WASHINGTON - President Obama announced another foreign policy plan this week, telling our adversaries when and under what circumstances the U.S. will use its forces abroad.
That was the message he sent to the world at West Point Wednesday, laying out a far more narrowly-defined, post-9/11 foreign policy, as the U.S. withdraws from the war in Afghanistan.
We keep hearing that Obama is ending the war in that war-torn nation, but of course, we are doing no such thing. We are ending our combat role there, but the war goes on, and will likely widen in the foreseeable future as long as the Taliban believes it can win power by killing enough of the Afghan population.
But Obama's address set forth a much more troubling, constrained set of policy rules that the U.S. will follow from here on out between military interventionism and avoiding "foreign entanglements."
As he has in other speeches, he set up imaginary straw men to ridicule those who "think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak." They were his critics who, he said, (he certainly had Sen. John McCain in mind) want to put U.S. "troops into the middle of [Syria's] increasingly sectarian civil war." People who, he added, are calling for "invading every country that harbors terrorist networks."
But his foreign policy and national security critics are calling for no such thing.
They are saying that there are times when, as in Syria, we can use our substantial resources, weapons and other military assistance, to deal with terrorist networks who -- contrary to Obama's claims that he has them "on the run" -- have grown much more dangerous than they were before 9/11.
McCain has said in numerous speeches that we have to set forth a strategic, muscular set of policies that has the ability to respond when help is needed. Not with military forces on the ground, but with weaponry, and air power in some cases -- as when Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was bombing thousands of innocent civilians to put down the rebellion, as his administration looked the other way.
Obama was justifiably outraged when Assad dropped poison gas bombs on his country's civilian population in key cities. That led Secretary of State John Kerry on a wild goose chase, proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, into multilateral negotiations to locate and destroy Syria's poison gas arsenal.
While the international community was focused on a search for the deadly arsenals, Assad resumed bombing the Syrian people with impunity. An unknown quantity of Assad's poison gas is still hidden in Syria to this day.