I am glad I served my country. I did my time in the US Navy while Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were Presidents. I may have questioned some of the actions we took, some of the places we were sent, but I didn’t question what the goals of the Commanders-in-Chief were. Although there has never been a black and white world and we have had to deal with shades of gray, I always knew that my leaders had a plan for keeping the United States strong.
Strong foreign policy requires the material strength to defy those people in this world that would challenge our desires, but it also requires the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to actually back up strong words with actions that may hurt in the short run, may not win you popularity contests, but are the right thing to do.
The right thing to do.
As a young sailor, I was not sure if what we were doing in Grenada, Panama or Iraq was the right thing to do, but I trusted my leaders that they knew it was. I haven’t painted my feelings during that time with a nostalgia brush (well, not too much anyway), but I look at our leaders now, and I wonder whether they understand the difference between right and wrong. I’m not even sure they even understand how realpolitik works. Of course, if they want to get a good lesson in that, all they have to do is look to Russia or China.
The President’s pivot to Asia is already failing with the reluctance of the Japanese to accept the trade deal that was the lynchpin of the agreement. Our allies in Asia don’t trust us, as a country, to do the right thing. They don’t expect us to honor our agreements or alliances, and they have to worry about the huge regional player that opposes our dominance in the region.
In the Mideast, Israel has suspended peace negotiations with Palestine. President Obama, through his secretary of state John Kerry, has already invested a huge amount of time, effort and prestige in the process. Unless something radical happens, those peace talks have returned to square one.
In two of our most important areas of foreign policy, the United States has come up empty-handed.
A pattern of failure.
Honestly, after the last five years of excuses, resets and leading from behind, why would anyone in this world think that the United States has the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to point out what is wrong and then follow the tough talk with action? There is no longer an Evil Empire, an Axis of Evil or even a terrorist attack. We have made ourselves smaller by not challenging the actions of evil men or regimes.
We didn’t do it in Iran, Egypt or Crimea. We have abrogated our responsibilities in that regard. The United States is no longer Policeman to the World. We are no longer a superpower. Our ambitions, like our responses, have become petty.
Realpolitik doesn’t work for us.
Americans had their fill with power politics in Vietnam, and although the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been likened to that conflict, the analogy is a bit thin. The conflict in Libya a couple of years ago is a much better example of that type of conflict.
In Iraq, and Afghanistan, we initially took responsibility for the upheaval we caused. In both of those conflicts, we won the war and lost the peace. By not being willing to do what it took to maintain peace in those countries, we have done them a disservice. But, by not being willing to do anything, at any time, we are doing the world a greater disservice.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of this website. The facts, on the other hand, reflect the world’s view of us.