Obama is reversing Reagan’s Cold War victory, inviting new hot wars

Jeffrey T. Kuhner

President Obama is on the verge of an historic triumph.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the American Left has been bitter about America’s victory in the Cold War. For decades, they preached moral equivalence between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In their view, America was to blame for the start of the Cold War; it was U.S. “aggression” in Vietnam and Nicaragua, as well as the policy of anti-communism that allegedly made the world a dangerous place. Liberals preached the need for détente, not confrontation, when dealing with the Soviet empire. They argued that the U.S.S.R was a permanent great power, and that Cold Warriors were on the wrong side of history — Marxism could not — and should not — be defeated, but accommodated.

Speaking at Berlin's Brandenberg Gate in October 1987, President Ronald Reagan called for Soviet leader Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."
Speaking at Berlin’s Brandenberg Gate in October 1987, President Ronald Reagan called for Soviet leader Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

The implosion of the Soviet Union, however, delivered a major political and psychological blow to secular progressives. American capitalism won, state socialism lost. Ultimately, liberals blamed one man: President Ronald Reagan. His vast military build-up, staunch anti-communist rhetoric and economic boom based on tax-cutting, pro-free-market policies broke Moscow’s back.

Without firing a shot, Reagan achieved the unthinkable — the U.S.S.R was swept into the dustbin of history. Moreover, the United States emerged as the world’s sole superpower. Its military might was unrivaled. Its economic prosperity was unmatched. Its democratic system was the envy of the world.

Reagan accomplished the very thing radical progressives despise: He restored America’s greatness. For this supposed crime, the Left has never forgiven him.

Obama is the anti-Reagan. His goal has been to transform the United States into a European-style social democracy. At home, the president is imposing statism and central planning. Abroad, he is pushing one-world internationalism that undermines U.S. influence and alienates its allies. He has hollowed out our military, slashing its size and reducing its capability to win wars.

Yet, this has not stopped him from incessantly meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. In fact, the administration has aided and abetted America’s mortal enemies.

In Libya, Obama waged a bombing campaign without any kind of congressional authorization. This was not only immoral. It was unconstitutional and illegal. The results were disastrous. Libya was smashed. Countless civilians were killed. The CIA actively supported and trained Al Qaida-linked rebel jihadists. Islamic extremists now dominate large swathes of the country. Violent militias are proliferating. Sharia law is spreading. Chaos reigns.

Syria’s bloody civil war rages on. Yet, the administration has provided substantial military and financial support to the rebel opposition forces — whose ranks are swollen with Al Qaida terrorists. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator. But his regime is secular and passionately supported by Syria’s besieged Christians. The rebels seek to impose a Sunni-dominated theocracy. Their genocidal goal is to eradicate the nation’s Alawites and Christian communities in order to erect a global caliphate. The Obama administration is openly siding with Islamist thugs bent on jihad against the West. This is not only foolish but also treasonous.

Obama’s most reckless action, however, may be in Eastern Europe. This August will mark the centennial anniversary of the First World War. An assassination in Sarajevo by a radical Serb nationalist against the heir to the Hapsburg throne sparked a wider European war. The result: millions dead, a continent ravaged and the collapse of several empires. Foolish security guarantees issued by great powers transformed a local conflict in a far-off corner of Europe into a global conflagration. The administration is now following this same, dangerous path. A child of the self-indulgent 1960s, Obama knows nothing about history. He is poised to repeat it.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea. Obama is now wringing his hands, threatening “severe consequences” and attempting to diplomatically isolate Moscow.

Yet, it was Obama’s weakness that tempted Putin’s expansionist appetites. Washington removed the missile-defense shield from Poland and the Czech Republic. The administration slashed our nuclear arsenal in the START Treaty to appease Moscow. Obama vowed to push the “reset button” with Russia. Hence, Eastern Europe was consigned to Putin’s sphere of influence.

Moscow’s incursion into Ukraine was inevitable. Following a political coup by pro-Western nationalists in Kiev, Putin hit Ukraine at its most vulnerable moment. He ordered Russian forces into the Crimean peninsula and annexed it. Obama’s response has been to poke the Russian bear with weak sanctions and public name-calling. Yet, he is unwilling to fully stand-up to Putin’s aggression. The reason is obvious: We have no vital strategic interests in Ukraine. Crimea is not worth the bones of one U.S. soldier.

Contrary to liberal hysteria, Putin is not another “Hitler.” Rather, he is an authoritarian nationalist, who seeks to restore a Great Russian imperium. Putin views himself as a modern-day Tsar — Vlad the Great. He wants to reassert Moscow’s control over Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia and Moldova. Despite the president’s alarmist and bellicose rhetoric, Putin has no interest in another Cold War with the West — never mind marching the Russian Army across Europe.

Obama’s constant threats, however, have rendered America a paper tiger on the world stage. Having drawn repeated red lines over Crimea, the president has created the worst of all possible worlds: Our allies, such as Poland and the Baltic States, no longer trust America, Ukraine is dismembered and Russia has been turned into a hostile enemy.

Humiliated by Putin’s rebuke, Obama has now made an ominous decision. The administration announced the United States and NATO are planning to conduct joint military exercises with Ukrainian forces across Ukraine — including in volatile eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian sympathy runs high. This means that American troops will be in close proximity to Russian soldiers in Crimea.

The area is also overrun with both Russian and Ukrainian armed militias, itching for a fight. Several rabid nationalists targeting our troops could trigger a larger U.S.-Russian war. We are flirting with disaster: One senseless act of violence has the potential to repeat the horrors of 1914.

Reagan practiced peace through strength. Like Teddy Roosevelt, the Gipper understood that foreign policy is the art of speaking softly while carrying a big stick. Obama does the very opposite: He speaks loudly while wielding a tiny stick. The president has degraded America’s military might, while emboldening our enemies as he simultaneously risks war with a resurgent Russia.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at WorldTribune.com and the host of “The Kuhner Report” weekdays 6-10 am EST on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.

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