"This now looks increasingly like a historic mistake," writes Walter Russell Mead in his invaluable American Interest blog, and not just because it helps the rebels aligned with Islamist terrorist groups.
"Iran seems much less worried about what this administration might do to it," Mead writes. "The mullahs seem to believe that faced with a tough decision, the White House blinked." And, he adds, "both the Israelis and the Sunni Arab states have smelled the same weakness."
The two disclosures last Thursday came at a time when other presidential actions sent a similar message. One was the withdrawal of one of the two aircraft carriers scheduled to patrol the Persian Gulf.
The other was the nomination to be secretary of defense of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a longtime opponent of not only military action but also economic sanctions against Iran.
The Hagel nomination was baffling. Most incoming secretaries of defense in the last 40 years have had extensive experience in the Pentagon, at the White House or on the congressional armed services committees.
Hagel has none of these. And, as he admitted at the end of a confirmation hearing, when he misstated administration policy, "There are a lot of things I don't know about."
"A decade of war is ending," Barack Obama declared in his second inaugural. His response to Benghazi, his decision on Syria and his nomination of Hagel suggest he thinks he can draw down our forces and avoid military conflict.
But weakness is provocative and retreat invites attack. Threats abound -- Iran, North Korea, China versus Japan. Obama's moves may end up making war more likely, not less.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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