Ed Driscoll

Smart Power: 'Key to Obama’s Diplomacy? Giving Up'

Hey remember the good old days, when Obama could make statements such as this quote from a 2007 interview with New Hampshire Public Radio, that his mere presence on the world stage would be enough to calm international tensions, particularly in the Muslim world? Good times, good times:


Obama: Well, I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated, not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently. If I’m reaching out to the Muslim world, they understand that I’ve lived in a Muslim country, and I may be a Christian, but I also understand their point of view.

Interviewer: Although you were a little kid when you lived in Indonesia, right? Is that what you’re talking about?

Obama: Well, it’s not just that. My sister is half-Indonesian. I traveled there all the way through my college years. And so I’m intimately concerned with what happens in these countries and the cultures and perspectives that these folks have. And those are powerful tools for us to be able to reach out to the world, and when you combine that with my work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on everything from nuclear proliferation to issues of genocide, then I think that the world will have confidence that I am listening to them and that our future and our security is tied up with our ability to work with other countries in the world. That will ultimately make us safer.

I have to go now Barry, because I’m due back on Planet Earth. Or as Jonathan S. Tobin notes today at Commentary:

While the Obama administration is ramping up its efforts to defend the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap with the Taliban, criticism of the deal is no longer confined to Washington. As the New York Times reports, the Afghan government is also unhappy about the agreement that traded five key Taliban operatives for the freedom of an American soldier who may well have deserted his post. The Afghans seemed to have got as little notice of the deal going down as the members of Congress that the White House should have informed by law. Sources in Kabul are also unhappy that the exchange negotiated with the Taliban was strictly a one-off that allows President Obama to claim that he exited Afghanistan while leaving no American behind. As the paper reports, they expected any agreement about Bergdahl to have far wider implications and be connected to a general agreement that would have obligated the Taliban to make peace before the U.S. withdrew its major combat forces from the country. Instead, Bergdahl was liberated at the cost of granting the Taliban a major political/diplomatic victory that undermines any hope that the Afghan government could persist even after Obama or his successor washes their hands of that long conflict.


As Tobin concludes:

Taken together, the Iran and Bergdahl negotiations show that discussions of Obama’s weakness are not about metaphors or apology tours that are rooted in symbolism rather than substance. The last year of American foreign policy has proven that the key to the president’s diplomacy is that he gives up when pressed by opponents. The two negotiations aren’t merely bad policy. They show he will always allow his zeal for a deal and desire to abandon American interests to prevail over principle.

Fortunately, Obama has Susan Rice to spin even the zaniest of his decisions, as Tobin wrote in a post on Friday:

As we have seen with his treatment of other officials who failed him, the president is slow to hold his top staff accountable and seems to regard admitting bad personnel judgment as a form of capitulation to his Republican foes. In particular, Rice is a personal Obama favorite and he made no secret of his anger about the fact that her Benghazi lies killed her chances to be secretary of state. But a smarter president with a better grasp of political reality would understand that his National Security Advisor has fatally compromised her ability to speak for him on important issues. Surely if anyone would have known the truth about Bergdahl’s behavior last week it would have been Rice. Though he the chances of Obama ever owning up to the fact that she is liability are minimal, having a National Security Advisor who will be best remembered for her Benghazi and Bergdahl lies is not something any president should settle for.


Tobin’s post was titled “Susan Rice: A One-Woman Credibility Gap,” but as Yoda would say, no — there is another. In this case, it’s State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf and her MSNBC-approved Hipster SmartGlasses, which for once didn’t buy Harf much respect on MNSBC, Noah Rothman writes today at Hot Air:

MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell appeared visibly irritated with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday amid her efforts to suggest the Osama bin Laden raid serves as a precedent for a national security matter that is too sensitive to allow members of Congress to be briefed on its details. Harf even suggested that Mitchell and others were attempting to “recreate” the history of the bin Laden raid by insisting that members were briefed on it before it was executed.

At National Journal, former O-Bot Ron Fournier writes, “Bergdahl swap is latest last straw for top Democrats frustrated with president’s leadership.” And when you’ve lost someone as deeply in the tank for the left as Andrea Mitchell…

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