3:30 PM, May 11, 2015 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
It was a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away: In July 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama made big, bold news by travelling to Berlin to – as The New York Times triumphantly recorded – “restore the world’s faith in strong American leadership and idealism.” With 200,000 Berliners waving campaign-provided American flags, Obama called for renewing America’s alliances and undoing the cowboy unilateralism of George W. Bush and Obama’s 2008 opponent Sen. John McCain.
The events of recent months are an indication of how spectacularly Obama has failed to fulfill his 2008 promise. This week comes the news that Saudi Arabia’s newly installed King Salman and three of the other six Gulf monarchs are boycotting Obama’s Camp David summit – a meeting called by Obama to reassure the Arab states that the forthcoming nuclear deal with Iran was not a betrayal of their longstanding security relationship with the United States. Beyond their fears of Iran’s nukes, the Gulf states see the rise of an aspiring Persian hegemon – in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq – taking advantage of, if not actively conspiring with, a retreating America. In this case “no show” means “no confidence.”
While the Middle East is where Obama has done the most damage to traditional U.S. alliances, the situation in Europe is not much better. The failure to respond to Vladimir Putin’s land grabs – which, to be fair, began with Georgia in the twilight of the Bush years – exposes NATO’s senility. The story of the post-Cold War Atlantic alliance, its late and limp performances in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in Europe itself, is one of continuous decline. Even with the victory of David Cameron’s Tories, Britain continues to shed whatever elements of greatness it retains; with the nationalists wiping out all opposition in Scotland, another secession vote is more than possible, and Britain’s army is on course to be smaller than the NYPD. While Europe deserves most of the blame for its disarmament and indecision, the Obama Pentagon is pressing forward with plans to further reduce America’s military posture in Europe. The president came to office figuring the peace of Europe was eternal and self-sustaining, and thus there was no need to maintain the alliance that has been the key vehicle for U.S. global leadership since World War II. It is no wonder that Eastern Europeans doubt the credibility of NATO’s Article V, collective-defense guarantees.
Which brings us to East Asia and Obama’s supposed “rebalance” or “Pacific Pivot.” To say that things aren’t quite so bad there would be the soft bigotry of low expectations, except it was the president who raised expectations of more energetic American leadership there. Further, as expressed in the 2012 Defense Guidance, the pivot marks the sole “doctrinal” bit of Obama thinking; it was more than a reaction to Bush-era policies. Our East Asian allies cheered the initiative but now regard more as rhetoric than a strategic reality. It’s not just that the administration’s efforts – such as the repositioning of Marines to northern Australia, the attempt to build a strategic partnership with Burma or to revive the stalled partnership with India – have been underwhelming. Indeed, since trumpeting the rebalance to Asia the administration has distanced itself from allies’ enthusiasms. Obama’s pledge of a “new era” in U.S.-Japan relations barely survived the departure of Prime Minister Abe for Tokyo. The visit of reformist Indian leader Narendra Modi was a decidedly low-key affair. More tangibly, the Chinese have resumed their various encroachments into the South China Sea. At the end of the day, the U.S. position in the region is no better now than in 2008, and arguably worse: an empty pivot is worse than no pivot.
Over six years in office, Barack Obama has gone along way to unraveling the alliances – both formal and informal – that have been the framework for American geopolitical leadership since the end of World War II. Watching the Gulf states, in particular, try to fend for themselves in the absence of American power – as the Saudis are trying to do in Yemen and Syria – is painful and looks as though it will make things worse rather than better. King Salman’s decision to pass up Camp David may be less an insult than a recognition that it would be a waste of time.
Estonia’s Russians.Apr 20, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 30 • By ANDREW STUTTAFORD
"We could have been Bosnia,” said Eerik-Niiles Kross, a center-right Estonian politician, former intelligence chief—and much more besides. He didn’t have to tell me why. Estonians remain haunted by the memory of their doomed interwar republic. It inspired their drive for independence from the Soviet Union, but it reminds them that what was lost can never be truly restored.
5:29 PM, Feb 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former Texas governor Rick Perry is taking on Russian president Vladimir Putin. The possible presidential candidate says that the "peace and security of the world" depends on how America deals with Russia.
Here's what Perry recommends doing to counter Putin's recent aggression:
10:31 AM, Nov 25, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Russians want delivery of their aircraft carrier. They contracted with the French to build it and a deal is a deal. But things are not (yet) so far gone that a NATO country is willing to arm the enemy for a few francs.
11:38 AM, Nov 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Europe is experiencing increased, and threatening, intrusions by Russian aircraft and:
NATO war planes have had to scramble 400 times this year in response ... a rise of 50 percent over last year, the new secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday.
3:35 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
During his visit to Washington this week, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon has spent part of his time criticizing Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, warning about the dangers of a bad nuclear deal with Iran—and highlighting the problems with Turkey.
An ally goes rogue. Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By DANIEL PIPES
Only 12 years ago, the Republic of Turkey was correctly seen as the model of a pro-Western Muslim state, and a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. A strong military bond with the Pentagon undergirded broader economic and cultural ties with Americans. And then, starting with the 2002 elections that brought the Justice and Development party (AKP) and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, first as prime minister and now as president, to power, Turkey dramatically changed course.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:14 PM, Sep 5, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on why you shouldn't bet on President Obama using any muscle on his foreign policy.
No U.S. leadership, no NATO.Sep 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 01 • By JOHN R. BOLTON
Vladimir Putin’s efforts to establish hegemony over Ukraine may now have reached a decisive point both for the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe and for the NATO alliance. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko warned on August 30 that Russia’s invasion of his country and extensive aid to pro-Moscow separatists could soon “reach the point of no return,” becoming a generalized conflict. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “the situation is increasingly getting out of control.”
2:23 PM, Sep 2, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
With the president attending this week's NATO summit in Wales, and the heightened concerns among the organization’s members – especially the newer ones with experience of hand’s-on Russian domination and rule – it might be profitable for our “allies” to consider some facts reported by Gideon Rachman in the
3:19 PM, Jul 25, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
CNBC reports the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Douglas Lute, is saying that
Russia has now amassed around 15,000 troops along the border with Ukraine ... a higher figure than one previously cited by the Pentagon.
With the men, comes material as
U.S. intelligence also indicates that Russia plans to soon provide heavier and more sophisticated weaponry to Ukrainian separatists, a Pentagon spokesman said on Friday.
10:01 AM, Jul 23, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Vladimir Putin does not seem inclined to talk nice and patch things up with the West. To the contrary, he is drawing lines. They may, or may not, be “red." He seems confident enough not to need the modifier.
As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports:
Uprisings in the East, corruption in the West— Ukraine emerges from elections divided and weakenedJun 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
Obama’s floundering Ukraine policy. May 5, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 32 • By JOHN R. BOLTON
The continuing Ukraine crisis raises both a critical “what if?” question and a pressing policy issue. What if, in April 2008, the Europeans had not rejected President Bush’s proposal to bring Ukraine and Georgia onto a clearly defined path to joining NATO? And today, urgently, should we try again for NATO membership?
1:26 PM, Apr 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The crisis in Ukraine has not reached the dreaded point where it turns into a shooting war. And likely it will not. So we hear no urgent analysis of things like objectives, interior lines, unity of command, logistical staying power, the durability of alliances, and the other matters that have been the concern of European strategists since the days of Napoleon.