In a strongly worded editorial on Sunday, the liberal Washington Post harshly criticized President Obama’s foreign policy approach as one based on how he thinks the world should operate, rather than on reality.
The Post said that in Obama’s world the “tide of war is receding,” allowing the U.S. to radically reduce the size of its armed forces without much risk. That, in turn, would be followed by world leaders who would behave rationally, acting in the best interests of their people and not for themselves, bringing an end to invasions, brute-force and shifting alliances.
Secretary of State John Kerry reinforced this line of thinking when he appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday and said that the Russian invasion of the Ukraine was a “19th century act in the 21st century.”
The Post noted that while this was a nice thought, Putin must have missed the memo, based on his latest actions. The same goes for China’s Xi Jingpin, who the Post said is practicing gunboat diplomacy with Japan, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who has no problem killing his own people.
While the Post absolved Obama of any responsibility for the aforementioned countries’ behavior, they did say that he could “play a leading role in structuring the costs and benefits they must consider before acting.”
The Post urged the President to show some true leadership—not just drawing a red line, which Syria crossed, and then do nothing about it. They said that only served to strengthen Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s diplomatic and military position.
They also warned that military retreat can be potentially as dangerous as military intervention—which they are against:
While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that’s harmful to U.S. national security, too.
Putin has shown his true colors—not that conservatives expected anything less from him—and the immediate result is heightened tensions around the world and nervous stock markets, which have all plummeted in response to these recent actions. If this becomes prolonged, it will threaten the economy and, as the Post noted, our national security.
The Post editorial doesn’t mark a shift in the paper’s liberal ideology, but rather a realization that Obama is in way over his head when it comes to foreign policy.