After all Jimmy Carter is the Micheal Jordan of Presidential Foreign Policy Screw-ups. On President Jimmy Carter’s watch, more territory was lost to tyranny than at any other time since Yalta. But Con Coughlin of the UK paper the Telegraph ask if Obama could be as bad as Carter.
WOW those are pretty big shoes to fill.
In 1982, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s U.N. ambassador, perfectly summed up the Carter administration:
If he didn’t get thrown out of office after one term the best case scenario is that along with the war on terror we would still be in the midst of the cold war. I shudder to think of what the worst case would be.
Well according to Con Coughlin of the UK paper the Telegraph that worse case may just very well be a President Barack Obama:
By Con Coughlin
Over the course of the primary season, Barack Obama has demonstrated an unerring ability to reach out to all Americans, irrespective of ethnic background or social status. He is a black man who was born on the wrong side of the tracks, but his campaign has been refreshingly devoid of the divisive race agenda that characterised the bids of black politicians such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in the 1980s and 1990s.
Barack Obama seems to be realising that his policies are
not only naive, but are also utterly unworkable
His simple promise to undertake a radical change in the way the country is run has struck a chord with a nation that has become disillusioned with the Bush Administration’s reputation for deceit and arrogance, particularly with regard to the war on terror.
Americans have, of course, been here before: in 1976, sickened by Watergate, they elected a naïve and inexperienced peanut farmer from Georgia to clear away the cynicism that came to define the Nixon era. From the moment he took office in January 1977, President Jimmy Carter made it clear that he wanted to make a new start in America’s relations with the rest of the world. Gone was the hard-nosed Realpolitik of Henry Kissinger. Mr Carter transformed US policy by insisting that human rights be placed at the top of the agenda – with disastrous results.
The main reason the Shah of Iran, a key ally in Washington’s attempts to keep the Soviet Union at bay in the Gulf, had managed to survive was the ruthless efficiency of his CIA-trained Savak security service. But after Mr Carter hosted a state visit in Washington for the Shah and Empress of Iran in November 1977, the Pahlavi dynasty was encouraged to release hundreds of political prisoners, with the result that, two years later, the Shah was overthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. We are still trying to come to terms with the consequences.
One of the less appealing aspects of Mr Obama’s campaign has been the support he has attracted from Mr Carter who, seemingly oblivious to his handling of the Iran debacle (which culminated in 66 Americans being held hostage in Tehran for 444 days), has not been shy about offering his advice. Mr Carter was at it again this week, counselling Mr Obama against making Hillary Clinton his running mate.
Like Mr Carter, Mr Obama is an outsider who was relatively unknown before he decided to make his run for the White House. And like Mr Carter, Mr Obama appears determined to undertake a radical change in the way Washington does business with the outside world; changes that could have the same disastrous consequences for America and the rest of the world as Mr Carter’s policy.
# Read more from Con Coughlin
Take Mr Obama’s attitude towards Iran. Until this week, Mr Obama consistently argued that Iran poses no more of a threat than countries such as Venezuela or Cuba, and that the controversy over Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme could easily be resolved by the simple expedient of sitting down and talking to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mr Obama might not know it, but this is precisely what Europe has been trying to do these past four years. The so-called EU3 – Britain, France and Germany – has done nothing else but talk to Mr Ahmadinejad’s regime in an attempt to negotiate a solution to the nuclear crisis.
Alas, these painstaking negotiations have been to no avail. Having exploited the West’s good intentions for nearly four years, the Iranians simply tore up all the agreements and resumed uranium enrichment which, at the current rate of progress, could give them enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead next year.
Mr Obama’s approach to Iraq is equally ill-considered. Having opposed the campaign to remove Saddam’s regime from the start, Mr Obama wants to withdraw the 200,000 or so American troops currently deployed at the earliest opportunity – 18 months is the most likely time-frame.
But undertaking a unilateral withdrawal at precisely the moment the country is starting to recover from the trauma of the past five years would hardly be in America’s interest. Just as the military surge orchestrated by General David Petraeus has succeeded in destroying the power base of the insurgent groups that have tried so hard to provoke all-out civil war, Mr Obama would be abandoning Iraq to the very groups that want to destroy it.
US presidential election 2008
Mr Obama’s policies are not just naïve; they are unworkable, a fact he now seems belatedly to have taken on board. Addressing the annual conference of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby group, in Washington on Wednesday night, Mr Obama declared that he would do “everything in my power” to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
Even if he was vague about precisely how he intends to do this, it is a welcome improvement on his previous policy statements on Iran. But if he really wants to reassure the American public, and the wider world, that he has the credentials to be an effective world leader, he needs to give a lot more thought to how he will tackle the great security challenges of our age, whether it be protecting us from the designs of Islamist terrorists or the nuclear ambitions of crazed dictators.
Otherwise, I fear that Osama bin Laden and his chums will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of Mr Obama becoming the 44th President of the United States of America.