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EDITORIAL: Obama’s imperiled America

The world is more dangerous with a lack of U.S. leadership

- The Washington Times - Friday, December 9, 2011

Election-year critics of President Obama’s record on national security will come face to face with the corpse of Osama bin Laden. Appearing at an event hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition on Wednesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum said, “For every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, [Mr. Obama] has had nothing but appeasement.” At a press conference the next day, Mr. Obama responded tartly, “Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or whoever’s left out there. Ask them about that.” This is the image the White House wants to convey of Mr. Obama as a tough, uncompromising and effective commander in chief.

The administration will get a free pass in making political hay out of the bin Laden takedown. The same critics who grumbled that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks should be off limits for President George W. Bush in the 2004 election will be more than willing to put bin Laden’s death at the center of Mr. Obama’s case for reelection. The fact that the tools, techniques and tactics for the operation into Pakistan were established in the Bush administration will continue to be forgotten.

Moving beyond killing terrorists by remote control, the Obama administration has had one of the worst foreign-policy records in decades. America's position in the world has been materially weakened, and the administration cannot point to a single notable foreign-policy success.

The deterioration of conditions in the Middle East has been most noteworthy. Mr. Obama’s vaunted outreach to the world’s Muslims hasn't resulted in increased good will towards the United States, and in some important Muslim majority countries, America is held in even lower regard today than it was during the previous administration. The Arab Spring, which is still being hailed by the White House as an epochal moment of progress, has turned into a vehicle for the rise of Islamist parties that will critically destabilize the region should they consolidate power. Mr. Obama is intellectually and temperamentally unable to understand this emerging threat.

The Obama administration has been ineffective in blunting nuclear proliferation. Iran continues its march to achieve nuclear weapons capability. North Korea is developing a ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. homeland. Pakistan has responded to U.S. concerns about its nuclear arsenal by shuffling warheads around the country in trucks, raising serious concerns about security from accident or hijacking by extremist groups. It's fair to say our country faces a greater risk of a rogue nuclear attack today than it did when Mr. Obama took office.

The “reset” with Russia was broken on legitimate criticism of last week’s questionable parliamentary elections. In retaliation, Russia has threatened to abrogate the START Treaty, which the White House considers a signature achievement. Yet there is nothing more beneficial Moscow could do for American security than to abandon that lopsidedly harmful agreement. Communist China continues to modernize its conventional forces and has continued to build a nuclear arsenal wholly outside Mr. Obama’s fatuous “nuclear zero” framework. While the administration has presided over the end of U.S. manned space flight, Beijing is planning an expedition to the Moon.

Killing Osama bin Laden was an achievement, but there are greater threats in the world than terrorists. It will take more than a snappy one-liner for Mr. Obama to explain the utter failure of his grand design for U.S. foreign policy.