At West Point, Obama failed to outline a coherent strategy for meeting many of the other biggest foreign policy challenges of the day, from mounting Russian aggression in Eastern Europe to the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Obama boasted of his handling of the Ukraine crisis, claiming that his administration had rallied a coalition of countries to condemn Russia. He made no mention of the fact, however, that Russian forces now occupy Crimea, or that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops remain camped on the border with eastern Ukraine, ready to pounce once orders are given by Moscow. The president declined to outline any kind of long-term strategy for dealing with the Russian bear, content to continue with a flailing policy of simply muddling along.
On Syria, Obama outlined a new partnership initiative with allies in the region that has come three years too late, after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal tyranny in Damascus has consolidated its power, with Islamists taking the upper hand within the flagging rebel movement. Meanwhile, on the Iranian front, the president continues to pledge his faith in nuclear negotiations with Tehran, while the Islamist regime remains the world’s biggest state sponsor of international terrorism, with every declared intention of advancing its nuclear ambitions.
The president’s West Point speech was short on policy but big on grandiose platitudes and self-congratulatory statements that will do nothing to reassure America’s allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It was a distinctly lightweight address on issues of tremendous gravity, with a direct impact on U.S. interests. From Tokyo to London, America’s partners are looking to Washington for leadership, but getting feel-good Twitter sound bites instead.