President Obama this week brought his unique brand of leadership to the U.S. Military Academy. Speaking to the West Point graduation, the Commander-in-Chief outlined a foreign policy that sharply differed from the Bush Doctrine that was proclaimed from that same podium eight years ago.
In those tense, post-9/11 days, George W. Bush declared that the U.S. would carry the fight to our jihadist enemies, that we would not wait for those who were preparing weapons of mass destruction to strike us a first, devastating blow, and that we would regard any government that harbored terrorists as a foe. The Bush Doctrine was certainly controversial then. It has been effectively superseded by the Obama Doctrine. President Obama recognized that America's economy is the basis of America's military strength. No argument there. He told the Corps of Cadets, that illustrious "Long Gray Line," including hundreds of graduates who will soon join their brothers in combat:
Simply put, American innovation must be the foundation of American power -- because at no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military and political primacy. And so that means that the civilians among us, as parents and community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, we have a role to play. We cannot leave it to those in uniform to defend this country -- we have to make sure that America is building on its strengths.
During World War II, American productivity saved freedom for the world. But Obama's economic policies will choke American innovation. Small businesses are already contemplating the grim decision whether to lay off workers or pay the fine and dump their employees from company-provided health plans. Obama's cap and trade legislation, should it be passed, will vastly increase the cost of doing business. At the very time the president seeks to engage "soft power" -- economic and non-military resources, his policies are rendering that power ineffective.
We will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well, including those who will serve by your side in Afghanistan and around the globe. As influence extends to more countries and capitals, we also have to build new partnerships, and shape stronger international standards and institutions.
His audience applauded. (It's an offense under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for military officers to show contempt.) But the rest of us must blink in wonder at these words. What is the state of our alliance with Great Britain today? Obama famously stiffed Prime Minister Gordon Brown, denying him not only a State Dinner, but even a joint press conference. Similarly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was whisked around Washington, D.C. in a sealed limousine with motorcycle escort. If it were not for the Israeli flag bravely waving from the hood of his automobile, you might have thought he was a captured terrorist. How do the Poles and Czechs feel about Obama's "steadfastness?" He vetoed their anti-missile defense systems without so much as a Rose Garden sendoff. He sent Hillary Clinton to Ottawa, where she insulted Prime Minister Harper's Conservative government in its own capital. But he made up for it when he invited Mexico's Felipe Calderon to come to Washington to insult us in our own capital.
Strengthening old alliances? How about shredding them? He stood by while Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Brazil's President Lula da Silva dealt with Iran's murderous mullahs, then criticized them for providing cover for Iran's nuclear ambitions.
He concluded with this soaring rhetoric:
Al Qaeda and its affiliates are small men on the wrong side of history. They lead no nation. They lead no religion. We need not give in to fear every time a terrorist tries to scare us. We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them. We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart.
These "small men" have succeeded in murdering more Americans than any enemy since Pearl Harbor. They may not lead a nation, but their influence is felt worldwide--including even on U.S. military bases. Political correctness in the Army permitted Nidal Hasan to spew anti-American statements while in uniform and to plot mass murder while collecting full pay and allowances from the U.S. government. We don't have to discard our freedoms, true, coddling jihadists and reading Miranda rights to enemy combatants makes no sense. Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, cannot even bring himself to admit that Islamist extremism is a possible motivator for these murderous attacks.
There are thoughtful criticisms of the Obama and Bush foreign policies. If victory in this war will not look like World War II, with the Japanese surrendering unconditionally aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, then it is the duty of our Commander-in-Chief to tell us what victory will look like. Right now, it appears President Obama is sending that famed Long Gray Line marching off into a gray fog.