“Santino, come here. What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft with all that comedy you’re playing with that young girl. Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again.”
—Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in The Godfather
This is what happens when you put someone with absolutely no real-world experience in charge.
President Obama is in South Korea this week for the Nuclear Security Summit. Among other activities at the Summit, he met with outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Monday. You remember the Russians, right? You know, the old Soviet Union, former co-superpower, and still extremely formidable possessor of a gigantic military machine and huge nuclear stockpile? The guys who always team up with the Chinese to oppose basically any position the U.S. takes on the international stage, particularly if it involves trying to neutralize potentially dangerous rogue states like Iran, North Korea, or Syria?
Yes, those Russians.
In discussing with Medvedev the possibility of negotiations over the U.S.’s missile defense system—the old “star wars” program that shoots down enemy missiles, and which the Russians would really like to see dismantled (can’t think why)—Obama, thinking he was off-mic, told Medvedev:
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved. But it’s important for [incoming President Vladimir Putin] to give me space . . . This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
Medvedev responded that he understood and would pass it on to Putin. Yeah, I’ll bet Medvedev and Putin understood all right. I can just hear them snickering to each other over a vodka or six:
Medvedev: I met with Obama. He says to tell you if you wait until after the election he can bend over and give you whatever you want.
Putin: Da. Mahmoud was right. The guy’s a pussy.
Medvedev: Da. Cheers!
This, of course, is not Obama’s first open-mic gaffe. Recall back in November when open mics picked him up bad-mouthing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with French President Nicolas Sarkosy. Repeatedly this President has displayed all the mature discretion of a 13-year-old girl at a middle school dance.
Worse, however, is Obama’s staggering degree of naïveté in dealing with the international community, particularly with respect to adversarial negotiations. Here we have the most powerful human being on earth, and he’s opening negotiations by backpedaling. Imagine going to the car dealership and offering to pay $20,000 today, but pulling the salesman aside and whispering to him that you’ll have more flexibility to pay $40,000 once your wife leaves. That’s exactly what Obama has just done by unzipping his fly with Medvedev.
Good Lord, if that’s how he is when he’s the 800 pound gorilla, what does he do when he’s in a weak bargaining position? Go directly to soiling himself?
Time and again Obama has either openly bid against himself, or assumed a public posture that even Neville Chamberlain would recognize as submissive and weak. Consider some examples:
- January 2009, Obama announces he is willing to have discussions with Iran without any preconditions, such as Iran suspending its uranium enrichment program. All this did was tell Iran we weren’t going to do anything meaningful to stop them, and now three years later, they continue to press forward with their nuclear development.
- Spring 2009, immediately after taking office, Obama travels the globe apologizing for American arrogance, American detachment, American dictation of terms, and American mistakes, thus setting the tone for his administration. His popularity in Europe and elsewhere rises, but there is little or no move in international support for American initiatives.
- May 2011, in advance of an official visit by Mr. Netanyahu, and without consulting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Obama gives a speech in which he unilaterally dictates that a two-state Palestinian solution must include Israel agreeing to retreat to its 1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations. While the ’67 borders might ultimately prove a viable final resolution, and one that Israel might even be willing to accept, by jumping straight there as a starting point, Obama neutralized any negotiating power/room Netanyahu might have had.
- March 2012, Obama falls all over himself to apologize for the burning of some Korans by troops in Afghanistan. Rather than calming the situation, emboldened Afghans erupt in weeks of violent rioting in protest.
Even after three years of on-the-job-training, it remains amateur hour down at Obama manor, and everyone in the world sees it except him. There’s a reason poker players wear sunglasses: once your opponents know what you’re thinking, you’re done. You can’t conduct relations with adversaries by curling up in the fetal position and making concessions before discussions even begin. You certainly can’t open negotiations by disclosing that your bottom line is in reality much lower than what you’re offering, or by outright telling the other side that you’ll cave in if they’ll just wait you out a little longer. Only an idiot negotiates from the middle instead of to the middle.
Conceding and apologizing and backtracking may sell well with the Leftist voting base. But when you do that, the rest of the world doesn’t see you as a peacemaker, but as a weakling—or a moron—and they’re perfectly prepared to take advantage. That’s an exceedingly dangerous posture for our Commander-in-Chief to be in. In the real world, the submissive and passive are the ones that get attacked and devoured, not the dominant and assertive.
President Reagan beat the Russians (Soviets) and ended the Cold War because he understood the concept of peace through strength. He stood tall and dealt calmly, but firmly, with the “evil empire.” We never fired a shot at the Soviets under Reagan because we didn’t have to. They knew perfectly well that he was no B.S. Ultimately the Berlin Wall came down, not because of concessions and cowardice, but because the world understands and respects projected power.
Our national security took a serious hit this week. God help us with how much worse it will get with another four years of the Appeaser-in-Chief, particularly when—as he is apparently so quick to advertise—he doesn’t have to face another re-election. If only Obama could take a little advice from Rounders:
Mr. President, if you can’t spot the sucker at the table, then you are the sucker.
Editor’s Note: Yes, I am encouraged by what we heard yesterday from Justice Kennedy during the Obamacare arguments at the Supreme Court. At least he’s asking the appropriate questions. But I’ve been involved in enough legal arguments to know you can’t read too much into a judge’s questions as far as indicating how he or she will rule. I’m more optimistic today than I was 3 days ago, but there’s still a long way to go.