America’s first president to go abroad during office and make a mark on the world scene was Teddy Roosevelt – a man of good phrase and sound action.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” Roosevelt once said, “and you will go far.”
Roosevelt grasped the gritty power politics of the “Old World” and the soaring rhetoric of the “New World.” He understood power balances, how to balance strong ideals and strong actions. This separates Roosevelt from subsequent presidents and candidates like Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Carter was the first US leader to make apology a major part of policy, regretting America’s leading role, promising to lead less and consult more.
“We have learned that more is not necessarily better, that even our great Nation has its recognized limits, and that we can neither answer all questions nor solve all problems,” said Carter in his inaugural. His words had validity but were meant not just to bury the Vietnam era but to hint at a US pull-back from the rest of the world.
President Carter wrapped himself in idealism untroubled by reality. He promised to aid those who claimed to support democracy and human rights, even if this meant helping Iranian ayatollahs and Nicaraguan Sandinistas.
Carter naively invited Leonid Brezhnev and the Soviet Union to impose jointly an Arab-Israeli peace at a Geneva Conference. Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin thought differently. They found peace in direct Egyptian-Israeli talks. Indeed, Israel and Egypt made peace despite Carter, not because of him. No thanks to Brezhnev. The Soviets did not help peace anywhere. They invaded Afghanistan, and they kept backing terrorists.
History is repeating, 1977-1979 sounds like 2009- 2014: Russian invasions, trying to engage supposed Iranian moderates and half-cocked American attempts to impose Arab-Israeli peace.
Obama, Clinton and Kerry use Carter’s playbook.
They often apologize for America, but their policies have been inexcusable. Obama’s much-touted “flexibility” and “re-start” with Russia became Russia’s invasion of Crimea. “Engaging” Iran led to increased Iranian nuclear bomb planning.
Clinton wants everyone to forget her star role in the TV tragi-comic show “Russian Re-Start,” where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lectures Clinton about how her staff cannot even get the word “re-start” correct in Russian.
Clinton-Obama want us to forget how they bragged terror had been vanquished on their watch. That was before the 9-11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, the details of which they have covered-up. Obama-Clinton did not apologize for criminal neglect. They apologized to Muslims for a video that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.
Obama wants us to remember how cool he was in his role on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show. Obama wants us to forget his comic appearance with Russian puppet Dimitri Medvedev, promising “flexibility” to puppet- master Vladimir Putin.
“I can be more flexible after the election,” said Obama, talking to the puppet president of Russia.
“I will tell Vladimir,” said Medvedev.
Someone should apologize to Sara Palin, the GOP vice-presidential candidate in 2008. Obama-Clinton- Kerry loved the performance of Tina Fey, from Saturday Night Live, lampooning Palin as a country bumpkin. “I can see Russia from my window,” laughed Tina Fey-as-Palin.
But whether it was from her window or from her reading of history, Palin saw Russia a lot more clearly than Obama-Clinton-Kerry or Tina Fey.
Obama should apologize to election rival Mitt Romney. Obama ridiculed Romney for warning about Russia. Romney urged the US to restore global reach, energy independence, and its navy. Obama said Romney was living in the past. Obama ignores the past, evades the present and mortgages the future. And not just in Russia.
Obama-Clinton engaged Bashar Assad of Syria, and tens of thousands of Syrians died. Millions became refugees on the borders of Turkey, Israel and Jordan. Obama threatened and caved on Syrian chemical weapons. Obama accepted a face-saving retreat worked out by the peace-loving Putin.
President Obama speaks loudly and carries a tiny stick.
In recent days, the Obama administration has demanded an apology not from Putin, not from Assad, but from Israel, because its defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, claimed America has lost its direction as a major power.
Israel’s defense minister, an ex-commando and army intelligence chief, also offended Obama and Kerry by saying the US is wasting time by trying to cultivate PLO leaders as peace partners and as the key to Middle East stability. The PLO leaders, according to Ya’alon, are not real partners, interested in peace or important as a regional factor.
This is the truth. America’s leaders need to stop seeking apologies, making apologies and looking for excuses.
The writer is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, published by Threshold/ Simon and Schuster. He teaches at Bar-Ilan University, was strategic affairs advisor in Israel’s Public Security Ministry, and is the Schusterman Visiting Professor at University of California, Irvine, for 2013-14.