I will meet with not just our allies and our friends, but I will initiate tough diplomacy with our enemies. That includes Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. I would meet with them, and I would meet with them without preconditions.
— Barack Obama, May 16, 2008
On all of these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it is important for [Putin] to give me space. . . . This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
— President Obama to Russian president Medvedev, March 26, 2012
The former promise was uttered during Senator Obama’s initial run for the presidency. It was intended for consumption by his anti-war base and to let the world know the zero-sum worldview of the Reagan-Bush era was (finally) extinguished. The latter was not intended for public consumption but was nevertheless captured by omnipresent audio during an unguarded moment between the two principals. Both statements genuinely reflect the baseline foreign-policy values and reflexive passivity of our 44th president. You see, Barack Obama was always secure in the belief that the constant projection of American military power was the primary reason for anti-American sentiment around the world.
Alas, seven years later, a seemingly endless stream of apologies, attempts to placate the world’s miscreants, and inappropriate stabs at moral equivalency are primary components of a spectacularly failed U.S. foreign policy. Seems the “cowboy” Bush and all those opportunistic militarists at the Pentagon are not the reason so many bad guys take issue with the U.S. Similarly, the infamous time-dishonored plea for time regarding negotiations with Russia speaks to a comfortable familiarity with weak negotiating positions. With regard to Putin, “flexibility” can be read as “I have to look tough now, but just wait until I’m safely elected to a second term — then I’ll feel free to cut a deal — any deal.”
This “anything goes” desire to cut deals and refrain from antagonizing bad guys (and, in the process, finally earning that Nobel Peace Prize so gratuitously awarded in 2009) explains a problematic series of policy decisions that has worried our allies and allowed our enemies daily batting practice at U.S. expense.
‐An early world apology tour, focused on the Muslim world, during which the newly elected U.S. president issued meae culpae for alleged inappropriate U.S. actions around the world; interestingly, no mention was made or concern evidenced of considerable U.S. blood spent to save Muslim lives.
‐The expedient selling out of Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense in the interest of an oversold “reset” with Putin’s Russia.
‐A quick and forceful condemnation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the aftermath of his country’s “Arab Spring” street protests — to the benefit of the viscerally anti-democratic, ruthless, and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood.
‐A missed opportunity to gain negotiating leverage with a weakened Iranian regime by failing to support the dissident Green Movement in Iran, circa 2009.
‐A historic breach (complete with personal insults) with a sitting Israeli prime minister who has the fortitude to place Israel’s security interest ahead of Mr. Obama’s nuclear legacy.
‐An infamous “line in the sand” when proof of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s use of weapons of mass destruction against Syrian rebels was revealed to the world, but forgotten when the U.S. began relying on Iranian boots on the ground to fight the formerly J.V. army known as ISIS.
When it comes to so-called “peace” negotiations with the world’s tyrants, it seems America is always open for (conditionless) business.
‐The trade of five varsity terrorists taken from Guantanamo Bay (of whom at least three are suspected to have returned to the battlefield) for the AWOL sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
‐An opening to diplomatic relations with the repressive Raul Castro without securing the release and/or extradition of political prisoners and wanted U.S. fugitives.
‐A framework “agreement” announcement on the Iranian nuclear deal, followed in short order by harsh condemnation by Ayatollah Khamenei and a host of unanswered issues, including schedule(s) for sanctions relief, a process for sanctions relief, conditions attached to periodic inspections, a schedule for unfreezing Iranian assets, and a framework for dispute resolution.
The bottom line: The president has never been a comfortable commander-in-chief when placing American lives and military assets in harm’s way; yet, the reflexive peace candidate seems ever-ready, willing, and able to negotiate with the world’s most notorious bad guys — always from a position of weakness, always leaving the world just a bit more insecure than he found it.
When it comes to so-called “peace” negotiations with the world’s tyrants, it seems America is always open for (conditionless) business, a legacy that has and will continue to make Americans — and the free world — less safe.
— Robert Ehrlich is the former governor of Maryland, a former congressman, and the author of America: Hope for Change.