A weaker America makes for a more dangerous world. America appeared weak after the failed Vietnam War, which opened the door to Soviet expansion in Asia, Latin America and Africa and to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. In the 1990s, America was thriving as an economic force but seemed oblivious to the threats being directed at us by Osama bin Laden.
In both cases, American weakness provided openings for our enemies. The Ayatollah Khomeini took hostages at the American embassy in Tehran and held them for more than a year, and al-Qaida attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 and again in 2001, killing some 3,000 Americans.
It is difficult to predict what harm will come from our perceived weakness now. It already has allowed countries to ignore their duty to turn over a criminal like Snowden, but things could get much worse. The very least the president could do was snub Putin. It may not be much of a response, but it is better than nothing.
But like President Jimmy Carter's boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Obama's actions won't be enough to restore American standing in the world.
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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