EDITORIAL How Obama has eroded America's global influence
by Peter Westmore
News Weekly, November 22, 2014
The extraordinary defeat suffered by President Barack Obama’s Democrats in the recent midterm elections in the United States has accompanied the decline in the influence of the U.S. in the international arena: after all, if the American people don’t trust Obama, why should anyone else?
President Barack Obama
Like Jimmy Carter before him, Barack Obama is now a wounded President who can be virtually disregarded on the international stage by figures as diverse as the leaders of Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey and the European Union.
After President Obama, against military advice, withdrew all U.S. combat units from Iraq, and backed the divisive Nouri al-Maliki as President of Iraq — despite clear evidence that his Shia government had alienated and antagonised the Sunni minority — Obama now faces the return of daily suicide bombings in Baghdad and other cities, and the seizure of much of northern Iraq by Islamic State (IS) terrorists.
Belatedly, Obama has been forced to intervene and is now leading an international mission to defeat Islamic State through Allied air power, when it is clear that, without the support of the Sunni tribes on the ground, the defeat of IS cannot be achieved.
It is interesting that Turkey, a predominantly Sunni state which borders both Syria and Iraq, has given only token support to Obama’s campaign, despite very heavy pressure from United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkey’s dependence on the U.S. for military hardware.
Having seen Obama’s dithering in response to the desperate pleas by leaders of Ukraine for military assistance to defeat the Russian annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has simply ignored U.S. objections to its military intervention.
The U.S. President’s reluctance to pursue a coherent strategy in these areas contrasts with his steadfast determination to push the radical feminist and pro-abortion campaigns in the international arena.
When Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, was in office, he was the strongest supporter of the pro-life cause, both in the U.S. and internationally.
President Bush halted funding for the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), when it was confirmed by a U.S. State Department investigation in 2002 that the agency supported restrictive laws and coercive population control tactics in China, including forced abortion and sterilisation.
“The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has decided to continue to provide financial and technical assistance to the Chinese birth limitation program under the direction of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission,” said a State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, in 2006.
He added, “The U.S. opposition to this program is a matter of principle. It is not directed at UNFPA as an institution. Rather, it is based on the strong opposition of the United States to human rights abuses associated with coercive birth limitation regimes.”
In his first act after becoming President, Obama announced the resumption of funding for the UNFPA, claiming that his decision would assist “to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family-planning assistance to women in 154 countries”. (Family planning is the euphemism used in UN agencies to describe abortion.)
Obama made no mention of the systematic and pitiless human rights abuses associated with forced abortion, which has been the subject of repeated complaints by international human rights organisations.
When he appointed Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State in 2009, President Obama gave her a mandate to push the radical feminist agenda in the international arena. She did this vigorously, until she was forced to resign in March 2013, after a security bungle led to the assassination of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
As Jill Lawrence observed recently, in the Washington-based National Journal, during Clinton’s four years at the State Department, she and her hand-picked ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, Melanne Verveer, “placed women’s rights and needs on the agenda at international conferences, on trips, and throughout the State Department itself”.
Clinton institutionalised this way of conducting foreign policy with a 2012 directive to U.S. embassies and bureaus on how to advance the “strategic imperative” of gender equality.
The Obama-Clinton agenda is not merely one of talking. The State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues runs some 70 public-private partnership programs in 40 countries, to advance this agenda.
The issue of climate change — where Obama is pursuing an agenda of enforced controls of CO2 emissions — is an area in which he is at odds with the clear position of both houses of the Congress, as well as Russia, China and India.
By pursuing the left’s international agenda, Obama has not only isolated himself and his government internationally, he has weakened the position of the United States as a defender of freedom of speech and belief. The consequences of this will be felt for years to come.
Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.