No nation can expect favorable foreign policy outcomes based on tradition and “what used to be.” Behind any successful overseas bluff and bluster must be credible elements of force or presumed force. Otherwise, targeted nations will shrug their shoulders and do what they want.
Clearly, President Obama believes the world is better served and the U.S. is safer if we diminish our role internationally. And he has taken specific steps to ensure we are weaker in all elements that contribute to our impact abroad.
First, there is the economy. We are losing our ability to influence world-wide financial markets and fund our overseas pretensions. Growth in our gross domestic product is stagnant – slightly above one percent. True unemployment is hovering near 15 percent. One in six Americans is in poverty. Almost 47 million are on food stamps. Average middle class family income has fallen more than $4,000 this year. The value of the dollar has plunged precipitously. An avalanche of job-sapping, investment-curtailing tax increases looms in the near future unless saner heads prevail. Continuing to borrow billions from the Chinese and other nations is not a solution.
Look at the nation’s military. President Obama has directed a $487 billion cut in defense spending over the next ten years. He has indicated – and certainly his core Democrat supporters agree – that additional cuts are necessary including the almost $500 billion contained in the pending sequestration action. If that happens, our Army and Marines will be the smallest since 1940; the Navy will have the fewest number of ships since 1915; and the Air Force will shrink to its smallest in history. Our few remaining defense factories, assembly lines and companies will further decrease, dramatically cutting our ability to quickly mobilize to meet security challenges. Our fighting men and women are already operating ancient weapon systems and that will worsen rather than improve. Our weakened condition will not be lost on nations and international entities that wish to do us harm.
Consider the mishandling of our energy resources. America has the clear capacity to become energy independent. Due to new discoveries and improved technology, we are sitting on a treasure trove of oil, natural gas and coal. In reasonably short order, we could satisfy all of our energy needs and become a net exporter. That would revolutionize our balance of payments and dramatically change a foreign policy that for decades has been bowing to the whims and caprice of oil-producing nations. Yet our president has blocked the Keystone Pipeline. He has prohibited additional drilling in government-controlled areas. He has declared war on the coal industry. Yes, oil and natural gas production is up, but it is occurring on private land and despite presidential directives that seek to limit output and increase production costs.
Then there is public support for our government and its overseas objectives. As we learned during World War II, public support is critical to success. As we learned in Vietnam, public opposition can be crippling. The president began his term with a so-called apology tour of the world, a move that rankled many. America is not perfect – far from it – but no nation has given more of its blood and treasure to – and asked less from – other nations. The most recent handling of the Libyan tragedy remains fresh on the minds of the voting public. No amount of spin can obscure the repeated attempts by the Obama administration to mislead the American public.
There are rumors floating in a number of circles that President Obama may soon announce Iran’s willingness to hold one-on-one talks regarding that nation’s nuclear objectives. That’s encouraging if it prevents direct military attacks on Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. But the timing is curious and the talks could lead nowhere.
After all – and particularly if Obama is re-elected – we have few trump cards to play in any negotiation. And Iran is fully aware of our weakened position.