America’s foremost foreign policymakers are struggling to find a way forward in response to Russia’s apparent seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
There’s growing evidence that the bipartisan consensus on Russia is out of step with the mood of the times. For Republicans, like Marco Rubio, Russia must be “punished” with dramatic diplomatic moves like a renewed push for the former Soviet republic of Georgia’s inclusion in NATO.
For Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, Russia’s ethnic and linguistic rationale for occupying Crimea is reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s prewar expansionism at Czechoslovakia’s expense.
Ordinary Americans, meanwhile, are expressing marked skepticism toward any kind of intervention.
As Rasmussen reported, prior to the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, only 17 percent of likely voters preferred escalating America’s involvement in the situation. That’s in contrast to 66 percent who wanted the U.S. to stay out and 18 percent who hadn’t made up their minds.
Some observers fear that if the federal government takes cues from polls like these, a worldwide power vacuum could result. Some argue that even a careful disconnect from the planet’s hotspots would “embolden” America’s adversaries and competitors by signaling a failure of “resolve.” Though overhyped, those are real possibilities.
The stumbling block on the road to muscular interventionism, however, has less to do with the balance of global power and more to do with the integrity gap that both parties have developed on foreign policy in the 21st century.
Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have indulged — at painful cost — in their own particular brands of foreign policy. Both imagined that if you get the abstract ideals right, pursuing them will lead to the results you desire. That’s not the way politics works.
At a time when Americans’ trust in public institutions continues to scrape along at historic lows, it’s incumbent upon elected officials to understand that restoring confidence in our foreign policy means restoring a baseline of public trust that our ideals are not being uprooted from real-life experience.
Now is the time to start restoring the connection between public opinion and American leadership that officials will need to sustain any kind of assertive foreign policy in the decades to come.
— From the Orange County Register