UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA the U.S. has effectively abdicated its role as world policeman.
Using the failure of the war in Iraq as an excuse, America no longer even pretends to be the democratic superpower to whom the wretched of the world can look for help.
This has left a moral and physical vacuum at the heart of the global community. And we’re learning the hard way that without a world policeman evil rulers flourish, and the people living under them have to put up with tyranny, however brutal and corrupt.
Take Syria. President Bashar al-Assad continues in power despite the fact that, according to the World Bank, “around half the population have been forced to leave their homes, with 7.6 million internally displaced, 3.8 million refugees, and more than 1.5 million nonrefugee migrants.” More than 200,000 are now believed to be dead.
This is one reason that sects such as ISIS have been able to establish themselves in Syria and in northern Iraq.
There are other, more flagrant examples of what happens when America’s presence weakens. Vladimir Putin, using the power of the Russian state, has amassed one of the largest fortunes in history and has enabled his circle of cronies, who keep him in power, to do the same. All while Russia’s national wealth has declined catastrophically. Industrial production is down nearly 5%, the price of foodstuffs has risen 20%, and 16% of Russia’s population now live below the poverty line.
None of this has prevented Putin from pursuing an aggressive military policy in eastern Europe: He has seized the Crimea; his troops, masquerading as Russian nationalists, occupy eastern Ukraine; and he threatens the Baltic states. Recently in Red Square he presided over an enormous parade of troops armed with the latest rockets. Those weapons aren’t just for show. Remember, a year ago, that Flight MH17 was shot down by what is widely believed to have been a Russian high-altitude rocket, fired by pro-Moscow troops in Ukraine. All 298 on board were killed. An international inquiry into the incident is due to report in October. But Putin knows the
China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy sailors. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images)
truth—that he supplied the rockets and authorized the firing. If Obama had any guts, he’d insist on nailing Putin’s guilt.
There are other, disquieting developments in the Far East. China is not only building up an enormous navy but also constructing bases on coral reefs in the South China Sea. Once the transformation of these reefs into harbors and airstrips is completed, China will treat them as sovereign territory and will have the power to enforce such a decree. Its ultimate aim is to become the dominant power in the entire western Pacific theater. Control of the South China Sea is an important step toward that objective.