WASHINGTON, August 24, 2014 — A crisis is a decision point, that if not handled properly, could turn into a disaster. Looking at current world events, we are in a crisis.
It is, right now, the time for strong leadership. And where are the leaders?
Part of the reason we are in this situation is that the Obama Administration has moved away from the “peace through strength” doctrine of almost all 20th century presidents and specifically emphasized during the Kennedy and Reagan Administrations. These Presidents maintained a strong military, and although direct force was always the last option, it was none the less an option.
And our enemies knew it and feared our force.
It is the lack of fear today that allows our enemies to advance to the point where we are in a crisis situation. This is happening on at least two fronts today. In Ukraine, Russia’s President Putin continues to advance and may be poised to invade. In the Middle East, ISIS is advancing and continues to set their sights on more cities in Iraq. One American has already been brutally beheaded and more may follow. ISIS is also aiming at terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S.
The Western nations are at a decision point right now. If not handled properly, this could turn into a disaster. This disaster could take many forms, all of which have the potential to cost many civilian lives. The world needs strong leadership and the U.S. is the only country with the resources to be an effective leader to successfully resolve this conflict. But where is the American leadership?
The administration tells us that because of technology, leadership can occur from virtually anywhere. The president, they say, has been in constant communication with key people and can lead from his vacation retreat. But if a severe 9-11 type crisis occurred, the president would be back at the White House very quickly. So what they are saying is that this crisis is not severe enough to shorten Obama’s vacation. And that lack of recognition of this current crisis may be the real problem.
Our military leaders tell us of the potential severity of the situation. Secretary of Defense Hagel described the threat as greater than the threat prior to 9-11. Yet the President will not authorize full action to remove the threat and keep Americans secure. Nor does it seem, that the President is giving this his full attention.
When he speaks of his intentions, he talks about having the Iraqis and others defend themselves. He speaks of offering American assistance but will do so only with partners. While that coalition sounds good, the reality is that it will not work. Iraq is not in a position to defend itself and our partners are too reluctant to greatly participate, perhaps believing that the Americans will eventually do something without their input.
America must provide the leadership. We will consult with our allies and encourage their participation, but we will, as we have in the past, move militarily alone, if necessary. The opposition is counting on a war weary America to restrain forceful action. But strong leadership would be able to overcome that. Indeed, Americans were war weary after World War II, yet entered the Korean conflict. And we were somewhat war weary after the Kuwait conflict yet President Clinton eventually used force in Eastern Europe.
We are indeed at a crisis point. America will have to provide strong leadership and even act alone if necessary. While we recognize the dangers incurred when force is used, we must also recognize the dangers when it is not used. Our adversaries do not respect us. Our enemies do not fear us. As much as we recognize that military action is always the last option, it may be time to use it fully.
Strong leadership would gather the wisdom from the most knowledgeable people. Then use this information to craft a strategy toward a clear goal. The goal must be to defeat ISIS and push Putin back. If not, the world may burn.