Chaos through Weakness

Ronald Reagan “This responsibility for preserving peace, which I believe is a responsibility peculiar to our country… we cannot shirk [this] responsibility as the leader of the free world because we are the only one who can do it. Therefore, the burden of maintaining the peace falls on us and to maintain that peace requires strength.”     -President Ronald Reagan


“Peace through strength” is an old political maxim that has become synonymous with former President Reagan’s approach to foreign policy.  He invoked the phrase numerous times throughout his presidency, specifically when dealing with the Cold War threats from Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.  The idea is that, as the world’s sole superpower, peace results from a positioning of strength in both means and will.  Reagan said “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”  It was an all-encompassing approach to foreign policy that stopped the threat of communist imperialism and brought freedom to twelve new countries… all without firing a shot.  Under Reagan, US foreign policy was clearly defined by a strong defense and an unwavering commitment to democracy across the world.  Though not without fault, the “Reagan Doctrine” resulted in greater freedom, an end to the spread of communism, and relative peace around the globe. At the end of Reagan’s presidency the leadership position of the US in the world was unquestioned and clear lines were drawn with regard to what the US would and would not stand for.  However, just over twenty years later those foreign policy standards have been demolished and replaced by indecision, incompetence, and weakness… and the world is worse for it.  In a remarkable turn in little more than a generation, a policy of peace through strength has been traded for one more aptly characterized by chaos through weakness, a virtual 180 from the standards set in place by the Reagan administration.  President Barack Obama is the anti-Reagan when it comes to foreign policy, and the fruit of his policies have yielded a world in which chaos has engulfed much of the globe, including the US.  Here’s a snapshot look at the world following six years of the “Obama Doctrine.”

  • The fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Gaza has reportedly killed over 2,000 and wounded over 10,000 with virtually no assistance to our ally, Israel, save for some ill-fated attempts at a ceasefire by Sec. of State John Kerry.
  • The Islamic terrorist group ISIS has taken over much of Iraq (their advances coincided with the Obama declaration of a firm date of withdrawal of US troops) and is attempting to set up a sharia-run caliphate while engaging in genocide and slaughtering thousands.
  • Russia annexed part of Ukraine and is supporting a war between separatists and the new Ukrainian government.  President Obama’s response was to lay sanctions, not on Russia, but on some key allies to President Putin.
  • Syrian President Assad has reportedly murdered over 100,000 of his own citizens using chemical weapons with virtually no resistance (despite crossing several “red lines” given to him by President Obama and a call for Assad to step down).
  • Libya has become a safe-harbor and training ground for terrorists.  Add to the fact that these terrorists murdered a US Ambassador and dragged him through the streets with little to no response from the administration, and it took well over a year to even identify a suspect in the attack.
  • North Korea has gone nuclear.
  • Iran has gone nuclear.
  • The US border situation is in complete chaos with thousands of children displaced and dying.  President Obama’s mandate to not deport certain immigrants or enforce many immigration laws has led to a mass-flooding over the porous borders by immigrants chasing the hope of American citizenship simply by showing up.
  • Under President Obama, the national defense budget has been cut by nearly 30% and the US Army has been cut to Pre-World War II levels.

The above is simply a quick tour of what is happening in the world under President Obama’s watch.  Certainly there are other elements at play besides US foreign policy but in each situation the role (or lack of role) of the Obama administration has played a significant part.  The signal sent to the world by the apparent apathy and inaction toward world crises is weakness.  When Syrian President Assad was warned not to cross certain “red lines” that could trigger the use of force by the US, promptly crossed them with no consequence, simply ignoring the warning from President Obama.  President Putin of Russia continued his push into Crimea despite US warnings because he knew President Obama would do nothing to stop him.  All the warnings from President Obama are hollow and meaningless, and President Putin knows this and has continued his aggression accordingly.  Threats of sanctions did nothing to prevent North Korea and Iran from proceeding with their plans for nuclear weapons, and President Obama has largely stood idly by and watched ISIS form a quasi-regime in Iraq based on genocide and terrorism.  The formation and advancement of ISIS is directly related to the Obama-led full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, which was done against the counsel of many of his top military advisors.  Now, nearly three months after ISIS has laid waste to multiple cities in Iraq and killed countless thousands, President Obama has reluctantly ordered some “targeted airstrikes” but nothing more.  This weak threat has done nothing to stop ISIS and its stated pursuits to ultimately raise its terrorist flag over the White House.  The disastrous border situation in the US has been well-documented, as President Obama has taken few steps to secure the border and his rhetoric regarding the status of illegal immigrants has served to encourage more illegal border crossings.

Obama's Foreign Policy

Even the most ardent supporters of President Obama would admit that the world situation right now is chaotic at best, but what they will not admit is that the US has played any role in it.  The reality is what the US says and does matters, and it can go a long way to shaping and heavily influencing global affairs.  When a President issues a “red line” and warns a country not to cross it, there must be consequences if they do.  Those consequences may or may not include force but force can never be off the table as an option or else there is no enforcement mechanism behind any threat, sanction, or warning.  The Reagan and Obama foreign policies show a striking contrast and effect in the world when a President demonstrates strength and when a President exhibits weakness.  President Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot and when he left office the US held an unquestioned role in world in preserving peace and liberty.  President Obama has repeatedly shown hesitancy, apathy, and complacency in his foreign policy, all characteristics viewed as weakness by other world leaders.  As a result, the world (including the US border) seems to be descending into full-fledged chaos while President Obama watches it happen.  The Middle East is exploding, Russia has taken over part of Ukraine and threatens more of it, ISIS is setting up a terror state in Iraq, Libya and Syria have become terrorist safe-havens and training grounds, Iran and North Korea remain on track to go nuclear, the US border and immigration system is falling apart, and President Obama has gutted the US military budget.  In less than 30 years the US has gone from a foreign policy of peace through strength to one of chaos through weakness, and the US and the world are worse off for it.

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