Obama's Foreign Policy is Disgraceful
by Stephen Schwartz
CIP Note: The Russian Journal Standpoint of the Week is not posted online. The issue in which the following interview appeared is available as a .pdf on request. It also includes contributions by Russian commentator Konstantin Kosachev and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.]
The withdrawal from Iraq was already in the pipeline before the change of administration in the U.S. even took place. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Obama administration was elected due to its promise of restricting the United States' strategic presence in the world. I would not really describe Obama's action as'successful'. The global role of the U.S. as a stabilising and democratizing force is something that can neither be denied nor simply wished away. Nevertheless, I do not believe that Obama is able to implement such a policy. He has already backed away from proceeding with a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, thereby resulting in a loss in popularity, domestically speaking. I believe the consequences of such an isolationist course of action will include the strengthening of radical Islam within Turkey, for instance, as well as a slowdown of the reform process in Saudi Arabia, the descent of Pakistan into chaos, and a probable Islamist takeover in the latter (now a country armed with nuclear capacities).
I consider the worst aspect of Obama's policy to be its obliviousness toward the powerful movement of the Iranian people against clerical rule and in favour of the development of civil society. Some Iranian reformers call Obama the only real American enemy of the Iranians, They accuse him, as a result of his perceived appeasement of the Iranian dictatorship, of undermining that country's movement towards achieving genuine popular sovereignty. The Iranian people have reached the point where their majority of people have come to perceive their enemy as being their own government, rather than some distant power. The regime is beginning to show signs of internal division and the armed forces of the state are increasingly unwilling to physically act against their own family members and fellow citizens. The blood of martyrs who followed in the path of Imam Hussein, who was murdered while pursuing social justice more than 1,300 years ago, cries out!
In terms of Eurasia, notwithstanding my admiration for the Russian nation, which has a great history of contributing to the sphere of culture and making sacrifices in the battle against oppression, I fear that President Obama will also try to appease the current rulers in Moscow. This would encourage them in the direction of further adventurism in Georgia, Ukraine, the Balkans, and elsewhere, possibly including attempts to revive the tsarist/Soviet empire through the reabsorption of the former Soviet Asian republics and through close alliances with the undemocratic regimes therein.
I think that the so-called 'North-South' divide is actually more political than it is economic and, in my view, there instead is a clash between the world of Judeo-Christian values and the world of Islamo-'Mongol-type' values. In other words, the confrontation between West and East is indeed of greater importance than that existing between North and South. Today, Muslim states are frantically trying to escape the clutches of Asiatic despotism and undertake the challenge of moving to the domain of accountability, entrepreneurship, and democratically-based popular sovereignty.
Muslims should be part of a 'monotheistic' Judeo-Christian-Muslim alliance that is capable of resisting the authoritarian ambitions of China, for instance. Russia should also make clear its preference for Western values over the legacy of oriental despotism.
America is the world's best and last hope for liberty and should advocate for the rights of Georgians and Ukrainians, of Muslims in the Balkans and Caucasian region, of Tibetans and Uighurs, and above all, the many noble individuals in Iran who have protested against a tyrannical regime. I do not believe that the Obama administration has any short-term or long-term strategy with respect to the resolution of any internal, let alone external problem. Its policy in regards to the financial crisis has involved absurd improvisation and is quite self-contradictory. Its program for health insurance has also turned into a political disaster. The Democrats will suffer a serious defeat in the mid-term election and I think Obama will end up being a one-term president.