The axis of weakness: Carter, Clinton and Obama
It’s no secret that Democrats prefer domestic policy over foreign policy. That’s been true for the last forty years. The problem with that is best described by the last Democratic president to be a hawk, President John F. Kennedy, who said: “Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.” When it comes to the Middle East, the last three Democratic presidents don’t seem to have Kennedy’s understanding, as Obama simply repeats Carter’s and Clinton’s mistakes.
In the late 1970’s, we had President Jimmy Carter, who proved more pacifist than clear-eyed. The New York Times reported Carter as “calm” in response to the coup-d’état that toppled the Afghan government. Just six months later, during Christmas of 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with over 80,000 troops and started a brutal war to the dismay of the world and the purported “shock” of Carter. “This action of the Soviets,” Carter told ABC News “has made a more dramatic change in my own opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are than anything they’ve done in the previous time I’ve been in office.” From that point forward, the 1980’s would be marked by heightening Super Power friction.
Carter also sat by and moralized while the Shah of Iran fell — apparently comfortable in what might be described today as an Arab Spring. Since then, Iran has fallen behind a new Islamist Iron Curtain and become the World’s leading state sponsor of terror.
Indeed, there is no more destabilizing country in the world today than Iran. Such can be the magnitude of a single foreign policy error — in keeping with JFK’s warning. Today, Egypt and perhaps Libya and Syria represent Obama’s Iran. It may be 40 years before rationality returns to those countries let alone a non-confrontational foreign policy.
As for President Clinton, under his watch, al Qaeda attacked the United States interests eight separate times, including attacks on our embassies, without any real, concerted response by the Clinton administration Instead, Clinton allowed the U.S. to be run out of Somalia. In response to that, bin Laden stated:
“Our boys went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war … Our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier, and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging.”
Democrats can argue at home about their toughness as presidents — the assessment of an enemy attacking our country, on the other hand, is likely more cogent. So intent on that assessment was bin Laden that he proceeded with the planning of 9/11 during Clinton’s term and then carried it out.
It is also worth noting that Clinton treated the first attack on the World Trade Center as a criminal matter. Clinton promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. That is exactly what President Obama promised in response to the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya — as if you could bring a mob to justice. Amazingly, there has been all but no response from the Obama administration to the attacks on our diplomats in Egypt, which follows his feckless action when the U.S. embassy in Syria was attacked.
It is worth remembering that candidate Obama declared that his presidency would transform our relationship with the Mideast countries. Candidate Obama derided U.S. arrogance under the Bush administration and blamed Bush (no surprise) for our troubles abroad.
The attacks on American interests in the Middle East during the Nobel Prize winning presidency belie the claims of candidate Obama and the policies of President Obama.
Thomas Jefferson, who knew something of Libya and responding to terror in that region of the world, wrote: “Weakness provokes insult & injury, while a condition to punish it often prevents it.” He also said: “Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace.” Years later that was shortened to “peace through strength.” Nowhere is that more true than in the Middle East.