Obama’s Absentee Foreign Policy

The president doesn’t seem to be taking seriously his role as commander-in-chief.

By SHARE
EC_131023_summers.jpg

During the Democrats' 2008 presidential primary, the campaign of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ran an ad that attracted a lot of attention. It asked voters which candidate for president, Clinton or then-Sen. Barack Obama, they wanted answering the phone at 3 o'clock in the morning during a breaking crisis.

It did Clinton little good – and that may be because it asked the wrong question. It's not who was better prepared to answer the phone in a crisis at 3 o'clock in the morning; it's whether there'd be anyone around to answer the phone at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

President Obama's conduct of foreign policy, to be kind, has been somewhat lackluster. It's true the troops (well most of them anyway) are on the way home from Iraq and Afghanistan as he promised they would be. Other than that he's sent the wrong signals just about every time a crisis has been in the offing.

He blew it on Syria, taking the United States to the brink of war unnecessarily until he was rudely shoved to the side by Russian President Vladimir Putin. People are still asking for an explanation of what happened during the tragedy at Benghazi and why U.S. troops were not sent to the rescue of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans pinned down in the consulate there.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Syria.]

Events in Egypt were mishandled as was the overall situation in Libya. The U.S. has been caught spying on its allies, most recentgly German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Obama seems to be inching toward a "rapprochement" without conditions with Iran, something he indicated during his first run for president he would not do.

He should think twice. As The Guardian, a prominent British newspaper is reporting, Iran appears to have givens the Russians a copy of the U.S. Scan/Eagle drone as proof they have reengineered and are now mass producing a sensitive piece of American military hardware.

"Iran has given Russia a copy of a US spy drone as proof that its elite forces have reverse-engineered and mass produced the American unmanned aerial vehicle they claim to have captured a year ago," The Guardian said Monday. "Iranian media reported (Sunday) that the copy of the ScanEagle drone was provided to Russia on the sidelines of a meeting in Tehran between Farzad Esmayeeli, the air defence commander of Khatam al-Anbia, the Revolutionary Guards' military and industrial base, and Viktor Bondarev, head of the Russian air force."

It did not get too much attention at the time but during the 2012 presidential campaign allegations surfaced that the Iranians had captured a U.S.-made drone that had crashed while on assignment in Iraq. No one made much of it at the time except for the comment that the White House had lamely asked for it back.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Iran.]

It is becoming all too clear that Barack Obama does not take seriously his responsibilities as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. He bristles at the suggestion he is playing politics with the military but it seems that is exactly what he is doing. And if an issue overseas doesn't help him here at home he ignores it, jeopardizing America's standing in the world as well as the nation's security.

Fortunately for the president and his national security team, the disaster that is the roll out of Obamacare coming closely on the heels of the partial shutdown of the U.S. government have pushed most foreign policy matters off the front page. So he gets a break on this latest story out of Iran, unwarranted though it may be. Allowing the Iranians to mass produce sensitive drone technology is a serious matter. It is a threat to our remaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, to allies like Israel and Jordan, to Saudi Arabia, and to U.S. naval forces stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean protecting commercial ships participating in global commerce. Iran is not to be trusted yet that seems to be exactly where Obama is headed.

If he has a plan to deal with this, he ought to let the American people in on it. The government of Iran – as opposed to the Iranian people – has been at war with the United States since 1979. They may now be positioned to use our latest military technology against the U.S. and its interests. And it seems no one is around to answer the call.

  • Read Leslie Marshall: Republicans Ignore Facts on Obamacare, Jobs and the Nevada School Shooting
  • Read Susan Milligan: The AP Was Wrong to Fire a Reporter Over False Terry McAuliffe Story
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad