It wasn't Obama but Bush who said in 2003: "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty." Bush warned that, "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export." And of course, thanks to Bush, the first country in the region to elect a representative government -- outside Israel -- was Iraq. Those elections were made possible by American blood and treasure.
Obama, on the other hand, has managed to make the most powerful nation in the world look weak and ineffectual. History is being made from Tripoli to Sana, and the United States plays no role. For years, the left has wanted the United States' role in the world to diminish. Now they are getting their way, thanks to Obama's reticence.
But the world will not be a better place for lack of U.S. influence. Witness the very different outcomes in the revolution that swept Iran in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter was in power and those that swept Eastern Europe when Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush. The vacuum created by our absence in the current revolutions will likely be filled. Let us hope that is not by the Islamists who will topple secular dictators in order to impose even more brutal religious tyrants. If that happens, Obama will share the blame.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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