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Beyond the Beltway: The Great Recession

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The Great Recession is proceeding apace, but it cannot be seen in the undulations of the Dow Industrial average or the housing index. Rather, the more worrisome and dangerous recession is happening abroad as President Obama withdraws American influence when it is most needed.

In Iraq, the Administration’s precipitous and politically motivated troop withdrawal provides our enemies a convenient timetable for their counterattack, and affords no guarantee that the coalition victory forged there will outlast President Obama’s presidential campaign. As America’s footprint in Baghdad blows away in the desert wind, the Left cheers, along with Iran and Hezbollah.

In Afghanistan, President Obama has similarly telegraphed the date of American withdrawal. America may yet again, as it did in Iraq in 1991, abandon its local allies to inevitable reprisals. Further, America negotiates with, and even considers releasing from Guantanamo Bay, the very terrorists who gave sanctuary to 9/11’s planners. The Left cheers, Mullah Omar smiles. America is about to validate Osama Bin Laden’s claim that when attacked, it retreats like a paper tiger.

In Egypt, after throwing under the bus a longtime ally who, while hardly a darling of democracy, kept the Muslim Brotherhood out of power and kept peace with Israel, President Obama pressed for regime change without planning for a post-Mubarak reality. The Muslim Brotherhood ascends to lead, and freedom is nowhere in sight. In its crosshairs is Israel, more alone than ever, and more exposed to the threat of an emboldened Hamas and nuclear Iran.

On Iran, President Obama threatens crippling economic sanctions, but Russia and China will ensure their demise at the UN. All the while, Iran's scientists feverishly work towards the goal of helping their nation join the nuclear club. Talks, we are told, may yet work. Yet news reports indicate Iran may have a bomb in months. Such talk is cold comfort for Israel, which readies its attack.

The Obama Administration’s hapless dialogue of failure continues in Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently America needs Bashar Assad's consent to put our troops in Libya. Eisenhower didn’t ask Hitler’s permission to base troops in North Africa or invade Normandy. Assad smiles at the irony, and his regime continues its murderous rampage with impunity. As with Iran and North Korea, the Left cheers the multilateralism as the blood flows.

Most recent and galling, the Administration announced plans for an up to 80% cut in our nuclear arsenal. For what resulting benefits will such reduction be made? None. As Reagan demonstrated, armament cuts only make sense when they are mutual. Unilateral arms reductions by the world’s nuclear leader level the nuclear playing field to a precipitous balance. In Moscow and Tehran, Putin and the Mullahs can hardly believe their luck, and America’s naiveté.

The implications of these abdications cannot be overstated. When the history of this period is written, forgotten will be the President's inconsequential speeches in Berlin and Egypt. Overlooked will be his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize and the tacky DVDs (of himself) he gave Queen Elizabeth.

The true narrative will go something like this: in a historical moment plagued by global terrorists and nuclear threats, onto history's stage walked an inexperienced community organizer whose singular foreign policy ambition was his nation’s retreat from global leadership. In pursuit of this radical declension of American power, he hurriedly ended his nation's wars, snubbed his nation's friends (Israel, Britain), accommodated its enemies (Iran, Taliban), and worked harder to emasculate its military than strengthen it. He turned inward and, like Europe, amassed a crippling national debt that precluded a muscular foreign posture, abandoning the world stage to the Russians and Chinese.

Just how this story ends is unclear. But past is prologue. A similar chapter with familiar themes was written of the 1990s and the resulting fallout was visited upon a complacent, withdrawn nation on 9/11. Is history bound to repeat itself?

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