Muftic: Obama foreign policy critics offer no options |

Muftic: Obama foreign policy critics offer no options

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe on March 2, Sen. John McCain made statements regarding the president’s policy toward Russia and Ukraine. He dismissed actions the administration had already taken as if nothing had been done but proclaimed loudly we should do more but not go to war.

That is not unlike the attitude many of the president’s critics claiming administration foreign policy failures who distort, criticize, glibly dismiss both invasion and occupation, but only propose to do more of what we are doing already. To quote Woody Allen as a restaurant critic: “The food here is terrible, and the portions are too small.”

Other critics of the administration’s foreign policy are either empty bags full of hot air devoid of alternatives, or they propose alternatives that put us in worse shape than we are now.

The Woody Allen type critics advocate just to send a few more ground troops to Iraq or beef up NATO support of countries near Russia. More troops of some sort (combat boots or advisers or special ops) are either not off the table per Secretary of State John Kerry before a December Senate committee or are already being done as part of our war against ISIS. NATO countries are being beefed up militarily and NATO operations centers are being set up from the Baltics to Romania. A Western propaganda campaign has been launched to counter Russian propaganda beamed at residents of future territory they may want to control.

The issue is by how much to increase the portions: Mission creep in our war against ISIS is indeed a danger, but the GOP Congress wants the decision of how much creep to be the monkey on this and the next administration’s back by giving them no limits. Heaven forbid Congress should take any blame for failures in the future if we ooze into another Iraq war.

Giving Ukrainians heavier weapons can be easily matched in an arms race with the ante upped by Russia. Where that ends is a risk. Do we want to go to war with Russia in the future over their direct control of or Anschluss with parts or all of the Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia?

There are some non-military alternatives already undertaken by the administration of increasing the portions of economic sanctions against Russia or propping up the Ukraine economy so it does not collapse while weaning Europe from Russian petro energy. These are not short-term strategies. It will take time until the Russian people have enough of economic hardships to offset their national pride in a restoration of their country’s past glory and territorial buffers against the West.

Then there are the proponents of an empty bag approach that would leave us worse off than we are now. This includes rejecting a nuclear treaty with Iran. As Fareed Zakaria writing in the Washington Post on March 5 noted, the threats to Israel are not fiction. Reality, though, is the failure to agree on a treaty either in the past or now has and will give the Iranians free rein to develop as many centrifuges as they want with no inspectors or time limits. He could have added that this risk is also of concern of our Arab allies.

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