"We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression." -- Ronald Reagan, March 23, 1983
President Reagan's speech to the nation 30 ago launched a major arms buildup to confront the expanding military power and political aspirations of the Soviet Union. It followed the disastrous presidency of Jimmy Carter, whose nonperformance during the Iran hostage crisis led to the perception in the Muslim world that America was weak and had lost its resolve to confront enemies.
President Obama appears to believe killing Osama bin Laden, which he mentioned for the umpteenth time at his Friday news conference, and conducting drone strikes against terrorists in Yemen and elsewhere is enough to deter terrorists.
Now comes another threat.
The London Times reports Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who, in addition to his history of stealing elections and confiscating the land of white farmers, has signed an agreement with the Iranian regime to supply it with raw materials that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. Weren't we assured that Iran wants nuclear power only to provide electricity to its people? Have we learned nothing from past behavior? Tyrants lie and Islamic tyrants are instructed to lie to "infidels" by their "holy book" in the pursuit of earthly objectives, even world domination, according to some interpretations of the Koran.
As the Times reports: "(Iran) is fond of declaring its near self-sufficiency in uranium supplies for its disputed nuclear program. As with many announcements by Tehran, however, those claims have only a slender basis in reality. It does have substantial uranium deposits and its largest uranium mine was opened recently amid great fanfare, but deposits are of poorer quality than those found elsewhere."
Enter Mugabe, whose struggling economy has recently begun to show signs of life. "The European Union only recently lifted sanctions against 81 officials and eight companies in Zimbabwe," notes Times writer Michael Evans. "These sanctions imposed in 2002 for human rights abuses and political violence remain in force ..." Sanctions have not deterred Iran in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
What now? There is talk of a response by the "international community," which is neither international in its thinking nor a community in its fight against terrorism. As usual, any response will have to come from the United States, NATO and/or Israel.
Given President Obama's ordered withdrawal from corrupt Afghanistan and U.S. public opinion mostly opposed to additional "foreign entanglements," it falls to the president to lead. Leading is not something Obama has done well. Consider his failed "outreach" to the Muslim world and his equally ineffective "reset" with Russia. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton produced a red button, which she and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pressed. The Russian word for "reset" was wrongly translated as "overloaded." Was that prophetic symbolism?
Can anyone articulate this president's foreign policy and point to where it is working?
In a column for the Sunday Telegraph titled, "Obama's not to be trusted on foreign policy," Janet Daley writes, "But there must be at least a glimmering of doubt even in Europe -- where the Obama presidency has been given an absurdly easy ride -- that America, too, is adrift in the post-Cold War landscape: that it no longer has any clear conception of its global role."
Endless speeches by the president are not a policy.
It bears restating that the Ayatollah Khomeini believed in the strength and resolve of Ronald Reagan. That is why on the day of Reagan's 1981 inauguration he released 52 American hostages held for 444 days. Strong individuals deter bullies. Strong nations deter enemies and keep the peace.
(Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.)