Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

North Korea Tests Obama View Of Impotent U.N.

April 11, 2009

The Security Council stalemate over North Korea’s rocket launch is turning into an early test of the Obama administration’s U.N.-focused multilateralism.

Six days after U.S. President Barack Obama called for swift punishment of North Korea, the Security Council hasn’t acted.

While Japan is pressing for a quick response, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice has tried to downplay expectations of immediate progress.

China and Russia have resisted a draft Security Council resolution, put forth by the U.S. and Japan, that would at a minimum enforce military and financial sanctions imposed on North Korea after its underground nuclear weapons test in October 2006.

The sanctions were never fully implemented in deference to six-party talks among Russia, China, the U.S., Japan and the two Koreas to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program. China and Russia say reviving the talks is the ultimate goal — which shouldn’t be jeopardized by punishment for the launch.

Pyongyang says its launch was an attempt to launch a satellite and not a U.N.-banned ballistic missile test as Washington contends. Before the launch, North Korea warned it wouldn’t resume the six-party talks — on hold since December — if the Security Council acts against the country.

Japan’s foreign minister arrived in New York on Thursday, saying he will join the U.N. negotiations for as long as necessary to break the stalemate.

For Mr. Obama, who pledged renewed reliance on the U.N. during his presidential campaign, the North Korean crisis presents hard choices, analysts say.

Among the possible scenarios they suggest are walking away from the U.N. and six-party talks, and working with Congress to punish North Korea with more U.S.-only sanctions. Or, President Obama might consider forcing Russia and China to veto or abstain on a resolution — and risk Pyongyang abandoning negotiations. The president also could compromise with a watered-down U.N. statement that could save the talks but lose face.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the administration’s thinking or on details of U.N. talks with Russia and China.

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a liberal think tank, said Mr. Obama’s foreign-policy team had “no illusions about how long this would take” with Russia and China. “They are looking for sustained collective action, not an immediate slap on the wrist,” he said.

Ted Galen Carpenter, an analyst at the conservative Cato Institute, sees U.S. foreign policy reverting to “the style of the Clinton administration,” which believed in operating multilaterally when possible and unilaterally when necessary. “For the Bush administration it was exactly the opposite,” he added.

Bush-administration unilateralists, some analysts say, regarded the U.N. as an obstacle to American foreign policy.

Although thwarted in seeking U.N. backing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration proceeded anyway. But on North Korea, Bush officials went from a rejection of the six-party talks to a decision that multilateral participation was the only way to end Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons ambition.

By Joe Lauria
The Wall Street Journal

History, precedent, diplomacy and war

April 11, 2009

The current President of the United States, his government and cabinet secretaries seem totally unaware of and unconcerned about the importance of history, precedent, diplomacy and war.

Precedent makes law.  And precedent and how to respond in both diplomatic settings and in a crisis tells both friends and enemies what to expect from great powers.

The precedent that the United States will respond almost immediately and with force at signs of piracy and other troubles on the high seas dates almost to the start of the Republic.  In 1804, at the very start of the U.S. Navy, war ensued with pirates off the coast of North Africa because the price of ransom paid to pirates just kept going up.

But this year we have seen the Chinese disrupt at-sea operations of a U.S. naval vessel, without much U.S. response, and now African pirates hold for ransom a U.S. merchant captain.

I guess Jimmy Carter showed the world that the U.S. would be slow to respond in hostage situations.  But Ronald Reagan and others made sure the message was sent again that toying with the American people even in far flung assignments would not be tolerated and could result in war or lesser uses of more than strong language.

But President Obama has more rapidly re-written precedent on how the U.S. will respond than any president in modern history.  That is his course to take but he needs to be aware that others have tried the soft approach before: earning Neville Chamberlain the nickname “appeaser.”

Nations usually change their diplomatic course gradually, like the gigantic ships of state that they are.  Putting the rudder over quickly toward appeasement or force has its dangers.

It would have seemed an open and shut case a few weeks ago, for example, that Presidents of the United States do not bow to anyone.

The President of the United States Barack Obama greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

The President of the United States Barack Obama greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty Images

Now that they do: what does that mean?  After two hundred years, outsiders have to see America in a new light, which is apparently what Mr. Obama wants.  But who has guessed at the consequences?  Who in team Obama is telling the president how China, Russia and the others see this great breakthrough and what it might mean?

My guess would be nobody is discussing this At the White House (who denied that a bow ocurred) or at State.  Nobody who can make an educated guess at how others will see the new U.S. and its conduct.  I base this observation on Hillary Clinton presenting her counterpart in Russia with a giant red button bearing a misspelled word and with an unclear meaning.  In most Russian experience, I believe, giant red buttons launch nuclear weapons — not improved or “reset” relations — even if you could spell the word correctly.

My real point here is this: when a few thugs at sea can hold an entire sea faring nation like the United States hostage for ransom something is certainly amiss — and a dangerous precedent could be in the making.  The precedent now being set by President Obama and his Administration is that perhaps America will cower to brigands of any and all sorts.

After all, precendent sets law so precedent bears watching.

This line of thinking would also include North Korea’s recent missile launch and the inability of the United States to make the United Nations act in a sure and responsible way in condemning that nation.  Japan has already withdrawn its demand that harsh actions be taken in response to the North Korean missile flight.  Japan’s voice is unheard without U.S. backing.

What precendent did America’s top ally in the Pacific just learn?

The message now sent by Mr. Obama around the globe is that he will bow to just about anybody at any time and on any terms.  This does not bode well for America’s future or the security of the United States and allies like Israel.

Each American has to judge for him or her self if this is good or bad.  But my experience tells me that in places like Moscow, Beijing and Tehran; leaders are seeing a new precedent set by the United States.  And that can mean mischief.

See Michelle Malkin


Was it Joe Biden, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton that thought it was a good idea to encourage Russia to just hit the “reset” button?  Well, whoever…..

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red button marked "reset" in English and "overload" in Russian.

 Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia


Barack Obama’s “Great Bow to Saudi” and the red “reset” button given to Russia are more than faux pas and less than the end of the world.  But they do certainly indicate a certain lack of professionalism and due care for diplomacy.

The almost unnoticed fact that Austrians do do speak Austrian and other errors great and small means to me that we are in for more errors unless the Obama Administration starts to do some homework and learns from the errors committed thus far….

See the “faux pas” view from the Washington Post:

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

March 9, 2009

Like it or not, the era of President Barack Obama and American weakness, real or perceived, has already emboldened many nations with long-term anti-American strategic goals: namely, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Many in the world have already concluded that Brack Obama is soft, for his overtures so far toward the Taliban, Russia, Iran and others.

Various Views On Obama Foreign Policy: “Just Like Bush” Or Radical Change?

President Obama’s move to close the terrorist prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo) was cause for applause in human rights circles and also with terrorists.

On Afghanistan, Peter Begen of the New America Foundation said “It is a longstanding cliché that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, only a political one.”  On President Obama’s idea to hold talks with the Taliban he said, “Doing deals with the Taliban today could further destabilize Afghanistan. ”

And economically, there is no dobt that the U.S. is weakened.

Just today, North Korea threatened war with the United States — a war that would certainly involve Japan and South Korea.  North Korea could not be making such threats and could not even think about testing a long range strategic missile just now unless China consented to this brazen move or at least looked the other way.  China supplies North Korea with almost all of its food, oil, luxury goods and currency.  Without China, North Korea would be impotent and meaningless.

Yet China is acceding to North Korea’s bluster and browbeating of the United States just as China itself is harassing a U.S. Naval vessel in international waters — a violation of international law.

This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean ... 
This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.(AFP/NVNS)

China doesn’t care much for international law and international waters: just ask Japan and Vietnam.  Both those nations have long struggles with China encroaching upon the coasts of Japan and Vietnam as the Chinese super power searches for more oil beneath the sea floor.

China has become the most voracious user of oil and other mineral resources on the planet as it strives to keep its factories busy producing goods for sale overseas.  China is in Afghanistan, protected from the Taliban by U.S. troops, while Chinese companies exploit Afghan copper.  And China just signed a $50 billion (U.S. dollars, cast) agreement to get oil from Russia for ten years.

Last year China was no help when the U.S. wanted access to Myanmar to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to those stricken by the cyclone.  After the crisis passed, China signed a big oil deal with Myanmar.

China wants the U.S. out of its sphere of influence from North Asia to Somalia, and is planning an ocean-going navy to eventualy make that goal a military reality.

China recently opened the largest sea port in the world, in Gwadar, Pakistan — directly astride the sea lanes used to bring out out of the Persian Gulf to Japan, the U.S. and others.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to go into debt — to China.

China allows North Korea to antagonize the United States because that is in China’s long term strategic interest — and a weakening U.S. plays into China’s strategy perfectly.

Russia also wants the U.S. out of its area of influencce.  Russia recently paid off Kyrgyzstan, which was helping the American effort in Afghanistan with an air base. Just after Russia gave  Kyrgyzstan its big aid deal, that nation announced the closure of the Manas air base supporting the U.S.

File:ManasAirbase KC135.jpg
A KC-135 Stratotanker sits on the flightline at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. Ground crews will have to de-ice the tanker before it can take off on a refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Paul Clifford)

Generous Russian loans to Kyrgyzstan totaling US$2 billion and a non-repayable US$150 million grant, were announced the day before Kyrgyzstan said Manas would be closed and the U.S. Air Force evicted.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation had been insisting on the closure of Manas to the U.S. Air Force since 2005.

What the heck is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation which was founded in 2001 by the leaders of China , Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

But the key players of the SCO are Russia and China who don’t want the U.S. or anyone else in the West anywhere near that region of the world, rich in oil and other minerals, that includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

China and Russia conducted their largest joint military exercise ever last year.

And finally Iran wants the U.S. out of the Persian Gulf, away from Arab oil, and at arms length from Isreal.

Joshua Gross wrote for the Christian Sciences Monitor today,  “Iran recently launched its first satellite into orbit in what The New York Times called, ‘a shot across the bow of American diplomacy,’ and US President Barack Obama passed along a secret letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in an attempt to enlist the Russians in an international effort to contain Iran’s nuclear program.”

The global economic crisis, which has eliminated something like $50 trillion in world wealth, has hit the United States and NATO very hard, which fuels the beliefe that Mr. Obama and the U.S. are weaker than ever just now.

That’s why Iran and North Korea are talking missiles and nukes, China has chosen just now to harass a U.S. ship, and Russia is gloating like a cat bird that Obama is already pleading for help with Iran from Putin and Medvedev….

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
March 9, 2009

Iranian clerics watch the launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile ... 
Iranian clerics watch the launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile outside Qom in 2006. A top Iranian military commander said that the country has missiles that can reach the nuclear sites of its arch-foe Israel.(AFP/File/null)

Stimulus: China Will Fund U.S. Debt But “We Hate You Guys”

Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

India, China jostle for influence in Indian Ocean

 China Extends Navy’s Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia

 China Says Its Navy Expansion “No threat to others”

 Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

 North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means”

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?

China’s thirst for copper could hold key to Afghanistan’s future

Obama says US is losing war in Afghanistan and hints at Taleban talks

Despite Global Economy Downturn, China Still Lending

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

CNN on Peter Bergen and Afghanistan:

Joshua Gross on Iran:

President Pelosi?

March 7, 2009

America has never had a woman President or Vice President but then again America has never had a woman Speaker of the House before either.

And Nancy Pelosi is unlike previous women to seek one of the nation’s top two spots, Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin: Pelosi already has a mega-job that could easily catapault her into the White House.

Sarah Palin

Pelosi is feared by Republicans and Democrats alike.  Even Barack Obam has deferred to her twice already during his brief presidency.  Obama gave Pelosi and her team the job of crafting the economic stimulus package and now he has said she will spearhead creation of the health care reform measure.

Pelosi has also revised the rules of the House to preserve her clout and control.

So Pelosi is doing much of the heavy lifting in the Obama Administration; arguably more than Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Geithner, Hillary Clinton or any of Obama’s many other czars and assistants….


By Andrew S. Ross
San Francisco Chronicle

When San Francisco’s Chamber of Commerce-led delegation meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during its stimulus-dollarhunting expedition in D.C. next week, members might want to ascertain whether the hometown Democrat is rowing in the same direction as President Obama. Recent media reports suggest not. Pelosi’s “snubbing” of Republicans as she fast-tracked the stimulus package, according to a Newsweek story last week, denied the president some measure of the bipartisan support he sought. “Pelosi was very publicly undercutting the president,” an administration official is quoted as saying. “Obama wants that to stop.”

Pelosi says the story “couldn’t be further from the truth.” “The speaker agrees with him on almost every issue, although there will be disagreements on some things,” Brendan Daly, Pelosi’s communications director, told me. But the story did leave some bruised feelings. “Some of the Obama people said things they shouldn’t be saying,” said another Pelosi supporter.

And the speaker did halt another Obama initiative in its tracks – the establishment of a blue ribbon-style Social Security panel to figure out how to keep the program from going bankrupt. “The speaker thinks a new commission isn’t necessary,” said Daly. “This can be done in Congress.” Pelosi has told House committee chairs to include Social Security reform in federal spending hearings she wants held.

One suspects the necessary changes to Social Security won’t be fast-tracked any time soon.

US President Barack Obama (R) sits with House Speaker Nancy ... 
US President Barack Obama (R) sits with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) at a dinner for congressional committee chairmen at the White House in Washington, March 4, 2009.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES)

What Church for Obama?

December 21, 2008

A Washington Post reporter said the newspaper had called 16 churches to see if they’d heard anything about the first family’s intended place of worship. The white churches responded, eager to share their lobbying efforts to win the Obamas as parishioners. The black churches didn’t respond; they didn’t want to play, said the reporter. “They don’t trust us,” she said, explaining that after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright experience, black church leaders think the media are waiting to descend on them looking for inflammatory sound bites, sifting through tapes and examining church bulletins for anything that might offend white America.

St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House

Black religious leaders did not stand up for Wright even as they understood and sympathized with the prophetic theology he was steeped in. He had jeopardized Obama’s candidacy and so he disappeared, but the internal fight, much of it generational, continues. Wright has since eased himself back into Trinity Church in Chicago, alongside his successor, Otis Moss III, a voice of the future. The rise of Obama highlighted a cadre of black professionals who, like Obama, were not shaped by the civil-rights battles of the ’60s, or steeped in family memories of slavery and Jim Crow. “We look different; we sound different,” says Eddie S. Glaude Jr., a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton who spoke at the Pew conference. “Historically locked out of black politics because we didn’t march, we now have Ph.D.s and J.D.s,” he said, describing this group, of which he is one, as “post-soul babies.” Along with Obama, they are finding their political voices, and the traditional brokers like the Reverend Wright and the Rev. Jesse Jackson are vulnerable, caught in the generational divide that is confounding the black community.

Obama campaigned as the candidate who could bring…

By Eleanor Clift

Read the rest:

Russians Say Medvedev, Obama to Meet “Soon After Jan 20 Inauguration”

December 18, 2008

The Russian news agency Novosti says that Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will meet shortly after the new American president is inaugurated in January, 2009.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said,  according to the Russian News Agency, that President-elect Obama had agreed in a telephone conversation with Mr. Medvedev on November 8 to “arrange a top-level meeting soon after President Obama’s inauguration.” 

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev returns after inspecting a ... 
Russia President Dmitry Medvedev
Photo: AP

Lavrov made the comment after a meeting in Moscow with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar on Thursday.

A U.S. State Department source told Peace and Freedom this is additional pressure on Mr. Obama from the Russian government.

Earlier this week, John Rood, the State Department’s top arms control official, said the Russian government is likely to “test the mettle” of Barack Obama and his administration by taking a tougher stance against U.S. missile defenses.

Within hours of Barack Obama’s election, Medvedev said he would deploy Iskander nuclear-armed missiles to eastern Europe unless the U.S. backed off its deal on missile defense for Poland and the Czech Republic.  Medvedev later backed off that claim.

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

Russia Will Test Obama on Arms Control, Missile Defense — Diplomat

China is also trying to be at the top of the Obama agenda:
 Obama, U.S. Need Not Kowtow To China


MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama shortly after the latter is inaugurated in Washington on January 20, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday.

Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting in Moscow with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar on Thursday that Medvedev and Obama had agreed in a telephone conversation on November 8 to “arrange a top-level meeting soon after President Obama’s inauguration.”

He also added that Moscow was ready to discuss issues on which the two sides had differences in a frank and open manner.

“Russia is prepared for that and we hope that the new administration in Washington will also be ready to discuss any issue on the basis of mutual respect,” Lavrov said.

Russia-U.S. relations have been frayed by Washington’s plans to deploy elements of a missile shield to Central Europe, Russia’s five-day war with Georgia over South Ossetia in August, and NATO’s eastward expansion.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently said he expected Russia’s relations with the United States to improve after Obama takes office in January. His words were echoed by Medvedev.

Obama said earlier this month that he wanted to “reset” relations between Washington and an “increasingly assertive” Moscow. “They’re increasingly assertive. And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they have been acting in a way that is contrary to international norms,” Obama told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“We want to cooperate with them where we can, and there are a whole host of areas particularly around nonproliferation of weapons and terrorism where we can cooperate, but we also have to send a clear message that they have to act in ways that are not bullying their neighbors,” Obama went on.,2933,469404,00.html

Testing O's spine in Europe.
Mr. Medvedev.  Photo by AP

Gay Leaders Furious with Obama Over Rick Warren

December 18, 2008

Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that – in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California – is looking for a fight.


Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, opposes abortion rights but has taken more liberal stances on the government role in fighting poverty, and backed away from other evangelicals’ staunch support for economic conservatism. But it’s his support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church

“Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” the president of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday. “[W]e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.”

By Ben Smith, Nia-Malika Henderson

The rapid, angry reaction from a range of gay activists comes as the gay rights movement looks for an opportunity to flex its political muscle. Last summer gay groups complained, but were rebuffed by Obama, when an “ex-gay” singer led Obama’s rallies in South Carolina. And many were shocked last month when voters approved the California ban.

“There is a lot of energy and there’s a lot of anger and I think people are wanting to direct it somewhere,” Solomonese told Politico.

Read the rest:

In this Aug. 16, 2008 file photo, then Democratic presidential ...
In this Aug. 16, 2008 file photo, then Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, joins Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, for a discussion on moral issues. Aretha Franklin will sing, Warren will pray and more than 11,000 U.S. troops will be watching over the ceremonies in case of a terrorist attack during President-elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration.(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)