Big Hat, No Cattle

Having failed to find our Foreign Policy Ass with two hands and a flashlight for the last two years, it’s just too late for the US to have a positive impact on Syria. The downside, however, is significant.

The realpolitik choice is simple; Bashar Assad wins or al Qaeda affiliated groups win. If Assad wins it is also a victory for Russia, Iran and Hiz’bAllah. The uncomfortable reality is that if Assad wins things will quiet down relatively quickly or if you will they will be harshly suppressed. If the likes of the Al Nusra front wins look for hard core sectarian violence as Shia and Sunni take to the streets to resolve the sectarian control issues and punish the Alawite ruling minority.

No matter who wins we’ve effectively positioned ourselves to be viewed as a loser. If Assad wins we lose because we made firm declarations; “he has to go”, and “chemical weapons are a red line”. Now that we’re ‘sure’ chemical weapons were used we will ‘consult with allies’. The world sees the current American administration for what it is; big hat, no cattle! Lots of talk, very little walk!

If Al Nusra and its allies win, another country falls to Islamist control. Wow, what an Arab Spring we have had; Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria all fall to Islamist control.

And then there is Jordan. Reporting indicates that we’ve ‘left behind’ a few F16’s, just in case, and that there are 300 Marines in Jordan to coordinate any involvement we may decide on. This puts Jordan in terrible jeopardy. Association with America under this administration seems to carry a terrible burden; just ask the Poles, the Czechs, Mubarak, Gaddafi or for that matter, Israel.

Leading Democrats, in this iteration, former Rep. Jane Harmon is confident of Secretary Kerry’s ability to convince the Russian Foreign Secretary to agree to Syrian peace talks; really? The Same John Kerry who sat, like a miscreant child waiting for the school Principal, while Vlad Putin played power games by keeping him waiting for an hour and a half. Kerry, instead of walking out, sat like the subservient troll he is until Vlad deigned to see him. Global message delivered! We are not going to convince the Russians of anything! The Russians have been playing with us for years and there is nothing we have done that would indicate to them that it is in their interests to change their ways.

If you’re in the Middle East and you’re shopping for allies, look at it from their point of view. Russia has, despite international pressure, not pulled the plug on the Iranian nuclear connection. Bashar Assad has been pillaged by the International Community; Russia hangs by its ally. Russia said nyet to sanctions for years. What price have the Russians paid? Zero! What can we offer the Russians that will be more important than their warm water port in Syria? What can we offer the Russians that would look better to them than they’re current campaign to complicate and destabilize US policy across the globe; Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, North Korea, China?

Vlad takes an exceptionally harsh view of what happened to the Soviet Union as a result of the Cold War. He remains committed to a rising Russia and a declining America; it is his guiding strategic initiative and the evidence of Russian fingerprints is everywhere.

Before we intervene in Syria we have to answer a very fundamental question; are we ready to take on Russia and its allies, Cold War style. If so, who will our surrogates be? The answer to the rhetorical question is that there is only one potential surrogate beyond a weakened Jordan; Israel! It would have been nice if we’d treated them better as we may have to depend on them in the future as we have in the past.

  • Bob


    In regard to Russia destabilizing U.S. policy in the countries you mentioned obviously the “containment policy” which was so popular during the Cold War has been abandoned.Seeing that Russia is only 23 years from it’s own “Spring revolt” in your opinion what is the cause of American foreign policy evolving/digression (depending on your view)in regard to the Middle East.Has the views and agenda of our country changed over the past 25 years? President Clinton and President Obama have both been more concerned with domestics issues while President Bush was forced to wage a war against terrorism. Has American leaders been focused on other agendas than foreign policy or simply weak and determining foreign policy from circumstance to circumstance? Does Russia hold the “China card” this time around? Is the Jewish-American vote going Democrat in the last election a sign that America is willing to give up Israel? Will our weakened economy have any effect as it did with the Soviet Union?

    My personal opinion is not only has any sort of foreign policy or doctrine been abandoned but the leadership not only in the White House but the State Department has seriously eroded as far as any foreign affairs experts or “Wise Men”as they were dubbed during the early years of the Cold War.When the people lose confidence in the government there generally is a reason and it trickles down to all levels including the way foreigners perceive us.

  • Bob,

    In general the digression of American Foreign Policy is primarily a function of Presidential priorities. In our case it is no longer possible to view the President as a ‘moderate’; he is a leftists in his heart and soul. Leftists take a more collectivist of foreign policy. This view explains among other things why we’ve been so ‘easy’ on Islamist governments. It explains turning our backs on Poland. It explains billions to Egypt while Christians are murdered on a weekly basis, their churches blown up. It explains aid to Hamas. It explains that when subjected to terrorism the President’s first instinct is to warn us not to overact. Really???The collectivist view embraces a degree of relativism that creates a blind spot concerning actual evil.

    The collectivist in foreign policy wants to be loved. The realist wants to be respected, even if that respect must be the result of fear.

    We have been engaged in appeasement with Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran etc. We KNOW that in the end it turns back on you, history is clear about what appeasement results in when there are big issues at stake.

    As a closing thought I pose a question by which a comparative analysis is quite clear.

    Who is the toughest country in North America on issues of foreign policy? Answer; CANADA!!! Canada has taken stances based on their own moral center and THEY DON’T CARE WHAT THE BAD GUYS THINK!!!!!

    Neither do I. I want the bad guys to care what we think not the other way around.

  • Bob

    Everything you say is true although I wasn’t just talking about the current administrations lack of any foreign policy but over the past 25 years. Granted BOTH THE BUSH presidency was forced into a quasi foreign policy dictated by situations involving the Middle East. Geo. Herbert Walker Bush did however end the First Gulf War before it was viable and was warned by Margaret Thatcher early on “Don’t go wobbily on me”. “W” meanwhile insisted on following up with nation building in order to establish democracy which has been proven the wrong road on numerous occasions in our history. The two Democrat presidents in this time span vary on basing foreign policy on “humanitarian aid” to continuation of the previous administrations role. During this 25 year time frame I can’t think of a Secretary of State who made a difference and was worth a bucket of spit.

    I believe Presidents shouldn’t take credit for actions that he had no other option but to take….it’s his duty. You are sworn to protect the nation and it’s citizens do it!(see Benghazi)They should however have a policy or doctrine set to follow where it doesn’t seem to the world we are winging it from incident to incident. If you are “The Leader Of The Free World”….ACT LIKE IT ! Where government doesn’t lose the confidence of the country by seeming we are in perpetual war for no other reason than strictly monetary gains. Where we set no politically correct, strategic bombing limitations or time frame perimeters on how to engage in fighting the war. This isn’t “Gameboy”. Finally like you I want the BAD GUYS to think twice of the repercussions before they make any threatening move against the United States.

    Postscript: Upon re-reading your post and relating it to my thought above I realize you weren’t just talking about the current administration.Leftist appeasement has been the foreign policy standard the past 25 years.

  • Bob

    The results of the current administrations handling of foreign policy is covered in an article on the “Foreign Policy” website entitled “The Dilemmas Of Cold Fish Diplomacy” by Daniel Drezner.

  • Bob,

    Obama does not WANT to be the leader of the free world. He sees America as too big, too rich, too interventionist. His policy statements and musings are proof positive that he wants America to be a part of the whole, not leading the whole.

    He sees the future, as do many leftists, as one great big happy global family with everyone having an equal say. This is a case of ideology (Marxist ideology) overwhelming the facts and realities on the ground. Does anyone think that the rising Islamist tide wants anything other than a dominating role? Anyone unaware of that intention is simply unaware of the threat and the intentions.

    One need only to sample the sermons that come out of Friday prayers in the Islamic world to see it for what it is. It’s not what I say it’s what they say, their intentions. To study their history is to be left with the unassailable view that Islam is an Imperialistic movement with generational arrogance regarding their place in the world. That place in their opinion is on top!

    Our foreign policy ignores those facts. The appointment of Islamic appeaser John Brennan to the CIA is proof enough! That appointment is a guarantee that the appeasement of the Islamic world will continue, perhaps until they smack us again, and again!