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March 7, 2014

A “Progressively” Worse Foreign Policy

Joe Charlebois

Let’s face it; President Barack Obama has put the United States on a collision course with irrelevancy. His ideologically progressive focus on domestic issues, and his naïve approach to foreign policy, has set America back in a demonstrably negative way.


It isn’t possible to define the breadth of damage this administration has done to the tenuous international relations we have had with our adversaries, or the damage that has been done by undermining the traditionally strong ties we have shared with our most historically reliable allies.


It would be hard to argue that there has been any less experienced man to take the Presidential oath of office. The facts are hard to dismiss. In fact, it is well chronicled that not only had Mr. Obama never held an executive position of any kind, he had only held office as an Illinois state senator for eight years. His serving less than one term as the junior U.S. senator from Illinois clearly did not afford him the opportunity to fully immerse himself in the intricacies of world affairs. That didn't come until he was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.


His myopic approach to foreign policy has led to a swift deterioration of America’s standing within the world community. International public opinion polls released shortly after he took office seemed to carry an international optimism that there would be a new way of diplomacy. These polls in large part represented a sampling of the citizens of Europe who backed the president’s philosophy of extending the hand of openness to hostile regimes. Mr. Obama's idea of "open-hand" diplomacy may have been a noble approach; but, based on who the president was trying to engage, this “open-hand” approach was both naïve and misdirected.


While the previous administration's failures may have been due to judgments clouded by the attacks of 9/11, that administration did not carelessly dismiss our friends or dangerously appease our adversaries.


Critics of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy may maintain that the world was in disarray when he left office, but since Mr. Obama took office it would be difficult to find a geo-politically important country that maintains a stronger relationship with America today than it did six years ago. Mr. Obama's policy of extreme disengagement has left a vacuum that it being filled with nations that remain at odds with America.


With Iran, the president had an opportunity to speak to the liberty seeking Green Movement, but he didn't choose sides. He gave a tepid warning to Iran’s leaders to allow the Green Movement – the oppositional movement in Iran which was the driving force behind the protest of the elections of 2009 and once again in February of 2011 – the freedom to assemble and speak. With little reason to heed the president's words, the Iranian government moved in and squelched the dissent.


Also in Iran, the administration eased sanctions after receiving assurances that they would continue to scale back their nuclear program.  Although stiff sanctions remain in place, the fact that the U.S., along with other members of the six major powers, have agreed to step back from their hard line approach.


In Syria – Iran's puppet state – Mr. Obama stepped in and drew a “red-line.” In 2012 he said: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” A year later chemical weapons were used, and killed thousands. President Obama, whose actions couldn’t match his rhetoric, backed down off his promise to act and Russia's Vladimir Putin stepped into the arena to broker an arrangement to collect and destroy the weapons.


In Egypt during the popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the president chose sides. He chose sides to support Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist-led government has already failed. President Morsi was ousted by the military and is currently under arrest.


The eight-year long missions in Iraq and the ongoing one in Afghanistan were wars that were costly in so many ways, but the “tuck-tail-and-run” approach of this administration has led to a situation where the fragile framework of a democratic Iraq has collapsed and the influence of neighboring Iran substantial. The weakness of this administration shows in how leaders in Afghanistan – once allies – are now calling for a complete withdrawal of American troops.


In relations with Russia, it is evident that President Putin has little regard for President Obama. His rebuke of Mr. Obama's stern warning regarding the occupation of the Crimean peninsula is only the latest example.


With the president's continued dismantling of the United States military, and the removal of any real threat of action, there are few leaders around the world who are wary of any threat that this president may make – except our allies. They may respect our still powerful military capabilities, but they don’t respect any leader who equivocates.


Even our allies throughout Europe and the Middle East have seen relations with the United States develop into one of mistrust.


As a consequence of this administration’s foreign policy blunders, millions across the globe are left to wonder if there is any nation left that will truly stand for liberty; or if there will be anyone to aide their escape from tyranny.


America has long been the torch bearer of liberty throughout the world. It has done this by standing on the right side of history and offering a shining example of what freedom truly can be. It has been able to raise that torch high through strong global leadership, but with each foreign policy misstep of this administration, it seems as if the torches wick is only further trimmed.


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