Anywhere you look around the globe, it’s hard not to see U.S. foreign policy in retreat or near collapse.
Ukraine is threatened with fragmentation or invasion by Russia. President Barack Obama has failed to assemble the European unity on severe restrictions that might persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to scale back his ambitions to bring Ukraine back into Moscow’s orbit. Obama won’t provide Ukraine with weapons or do anything about reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas but talk about it.
Success could embolden Putin to stir up trouble among ethnic Russian populations in the Baltic states. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are protected by being members of NATO, whose treaty says an attack on one is an attack on all. The United States also signed a treaty guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it gave up nuclear weapons in 1994.
Putin took Obama’s measure when he rescued the president from his promise to attack Syria for using chemical weapons in its civil war. The deal Putin arranged for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to give up chemical weapons — a process running behind schedule — marked a turning point in the civil war in Assad’s favor. Assad, Moscow’s ally in the Middle East, is scheduling new elections that he surely will win. So much for Obama’s oft-stated demand that Assad “needs to go.” Also, there’s an accusation the Assad regime used chlorine gas against rebels recently.
Obama’s failure to secure an agreement with Iraq to keep some U.S. forces there allowed the Shiite-led government to run roughshod over the Sunni minority. The result was a renewed Sunni insurgency that has caused the worst violence since the Iraq war. The lack of U.S. influence in Baghdad has seen Iraqi policy drift toward Tehran, such as letting Iranian planes fly over Iraq to deliver weapons to Assad.
Negotiations to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program drone on intermittently. In recent days, various Iranian officials have said Tehran has not relinquished the right to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, won’t stop operations at a heavy-water type of nuclear plant that could produce weapons-grade plutonium and will build four new nuclear plants with the help of … Russia.
In Afghanistan, Obama insisted President Hamid Karzai sign by the end of 2013 an agreement to maintain a U.S. military presence there beyond 2014 to train Afghan forces and protect U.S. gains achieved in the long war. Karzai thumbed his nose at Obama and he’s been forced to await the outcome of elections for a new Afghan leader.
Neighboring Pakistan remains a cauldron of Islamist fanaticism, a haven for our enemies and, by some accounts, more a foe than a friend in the war on terrorism.
Wednesday brought media coverage of a new video from Yemen showing what CNN described as “what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al-Qaida in years.” Remember when Obama said al-Qaida was “on the run”?
Talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are on the brink of collapse. The peace process has never recovered from Obama’s blunder five years ago in making a demand that all Israeli construction in dispute territories stop as a condition for talks. Previously the Palestinians had never made such a demand; now they do.
Obama’s pivot to Asia to counter China’s expansionism is running into worry and skepticism among allies like Japan. They see in the Ukraine crisis evidence of U.S. weakness.
As America withdraws from global leadership, it’s hard to see how the world will be a safer place.