Is it Foreign Policy – Stupid?


Georgy Gounev – georgygounev@yahoo.com – June 8, 2012 Let’s make it abundantly clear from the very beginning; what is absent from the intensifying election campaign of 2012 is a serious discussion on the numerous foreign policy challenges the country is facing. The only issue which both President Obama and Governor Romney are able to see eye-to-eye on is a silent consent to ignore the issues of foreign policy.
Most probably, the reason for this strange unanimity and the even stranger neglect is rooted in the belief that foreign policy challenges don’t matter during the times of economic troubles.
This concept is deeply wrong. Even the most superficial glance at the relationship between foreign policy and the economy undoubtedly will show a powerful impact of the former over the later. The calamity inflicted by a terrorist network or an American military misadventure in the wrong place and the wrong time would have a devastating impact on the economy.
There are critically important issues involving the protection of the national interests and the national security of the United States that should enter the perimeter of the discussion between both rivals. Given the immensity of this subject area let’s concentrate on the most important challenges the United States is facing in the Middle East.
It could be argued that President Obama will wait for the post Labor Day final stage of the campaign before unleashing his big offensive related to foreign policy and national security. Its magnitude most probably will enhance the positivity of the message sugar coated by the President’s Hollywood friends. By the way, currently they are in a hurry to make a movie showing the American people the brilliant operation of the Special Forces that ended with the elimination of Osama bin Laden. Although not so directly, the movie will imply how brave and smart Mr. Obama was in approving such an important operation.
Undoubtedly, President Obama deserves credit for his decision to launch such a daring, high risk endeavor. He will also be right to point out that for a year his drones wiped out almost the entire leadership of the Pakistani branch of Al Qaeda and also inflicted some casualties on the Yemeni jihadists.
What the President won’t mention is the fact that his successes in the fight against the most dangerous enemy America has ever known are TACTICAL achievements. At the same time, as far as STRATEGY is concerned, President Obama’s foreign policy in the most sensitive areas of national security so far could only be described as a DISASTER.
Let’s start with terminology. Mr. Obama’s administration is afraid even to define the enemy by name. In the politically correct, but otherwise deceiving and incorrect vocabulary of the President, the seemingly endless conflict America is involved in is the “War on Terror,” while the terrorists are just “extremists.”
The very term terror is justifiable while describing the method the American enemies are using but doesn’t have the capacity to identify them by name. The only correct term defining the ideology of the terrorists the President has found absolutely impossible to pronounce is Islamic Fundamentalism, or Islamic Totalitarianism.
Mr. Obama’s fear of using the right term is due to one of the many wrong premises of his foreign policy concept. According to him it is possible for the United States to find a peaceful alternative to the war with Islamic Fundamentalism. As far as the conflict in Afghanistan is concerned, Mr. Obama’s approach reminds us of the hopes of many European politicians of the 1930’s , who were trying to find a common language with the Nazis for the sake of finding a peaceful solution to the European problems…
In today’s world there is no hope to find a non-violent alternative to the dangerous hostilities by negotiating with murderous fanatics whose final goal is the establishment of an Islamo-totalitarian global tyranny bearing the exotic name of Caliphate…
Maybe at least some of those issues will be brought about after Labor Day by Governor Romney’s campaign. Until then however the time factor requires a serious discussion over the issues of foreign policy and national security between the rivals for the White House. This necessity is determined by the potentially disastrous impact some wrong choices could have upon the national security of the country and ultimately upon the American economy.

For instance neither of the rivals has explained to the American people the consequences to the United States of an Israeli attack upon Iran. Let’s mention just two of them. On the one hand the world is about to see an outbreak of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism never seen since the times of Adolph Hitler. On the other hand, in the aftermath of such an attack the gas prices will soar and most probably will surpass the current European level of around $9 per gallon. Actually the only beneficiary of an Israeli strike on Iran will be Russia which needs an oil price of between $115 and $117 per barrel just to balance its budget.
Another important question to both rivals would be what kind of strategy the winner of the 2012 elections will offer with regard to the Syrian crisis? The policy of the current administration so far has been wrong because of the misrepresentation of the nature of the crisis by diplomats and the media. What is going on in Syria is a civil war between the Alawite minority from which the ruling Assad clan came from, and a motley opposition ranging from secular democrats to hard core Islamic fundamentalists.
Similarly to the situation in Tunisia and Egypt, the best organized component of the opposition is the Islamist one; it has proven its ability to organize large scale acts of terror. The question for the November winner would be: Will he be ready to support a military action against the Assad regime or rather would he consider the danger of bringing the radical Islamists to power?
Finally, the situation in Egypt poses yet another very important question. Given that the Muslim Brotherhood has a real chance to assume the control over the entire state organization, what will be the policy of the winner in 2012 with regard to the emergence of an Egyptian variation of the Algerian scenario from the mid 1990’s? In other words, what will be the reaction of the 2012 winner if the Egyptian Army turns against a Muslim Brotherhood government in order to prevent the complete Islamification of the country?
All those issues represent just a small portion of the questions the rivals for the presidency should debate in front of the American people BEFORE November 2012. Do we have to remind ourselves that it will be too late to discuss them in December?
Georgy Gounev
Gounev authored “The Dark Side of the Crescent Moon “– exploring in depth radical Islam. Also, he analyzed the wartime relationship between Roosevelt and Stalin.

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