An Obama Foreign Policy

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Reprinted from Jerusalem Post.

Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is worried about the shape of things to come in US foreign policy. In an interview with Newsweek over the weekend, Gates sounded the warning bells.

In Gates’ words, “I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position. It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.

“To tell you the truth, that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire, because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government… that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world.”

What Gates is effectively saying is not that economic forecasts are gloomy. US defense spending comprises less than five percent of the federal budget. If US President Barack Obama wanted to maintain that level of spending, the Republican-controlled Congress would probably pass his defense budget. What Gates is saying is that he doesn’t trust his commander in chief to allocate the resources to preserve America’s superpower status. He is saying that he believes that Obama is willing to surrender the US’s status as a superpower.

This would be a stunning statement for any defense secretary to make about the policies of a US President. It is especially stunning coming from Gates. Gates began his tenure at the Pentagon under Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush immediately after the Republican defeat in the 2006 mid-term Congressional elections.

Many conservatives hailed Obama’s decision to retain Gates as defense secretary as a belated admission that Bush’s aggressive counter-terror policies were correct. These claims ignored the fact that in his last two years in office, with the exception of the surge of troops in Iraq, under the guidance of Gates and then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s foreign policies veered very far to the Left.

Gates’s role in shaping this radical shift was evidenced by the positions he took on the issues of the day in the two years leading up to his replacement of Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. In 2004, Gates co-authored a study for the Council on Foreign Relations with Israel foe Zbigniew Brzezinski calling for the US to draw closer to Iran at Israel’s expense.

Immediately before his appointment, Gates was a member of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. The group’s final report, released just as his appointment was announced, blamed Israel for the instability in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Its only clear policy recommendations involved pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights to Syria and Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria to a Hamas-Fatah “national unity government.”

In office, Gates openly opposed the option of the US or Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear installations. He rejected Israel’s repeated requests to purchase weapons systems required to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. He openly signaled that the US would deny Israel access to Iraqi airspace. He supported American appeasement of the Iranian regime. And he divulged information about Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal and Israeli Air Force rehearsals of assaults on Iran.

A month before Russia’s August 2008 invasion of US ally Georgia, Gates released his National Defense Strategy which he bragged was a “blueprint for success” for the next administration. Ignoring indications of growing Russian hostility to US strategic interests – most clearly evidenced in Russia’s opposition to the deployment of US anti-missile batteries in the Czech Republic and Poland and in Russia’s strategic relations with Iran and Syria – Gates advocated building “collaborative and cooperative relations” with the Russian military.

After Russia invaded Georgia, Gates opposed US action of any kind against Russia.

Given this track record, it was understandable that Obama chose to retain Gates at the Pentagon. To date, Obama’s only foreign policy that is distinct from Bush’s final years is his Israel policy. Whereas Bush viewed Israel as a key US ally and friend, from the first days of his administration, Obama has sought to “put daylight” between the US and Israel. He has repeatedly humiliated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He has abandoned the US’s quiet defense of Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal. He has continuously threatened to abandon US support for Israel at the UN.

Not only has Obama adopted the Palestinians’ increasingly hostile policies towards Israel. He has led them to those policies. It was Obama, not Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas, who first demanded that Israel cease respecting Jewish property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. It was Obama, not Abbas, who first called for the establishment of a Palestinian state by the end of 2011. It was Obama, not Abbas, who first stipulated that future “peace” negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must be predicated on Israel’s prior acceptance of the indefensible 1949 armistice lines as a starting point for talks.

All of these positions, in addition to Obama’s refusal to state outright that he rejects the Palestinian demand to destroy Israel through unlimited Arab immigration to its indefensible “peace” borders, mark an extreme departure from the Israel policies adopted by his predecessor.

Aside from its basic irrationality, Obama’s policy of favoring the Palestinians against the US’s most dependable ally in the Middle East is notable for its uniqueness. In every other area, his policies are aligned with those adopted by his predecessor.

His decision to surge the number of US forces in Afghanistan was a natural progression from the strategy Bush implemented in Iraq and was moving towards in Afghanistan.

His use of drones to conduct targeted killings of terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan is an escalation not a departure from Bush’s tactics.

Obama’s decision to gradually withdraw US combat forces from Iraq was fully consonant with Bush’s policy.

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  • Hank V

    shame on americans for allowing the degradation of the presidency, day after day it gets worse and americans are too cowardly to do anything about it: shame shame shame.

    • nocal

      What would you suggest we do?

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Gates is a liberal and would have Israel put in extreme danger by allowing Iran
    to proceed with it's homicidal plans. Obama will not broker interference by
    common sense, even a liberal knows the world is to dangerous to draw down
    military power but this is what Obama wants, to make America as vulnerable
    as he would make Israel. It is a mishmash of bad decisions but with a vane
    of debility intently desired by the commander of defeat. Gates could care less
    about Israel but seems to show temerity at the gutting of defenses by Obama,
    after all Gates does live in America. Obama will keep out of Irans's way so
    the deranged Mullahs can accomplish the unthinkable, just like a good
    Muslim…………………………………………………………………………..William

  • Andres de Alamaya

    I wouldn't say that Obama humiliated Netanyahu. What he did was disgrace himself which is natural for a culturally deprived president.

    • Jim_C

      "Culturally deprived?" What does that mean?

      • Yellow Rosebuds

        What that means is that the CLASSLESS moron obama BOWS to a Saudi kinglet! And that is just ONE thing he did WRONG. There are hundreds of other things.

  • Figgy

    Let’s not forget that the current resident of the whouse is a muslim in christian clothing. Everytime he moves his lips, its a lie. The resident muslim is anti american, anti israel and of course anti semtic. Hopefully the jews will wake up and vote for this pos again. Will the jews every realize that he is no friend of ours or israel. One and done! Semper fi, G-d bless USA and Israel ….

  • Figgy

    ** hopefully the jews WILL NOT for this pos next time. Heaven forbid he is respected, the usa and isreal will go down the drain under his very poor and slighted judgement.

  • lois freeman

    Read Bible prophecy and you will know what is happening to us. In the end times all the nations will be against Israel, so in a way you could say that god has delivered Obama to us in order for his prophecies to take effect. We are blind to our god given rights and that is why Obama was able to become president of the now United States.

    • Yellow Rosebuds

      Yes, but that means that now the USA is on the side of satan. Heaven help us Americans to get on the RIGHT side again

  • Jim_C

    This article begins by talking about "Left" and "Right" in terms of foreign policy, giving examples of C. Rice and Gates as "Left." And they are different from whom? Don Rumsfeld (I don't know)? If so, does that mean they are actually competent at their jobs?

    Ah but Gates seems prematurely nostalgic for superpowerdom. Given that a long-overdue departure form Afghanistan and Iraq is neither precipitous nor absolute, does he think we'll not be left with a military that is the best-trained, most experienced, and by far the most powerful in the world?

    This meaningless use of terms left and right is a great example of how degraded our political discussion has become. Moreover, what the author thinks SHOULD happen is wonderfully nebulous. I suspect it's more of the same neoconservative endless war-on-a-bottomed-out-economy, but who knows. According to polls, the majority of the country is now for drawdown. Thank God for that.

  • flyingtiger

    I have the feeling that gates is leaving because he has competed his mission to destroy the United States military.

  • GUY DAVID

    Obama's actions ,if they were not so very clearly deliberate could have been called reckless ,however he knows exactly what he is doing.
    His agenda is overtly anti-ISRAELI , HIS AGENDA IS THAT OF THE islamic fascists, Gates was a lackey ,lacking in intestinal fortitude ,and devoid of backbone.
    Obama is even more anti-semetic than P-NUT Carter , his actions are more than dangerous to ISRAEL , THEY ARE THE ACTIONS OF AN ARROGANT mUSLIM ,and he is a danger to the whole world.rodued" long form too.
    I once thouhjt that the "birthers " were crackpots , I am not so sure now , OBAMA's "christianity" is a fraud ,and ,perhaps so too is the recentl

    • Jim_C

      Can you explain to me in what specific ways Obama's Israel policy differs significantly from the presidents of the last 30-40 years? I don't want to hear how he "dissed" Bibi, but what his administration has done, specifically, that is actively dangerous to Israel?

  • LindaRivera

    America's enemies have NOTHING to fear from Obama and his administration. It is Israel; America's other allies and the American people who have reason to fear this government.

  • Ghostwriter

    Again and again,President Obama has been seen as a naive fool not just by people in this country but around the world. His naivete has caused a lot of concern among our allies and given comfort to our enemies. He will probably go down in history as the American Neville Chamberlain.

    • Yellow Rosebuds

      With a big touch of Stalin as well!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Gates, like GWB, is and has always been a stealth leftist, only he isn’t too stealth. Hence, as a result he blames Israel for the instability of the Middle East instead of Islam, and he also blames America’s premature abandoning of Afghanistan in 1989 for the 9/11 terrorist attacks instead of Islam, demonstrating at the same time that he is more than just a little self-hating, unhinged, and incompetent. However, if what Ms Glick is predicting is true, then the Republicans in the Congress must do everything in their power to oppose him.

  • Tanstaafl

    Of course, Obama won't get re-elected………………wait, he is currently ineligible to be President, but is still President. Maybe we better not count our chickens before they are hatched.