfully” allowed Snowden to fly out of Hong Kong. “There would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences,” he said, a useless tantrum and hollow threats against China, meaningless threats with absolutely not a thing to gain – Snowden was long gone out of China. 

No sooner finished with wasting US capital on being one-upped by China, Mr. Kerry promptly turned his toothpick saber in Russia’s direction. “It would be obviously disappointing if Snowden was willfully allowed to board an airplane.” blustered Kerry while in New Delhi, India “As a result there would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.” Very good.  Now our secretary of State has managed to pump his fists with empty threats against BOTH China AND Russia in just two days.

In response, Russia’s President Putin could hardly have been more dismissive, calling these threats, “ravings and rubbish,” and going on to say “Snowden is a free person. I’d prefer not to deal with this issue at all.  [the whole matter] is like shearing a piglet — too much squealing, too little wool.”

In just three weeks President Obama has met with the leaders of the 8 most powerful nations on earth, met with the presidents of Russia and China, and announced significant policy decisions on Syria, and Afghanistan. 

How has this administration done in so high profile a time internationally?  We are sucked deeper toward increasing entanglement in Syria’s civil war, we are threatening and being mocked by the presidents of Russia and China, and we have been denounced by the president of Afghanistan as we rush to negotiations with militant, landless guerillas who have manage to get the US President to announce plans to negotiate from a position of weakness.

Despite skyrocketing security and military investment and expenditures this administration has made America’s international status and authority weaker by the minute. For weeks on end, this current administration has remained unable to garner a single occasion of respect while engaged in a frantic stream of highly important and hugely high profile international exertion and activity.

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Frank Kaufmann

Frank Kaufmann is Editor in Chief of New World Encyclopedia (a values based, general knowledge encyclopedia), executive director of the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace (an international, interreligious peace organization), founder and president of Values in Knowledge Foundation (a movement to to meet the challenges and undo the harm caused by declining content in the world of  knowledge and information).

Frank Kaufmann's work for peace includes efforts in over 65 countries with successes in conflict ridden and violent environments.

This mission to produce and maintain New World Encyclopedia involves supporting a virtual academy of over 500 international scholars as contributors. 



Contact Frank Kaufmann


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