In yesterday’s New York Times, International Herald Tribune columnist Roger Cohen reported: “Since taking office, President Obama has reached out to the Muslim world as a whole, to China, to Turkey and to Iran, but has devoted scant serious diplomatic energy to Europe.” Cohen then went on to quote prominent Paris-based defense analyst Camille Grand: “Europe is the object of benign U.S. neglect. Obama has not established or re-established a strategic relationship with any single European country or with Europe as a whole.”
This analysis is dead on. In their report released last week, Defining the Obama Doctrine, Its Pitfalls, and How to Avoid Them, Drs. Kim Holmes and James Carafano detail just some of President Obama’s practice of extending an open hand to enemies while rebuffing friends and close allies, including: not welcoming the Dalai Lama to the White House when that dignitary made his first visit to Washington after Obama took office; reversing years of U.S. policy by supporting Argentina over the U.K. on the Falklands; caving to Russia by abandoning our missile defense plans with the Czech Republic and Poland; and backing a Hugo Chavez ally in Honduras.
The problem with this approach is that the U.S. government has a responsibility to the people of America to act in its own and its allies best interests. Since World War II the United States has promoted security and liberty throughout the world by creating strong international institutions and alliances that promote self-governance, the rule of law, civil and political rights, property rights and economic opportunities. But partnerships will fall short of our expectations if the countries with which we align share neither our values nor our goals. Rewarding troublemakers while ignoring our allies only emboldens those who do not share our values and demoralizes those that do.
Take the President’s campaign to “reset” relations with Russia. As mentioned above, one of President Obama’s first acts as President was to betray our Czech and Polish allies by surrendering our plans to build Grond-Based Midcourse Defense interceptors to appease Russia. The culmination of this campaign is the President’s New START agreement, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on this month. In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton explains why New Start is unilateral disarmament:
In pursuing New Start, the Obama administration has essentially jettisoned the 2002 Treaty of Moscow, which only dealt with the limitation of nuclear warheads that were operationally deployed. That freed large numbers of U.S. launchers (land-based and submarine-based ballistic missiles, along with heavy bombers such as the B-2) to carry conventional payloads world-widea concept known as “conventional prompt global strike.”
Such delivery flexibility is far more important to America than to Russia, given our global interests and alliances. Its wisdom was evident after 9/11, as we fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. New Start encumbers us with unnecessary constraints that will distort strategic priorities and weapons-development for decades.
Now is no time to be limiting our conventional or nuclear capabilities in the vain hope that Russia will suddenly become a force for liberty and security abroad. As Cohen notes: “The Atlantic relationship remains the cornerstone of world stability even as new powers emerge. With its huge debt, America needs affordable influence; Western allies are the way to find it. The struggle of our age pits the state against the anti-state, with weapons of mass destruction potentially mixed in: The West embodies the values and has the institutions central to winning that fight.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to address the Council on Foreign Relations today, where she will say of the Obama Doctrine: “Today we can say with confidence that this model of American leadership works.” But this claim ignores the realities in Iran, North Korea and Russia. Rewarding these countries will force friendly nations to look elsewhere, not to Washington, for arrangements that bring them greater security. And that will make this a far more dangerous world indeed.