Barack Obama, fending off imaginary hawks

If the hawks had had their way, they might have imposed more than de minimis sanctions on Russia for invading and annexing the territory of a neighboring country. They might not have declared their policy a success, as the president did at West Point, while tens of thousands of Russian military are still maneuvering on the border, and violent, pro-Russian separatists are still in open rebellion and prevented voters in Eastern Ukraine from participating in the recent election.

They might even have agreed to supply defensive arms to the legitimate government of Ukraine, which the Obama administration has refused to do. But they would not, as the president and his aides implied, declared war on Russia or sent in the Marines.

Nowhere in the president’s catalogue of hotheads pecking away at his enlightened world leadership is mention made of foreign governments that doubt the reliability of that leadership. Why is it that the Baltic states and Poland have to be reassured their NATO allies would come to their defense should Putin covet parts of their countries? Why do we have to convince the Saudis and the Israelis we still share their concerns about Iran? Why do friends in Asia openly doubt whether their alliance with the U.S. will protect them from China’s claims on their territory? Are they all suffering under the same delusions as the president’s firebrand detractors?

While we’re at it, if it wasn’t a mistake for the U.S. to let Syria burn, as the crazy hawks insisted it was, why is the president purportedly rethinking that decision? Nothing has happened there that critics hadn’t predicted would happen.