Foreign affairs: Quest for legacy
It is human nature to want to be remembered fondly and that is, no doubt, true for anyone who has served in the highest office in our land. FDR is remembered for his World War II leadership. President Truman for saving millions of lives by the atomic bombing of Japan into an early surrender. President Nixon is remembered, in part, as the U.S. President who went to Red China and opened the world’s largest population to the world of peaceful commerce. President Reagan is remembered for engineering the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Today, it appears that Mr. Obama’s signature scheme to have the young and healthy pay for the health-care for the old and sick is going to cripple one-sixth of our economy, reduce the supply of physicians, close hospitals, ration health-care, raise insurance premiums, and -- according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office -- cost the nation over 2.5 million jobs. Probably, not a good legacy.
The fact that our globe has not been warming for 17 years -- may even be cooling -- and that the continental USA is two-thirds under ice and snow right now does not bode well for a legacy of global-warming heroism. Hence, Mr. Obama’s recent panic to "do something," even if it is just another billion-dollar slush fund for alternative-energy companies that will probably suffer the same bankruptcy fate as his earlier "investments" in way-too-soon alternative-energy projects. Probably, not a good legacy.
That leaves foreign policy. It is in the realm of foreign policy where the Constitution (or what is left of it) assigns our chief executive his greatest latitude. In addition to being the commander-in-chief of our armed forces, the president is head-of-state (our chief diplomat) and those two roles make any U.S. President a major player on the world stage. Currently, Mr. Obama controls the U.S. Senate where international agreements are ratified or not. So, this is the area where Mr. Obama could possibly succeed and keep almost all the credit for himself.
The biggest foreign-policy coup in today’s world would be getting the Mullahs of Iran to appear to agree to forget about developing nuclear weapons and to call off the war on America that started when President Carter refused (rightly) to hand over the Shah of Iran for beheading. Or, how about getting al-Qaeda to stop killing Americans at home and abroad?
Getting Iran to agree to forego nuclear weapons, albeit most likely at the expense of Israel, is the far more likely. In secret, that is precisely what Mr. Obama’s foreign-policy apparatus is trying to do right now.
But, in the making of foreign-policy agreements, there is no free lunch. There could be a secret protocol that gives Iran a free hand with Israel. There could be billions of dollars from Saudi Royals (and the U.S. taxpayer) to bribe Iran not to make the nuclear weapons. In fact, if Iran’s nuclear-weapons program is not halted, the Saudis and other wealthy Arab nations might have to develop their own nuclear arsenals. Much cheaper to bribe the Mullahs away from towering over the Middle East and the Gulf with nuclear weapons. If Mr. Obama is to polish his legacy, Iran may be his best hope.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2014. William Hamilton.
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