[T] he world today looks very different — far more peaceful and stable than at any point in decades and, by some measures, centuries.
The United States faces no enemy anywhere on the scale of [former] Soviet Russia. Its military spending is about that of the next 14 countries combined, most of which are treaty allies of Washington.
The number of democracies around the world has grown by more than 50 percent in the past quarter-century. The countries that recently have been aggressive or acted as Washington’s adversaries are getting significant pushback. Russia has alienated Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Western Europe with its recent aggression, for which the short-term costs have grown and the long-term costs — energy diversification in Europe — have only begun to build.
China has scared and angered almost all of its maritime neighbors, with each clamoring for greater U.S. involvement in Asia [to which we’ve turned a deaf ear – Ed] . Even a regional foe such as Iran has found that the costs of its aggressive foreign policy have mounted. In 2006, Iran’s favorability rating in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia was in the 75 percent to 85 percent range, according to Zogby Research. By 2012, it had fallen to about 30 percent. [And nothing constrains a dictatorial foe better than a popularity poll – ED]
In this context, what is needed from Washington is not a heroic exertion of American military power but rather a sustained effort to engage with allies, isolate enemies, support free markets and democratic values and push these positive trends forward. The Obama administration is, in fact, deeply internationalist — building on alliances in Europe and Asia, working with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, isolating adversaries and strengthening the global order that has proved so beneficial to the United States and the world since 1945.
The administration has fought al-Qaeda and its allies ferociously. But it has been disciplined about the use of force, and understandably so. An America that exaggerates threats, overreacts to problems and intervenes unilaterally would produce the very damage to its credibility that people are worried about.
Obama is battling a knee-jerk sentiment in Washington in which the only kind of international leadership that means anything is the use of military force. “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail,” he said in his speech Wednesday at West Point. A similar sentiment was expressed in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a strong leader who refused to intervene in the Suez crisis, the French collapse in Vietnam, two Taiwan Strait confrontations and the Hungarian uprising of 1956 [lucky Hungarians – Ed].
At the time, many critics blasted the president for his passivity and wished that he would be more interventionist. But Eisenhower kept his powder dry, confident that force was not the only way to show strength. “I’ll tell you what leadership is,” he told his speechwriter. “It’s persuasion — and conciliation — and education — and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know — or believe in — or will practice.”
Maybe that’s the Obama Doctrine.
Eisenhower led a nation to victory in WW II; our community organizer has done nothing except, of course, win the Nobel Peace Prize, a medal that clangs as hollowly as Mr. Zakaria’s intellectual pontifications. It’s almost laughable that Zaharia and his ilk actually sit around Washington admiring themselves and their leader for being so very wise, so capable of raising their thoughts above the plebeian plain and to see the true nature of the world.
Aren’t we fortunate to have them in our hour of need.