Photo: L. Todd Wood
We have spent our way into oblivion and weakened our ability to project power and our ideals as a country. We have even watered down those ideals so they stand for nothing.
The world misses us. The world misses an America that stood for freedom and democracy and the rule of law in the face of danger.
I have seen this feeling of loss firsthand from people who depended on us. Many may have railed against our mistakes in the past, but that criticism was from under the comfortable blanket of American security. That security is gone, and the world is scared–the free world, that is.
As I walked the barricades of Maydan in Kiev, Ukraine over the last few weeks, this feeling of depression is evident among what is left of the protest. As I discussed with many of the Ukrainian patriots their fear and concern about what will happen to their country, I noticed a torn, dirty, almost blackened remnant of an American flag flying over one of their tents. The image struck me in a very emotional way, as a symbol of their people’s last desperate hope in America. Maybe they will come and help us at last against this naked aggression? Now they simply are scared for their families in Eastern Ukraine as the inept Ukrainian army fights Russian proxies. They just want personal safety and a job, no matter the political circumstance.
They have given up on the United States. It’s a sad sight to behold.
The world has seen America neglect to support the Iranian uprising. They have see us support the Ukrainian Maydan revolution with nothing more than meals ready to eat, and have seen Syrian president Assad use chemical weapons against his own people fourteen times after agreeing with Russia and the United States not to. They have seen the president of the United States look weak, indecisive, and at worst complicit in supporting Jihadists around the world. How else do you explain the release of five hardline Taliban commanders from GITMO in secret, for an American deserter and collaborator with the enemy?
This weakness and loss of purpose has long term consequences worldwide. People all over the world used to see us as the white knight, a nation they could depend upon. It gave them the courage to fight aggression and evil, knowing it was possible America would be in their corner.
[quote align=’right’]“It’s as if America is destroyed”[/quote]
Now they will have second thoughts.
They will go with the flow instead of standing up for freedom. I have even experienced this emotion from ordinary Russians. After the fall of the Soviet Union, they may have been jealous and harbored secret wishes for American failure in the past; but they respected us. There was a deeply held understanding of what we stood and would fight for. That feeling is gone. I had dinner with several Russian friends in Moscow recently, and the one reaction I received from them over and over was one of disbelief. “It’s as if America is destroyed,” they said to me with flabbergasted looks on their faces, unable to really believe it.
[quote align=’left’]”It’s just words. No one believes in America anymore. The Russians will finally bury you.”[/quote]
As I was about to go through security at the airport in Kiev upon leaving the country, I noticed a Ukrainian man listening to a video recording of one of Obama’s European speeches. I walked up to him and asked him why he was watching the video and what his reaction was. He said to me very solemnly, “It’s just words. No one believes in America anymore. The Russians will finally bury you.”
But I couldn’t help asking myself, Then why was he watching the video? Perhaps he held one last hope that the cavalry would ride in to help them, to give them hope? Maybe he held one last daydream that what America preached for two hundred years was really true, that good does triumph over evil?
Then as I turned to walk away, the man’s words struck me like a knife in the heart, “What I really wonder is what has become of an America that would vote this man into office twice.”
I didn’t know what to say at that point because he was right.
As the world’s totalitarian powers rise up and flex their muscles in the absence of American global leadership, more and more of the world’s people will long for the return of a nation that could be counted on to stand up to aggression.
It remains to be seen if America is just going through a phase or is gone forever. However, one thing is for sure today; the world misses America.