Barack Obama gave himself a B+ for performance in his first 11 months in office.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's team would award him a C+ – and that's more for effort than for skill.
On Sunday, December 13, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote an appraisal of President Barak Obama's foreign policy in Foreign Affairs, in which he said: “To his credit, Obama has undertaken a truly ambitious effort to redefine the United States' view of the world and to reconnect the United States with the emerging historical context of the twenty-first century.
“He has done this remarkably well. In less than a year, he has comprehensively re-conceptualized U.S. foreign policy with respect to several centrally important geopolitical issues.”
Brzezinski counted 14 fields in which he believes Barack Obama has registered great success.
The first four important points, in the opinion of Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser and one of the architects of Obama's current foreign policy, are as follows:
? Islam is not an enemy, and the “global war on terror” does not define the United States' current role in the world;
? The United States will be a fair-minded and assertive mediator when it comes to attaining lasting peace between Israel and Palestine;
? The United States ought to pursue serious negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as other issues;
? The counterinsurgency campaign in the Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan should be part of a larger political undertaking, rather than a predominantly military one.
If all these judgments were borne out by real facts, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports, Obama would not have to rely on the passage of his health care reform bill to deserve the B+ he awarded himself in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
But they are not, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly's experts demonstrate.
Almost 10 years later, Muslims hate America more – not less
Obama's reconciliation speech on June 4 at Cairo University did nothing to improve the Muslim world's attitude towards the US. His knowledge that this was so was evident in the tenor of his Oslo address seven months later on Dec. 10, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. As his main motif, he acknowledged the “hard truth” that “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.”
He went on to stress that an American president “cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.” What he was saying was that, nearly 10 years after 9/11, the Muslim threat to the US is as powerful as ever.
President Obama went on to say:
“As a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone (Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr)” and “A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies…
Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.”
These sentiments would not have been applauded by Arabs or Muslims anywhere had they been articulated in Cairo; not surprisingly, they scarcely resonated in their media.
“Like holding water or sand in your hands”
Regarding the Middle East conflict, the Palestinians themselves would take issue with Brzezinski's rating of Obama as a “fair-minded and assertive” mediator. The most damning judgment of Obama's year-long bid to bring Israelis and Palestinians together for peace talks came from Riyadh.
“Peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] until now has been like holding water or sand in your hands,” said Saudi foreign minister Saud bin Faisal to the New York Times Wednesday, Dec. 16. “You see the amount of water, you think you can hold some in your hand, but it falls away. Sand is the same thing. So unless there is something to hold in your hand and point to as a success and an achievement, then you have done nothing.”
And no one any longer contests the sorry outcome of Obama's sincere effort to initiate a serious dialogue with Iran.
His own Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded Monday, Dec. 14 that the White House has little to show for nearly a year of diplomatic engagement with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. “I don't think anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of a positive response from the Iranians”, she said.
Likewise, American strategy in Afghanistan, up to and including the US president's announcement on Dec. 1 of his decision to dispatch another 30 thousand US troops, is not making that conflict become “part of a larger political undertaking, rather than a predominantly military one”. Just the reverse (as we reported in last week's issue #425 of Dec. 11), as 2009 edges into 2010, military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan is spilling over into Pakistan, while the flames of the al Qaeda menace are burning high in the Horn of Africa and Yemen with tongues reaching into Europe.