Obama’s foreign policy plans flawed

Matthew White

Sen. Barack Obama is releasing the foreign policy strategy he’d like to pursue as our next president, and it demonstrates more weakness than strength and more inexperience than maturity.

Recently Obama told the International Herald Tribune he would meet with Iran’s leaders and offer economic inducements if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and other economic issues.

In his hour-long interview with that newspaper, Obama pointed to Iran’s support for Shiite militant groups in Iraq (which are currently attacking American troops), Iran’s larger support for “terrorist” activities, and the nation’s suspected nuclear weapons program as a pattern of irresponsible actions.

Unfortunately, Obama’s astute acknowledgment of irresponsible actions doesn’t extend to his own ideas, which are quite irresponsible themselves. Obama seems to lack an understanding about what it means to be formally recognized by a U.S. president in a diplomatic session. Simultaneously, he persists in laying out a dangerous foreign policy that demonstrates he is unfit for the highest elected office in our nation.

Even Obama’s chief competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination understands the danger in this sort of diplomacy. Consider the words of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton following a July presidential debate in which Obama said he’d meet directly with foreign dictators.

“I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive. Senator Obama gave an answer I think he regrets today,” Clinton said.

Except that Clinton was wrong — Obama didn’t regret his words last July and doesn’t regret them now. Obama seems to represent a stream of liberal thought that hopes to avoid hard leadership decisions with the hope of buying off our enemies rather than confronting them about their actions. Sen. Clinton is right when she calls Obama naive.

Consider the man Obama would likely be negotiating with: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad often denies the Holocaust took place, claims that there are no homosexuals in his nation and says the United States is responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Additionally, he calls for the elimination of the state of Israel.

Obama seems to be under the impression that it’s possible to reason with a leader as divorced from reality as Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, I believe he is mistaken in this. Reasoning with Ahmadinejad would be useless because he has little capacity for rational thought.

If anyone was going to reach Ahmadinejad, it would have been the president of Columbia University who recently confronted the Iranian leader with harsh criticism for his outrageous positions. Ahmadinejad followed that criticism with an anti-American tour around the world, speaking poorly of our nation at every stop.

For a president of the United States to formally recognize someone such as Ahmadinejad would give him more credibility than he deserves to receive. And, buying off Iran would simply provide that nation with additional resources it can use to further anti-American causes around the world.

Our next president is going to need a foreign policy approach that recognizes the dangers we face around the globe and acts accordingly to diminish them. And in large part this will include diplomacy, but it must be a responsible diplomacy. It must be a diplomacy where our counterparts are not negotiating with a gun already.

The world is far from an ideal place, and Obama doesn’t seem to recognize that as he continues to chart an irresponsible plan that operates on an axiom of weakness. It’s a plan that America can’t afford and Obama is a would-be president we can’t afford.

Matthew White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].