On the morning of Sept. 17, Poland awakened from a peaceful slumber. Mothers went to the market to buy food that was once absent under collective central planning. Husbands went to work in jobs that did not exist before the free economy that followed liberation from communism. Citizens spoke their minds and prayed to God, actions once forbidden under totalitarian, atheistic tyranny. On Sept. 17, the anniversary of the Soviet occupation of their country, Polish men and women lived to taste the sweetness of freedom for another day, and they taught their children of both the hell that they had escaped and the brilliance of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy that defeated their Russian oppressors.

On Sept. 17, President Obama cancelled the missile defense shield that was scheduled to be installed in Poland. Confused, disillusioned and enraged, the Polish embassy refused to return the president’s calls.

To be fair, Obama’s shocking concession was intended to garner Russian support for future sanctions on Iran, as he has correctly acknowledged Iran as one of the greatest threats to democracy in the Middle East. Their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is notable for referring to Israel as a “one-bomb state,” once remarked that his mission was to “pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi,” the “12th Imam” that some believe will appear just before the end of the world. In other words, Ahmadinejad believes he can hasten judgment day by providing the proper conditions of world chaos for the Mahdi. Right or left, everyone acknowledges the insanity of letting this man acquire nuclear weapon technology, but have Obama’s policies effectively deterred Iranian nuclear pursuits?

President Obama abandoned the Eastern European missile defense system, giving up permanent protection against any future Iranian ICBM attacks on the U.S., but neither Russia nor China has agreed to sanctions. For days he refused to even acknowledge the young protesters of Ahmadinejad’s rigged election, innocent men and women who were brutalized in the streets, given show trials and murdered. His blind eye to oppression was done in the hopes of future Iranian cooperation, yet no such cooperation has materialized. Obama has played his charm in speech after speech to the “Muslim world.” Perhaps Iran missed them; they’ve been too busy testing short and medium range missiles with the capacity to strike Israel.

We don’t have to invade Iran to stop their weapon program, but Obama has never properly wielded the threat of force. Nor are peace talks irrelevant, but he has failed to achieve even the slightest tangible advantage over Iran through talks or posturing. Ahmadinejad is only years from achieving nuclear weapons, and Obama has responded with one amateurish blunder after another. It is possible to avoid both armed conflict and nuclear devastation, just as Ronald Reagan rescued Poland from communist rule without any open hostilities, but it will take intelligent policies that have victory, not meaningless appeasement, as their objective. Reagan understood the means through which international bullies could be forced to back down from their militaristic goals. Does Obama?