Everywhere there is on display evidence of the rogues taking the Obama administration's measure, and of America's vulnerable allies scurrying for cover. A fortnight ago, Lebanon's young prime minister made his way from Beirut to Damascus: Saad Hariri had come to pay tribute to the Syrian ruler.Read the entire article here.
Nearly five years earlier, Saad Hariri had insisted on the truth about the identity of his father's killers. It had been a tumultuous time. Rafik Hariri, a tycoon and former prime minister caught up in a challenge to Syria's hegemony in Lebanon, had been struck down by a massive bomb on Beirut's beachfront. It's obvious, isn't it, the mourners proclaimed, the trail led to Damascus.
In the aftermath of that brazen political murder, a Syrian tyranny in Lebanon that had all but erased the border between the two countries was brought to a swift end with what would come to be known as the Cedar Revolution. The Pax Americana that had laid waste to the despotism of Saddam Hussein frightened the Syrian rulers, and held out the prospect that a similar fate could yet befall them.
We're now worlds away from that moment in history. The man who demolished the Iraqi tyranny, George. W. Bush, is no longer in power, and a different sentiment drives America's conduct abroad. Saad Hariri had no choice but to make peace with his father's sworn enemies—that short voyage he made to Damascus was his adjustment to the retreat of American power.
In headier moments, Mr. Hariri and the leaders of the Cedar Revolution had been emboldened by American protection. It was not only U.S. military power that had given them heart.
There was that "diplomacy of freedom," the proclamation that the Pax Americana had had its fill with the autocracies and the rogues of the Greater Middle East. There but for the grace of God go we, the autocrats whispered to themselves as they pondered the fall of the Iraqi despot. To be sure, there was mayhem in the new Iraq—the Arab and Iranian rulers, and the jihadists they winked at and aided, had made sure of that. But there was the promise of freedom, meaningful elections, a new dignity for men and women claiming their own country.
What a difference three or four years make. The despots have waited out that burst of American power and optimism. No despot fears Mr. Obama, and no blogger in Cairo or Damascus or Tehran, no demonstrator in those cruel Iranian streets, expects Mr. Obama to ride to the rescue. To be sure, it was in the past understood that we can't bear all burdens abroad, or come to the defense of everyone braving tyranny. But there was always that American assertion that when things are in the balance we would always be on freedom's side.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
'A Cold-Blooded Foreign Policy'
FOUAD AJAMI has written a devastating critique of the Obama foreign policy for the Wall Street Journal. (“A Cold-Blooded Foreign Policy”). Because the policy’s key ingredient is American retreat from power exercised abroad, both enemies and friends of the United States are changing their way of seeing things.