A feckless and weak President – proves it.
DEC 29, 2014, VOL. 20, NO. 16 • BY STEPHEN F. HAYES
We don’t expect much. It’s been nearly six years. We’re long past the point of hoping that Barack Obama will adopt policies that deserve our grudging approval, if not enthusiastic endorsement, particularly on foreign policy and national security.
But we do expect something.
We believe that the president, whatever his ideological disposition, ought to be an unapologetic defender of America when she is smeared or slandered. At a bare minimum, a president ought not lend credence to those who disparage the United States for imagined offenses.
This is apparently too high a standard for Barack Obama.
As Thomas Joscelyn reports elsewhere in these pages, two days before the United States transferred six Guantánamo detainees to Uruguay, President José Mujica released a statement denouncing the United States. “We have offered our hospitality for humans suffering a heinous kidnapping in Guantánamo,” it read. Because of their suffering, the detainees—all with direct ties to al Qaeda leadership—were accepted by Uruguay for “humanitarian” reasons and given refugee status.
A subsequent Defense Department statement about the transfer said nothing about these outrageous claims and simply thanked Uruguay for taking in the detainees. Did we miss the administration’s reaction to Mujica’s comments? Did the administration miss the comments? We asked the White House if the U.S. government had responded to Mujica’s statement or pushed back against it in any way. And if not, does the administration believe that Mujica’s comments are a fair characterization of how the al Qaeda members came to be detained at Guantánamo?
Patrick Ventrell, spokesman for the National Security Council, gave us this response:
We are grateful to President Mujica and Uruguay for providing to these individuals an opportunity to start anew their lives in Uruguay and to become contributing members of the Uruguayan society. However, we must refer you to the government of Uruguay for more information related to President Mujica’s comments.
There was nothing at all from the White House disputing Mujica’s calumny about a “heinous kidnapping,” no protest of the suggestion that al Qaeda operatives need “humanitarian” relief from the United States, and not a word in defense of the U.S. military and intelligence officials who risked their lives to help bring these dangerous terrorists into U.S. custody.
It’s not just what the White House refused to say, but what it said. The administration went out of its way to articulate a belief that the freed al Qaeda terrorists—five of whom were classified as “high risk” detainees by Joint Task Force-Guantánamo—may well become productive members of society.
Critics have long complained that the Obama administration mistreats our allies and coddles our enemies. There are exceptions, of course, but does anyone seriously dispute that general tendency? In just the past few months:
- The Obama administration released five senior Taliban operatives in exchange for an American soldier who walked away from his unit. The five Taliban commanders were transferred to Qatar despite warnings from top U.S. intelligence officials, including the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, that they are nearly certain to attack U.S. interests in the future. Among the stated objectives for the prisoner swap: restarting peace talks with the Taliban.
- Top Obama officials promised to impose additional sanctions on Iran if the regime breached the terms of the interim deal on its nuclear program. Iran was caught violating that agreement, and the administration, rather than impose new sanctions, launched a full-scale effort to block them. As Iran’s leaders publicly mocked U.S. weakness, Obama officials insisted that negotiations must continue.
- Israeli newspapers reported that the Obama administration was considering sanctions on Israel for its settlement activity. When reporters asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest about the reports, he repeatedly refused to deny them. He couldn’t. They were true.
- And, of course, last week the president announced his intention to normalize relations with the despotic regime in Cuba. In exchange for two hostages whose release was sought by Washington, the Obama administration agreed to free three members of the “Cuban Five,” spies for the Castro regime who helped a Cuban Air Force MiG shoot down two small U.S. planes dropping anti-Castro leaflets, killing all four aboard. Raul Castro, who spoke to Obama at length the day before the announcement, objected to the imprisonment of the Cuban assets, admitting that they had been acting on his behalf. “I gave the order,” he told Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts who helped broker the deal, according to an account in Politico.
This systematic pusillanimity is not a new phenomenon. Other examples: the refusal by the Obama administration to criticize the Iranian regime when it put down the “Green Revolution” in 2009; the administration’s eagerness to “reset” relations with an increasingly hostile Russia; its secret negotiations with the Taliban even as the group continued its attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; the refusal to meet with any Egyptian opposition groups other than the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama is hardly the first president to seek rapprochement with our adversaries and reconciliation with our enemies, of course. But his determination to make nice—even in the face of clear and repeated rejection from the other side—is unparalleled. For Obama and his team, diplomacy with rogue regimes is an end in itself, and any deal, however one-sided, is a win, especially one that the White House communications mavens think that friendly media will call a “breakthrough” or “historic.”
In that sense, Obama is America’s first postmodern president. If his predecessors tended to see the world in terms of good and evil, Obama sees the world in terms of victims and victimizers—with the United States often in the role of victimizer. In that view, long favored by the academic left that shaped a young Barack Obama, American foreign policy is one long train of abuses, marked by casual aggression and eager imperiousness.
So when a leftist leader like Mujica condemns the United States for the “heinous kidnapping” of al Qaeda operatives, Obama says nothing in protest. His silence is assent. And it’s a disgrace.