Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Obama's Foreign Policy: Image vs. Substance

AP: Bin Laden's Obama criticism a sign he is worried

Or it could be a sign he really doesn't like Barack Obama all that much. Or both. Either way.

The AP story contains several quotes from "analysts" fully deserving of the scare quote treatment. Either they are blind enough to actually believe that Obama differs substantively from his Republican predecessor on foreign policy, or they are disingenuous enough to knowingly shower a series of misrepresentations and falsehoods on the American public.
"Obama's election is just about the worst thing that could have happened to these guys," said Tom Sanderson, a terrorism expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "They knew right away that his election undermined a key part of their argument that the U.S. was anti-Islamic, that the U.S. was racist."
This election was a win-win for al-Qaeda. Bin Laden is trying to bankrupt the US by drawing it into unpopular, unwinnable military conflicts in deserts and mountains on the other side of the globe. McCain would have chased Bin Laden "to the gates of hell," at which point presumably he would have given up quietly, and Obama has shown no willingness to end the "Global War on Terror" begun by his predecessor. Make no mistake: this is a game where the only way to win is to refuse to play.

But back to the article. If a PR blitz by al-Qaeda is evidence that the organization is worried about Obama making diplomatic inroads, then what do we make of Obama's own PR campaign?
His speech at Cairo University Thursday is part of a campaign to prove he differs from former President George W. Bush, whose invasion of Iraq and aggressive counterterrorism tactics stoked Muslim ire and helped al-Qaida rally support.
Obama can talk all he wants, but how do we expect the Muslim world to hear his soothing voice over the rattle of American machine guns and the explosive roar of American bombs? The al-Qaeda propaganda writes itself.

Obama has refused to investigate the torture of Muslims at Guantanamo and in secret facilities, has expanded the war in Afghanistan (which is now essentially also a war in Pakistan), and has not pulled US troops out of Iraq. The popularity his overtures have won him will only last so long. After that, the cycle that starts with US interventionism, continues with the creation of new terrorists, and ends with the murder of Americans will continue unabated.

Expect all but the most principled and astute liberal commentators to continue searching for excuses for the "peace candidate" to avoid having to admit that their messiah is a warmonger with a silver tongue. Expect the neocons to desperately nitpick at every decision Obama makes in a farcical attempt to make him appear "soft on terror" compared to their political allies.

To the families of our dead soldiers, and those of the dead civilians in Iraq and elsewhere, Obama will seem neither peaceful nor soft on anything.

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