Obama started his presidency with what was described as the apology tour by some, with his now infamous Cairo speech. The speech, delivered at Cairo University, discussed the tension between the U.S. and Muslims, which is rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. He said that he was proud to carry with him a message of goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in the U.S.
I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.
We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.
President Obama promised change, and included the famous Hillary Clinton reset button. The politics of confrontation was coming to an end, according to Obama. A new START Treaty was signed by Russia and the United States and the missile defense system for Poland was canceled.
This was shortly followed by the Arab Spring, which resulted in the removal of President Mubarak in Egypt, the election of President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and his subsequent removal by military coup. Recently 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death by the new Egyptian regime.
Then there was the removal of Gaddafi in Libya by force. NATO decided on airstrikes to assist the rebel movement with its leaders in Benghazi. Obama was dragged into this conflict bye Prime Minister David Cameron, UK and France`s President Sarkozy. Obama called the US involvement an supporting role and acted without the consent of Congress. When the first 122 Tomahawk missiles were fired into Libya, it hardly looked like a supporting role.
Obama next set his sights on ending the war in Iraq and U.S. troops were withdrawn without a residual force, due to the inability to negotiate an agreement that would have excluded U.S. troops from prosecution under Iraqi law. The Obama Administration now faces the same dilemma in Afghanistan.
Obama dithered for months before announcing his decision on a 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan at West Point Military Academy. General Stanley McCrystal had a workable plan, but after an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, which had some unflattering remarks about Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials by his staff, McCrystal was recalled to Washington, where President Obama accepted his resignation. General David Petraeus replaced him. Needless to say Obama had and continues to have an uneasy relationship with military commanders.
Syria was another conflict that has resulted in the murder of tens of thousands by the Assad regime. While the conflict continues hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Benghazi saw the murder of Ambassador Stephen and four other Americans. The Obama administration tried to flock the story that a video had caused the protests, while they knew all along that it was a coordinated attack. No one has been held to account. While there was live feed of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, there still are no answers on what action was taken or who called off a possible rescue mission.
Sanctions on Iran appeared to have an effect on the regime and along comes Russian President Putin. The US relaxed tension on Iran and engaged in talks with Iran, but to this point to no avail. Putin interfered in Syria and the Assad regime admitted they had chemical weapons and there was a plan to remove and destroy them. This is also in jeopardy and the endless killing continues. Syria had recent insurgents into the Golan Heights and Turkey shot down a Syrian fighter jet, stating it entered its airspace.
NATO, led by the U.S. is now in a high stake game with Russia`s President Putin, after his occupation and annexation of Crimea. With Russian troops massing on the borders of Eastern Ukraine, there is anxiety over Putin`s next move. For now there have been sanctions that freeze some assets and impose travel restrictions on Russian officials that are perceived supporting Putin`s aggression. Putin has imposed sanctions in kind to western official, naming 13 Canadians yesterday.
Obama`s foreign policy has been a dismal failure and one only needs to look at the Middle East, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and now the Ukraine to come to this conclusion. Obama`s promise to move U.S. foreign policy into the 21st century has backfired. The old motto of “Peace through Strenght“ still applies. The politics of appeasement, experienced in the 1930s, with Prime Minister Chamberlain`s `Peace in our time“ is once again a failure.