At this writing, half a million civilians in Libya’s third largest port-city of Misurata feel the blast of Moammar Gadhafi’s only half-crippled firepower.
Pitifully, they include tens of thousands of Black African illegal migrants trying to get to Europe — hostages like oil in Gadhafi’s blackmail games with the Europeans. Two Western journalists’ deaths dramatized what could well turn into the kind of humanitarian catastrophe the UN trumpets but repeatedly fails to prevent. [A harbinger of a coming catastrophe, ignored by the media, was the loss of 200 souls on a refugee ship in early April.]
| Cars line up for fuel in front of a petrol station in Zuwara, western Libya on April 23. AP/Darko Bandic
Misurata is emblematic as the rebels’ outpost in the west close to the Libyan capital, 500 miles from their Benghazi stronghold in eastern Cyrenaica, and proof Gadhafi rules largely by terror.
But the Obama Administration has failed to hand off to NATO the dictator’s ouster for which Washington itself along with the Europeans and most Arab states repeatedly calls. Half-hearted attempts to arm the rebels — first with “non-lethal” equipment and later with armed drones — are too little and too late to end what Washington admits is stalemate.
At the UN Security Council, opposition from China and Russia [and hypocritical India] always ready to sabotage Western initiatives, blocks expanding sanctions, including tens of billions Gadhafi’s family still dispenses. They help bribe African states — long on Gadhafi’s dole — who call for a negotiated settlement to rescue the regime. It also whets Russia and China’s appetite for reinitiating lucrative weapons sales to Gadhafi.
This fiasco is only the most flagrant in a growing list of Obama foreign policy disasters. Granted most crises are long in the making, nevertheless, Mr. Obama’s indecisiveness in all but his adamant refusal to fulfill the U.S. role as leader of the Western alliance aggravates every Mideast problem:
Washington’s obstinate pursuit of accommodation with Syria, perhaps the Arab world’s bloodiest regime, has come a cropper as opponents test whether Dictator Bashir al-Assad will escalate current dozens of killings against peaceful demonstrators to the tens of thousands during his father’s reign or abdicate to proliferating Muslim radicals.
The Obama administration’s insistence on pressing the issue of outposts in the West Bank, putting the Jewish state’s security at risk, has brought a near Washington-Jerusalem breakdown, endangering the U.S.’s only stable alliance in the region, further negating Israeli-Arab compromise.
Washington’s indecision in fostering a Mubarak transition opened the floodgates to the Muslim Brotherhood [whom only Mr. Obama’s Arab experts characterize as “moderate”], weakening Cairo’s military leadership and jeopardizing Egypt’s opposition to Iranian regional expansion.
The administration’s belated tepid support for Teheran’s dissidents has not only emboldened the mullahs to strengthen their terrorist tentacles to the Mediterranean and into Afghanistan, but encouraged the Germans, Indians, and of course, the Chinese, to continue flaunting economic sanctions.
The President’s pretentious “outreach” rhetoric only strengthened the Arab/Muslim “victimization” complexes and symbolic bows to the Saudi monarchy have soured with what Riyadh sees as sabotage of its interests in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen resulting in its non-cooperation on boosting OPEC quotas thereby hiking petroleum prices.
Everywhere U.S. prestige is taking a shellacking, not only from its opponents, but increasingly becoming suspect to European allies who suddenly have been set adrift without their traditional recourse to American leadership and firepower, in the midst of their own Euro/EC crisis.
The approaching electoral season’s probable concentration on domestic concerns is likely to give the Obama administration some respite from foreign policy critics. Grounding his campaign headquarters in Chicago — to mask his dependence on its political base among the chattering classes on both coasts — may help obscure international issues. Indeed, American foreign policy since its emergence on the eve of World War I as a major player on the world stage has too often been piquancy for violent fluctuation between withdrawal and forced engagement.
But in the 21st century the digital revolution has sounded the death knell of many older perceived choices with instantaneous communication, globalized economics and space age weapons of mass destruction missilery. And, in the end, what may well be building is a new and unforeseen crisis — at the level of Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Turning away may not be a real option the American public will have this time.
Sol W. Sanders, (email@example.com), writes the 'Follow the Money' column for The Washington Times . He is also a contributing editor for WorldTribune.com and EAST-ASIA-INTEL.com. An Asian specialist, Mr. Sanders is a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and United Press International. >
The most crucial test of America is not the high price of oil, or a growing Chinese power, or even radical Islam; it is whether or not America can survive Obama, who has crippled American mores, standards, traditions and principles. Under Obama, America has regressed from being the most powerful country in the world to being perhaps the most impotent power in the world.
1:28 p.m. / Tuesday, April 26, 2011