The Pentagon's groveling apology to China for flying near a contested island

Nevertheless, the true absurdity of Obama’s delusion is clear only in the light of history. Imagine if President Truman had allowed Stalin to seize Berlin in 1948 in return for Stalin’s pledge to try to hold free elections in 1964. On the contrary, consider how President Truman actually dealt with Stalin during the 1948–1949 Berlin crisis (in which Stalin blockaded Berlin’s western zones). Vastly outgunning U.S. forces in Germany, the Soviets threatened war. But when the question arose of whether or not the United States was going to stay in Berlin, Truman declared: “No discussion . . . we are going to stay — period.” He launched the Berlin airlift and put his faith in American deterrent power and American values. And he won the day.

Of course, today, many would castigate Truman’s blunt speak as gung-ho idiocy, unbefitting of “smart power” and nuanced American leadership in a complex world. But Truman knew that the conduct of an effective statesman isn’t just about dealing with the moment, but also about anticipating the horizon. General Clay, commanding U.S. forces in Berlin during the crisis, also understood this truth. Consider Clay’s cable to Washington at the start of the crisis: “We are convinced that our remaining in Berlin is essential to our prestige in Germany and in Europe. Whether for good or bad, it has become a symbol of the American intent.”

Truman knew that if the United States abandoned the small territory of Berlin, that action would eviscerate American credibility around the world and the Soviets would gain the strategic upper hand in the Cold War. Allies would doubt America’s word, and our adversaries would know America’s weakness. Sadly, last week’s B-52 incident proves that President Obama does not grasp that purpose and credibility are essential components of an effective foreign policy. And American enemies are taking advantage: In 2016, expect historic foes China and Russia to strengthen their alliance against us.