"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wiener Diplomacy

The fourth of July came and went with no Iranian diplomats eating hot dogs at U.S. embassies, President Obama having rescinded the original invitations after an outpouring of condemnation against Iran's government for their violent crackdown on protesters. With a worsening economy and his approval ratings plunging, even the Barbecuer-in-Chief realized celebrating Independence Day with an authoritarian regime that doesn't believe in freedom would leave a bad taste in most American's mouths.

This is the good news. The bad news is it took a groundswell of public opinion to help the president make this decision, that he hesitated to "meddle" in Iran when human rights were being violated on a massive scale. The Iranian community organized for freedom, but our most famous community organizer went AWOL, afraid of upsetting the powers-that-be until he saw the potential political backlash. In fact, if it weren't for outrage sparked by a video posted online of an unarmed, 16-year-old Muslim girl being shot to death on the streets of Tehran, one wonders if the White House would have reacted at all.

Welcome to the Obama administration's idea of foreign policy. The hot dogs may have been shelved for now, but make no mistake. This is wiener diplomacy. Under President Obama, our allies get lectured, while our enemies are given free passes. We whitewash over hostile regime's atrocities and human rights violations, while magnifying our own blemishes as a democratic nation. Nevermind it's our system and values that allow us to correct our mistakes and answer to the people, whereas dictators answer to no one. Let alone diplomats.

North Korea is lobbing missiles into the ocean like fireworks and playing war games with our computers. Iran still has nuclear ambitions and continues to support insurgents in Iraq. The Taliban is gaining an increasing foothold in Pakistan. And Honduras, with the full backing of their Supreme Court, had to arrest their executive leader before he copied Hugo Chavez's dictatorial blueprint using intimidation and an illegal referendum to make himself lifetime Presidente.

And where was Obama? Silent on North Korea, lukewarm in his criticism of Iran, and on the wrong side of the issue in Honduras, where he instead sided with Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro (hardly three champions of democracy) in condemning Honduras for forcefully removing their dictator-to-be. Apparently, under wiener diplomacy, it is okay to meddle, just not in favor of governments with the actual support of their people.

Obama ran a campaign on symbolism and platitudes, and it worked so well in America (he got elected after all), dammit if he isn't going to try the same thing around the world. Whether its Egypt, Moscow, or Ghana, every nation and culture will be blessed with a speech and photo-ops by the One's traveling teleprompters and possibly the entire first family. If he gives enough of them, surely the world will change their ways and sing kumbaya. This is the naivety we have to look forward to for the next three and a half years.

Has any president been so vain that they think their appearance and soothing words alone will make a difference? This isn't just a waste of time, it's dangerous. If America isn't going to take action to stand up for freedom and democracy around the world, who will? We are basically giving unstable and authoritarian governments carte blanche to proceed without fear or threat of U.S. interference. Under wiener diplomacy, we just shrug our shoulders and look to the U.N., who then issues a stern statement or passes their umpteenth unenforceable resolution. Ho hum.

Even an isolationist may not want to send American troops to die on foreign shores, but the threat of strict economic sanctions usually remains a viable option. Instead, our state department is fighting against Europe's support for stronger sanctions and releasing captured Iranian terrorists to placate the mullahs. Five in particular were released back to Tehran this week, captured in northern Iraq two years ago and members of a group responsible for at least 400 attacks on our troops. They have the blood of our soldiers on their hands and they still pose a threat. But now they are free men, just like those responsible for the USS Cole bombing, who Barack Obama released earlier this year.

Remember, it took Al Qaeda 10 years to plan 9/11 before acting it out. And it took a passive climate very similar to today's for them to gather the time, money, manpower, and resources necessary to do so, while we attended to our own affairs oblivious of the danger. If we continue down this path, can another attack be that far behind?

But don't worry, America. In a much trumpeted, highly symbolic, and utterly meaningless diplomatic move, President Obama met with the Russian president and they agreed to cut nuclear arsenals by one-third. We probably both have enough nuclear warheads to annihilate the earth 40 times over. So what does it matter if we sign a treaty eliminating a third of those weapons? Now we can only annihilate the world 28 times over. And it does nothing to deter North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Feel any safer?

There are certainly reasons to meet with Russia, the first being to gain their support in isolating the Iranians, but even we've given up that line of thinking. Russia continues to trade with Iran and supply some of the infrastructure they need to build up their military and nuclear capabilities, but instead of stopping this, we swap warheads for warheads while gaining nothing. Well, not nothing. We can fly our planes over their airspace to get to landlocked Afghanistan. For now. They will probably ask us to stop developing our missile defense system and protecting our NATO allies down the road or risk losing rights to said airspace. And under wiener diplomacy, we will probably oblige. Isn't that what that "reset button" was all about?

The idea behind Obama's form of diplomacy, I suppose, is that nations and leaders don't act hostile to nations and/or leaders that are friendly or that they have relations with. And none is friendlier than Obama, who won't even let a handshake and photo-op with Hugo Chavez unsettle him.

Neville Chamberlain proved this theory wrong long ago, but let's suppose the rules have changed and you can now trust the word of authoritarian rulers who don't even entrust freedom to their own people. Are we really willing to compromise our principles and values, to sit on our hands when human rights are violated around the world and liberty is lost, just so we can be more agreeable? Are we willing to blur the line between right and wrong, good and evil, free and enslaved, so long as we don't think our borders will be attacked?

Let's hope not. If we can't move the world towards the light of freedom, then we risk letting others move us towards the darkness. Whatever that darkness may bring.