Partners needed for peace

Published 1:07 pm Friday, September 5, 2014

Voters’ support for the foreign policy of the Obama administration has fallen over the summer months of 2014, and, one could argue, for good reason.

Between Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, the Ukraine, Russia and most recently North Korea again, international affairs have turned more violent, more dangerous and less under control by the sane people.

Americans have grown accustomed to both the threat and use of American military power around the world and have come to expect such decisive engagement when violence rises to levels that offend all humanity.

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Whether the use of poisonous gas against the people of Syria, women and children in most part, or the brutal beheadings by ISIS in Iraq, we are observing the very kinds of violence that, in our recent past, have brought forceful American response.

Yet this president tells us that we have not formulated policy to deal with ISIS yet, as though the threat appeared only yesterday. It did not; ISIS had its birth in Iraq in 2004, as the then junior member of al Qaeda in Iraq.

And while Americans have looked to the president to assert U.S. power and strength against these horrific enemies, he has sent only support forces and limited airstrikes that may help stop ISIS, but alone cannot end the threat.

So what is to be done?

Should we send troops back into Iraq, a nation we invested nearly a decade of American wealth and lives only to have it fall back into religious warfare because of incompetent governing?

Should we attack Syria for killing its own people, knowing that ending the Assad regime right now would advance ISIS as the potential replacement of Assad?

Should we seek additional forces in Afghanistan to offset the increasing terrorist movement in neighboring nuclear Pakistan?

Should we arm the rebels in Syria when, had we done so two years ago we would have doubtlessly helped arm ISIS, too?

The truth is we have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan the limits of American power. No amount of American force short of nuclear attack can resolve the issues that divide the Middle East today. America simply cannot force its will upon the Middle East.

What we can do, what the Obama administration is doing, is forging allies both in Europe and the Middle East, to fight back against the extremists that comprise ISIS. At the end of the day, only the people of the Middle East can resolve their differences. ME Nation states there must stop funding all sides of the conflict and act together to stop the violence. Only then can U.S. efforts to organize politics and offer military support succeed.

Likewise in the Ukraine, only when Europe accepts the absolute necessity of isolating Russia from the world community can the Russian expansionism be stopped. Europe must resolve to inflict the most severe economic sanctions, including expelling Russia from the WTO and refusing to accept the Ruble in any currency exchange.

The U.S. can encourage and support these actions and expand and extend the power of NATO, but Europe alone must show its determination.

In Iran the U.S. cannot be faulted for preferring negotiation over attack in causing Iran to pull back from acquiring nuclear weapons. Every option remains, but unlike the Cowboy administration of George Bush we can talk first and fight later.

The Obama Doctrine reflects Americans’ acceptance that we cannot, must not, attack first and think later, policies learned from the Bush administration’s incredible failures. We must seek partners who are invested in the outcomes we support and then act in concert with those partners.

It is a doctrine of reason, guided by our national interests.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.