Charles Krauthammer: America in retreat, allies abandoned
The first crisis, barely noticed here, is Ukraine's sudden turn away from Europe and back to the Russian embrace.
After years of negotiations for a major trading agreement with the European Union, Ukraine succumbed to characteristically blunt and brutal economic threats from Russia and abruptly walked away. Ukraine is instead considering joining the Moscow-centered Customs Union with Russia's fellow dictatorships Belarus and Kazakhstan.
As with Iran's ruthlessly crushed Green Revolution of 2009, the hundreds of thousands of protesters who've turned out to reverse this betrayal of Ukrainian independence have found no voice in Washington. Can't this administration even rhetorically support those seeking a democratic future, as we did during Ukraine's Orange Revolution of 2004?
The Gulf Arabs are stunned at their double abandonment. In the nuclear negotiations with Iran, the U.S. has overthrown seven years of Security Council resolutions prohibiting uranium enrichment and effectively recognized Iran as a threshold nuclear state. This follows our near-abandonment of the Syrian revolution and de facto recognition of both the Assad regime and Iran's "Shiite Crescent" of client states stretching to the Mediterranean.
Neither Arab nor Israeli can quite fathom Obama's naivete in imagining some strategic condominium with a regime that defines its very purpose as overthrowing American power and expelling it from the region.
What to do? Apply pressure. Congress should immediately pass punishing new sanctions to be implemented exactly six months hence - when the current interim accord is supposed to end - if the Iranians have not lived up to the agreement and refuse to negotiate a final deal that fully liquidates their nuclear weapons program.
No one's asking for a JFK-like commitment to "bear any burden" to "assure the ... success of liberty." Or a Reaganesque tearing down of walls. Or even a Clintonian assertion of America as the indispensable nation. America's allies are seeking simply a reconsideration of the policy of retreat that marks this administration's response to red-line challenges all over the world - and leaves them naked.
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post.
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