In his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2009, President Barack Obama set the tone of his new administration in relations with other nations and peoples.
“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
Those to whom we are infidels did not reciprocate the sentiment. Their fists remained clenched.
Forty-five days later, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. With great fanfare Secretary Clinton handed Mr. Lavrov a yellow plastic toy with a red button symbolizing a “reset” of the relations between the United States of America and the Russian Federation.
The button had two words on it. The English word was “reset.” The Russian word was “peregruzka.” Minister Lavrov noted that peregruzka, as printed in Latin script rather than Cyrillic, means “overcharge.”
This file photo shows President Barack Obama with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Ireland in June 2013. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Thus began the new administration’s entry into the world of statecraft. Having successfully “reset” U.S. – Russian relations, we could move on to more pressing venues.
In June President Obama went to Cairo “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respects" A reset button was not included.
Two months later there was a popular uprising against the Islamist government of Iran that begged for an American response. We remained silent.
Later, when Islamic radicals led protests against secular leaders in the Arab Spring we joined them.
We could have joined both uprisings as being consistent with our support for popular democratic uprisings against authoritarianism. Or we might have avoided involvement with both as they were not in our national security interest. Instead, lacking a coherent global view, we chose in both cases to side with the forces of radical Islam. Yes, the very side that has declared war on us.
We ignored a 30-year partnership with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and sided with the radicals. He was deposed and replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. While we were sending them weapons and aid they were declaring their solidarity with Hamas against Israel.
We demanded that Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, step down.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with President Barack Obama back in 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The new Egyptian leaders and radicals in Libya participated in killing our ambassador and three other Americans in a terrorist attack in Benghazi.
Meanwhile Syrian President Bashir al Assad was confronting a rebellion by killing 100,000 of his citizens. Secretary Clinton told “Face the Nation” viewers in March of 2011 that the Assad was considered by many to be a reformer.
A year and a half later the president wasn’t so sure. He wanted Assad gone. In August 2012, President Obama said, “A red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”
A year later the president disavowed the red line completely: “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”
So much for red lines.
In September 2013 it was clear that chemical weapons had been used. As Obama was considering bombing Syria, Russia stepped in and offered to help Syria destroy their chemical weapons relieving Obama of his decision.
US President Barack Obama listens during a bilateral meeting with French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of the G8 summit in the Lough Erne resort near Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on June 18, 2013. Russia and the US agreed at the G8 summit to push for Syria peace talks, but Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama made clear their deep differences over the conflict. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Last January, Fallujah and Ramadi fell to the Islamic State. The Iraqi army fled and left behind the weapons we had supplied them with.
President Obama told The New Yorker magazine that the Islamic State had taken control of parts of western and northern Iraq, was like a junior varsity basketball team.
"The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant."
Over the following six months, behaving like a varsity, the Islamic State took control of 25 percent of Iraq and Syria. They are well armed with U.S. weapons abandoned by Iraq’s army. They are well funded with billions of dollars from thievery and blackmail and they generate millions of dollars a day from the sale of oil and electricity from captured production facilities.
The administration is debating whether to bomb the Islamic State command and control locations in Syria. We would find ourselves on the same team as President Assad, whom we wish to depose, and Iran, whom we do not trust.
During a White House press briefing on August 27, Ed Henry of Fox News asked spokesman Josh Earnest what the administration planned to do with the Islamic State in Syria.
“What is the strategy then? For the President to say, we’re going to root out the cancer, that’s more of a slogan than a strategy, isn’t it? What does that mean, “root out the cancer”? How?”
“The President has laid out a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the threat posed by ISI(S)”
One day later the president appeared in the press room and confessed,“We don’t have a strategy yet.”
In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a protester holds a placard depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil town, Idlib province, northern Syria, Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. Rebel-on-rebel fighting between an al-Qaida-linked group and an array of more moderate and ultraconservative Islamists has killed nearly 500 people over the past week in northern Syria, an activist group said Friday, in the most serious bout of violence among opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the civil war began. The Arabic on the poster is an acronym meaning, "the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant." (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)
As we have been debating what to do with the Islamic State marauding through Iraq and Syria, Russia, having misplaced their reset button, annexed Crimea without firing a shot.
Obama responded by lecturing Russian President Vladimir Putin, “The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the constitution and violate international law."
We subjected 11 people to visa denial and frozen assets. Seven of them were Russians. Putin responded in kind against six U.S. lawmakers who all seemed flattered to be included.
The Russians are now moving heavy artillery and soldiers into eastern Ukraine to fight with the Ukrainian rebels.
At an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Ambassador Samantha Powers abjured the reset button and laid down a chartreuse line accusing the Russians of “outright lies.” She added, “The mask is coming off.”
It is not known how a quaking Putin is dealing with such ferocity?
While the most powerful nation in the world debates whether we do or do not have a strategy, the most brutal army in the world expands the caliphate and Russia rebuilds the Soviet Union.
There is a junior varsity team in this international contest, but it is not the Islamic State.
The jayvee has had a rough few years. Coach Obama has two more years left on his contract and appears to be coasting. If this were the NBA he would have been gone long ago.
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