When he made his speech before the British Parliament in 1982, President Reagan commented: “I’ve always wondered about the shyness of some of us in the West about standing for these ideals (individual liberty, representative government, rule of law) that have done so much to ease the plight of man and the hardships of our imperfect world … let us be shy no longer. Let us go to our strength. Let us offer hope.”
This optimism and strong resolve on the part of the West — the United States in particular — played a significant role in ending the Cold War with the tyrannical Soviet Union, and allowed millions in Eastern Europe to breathe free once more.
Now, regrettably, it seems that all our current president is prepared to offer the world is some vague notion of faux hope, backed up only by some encouraging words, false premises and inane decisions that actually hurt the foreign policy interests of the United States.
Though the president’s foreign policy failures are many, they are no more apparent than in his handling of the Arab Spring and Libya.
The president’s ineptitude and unwillingness to stand for our values have been on stark display throughout the course of our most recent foreign policy setback, the assassination of our ambassador to Libya and the subsequent fallout. For two weeks following Ambassador Chris Steven’s assassination, the president and his administration insisted that the ambassador had been killed by rioters upset over a YouTube video made by an American called the “Innocence of Muslims.”
In his speech before the United Nations, the President condemned the video no less than six times, yet failed to defend this American citizen’s right to make the video in the first place. It was only recently, after it was made abundantly clear that the ambassador had sent numerous requests for an enhanced security detail and repeatedly expressed concerns of increased activity by Al-Qaeda before the attack happened, that the president finally admitted the assassination was the work of terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda.
One might think that being caught red-handed like that would prompt some kind of apology or, frankly, any kind of response from our president. Yet, all he can offer is more conciliatory words about how we must give greater “respect” to the Muslim world and convince Israel to make a bad settlement with the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, this latest incident is only a symptom of the President’s greater failure in foreign policy, not the cause. By supporting the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia etc., he has hurt America’s foreign policy interests by destabilizing the region — thereby creating the environment necessary for terrorism to thrive — and making Israel less secure on its southern border with Egypt.
In supporting those uprisings but not standing in solidarity and lending support to the Iranian protesters or Syrian rebels, he has not only shown remarkable inconsistency but has emboldened the true tyrants of the Middle East. It is time for us to realize that our president’s strategy of hope of better relations with the Middle East has left our interests in ruins. If we hope for a more stable international system where the U.S. is not at the mercy of events, for a strategy that rewards and cherishes our allies while punishing our enemies, we must have a new strategy, and a new president willing to implement it.
Jeffrey Robin takes his freedom fries with a side of democracy sauce.
REBUTTAL to “Left Said” column:
First, there is no American Empire. We have no colonies. We do not exploit other lands purely for their natural resources. All of our protectorates have the right to leave whenever they wish. I can only conclude that if my counterpart had it his way, the United States would not exist at all because Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton would have realized how “evil” and “imperialist” they were for thinking that they could create an Empire of Liberty (an empire not constrained by nationality, political association or geography but by the ideals of freedom) spanning the North American continent. Silly me — I’m sure that living under the corrupt government of Mexico would be far preferable to living in — Heaven forbid! — the West, right?
Second, yes — believe it or not — Islamic extremists and terrorists hate our freedom. You don’t have to be trained in logic and reasoning to know that people who favor one world government ruled by Islamic law are completely and diametrically opposed to everything the West values. To reduce terrorist’s motivation down to our base in Saudi Arabia is the highest naiveté.