Vladimir Putin seizes the Crimea, so we blockade the Bosporus. Iran defies the UN, so we sink its Persian Gulf fleet. China expands its air defense zone, so we start downing Chinese fighters. North Korea fires some missiles, so we send a CIA assassin with Dennis Rodman’s entourage on the next basketball trip.
Why is has any of this become unthinkable? We’re the world’s lone superpower–since when did we become such complete wimps?
We’re afraid of escalation. We worry, for example, that any military response to Russia could lead to “nuclear war,” as Secretary of State John Kerry warned last week.
If so, why doesn’t that worry Putin when he sends thugs into Ukraine? If so, why did Iran pause its nuclear program in 2003, after we invaded Iraq over Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs?
The answer is that weakness, not aggression, invites escalation by our enemies.
We’re afraid of being called the global cowboys, the world police. But we are anyway, regardless of what we do.
Putin told the Duma on Tuesday that U.S. foreign policy amounted to “rule by the gun”–after months of craven appeasement by the Obama administration, after the U.S. sent Spam to Ukrainian troops rather than weapons.
As long as we will be hated by tyrants anyway, why not do something truly worthy of fear by our enemies?
We conservatives mock Obama’s foreign policy failures. But the truth is that we are also paralyzed by a kind of moral terror. We are afraid to be honest with the American people about the sacrifices that will continue to be necessary to defend our freedom and security. Too few of us have shared those sacrifices, so we stop ourselves from stating the painfully obvious: to avoid war, we have to be willing to risk it.
When will we find that courage?