- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 25, 2009


The Obama administration has developed a new doctrine in foreign affairs over the past six months. It is the Obama Doctrine. If it continues to be pursued, it will mark the decline and fall of the United States as the world’s superpower.

In fact, its very objective is to undercut America’s pre-eminent global role, reducing its great-power status to that of a multilateral partner equal to Russia, China or the European Union. At its core, the Obama Doctrine maintains that all societies and cultures are morally equal. More important, promoting democracy and human rights has been abandoned in favor of “improving America’s standing in the world.”

Since the presidency of Jimmy Carter, a key component of U.S. foreign policy has been to advance democratization and human rights. Each administration has understood that expanding political freedom strengthens American national interests — and values.

Ronald Reagan sought to roll back communism. George H.W. Bush encouraged the reunification of Germany and oversaw the implosion of the Soviet empire. Bill Clinton liberated Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo from Serbian revanchism. George W. Bush imposed democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, freeing more than 50 million Muslims from totalitarian rule.

This tradition has been ruptured by Mr. Obama. As a result, freedom is in retreat. Our enemies have become emboldened. America is weaker.

On China, Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have deliberately put human rights and Tibet on the back burner, refusing to raise these issues for fear of angering Beijing. Instead, Mrs. Clinton insists that the “global financial crisis,” the supposed “climate-change crisis” and the “security crisis” are more important. Hence, China’s democrats and persecuted religious minorities no longer look to Washington for support.

The same applies to Russia. Mr. Obama has publicly praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. This is done despite Moscow’s war of aggression against the Republic of Georgia and its attempt to bully Ukraine.

Washington is slowly sacrificing our closest regional allies in the vain hope of appeasing the Russian bear. Moreover, Mr. Obama is determined to press the “reset” button on Russo-American relations even though Prime Minister Putin has transformed Russia into a gangster state where independent journalists and critics are murdered. This is not realpolitik — the theory that international relations is governed by amoral power politics. It is national self-abnegation — a liberal suicide instinct — dressed up as practical multipolar realism.

The clearest example is Iran. The recent street protests against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sham “re-election” presented a golden opportunity for the Obama administration to trigger regime change.

The mass demonstrations revealed the profound divisions in Iran and the widespread opposition to the theocratic regime. Iranian protesters were seething not only at the mullahs’ domestic incompetence, but also at their fanatical foreign policy. They seek Islamism with a human face — a Muslim reform movement marked by greater openness, religious tolerance and respect for women’s rights.

The dissidents realize that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s acquisition of the bomb will lead to only one disastrous conclusion: a nuclear war with Israel. Iranians don’t want to be sacrificed as part of a revolutionary, apocalyptic Shi’ite vision to destroy the Jews and hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah — the so-called hidden imam.

Instead of openly supporting Iran’s democratic movement, Mr. Obama stood by and watched passively as fascist brownshirts — the paramilitary Basij — gunned down, arrested and tortured peaceful demonstrators. Nothing will stop Mr. Obama from his policy of diplomatic engagement — even innocent blood being spilled on the streets of Tehran, blood that represents America’s and the region’s best hope of sweeping away the evil Islamic Republic.

Every great advance of freedom — the defeat of the Axis powers, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of European colonialism — has come with significant American leadership and internal meddling.

The Allies bombed Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan into submission; the independence of Ireland, Israel, India and many other countries came about largely because of U.S. diplomatic support. Washington vigorously encouraged the captive nations of Eastern Europe to break away from the Soviet orbit.

More ominously, Mrs. Clinton has said that a nuclear-armed Iran will cause America to extend a “defense umbrella” over its allies in the Persian Gulf. In other words, the Obama administration is signaling it can live with an Iranian bomb.

The strategic flaw in Mr. Obama’s thinking is that traditional diplomacy or containment does not work with religious fanatics. Tehran’s mullocracy believes in nuclear war as salvation. Mr. Obama’s policies are reassuring them they have nothing to fear from America.

Mr. Obama is able to find common cause with the world’s tyrants — from the butchers in Beijing to Mr. Putin’s Great Russian nationalists, from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s Islamic fascists to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian socialists. The president refuses to demand democratic accountability and defend individual liberty. Instead, he practices a chic anti-Americanism. He blames America for the world economic crisis, global warming, the invasion of Iraq and Mexico’s drug wars.

In short, he is a transnational leftist who believes American power must be restrained, not enhanced. More important, he is a cultural relativist. He is convinced the United States is not a singular force for good in the world, but an imperial, jingoistic nation that must be chastened — and humbled — on the world stage.

Mr. Reagan spoke of America as a “city on a hill.” Mr. Obama speaks of a one-world multicultural love fest in which America is only one color in the international rainbow coalition. He is the anti-Reagan. He will lead the United States to defeat, disgrace and ruin.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

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