BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
May 28, 2014
In defiance of critics of his war principle, President Obama once again emphasized his position on U.S. foreign policy. During a commencement speech delivered to the graduating class of 2014 at West Point, the President answered critics who called his policies on Syria and Ukraine weak with a resounding speech that has one clear message, a military solution will not determine America’ foreign policy.
With more that 150,000 people estimated killed in Syria and Ukraine at a breaking point with a looming civil war, the interventionist mostly GOP members of the House and critics of the Obama war doctrine, have expressed fear that failure of the Obama administration to consider military option in Syria and Ukraine, downgrades America’s global position as a leader and sends a bad message that dictators can get away with impunity because the United States will not intervene militarily, in the domestic affairs of a foreign nation.
One clear message in Obama’ speech is the fact that, the U.S. will only consider a military option when America’ interests is under attack or when there is imminent danger to the homeland. This does not mean that the United States has no responsibility in protecting innocent lives when threatened by oppressive regimes, however, the Obama administration is determined to promote multilateralism as an alternative to unilateral involvement in global affairs.
A great lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan is the risks involve when a nation takes unilateral action that lacks global support. Innocent lives are lost and the cost of war can have a devastating effect on the economy of a nation taking such action. When Obama came to power in 2008, his goal was to end U.S. involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is never in the agenda of his administration to involve the United States in another unnecessary war. If for any reason the U.S. must go to war, it must do so responsibly with global support. The President believes that U.S. influence is stronger globally, when it acts multilaterally with the support of responsible allies.
Critics of the current U.S. administration are missing the point. Obama is not a war President. This does not mean he is a weak leader. He is one who believes in the power of diplomacy and multilateralism. Opponents of his war policy must begin to reconcile with the fact that the United States will not put boots on the ground to fight another war while Obama is in office. The United States will only act when it is necessary to do so but with absolute caution.
So far Obama’ diplomatic approach globally is bearing fruits. America’ involvement in Libya that brought an end to the reign of Gadhafi, was done without U.S. troops in Libya and with a global support of NATO. With the help of the United States, a new leadership came to power in Egypt despite calls for the U.S. to get involve militarily. Burma known as Myanmar has normalized relations with the U.S. despite decades of isolation and alignment with North Korea and for the first time in decades, a diplomatic door has opened for negotiation between the U.S. and Iran over the latter’ nuclear aspirations.
It is mere fantasy to conclude that the U.S. must intervene militarily to restore peace in Syria and Ukraine. Such approach that lacks a diplomatic solution is destined for failure. A unilateral intervention by the United States will have both financial and human costs. The fact is Russia will not watch the U.S. invade what it considers its “territory.” A military effort by the U.S. will lead to an arms race. Putin will do all in his power to support the opposition in Ukraine thereby, destabilizing the Eastern bloc.
A unilateral intervention in Syria will prove difficult for the United States. Such a move will strengthen the Assad regime. Russia will do all possible to support Assad against the United States and the opposition in Syria. The move will derail the peace effort in Iran since the current leadership in Tehran is a strong supporter of the Assad regime.
Moreover, North Korea will see a reason to further its nuclear program since a war effort by the U.S. in Syria and Ukraine will divert global attention from its nuclear program. It will delay the peace process in Israel; make the Palestinian question more difficult to resolve and stall all necessary resolutions at the UN Security Council, where Russia will use its veto power to cripple global support for the United States.
Perhaps Obama knows better than his critics that a military intervention is not the right approach. To say that the United States is weak because President Obama has determined that war is unnecessary in Syria and Ukraine is unthinkable. There is no doubt the U.S. is a superpower. However, America’ superiority and power is determined by how responsibly it handles global affairs. Unnecessary military intervention will not decide U.S. foreign policy.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.