Trump’s Juggling The Foreign Policy Balls Obama Dropped
If you’ll remember back to 2009-2012, Barack Obama spent quite a bit of time Blaming Bush on a constant basis, for which the rest of the Democrats and their compliant media cheerily agreed, and helped propagate. Interestingly, the same media mostly fails to note all the problems left behind by Mr. Obama, ones he created
The Trump administration is taking heat for striking a Syrian air base with Tomahawk missiles and hitting ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan with a MOAB, a conventional bomb so big that it has been dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs.” No doubt there are useful debates to be had about the pros and cons, both tactical and juridical. But one sure upside of these strikes is that they are a step toward restoring abroad the credibility of America as a power to be reckoned with.
That’s big, in ways that go way beyond the immediate battlefields. In a world grown dramatically more dangerous during President Obama’s eight years of appeasement and retreat, America badly and urgently needs to restore its lost credibility.
It would be great if diplomats could protect America, its allies and its interests with words alone. But in matters involving aggressive tyrannies, words don’t mean much unless they are backed up by military muscle and the credible willingness to use force. When that threat goes missing, predators take notice.
What? You mean a strongly worded letter, a reset button, and hashtags with signs and sad faces do not work? Huh.
It’s also clear that when America backs down, the threats tend to compound. Predatory regimes tend to do business together, observe each other and learn from each other. When Russia snatches turf from a neighbor and gets away with it, that sends a message to China.
Beijing, with its interest in building artificial islands topped with military bases in the South China Sea, can see that it’s open season in Asia for accelerating such territorial grabs. When North Korea conducts an illicit nuclear test and gets away with it, we can reasonably assume that Iran takes note.
For the world’s most dangerously ambitious and threatening tyrannies — from Russia to China, from North Korea to Iran — Obama’s neutering of American power over the past eight years created a host of opportunities that they eagerly seized. The sorry truth, given the character of these regimes, is that they would have been fools not to.
We had the failed “red lines”, strikes that would be “unbelievably small” that never happened, outsourcing the protection of Syrian civilians to Russia, blowing off the Arab Spring and Green Uprising in Iran, crafting a deal that will see Iran flush with cash and able to restart its quest for nuclear weapons in around 10 years, blowing off Poland on missile defense, Russia taking Crimea, calling ISIS the JV team, and so much more.
All this is part of the Obama legacy: the rising global agglomerate of emboldened tyrannies, with which Trump must now deal. Call it the Axis of Opportunism. To this scene, we must also factor in the jihadi non-state outfits which over the past eight years have made the most of the vacuums created by Obama’s various retreats. These include al Qaeda and the Taliban, both still going concerns; ISIS, which thrived when Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq and for too long dismissed the dangers; and the terrorist-infested misery of today’s Libya, where Obama led from behind.
This is all left to President Trump. What does he do? Coddling and hashtags while leading from behind sure hasn’t worked. Does belligerence and strength work? Will Trump enforce “peace through strength”? Time will tell.