American Leadership Needed in the World

Jul 25, 2014 Issues: Defense, Homeland Security

President Ronald Reagan is known for ending the Cold War without armed conflict with the Soviet Union through a policy of Peace through Strength.  The Reagan Administration deterred the Soviets, terrorists, and others with military resources and a well understood willingness to defend our allies, freedom, and humanity around the globe.

The Obama Administration too often has taken the opposite approach: disengaging from the world, appeasing bad actors, and alienating traditional friends and allies.  The result has been growing chaos around the globe.

Among the President’s first acts in office was to “reset” relations with Russia.  Now, our former Cold War enemy seems to be reverting to its old ways.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has suppressed opposition and the free press.  Russia bullies its neighbors by withholding oil and gas supplies, and has seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.  

It appears very likely Ukrainian separatists armed by Russia shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 killing 298 innocent civilians including a U.S. citizen last week.  There have so far been no consequences for the separatists nor Russia for this atrocity.

Nor were there consequences in Syria when the dictator Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people in open defiance of the “red line” set by the President.  Regardless of whether setting this red line was a good idea or not; by stating a clear position and then failing to enforce it, he has undermined U.S. credibility with friends and foes alike.

Even areas once boasted as foreign policy successes have resulted in failures.  The United States helped topple the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya, only to have our Ambassador and three other Americans murdered in a terrorist attack which the Administration refuses to answer questions about.  The country remains mired in violence and instability and most of the terrorists remain at large. 

After the near defeat of the Iraq insurgency because of the 2007 surge, President Obama removed our troops against the advice of commanders on the ground.  Now Islamic extremists have taken over large sections of the country which is on the verge of a renewed civil war.

Our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is currently under attack from a barrage of Hamas rockets.  Rather than defend Israel’s right to protect itself, the only response of the Obama Administration has been to urge a cease fire.  Not surprisingly, the Hamas terrorists have not complied with calls for peace and civility.

All of these problems are rooted in a foreign policy lacking a strategy or overarching principles to guide our approach to world affairs.  As we disengage from the world, refuse to support allies and friends in need, and fail to enforce our own policies – our enemies are emboldened.

Engagement in world affairs and being a force for good does not mean we have to be the world police, or put boots on the ground in every conflict.  America is understandably war weary.  However, we must have principles and goals to advance our interests in the long-term, not just tactics to avoid immediate conflict.  As President Reagan proved, the best way to ensure peace is through American strength and resolve.