Oh, no! Obama draws another line abroad
By Andrew Malcolm
Posted 09:08 AM ET
Oh, geez. Here we go again.
President Obama Wednesday stepped into the explosive political eruptions in Ukraine to gratuitously warn the embattled repressive government "there will be consequences if someone steps over the line."
After 1,856 days in office, this naive yokel, who promised he'd charm the world into loving America again, still cannot resist the temptation to utter empty threats to foreign leaders, threats that they know very well he has absolutely no intention of fulfilling, threats that diminish any surviving U.S. clout abroad.
Apparently Barack Obama doesn't remember the time Barack Obama drew a very public red line and threatened to do something really serious if Syrian President Bashir al Assad used his chemical weapons. Which he did. And which Barack Obama did zipola about. Except talk some more, which he thinks he's still good at.
Sure, Obama's south side was covered by Russian President Vladimir Putin appearing to broker a deal with Assad to relinquish the fixings for those lethal chemical stews, which the Syrian leader has now aborted. And about which Obama can only utter more warnings. Can you say yada-yada in Arabic?
All while al Qaeda and others turn Syria's civil war into an invaluable recruiting and training ground for a United Nations of terrorist wannabes.
Let's run through a short list of other foreign policy successes from Obama's leading-from-behind blabber:
First, there was Obama's Russian reset. By unilaterally relinquishing the U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, Obama was going to chummy up with Putin, who would help rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Which hasn't happened. Why should it if the old Soviet KGB thug got rid of U.S. missiles at no cost?
Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama and Hillary Clinton instigated the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, the dictator with the world's best collection of hats. That turned Libya into a lawless safe haven for al Qaeda and its armed pals, who killed four Americans in Benghazi with still no consequences. Despite Obama's pledge of swift justice 17 months ago.
Obama vowed Iran would not acquire nuclear weapons and helped establish an economic noose of international sanctions. Those sanctions have indeed made life much more difficult for Iran. Unfortunately, that wasn't the goal. The goal was to convince the mullahs to stop WMD research, which they haven't.
They're still stalling the talks while work continues. Why not when Secy. of State John Kerry says global warming, not nuclear bombs, is "the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."
Sean Kilpatrick / AP (Happy Obama's Mexico photo op.)
Remember our little bearded buddy Mohamed Morsi? He was busy turning Egypt into a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold when some 30 million countrymen took to the streets last summer.
On his $100 million family junket around Africa, Obama called Morsi to lecture him about running a responsive democracy. Too late.
Morsi, like Assad, Gadhafi and Ukraine's leadership, ignored the former state senator. Responding to the crowds, the Army ousted Morsi to set the stage for new elections.
Obama's pouty response was to cut aid to Egypt. Putin sent a Russian delegation to open friendship talks. So, those Obama moves are going well for U.S. influence in that region.
Here's the Ukraine deal: It borders both Europe and Russia. Pro-democracy forces are drawn to the West. The European Union negotiated an extensive fiscal bailout last fall. At the last moment Putin, who'd like to establish a protective mini-ring of Soviet-style satellites, threw in $16 billion plus bargain natural gas prices.
President Viktor Yanukovich accepted. Democracy forces took to the streets. Riot police responded. More than two dozen died in recent days.
Meanwhile, Obama's been pushing patent reform and more fuel-efficient trucks. But Wednesday the commander-in-chief finally weighed in from a chair in Mexico:
"We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible," he said.
"We'll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line. And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians."
The entire world knows exactly what Obama would do if Ukraine's army moved: Nothing. Obama's mastered Teddy Roosevelt's dictum: Speak softly. And what stick?
More importantly, what about the Russian army that occupied parts of Georgia in 2008 uninvited? Putin is handcuffed PR-wise until the Olympic torch goes out in Sochi Sunday. But then.....
Perhaps recalling the embarrassing flop of his telephone diplomacy with Morsi last year, Obama Wednesday assigned Joe Biden to call Yanukovich. According to a White House account, Biden expressed "grave concern" about the Kiev situation and urged a police withdrawal from Independence Square.
The Obama administration's talking had the usual effect. Early Thursday more gunfire erupted there.