Saturday, February 21, 2015

John Bolton op-ed: The Too Little, Too Late Presidency

Obama’s temporizing has been his foreign-policy trademark, from Iran and Syria to Libya and Ukraine.
With the supposed cease-fire in eastern Ukraine a mirage, the White House can soon be expected to return to its public pondering of whether to supply Kiev’s military with lethal aid to fend off the Russian-backed insurgency. If President Obama finally does decide to send antitank weapons and other hardware the Ukrainians have pleaded for, it will be only the latest example of the administration’s too-little-too-late temporizing.
Indecisiveness is the predominant characteristic of how Mr. Obama executes U.S. national-security policy. Undoubtedly there are other influences: ideological blinders; mistrust of America’s presence in the world; inadequate interest, knowledge, focus and resolve. But in implementing his policies, good or bad, the president has shown that equivocating is what he does best.
Mr. Obama’s approach is the polar opposite of the “energy in the executive” that Alexander Hamilton advocated in Federalist No. 70, especially in foreign policy. The unitary presidency, not Congress, possesses “decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch” so necessary for high statecraft. This president’s record of dithering is long and depressing.
In June 2009 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ’s rigged presidential election in Iran spurred massive, peaceful protests. For several days Mr. Obama declined to address the ayatollahs’ unleashing of the Basiji militia against innocent civilians, prompting dissenters to make signs asking, “Are you with us or against us?” The Revolutionary Guards were certainly against them—and the Green Movement was brutally repressed. By the time Mr. Obama finally spoke out, haltingly, the moment had passed, and the Islamic Revolution had stabilized.
Similar hesitation applies to Mr. Obama’s handling of Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program. He has relied on negotiations and sanctions to transform Iran’s weapons infrastructure into a “peaceful” program, but this approach has consistently failed. To be effective, sanctions must be comprehensive (targeting only named individuals or firms is easily circumvented); universally accepted (not true here, as China and Russia repeatedly demonstrate); and vigorously enforced. The Obama administration’s episodic, negligently enforced Iran sanctions meet none of these tests.
President Obama chronically disregards the integral relationship between diplomacy and force. His foreign-policy mantra that “all options are on the table” regarding Iran proves the point. What from some presidents might sound ominous, from Mr. Obama sounds pro forma.
Read the rest of the op-ed HERE and view a related WSJ Opinion Video below:

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