By Frank Vernuccio, Special for USDR
The American tendency to view the world in terms of domestic, partisan politics is wreaking havoc on global affairs, resulting in a world in turmoil and endangering U.S. interests worldwide.
Those supporting an incumbent president frequently overlook his missteps out of concern that they might embarrass the Commander-in-Chief. In the past, this was not an immediately fatal error. Throughout much of the nation’s history, the vastness of two oceans provided sufficient distance from global affairs to render the nation temporarily immune from any rapid harm from policy errors. In the aftermath of World War II, relative national consensus on the Soviet threat, despite significant disagreements on deeply contentious but not devastating issues, kept the effects of this tendency from being fatal.
But changes in technology have eliminated the moat-effect of the seas, and the fall of the Soviet Union has created a dangerously false illusion that there are no impending armed threats to American interests and America itself. Partisan support for a White House disinterested in defense and related issues is allowing a clear, present and immediate danger to the nation to metastasize.
The Obama/Clinton/Kerry era of foreign policy relations has very demonstrably produced seriously negative effects for the U.S., its allies, and neutral parties. The blunders are not confined to a single region or topic. They are global in scope and universal in their implications.
Moscow’s current belligerence in the Ukraine, its return to Cold War bases abroad, and its skyrocketing military budget can be traced back to a series of signals from the White House that implied U.S. disinterest. The problem began with President Obama’s 2009 concessions in the New START treaty, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/twelve-flaws-of-new-start-that-will-be-difficult-to-fix which provided the Kremlin with a 10 to 1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons. This error was followed by reducing the Pentagon budget, and withdrawing American tanks http://www.stripes.com/news/us-army-s-last-tanks-depart-from-germany-1.214977 from Europe.
Despite the undeniably negative results, neither the Administration nor its supporters in and out of government will concede that the “Reset” policy with Russia was a dismal failure.
That failure has been magnified by the White House refusal to take the one step that would have impeded Putin’s militaristic proclivities. The Kremlin’s financial ability to fund its expansionist policy is directly dependent on its profits from the sale of oil and gas. A move by President Obama to open up federally owned lands to energy exploitation would have caused those profits to drop, and would also have had the pleasant side effect of lower prices for U.S. consumers as well. Inexplicably, the White House has failed to do this.
Similar problems also have occurred in the White House stance towards China. Beijing has increased its rate of military spending at a rate faster than that which either Russia or the U.S. did at the height of the first cold war. It has acted with extraordinary aggressiveness towards its neighbors. The diminished U.S. Navy has essentially given license to this behavior, but the Administration continues to favor a slashed budget.
Then there is the Middle East. Mr. Obama’s premature withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, his support for “Arab Spring” movements which empowered extremists, his softening of sanctions against Iran, his failure to respond to the Benghazi assault, his failure to fulfill his “red line” threat regarding Syria, and his estrangement from Israel have all placed the region into turmoil. There has been little complaint from the President’s supporters.
The President’s failure to address the growing and active anti-American influence of Russia, China, and Iran in Latin America, a threat brewing on the U.S.’s own doorstep, is mystifying. Similarly, the refusal to confront the brazen assaults on U.S. border agents by drug cartels has been ignored.
Worried objections about all of these blatant failures are consistently written off as little more than partisan bickering, despite clear evidence of global turmoil. The White House continues to maintain that the planet is “more tranquil” than ever, ignoring voluminous contrary evidence.
A substantial reason the Administration maintained a degree of confidence that the “tranquility” statement would not provoke outrage has to do with the relative lack of attention both the media, and, as a consequence, the public, devotes to world issues. Strangely enough, an equally poor domestic environment, with continued budget deficits, a border crisis, (which should also be counted as a foreign affairs failure as well) a struggling middle class, an ongoing jobs crisis and more has served to divert voters’ attention away from more distant, but no less perilous, matters.
History has shown, time and again, that ignoring or downplaying international problems is a disastrous mistake. With Russia reigniting the cold war, China pushing for hegemony over the most economically vital sector of the planet, Islamic extremist gaining greater strength than ever before, and a national security crisis fast brewing on our southern border, that dire reality will impact America faster and with far greater consequences than most expect.
Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D., is editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government (usagovpolicy.com), the author and voice of the nationally syndicated Minute Report for America ® and co-host of the Vernuccio/Allison Report radio program. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.