Hunterdon County Federated Republican Women Uncategorized What Parenting & American Foreign Policy Have in Common

What Parenting & American Foreign Policy Have in Common

Every good parent knows that the key to preventing children from running roughshod over them
is to announce the specific consequences that they will face BEFORE the kids do something
stupid. Once a red line is drawn, you must follow through. Make empty threats often enough
and kids will start ignoring them. The consequences must also be very specific, or they will be
ignored. Ie: “clean your room, or else!” is likely to elicit a yawn the third time it is repeated with
no penalties. How is parenting analogous to foreign policy?  It may seem simplistic to make such an analogy, but human psychology doesn’t change, regardless of whether we’re analyzing a toddler or an egotistical dictator. We have seen numerous examples of how a weak American foreign policy invites chaos into the world, specifically aggression from Russia. 

After a long-running dispute regarding breakaway regions in Georgia, in 2008 Russia launched an attack against its small neighbor.  In response, President George W. Bush airlifted Georgian military forces back from Iraq, sent war ships to the Black Sea, and humanitarian aid to Georgia. As a result, Russia was unable to overthrow the democratically elected government in Georgia, and a ceasefire was brokered.  However, Russian forces remained in the disputed areas of Georgia, in violation of the ceasefire. To condemn the occupation, the Bush Administration placed economic sanctions on Russia. The Republican candidate for President, John McCain, pledged support for the Georgian republic, threatening to expel Russia from the G-8, for its’ attempt at “reassembling the old Russian Empire.” Shortly after winning the Presidency, Obama dropped the sanctions in exchange for an empty promise from Russia to withdraw troops from Russia, which never materialized.  Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, predicted that Obama’s failure to enforce the ceasefire agreement in Georgia would embolden Russia and eventually lead to the invasion of Ukraine. 

In another effort to appease Russia, in 2009 the Obama Administration pulled out of a missile defense system which had been planned for Poland and the Czech Republic and slashed America’s missile defense budget.  Meanwhile, when the Russian-backed government in Iran tested long-range missiles in 2009, Russia urged restraint.  Obama did nothing to curb Russia’s proxies in Iran.  Rather, Obama continued to appease both Russia and Iran, emboldening them to antagonize their neighbors. 

The Obama Administration also turned a blind eye towards Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, when pro-democracy protests spread throughout the country in 2012, seeking an end to the long-time authoritarian Assad regime, another Russian proxy.  Once again, Obama did not lift a finger to help the forces of democracy.  President Obama was then caught on a hot microphone, assuring the Russian President that he would “have more flexibility” after his next election.  Obama’s statements displayed not just weakness, but an open invitation to continue communist aggression.  Then Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, warned during a 2012 debate with Obama that Russia was our number 1 geopolitical foe, conspiring with totalitarian regimes throughout the globe.  The Democrat-controlled media mocked Romney for reminding us that Russia did not give up its dreams of spreading communism after the fall of the Soviet Union.  Both Romney and Palin’s predictions were proved correct in 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, an autonomous part of Ukraine.  Russia orchestrated a “referendum,” in which the citizens of Crimea voted to join Russia, which it then annexed.  In 2015, Russia aggressions continued, when it sent armed forces into Syria and began bombing not only military installations, but civilian hospitals. 

From 2016 – 2020, despite the media’s unfounded, relentless stories about President Trump being a “Russian puppet,” Putin took no overt actions against his neighbors while Trump sat in the White House.  The Trump Administration opposed the Nord Stream II gas pipeline from Russia to Europe and imposed economic sanctions on Russian oligarchs.  He sent advanced weapons to both Ukraine and Georgia, forced NATO allies to increase their military spending, and withdrew the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

At the same time, Trump showered Putin with compliments, which cost us nothing, yet allowed Putin to save face on the world stage.  Trump warned in advance that any aggression would be met with a swift American response.  Like a brooding teenager, Putin took heed.  Did it stop his ambitions to rebuild the Russian empire?  Of course not, but Putin clearly postponed taking action until he recognized the weakness of the Biden Administration. 

That weakness was on full display in 2020, with President Biden’s disastrous pullout of American troops in Afghanistan.  The Trump Administration signed an agreement to send troops home, contingent upon the conditions on the ground.  Biden failed to heed the warning of the military that it was not safe to withdraw troops and proceeded with the evacuation of personnel.  In doing so, Biden left no air support, intelligence, or contractors behind, leaving the Afghan military with little capacity to defend the country.  He abandoned our airbases and left behind brave allies who helped us fight terrorism during the last 20 years.  Thirteen American service members were killed during the shameful exit.  This weakness was undoubtedly watched with delight by both Russia and China. 

In light of this embarrassing display of weakness, Russia amassed troops on the Ukrainian border.  What did Biden do in response to this ominous show of force? Nothing – not even economic sanctions, for fear that they would provoke Putin.  Instead, Biden threatened more Russian sanctions if Putin invaded. The act of sending troops to the Ukrainian border was itself a provocative action, which demanded a swift response.  Parenting 101 lessons should have taught Biden to immediately racket up sanctions on Russia and Putin’s inner circle before he invaded Ukraine, with a promise to consider repealing them once the troops were withdrawn. Why should we treat Russia as a petulant teenager?  Russia is essentially a third world country, with an economy the size of the state of Florida.  Biden could have stood up to Putin’s aggression before the invasion occurred, but he instead cowered behind his teleprompter, hinting that he would not object to Russia making a “minor incursion” into Ukraine. That statement is the equivalent of telling a rebellious teenager that you “might be sleeping” if they come in after curfew. 

Unfortunately, Putin is no teenager and Russia is a nuclear power, albeit one which is economically weak.  While some argue that the U.S. does not have a direct interest in Ukraine, in short order, Russia will undoubtedly reach an area that we do care about, such as NATO territory.   Much like the appeasement of Hitler led to World War II, if a bully is not met with resistance immediately, he will keep going until the free world has no choice but to respond.  Resistance need not be in the form of American boots on the ground, or our pilots in the sky, to be effective.  Biden should have imposed sanctions on Putin and his cronies the moment Russian forces amassed on the border of Ukraine, with a promise of more severe penalties if one boot stepped over the border.   Now that Russia has followed through on its threat, the US and our allies must provide the brave Ukrainian people with the weapons they request, as well as financial and humanitarian assistance to survive this immoral invasion.  Ukrainians young and old have demonstrated that they are willing to fight for their own freedom.  We must stand with them, or smaller countries will simply capitulate to the overtures of totalitarian regimes, fearing that the free world would never come to their aid. 

Americans are war-weary and understandably want to focus on the problems within our own country, including the invasion occurring on our own southern border.  But an “America first” policy does not mean that we can stick our heads in the sand when faced with an aggressor who threatens world stability.  While we cannot be the “policeman of the world,” we must recognize that when America does not lead, totalitarian thugs will take full advantage of the power vacuum, and the chaos which follows may eventually reach our shores.  I suggest that Joe Biden and his handlers read some basic parenting books, since they seem to have forgotten not just history, but human psychology. 

Lisa Pezzano Mickey

March 21, 2022

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