The Obama Administration’s lack of leadership on international crises has become so apparent that even The Washington Post is launching broadsides at the White House. In a tweet highlighting a major piece on Ukraine and Syria, the Post declared: “The ‘Obama Doctrine’ flounders as Kiev and Syria crumble.”
This is, of course, what conservatives have been pointing out for years: In a 2010 paper on the pitfalls and perils of the Obama Doctrine, my Heritage colleagues Kim Holmes and James Carafano argued that the Obama stance on foreign policy was making the United States and the world “less secure, courting global instability.… The Obama Doctrine is anchored in the belief that America is devoid of singularity, exceptionalism, or historic mission rather than a country with unique resources, experiences and devotion to freedom.”
This flawed approach, with a fundamental rejection of the notion of American exceptionalism, is amply on display over the Ukrainian crisis. The Russian reset has spectacularly backfired, resulting in staggering complacency in Washington over Ukraine and Moscow’s ambitions.
As early as October of last year, Heritage fellow Ariel Cohen warned the Obama Administration that failure to act would hand the initiative to the Russians: “It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent Ukraine from becoming a Russian satellite and a key member of a Moscow-dominated sphere of influence. The U.S. needs to assist Ukraine and its European partners in derailing Russia’s pressure tactics for bringing Ukraine into Moscow’s orbit.”
The leader of the free world has been largely invisible as Ukrainian demonstrators are ruthlessly picked off by government snipers and left for dead, while Russian President Vladimir Putin vows that Ukraine will remain in Russia’s orbit.
As I noted in an earlier piece assessing President Obama’s disastrous record on the world stage, the Obama Doctrine has been a monumental failure because it fails to protect and advance U.S. interests. It is the antithesis of Ronald Reagan’s bold approach, which was based on powerful American leadership on the world stage, including a willingness to firmly stand up to America’s adversaries.
The U.S. simply cannot afford to be a bystander in the face of tyranny. Although Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has signed a pact with opposition leaders in Kyiv, this will do little to ease the fears and concerns of hundreds of thousands of protestors. This should be a moment for real leadership from the U.S. President, who should stand with those fighting for freedom. The White House should place itself on the right side of history at a pivotal moment in the 21st century.