Obama's Globe: A President's Abandonment of U.S. Allies Around the World
By Bruce Herschensohn
(Beaufort Books, 182 pages, $24.95)
Bruce Herschensohn is a man with a clear-eyed view of how enemies and friends of the United States react to our government's rhetoric and actions (or inactions). He is a man whose wise foreign policy analysis is based on years of thinking (and writing) about history and international relations. He is a man who understands the value of "treating the U.S.A.'s friends as friends and adversaries as adversaries."
In other words, Bruce Herschensohn does not work for the Obama administration.
In his new book, Obama's Globe, Mr. Herschensohn, whose résumé includes achievements in everything from politics and policy to film making to book authorship (largely on foreign affairs), explains how President Obama's "abandonment of U.S. allies around the world" is reducing America's influence and harming our national security.
Obama's Globe, which was published a mere seven weeks ago and less than a month before the recent wave of attacks against Americans across the Muslim world, begins with Herschensohn laying out the current global strategic situation, particularly that the U.S. is at war against Islamic terrorism -- whether President Obama likes it or not and even if his administration has banned the use of such terms by our diplomats and federal bureaucrats.
The book explains how Barack Obama's obvious ignorance of the lessons of history, such as that "wars are not ended. Wars are won or lost," underlies this president's too-consistent-to-be-accidental record of terrible foreign policy decisions. Terrible, at least, if one believes the goal of foreign policy should be to advance American interests, power, and security.
As Mr. Herschensohn notes dryly, "the greatest accomplishment of the Jimmy Carter Presidency was that he provided forthcoming Presidents with the evidence of what tremendous damage could be done by choosing to abandon the nation's friends." Barack Obama must have been out with his Choom Gang the day they taught this lesson, as he has mistreated allies and cozied up to competitors and enemies as aggressively as Carter did with, not surprisingly to those who learn the lessons of history, terrible results across the globe.
After setting the stage by describing today's dangerous world, Obama's Globe takes readers around the planet, explaining how, time after time, this administration has made our world that much more dangerous.
The voyage takes us to England, the Czech Republic, and Poland, then across North Africa, into Iran and Syria, to neighboring Israel, east to Afghanistan and Pakistan, then into China and North Korea before returning to our own continent and visiting Honduras and Canada.
In each and every case, the president has refused to support -- or proactively betrayed -- our allies. At the same time, this administration has engaged in a foreign policy based on "softness and smartness" which our adversaries perceive clearly and accurately as weakness, while the needs of our position in the world, our relationships with friends and enemies alike, scream out for a realistic and strong approach. Unfortunately, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seem congenitally incapable of considering, much less implementing, a strategy based on another clear lesson of history: peace through strength.
When it comes to dealing with tyrants, Herschensohn says that "'peace talks' are not worthwhile." In the specific example of the Taliban in Afghanistan, with whom the Obama administration has been having futile discussions, Obama's Globe asks the question: "What should be done regarding the Taliban if not negotiate?" The answer is short and precise: "Win." It is a point made repeatedly in the book: American foreign policy must be about winning, not about feeling good or being liked.
In Pakistan, where the national intelligence service, the ISI, has long-standing ties to radical Islamists including the Taliban, Herschensohn suggests that unless the ISI and the Pakistani government "become true partners against both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the United States should propose a Mutual Defense Treaty with India." Few things would frighten Pakistan -- and perhaps China -- more.
In case it wasn't already clear, Mr. Herschensohn's is nobody's dove. He opposes all cuts in the defense budget except those asked for by the Department of Defense. As he put it in a brief interview for this article, "Defense is not a Jobs Bill." He also aggressively opposes the atrophy of our nation's space exploration program, which he describes as "reversing Kennedy's quest of space supremacy."
So it is not surprising that while he compliments President Obama "for advocating and ordering U.S. forces to take part in the 'No Fly Zone' and air strikes over Libya," he is scathing in his criticism of Obama's leading from behind, noting that no other American president would have agreed to "become a part of a coalition of nations rather than being the leader of the coalition…"
While this view is widely held in conservative circles, it is increasingly common among Republicans, particularly in the Ron Paul wing of the party, to question the use of American military power around the world. Bruce Herschensohn has no such questions, wondering aloud "what the world would have been like if the U.S. hadn't entered World War II and the Cold War and Kuwait and Bosnia and Kosovo and how the world will likely look if the U.S. chooses to reject that role. But better to imagine it than have the next generation live it."
One of Mr. Herschensohn's boldest exhortations, and one which differs from every senior member of Congress and every presidential administration in recent memory, is how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
After explaining the military history of modern Israel, Herschensohn exposes the lie of "the 1967 lines," noting that in 1967 the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were the territory of Egypt and Jordan. Thus going back to those lines would not mean the creation of a Palestinian state -- which has never existed. While Herschensohn vehemently opposes forcing Israel to give back territory won in wars started by the Arabs, he does agree with his own logical conclusion, telling the Spectator "I believe in a One State Solution called Israel."
From the so-called "Right of Return" to Barack Obama's statement that the Palestinians should have "a sovereign and contiguous state," every aspect of the "peace process" of the last few decades and particularly the current president's thinking (not that he seems to be thinking about it very much) seem designed to assist the Arabs' long-term goal of the elimination of Israel. While a one-state solution may seem unrealistically far afield of current thinking both inside and outside the U.S., Bruce Herschensohn's arguments are thought-provoking and a valuable contribution to a situation that has been hampered by stultified and stagnant thinking, and further hampered by Barack Obama's destruction of another special relationship.
While the examples noted in this review are all based in or near the Middle East, the point is not a geographical analysis as much as emphasizing the Obama administration's pattern of mistreating friends and coddling adversaries. In that same vein, Herschensohn has numerous examples of abysmal foreign policy behavior by the Obama administration closer to home, not least being the underreported support of Obama for a leftist president of Honduras who wanted to remain in office despite that nation's constitution's term limits provisions. In doing so, Obama opposed Honduras' supreme court and "the chief elements of democracy in Honduras. Opposing [the rule of law in Honduras] was the government of Castro's Cuba, the Chavez government of Venezuela, and the Obama administration of the United States of America."
Given the recent events across the Muslim world, Bruce Herschensohn's book was unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, prescient. Abandoning allies and projecting weakness has emboldened our competitors and enemies from Egypt to Iran to Russia to North Korea.
In a mere 175 pages of eminently readable prose, Bruce Herschensohn calmly makes a devastating case against the foreign policy of President Barack Hussein Obama and, more importantly, offers readers a foundation on which they can build their own ability to assess American international relations going forward. It is thus a book that, despite its title, is worth reading whether or not Barack Obama wins re-election in November, something our allies probably fear as much as Mitt Romney does.
As we've watched UN Ambassador Susan Rice tour the Sunday shows with obvious ignorance or lies, as we see the current administration sell our national security down the river (who can forget Obama telling Russian President -- now Prime Minister -- Dmitri Medvedev that he will have more "flexibility" to cave in to Russian wishes regarding missile defense if Obama wins his "last election"?), I can only nod my head in appreciative agreement with what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said about Bruce Herschensohn: "If all Americans were like you, America certainly would not perish."
But then, Barack Obama probably thinks Solzhenitsyn is the captain of the Russian national hockey team…