In 2004 and 2008, John Kerry and Barack Obama ran for office on a platform of repairing our diplomatic relations with Europe that they claimed George W. Bush had shattered with his unilateral cowboy antics.
Fast forward nine and five years respectively and the diplomatic dream team of Kerry and Obama, one of whom even speaks French, has assembled a Coalition of the Unwilling that mostly consists of France.
Obama and Kerry may have gained France, whose loss under Bush occasioned much agonizing from the Democrats, but they lost the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland the Ukraine and the Czech Republic; all members of Bush’s Coalition of the Willing in Iraq.
Prime Minister Cameron lost a vote in the House of Commons over Syria; a defeat that the British paper The Telegraph blamed directly on Obama’s failures of international leadership.
George W. Bush, that rogue cowboy, had gone to the United Nations and reached out to his European allies to encourage them to stand with the United States. Faced with the need to rally Europe, Obama went to play another few rounds of golf and counted on his ambassador to do the work for him. That ambassador, an obnoxious creature named Matthew Barzun whose only qualification for the posting was the amount of money he raised for Obama, was too busy offending the Brits to be of much help.
Obama and Kerry made it clear that they would not bother with the United Nations; dramatically reversing their old position. They assumed that Europe would follow them. They were wrong.
The European elements of Bush’s Iraq Coalition of the Willing appear to be unenthusiastic about Obama’s latest war and are holding out for United Nations approval.
Italy has not only stated that it will not join up without United Nations approval, but Foreign Minister Emma Bonino warned that the strikes were a bad idea. "From a dramatic and terrible conflict, we run the risk of even a global conflagration," she said. "This is how it always begins. Limited strikes without a U.N. mandate."
“If the United Nations doesn’t back it, Italy won’t participate,” Prime Minister Enrico Letta said.
Italy had joined Bush’s Coalition of the Willing and dispatched 3,200 troops to Iraq in response to a good faith effort from President Bush at the United Nation, who worked with American allies instead of deciding that he wanted to bomb a country at the last minute while expecting our allies to go along.
Norway had joined Bush’s Coalition of the Willing, but opted out of Obama and Kerry’s Coalition of the Unwilling. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg wants to give diplomacy a chance while Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide has said that he thinks the strikes will only destabilize Syria further.
The Netherlands has said that it will wait for a UN decision on Syria. Denmark has said that if the UN track fails, it may be willing to consider alternative options and that’s about as good as it gets for Obama. Bush’s Coalition of the Willing had included over 1,300 troops from the Netherlands.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland has said that he does not believe that a strike will stop the killings and that his country "does not plan to participate in any kind of intervention in Syria." At its peak, there were 2,500 Polish soldiers in Iraq.
Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych had said that he opposes trying to solve problems in Syria using the military. Ukraine had contributed 1,650 troops in Iraq.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said, “There are no legal grounds for an air strike against Syria; that is the beginning and the end of it for us.” The Czech Republic had been a member of the Coalition of the Willing.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said that the decision should be made at the level of the United Nations. After meeting with Obama, Estonia has shown some signs of wanting to get on board, but considering that it contributed 40 soldiers to the Iraq mission, Obama shouldn’t get too excited.
Obama appears to still be waiting for Hungary to even condemn the use of chemical weapons; a basic first step before moving on to more serious action. But he can hardly blame Eastern Europe for a lack of enthusiasm after he showed far too much flexibility to Vladimir Putin over the Missile Shield.
Whatever coalition will be scraped together out of Europe will be a poor shadow of the much-mocked Bush Coalition of the Willing. And its strongest partner will be the French, whose contribution will be somewhat limited by their lack of ship based missiles.
Beyond Europe the situation is not much better. South Korea and Japan are frightened enough of China to stick close to America. That’s not a triumph of diplomacy. If Obama announced tomorrow that he wanted to bomb Hawaii or Mars, Japan and South Korea would cheerfully nod along because the Yankees are the only thing standing between them and the People’s Republic of China.
New Zealand had been a part of Bush’s coalition in Iraq. But this time around, Prime Minister John Key said that the decision to intervene in Syria should be left to the United Nations.
Obama stabbed Britain in the back while pandering to Argentina. Despite that, Argentina’s treacherous Cristina Fernandez showed that she was still in the pocket of the Iranian-Venezuelan alliance by strongly condemning any military action. Not only did Obama not gain Argentina, but he also lost the UK.
El Salvador, which contributed 380 men in Iraq, has issued a statement also condemning any foreign intervention.
Senator John Kerry began his career aiding Communist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. Now as Kerry runs around trying to find a coalition for Syria, Ortega repaid Kerry’s favor by urging against further escalation of the conflict. Under Bush, Nicaragua had been a member of the Coalition of the Willing.
Meanwhile Honduras, a country that Obama alienated early on in his first term during the Zelaya Crisis by attempting and failing to impose a leftist leader on its government against the will of the country’s Supreme Court, signed on to a UNASUR declaration written by Venezuela rejecting foreign intervention and calling for a peaceful solution in Syria.
Honduras had been a member of the Coalition of the Willing and had contributed 368 troops.
Obama and Kerry had both run for office promising to repair our diplomatic ties with Europe. Instead they shattered them as for the first time in a long time the United Kingdom chose to abandon the United States.
The media clamored that Obama and Kerry would achieve diplomatically what Bush could not. Instead they couldn’t even achieve a fraction of what Bush’s team did as the men of nuance proved to have less of it than the swaggering Texas cowboy.
Not only did Obama and Kerry lose the Middle East, but they also lost Europe and Latin America.
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