Obama’s Blunders, Lack of Strength and Consistency Embolden Russia

President Obama’s foreign policy blunders and failed leadership, encapsulated in the Obama Doctrine, have long evoked the ire of many foreign policy observers. Russia’s current actions in Ukraine are now triggering similar sentiments from the left about the President’s foreign policy. According to a recent CNN poll, most Americans disapprove of his foreign policy.

This growing consensus wasn’t always the case.

The left mercilessly mocked political figures on the right, such as Sarah Palin in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, for their legitimate concerns Obama’s poor leadership would embolden Russia and Vladimir Putin. Events unfolding today in Russia and Ukraine are not occurring in a vacuum.

The Heritage Foundation’s Steven P. Bucci, Nile Gardiner, and Luke Coffey state “Russia’s anachronistic irredentist behavior has no place in the 21st century.” President Obama may now agree with this assessment.

President Obama and his administration demonstrated weakness through the Russian “reset,” and “the reduction and disengagement of U.S. military forces in Europe.” The Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen said of the Russian “reset” in 2012:

Moscow would like to see the U.S. power so diminished in the Middle East and Europe that America could not act without Russia’s permission.

What says “be my guest” better than the “10–1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons” Russia currently has over the U.S.? This advantage, of course, is a result of the U.S. complying with Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), passed in 1987, and Russia violating the treaty.

It’s unclear which of Russia’s behaviors have induced Mr. Obama’s foreign policy fantasy.

Could it be their longstanding habit of nuclear treaty violations? Or Russia’s enabling of the radical regimes of Iran and Syria? Or perhaps its the combination of “Putin’s geopolitical vision for Fortress Russia dominating the former Soviet Union” and Russia’s bolstering of its ballistic missile defenses?

What compelled Mr. Obama to tell former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 November election? That all he needed was “space,” so that the U.S. and Russia could sort out together the best way forward on missile defense.

Conservatives know “Russians respect strength and consistency,” and President Obama has failed to demonstrate either of these to Russia. He prefers instead transactional negotiations. Even the Washington Post calls his foreign policy a “fantasy” in which “‘the tide of war is receding’ and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces.” Like the Chinese, the Russians respect hard power and are willing to use it.

The Heritage Foundation sums it up this way:

From almost the beginning, President Obama’s foreign policy has been an empty shell masking a spectacular lack of leadership on the world stage.

Now we reap the consequences.

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