The collapse of Obama's foreign policy

Romney is right. Hope is no strategy.

by Julia Lenarz on 11 October 2012 15:38

The Bible says, “for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”.

Just as this is true for individuals, so it is for nations. Nations that enjoy the benefits of freedom and prosperity have the greatest responsibility to protect these principles at home and abroad. America is the most powerful nation on Earth and remains the one most indispensable in world affairs.

Its leadership is essential. Isolationism is not an option.

Of course, America shall not carry the flag of liberty alone. We must walk hand in hand, stand shoulder to shoulder to face the most terrifying threats which are all too real. Those threats must be met with decisive action, willingness to withstand criticism, and with courage.

Under the Obama administration, we have seen the devastating effect of America leading from behind. The change in the balance of power has created a much less certain and more dangerous status-quo. The resulting vacuum of power has been filled by countries that do not identify with our norms and laws and do not share our way of life, values, and virtues.

Barack Obama has left America exposed, vulnerable, and at the mercy of events, in particular in the Middle East. While it is true that the President could, only to a certain extent, have foreseen the tidal wave of change that swept across the region, his administration has reacted, at best, with a mixture of silence, indifference, and incompetence rather than a pro-active, offensive strategy to help shape the future of the region.

America’s position is as weak as it has been in a long time. Its allies question its ability and commitment to its role as a hegemon; its enemies treat it with contempt. Bush might have been hated but he was also feared and respected. Obama’s appeasement approach, however, has bitterly failed. Recent polls suggest that he is no less, or even more, unpopular than George W. Bush, his controversial predecessor.

It is hard to conclude anything but that Obama’s “hand of friendship policy” equates to a car crash, ending in an embarrassing disaster.

The President offered the government of Iran a fresh start, but he badly let down the Iranian people in the summer of 2009, as they tried to overthrow their oppressive regime. He also invited a high-profile delegation of the Muslim Brotherhood to Washington D.C. before elections had taken place, thus giving them legitimacy they did not deserve. Morsi’s outrageous response to attacks on Americans in Egypt has brutally exposed the zero-sum rationale that now defines the relationship between Egypt and the USA.

On the other hand, America’s partnership with its long-standing ally, Israel, has been badly damaged. Certainly, Netanyahu shares some responsibility for the crisis of relations between the two countries but Obama, more than almost any other President before him, has undermined the strong commitment and deep trust that usually characterised the American-Israeli relationship.

The winners are reactionary-pariah regimes like Iran, which has exploited the rift in the Western-Israeli alliance to push forward with its nuclear programme. Iran has exploited America’s defensive strategy in Syria in order to prop up Assad’s regime.

Instead of taking the opportunity to topple Ahmadinejad’s brother in arms, which would considerably weaken Iran’s position, and at the same time resolve a heart-breaking humanitarian catastrophe, Washington is committing a gross strategic error and is to be found cowering behind the Russian and Chinese veto in the UN Security Council in order to justify its inaction.

The result of American isolationism is breath-taking: Israel is left alone in dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme, the death toll in Syria has reached 30,000 or more and Turkey, a NATO member-state, is under attack. When America lost three brave servicemen in Libya and its ambassador, Christopher Stevens, the President and the Secretary of State apologised for an anti-Islam video, which was nothing but a smoke screen for pathological, deep-rooted anti-Americanism.

It is time for change and return to peace-through-strength.

Mitt Romney is the man who can restore American leadership in the world. When listening to his foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute, it was almost as if Bush’s freedom-agenda had returned to life.

Instead of presenting concrete policy recommendations, Romney set out in broad terms how his foreign policy would differ from Obama’s. Romney’s vision is one which possesses the passion, vision, and leadership that the Obama administration is so obviously lacking.

Romney is right. Hope is no strategy. 

Julia Lenarz is a political consultant specialising in the Middle East, terrorism, and humanitarian interventionism. Follow her on Twitter @MsIntervention

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