Take, for example, the U.S. response to the Arab Spring. Rising food costs and economic distress sparked the region’s “awakening.” In Egypt, U.S. taxpayers had given tens of billions in foreign assistance to Cairo for more than a quarter century, but aid failed to promote long-term economic development. Indeed, it likely retarded it. To make matters worse, Washington’s preference for funneling aid through tyrants made it an enemy of those tyrants’ opponents.Michael Kors eau de parfum Those opponents spanned a broad ideological spectrum, from al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists to tech-savvy liberal protesters.In Washington, neoconservatives and liberal hawks alike sought to reverse that pattern, endorsing the overthrow of other tyrants like Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi and now Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
Washington has a poor track record of picking winners and losers in distant civil wars, but that hasn’t stopped Romney’s top foreign affairs adviser from claiming that not arming Syria’s opposition “gives us less leverage to dictate the future after Assad.” Former Obama State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter agrees. Writing at the New York Times’ Room for Debate, Slaughter claims that the killing of four Americans in Libya, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens,Michael Kors eau de parfum should prompt Washington to become even more deeply involved in Syria’s civil war.
Such bipartisan calls persist despite the fact that U.S. policies in the region – billions in aid, the occasional war, and decades of painstaking diplomacy – appear to have purchased little goodwill for America. Indeed, the mere fact that an amateurish video uploaded to YouTube can undermine decades of policymaking in a matter of days illustrates just how tenuous Washington’s standing is.
Americans can be forgiven for asking what exactly all their money, and the sacrifice of the troops,Michael Kors eau de parfum has bought us. Surveying anti-American sentiment throughout the region, even reflexive hawk Victor Davis Hanson asked, 10 days before the attacks, “Why, then, bother?”Unfortunately, that is not what either Obama or Romney is asking. Though they differ on specifics, both remain committed to the same failed policies. Both reserve the right to funnel hard-earned American tax dollars into foreign countries, and intervene militarily in pursuit of amorphous goals. The bipartisan foreign policy consensus exemplifies the definition of insanity: repeating mistakes over and over and expecting different results.Voters concerned about perceptions of American weakness should consider the nature and extent of that weakness. Weakness, strictly defined, is a lack of physical power. That clearly does not describe the United States. We possess enormous physical power. Our moral authority should augment that power. Policymakers undermine both when they entangle our country in religious, ideological, and political controversies that have no clear connection to our vital interests.