The Diplomacy of Change Is Failing America

Wednesday, 14 Apr 2010 05:11 PM

By Michael Reagan

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The Obama administration has seen a frustrating lack of progress in diplomatic relations.

After spending so much time bashing the Bush administration for failing to achieve unity in matters of great international importance, this administration is failing to realize the types of diplomatic gains they predicted.

Repeatedly, anything claimed as a success has involved movement on America's part, not on the part of a foreign power, be it friendly or hostile.

From a lackluster climate agreement to Iranian flouting of international pressure, President Obama's vaunted international prestige has proven itself no more than meaningless popularity.

The current iteration of America's disappointing negotiations involves China. Recently, American officials have indicated China might be open to placing new sanctions on Iran. As Iranian nuclear ambitions become increasingly obvious, this type of international pressure is necessary.

But in complete contradiction to American hopes and the Obama administration's claims, this week China renewed its opposition to sanctions on Iran.

Chinese officials say they oppose Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, but they believe negotiations, not sanctions, are the correct approach. However, after years of negotiations, the situation with Iran has only worsened.

Moreover, in exchange for Iranian oil to fuel their growing economy, China has poured money and technology into Iran.

This trade, as well as similar benefits from Russia, makes any sanctions placed on the country nearly worthless without the cooperation of all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

China is not the first country to back out of proposed sanctions. Just last week, the president of Russia told the world that there was only so far they would go with Iranian sanctions — and it wasn't as far as American leaders have pushed, nor the victory they had claimed.

Just Monday night, Secretary Clinton and leaders from China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom met again to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions. Given the extent of the threat posed by Iran, I can only hope this endeavor was more successful than past attempts.

We cannot afford to step lightly on this issue. As president, my father knew how to confront international threats. He did not incite conflict, and he did not rampage against the rest of the world. But he made American intentions clear, and he did not back down.

President Obama has scored PR points, and a Nobel Prize, with his emphasis on curbing nuclear weapons. I concur in the assessment that nuclear weapons, in the wrong hands, are an active threat to our security, not just as Americans but as humans.

But my father, Ronald Reagan, showed us all how a leader can oppose nuclear weapons, work actively for disarmament, develop strong alliances, and captivate the imagination of the world, while still keeping America safe, strong and secure. President Obama still has much to learn on that front.

This world is a dangerous place. The threats against us are real. We cannot afford to let other nations call the shots. I believe in the value of international cooperation, but on some issues we simply must not — can not — compromise.

Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is spokesman for The Reagan PAC and chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation.






© Mike Reagan

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