Five years on since Barack Obama took office, it is time for the President to admit the obvious: His foreign and defense policies have largely been a failure.
Bewildered Administration policies have eroded national sovereignty, weakened the military, emboldened enemies, and disheartened allies. The Administration’s strategy of “leading from behind” has amounted to hardly any leadership at all. On Tuesday, the President should recommit the nation to solutions that will ensure security and prosperity at home and help reinvigorate U.S. global leadership abroad.
A top priority should be stopping Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state. Capitulation and wishful thinking will not get the job done. The U.S. should re-engage with traditional allies in Europe and Asia that share our same strategic and security interests. In Europe, the U.S. should loudly proclaim support for economic freedom, democratic governance, and a robust NATO alliance rather than trumpeting EU integration.
In Asia, the U.S. should solidify relationships with key Asian democracies (such as Australia, India, Japan, and South Korea) that have become disillusioned by weak leadership and a halfhearted pivot to the region. In the Middle East and Africa, the U.S. should emphasize liberty, specifically the importance of economic liberty, for advancing truly free societies.
Recognizing that the cornerstone of U.S. leadership abroad is a strong defense at home, the President should reaffirm important national security priorities. Among them are defense reforms that would ensure the efficiency and long-term solvency our men and women in uniform deserve. Advancing missile defense, strengthening our nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining a robust troop presence overseas, and halting the slide in military readiness should be the top national security priorities in 2014.
Leading from behind has not made the nation any safer nor the problems of the world any less pressing. Yet there is still time for President Obama to change course. An embrace of policies that would ensure security at home and promote freedom and strength abroad should be the cornerstone of the President’s speech on Tuesday. That is the change Americans, our allies, and people aspiring for freedom across the globe have been waiting five long years for.