The Tyrants Lunge

As always, a great editorial in Investors Business Daily:

The Tyrants Lunge

Foreign Policy: Amid President Obama’s vow to enact “smart diplomacy” and to raise U.S. stature overseas, it’s never been more dangerous to be an American abroad. From Tehran to Havana, tyrants are taking U.S. hostages.

One after another, our nation’s enemies are moving to make an example of Americans abroad. Ostensibly it’s about the rule of law. But with trumped-up charges, these acts are provocations.

It may be because Obama’s “smart diplomacy” amounts to shunning friends, appeasing tyrants, deferring to international law and imagining America as no more special than any other nation. Fact is, Americans are being singled out because rogue regimes are confident that they have nothing to fear from us any longer.

It started in Tehran, where three hapless American hikers were taken hostage by Iran’s revolutionary guards in July 2009. The three Berkeleyites showed no common sense hiking in a region like that, but WikiLeaks revelations last October show that Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd were nabbed by Iranians in Iraqi territory.

That means their detention was a cross-border kidnapping by a state, a provocative act that called for a strong U.S. response. There was none. As of Feb. 6, they’re on trial for their lives.

As details of that sorry story seeped out, it unleashed a wave of other bad actors making similar provocations.

On Jan. 6, 2011, the State Department registered a “strong” complaint against Vietnam over a brutal assault on U.S. diplomat Christian Marchant a day earlier. Vietnamese security goons slammed a car door repeatedly on Marchant’s legs as he tried to visit Catholic priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, a prominent dissident.

Nothing seems to have come of it.

On Jan. 27, 2011, a U.S. Embassy employee in Pakistan, Raymond Davis, shot and killed two carjackers in self-defense. Despite having diplomatic immunity, he was arrested the next day to face murder charges — for which he may be hanged.

Pakistan doesn’t care that the U.S. is its largest aid donor. Even as the White House pleads for the American’s return with no result, the Pakistani Taliban on Feb. 15 threatened to unleash attacks in the U.S. if Davis goes free. In a case like this, even with international law behind it, White House clout has been nil.

On Feb. 4, 2011, Cuba’s Castro regime charged American contractor Alan Gross with “acts against the integrity of Cuba” for giving satellite phones to dissidents. Gross was arrested in December 2009 and, if convicted, faces 20 years in a Cuban dungeon. Obama’s unconditional easing of the U.S. embargo on Cuba last month seems to have made the regime crueler, not kinder.

On Feb. 10, Argentina’s corrupt regime seized a shipment of Air Force equipment that had been cleared through customs for a joint-military exercise, claiming the U.S. was shipping weapons, drugs and spy equipment into the country for nefarious purposes.

The Argentines now say they won’t return it, and the State Department says it is “puzzled.”

But the act follows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appeasement gestures to Argentina, at the expense of our longtime ally Britain, in favor of re-negotiating the Falklands War. This is how she gets paid back.

And yes, it gets worse.

On Feb. 15, Mexican drug cartels shot two U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement agents at a bogus military checkpoint they set up in what Mexican officials are calling a targeted strike.

The cartels aim to overthrow Mexico’s government. They’ve taken note of Obama’s weakness, too, and declared war on the U.S.

These brazen acts are the product of a superpower’s weakness. So long as the Obama administration treats America as a nothing-special nation, the world’s tyrants will play him like a fiddle, provoking the U.S. and challenging his leadership.

They’re doing it the way all weak states do — by targeting citizens. But their aim is clear: to lay us low as they can’t in war.

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