[Posted by Karl]
Yesterday, after noting that Pres. Obama’s foreign policy has been a failure with adversaries and allies alike, one commenter suggested it was much too early to lodge such criticism. The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl did not seem to think so, but it is a question worth addressing on its own.
Pres. Obama’s election continues a post-WWII 16-year cycle favoring relatively inexperienced Democrats preaching the gospel of Hopenchange. Their foreign policy experiences are instructive.
JFK’s handling of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Vienna summit convinced Khrushchev that Kennedy was feckless, which helped precipitate the Cuban missile crisis.
Jimmy Carter prided himself on a humble foreign policy that worked to the advantage of a mass-murdering Iranian theocracy, Soviet aggression in Afghanistan and the popularization of suicide bombings in the Mideast.
Bill Clinton paid insufficient attention to the growing threat of Islamic terrorists at the outset of his presidency, with ultimately catastrophic results.
The Clinton era is mentioned — though not by name, natch — as a precedent in
Dana Milbank’s David Ignatius’s must-read account of how Obama’s unprecedented disclosure of CIA operational methods is already degrading US intelligence collection:
One veteran counterterrorism operative says that agents in the field are already being more careful about using the legal findings that authorize covert action. An example is the so-called “risk of capture” interview that takes place in the first hour after a terrorism suspect is grabbed. This used to be the key window of opportunity, in which the subject was questioned aggressively and his cellphone contacts and “pocket litter” were exploited quickly.
Now, field officers are more careful. They want guidance from headquarters. They need legal advice. I’m told that in the case of an al-Qaeda suspect seized in Iraq several weeks ago, the CIA didn’t even try to interrogate him. The agency handed him over to the U.S. military.
Agency officials also worry about the effect on foreign intelligence services that share secrets with the United States in a process politely known as “liaison.” A former official who remains in close touch with key Arab allies such as Egypt and Jordan warns: “There is a growing concern that the risk is too high to do the things with America they’ve done in the past.”
Joe Biden recognized that presidents are often tested by an international crisis early in their terms. It becomes all the more likely if America’s adversaries think the president is an easy mark. Accordingly, the sooner that Obama realizes his foreign and national securitiy policies are dangerously naive, the better.