Mr. Obama points with pride to his foreign-policy record, but there is little to respect. America’s global reputation has declined since January 2009. There is no region in the world where U.S. interests are advancing.
The United States no longer has a strong leadership position in Europe. The trans-Atlantic relationship has withered. America is playing no important part in trying to resolve the European debt crisis which threatens to plunge the world into a new recession, if it is not already there. Germany, which has assumed the lead role in addressing the problem, is now voicing concerns that the record amounts of debt being accumulated by the Obama administration will be the catalyst for a new economic collapse.
Mr. Obama has tried to remain flexible for Russia, an adversary state whose leader Vladimir Putin isn’t short on ambition. Moscow agreed to the 2010 New START nuclear-arms reduction treaty because it was a bad deal for America. Now the Obama administration is talking about further nuclear cuts, which will weaken our strategic deterrent at a time when Russia and China are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and proliferator states like North Korea and Pakistan ponder how best to expand their nuclear programs. Washington has no evident influence on Chinese behavior and relies on Beijing to continue to assume responsibility for buying up our mounting debt. U.S. influence in Central and South America is in decline.
There is no evident progress being made in the world’s hotspots. The war in Afghanistan grinds on, producing higher casualties and greater volatility. The only thing Mr. Obama can say for certain about that unfortunate country is American troops are departing, and soon. Pakistan remains a haven for terrorists, while Iraq is seeing a spike in sectarian violence. There is no steady hand anywhere across the arc of instability.
Tehran continues its march to nuclear-weapons capability, and the Obama administration seems more concerned with setting red lines for Israel than for Iran. Relations between Mr. Obama and the Israeli prime minister are so frosty that the president has refused to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when both will be at the United Nations this month. Mr. Obama petulantly cutting off communications will virtually guarantee a major crisis in the region; it’s only a matter of time.
The fallout from the much-heralded Arab Spring continues. In Syria, a full-scale civil war is under way which the United States has chosen not to decisively influence. In Egypt, the world is beginning to witness the results of what the State Department described as “legitimate Islamism.” Present in the mob outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday was the family of blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has promised to seek Rahman’s release. Anti-American sentiment is growing, non-Muslim religious minorities are facing increased persecution, and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel that has maintained regional stability for three decades is under assault.
The analogy to the failed Carter presidency is striking. Both Democrats came to power offering a moral critique of U.S. foreign and national-security policy. Both exploited war weariness and a desire for U.S. retrenchment. Both were greeted with enthusiasm from a global community skeptical of American activism. And both were taken advantage of by adversary states who understood that these liberals were weak leaders. Jimmy Carter also saw a diplomat killed on his watch: Adolph “Spike” Dubs, the U.S. representative to Afghanistan who was murdered in Kabul in 1979.
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