Mark Twain once told the story of a gentleman who came home to his wife, irredeemably impaired after having too much whiskey. Ever the helpful spouse, she suggested that, in the future, after he had consumed as much whiskey as he wanted, he should simply order a sarsaparilla. “Yes,” said her husband, “but when I have drunk all the whiskey I want I can’t say sarsaparilla.”
So it is that Barack Obama, intoxicated on the elixir of international retreat and American decline, finds himself unable to summon such rudimentary concepts as leverage while Vladimir Putin schools him in the audacity of brute force. For those of you too young to remember Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy, you’re seeing it now.
As America recedes into the faceless assemblage of nations, reducing its strength and influence, others are more than happy to fill the void. Such was our weakness last time around that Russian tanks moved into Afghanistan in a brazen move that tore international law asunder and reduced Jimmy Carter to a sputtering mess. Our military was but a fragile shell of American strength, with our waning influence reducing us to a piñata for Iran’s Ayatollah and an international punchline for Muslin fanatics and the enemies of freedom.
“This is a callous violation of international law and the United Nations Charter,” said President Carter in 1979, before gathering enough courage to boycott the Olympics and curtail Soviet fishing rights in American waters. This, as you may recall, had Kremlin officials shaking, though mainly with laughter. Today, Secretary of Capitulation John Kerry calls the Russian incursion an, “incredible act of aggression,” adding that, “It’s really 19th century behavior in the twenty-first century.” One is surprised he didn’t blame the Tea Party while he was at it.
Mortified that human nature has not yet yielded to the relentless tutorial of progressive ideology, and without any Olympics to boycott, what’s a liberal to do? Lock up another YouTube video producer? Present Putin with another shiny red Reset Button? Reduce American troop strength to pre-Revolutionary War numbers? Have Hillary Clinton ask what difference it makes? Or perhaps the President can boycott a meeting of his own security team even as Russian tanks roll! (Sadly, our Commander-in-Chief did this, but to no avail, the tanks moved stubbornly along.) The unfortunate reality is that, until such time as we can retire Barack Obama and the entirety of his horribly misnamed “National Security Team,” to the confines of a golf course somewhere, things will only get worse.
What we are seeing is a sort of Piers Morgan foreign policy, which finds virtue where good people are defenseless, where weakness is confused with strength, vulnerability is confused with courage, and mediocrity is confused with exceptionalism. At home, this approach leaves the American citizen helpless in something called a “gun-free zone,” which in reality becomes a shooting gallery where deranged savages, who remain invincibly indifferent to the law, prey on the innocent. In the international arena, it whets the appetite of ruthless men and invites aggression.
“There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness” wrote George Washington in 1793. “If we desire to avoid insult,” he continued, “we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” Human nature has not changed, and the truisms articulated by our first President are not suspended by the wishful thinking of those who, with fetishistic determination, pursue American disarmament.
With Russian tanks yet again on the move, a strong leader would, among other things, announce the immediate cancellation of all defense cuts, and reverse the 2009 cancellation of missile defenses to our friends in Europe. He would move to revoke Russia’s membership in the G-8 and on the UN Security Council. Overtures inviting Ukraine’s membership in NATO would renew quickly, and Vladimir Putin would be reminded what happened last time his country provoked the West, with the President warning that his new-found “flexibility” includes the flexibility to introduce that big reset button to ol’ Vlad’s digestive processes.
These things are as likely, in the short term, as the prospect that I will grow a third ear, it being as unnatural for me to do so as it is for Barack Obama to stop conflating the world as it is with the world as he wishes it would be. Nevertheless, we are about to learn some very hard lessons yet again, for the world doesn’t stop revolving while America decides to take yet another reprieve from history, and the ostensible pure intentions of the progressive do not absolve Obama of the responsibility for his starry-eyed inflictions on innocent people.