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Scholar Michael Rubin: Obama Emboldens US Enemies

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 10:02 PM

By Greg Richter

President Barack Obama's bad foreign policy decisions have emboldened America's enemies and put the world in a dangerous situation, says scholar and author Michael Rubin.

"We're seeing the reverberations of weakness," Rubin said Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor."

The problem, he said, lies with the divide in U.S. politics over national security.

"The left always demonizes power. The right sees that power can be used for good or bad," Rubin said. "But what President Obama and his supporters haven't fully realized is when you draw back the projection of American power, it's not going to be altruistic forces that fill the vacuum."

Rubin is a former Pentagon official and is author of "Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes," which looks at the history of U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Rubin said Syria appears to have stopped complying with its deal to get rid of its chemical weapons.

"The people who tend to be pro-American in Syria are frustrated that we don't seem to care. And our enemies seem to be emboldened because they see that we don't really care," he said.

With Syrian President Bashar Assad, progress seems to be one step forward, two steps back, Rubin said. "Momentum matters in international affairs, and Assad has no reason to believe that we're going to abide by any red lines we set."

Turning to Iran, Rubin said it isn't only Israel that says the United States will not prevent Iran's building of a nuclear weapon. He said he'd heard the same thing from some of America's Arab allies during a recent trip to the Persian Gulf region.

"The only difference between them and the Israelis is the Israelis said it directly," he said. The Arab states said the agreement that took effect in January has loopholes "so big you could drive a tank through them."

Rubin also says Russian President Vladimir Putin is intent on seizing more territory now that he has gained control of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine.

Putin has seen that the worst the United States will do is put him on "double-secret probation," he said. Obama announced sanctions against 11 Putin cronies this week, but one Russian official called the actions a "prank."

The United States has to think several steps ahead about where Putin might go next, Rubin told O'Reilly. War is a real danger if he attacks former Soviet states that are now members of NATO.

China, with its eye on disputed islands, and outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai are other worries, he said.

"Afghans have never lost a war; they just defect to the winning side," said Rubin. He noted that when President Bill Clinton's Secretary of State Warren Christopher wanted to reach out to the Taliban, the Taliban representative he met was Hamid Karzai.

"That should be a warning sign that Hamid Karzai is going to pivot to whoever will keep him in power," he said.

"This looks like a geopolitical disaster worldwide," O'Reilly said. "And Putin lit the fuse."

Rubin agreed. He said that when a U.S. president loses political credibility, belief in the office can return to Americans when they elect a new president. On the world stage, however, it can take decades to regain U.S. credibility.

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