Our View: A growing irrelevance?

Posted: June 18, 2013

Media types flooding to Fermanagh for the two-day G-8 economic summit in Northern Ireland are all aflutter about larger themes and even back stories — whether President Obama can push Russian President Vladimir Putin (and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad along with him) to the negotiating table, whether Cold War-style sensitivities are beginning to percolate anew.

In other words, economics and trade are the ostensible reasons for this gathering, but the confab is about far more than economics and trade. If you’re looking for an overriding theme, it may be the growing irrelevance of Barack Obama’s America in world affairs.

No clearer indication of this is the situation in Syria, where a brutal civil war has claimed the lives of nearly 100,000 people. Mr. Obama has repeatedly made statements — Assad must go, “red lines” on chemical weapons must never be crossed — only to retreat from them. Now he has pledged military shipments — small arms, mostly — to the motley mix of rebels fighting the Assad government, a gesture roughly akin to sending folks to a gunfight armed with peashooters.

This sorry situation, from the start, has defied easy resolution, but suffice it to say that Mr. Obama, as “leader of the free world,” has done himself no favors by allowing foreign policy to be driven by his domestic agenda rather than by adherence to a clear declaration of principles and a keen sense of American interests.

The result, as we see it: A world in which the likes of Russia, China, and Iran feel free to act as they wish wherever they wish. If that doesn’t suggest a growing irrelevance, we don’t know what does.