Administration Covers Over Cracks in Policy

In the biggest news of last week, the President announced that his National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, would be stepping down. I was asked to be on Fox News immediately after Obama’s announcement—It wasn’t hard to do “instant” analysis. Not much will change with the President’s announcement because the Obama Doctrine still remains firmly in place. The Obama Doctrine is the rulebook by which the President conducts foreign policy.
The most noteworthy part of Obama’s remarks to the press concerned the list of the Administration’s “accomplishments’: none of them are actually accomplishments. Instead, the President rattled off a list of what his national security team has been doing. For example, brokering talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a lot different than negotiating peace in the Middle East. Following through on the Bush plan to secure an Iraq capable of governing and protecting itself while supervising the withdrawal of U.S. troops is more a task than an initiative. Agreeing not to cut and run in Afghanistan is not the same as showing the determination to stay until the job is done. Agreeing to a deeply flawed nuclear agreement with Moscow does not rank as much of an accomplishment either.
Indeed, it is hard to pick out an area of foreign policy where this White House has made a great initiative that will keep the U.S. safe, free, and prosperous. In particular, the news on the two most pressing threats to America is especially troubling. A report out last week concluded that North Korea’s nuclear program is racing ahead. However, North Korea’s nuclear program is just half of the growing threat emanating from Pyongyang. North Korea has also established an independent military division responsible for controlling and deploying its intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). Known as the Musudan, these missiles are believed to have a range of 1,800 to 3,000 miles—capable of targeting U.S. military bases in Japan, Okinawa, and Guam. Instead of increasing our military capacity to meet this threat, President Barack Obama has slashed missile defense programs and signed the New START agreement with Russia that limits our future missile defense capabilities. (You can find more Heritage Foundation research on missile defense at 33 Minutes.)
Transnational terrorism also remains a pressing threat. The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Western Europe. According to The Washington Post the alert cautioned, “American travelers of potential dangers in Europe after what U.S. officials said was an assessment of information that al-Qaeda appeared to be plotting attacks on cities there.” According to sources the planned attacks were similar to the ones conducted in Mumbai, India—a threat that has to be taken seriously.
It is hard to see how the President changes his foreign policy grade. Certainly, just changing staff will not help. Obama’s foreign policy is too passive—it relies on enemies and adversaries to act reasonably. As President Carter found when he tried a similar strategy, the other side just takes advantage of the opportunity presented by a meek America.
If Obama wants to change course he will have to do more that change staff. He will have to actually change course. There are better solutions to all the foreign policy issues currently confronting the President: providing for the common defense; establishing a sensible foreign policy; improving homeland security; controlling our border; dealing with terrorists; and protecting the U.S. from nuclear Armageddon.
It is high time the President consider them. Contributing Editor James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is a leading expert in defense affairs, intelligence, military operations and strategy, and homeland security at the Heritage Foundation.

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