I spend a lot of time in Moscow and can understand the historical ties the Russians feel towards Ukraine and specifically Crimea. However, I don’t condone the way Putin is going about annexing additional territories; these historical ties are just an excuse to resurrect the Russian Empire. But the Russian annexation of the peninsula is not the point. The issue is a much deeper fundamental truth of human existence that our current administration just does not understand as it dwells in its alternate state of unreality. You see, the simple fact is that as a nation, it is better to be feared than loved.
The Obama Administration’s “reset” with Russia is a classic example of this dynamic. Hillary Clinton was smiling ear-to-ear like a schoolgirl when she handed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a red button to press to restart the relationship with Russia in the beginning of Obama’s first term. I’ve watched the video several times on Youtube; it’s embarrassing. Lavrov has this incredulous look on his face and seems to be saying to himself, “Okay, I’ll do this if you want but I can’t believe you really want me to.” The United States then proceeded to betray our new allies in Eastern Europe by pulling out missile defense systems that were approved at great political expense by indigenous governments. If it’s one thing that the Russians fear, all the way back to the Star Wars days, it’s containment of their nuclear missile threat. Putin must have laughed at the way the Americans were begging for his friendship and giving away their deterrence with nothing in return. From that point on, America was no longer feared, and predictably not loved either.
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Fast forward to the Syrian conflict. Barack Obama painted himself into a pitiful corner by threatening an airstrike against the Assad regime, one of the most important foreign relationships that Russia has as Syria is its gateway to the Mediterranean, houses a Russian naval facility, and is a big Russian arms customer. As congressional and public support ebbed from Obama’s theater of strength, Putin gives him a way out and offers an agreement that Assad will destroy his weapons of mass destruction. A year later, of course, these weapons have not been destroyed completely; and the agreement is not worth the paper it is printed on.
I could go on and on with example after example such as the American effort in Libya leading from behind, the Iranian nuclear negotiations, and the betrayal of our allies in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. But I think the current state of American leadership is obvious. We have a weak leader who is being played all over the world. He has no understanding of geopolitics and is overmatched against Putin and other autocratic leaders. When the community organizer goes up against the KGB spook, the spook always wins.
So as a father with five children, I worry about the future. I worry about our country’s security. I worry that other adversarial governments will use Obama’s weakness and ineptitude to settle old scores that they have coveted for decades. The combination of a weak American government and overwhelming sovereign debt is a flashing green light for a rising empire. The American policeman is off the job-take what you want! We are already seeing China flex its newfound muscle in the Pacific theater. Our allies, specifically Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines, are all at risk. There is a huge unanswered question as to whether or not Obama would have the stomach to defend these allies per our treaty obligations, Kerry’s bloviating to the contrary notwithstanding.
Iran will continue to pursue its goal of becoming a nuclear armed state, which gives our ally Israel nightmares. Obama’s attempt at appeasing the Shia Islamic state have been duly noticed by the world. America will not stop Iran from developing the capability to destroy the Jewish State!
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The bottom line is that the Russian invasion of Crimea should have been suspected if not expected. It is not the last act of aggression we will see during the last three years of this administration. As we hear about our government’s intention to draw down our military to pre-WWII levels, every tin pot dictator around the world must be laughing. Every terrorist must be taking heart. The ability of the United States to successfully fight two global wars is long gone, and the world knows it. Instead of being feared rather than loved, the United States under this administration is neither. As Ronald Reagan so famously said, the best war is one not fought. Peace through strength worked for almost a century. I fear the future.
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