President Barack Obama spoke to the graduating class of cadets at West Point yesterday. He used the opportunity to defend his leadership from behind doctrine.
Fox News _
President Obama, in a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, signaled a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy — one that pulls back from what he described as “military adventures” while wielding American power in other ways.
The president described the new American foreign policy as one of “collective action” and restraint, deploying unilateral U.S. military force only when the American people are threatened. He outlined the approach a day after announcing his plan for gradually drawing down the U.S. force in Afghanistan once the war formally ends later this year.
“The landscape has changed,” Obama told the graduating class at West Point on Wednesday, citing the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The president took on what he described as “interventionists” from both parties, and said that while “isolationism” is not an option, “U.S. military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”
The president advised that crises around the world that don’t directly threaten Americans be met first with non-military options: diplomacy, sanctions and “collective action.”
This humble observer of the asylum we all have to live in is no neo-con. I am politically a conservative who has become more and more libertarian with age. Frequent visitors to this blog know my position against the war in Iraq and against our extended stay in Afghanistan and against the ordering of Mubarak to step down in Egypt and against the war to take out Gaddafi in Libya and against the stupid red-line in Syria and most recently I took a stand against our helping to over throw the legitimate government of Ukraine.
So, why am I not pleased with the words spoken by President Obama at the West Point Commencement? After all, I agree that we should only use military force when there is an immediate threat to America and I agree that diplomacy should be used before intervention in most cases. (I am conflicted over what we should do about Iran since America should accept responsibility for there being an Islamic regime in Iran. We helped to overthrow the legitimate government of Iran in 1953 to bring Shah Pahlavi to power, who was conveniently corruptible. We and the world are paying a heavy price for that bit of adventurism.) Yet I find no comfort in Mr. Obama’s words. World leadership is not being a bully; dictating to others, and it is not appeasement either. “Collective Action Leadership” is leadership by committee, which is no leadership at all. How can China not hear Obama’s words as an open invitation to take some islands claimed by the Philipines and some other islands claimed by Japan and who is gong to stop China from setting up oil drilling rigs in waters claimed by Vietnam?
Obama’s words leave me with a profound sense of sadness and foreboding.
Sadness because it seems to me that our government did not handle its leadership role very well since the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991. I ask you: Is the world a safer place today than it was in January 1992? I think not. The threat of terrorism has not abated. And, thanks to overextended wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the inept leadership of Barack Obama, the Middle East has never been more unstable. A nuclear Iran will only make matters worse in this strategically important part of the world.
Foreboding because the future as never looked more dim. I feel very sorry for today’s young people.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?