Amid a growing dispute between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands, President Obama is refusing to take a stand, a sharp contrast to the decisive support given Britain by Ronald Reagan during the 1982 Falklands War.
In a recent referendum, fully 99.8 percent of island voters declared they wanted to remain British even as the leftist Argentine government has begun reasserting claims over the archipelago, which lies a few hundred miles off the Argentine coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Britain has administered the islands since 1833.
Obama’s posture is a symptom of a more general disease infecting the president’s foreign policy: a devaluation of America’s traditional cultural, political, and philosophical ties to Europe.
The growing fissure with the cradle of our own civilization was aptly captured today in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal by Kenneth Weinstein, president and CEO of the Hudson Institute.
Weinstein notes Obama’s scrapping of missile defense for Poland, his failure to consult Europe about policy, and his passivity toward Syria and even toward sanctions for Tehran.
These days Europeans don’t complain to visiting Americans about feeling bullied by the White House. They complain about feeling ignored. It isn’t a question of policy per se, but rather a general sense of alienation: a cumulative impression across the Continent that liberal, democratic Europe—as both idea and practical priority—is sliding off Washington’s radar.
Those less civilized – and increasingly well armed – nations of the world are taking note.
In Washington, with isolationist tendencies in both major parties, our policy makers may not have noticed. But the non-Western rest of the world is paying close attention—and eagerly anticipating an international playing field in which vigorous, coherent NATO responses need no longer be assumed.
As Nile Gardiner writes in the Telegraph, even youthful Brits one would expect to lean to the left are disturbed that the other half of the supposedly “special alliance” can’t bring itself to back Britain in a dispute that could bring war.
During a recent BBC program, the young studio audience offered strong applause for a speaker calling Obama “a hypocrite and an coward” over the Falklands betrayal.
And what do we get for Obama’s passivity? China increasingly intent on military supremacy; North Korea heading toward the day it produces nuclear weapons like M&Ms; Iran playing the West for time as it makes its nuclear program impregnable and then operational; and al Qaeda newly resurgent overseas and no doubt readying for the day it can again attack the U.S. homeland.
Weakness and apathy has its price. If Obama’s lucky, that price will be paid by the next president, as our enemies’ momentum rises to a crescendo a few years hence. Just as Bush paid the price in September 2001 for Clinton’s dismantling of our military and failure to take on al Qaeda.
But no matter who’s in charge, the price will be paid by America.