The wages of appeasement

“Ask Osama bin Laden ... whether I engage in appeasement.” - Barack Obama, Dec. 8

Fair enough. Barack Obama didn’t appease Osama bin Laden. He killed him. And for ordering the raid and taking the risk, Obama deserves credit. Credit for decisiveness and political courage.

However, the bin Laden case was no test of policy. No serious person of either party ever suggested negotiation or concession. Obama demonstrated decisiveness, but forgoing a non-option says nothing about the soundness of one’s foreign policy. That comes into play when there are choices to be made.

And here the story is different. Take Obama’s two major foreign policy initiatives — toward Russia and Iran.

The administration came into office determined to warm relations with Russia. It was called “reset,” an antidote to the “dangerous drift” (Vice President Biden’s phrase) in relations during the Bush years.

In fact, Bush’s increasing coolness toward Russia was grounded in certain unpleasant realities: growing Kremlin authoritarianism that was systematically dismantling a fledgling democracy; naked aggression against a small, vulnerable, pro-American state (Georgia); the drive to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in the near-abroad and; support, from Syria to Venezuela, of the world’s more ostentatiously anti-American regimes....

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