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How is Obama’s Foreign Policy Failing?

Libya. Egypt. Syria. Iran. Russia. China. America’s relations with the world aren’t looking too good.

President Obama said that in his Administration, America would reach out to other countries as “an equal partner” rather than as the “exceptional” nation that many before him had embraced; that “any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

His political approach to foreign policy—making decisions that appeal to a political base rather than making military sense—is putting American lives and American interests in danger. All the while, he is gutting the defense budget, supposedly to free up money for his domestic agenda. This is weakening defense and military readiness, which is a perilous strategy.

The President defined his foreign policy doctrine early, and Heritage experts have carefully analyzed it. There are many examples of the Obama Doctrine in action, but here are just a few of the ways its four tenets have failed America and its allies.

1. America will ratify more treaties and turn to international organizations more often to deal with global crises and security concerns like nuclear weapons, often before turning to our traditional friends and allies.

The Obama Administration has distanced itself from Israel, even as Palestine seeks recognition as a state at the United Nations absent a peace treaty. President Obama has spoken out against this, but the Administration needs to take a harder line to support America’s ally.

2. America will emphasize diplomacy and “soft power” instruments such as summits and foreign aid to promote its aims and downplay military might.

The Obama Administration has held talks with the Taliban—the enemy U.S. and coalition forces originally routed in Afghanistan following 9/11. Those gains have eroded over the past few years, and the Taliban are simply waiting out the withdrawal of troops now to recapture their power.

3. America will adopt a more humble attitude in state-to-state relations.

The Administration had to abandon its engagement policy with Iran when it met with reality. More recently, the Administration has failed to provide clear leadership on the subject of a deteriorating Syria. As Heritage’s James Phillips and Luke Coffey wrote, “Now the Administration is reduced to pleading for Russian cooperation at the United Nations despite Vladimir Putin’s cynical efforts to prop up his Syrian ally with arms while denouncing foreign intervention.”

4. America will play a more restrained role on the international stage.

The Administration was slow to determine a position on the rebellion in Egypt and has stood on the sidelines while the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a longtime member of the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood, presses an anti-Western agenda. Phillips points out that Morsi “has set Egypt on a troubling new foreign policy course since coming to power in June. His government has distanced itself from Washington while cozying up to China, improving relations with Iran, and violating its peace treaty with Israel.”

Has Obama had some successes? As Heritage’s Kim Holmes put it, “To the extent that there has been any success in the area of counterterrorism—killing Osama bin Laden, for example—it is mainly because Obama kept in place things that President Bush and his predecessors had implemented, not only in counterterrorism, but in detainee policy (for which he has gotten into trouble with his political base).”

Appeasement has never worked. America must stand up for itself and its allies, regardless of political concerns or international opinion.

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