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Obama is a ditherer, says former Bush aide


Los Angeles : A top Bush aide has dubbed President Barack Obama a ditherer and blasted his “indecisiveness” on foreign policy.

“Weakness and indecisiveness have proved historically to be a toxic combination for America’s global interests. That is exactly the combination we now see under President Obama,” John R. Bolton, former US envoy at the UN during President George W. Bush, said in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times Sunday.

“If anything, his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize only underlines the problem. All of Obama’s campaign and inaugural talk about ‘extending an open hand’ and ‘engagement,’ especially the multilateral variety, isn’t exactly unfolding according to plan,” said Bolton.

Likening Obama to former president Jimmy Carter who has been slammed for his handling of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, Bolton said Obama is “reprising Jimmy Carter.”

The president’s tendency to apologize for “his country’s pre-Obama history” is giving rise to disquiet among Americans who feel his administration is drifting from one foreign policy mistake to another, Bolton said.

“Foreign observers, friend and foe alike, sense the same aimlessness and drift. French President Nicolas Sarkozy had to remind Obama at a Sept. 24 U.N. Security Council meeting that ‘we live in the real world, not a virtual one,’ ” he said.

Describing Obama’s decision to cancel the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic as capitulation to “Russian bluster and belligerence,” he said it will encourage Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to re-extend Russian hegemony over as much of the former Soviet Union as he can.

On nuclear nonproliferation, he said North Korea has responded to Obama’s “open hand” of engagement by testing its second nuclear device, continuing its aggressive ballistic missile testing programme and cooperating with other rogue states.

On Iran, he said Tehran’s admission of constructing an undeclared, uninspected nuclear facility makes a mockery of almost seven years of European Union negotiation efforts.

But in the face of Iran’s defiance, he said, Obama has proposed “the equivalent of money-laundering for nuclear threats: Iranian uranium enriched in open, unambiguous defiance of four Security Council resolutions will be enriched to higher levels in Russia, and then returned to be burned in a Tehran reactor-ostensibly for peaceful purposes. ”

Obama’s policy on Afghanistan too epitomizes his indecisiveness, he said. “The unmistakable inference is that Obama did not carefully think through his March Afghan policy, or did not have full confidence then or now in Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal or Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, or that it is now politically inconvenient among increasingly antiwar Democrats to follow through on that policy,” Bolton argued.

“None of these explanations reflect credit on the president. He is dithering. Whatever decision Obama reaches on Afghanistan, his credibility and leadership have been badly wounded by his continuing public display of indecisiveness.”

If Obama’s first nine months indicate the direction of the next 39, he said, “we still have a long way to fall.”