Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures: Diplomacy, Militarism and Imagery

May 25, 2009





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James Petras May 11, 2009



President Obama’s greatest foreign policy successes are
found in the reports of the mass media. His greatest failures go unreported, but
are of great consequence. A survey of the major foreign policy priorities of
the White House reveals a continuous series of major setbacks, which call into
question the principal objectives and methods pursued by the Obama regime.

These are in order of importance:

1) Washington’s attempt to push for a joint economic
stimulus program among the 20 biggest economies at the G-20 meeting in April

2) Calls for a major military commitment from NATO to
increase the number of combat troops in conflict zones in Afghanistan and
Pakistan to complement the additional 21,000 US troop buildup (Financial Times
April 12, 2009 p.7);

3) Plans to forge closer political and diplomatic
relations among the countries of the Americas based on the pursuit of a common
agenda, including the continued exclusion of Cuba and isolation of Venezuela,
Bolivia and Ecuador (La Jornada (Mex. D.F.) April 20, 2009);

4) Weakening, isolating and pressuring Iran through a
mixture of diplomatic gestures and tightening economic sanctions to surrender
its nuclear energy program (Financial Times, April 16/17, 2009 p. 7);

5) The application of pressure on North Korea to suspend
its satellite and missile testing program in addition to dismantling its
nuclear weapons program. (Financial Times, April 13, 2009 p.4);

6) Securing an agreement between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority for a ‘two state solution’, in which Israel agrees to end
and dismantle its illegal settlements in exchange for recognition of Israel as
a ‘Jewish State’ (Financial Times, April 13, 2009, p.5);

7) Pressuring the government of Pakistan to increase its
military role in attacking the autonomous Northwest provinces and territories
along the Pakistan-Afghan border in support of the US war against Islamic
resistance movements, especially among the Pashtun people (over 40 million
strong), in both Afghanistan and Pakistan (FT April 23, 2009 p.3); and

8) Securing a stable pro-US regime in Iraq capable of
remaining in power after a withdrawal of the majority of US occupation troops (FT
April 8, 2009).

What is striking about Obama’s objectives is the
continuities with the previous administration of GW Bush, even as the mass
media proclaims ‘significant changes’. (American Conservative April 14, 2009)
Policy Continuities: Failures of Stimulus Proposals at the April 2009 G20
Summit Like his predecessor Bush, Obama’s first economic priority is to pour
trillions of borrowed dollars into the financial system as opposed to directing
state resources toward reviving popular demand, reconstructing the
manufacturing sector, creating a universal health system and directly employing
the 5 million workers unemployed in the last year.Obama’s economic regime is totally dominated by Wall
Street bankers and completely devoid of any representatives from labor,
manufacturing and the health sector (FT April 2, 2009 p11). In essence, Obama
has reinforced and deepened the ‘finance-centered’ model of capitalist
development, which demands that the G20 countries follow financial stimulus
plans – ignoring job creation through the financing of public investments
focused on manufacturing. For Obama, ‘economic stimulus’means reconstructing the power of finance capital, even
if it means running hung budget deficits, which undermine other public

The ‘theory’ justifying the finance-centered focus is
based on the belief that the US world empire is built on the recovery of the
supremacy of finance capital – to which the industrial powers should submit (FT
April 15, 2009, p.9). The conflicts at the G20 summit and the ultimate failure
of Obama to secure support for his so-called ‘stimulus’proposal was that he was promoting a financial centered
‘stimulus’ while the rest of the economic powers – with the exception of the UK
– were concerned with ‘stimulating’ manufacturing, employment and commodity
exports (FT April 2, 2009 p.4). The pressures of labor and manufacturers in
Europe – especially in Germany and France – have far more weight in shaping
economic policy than in the United States (FT March 26, 2009 p. 1).

The incompatibility of the finance-dominated regime of
Obama and European, Asian and Latin American regimes reflect the latter’s more
economically diversified ruling class, has led to the White House failure to
secure a ‘coordinated’ stimulus policy.

Summit of the Americas: Isolation and Divergences
Conflicts of interest prevented Washington from securing any favorable economic
agreements at the ‘Summit of the Americas’ Conference in April.

The breakdown of the US finance-centered empire and its
negative impact on all of the countries of the Americas undermined Obama’s
efforts for reassert US hegemonic leadership (see Economic Commission for Latin
America – Report to Summit April 17-19, 2009). The White House already knew the
futility of any effort to revive a regional free trade agreement. Worse still,
Washington’s argument for the advantages of ‘globalization’ were seriously
undermined by Obama’s promotion of ‘financial protectionism’ in which US
subsidiary banks in Latin America were directed to channel their financial
resources back to the home office, drying up financing and credit for Latin
American exporters. In other words, under the stress of the economic
depression, ‘globalization’ led to the reverse flow of financial resources out
of Latin America, prejudicing US influence and leverage while increasing
regional ties and economic nationalism among the Latin American countries.

The result was that the Obama regime’s financial-centered
empire had nothing to offer and everything to lose in any deep diagnosis of the
impact of the recession/depression. The While House had nothing to offer in the
way of expanding markets, capital flows or in stimulating productive
investments to create employment. In these dire circumstances, the Obama regime
preferred vacuous platitudes and systematic evasions of the most pressing
economic issues in order to create the illusion of ‘good feeling’ among the
participants (La Jornada April 20 2009). Rather than ‘project power’ in the
hemisphere, Washington was reduced to reiterating bankrupt policies justifying
the Cuban embargo in splendid isolation (La Jornada April 17, 2009).

The decline of US power based on its crisis-ridden
finance centered empire is evident in its inability to sustain its traditional
client rulers or to destabilize adversarial presidents. Even as the Summit was
transpiring, in Bolivia a group of armed mercenaries, contracted by US backed
economic elites in the separatist province of Santa Cruz to overthrow the
Morales regime, were captured or killed by the Bolivian military (La Jornada
April 20 2009). After three years of US financing and deep involvement with
regional elites engaged in political and economic warfare against Evo Morales,
and after suffering several electoral defeats, Washington and its regional
allies could only muster a tawdry hotel shoot-out between Eastern European
contract hit-men and the Bolivian army, ending in ignominious defeat.

The political weakness of the Obama regime is even more
evident in the major electoral defeats it has suffered in Ecuador, where
President Correa was re-elected with over 52% of the vote – a 22% margin over
the nearest pro-Washington candidate, Lucio Gutierrez (La Jornada April 27,
2009). In Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, El Salvador and Honduras, the
electorate voted decisively for left and center-left candidates, defeating
right-wing US-supported candidates. The only exception was Panama where a
right-wing millionaire was elected in May 2009. Though few of the center-left
regimes pursue economic-nationalist policies, they do exercise a degree of
independence in their foreign and domestic policies, especially with regard to
relations with Venezuela and Cuba, trade, investment, state intervention and
opposition to the dictates of the IMF.

Moreover the financial collapse in the US and the
accompanying economic depression has led to a major crisis and conflict between
North and South American with profound long-term consequences. The implosion of
cross-border lending resulting in US (and European) banks returning capital to
their domestic markets is depressing regional and world finance for the
foreseeable future (Financial Times April 30, 2009 p.7). Wall Streets’ financial crash has dealt a strategic
blow to financial ‘globalization’ (imperialism). Between April-December 2008 US
financial institutions ‘repatriated’ $750 billion dollars from their overseas
subsidiaries. Foreign holdings of US banks are shrinking as a share of their
total balance sheets – especially hitting Latin American regimes dependent on
US capital flows. US investors in Latin America, unable to secure credit, have
curtailed their overseas activity. The process of ‘de-capitalization’ of Latin
America has accelerated with US and European ‘state-intervention’ of banks,
which has led to ‘financial protectionism’ where the ‘state’ banks push for
domestic lending at the expense of foreign operations (Financial Times April
30, 2009 p7). This especially harms countries like Brazil, Mexico and
Argentina, where repatriating US (and Spanish) financial institutions own a
significant percentage of the domestic banks. The withdrawal of capital to the
imperial states, financial protectionism and the decline of US official
financing means that Obama’s ‘recovery plan’ is based on the de-capitalization
of Latin America and the drying up of credit for exporter/importers,
exacerbating the recession. The policy implications are readily visible: Obama
has few economic assets to pressure Latin America and many liabilities to
address. Given the low priority assigned to Latin Americca in the current
crisis, Washington must rely on local elites, which have been weakened
economically by Wall Street and the IMF’s declining presence and are now more
dependent on state intervention to confront the drop in export market demand.
Obama’s economic priorities and financial protectionist policies go directly
against any ‘harmonization of interest’ and strengthen nationalist, regionalist
and statist political and economic policies and governments in Latin America.

The ‘historic movements’ in opposite directions between the US and Latin
America are exacerbated by Obama’s commitment to military-centered empire building.
While Latin America’s civilian regimes are desperately looking for new markets,
credits and investments to buttress their declining capitalist system and
forestall domestic social challenges from below, Obama projects the US empire
through militarism. Obama’s failed policies in Latin America are the result of
structural relations dependent on financial markets (and theirbreakdown) and global militarism. Over time the diverging
composition of regimes and socio-economic policies will become more acute as the
recession deepens into a major depression in Latin America. One consequence of
this divergence can be seen in the increasing trade between Latin America and
the Arab countries, which has tripled since 2005 (Al Jazeera March 31, 2009).

The most striking indicator of the United States’
declining economic presence and political influence in Latin America is found
in the trade figures of Brazil, Latin America’s biggest and most industrialized
country. In April 2009, total trade between Brazil amounted to $3.2 billion
dollars, while its trade with the US was $2.8 billion (Telegraph(UK) May 10, 2009). This was the second straight month
that China surpassed the US as Brazil’s biggest trading partner, ending 80
years of US primacy. Just as the US pours hundreds of billions of dollars into
military-driven empire building, China has steadily pursued its overseas
economic empire via billion dollar trade and joint investment agreements with
Brazil in oil, gas, iron ore, soya and cellulose. China has already displaced
the US as Chile’s primary trading partner, and is increasing its share of trade
with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina – and even with staunchly US
clients, like Colombia, Peru and Mexico.

As regional wars and economic depression cause the US to retreat
from Latin America, the region’s ruling classes look to Asia, especially China,
to meet their trade and investment requirements.

Sooner rather than later, issues of superior economic
production and growth trump pure military power in shaping the hierarchy of
nations in the world economy. This process of an upwardly mobile economic power
displacing a crisis-ridden world military power as the chief interlocutor is
now being played out in Latin America. While the transition may have begun well
over a decade before his administration, the policies of President Obama are
accelerating the shift in Latin America away from US dominance.

NATO Conference: Obama’s Military Escalation in Search of
Allies On April 4, 2009 Obama attended the NATO Conference in Strasbourg in
order to push for allied support for expanding the war in South Asia.South Asia, and especially the Afghan-Pakistani (Af-Pak)
border regions, has become the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy. This is
the area where the US is most vulnerable to strategic military and political
losses and where he has had the most difficulty winning material and man-power
support from the NATO allies. From the first day in office, Obama has
emphasized the ‘strategic’ importance of winning the war in Afghanistan,
reversing the advances of the Taliban and other resistance fighters and
establishing a stable pro-Washington client regime in Kabul. To that end, Obama
has announced a massive escalation of combat troop deployment (over 21,000) to
Afghanistan, an additional $80 billion dollars in funding to the already $750
billion dollars allocated for the Pentagon, and has pursued an aggressive
epolicy of pressuring European and Asian allies for substantial addition of
combat troops and financial aid. At the April NATO conference, Obama’s
proposals were bluntly rejected (Financial Times April 2, 2009 p7). The
principle allies agreed to send 5,000 additional troops in temporary and
non-combat roles, including 3,000 to ‘monitor’ elections in August 2009 and
then to withdraw; two thousand to act as trainers and ‘advisers’ in
non-conflict-ridden surroundings (Financial Times April 8, 2009 p.2).

What Obama fails to recognize is that the NATO countries
do not consider Afghanistan an area of strategic importance to European security.
They do not see the forces engaged as a threat to their safety; they do not see
the prospect for a quick, low-cost victory. They do not relish following
Obama’s proposed to extend the war into Pakistan – thus multiplying resistance
to his plans. They do not want to alienate the vast majority of their own
population and destabilize their own power.

European and most Asian allies are not willing to pour
scarce resources and military personnel into a losing war, in a non-strategic
region at a time of deepening economic recession. Obama on the other hand,
following Bush and various other predecessors, and embedded in military-driven
empire building, talks diplomacy while vigorously pursuing wars of conquest.
His attempts to elevate the local conflict into a threat to world security
based on the presence of a tiny number of Al Queda fighters in the mountains of
the Hindu Kush, is hardly convincing.

Obama’s failure to recognize that the Taliban and other
groups have access to vast contiguous and porous borders with ethnic, clan and
religious allies capable of sustaining prolonged guerrilla warfare, leads him
to extend the frontiers of warfare and escalate the number of US troops. The
expansion of the war in turn multiplies enemies and armed recruits. In Pakistan,
this creates a wider swath of armed political opposition, which undermines
Obama’s client in Islamabad (Financial Times May 6, 2009 p.1; see also Gareth
Porter, “Errant Drone Attacks Spur Militants in Pakistan IPS April 16, 2009).
Under strong pressure from the White House, Pakistan launched a major military
campaign in the Swat region causing the mass flight of 2 million refugees and
failing to defeat the Taliban.

Pouring billions of dollars into a prolonged colonial war
with little possible economic gain at a time when GDP is declining by 6% and
exports by 30% demonstrates the continued centrality of military-driven empire
building and Obama’s role as ‘willing executioner’ (BBC News April 2, 2009).

The divergence between Europe/NATO and the US/Obama is
structurally rooted in their conflicting visions of world power: The former
emphasize financing their economies to recover and expand exports versus the
latter, which operates under the delusion that prolonged colonial wars in
remote regions of the world are essential for the ‘stability’ of world
capitalism. Obama’s failure to secure NATO support for the Af/Pak expansion
underlines his complete political and military isolation in one of the primary
areas of his administration’s policy goals. This means that the US will
shoulder the entire cost of a war in Afghanistan, which has spilled over into
Pakistan, and bear worldwide condemnation as thousands of civilian casualties
mount and millions of refugees flee the air and ground wars (BBC News May 7,

Iran: The Zionist Presence and Lost Opportunities Obama’s
stated policy approach to Iran was to ‘turn a new page’, open negotiations
without prior conditions in order to secure an agreement to end Iran’s alleged
nuclear weapons program, and its alleged support for ‘terrorist’ organizations,
namely Hamas and Hezbollah. In addition, Obama hopes to secure co-operation in
the US war in Afghanistan as well as propping up the Maliki client regime in
Iraq (Financial Times March 6, 2009 p. 5). From the very
start, Obama’s policy got off on the wrong foot. He appointed two of the most
pro-Israel and virulent enemies of Iran to key posts in Treasury and the State
Department. Stuart Levey was reappointed as Under Secretary for Terrorism and
Financial Intelligence in the Treasury Department and Dennis Ross (often called
‘Israel’s Lawyer’) has been appointed the State Department’s point-man on Iran.
Stuart Levey has led a world-wide crusade of intimidation and coercion against
any business, bank or oil company that has any economic dealings with Iran. Ross, who left an Israeli government-funded think tank to
take up his new position in the Obama Administration, endorsed a document in
late 2008 supporting the ‘military option’ against Iran. Ross
and Levey are hardly likely to ‘open a new page’ in US Iranian relations. More
to the point, they fit in with a bellicose policy advocating greater
confrontation and increasing the likelihood of a new US-Middle East war.

The appointment of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State
will not favor an opening to Iran. She is on public record as advocating the
‘obliteration’ of Iran during the Presidential campaign in 2008 and now in
office backs ‘crippling sanctions’ for force Iran to dismantle its nuclear
energy program. Her approach follows closely the script of the previous Bush
Administration (Financial Times April 23, 2009 p.3).

The Obama regime has not pursued ‘negotiations’ – instead
it has been actively engaged in securing tougher sanctions against Iran while
dictating the outcomes of any meeting with Tehran. Under the guiding hand of the Israel-First lobby AIPAC,
Congressinal leaders of both parties are backing new and harsher sanctions
against companies, “including Lloyds of London, Total (France) and British
Petroleum unless they end their involvement in the export of refined oil to
Iran or the construction of refineries in that country” (Financial Times April
23, 2009 p.3). Vice President Biden, in attendance at the annual Washington DC
AIPAC Conference (May 1-3, 2009) supported war-like sanctions against Iran.
Clearly Obama’s conciliatory rhetoric is in direct contradiction with his
hard-line appointments and the harsh sanctions his regime pursues. Obama’s
appointment of hard-core Zionists linked directly to Israel to strategic positions
reflects the powerful influence which the Zionist Power Configurations
exercises over strategic Middle East issues. As a result, Obama’s policy toward
Iran is skewed in the direction of serving Israel’s military interests rather
than the broader economic and strategic interests of the US empire (Financial
Times February 24, 2009 p. 13). Obama is pursuing a policy of ‘negotiations’ on
exclusively Zionist

terms: By demanding Iran surrender its internationally
recognized and closely regulated program of nuclear enrichment and abandon
strategic allies and principles of solidarity with the rights of the
Palestinian people or face a US economic blockade, the White House is rejecting
any possibility of a peaceful negotiated settlement.

In pursuing an iron-fist policy toward Iran to satisfy
the demands of the Zionist Power Configuration acting on behalf of Israel,
Obama is missing major diplomatic, economic and political opportunities to
stabilize US imperial interests in the region. Through a process of give and
take, Washington could secure Iranian co-operation in stabilizing Iraq and
Afghanistan. In the past Iran has demonstrated its willingness to support US
puppet rulers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of Afghanistan, Iran
directly aided the US occupation by attacking fleeing Taliban forces in the
Western frontier regions. In contrast, Washington’s close relation with Israel
strengthens the Taliban in Afghanistan and Muslim resistance to its occupation
of Iraq.

While opposing the Israeli government policy of
dispossession of the Palestinians, Iran has declared its willingness to accept
a ‘two state solution’ if “that is what the Palestinians want”. The new
far-right Israeli regime of Netanyahu/Liebermann, backed by the major American
Zionist organizations, openly rejected a ‘two-state solution’, in repudiation
the public position of the Obama government during his May 18, 2009 Washington
meeting with Obama (BBC News May 19, 2009).

The US National Intelligence Agencies published a report
in November 2008, which publicly refuted Israel’s claim that Iran is engaged in
weaponizing its enriched uranium. On the ground investigations by the United
Nations and international inspectors from the International Atomic Envery
Agency, found no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programs (IAEA Report
On Iran February 19, 2009). By choosing to endorse Israel’s unfounded claims of
an ‘existential threat’ from Iran, the Obama Administration has become an
accomplice in Israel’s overt preparations for war against Iran. By refusing to
use the findings of the international inspectors and its own intelligence
agencies to come to terms with Iran’s nuclear-energy program, Obama runs the
risk of becoming embroiled in a devastating war provoked by the government of

In a time in which the US exports have declined by over
30% in the first quarter of 2009 and the economy is mired in a prolonged deep
recession, the Obama regime prioritized military relations with Israel on
highly unfavorable terms. In this regard, overall economic losses from Obama’s
policy of exclusive dealings with a minor economic player like Israel – has led
to the losses of many billions of dollars of potential trade with Iran (BBC News
April 29, 2009). Unlike the highly unfavorable US trade balance with Israel and
the monstrous $30 billion-dollar ‘aid’handout to the Jewish State, Iran offers a major
investment outlet and lucrative market for US petroleum, agro-business,
chemical and financial enterprises.By following Israel’s blockade and boycott policies
against duly elected Arab leaders, especially Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in
Lebanon, Washington supports harsh corrupt dictatorships in the West Bank,
Egypt and Jordan simply because they are allied to Israel. If, as the Obama
regime claims, electoral processes will stabilize the region, then its
commitments to Israel and its allies is destabilizing the region. Instead of pursuing new policies toward Iran designed to
secure imperial interests in the region, the Obama regime chooses confrontation
which undermines its ‘conciliatory rhetoric’ and, worst, has led to increasing
tensions. New sanctions against gasoline exporter could provoke a new, expanded
war, which will surely sent the US into an even deeper depression.

North Korea: The Unmasking of a Policy

The Obama regime has undermined the tentative nuclear
disarmament agreements reached between the Bush Administration and the North
Korean Government. The original agreement was based on reciprocal concessions,
in which North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in
exchange for economic and energy aid from the US, Japan, China, South Korea and
Russia. The North Koreans complied with the agreement, but the economic aid was
not forthcoming, in large part because of demands by the US to include
intrusive inspections (Financial Times April 15, 2009). The incoming Obama
administration did not take any initiative to move aid programs forward. On the
contrary, in response to an experimental rocket launch of a satellite,
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called for and secured a condemnation of
North Korea’s legal right to space technology and called for the implementation
of new economic sanctions (Financial Times April 13, 2009 p. 4). These harsh
reprisals caused the North Koreans to end negotiations and to re-start their
nuclear weapons program, raising military tensions in the peninsula and
undermining the peace process (Al Jazeera April 14, 2009).

In the brief period of three months, the Obama White
House has reversed almost a decade of peace negotiations adding a new arena of
military confrontation.

Afghanistan-Pakistan: Extending Warfare and Destabilizing
a Client In response to the resurgence of the Afghan resistance and the
expansion of its influence beyond its southern strongholds, Obama opened new
fronts of conflict in Pakistan by engaging in systematic bombing of villages
and communities. As a result, Pakistani fighters and their Afghan allies have
drawn increasing popular support extending their influence throughout the
Northwest Territories. By pressuring the weak and unpopular Zadari regime to
intensify military operations against Pakistanis opposed to the US bombing
raids, the Obama regime has eroded what little support it had within the state
apparatus (Financial Times April 2, 2009 p. 7).

Over 2 million Pakistanis in
the region have been driven from their homes by the military offensive (BBC
News May 19,2009) Obama’s Pakistan policy is an extension of its
failed Afghan military strategy of targeting entire civilian areas (in this
case the over 40 million strong Pashtuns) influenced or controlled by the
anti-US resistance in the hope of eliminating some Taliban fighters among the
thousands of civilian deaths. The result is predictable: The Pakistan Army, the
main prop of the weak US client President Zadari, becomes increasingly
compromised as a tool for furthering US colonial war aims and surrendering
sovereignty in the face of systematic US cross-border attacks. By forcing the
divided and over-extended Pakistani regime to engage in large-scale warfare
against its fiercely independent citizens in the Northwest Territories,
Pakistani cities and towns will have to contend with the catastrophe of over 2
million internal refugees driven from their homes and communities. Obama
increases the possibility of a military revolt by nationalist-islamist soldiers
and officers, which would shift the entire balance of power in the region (and
beyond) against Washington (BBC News May 8, 2009). Instead of ‘containing’ and
limiting the area of combat in Afghanistan, Obama’s Pakistan policy has widened
the front and implicated a large but fragile client state in an extended war
which could bring about its downfall – not unlike the overthrow of the Shah of
Iran (Financial Times April 27, 2009 p.5).Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan precludes a negotiated
national settlement with the Taliban, which confines it to Afghanistan, in
exchange for limiting its role as a safe haven for Al Queda. Under increased US
attack, the Taliban have internationalized their fight beyond their contiguous
borders with Pakistan raising the specter of the US extending deeper into that
country in support of their failed client in Islamabad.

Israel-Palestine Policy

White House policy toward the Israeli occupation of
Palestine has been characterized by ritual reiteration of policy ( a ‘Two-State
Solution’), indecisive and inconsequential attempts to formulate a coherent
strategy and capitulation to Israel’s continued territorial expansion (BBC News
April 18, 2009). Obama is faced with an openly annexationalist newly-elected
far-right government, which rejects even the language of a ‘Two-State Solution’
in direct repudiation of his stated policy (BBC News April 1, 2009). Washington
passively submits to Israeli rebuffs.

Obama’s Middle East policy appointees from top to bottom
are mostly Israel-Firsters. The Obama regime and the Democratic Party
leadership in the Congress are indebted to the Zionist lobby, which rejects any
attempt to even ‘pressure’ Israel – thus disarming any of the possible economic
or military levers which could be used to pry concessions from the
Netanyahu-Leiberman regime. Worse still, Washington supports the Israeli
blockade of Gaza ruled by the democratically elected Hamas government in power,
thus strengthening Israel’s iron grip on the Palestinians.

One of President Obama’s most egregious foreign policy
failures took place during his May 18, 2009 meeting in Washington with Israeli
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. After having made as Israeli-Palestinian
‘two-state’ settlement one of his major foreign policy goals, Obama failed to
even secure a verbal commitment from the Israeli extremist leader (BBC News May
19, 2009). After 4 hours of discussion, Netanyahu rejected Obama’s offer to
consider a time limit on diplomatic overtures to Iran (with the implicit threat
of a military option) in exchange for the Likud Prime Minister mouthing the
‘three words’: ‘two state solution’! Worse still from the White House view,
Natanyahu insisted that any negotiations with the Palestinians were conditional
on their recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, thus disenfranchising the 1.5
million Palestinian Muslim and Christians who remained after the mass

As if to flaunt his disdain for Obama’s call for a freeze
on new settlements, Netanyahu’s regime accelerated plans for 20 new Jewish
housing settlements in the occupied West Bank – precisely on the day of their
meeting. Worst of all, Obama came out of the meeting displaying his utter
impotence – he could not even make a ‘show’ of having any influence on the
extremist Jewish Prime Minister. Netanyahu’s brazen and public repudiation of
Obama was based on his clear understanding that the power of the US Zionist Power
Configuration in Congress and in the Executive branch guaranteed that Obama
would not counter Israeli extremism by threatening to decrease US financial or
military aid to the Jewish state. After weeks of rumors and stories of Obama’s

to confront or pressure Netanyahu to accept a two state
solution, the end result was a humiliating public debacle in which Obama
secured absolutely nothing.

Following his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu (the visitor)
went to the US Congress with his power base among a huge majority of members of
the House and Senate and top Zionist Jewish leaders, where almost the entire
elected US representative body re-affirmed its unconditional support for
Israeli policy – strictly on Netanyahu’s terms. The impotence and failings of
President Obama in his dealing with Netanyahu was not lost on the entire world
(especially the Arab world). Hamas Spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum summed up the
general perception thus: “The statements (about a two-state solution) by Obama
are nothing but wishes on which we do not much count” (Al Jazeera May 19,

The Obama reigme ‘immersion’ in Zionist-Israeli politics
blinds it to the favorable opportunities for a grand accord in the region.
Hamas leaders have shut down all rocket retaliatory attacks on Israel and
called for a 10-year cease fire (The New York Times May 4, 2009). The Arab
League (including the Gulf States) has reiterated its willingness to recognize
Israel and open diplomatic relations in exchange for an end of the occupation
of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza. The European Union has opened dialog
with Hamas and Hezbollah while postponing extending ‘special’ economic status
to Israel. Even Iran has agreed to accept a Palestinian settlement based on the
Two-State Solution. Faced with major shifts and concessions, the Obama regime
remains impotent It is unable to put any muscle behind its proposals; it
struggles even to set conditions for the resumption of peace negotiations. In
the meantime, the Zionist Power Configuration inside and outside presses
forward with new and more dangerous sanctions against Iran. During the AIPAC
Conference in Washington (May 1-5), six thousand Israel-Firsters set their goal
on securing Congressional majorities in favor of provocative blockades and
sanctions against companies which export refined petroleum products into Iran
(Jerusalem Post May 1, 2009). The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA)
currently in the Congress and authored by AIPAC operatives is viewed as a
weapon the crush the Iranian economy and overthrow the government. By
attempting to entice AIPAC and Israel with the claim that a peace agreement
with Palestine would lead to a ‘consensus’ to confront Iran, the Obama regime
surrenders its diplomatic option to Iran in favor of Israel’s militarist
approach – without securing any changes in its policy toward Palestine.

Conclusion: Consequences of Obama’s Failed Policies Early
on the Obama regime’s foreign policy has suffered a series of important
set-backs on major policy issues.Its G20 economic initiatives to secure or support
proposals to coordinate stimulus policies based on financial bailouts and
larger deficits were rejected. The re-vitalization of the IMF via an injection
of $750 billion dollars was not welcomed by the ‘emerging market’

countries because of the IMF’s harsh conditions. The NATO
summit spurned Washington’s demands for more combat troops to Afghanistan. Of
the 5000 troops promised, three-fourths are to serve for the duration of the
Afghan Presidential election (August 2009) and the rest as trainers and
advisers far from the frontlines.The Summit of the Americas was a fiasco for Washington.
It was completely isolated in its defense of US policy toward Cuba, the Cuban
Embargo and its designation of Cuba as a ‘state supporter of terrorism’.

Obama offered nothing in the way of new policies in the
face of the US-induced regional economic recession. At the same time the Latin
American countries turned elsewhere – to Iran and China, as well as within the
region, for opportunities to stimulate their economies.

Obama’s bellicose posturing toward North Korea reversed 6
years of negotiations, resulting in the revival of tensions and the reassembly
of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. The escalation of the US/NATO war in
Afghanistan and its extension into Pakistan undermines US clients in the region
and makes it likely that the US military will find itself in an unending
colonial war with no possibility of a victory.

Obama’s deep ties to American Zionist policies and
organizations and their loyalties to the new far right wing Israeli
annexationist regime precludes the pursuit of any policy which could open the
way toward a ‘two-state’ resolution of the conflict. The hard-line White House
position of escalating sanctions against Iran and the buildup of Israeli
long-distance offensive weapons precludes any meaningful new initiatives toward
Tehran (Financial Times March 23, 2009 p.3). The result of these failed
policies is that Washington is increasingly politically isolated: Alone in fighting wars in Sough Asia; alone in aiding and
abetting Israeli intransigence; alone among its fellow nations in the Western
Hemisphere in its imposition of an embargo against Cuba. Political isolation
means the political and economic costs of Obama’s military-driven empire
building will be borne almost exclusively by the US Treasury and citizenry – at
a time of unprecedented peacetime deficits and a deepening recession.

Obama’s focus on foreign military adventures, domestic
financial bailouts and promoting the IMF has caused the countries of Latin
America to turn away from their big traditional partner in Washington and sign
up for major trade and investment agreements elsewhere. Brazil welcomed a
hundred member delegation of business leaders form Iran, headed by its Prime
Minister and composed of a wide array of business and banking leaders to seal
multi-billion and co-investment deals. In late May, President Da Silva promoted
a big increase in trade and investment with its biggest trading partner -
China. The response by Secretary Clinton was pathetic: Instead of recognizing
the economic eclipse of the US and seeking to increase the economic presence,
she cited the threat of Iranian terrorism – among oil, agribusiness and banking
executives (www.presstv.com May 2, 2009).

Obama’s continued backing for rightwing regional leaders
in Bolivia and Ecuador against reformist Presidents, has contributed to the
latter repeated electoral victories and the political isolation of the US.Obama’s rhetorics of ‘opening up’ to Venezuela,
accompanied by harsh attacks on the dangers of ‘Chavismo’, including unfounded
charges of its complicity in drug trafficking, has led to Venezuela’s growing
trade and joint investment links with China, Iran and Russia..Failed policies have consequences. The pursuit of
long-term large-scale overseas military commitment in a time of economic
depression is self-destructive, self-isolating and doomed to failure.
Satisfying Israeli illegal colonial aspirations and military goals sacrifices
hundreds of billions of dollars in trade with Iran, the Gulf States and South
Asian economies.

The greater problem is not that the Obama regime is
pursuing wars that will lead to defeats, but that the entire notion of pouring
resources into military-driven empire building at a time of deepening recession
is leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees
throughout the world, while destroying the livelihoods and social safety new of
millions of American citizens.



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