- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama is hosting two high-level international meetings in a week. He is offering his solutions to global economic and security issues. It’s doubtful the rest of the world is listening.

Mr. Obama’s international stature has decreased markedly since the heady days when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after only 11 days in office. He has done little to earn the “down payment” prize, and now foreign leaders expect little from him. In that respect, he lives down to expectations.

Mr. Obama’s address at the opening of the NATO conference is a case in point. He discussed his plan to “responsibly” end the war in Afghanistan, which is itself a misnomer; the war will not end, just NATO’s involvement. He made the same points he’s been making for months, stressing that the withdrawal of U.S. forces doesn’t mean abandoning Afghanistan, even though most observers believe that’s exactly what is happening. “As Afghans stand up,” Mr. Obama said, “they will not stand alone.” The phrase comes across as just too pat. The president doesn’t believe it, the Afghans don’t believe it, and the speechwriter who put the line in the teleprompter probably didn’t believe it either.

NATO leaders from Eastern Europe no doubt remember the incident in March when an open mic caught a private moment the U.S. president had with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev. “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” he said. “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” The comments suggested that whatever Mr. Obama might say publicly about missile defense or other issues, privately he was in agreement with Russia. Once the political season was over - once he could no longer be held accountable - he would take actions that would be more to Moscow’s liking.

For his part, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made his implicit assessment of Mr. Obama’s impotence by skipping last weekend’s G-8 economic event, electing instead to meet with Mr. Obama “on the margins” of the upcoming G-20 summit. Mr. Obama’s primary message at the G-8 - that European leaders should ease back on austerity measures and open the spigots of government spending - was welcomed by socialists like France’s newly elected President Francois Hollande. But to fiscal conservatives abroad, this was unwelcome advice to increase their debt to Obama-style levels, which would only worsen their long-term economic malaise. Mr. Obama’s proposed solution to their problems is what caused their economic meltdown in the first place.

America’s image is taking a beating in other ways. NATO leaders in Chicago observed a show of force that ill befits the Land of the Free. Police - including reinforcements from Philadelphia - were out in force in full riot gear. Areas of town were blocked off with eight-foot-high metal fences. Helicopters buzzed overhead, and above them F-16 fighter jets conducted periodic patrols. Even given the nature of the meeting and the ongoing threats from terrorism, this was overkill, with no concern taken for how it would look to an overseas audience. The hyper-militarized security measures sent a message that the United States is either on the verge of a meltdown, becoming a police-state, or both.

The Washington Times

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide