By Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
Barack Obama’s presidency has been a parade of appeasements on a global scale. From terrorism and nuclear proliferation to defense spending and human rights, he hasn’t encountered an established U.S. foreign policy that he couldn’t soften.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson explores that aspect of Obama’s legacy in his e-book “Seductions of Appeasement,” a collection of his essays for PJ Media over the past four years. He revisits the appeasement disasters of the 20th century, which gave rise to deadly dictators like Adolf Hitler in Germany, and warns about the potential impact of Obama’s modern-day mollifications.
“As far as war and peace go,” Hanson said, “closure for Obama is when the United States is surrounded by war and confronted with looming conflicts, and yet has ended them all by declaring that we choose not to be interested in any of them.”
Here are the eight biggest appeasements of the Obama administration – and he still has a few months to go:
- Terrorism: Obama refuses to use terms like “jihadist” or “Islamist” to describe the enemy – al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hamas, ISIS, the Taliban and more. “Thousands will die on the altar of multicultural piety,” Hanson predicts, “so that millions more will not live in any sort of harmony.”
- Iran: Obama’s ill-advised talk of a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria empowered Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in that nation’s relations with the United States. The end result: a lifting of sanctions against Iran and a toothless nuclear deal.
- Russia: Obama’s attempt to “reset” U.S. relations emboldened Vladimir Putin to engage in “passive-aggressive diplomacy without a shooting war.” “Putin gets up every morning to annoy Barack Obama,” Hanson said, “piqued not just that he is weak but that he is sanctimonious and weak.”
- North Korea: He tolerated the grandstanding antics of “the lunatic North Korea nuclear regime,” leaving South Korea to assume that it is mostly on its own in dealing with its northern neighbor.
- Cuba: Obama unilaterally reversed a half-century of U.S. isolation of Cuba, reopened the U.S. embassy there and visited the country. He did he not get one concession in return, and soon after Obama left, President Raul Castro scoffed that “we do not need the empire to give us anything.”
- China: Obama lectures China enough to antagonize it but responds passively to signs of aggression in the South China Sea and elsewhere. That could prompt U.S. friends Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Australia to either go nuclear or seek deals with China as self-protection.
- Libya: Obama outsourced leadership in Libya to Britain and France, fostering an atmosphere where the U.S. embassy in Benghazi could be attacked. No matter what Hillary Clinton says, it makes a difference, even at this point.
- Egypt: When the Arab Spring opened the door to democracy in Egypt, Obama sided with the Muslim Brotherhood. Hanson compared its leader, Mohamed Morsi, with “once-elected authoritarians” like Hitler, Benito Mussolini in Italy, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
From Hanson’s perspective, the most dangerous aspect of these appeasements is the U.S. electorate’s response. “As long as we do not call Obamism ‘isolationism,'” he said, “the American people seem to have no problem with the new retrenchment, either because they do not like the costs of engagement or they do not much like the thought of helping those who resent our help.”