Obama seems to have opposed stronger action in Syria and in opposing Russian aggression in the Ukraine out of some demented belief that he is smarter than everyone else, and it is OK to stand aside and watch 250,000 people die in Syria, if that is necessary to “work through the Russians” to take a larger chess piece by making the nuclear deal with Iran. Or to adopt what was in effect a policy of appeasement against Russia as they invaded and “annexed” the Crimea, and invaded — and have hung on to — the eastern Ukraine, in order to gain Russian support for the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.
Richard Spencer of The Telegraph has summarized what appears to be Obama’s highly intellectual policy towards Syria.
Richard Spencer (Middle East Editor, “Barack Obama does not want to defeat Isil – yet; For American foreign policy, winning the war against Isil quickly would be pointless and potentially disastrous” The Telegraph, July 31, 2015 (8:00 p.m. BST).
See also the articles by David Ignatius cited earlier here.
In Ethiopia this week, Obama hardly pressed the country’s leaders on their human rights violations. The U.S. has given priority to fighting terrorism, and seems willing to look away from seeing human rights violations in Africa.
Sharon L. Fawcett, “Obama’s heartbreaking words in Addis Ababa: It only took eight words for Barack Obama to break the hearts of millions of Ethiopians. Alemayehu Mariam was one of them,” Righting It: Writing to champion human RIGHTS, August 6, 2015.
Fawcett writes, “Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ethiopia to address the African Union. While there, on July 27th, he took part in a press conference with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. When asked by a Fox News journalist about his “obvious concerns about human rights…in Ethiopia,” Obama paused, looked down, and stated that he was “mindful of Ethiopia’s history,” then followed up with his view of Ethiopia’s recent elections: “the elections put forward a democratically elected government.” Fawcett goes on to refute any assertion that the government was democratically elected, citing Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and U.S. State Department reports on human rights in the country.
“Words and Deeds: Obama’s Defense of Democracy in Africa, 2011,” The Trenchant Observer, August 1, 2011.
“Obama and Democracy in Africa, 2011,” The Trenchant Observer, July 16, 2011.
Obama wants to foster entrepreneurial activity in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa, without taking on the hard repression that exists in so many countries, which will have a decisive impact on who the new entrepreneurs are.
The need to support human rights defenders and to strengthen civil society is obliterated by the stong emphasis on business and weak positions (and actions) on human rights. African countries need not only to grow, but also to distribute both old and new income beyond narrow elites.
The message is clear: The U.S. is willing, even eager, to work with dictators in Africa on security and economic issues, regardless of their records on human rights.
This is consistent with Obama’s call to Putin to thank him for his support on the Iran nuclear deal, as if it could not have been achieved without it.
No one asks, “Why didn’t Putin call Obama to thank him for his support in securing the nuclear deal?” That, howver, is a fair and even an essential question.
The president gives lip service to human rights and civil society. But as we’ve learned, we must watch carefully what he actually does, not merely what he says. We need to track carefully how much money the U.S. puts into foreign assistance in Africa to support those fighting dictatorships and for the rule of law.
To ignore human rights in Africa, in deeds if not in words, is to follow a false path, and it is sad to see Obama continue down it.
Think only of what has been going on in Egypt, and how silent the U.S. administration has been in the face of horrendous abuses.
The Trenchant Observer