February 06, 2011

Smart Diplomacy and Finger Bowls

For those who have experienced the sinking feeling that Barack Obama is causing irreparable damage to America’s foreign policy interests, but just couldn’t put their finger on it, comes a story from “The London Telegraph” (here). According to “The Telegraph,” Mr. Obama secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on the size of Britain’s nuclear deterrent in exchange for finalizing his START arms control deal. This information was apparently discovered in diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. Due to the size of their relatively small nuclear arsenal, the British have been careful to keep its exact size secret. This revelation apparently refers to Mr. Obama giving the Russians definitive information on American Trident missiles provided to the British, including certain unique identifiers that would allow Russia to accurately count British weapons.

State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley has, according to Jake Tapper of ABC News, vehemently denied the story, claiming that the Obama Administration was only following part of the 1991 START agreement. In other words, Crowley is not denying the facts of the revelation of new, specific information on British weapons, but is claiming that what Mr. Obama did is nothing new and was required by the 1991 treaty.

A British spokesman, speaking anonymously, has quietly and weakly said--again according to Tapper--that “his understanding of the policy conforms with that asserted by the State Department.” This despite the fact that since that 1991 treaty, the British have never agreed to the release of the information Mr. Obama released to the Russians.

Via Hot Air, here is a portion of the memo exposed by Wikileaks:

“10. (S) Orlov asked about the U.S. practice of transferring Trident II missiles to the United Kingdom (UK) in reference to the Russian-proposed agreed statement on the subject. Trout pointed out that most of the provisions contained in the proposed agreed statement were already covered by other sections of the treaty. 

He noted that notifications existed for the transfer and return of missiles to and from a third party. Additionally, he pointed out, the Russian Federation will receive unique identifiers for each of the missiles transferred to the UK, which was more information than was disclosed under START.

Trout acknowledged that the proposal to send a notification of a UK flight test was not covered under START nor had it been included as part of this treaty but argued that this was the flight test of a missile owned by a third country. He said the United States had no legal responsibility for such a notification. Trout said he assumed the UK would send a notice to mariners and airmen prior to any flight test.”

What is apparently undisputed is that the British have never agreed to the release of the information provided by Mr. Obama, which is a matter--for the British--of national security. Why then would an anonymous British source apparently, if weakly, support the State Department version of the story? Simple: Good manners and class.

Some have probably heard the tale of Queen Elizabeth, who, at a formal state dinner, saw a foreign dignitary treating the contents of his finger bowl like soup, spooning it up. Rather than cause him any embarrassment, she did the same, as did all of the other guests, following her cue. Good manners and class are still valued by the British and are a plausible reason for their seeming support of Mr. Obama, despite his crude, oafish and serial insults of our most steadfast ally, and despite his juvenile denial of a special relationship between Britain and America. Unlike Mr. Obama, the British obviously do not consider it wise that their relationship with America be casually discounted or discarded.

So where does this leave us? The credibility of the State Department under Mr. Obama is so small that it may not be detectable by an electron microscope. In fact, American diplomats seem most adept at insulting and denigrating America in foreign capitals and convincing our enemies that they have nothing to fear from America. Mr. Obama’s antipathy toward the British is so well known and documented as to be the stuff of jokes. Russia, while our putative ally, has done virtually nothing that might convince a reasonable person that they are, in fact, an ally, while invading Georgia, which is an ally, and intimidating all of the former members of the Soviet Union. In addition, Russia trades in arms and technology with nations, such as Iran, that are clearly our declared enemies and ignores our requests for help in reigning them in. Mr. Obama has responded to Russian threats and intransigence by pulling the defense rug out from under Poland and the Czech Republic by refusing to deploy a promised anti-missile shield. And while Britain clearly realizes that Russia remains a strategic threat, Mr. Obama is so caught up in the lunatic siren song of a nuclear free world that he would apparently do anything to obtain it--on paper. No one in their right mind should imagine it to be possible in reality. Giving up the nuclear secrets of our closest ally is a small price to pay to secure--on paper--Mr. Obama’s self-imagined legacy as an influential, accomplished statesman on the world stage.

As Egypt descends rapidly into Islamic domination, Mrs. Clinton (like Mr. Obama before her) releases statements welcoming one of the most brutal and virulent Jihadist organizations on the planet, the Muslim Brotherhood, to “negotiations” for a new Egyptian government. Israel, according to reliable reports, is in a state of shock at America’s abandonment of Mr. Mubarak, a strong ally of America and an important force for peace and stability in the region. Even the Israeli left shares this shock and has come to understand, finally, that under Barack Obama, America is anything but an ally and cannot be counted on in a crisis. And every regime and terrorist that wishes America harm also knows this, and rejoices.

We are seeing, first hand, the results of “smart diplomacy,” of a foreign policy run by Socialists who reflexively sympathize with Marxist and Islamist thugs and killers, and who see America not as the solution to problems, not as the one indispensable nation, not as a force for good on the world stage, but as the primary problem in the world. The “fundamental change” Mr. Obama promised is underway, not only within our borders, but around the world. Its effectiveness is likely to be measured by body count. And we, God help us, elected him.

Posted by MikeM at February 6, 2011 05:47 PM

I've quoted you here:

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at February 7, 2011 10:11 PM

"American diplomats" is a pretty broad brush to tar with; it covers a lot of ground, and unfairly so.

America's professional diplomats spend years learning languages and history and cultures, working abroad on the nation's behalf.

America's diplomats don't make America's foreign policy.

(That's the so-obvious-it's-apparently-a-secret truth.)

America's diplomats "deliver the mail" in face-to-face encounters with foreign officials. America's diplomats report back to Washington what they see, hear, and intuit about conditions and situations abroad. America's diplomats provide context and depth to America's foreign affairs expertise.

See where this is going?

Even at the ambassadorial level, it seems to be rare that much input is sought by the people who actually set our foreign policy. Those folks are people at the cabinet or perhaps sub-cabinet level.

For most of our American diplomats, at best we do the ground work, by our report and cable writing in the months and years we spend abroad, to build a context and knowledge base from which our foreign policy decision-makers can work.

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at February 8, 2011 11:42 PM