Many will criticize President Obama’s perceived indecision on Syria. However, pushing the pause button provides the administration and Congress an opportunity to step back and form a consensus on a short and long-term strategy. Anyone objectively reviewing American actions in the Middle East and North Africa in recent years has to admit that their effectiveness has been very limited. Look at the results: Iran is still on track to obtain nuclear weapons; Egypt has gone through the Arab Spring and a coup; NATO involvement in Libya removed Qaddafi but the country is disintegrating; and religious minorities are being persecuted across the region. The harsh conclusion: Current policies are not working.
Secondly, ever since the initial bipartisan response to the attacks on 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, America’s foreign policy has become bogged down in partisan bickering. President Obama now has the opportunity to build a bipartisan strategy for Syria, the threat from radical Islam, and Iran. This will not be easy: Foreign policy is very difficult, and the president so far has not demonstrated an ability to develop national agreement on the big issues, but let’s hope that in this case the president will step up to the challenge.
Hitting the pause button is not ideal. The crisis in Syria in real, the threat from radical Islam continues, and instability reigns throughout the Middle East. Much of the world is looking for American leadership, so now is the time to develop a bipartisan framework for long-term effective U.S. leadership.
— Pete Hoekstra is a former U.S. congressman from Michigan.