For some, it appears President Obama relishes fights with his domestic opponents more than with the likes of Putin or radical Islamists. It is significant that even the liberal Washington Post has had it with what it calls this president’s “fantasy” foreign policy: “For five years, President Obama has led foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality.” The editorial goes on to note: “It was a world in which ‘the tide of war is receding’ and the United States could, without mush risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances— these were things of the past.”
Indeed, the evolving Obama Doctrine doesn’t reflect history or the fact that there are dangerous neighborhoods on our planet. In this context, Putin forges ahead with a sense of impunity:
- The restoration of Mother Russia to Super Power status
- Ensuring that the Ukraine does not come under the influence of the Western Allies by making it more difficult for its government to join the European Union or NATO. He can assure that with the prospect of more violence or a territorial carve-up. All this advances his goal of re-establishing Russia as a 20th century Communist-style state.
- Extending Russian influence in various ways, exemplified by its growing Mideast clout through his Syrian puppet or by sending Russian warships to Cuba and Venezuela in order to taunt the United States.
Obama’s “transformation” of America, done to please others in his fantasy world, certainly pleases the Russian bully. Reflect on what that the Post editorial further grudgingly admits: “While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that’s harmful to U.S. national security, too.”
Putin’s Crimean invasion underscores that President Obama has to be extremely careful in how he proceeds from this point forward. Putin has given the president very little room to maneuver; narrowing his options diplomatically, politically and financially. Mitt Romney got it right: Russia is “our number one geopolitical foe.” In that 2012 Debate, President Obama blurred the lines between geopolitical threats and terrorist threats; between acts by terrorist organizations and Russia’s “rediscovered ambition for superpower status”.
As President Obama has learned these past few weeks, he can no longer afford to blur those lines and, reverting back to Ronald Reagan, needs to clearly articulate the good we stand for and the evil we are prepared to oppose.