America's allies no longer have the same faith in the United States they once did, and the country's enemies are no longer afraid, says Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former special assistant to President George W. Bush.
"I don't think there's much doubt that America's standing has declined," Abrams told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth on Newsmax TV
"Our enemies in Tehran, or Beijing, or Moscow, they're really not afraid of us anymore, and the allies feel kind of alienated because they feel they're not as close as they used to be to the United States. So there's really been a decline and of course that hurts our national security interests."
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The most important objective, said Abrams, is to defend the United States' national security interests.
"In the end, if people don't like it because we're doing that, that's too bad," said Abrams. "If we do that actively and intelligently, then we're going to be showing our allies that we're willing to act to defend ourselves and our interests and we'll be pushing back against enemies who wish us ill."
For example, he said, when President Barack Obama said there was a "red line"
on chemical weapons in Syria and then backed away without notice to the nation's allies, "people just think they can't rely anymore on his words. When he says he'll do this or do that, that experience of the red line on chemical weapons was a really bad one."
Meanwhile, Abrams said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would rank near the top of the list for international concerns.
"These are people who are [our] real enemies," said Abrams. "They'd like nothing more once they've established their little caliphate than to attack the United States."
With Iraq "in the middle of the Middle East," ISIS could form a safe haven for training and a launching region for attacks on Lebanon, Jordan, and even the United States, he continued.
The United States, said Abrams, needs to help its allies in the region fight back.
"There are a lot of Syrians who want to fight back and a lot of Iraqis," said Abrams. "We need to give them the tools they need, we need to help the Jordanians and others to begin the push back so that we look at this period, the summer of 2014 as the period in which ISIS reached its apogee and then began to fall."
Meanwhile, Abrams said, Israel is ready to protect itself and "no doubt" to protect Jordan.
"Gen. Michael Hayden is right, they're not 10 feet tall," said Abrams of ISIS. "So far the amazing thing is the way the Iraqi Army has collapsed. No one has really fought them."
But Jordan and Israel would prove as hard targets, as would Turkey, he said, because "They have real armies ready to fight."
Meanwhile, Abrams thinks "it's a real danger" to consider an alliance with Iran to fight back against ISIS.
"The Iranians wish us ill," he said. "The Iranians don't want the same thing we do in Iraq, not really, they want to control Iraq ... the Ayatollah hates the United States, the Iranians are enemies of the United States. This is Islamic Republic"
Abrams also acknowledged that while there is a great amount of money coming from the Persian Gulf for ISIS, "it's not the king in the government of Saudi Arabia" or government itself [that is sending the money], but "the billionaires who are sprinkled all over the Gulf."
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