President Donald Trump took over a troubled world and a U.S. foreign policy that is in tatters. His predecessor, President Obama, last year assured the world that “we are living in the most peaceful, prosperous and progressive era in human history,” and that “the world has never been less violent.”
Was that the truth?
In reality Trump inherited untended crises in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and the Middle East. They were left festering, but Obama escaped before they became the volcanoes he well knew they would become.
Obama is the U.S. version of the late Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. With the rise of the Nazis in Germany during the 1930’s he and his predecessor, Stanley Baldwin, virtually ignored German, Italian and Japanese issues.
The two men were proficient at disarmament talks. They helped organize peace conferences. They lectured on the need for pacifism. It was all good intentions and an apologetic tone for their own country’s past “aggressions.”
Obama pleaded for peace while negotiating as an equal with lesser powers. He telegraphed America’s intentions like an open book and left nothing to the imagination of our friends and foes. He left the Oval Office after eight years of this stance, but his appeasement left the seeds of an empowered world of enemies and a global conflagration soon to come.
This was Barack Obama, the recipient early in his presidency of a not-so-deserved Nobel Peace Prize. The recipient thought that tensions between aggressors and their targets could be settled with more talk, international agreements and, most of all, concessions.
Adolph Hitler was amazed at this approach. He was dumbstruck that a nation as powerful as Great Britain could lay down their might for a piece of paper. He took full advantage of the weak stance to invade Czechoslovakia in 1938 and start WWII with the invasion of Poland. “Leading from behind” brought on the deaths of 50 million people across the planet.
Obama’s Foreign Policy
Obama’s doctrine of an American détente has brought about Iran routinely threatening U.S. Navy ships, even taking 10 American sailors into custody early last year. Then a 2015 deal which allowed the Iranians to continue to work their centrifuges. Iran was freed from crippling economic sanctions.
The 44th president approved the Syrian disaster by issuing a red line over the use of chemical weapons and then not enforcing it. Obama did nothing other than call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to beg Assad to stop killing civilians with chemical weapons. Not unlike Hitler, his enemies were amazed at how easy it was to play with the paper tiger.
Now, after roughly a half-million dead later, Assad remains in power, some 2 million Middle Eastern refugees have overrun Europe, and Assad is still gassing his own citizens with the very chemical agents that the Obama administration had claimed were removed.
Obama allowed the opportunistic Russian President Vladimir Putin to become a bold aggressor in Crimea. Thus, a part of Ukraine was ceded to the Russians without a shot fired, much like the Czechs faced in 1938. No one came to their aid.
Russia and China continuously perpetrated cyber-attacks on the U.S. without worry. They increased defense spending while the U.S. shrank theirs. China built artificial island bases in the South China Sea to intimidate its neighbors, much the same scenario as Putin in Crimea.
Now the U.S. faces the North Korean problem and what Barack Obama swept under the rug. North Korea built and launched more and better missiles. Almost weekly, the maniac dictator Kim Jung Un threatens his Asian neighbors and the U.S. with nuclear war.
President Barack Obama was simply never willing to make the unpopular decisions to rearm and face down aggressors in order not to be forced to make far more dangerous and unpopular decisions later on. His thinking was more political than worldly. Trump now faces the inevitable conflict much as Winston Churchill did in 1940.
The fire is lit and it is raging under Obama’s successor. The historians were kind to Baldwin and Chamberlain shortly after their departures. But the hands of time and the events that shape it will tell a very different story as the years progress.