If the photo of nonplussed pedestrians seen here is any indication, Tina Teens was right. No one really cares.
An allegory for the Obama administration’s Hope and Change™ foreign policy approach to dealing with rogue elements?
Go with me on this:
As seen above, Shepard Fairey’s new mural on Deitch Wall at Houston Street in New York City, erected to drum up business for Fairey’s line of posters and t-shirts at his pop-up store around the corner, was recently bombed with graffiti.
For reference, Fairey is the artist behind the famed Obama “Hope” poster made iconic during the 2008 Presidential campaign:
Despite Fairey’s fame and reverence and despite signs put up asking not to spray graffiti on the mural, some rogue elements, in this case graffiti artists, tagged it anyway. Not at all a comment on Fairey’s work, but what a pointed analogy to the response Obama’s soft, “outstretched hand,” charm offensive approach to dealing with the likes of North Korea and Iran during the first year and a half of his administration. In what was hailed by the high-minded as so refreshing and evolved compared to Bush’s “big stick” approach has after sixteen months been shown to be naive, at best, an abject failure, at worst (though we may not have witnessed the true worst consequences yet). It’s almost comical if the topic weren’t the long-term stability of the free world.
Relying essentially on hope to deter Kim Jong Il and the mullahs in Iran from asserting themselves by pursuing nuclear arms is about as responsible and watertight a strategy as BP drilling an oil well a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico without much, if any, of a contingency plan. And we know how angry Obama is about what’s taking place in the Gulf, rightfully so.
Well, Mr. President, just as your patience has worn thin regarding the lack of progress in the Gulf, so, too, has that of many Americans with the way you’ve handled what is a far more existential issue. Hope is not an acceptable strategy. You’ve treated these rogue players like misbehaving children in need of a time out. And like that child wanting to see just how far they can push before being rebuked, they’ve responded continuously by flipping the bird.
You believed you could “just talk” them into capitulating action. Your high-mindedness led you to think they would meet you halfway on the moral high road, that they simply disliked your predecessor and their response to the West would shift on January 21. You thought you could deal rationally with irrational actors. You thought the “power of your own eloquence” would be enough to bring them over to your side.
Newsflash: you were wrong.
North Korea, somewhat hilariously, launched a test missile the same day you gave a speech to the UN on denuclearization.
And nearly six months after your stated “we’re-super-duper-serial-this-time-you-better-listen-to-us-or-else” line in the sand (and nearly a year since issuing the warning), Iran has done nothing but press forward on their nuclear plans.
I fear you are a laughingstock in certain circles around the world and that’s not how the Leader of the Free World should be regarded.
It’s okay to say it: there are some bad actors in the universe. And they’re usually not quiet about letting you know their sinister intentions. Dennis Miller sardonically opined recently that when you’re at a cocktail party and you start talking to a guy at the punch bowl and the first words out of his mouth are “I’m here to usher in the new caliphate,” you walk away, don’t extend your hand.
Mr. President, it’s not cute anymore. Again, the caption above to the photo of New Yorkers walking blithely by Fairey’s new mural encapsulates perfectly what most Americans are starting to, if they didn’t already, believe about your continued failed policy and, if your appointed Secretary of Defense is to be believed, lack of contingency. Days after an attempted bombing in Times Square (of the non-graffiti variety, and capping a noted increase in the number of such incidents, successfully executed or not since you’ve taken office), you might forgive residents and visitors of this city and the country as a whole for being a little angry, if not just dismissive of your strategy that has earned you zero ground with and only seems to have galvanized our enemies.
Now, it’s not too late to step back from this stance, and please don’t let pride be what keeps you from doing so. A damaged ego is far less important than the safety of the world’s citizens in the grand scheme of things. Far more will label you pragmatic than will accuse you of being a flip-flopper.
Mr. President, I’m actually encouraged by much of your foreign policy. I don’t know what Faisal Shahzad said to authorities, but it seems to have stirred up a sense of urgency within your administration. You started saying “terrorism” again…vs. “man-made disasters.” You’ve essentially kept to the Bush playbook down to the letter in Iraq. You’ve put a renewed focus on Afghanistan. Guantanamo is still open, as it should be. Just last Sunday, AG Holder even suggested a need to revise the use of Miranda rights when dealing with hostile actors, even when on U.S. soil. But for your brush-ups with Israel, one might mistake your stance on these issues with your predecessor’s.
Concerning the “rogue-est” of the rogues, however, perhaps it’s time you were as angry about threats to your own citizens and allies as you are about threats to crawfish.
Maybe I’m too high-minded…