Critics contending that Barack Obama has caused the United States to lose influence around the globe are having a field day noting the consistent pattern of retreat.
These critics note the many instances where the U.S. has weakened its position, including:
- Sanctions eased on Iran in the recent deal in Geneva, enabling the Islamist country to continue its nuclear program and build centrifuges without being slowed
- China deciding to institute an air defense zone over a set of islands it claims are its own, which prompted the State Department to recommend that U.S. commercial airlines should have to give notice to China before flying over said territory
- Russian President Vladimir Putin giving temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told The Hill: “The world sees the United States as weakening, whether it be in the Middle East or the Pacific. Countries like China will push because they think they can get away with it.”
Prince Saudi al-Faisal, a former head of intelligence in Saudi Arabia, said that several “red lines” Obama boasted about regarding Syria “became pinkish as time went on, and eventually ended up completely white.”
Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute observed, “It is much easier to confront problems when they are small. But here there is a feckless leadership that is reluctant to use American power for good.”
Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, stated: “I understand the logic of saying, ‘We are not going to get heavily involved in yet another Middle East mess.’ But I think they’ve overcompensated. Assad is still in power and, if anything, he is in a better position than he was a year ago. It’s not working, and we cannot tolerate [a situation like] Somalia on the borders of Jordan and Israel and Lebanon.”
Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “Basically, I think the Chinese strategy for some time has been to stake out claims, and hold onto those claims until everyone, including the United States, throws up their hands and accepts its position. At some point we have to demonstrate to the Chinese that this approach doesn’t work.”
Tony Cordesman, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, conceded the following concerning the Iran deal: “It is certainly not the perfect deal but considering we are talking about a program that has been developing since [Ayatollah] Khomeini restored it in 1984, and considering we had made almost no positive progress up to now, it is at least a starting point.” However, he then added:
The fact is that both in Asia and in the Middle East, there are more and more questions about the US role. Some of them come from the legacy of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts. Some of them come from the perception, fair or unfair, that this president tends to be indecisive and fail to act. Some of them are not the fault of the United States at all. But this has not been an administrational [sic] that communicates leadership; it communicates that it has deeply intellectual concerns. That is not an approach that achieves many particularly useful results. You don’t contemplate; you lead.