Going Rogue. Obama’s State Department.

We have had a series of stories about the State Department lately, from Obama’s approach to Iran, to ridicule of Spokeswoman Marie Harf.

The latest is about the attack on the US ambassador to South Korea, Obama intimate Mark Lippert. He was attacked by a man with a razor just before giving a speech.

The attack may have been prompted by another Obama foreign policy initiative.

The attack comes amid growing anti-U.S. protests here over comments made last week by State Department official Wendy Sherman.

Sherman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, angered many South Koreans with comments that seemed to tell the country to give up hardline nationalist policies toward North Korea and to seek closer ties with its neighbor.

The South Korean government issued a formal diplomatic protest to the State Department over the remarks, sources said.

“Nationalist feelings can still be exploited, and it’s not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy,” Sherman said Friday in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment, a think tank.

“But such provocations produce paralysis, not progress,” she said. “To move ahead, we have to see beyond what was to envision what might be. And in thinking about the possibilities, we don’t have to look far for a cautionary tale of a country that has allowed itself to be trapped by its own history.”

The comments were interpreted by critics here as criticism of South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s hardline stance against North Korea.

Apparently, North Korea is next on Obama’s list of potential allies.

And, that is not all.

As the New York Times put it, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel “split” with Obama over the question of arming the Ukraine.

The pointed exchanges laid bare the divisions within the West’s ranks and did not provide a sense of how the United States and its European allies hoped to fashion a common strategy that might persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to honor an agreement negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in September.

And there is more.

Recently in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, the man who might be its next Prime Minister started tongues wagging when he suggested that he might pivot to China. Turnbull said that ”an Australian government needs to be careful not to allow a doe-eyed fascination with the leader of the free world to distract from the reality that our national interest requires us to truly (and not just rhetorically) maintain both an ally in Washington and a good friend in Beijing.”

And finally, Turnbull recognises that all this means Australia has to rethink its place in Asia from the ground up. We cannot assume, he has said, that “the strategic and diplomatic posture that served us in the past can and will serve us unchanged in the future; or that it doesn’t matter if our strategic and economic messages to our region are somewhat contradictory”.

These words, uttered by a credible candidate for the prime ministership of one of America’s longest-standing allies are astonishing as the Pope musing about the possibility of converting to Islam. But why should Turnbull not consider these options? He knows the cavalry won’t come, any more than it wil for Ukraine, or the Syrian rebels or anyone else who relies on the “leader of the free world”.

Our allies are abandoning us before we abandon them.

People notice these things. They remember that only a few years ago the US had proconsular power in Iraq. Now it doesn’t even get the time of day. The fact the man in charge operations against ISIS in the region appears to be Qassem Suleimani, chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, must make even the ordinary man start to have his doubts.

And it’s not just Iraq, but elsewhere. A few years ago the US counted Egypt as its staunch ally. In 2011 Hillary Clinton trumpeted the liberation of Libya. Now Egypt is estranged from America and the consulate in Benghazi charred ruin with its ambassador dead. Only a few months ago the Obama administration touted Yemen as its counterinsurgency model. Yet Yemen, according to Captain Robert A. Newson, a (SEAL) officer who spent time there, was “a fantasy”. “This ‘CT concept’,” he wrote ” – the solution that some people champion where the main or whole effort is drone strikes and special operations raids – is a fantasy. It may be cheaper and safer, but without broader efforts it is like mowing the grass in the jungle.” Today the American embassy in Sana’a has been abandoned to an Iranian-backed militia.

God help us.

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