THE SPINE NOVEMBER 30, 2010
Just about every principle of President Obama's foreign policy has been exposed as, at best, stupid and, at worst, treacherous.
As of this writing, there have been no statements from the president. But it takes time to construct an appropriate apologia for such a wholesale disaster for such a haughty man.
So, in the meantime, Hillary Clinton (why is she almost always called Hillary Rodham Clinton? is there another Hillary Clinton out there somewhere?) has been sent out to stem the damage. If the damage can be stemmed, that is.
The evidence of her face suggests that she is very doubtful that it can. Please take a look at the desperate Win Mcnamee/Getty image on the front page of Tuesday's International Herald Tribune. Still, her visage aside, Hillary's words are frantic. The I.H.T. headline capsulizes them thusly: "Clinton says leaks attack the world, not just U.S."
And here are her words verbatim: "The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information." "Strongly condemns?" These are words she has recently used against Bibi Netanyahu. Though not, if I recall correctly, against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But who exactly is she so forcefully condemning in the name of the most powerful country in the world? Well, there is the possessed Australian WikiLeaks Julian Assange, now on the run but reportedly in Jordan (which I doubt), and then 22 year-old U.S. Army Intelligence Specialist Bradley Manning, now in the brig already for six months.
This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity. I am confident that the partnerships that the Obama administration worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge.
Hillary clearly was nervous: "worked so hard to build?" O.K., let her off. Why wasn't Obama taking responsibility for such dreck? But, frankly, I don't trust anybody who utters the words "international community" which constitute nothing less than an oxymoron. But I think they are a deliberate lie. A lie by which our diplomats live. (Take Susan Rice who still says that American membership in the U.N. Human Rights Council advances its truthfulness and probity.)
The fact is that Hillary Clinton is the "fall-guy" in this matter. It is the president who is at fault, to blame, responsible. It is his foreign policy, for God's sake, and it is an utter failure.
In pursuit of gaudy symbolic action during the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to shut down Guantanamo. Big deal! What in the end he had to do was to farm out prisoners to any country that would take them since the sovereign states of the United States would not. So when he was president he tried heavy-handed diplomacy on poor and small countries. Mostly, this "haggling," as the Herald Tribune termed it in its article on the fate of the prison on the tip of Cuba, was a flop.
The administration offered the Slovenian president a 20 minute visit with Obama in exchange for "doing more" for "prisoner resettlement." Lithuania ultimately refused to take a prisoner. So did Norway which had, so to speak, bestowed on Obama his Nobel Peace Prize. Finland also refused to admit prisoners but under threat from China. The proposed prisoners were Chinese Muslim Uighers. An elaborate venture of putting prisoners in Yemen exploded with al-Qaeda terrorism against the regime. Various transfer programs fell apart in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, even Afghanistan. Oh, and, yes, the principality of Luxembourg. This is a joke. John O. Brennan, for whom you may recall I do not have much respect, ran much of this utterly failed program. He will still be haughty. Of course.
I am off to teach my Tel Aviv students (Israeli kids and children of foreign workers). And I am flying back to America for a fortnight early, early tomorrow morning. This SPINE is not yet finished. But here is its beginning. I hope to get it finished on the airplane. But I can't promise.