While President Obama has been strutting the world stage with the "un-American" intention of stopping nuclear terrorism, his country's tea-partiers are working assiduously to undermine him
IIt would appear the President of the United Stateshas been reacquainted with his mojo. Well done. It may have taken a focus on the world’s most dangerous projectiles to bring about this refreshing turn of events, but as they say, whatever it takes.
His carrying off a high-level nuclear summit was arguably the sort of realpolitik associated with some of his Republican predecessors – Daddy Bush in particular – but in reality it allowed Obama to display the ease and leadership promised in such abundance when he took charge of the direction of American foreign policy.
Clearly having the health albatross almost behind him – mindful of the impact on the upcoming midterms – Obama has a crisp clip in his stride as he moves out from under the weight of the two-war-crippling-debt legacies he inherited.
It is fair criticism that in many ways he has not moved that far from the war policies of the Bush he took over from, increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, still hanging around in Iraq and operating out of Guantanamo. However, because it is equally fair to start from the point that an Obama would never have waded into such disasters in the first place, and torture is off the official US menu, he is being afforded some leeway. That too shall pass.
But just when column inches – nay miles – and talk back hours had reached a frenzy over the demise of the ‘One’, he has bounced back. As an appetizer to the nuclear summit, he tripped over to Prague to sign an albeit modest arms control treaty with Russia and showed a relaxed warmth in his relationship with President Medvedev for all the world could see.
Then he had a resounding ‘yes’ from most world powers to come to Washington to secure, reduce or destroy vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear materials. Of course it was ‘most’ world powers because of the hissy fit Israel threw at any other country potentially daring to call it to account for nuclear hypocrisy. Iran wasn’t invited, but was quite the topic of discussion in the corridors and side meetings such summits always involve.
There’s a delicious irony in Israel and Iran being absent given the tension between them. Iran would no doubt have liked to have been there. Israel – a nuclear weapons state – won’t play by the international rules by signing up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and instead of being a transparent world citizen which it demands of Iran, preferred to stay at home and count its stockpile in secret.
All credit to Obama in not flinching on this one. No public diplomatic efforts were made to set special rules for Israel in exchange for its attendance. Instead it was pointed out that Israel sits with Pakistan and India in refusing to sign the NPT. A bit more shame than fame in that hall.
Watching Obama’s post summit press conference saw repetition of the reason underlying the gathering – that while the threat of a nuclear war is negligible, the threat of nuclear material in terrorist hands has increased along with the number of countries which have nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen.
As pledges from attendees came in, they had about them an element of bizarre ‘Telethon’ one-upmanship. New Zealand, small but with seriously good anti-nuclear credentials pledged to do its bit – particularly in the Pacific; Canada and a handful of other countries promised to scrap their stockpiles of weapons grade nuclear material; then the big guys – the US and Russia – topped them all by pledging to scrap on a mega-scale quantities of nuclear material capable of wiping out vast areas of the planet.
This all signifies an Obama stamp on foreign policy. It is international diplomacy based on strength, but simultaneously appeals to morality and world opinion. Realpolitik with a twist.
All will be needed in abundance when the next step in the current nuclear debate plays out – a vote to increase sanctions on Iran. At this stage Obama can’t be certain China won’t veto a vote and thereby protect the country it now imports a huge percentage of its oil from.
In the next couple of weeks there will be some major diplomacy taking place to fashion punishment for the regime rather than the people, but you don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to see how flawed a concept that always has been, and remains. For their part, the Iranians are chipping in with taunts about how sanctions will not affect their oil industry. Situation normal all around.
Meanwhile back on the ranch – well at the tea party really – the volume is winding up on criticism of Obama’s foreign policy, with the Nixonian mutterings of ‘un-American’ now becoming as commonplace as cries of socialism, communism, fascism etc.
Perhaps someone could distribute political dictionaries at the next ‘tea party’ so as to show the tremendous feat it would be on the part of the accused Obama administration to be all these ‘isms’ at once. On second thought, such an exercise would mean opening a book, reading, comprehending and admitting how stupid such ravings are.
A New York Times/CBS poll shows the tea-partyers are however feeling forgotten by an Obama who is concentrating on helping people who are not like them. Yes that is a small violin you can hear playing.
The poll describes these tea-partiers as “wealthier and better educated than most Americans”, who as “very conservative” are pessimistic about an administration that is “very liberal”.
Note to Tea-partiers: that’s what happens in elections in a polarized country when one side – conservative, loses to another side – liberal.
The poll then goes on to show these wealthier and better educated are more likely to say global warming either doesn’t exist or if it does is nothing to worry about… they hate gay marriage… they see too much effort being devoted to the problems facing black people, and they are “angry”. Racist, selfish ostriches would be other appropriate adjectives based on the poll findings.
They detest Obama personally – 9 out of every 10! – and, they are not so subtly trying to keep burning any indication that he is really a foreigner – hence the un-Americaness of his policies.
They are doing their gun-toting, reloading darnedest to paint his foreign policies as deliberately endangering Americans. This is the same guy who this week put his reputation on the line bringing the world together to reduce the global nuclear threat, which funnily enough also applies to America.
If these traits truly are those of the wealthier and better educated Americans – usually defined as the middle class – then even with a reinvigorated mojo, its young, idealist President will be struggling to save the country from itself. God help America.