During a speech at The Heritage Foundation in October 2011, House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) warned that the Obama Administration’s much trumpeted “reset” policy with Russia was likely to fail. Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea vindicates the Speaker’s skepticism.
Boehner explained how an utter lack of American leadership in the world helped doom the so-called reset and created the conditions under which Russia could invade another sovereign nation, stage a referendum, and annex their territory with only minor repercussions. The Speaker articulated the value of American leadership in the world:
When America leads it gives optimism, it gives hope. When America looks away, it causes confusion and certainly uncertainty.
Indeed, Russia’s takeover of Crimea leaves many Eastern European allies in the region questioning the U.S. commitment to NATO and whether the U.S. is still willing to take up the mantle of world leadership and defend the values of freedom.
The seeds of today’s crisis in Ukraine were laid by the Administration’s pie-in-the-sky policy toward Russia premised on a reset of relations. The Administration should admit the failure of the reset policy and move forward with concrete, assertive actions to reassure our allies in the region that the U.S. will honor its treaty commitments and that Russian aggression will be met with a strong response.
Boehner echoed his 2011 remarks recently when he called for the use of American energy to help the people of Ukraine. It is a policy that would provide relief to allies in Eastern Europe and benefit the U.S.
The Administration should take heed of the Speaker’s remarks and forcefully condemn Russia’s actions. Defending the free world requires strong leadership on the world stage, leadership that has been absent in U.S. foreign policy in the past five years. Securing freedom requires the vigilant leadership of the U.S. backed by strong national defense.
Boehner discussed in his remarks the value of freedom to those who know what it is like to be without:
Freedom most inspires those who remember life without it or who knew the way things were before.
Millions of people in places such as Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine, who recall life under the Soviet empire, hope that the U.S. has learned a lesson from the Russian reset and will once again lead in Eastern Europe.