Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Arguably, this was the most asked question of the 2012 presidential election.
Today, I ask America a similar but equally important question, are you safer now than you were six years ago? Are you worried that the world seems to be, figuratively, on fire and very few are really reporting and discussing it?
Have you noticed that the mainstream media focuses on an issue, 24/7, for a small period of time, then the story seems to vanish into thin air with very little update?
President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, March 1, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
For example, when was the last time you heard an updated report on countries like Egypt, Iran, Syria, or even how much involvement the U.S. has in Libya? Yesterday, the focus of the media was on Ukraine and Crimea, while today it is on the Christian girls kidnapped in Nigeria. Such ambiguity raises the obvious question, what will the focus be tomorrow?
So, please, stop for a moment and ask yourself the following question:
How worried are you by the threats America currently faces from countries like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and/or groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas or Hezbollah?
There have been many evolutions in U.S. foreign policy over the years, but I believe America is entering an age that will set a precedent for its foreign policy for generations to come. I hope the American people can come together to discuss a way forward based on unadulterated facts absent of political spin, without the political party blame game, and especially without the divisive name calling such as a neo-con or isolationist etc.
First, do you think America’s word means anything in the world today?
I argue that America’s word has NEVER meant less in the world than it does today. After all, an administration can only re-draw so many “red lines” before it loses its creditability.
When President Obama was elected he spoke of healing the world and lowering the rise of the oceans. As the world waited for its health and slowed sea rises, the Middle East has undergone uprisings in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. The ongoing conflict between Israel and the rest of the Middle East is no closer to a solution while Iran is closer to attaining a nuke than ever before. China continues to flex its military might by seizing Japanese islands while Russia attempts to expand itself into Eastern Europe.
This file photo shows President Barack Obama with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Ireland in June. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Trust with America’s major allies is being strained in the wake of NSA tactics being made public. To make matters worse, it is difficult to discern just how seriously, if at all, the president takes these concerns, as evidenced by the conclusion of his speech at The Hague this year.
Second, do you think the treaties America has signed under this or prior administrations mean anything today?
Let’s look at the Ukraine and Crimea situations in isolation (discussing the need for the 1994 agreements and what action should be taken is for another column). The fact is the Budapest Memorandums signed in 1994 by America, Russia and the United Kingdom gave national security assurances to Ukraine in return for Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon.
It is crystal clear Russia violated Article 1 of the Treaty “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine,” yet America has showed very little willingness to help Ukraine unless one considers sanctions against a few wealthy Russian businessmen help.
Some people might argue that America should not be involved in any foreign wars or think what is happening in Ukraine does not concern America, but that still does not take away from the treaty. If U.S. foreign policy is based on the circumstances of the day or what is politically expedient, then why bother having any treaties?
Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Last month President Obama decided to pivot his foreign policy to Asia and he made two significant announcements. Firstly he affirmed that the U.S. Japanese Mutual Defense Treaty covers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and secondly he signed the Enhanced Defense Co-Operation Agreement with the Philippines. Both of these actions were well received and are considered important steps to contain China.
If a treaty means nothing, however, why go through the process of establishing any new treaties?
Third, I would ask the American people, do the alliances America has built over the last century mean anything?
It is easy to focus in on the actions of Russia in both Crimea and Ukraine, but what happens if Russia attacks, invades or simply disrupts a country like Latvia? Latvia may have a very small population of two million people and might feel insignificant to many, but Latvia is a member of NATO. On their website NATO self-identifies as a “political and Military Alliance.”
Would America and NATO stand idly by whilst one of its members was under attack and do nothing? If so, what is the point of joining such an organization? Surely the point of is to support and help each other out in times of need.
Depending on your thoughts on the above questions, one could make the assumption that America currently has very little standing in the world community.
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, walk at the Annenberg Retreat of the Sunnylands estate Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. While saying it is critical that the U.S. and China reach a "firm understanding" on cyber issues, Obama told reporters his meetings with Xi have been "terrific." Credit: AP
After all, if America’s words, treaties, and alliances mean nothing, what else is important?
This may be a dream scenario for some—those who actively seek an America with very little role abroad and those who support an anti-war agenda. I would like to point out that if America became strictly non-interventionist, it would put itself in a position of having no extra help or protection in times of need. If America does not live up to its word--written, or otherwise--between allies, it will eventually have none.
With this in mind, I would like to update the question I started this column with:
How worried are you by the threats America currently faces from countries like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas or Hezbollah without the potential help and support from any allies?
It is times like these that try men’s souls and I am confident that the foreign policy America pursues today will have a grave impact not only for the future of America but also the future of the world. The simple truth is there are people, groups and countries in the world today who want to destroy America at any cost. The notion that if America just retreats and accepts a reduced role in the world, America’s enemies will simply stop hating you and forget about the desire of destroying you, is nothing short of foolish.
While some might want to destroy America because of so called “past-offenses,” I believe the majority really want to destroy you because of what you represent. The ideas of freedom, liberty and God given inalienable rights are still new to the world, and will never be embraced in utopian-minded Socialist countries like Ireland, let alone a dictatorship or a country that enforces Sharia. There is no country in existence today, nor has there been another country in the history of the world, quite like America. Whilst that makes you unique, it also makes you a target.
So, how does America respond?
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