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EDITORIAL: Reasserting U.S. power, 2013

American weakness provokes our enemies

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In a major national-security address on Thursday, former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton made the case for the United States as the protector of global peace and stability. "American weakness [is] provocative," he explained, "and we have a very provocative president in the White House." The Democratic argument against Mitt Romney taking the helm as commander in chief is that he lacks foreign-policy experience. The critical point isn't that Mr. Romney has no record, but that Barack Obama has a very bad one.

The world is less stable, less peaceful and America's adversaries are more powerful than when President Obama took office. This wasn't what the global cognoscenti expected. Mr. Obama was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after 10 days in office. When he was made a laureate in the fall of 2009, even the White House had to sheepishly admit it should be seen as a down payment.

Mr. Obama vigorously claims success in ridding the world of Osama bin Laden, though the details of how that came about are increasingly in dispute. Beyond that, he has pursued a policy of killing terrorists by remote-controlled drones, which is appealing to the White House because it involves no planning on Mr. Obama's part, no effort and no risk.

None of the administration's vision for the Middle East has come to fruition. A promised "grand bargain" to bring together all the region's major states to solve problems was dead on arrival. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no closer to resolution than in 2009. Iran is closer than ever to developing nuclear weapons, and repeated White House statements that Tehran won't be allowed to have atom bombs lack credibility. Mr. Obama lectures Iranians on strong consequences should they continue while rebuffing Israel, the only regional power likely to make those consequences real. Washington has shown no leadership whatsoever in steering the Arab Spring uprisings away from a cancerous radicalism.

The United States has failed to broker any major multilateral agreements on Mr. Obama's watch, but this is a good thing since the types of deals the White House pursued weren't in America's interests. The most embarrassing failure was at the global-climate meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009, when the administration was unable to put together an agreement on a job-killing, growth-limiting, carbon-capping treaty. The leaders of China, Brazil, India and South Africa set up a secret meeting to discuss the issues. Uninvited, Mr. Obama found out about the get-together and crashed it. The takeaway was that even in his first year, his peers on the world stage knew Barack was an empty suit.

The 2010 New START bilateral nuclear agreement with Russia was heralded as a breakthrough in pursuit of Mr. Obama's "global zero" vision of a nuclear-free world. Dangerously, the treaty required the United States to reduce its nuclear arsenal while allowing Moscow to build its force up. In June, the Obama administration outlined further reductions to cut the number of U.S. warheads by a third, down to 1,000. Mr. Obama promised Russian leaders he would have "more flexibility" after the election, though President Vladimir Putin surely has found Mr. Obama pliable enough already.

"The most important thing you need is a president who is proud of the United States of America, who believes in American exceptionalism," Mr. Bolton stated this week. That, and a little less flexibility when defending U.S. interests abroad, is what this nation needs. Mr. Obama has proved he can't supply this level of leadership.

The Washington Times

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