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In the world of diplomacy simple gestures become signals meant to advance agendas, show displeasure or even make peace. This is why many gasped when President Obama went out of his way to shake Raul Castro’s hand at Mandela’s funeral. CNN was quick to say that not too much should be written into the action, if that were only true but history says otherwise. During President Obama’s first year he went on a international meet and greet tour where he repeatedly bowed to world dictators and apologized for America’s role in the world. Said at the time to be amateurish blunders of man unaccustomed to proper protocol, the moves sent a clear message; America would no longer be the dominate player it once ways. Whether by design or default, the message turned out to be prophetic to a fault.

The United States under President Obama has become weak and ineffectual. The president himself is despised abroad as he was idolized after his first election. Like circling vultures, the world’s pariah nations have been waiting for a time such as this. The recent defacto territorial expansion by China is but one example of what happens when the U.S. is weak. As China moves to seize control an unprecedented amount of ocean and airspace (and a few small islands) the response has been to act as if it was minor dispute instead of the major threat to international trade and regional stability.

China’s move did not happen in a vacuum. It was preceded by series of missteps and wavering commitments on the part of the Obama administration. Moves that, like the apologies and the Raul Castro handshake, signaled that the United States lacked the resolve to oppose bullies, even when it is in its own strategic interest. There have been many foreign policy fiascos the last five years but the Syrian debacle was the watershed moment. The embarrassment that the United States suffered at the hands of Russia did not go unnoticed by Tehran, Beijing or even the halls of Pyongyang.

Unfortunately the move by China is not the end but merely the beginning of what is sure to be an increasing pattern lawlessness on the behalf of pariah states. Iran is using this opportunity of weakness to put the final touches on its nuclear ambitions. Any American resolve to stop them is collapsing; that is of course if the present administration ever had any at all. Russia for its part is looking to militarize the Arctic, move on former Soviet Republics and expand its Middle East influence. Other countries like Venezuela are looking forward to a future where they can export violence at will. All with the comforting knowledge that the United States is unlikely to interfere.

In such an atmosphere can one blame U.S. allies for questioning their relationship with the United States? The leader of Ukraine has pivoted away from the fair weather west to a more reliable, though treacherous, Moscow. A decision that has his people rioting in the streets. In the Middle East where proper alliances are often a matter of survival, the news is worse. Bahrain, as reported in The Telegraph, warned that the Administrations schizophrenic foreign policy was going to cost it influence in the region. Pointedly, they remarked how reliable Russia is compared to America under President Obama. Even Saudi Arabia has been cavorting with Putin, such is the state of American influence in the region. Even more alarming, a long predicted Middle East alliance is being formed to counteract the growing threat from Iran. The question now is whether full nuclearization of the region is far behind?

For those who questioned the need for a strong American presence in the world, the present situation should be a moment for reflection. Since World War II America has defended the weak, opposed imperial ambitions of dictators and kept the wolves of tyranny at bay. It has done so while at the same time being the most generous nation on earth in times of trouble, even to its enemies. That time seems to be coming to a close. Today the U.S. plays instigator as much as it does peacemaker. It is now known more for betraying its allies, capitulation to her adversaries and spying on phone calls than anything else. The truth is, for those seeking American protection and leadership, the shield of Captain America lies broken. A situation that is unlikely to change so as long as Obama is president.

“The Conservative Mind”

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