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Obama’s Fantasy Land Foreign Policy

January 26, 2015
Weekly Columns

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear two competing portrayals of the global situation, along with visions of the role that America should play in it. In a world that becomes more closely-linked by the day through air travel, digital communication and trade, the steps and direction that our nation takes today with its foreign policy must be decisive, determined and constantly monitored. 

A couple weeks ago at the retreat hosted for Republican lawmakers of the 114th Congress, I heard from former Prime Minister Tony Blair as he addressed lawmakers and provided his take on the state of the world. Blair rightly pointed out that Islamic extremism is spreading throughout the globe rather than being contained. In light of the dangerous mobilization of terrorists and their sympathizers around the world, Blair urged America to again step up and lead with strength and certainty in the global community. 

Just four days later during his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama offered a very different assessment of the world, as well as the role America plays and the state of our national security. During the annual speech before the nation last Tuesday, the president claimed that, under his foreign policy leadership, America was more secure and that threats posed by Islamic terrorism were being defeated. He explained that Russia had been isolated and weakened through sanctions. And citing promising talks between countries, he praised supposed progress in limiting Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons and expressed optimism in “normalizing” relations with Cuba; both countries are currently designated as state sponsors of terrorism.  

Despite the president’s claims of a safer world and secure America, it only takes a quick survey of the international arena in recent days, reported by any newspaper in the world, to reveal that his assessment is clearly at odds with reality. Sadly, it appears that our enemies are actually getting stronger and being empowered because of America’s disengagement. In the process, our allies have been alienated because the Administration has foolishly chosen to negotiate with our common enemies. 

Last week, the president failed to acknowledge that under his leadership, a terrorist state has been re-established in the Middle East and is currently reaching into Europe—most recently seen earlier this month in the deadly attacks in Paris that claimed 17 lives. Because he decided it was inappropriate to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) when it was confined to Syria, ignoring the advice of his own advisors, the president has allowed the jihadist regime to dangerously spread. This endangers not only our allies who are in much closer proximity to this new enemy, but it also threatens the lives of Americans and squanders our hard-fought missions in the region. 

Since taking office, the president has been unapologetically determined to bring all troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. While we are always proud to welcome home our brave soldiers, their sacrifice can be far too easily wasted when the mission hasn’t been completed and threats still exist in those regions. After withdrawing troops from Iraq, it has already become necessary to send some back, due to the mobilization of ISIL in the country. While troops were not fully taken out of Afghanistan, the premature exit of much of our force has made it difficult to fight off the Taliban’s growing presence there as well.  

President Obama has used the Yemeni government to illustrate a successful partnership in counterterrorism efforts, which included drone strikes on al Qaeda-linked targets in Yemen. Over the last few months, Houthi rebels in the country have shown strong opposition to these efforts and led a siege to overthrow Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the government under his leadership. Last Thursday, President Hadi’s resignation was announced, though it is uncertain whether it will be accepted by the country’s parliament as genuine. Regardless, the counterterrorism partnership in Yemen is hardly one that the United States can rely on in the foreseeable future.   

In addition to jihadist threats, Russia continues to require close surveillance. When President Obama talked about Russia’s threat to the free world during his speech last week, he asserted that the country has been isolated and weakened through sanctions. However, he failed to mention that Russia is still supporting pro-Russia separatists in an effort to dismember Ukraine—a sovereign country and friend of the United States. It’s been nearly a year since bullying of Ukraine began and Russian President Vladimir Putin violated Ukrainian sovereignty by sending troops to invade Crimea. This Russian military occupation undoubtedly persuaded or coerced officials in the Crimean peninsula to call a referendum that resulted in residents voting to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. 

In Ukraine’s time of need, President Obama should have immediately recommended tangible support to this country that shares our democratic values. Because of the Administration’s failure to discourage Russia months ago by coming to Ukraine’s aid, Russia remains active and non-apologetically at our back door.  

Victorious claims do not translate to reality. Unfortunately, in order to continue his preferred narrative, the president is ignoring the crises at hand and very real threats in front of us and in so doing misinforming the American people. 

It appears that former Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Barack Obama live on two different planets in their assessments. But upon reflection, it’s hard not to conclude that Blair has it exactly right and President Obama has it exactly wrong about the reality of the international situation.