President Leads From Behind on Foreign Policy
By Kevin Lair
Former President Theodore Roosevelt believed that the United States should “speak softly and carry a big stick” to promote American strength. Roosevelt introduced this policy to the world when he ordered the Great White Fleet to circumnavigate the globe. Keep in mind, the United States in the early 20th Century was improving diplomatic negotiations and advancing its military to promote national strength and thwart foreign aggression.
Flash forward roughly 110 years, and the American “Big Stick” policy has fully progressed into interventionism via the Obama Administration. Although it speaks passionately about soft diplomacy and condemns international acts of aggression, the Obama Administration plays by a different set of rules. Case in point—the drone wars.
The U.S. drone war has been particularly prevalent within Pakistan. According to the Ministry of Interior, American drones have killed 2,670 Pakistanis; 487 were innocent civilians including 171 children while only 42 high value CIA targets were killed, including those killed under Former President George W. Bush. Bush advocated for drone campaigns, but used them sparingly compared to this administration. In four years, President Barack Obama has authorized six times more drone attacks and killed four times as many people than Bush did in eight years.
Democrats were quick to condemn the Republican president, yet today they ardently support Obama’s intensified drone attacks. Any American can see the practicality of sending drones overseas rather than our brothers and sisters, but we must do so prudently.
If we continue our drone wars, we must do a better job of protecting innocent civilians and be granted permission from a country’s government beforehand.
Rewind to then-candidate Obama’s resentment of an interventionist America. He argued that Bush had incited American war efforts around the world without the consent of Congress or the American people. Perhaps the Obama Administration is unaware of the unpopular acts of aggression it has initiated within Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. These acts sideswiped Congress and perpetuated global violence. Regrettably, Obama’s foreign policy failures remain apparent in countries throughout the world with American-installed governments that their citizens view as illegitimate and corrupt.
Strong leaders take responsibility when things go wrong, but this administration has failed to. A prime example—the Obama Administration shirked responsibility when they allowed four American diplomats to be slaughtered in Benghazi, Libya while they labeled it a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video. The State Department watched the event unfold over the course of hours and failed to act before, during, or after the terrorist attack, not to mention the flood of reports they received months beforehand begging for additional security.
We need leaders who will keep our diplomats and civilians safe. We need leaders who will not kill thousands of civilians with drone strikes, that will not occupy countries without their consent or the consent of Congress, and that will stop instilling unwanted, corrupt governments around the world. Democrats complain that Republicans are “war hawks” who push for American military involvement, but the interventionist policies of this administration have earned that title. For a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama surely seems to be looking for a fight, but Americans are not.
Mr. President, I have a few requests for you. Please, accept responsibility for your actions and stop leading from behind. Accept responsibility for what happened in Benghazi. If you are going to stand up to terrorism, look tough. If you want to confront ongoing atrocities by dictatorships and genocide, stand tall. If you want to leave Iraq and Afghanistan as functioning democracies with fair elections, then see it through. If you want to prevent Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, don’t let them. And if you want the world to be a healthier, safer, and more peaceful place, then take charge.
Questionable leadership weakens America, frightens our allies, and emboldens our enemies. So please, either lead or step aside and let someone else.