Russia illegally annexes Crimea while simultaneously moving in on eastern Ukraine, Syria continues to violently implode, Venezuela’s “democratically elected” government murders and tortures peaceful protesters, China rapidly rises as a world power, and global terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda gain steam, occupying the void left in the failed states of Syria, Libya and Iraq.
This is no Pax Romana; the world is in turmoil and strong leadership is needed. Instead of leading, the Obama administration is choosing to retreat under the pressure of a resurgent Russia and rising isolationism at home, willfully abandoning allied democracies around the world.
With the decline of the British Empire and the defeat of the Axis Powers in WWII, the United States of America has been the undisputed superpower leader of the western world. America stood between Communism and the free world, and routed the Soviet Union in the highest stakes national showdown to ever occur: the Cold War. We proved ourselves worthy to be the leader of the west that we are today. Recently though, Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry have led the U.S in developing a record of appeasement in place of action.
In Iran we threaten consequences for continued pursuit of nuclear weapons to the point that we’re forced to place economic sanctions, and when the sanctions come close to crippling Iran’s nuclear program, Obama strikes a deal that allows Iran to continue pursuing a nuclear policy. In Syria, America looks foolish by first announcing impending military action, then in the 11th hour acquiescing to a Russian orchestrated chemical weapons deal that Syria has no intention of fulfilling, and that has no real effect on either side’s wholesale assault on civilians.
More recently, in Ukraine, Kerry flew around Europe to diplomatically support the pro-western protesters in a show of American strength. However when push came to shove and Russia invaded Crimea, the Obama administration only imposed half-hearted sanctions on a handful of Putin’s cronies, saving face by doing something, but accomplishing nothing and confronting no one.
There could be an argument made for isolationism, the school of thought that says that the United States should have a small role or no role on the world stage. After all U.S shouldn’t have to be the world’s policeman, and we should mind our own business. Isolationism works for small countries, Monaco and Switzerland can focus solely on Monaco and Switzerland and the world will continue on mostly unchanged. But the United States is obviously not Monaco nor Switzerland––America is the leader of the Western World.
And for the leader of the Western World to step away from the world stage and pretend it’s not a superpower invites Iran to develop nuclear warheads, North Korea to bomb South Korea, Russia to annex foreign territory in Ukraine, and Syria to gas civilian neighborhoods. Its because of American troops on the 38th parallel that North Korea is held in check, its because of the American led alliance NATO that Russia stays clear of Georgia and the Baltic states, and its American military might that frightens Syria into destroying at least a fraction of their chemical arsenal. To throw away the enormous influence that comes from our economy and military, and turn away from attempting to make the world safer for democracy, is a tremendous waste of our power abroad––a waste that can and will prove dangerous to democracy and American interests.
President Obama needs to remember who our friends and enemies are. Ukraine, who was recently denied military aid from the Pentagon in defending their territorial integrity, is a friend. Russia has been, and will remain in the foreseeable future, an enemy. Israel, one of America’s few allied nations in the Middle East, is a good friend. Iran, where hardline protesters regularly chant “Death to America” is not, regardless of how charming their new president is.
The Obama administration shouldn’t be publicly condemning Israel’s government, nor should we be treating Russia as an international partner when all they’ve shown is that they are anything but. We have alliances with foreign nations for a reason: to publicly show who works with America are and who doesn’t. But when we work with enemies at the expense of friends, those alliances become meaningless, as does America’s image abroad.
It’s lovely sentiment to think that America should always work peacefully and cooperatively with other countries to solve world problems, but the fact is that there are countries out there that don’t want to work with America, theywork against us. Liberals in Congress often speak of “soft power” and diplomacy as the solution to world problems and crises, but all too often they fall short. Bashar Al-Assad, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un don’t speak the language of strongly worded UN letters or half-hearted economic sanctions. They understand action, and that means embargoes, no fly zones, and military deterrence; anything less is a half measure and they’ll treat it as such.
If we as Americans aspire to live in a world where democracy and liberty are the norms, then we have to stop pretending that we can negotiate and talk our way there. America has the tools and the means to act as a world needs a leader who will preserve democracy and human rights, a leader desperately needed in our world. A world dominated by multiple powers working hand in hand is a good vision for the future, but for now the United States of America is the world’s only superpower, and its time we start acting like it.