State of the Union: Dangerous Weakness
January 28, 2010This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared at National Review Online.
President Obama's message in the State of the Union address confirmed that he is tone-deaf to the grievous threats that exist to American national security and incapable of changing course before those dangers become a terrible reality.
The catastrophe of nuclear proliferation had finally made it to the top of the agenda by the time he took office. But over the past year, this president added disarmament to the same platform. He put the retention of U.S. nuclear weaponry on the U.N. negotiating table alongside Iranian acquisition of such arms. In this State of the Union address he wasn't shy about reasserting this world view: "We are also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people - the threat of nuclear weapons." By which he meant, in American hands too. The president did not first and foremost promise never to let the genocidal Iranian regime acquire these weapons of mass destruction. Instead, the first national-security priority he articulated was to seek "to reduce our stockpiles and launchers."
According to President Obama, only by weakening America can we hope to convince our enemies to stand down.
The president alleged that it was "these diplomatic efforts" at disarmament that "have . . . strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that [are] . . . in pursuit of these weapons." He knows Iran is closer than ever to acquiring nuclear weapons. He is fully aware that the U.N. Security Council is deadlocked on adopting new sanctions against Iran. He is cognizant that China has repudiated the suggestion of a unified front to stop Iranian ambitions. And yet he told the American people - with a straight face - that his diplomatic effort at disarmament "is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated."
President Obama announced that in April he will hold another hand-shaking, hot-air-generating "nuclear security summit" - to control American and Russian arms. As for dealing with Iran, he could not manage to muster a single concrete move, just an empty "they too will face growing consequences."
The president then touted the only leg on which his foreign policy has been standing: "engagement." To Iran's brutalized dissidents, engagement has meant crocodile tears. The State of the Union added yet another layer of verbiage over their gravestones. "We support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran," claimed the president. Why the limitation? What about the children, the men, the myriad minorities? Why did the president delicately avoid naming any Iranian victim, including the Americans now being held hostage in Iran?
This is an administration that has turned its back on inconvenient victims from Tehran to Tibet to Israel. An administration that has climbed on board the U.N. Human Rights Council, despite its being a tool of Islamic states for defeating rights. And yet the president disingenuously lectured: "America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity."
The president concluded his perfunctory remarks on national security by analogizing the need for strength in an increasingly dangerous world to a childish game: "Let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough." In so doing, he has underestimated the intelligence of his audience. Americans increasingly understand that the weakness exuded by President Obama over this past year, and venerated in this State of the Union address, has reinvigorated real enemies, not imaginary ones.