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Why needlessly tie America’s hands at this juncture? Our allies are losing confidence in U.S. resolve in the face of growing challenges around the world. Democrats are also privately grumbling about the message the president’s retrenchment sends to friends and foes alike.

Russia has annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula with little more than a soft slap on the wrist. Mr. Obama’s impotent sanctions did not hurt Mr. Putin or his economy. If anything, they have emboldened Moscow and pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, where more government buildings have been seized.

For all his bluff and bluster, Mr. Putin has outmaneuvered Mr. Obama every step of the way in the crisis over Ukraine. He senses Mr. Obama is weak and indecisive, and that has only emboldened him to take bigger risks.

He may talk about “peace” in public, but what he really means is a bigger “piece” of Ukraine and other pieces of the former Soviet Union. His lucrative natural-gas deal with China has made Mr. Obama’s sanctions look like child’s play.

In the Middle East, U.S. diplomacy is a mess. Relations with Saudi Arabia are, well, not so good. Mr. Kerry’s efforts at reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have collapsed. Europe’s confidence in Mr. Obama’s leadership has been shaken by his 5-year failure to get our economy up and running at full throttle.

In foreign policy, weakness begets more weakness, and that’s a bad place for us to be in a very dangerous world.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.