Monday, January 28, 2013

John Kerry on Egypt: A Failure To Grasp How Foreign Policy Works

Currently, Morsi pledges democracy will move forward -- even as he resorts to Murbarak's tactics:
Egypt's president declared a state of emergency and curfew in three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by a weekend wave of unrest that left more than 50 dead, using tactics of the ousted regime to get a grip on discontent over his Islamist policies and the slow pace of change.

Angry and almost screaming, Mohammed Morsi vowed in a televised address on Sunday night that he would not hesitate to take even more action to stem the latest eruption of violence across much of the country. But at the same time, he sought to reassure Egyptians that his latest moves would not plunge the country back into authoritarianism.

"There is no going back on freedom, democracy and the supremacy of the law," he said.
Against this background, read what Barry Rubin writes about Obama's choice to replace Hillary Clinton, noting that Secretary of State Kerry Shows He Doesn’t Have a Clue About How Foreign Policy Works:

Unfortunately, Kerry subscribes — as is so fashionable today in the Obama administration and academia — to what I’ll call the “abusive relationship approach” to foreign policy.

If another country supports you and is good for your interests, you take that country’s good will for granted and mistreat it. If another regime — say, Turkey, Pakistan, Venezuela, Egypt, and at times in the recent past, Syria and Iran come to mind — walks all over you, then you chase after it all the more passionately and shower it with presents.
It is the latter category that Egypt falls into, with Morsi's vicious antisemitic remarks about Israel coming to light -- as well as the persecution of Copts, Morsi's attempted grab for power and the ongoing dissatisfaction of Egyptians with Morsi's leadership overall.

Under pointed questioning by Senator Rand Paul, Kerry is reduced to platitudes about the delicacy of the situation and claiming that Egypt is keeping to its peace agreement with Israel -- ignoring statements coming out of Egypt about cancelling the peace treaty, let alone talk of conquering Jerusalem.

Read the whole thing and how Rubin analyzes the give-and-take between Kerry and Sen. Paul.

Rubin notes how a master statesman such as Kissinger, providing aid is not automatic, open-ended and unconditional, but rather can be used as leverage to keep the recipient off-balance and more receptive to influence. Kerry is no Kissinger. Instead he willingly tossing away whatever leverage the US may have. In Kerry's conception of statecraft, there is no option of the US being tough, lest there be a risk of causing problems. Since the US must always be perceived as a friend, intimidation is never an option. Intimidation is a relic of the imperialist past of the US.

Thus you have the contrast between the Bush and Obama administration in the use of leverage:
  • When the Palestinian Authority approached the UN seeking membership and recognition as a state, the Bush administration made it clear to the UN and allies that there would be a strong price to pay in U.S. support and donations. The PA backed down.

    With Obama opposing the same thing but not playing any trump cards, America’s “friends” almost unanimously voted against Washington’s position, and it suffered a serious loss whose costs (including the permanent destruction of the “peace process”) have not yet been counted.

  • When it was suggested to Kerry that U.S. aid to Pakistan be held up until it released a political prisoner, a doctor who helped America locate Osama bin Laden and who is now in prison and reportedly has been tortured, Kerry refused.
And so we have in Kerry the model of what to expect over the next 4 years. The fact that the leader of Egypt has been exposed as a crude Antisemite is supposed to be a prime example of the complexities of diplomacy in avoiding instability and radicalization.

In reality, it is a prime example of the same kind of blindered thinking that led Kerry to insist on meeting after meeting with the Assad regime in Syria.

And we all see how well that turned out.

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1 comment:

Empress Trudy said...

The real issue is that Obama doesn't have a policy, doesn't have a worldview or a stance on just about everything. His view of the world is the neighborhood and doesn't extend beyond that. Whereas Bush's foreign policy could be seen as little more than crisis management, Obama's is an essential nihilism. There's nothing there, not even spin and lies. It's just empty. Obama's foreign policy begins and ends with 'you're all on your own'.