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Wednesday, July 15, 2009     FOLLOW UPDATES ON TWITTER

The Obama doctrine: Reversing Bush and creating vacuums of power from Casablanca to Sakhalin

Sol Sanders also writes the "Asia Investor" column weekly for

Nature does abhor a vacuum as Socrates and Gallileo said but that horror only extends to approximately 32 feet as Torricelli learned. Alas! The implications for the increasing vacuum in the interplay of international forces that the Obama Administration is creating will cover more than the vast distances that in our age only take an intercontinental ballistics missile a few minutes to overcome.

Almost as though the only guide of the new administration is to reverse any position taken by previous strategists – including many presidents of both parties who preceded George W. Bush – President Barack Hussein Obama and his advisers are creating vast new power vacuums from Casablanca to Sakhalin. And into those absences of demonstrative power, enemies of any world order for peace and stability [and therefore the U.S.], adventurers and/or propagandists, are making hay. The repercussions are likely to be disastrous if not catastrophic.   

Also In This Edition

As the international crises grow in number and ferocity, one looks in vain for examples of the past when even inexperienced but dynamic American leadership seized opportunities. Memory recalls how Harry Truman rose to the challenge of the new Cold War foisted on the entire world by an aggrandizing Soviet Union only months after the U.S. had emerged from the bloody sacrifices and mess of World War II.

Rather, the Obamaites look backward with invalid and ill conceived apologies and attempts to rewrite the ifs of history. In vain, in international affairs nowhere is Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s dictum of using crisis to seize grand opportunities to be found.

From the Middle East where the Obamites have adopted the skewed view of history that the myriad problems of 325 million Arabs [or 1.2 billion Muslims] will be solved only first through an Israeli-Arab accommodation to East Asia where Obama has put the keystone of American defense and Asian stability, the U.S.-Japan Defense Alliance, on a back burner, the Administration is plowing old fields with the same old clichés of the infantile left.

In all fairness, the Obamaites are, in many instances, simply building on the failures of previous American strategies and policies. But in all their hubris in discussing these issues – almost always in total confusion – the Obamaites draw the wrong conclusions.

In Iraq, by forcing withdrawals on a schedule, Obama has alerted the enemy to just how long they have to survive to win. Obama is setting up that valid part of the Vietnam analogy: awakening hopes of early American withdrawal which would undermine the newly created military and governance structures Washington had hoped to set in place. How long will it be before a disgusted public and a Democratic Congress cuts off the lifeline of the totally dependent Iraqi forces we are trying to create as with Vietnam?

In Afghanistan, Obama has fulfilled his campaign promise of making the Afghan-Pakistan region his “just” war. But his favorite strategist Gen. James Jones has repeated the Bush-Rumsfeld mistake of underestimating the boots on the ground necessary to win an asymmetrical war – and announced it. This strategy is sacrificing young American, British and Canadian lives to take terrain by day only to be given back in the long night that follows in the inevitable pullback for lack of sufficient pacification forces.

In Iran, one is reminded of that old Russian Jewish saying: he is someone who when spat on says it is raining. Concession after concession to the Tehran mullahs is being met with publicly trumpeted disdain – and continued support through organs of state terrorism to troublemakers in the Mideast region such as Hamas in Gaza, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and the Syrians [who continue to house terrorist organizations headquarters and pass jihadists to Iraq]. The latest gambit, releasing members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards caught directing sabotage against American forces in Iraq, will do no better. Internal Iranian dissent is not supported in public statements while pubic homage is paid to tyrannical religious fanatics [nondiscriminatory obeisance in this case, since Obama was willing to make the ceremonial bow to the Saudi family tryant].

In Pakistan, Washington continues to demoralize the only skeleton of stability in the country, the military, with ballyhooed public statements questioning their commitment and Monday-morning quarterbacking. After an initial feint, Obama’s layered minions in the region – almost as many as among the Washington tsars – have dropped their pressure for an Indian-Pakistan accommodation. Only with that would any regional strategy be accomplished. There is no counter to the continuing and growing Islamabad-Beijing alliance despite the American billions voted to sustain the Pakistan government.

In Sri Lanka, the opportunity afforded by the government’s winning a military victory after three decades of civil conflict, is being passed to – of all people – the Chinese. This comes after Washington [at London’s instigation and the claque of the highly orchestrated Tamil diaspora] in the Bush years cut liaison with loudly held but inoperable calls against human rights abuses. Beijing not only played a considerable role in supplying military and financial assistance in Colombo’s victory but is now moving to set up a pseudo-commercial base in the most strategic single site in the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, Washington has no role in achieving the political compromise between Sinhalese and Tamils that would insure a just and durable peace.

In the Koreas, the Obama Administration still chases will o’ the wisp multilateral diplomacy which really would depend almost entirely on Beijing to halt the North Korean progress toward nuclear weapons – and more important its missiles proliferation. The opportunity afforded by the first realistic government in a decade in Seoul – maybe for that long sought mutual defense pact with Japan – is not pursued. It was even President Lee Myung-bak who had to reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance as the major deterrent on the Peninsular at the recent press conference. The all-important free trade agreement has been allowed to dawdle.

In China, the Obamaites have wandered even further afield than in the waning years of the Bush Administration in all the issues that dog the Beijing-Washington relationship. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner drifts all over the spectrum in his policy attitudes toward America’s greatest lender. As Beijing desperately tries to raise the subsidies on its exports in a collapsed worldwide market, Washington finally gets around to long standing violations of China’s World Trade Organization trade commitments – if tentatively. Unilateral sanctions on Chinese organizations as not only North Korea’s principal trading partner but fronts for many of its notorious criminal international money operations – the only weapon short of military action left in the U.S. arsenal – is held in abeyance for totally innocuous UN sanctions. A forthcoming meeting of the two government offices on strategic engagement is likely to be not more than a bull session. The U.S. Pearl Harbor command still dreams of collaboration with what inevitably looks like a potential threat for which the U.S. must be forearmed..

The list of similar actions or inactions in Asia as with dealing with Vladimir Putin neo-Soviet Russia, a frightened Eastern Europe and renascent caudillismo in Latin America, and African chaos goes on and on.

At home, as tens of millions are thrown at projects worthy, if at all only in the height of prosperity, cutbacks on military expenditures is the order of the day. That the expansion of American military force in the Reagan years which broke the back of the Cold War and played a principal role in ending the Carter stagflation “malaise” is lost in the underbrush of the quaint Obamaite 1960s radicals’ view of recent history.

The sophistry used to explain a cutback in anti-missile research and deployment matches anything ever seen during the debates over “the missile gap” of the 1960s. The blunt fact is that both the two principal pariah states, North Korea and Iran, are progressing toward intercontinental ballistics missiles which would be a direct threat to the U.S. and its allies And instead of doing everything that can be done to counter them with an expanding anti-missile defense program, the Obamaites are cutting back. Aviation production lines are being scrapped/limited at a time when our allies are begging for the sale of additional fighter aircraft for what Washington has long requested, a heightening military posture by our allies. It defies even the logic of the leaders of this Congress.

Whether it is the Sudan, where a tsar has just blown a “comprehensive” [Obama’s favorite nonsensical mantra] settlement meeting by inviting Chinese participation or no African program at all [where uncharacteristically, and of course, ignored by the mainstream media, Obama personally admitted the accomplishments of a Bush Administration’s progress], the Obama team’s pattern is the same.

The Obamaites are sucking the air out of American power and prestige despite the matinee idol popularity of the young president.

Sol W. Sanders, (, is an Asian specialist with more than 25 years in the region, and a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and United Press International. He writes weekly for World and

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