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As Long as We Remember...

September 14, 2012

Peace Through Strength

Joe Charlebois

Thirty-two years ago Ronald Reagan was campaigning for the office of president as the standard bearer of the Republican Party. Then like now, there were issues in the Middle East.


The United States embassy in Tehran had been overrun by Iranian extremists, who had not only breached the walls, but took 52 Americans hostage and held them for 444 days. Even though the Carter Administration worked hard to get them released, and had everything in place, it wasn’t until President Reagan was sworn in that the Americans that were held hostage boarded the plane and were on their way home.


This week we are witnessing a full scale resurgence of militant Islam. This is in spite of the fact that a majority of Muslims in their respective countries do not adhere to the same radical interpretation of Islam. They are at the mercy of those who lead the protests and attacks. After lifting the yoke of unmerciful governments, these same people will fall under the control of a new and more dangerous totalitarian governance.


The nations borne out of the Arab Spring are not the burgeoning democracies that our leaders had promised; rather they are developing into corrupt theocracies akin to the regime in Iran that followed the Iranian revolution of the late 1970s.


The president promised that he would extend the hand of friendship to any leader in hopes of creating diplomacy.


How is it then that President Barack Obama’s “outstretched hand” has been met with a “clenched fist?”


Mr. Obama’s foreign policy strategy is one that extends olive branches to our adversaries and sends weak signals of support to our true allies. This is not a foreign policy of a super power, but rather one that shows a disturbing sign of weakness.


No matter how well intentioned, Mr. Obama’s plan for peace through simple diplomacy will always fail among certain nations. These nations respect power and strength. Mr. Obama’s foreign policy exhibits neither.


His approach is naïve. The United States cannot negotiate with people who have a primary goal of exterminating the nation of Israel or whose people are taught “Death to America!”


The United States cannot get involved in a coup’d’état without knowing who we are supporting. The United States cannot fund radical Islam in the billions of dollars expecting that this will buy their loyalty.


The president must understand that there will always be peoples who will not understand our founding principles. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press just don’t exist in other countries as they do inside the borders of this great nation.


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney this week responded strongly to a statement released by the Egyptian embassy issued in an attempt to quell growing tensions in Cairo.


The statement which many interpret as an apology for our values including freedom of speech has been pulled from the embassy website. A new statement was released in its place.


Mr. Romney, whether his timing to the events was off or not, showed the world something not seen in a while – American leadership.


Make no mistake. Those who look to do us harm don’t need a corrupt, anti-Islamic film as reason to attack U.S. citizens. It just makes it more convenient.


This is why we need a change of course in our foreign policy. We can no longer afford to be a spectator in the world. The United States needs to portray strength and resolve. Just as the world looked at the Carter Administration as bumbling and naïve, they do the same today with Mr. Obama in the White House.


When Ronald Reagan was president, he was fond of saying that “Our adversaries…respect only nations that negotiate from a position of strength.”


How do we regain that position of strength?


We need to regain our footing as a strong world leader both diplomatically and militarily. That does not mean we need to send soldiers, sailors and Marines to far-flung places as President George W. Bush did, but rather create a strong strategic force that can react to situations as needed.


Diplomatically, we need to assure our closest allies that we will provide them with the necessary support they need. We also need to know who we can truly count on in the Middle East.


Mr. President, Egypt is not our ally.


Theodore Roosevelt once said to walk softly and carry a big stick. Mr. President, it is time to do both. If you can’t do it, I am certain that Mr. Romney can and will.


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