'Realpolitik' is a 19th century term meaning to conduct a pragmatic foreign policy based on a cold calculation of reality. Criticized for its lack of lack of paramount concern for morality, democracy and other considerations, it long marked America's foreign policy and perhaps reached its zenith under President Nixon, with his trip to China and his negotiation of an end to the Vietnam War begun by the Democrats. So how would one describe Obama's foreign policy, which seems to be unconnected from reality and wholly lacking in pragmatism?
When Obama took office in 2009, Libya was neutral. Egypt and Yemen were both under the control of pro-Western dictators. Iraq had been won and was under U.S. influence. Syria was stable, if then an ally of Iran. Al-Qaeda had been defeated on the battlefield of their choice and was on its heels. Turkey was still a nominal ally. Iran was beginning to feel real pain from economic sanctions designed to punish that country for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Afghanistan needed attention. And the role of Islam in promoting terrorism was very much at issue.
Today, Libya has been destabilized by a U.S. "led-from-behind" coup and is now a home base for ISIS radicals. Obama supported a coup against pro-Western Egyptian dictator Mubarak, only to see the nation fall under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological parent of al Qaeda and virtually all other Sunni terrorist groups. Since then a second coup led to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and Obama has maintained very cool relations with the new, pro-Western government of al-Sisi, going so far as to suspend military aid at a time when that nation is increasingly coming under fire from radical Islamists. Obama squandered our hard won victory in Iraq, leaving that nation to fall under the ever greater influence of neighboring Iran. Syria, which fell into a revolt led by pro-Western rebels, was ignored by the Obama administration until, now, it is nothing more than a war for spoils between the ISIS and Iran. Turkey has become ever more a home to Islamists and less an ally.
If that were all, one would be forced to conclude that the Obama foreign policy has been one misstep after another based on mistaken but perhaps reasonable assessments of reality. But that is not all. When one adds in considerations of Yemen and Iran, it's apparent that the Obama administration is not merely mistaken in its assessments, it is completely disconnected from reality.
As to Iran, it is still the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism, still dedicated to the export of its Khomeinist Revolution, and still a mortal enemy of this nation and it has the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands. And yet, Obama has suspended sanctions, removed Iran from a list of terrorists, and now appears ready to make a deal with Iran that would allow them to keep their nuclear program active. Before 2009, I warned that Obama would be the second coming of Chamberlain, likely to try and appease Iran. I was wrong. As Bookworm Room points out, Obama has been infinitely worse, for he appears not merely reasonably mistaken in his assessments, but fully and knowingly willing to make a deal with the devil. The belief that giving a bloody, rogue regime carte blanche to continue developing a nuclear weapons capability will somehow be, in the words of Tom Friedman, transformational in any sort of positive sense for this nation, is pure insanity. It is a recipe for further destabilizing the Middle East.
And then there is Yemen. Within the past week, Iranian backed rebels have driven not merely the government of that country out of the capital, but U.S. diplomatic and military forces as well. It is a disaster. Six months ago, Obama was claiming that Yemen was not merely a counterterrorism success, but a blueprint for future operations. And today . . . his administration is still making that claim, calling Yemen a "template that has succeeded."
It that is success, then the word failure has no meaning. This is actually frightening in its lack of any grounding in reality.
The Obama administration is the anti-Nixon in the foreign policy arena. This is a foreign policy based on fantasy for which there is no word in our historic or political science lexicon. A new word must be created, and the most apt would seem to be "unrealpolitik." And the scariest part of it all is that Obama still has near two more years to do untold damage to our nation's national security.
Thursday, March 26, 2015