The Washington Post thinks President Barack Obama is living a democratic "fantasy" in a world where "unfortunately" military might still matters. If he continues this approach to foreign policy warns the paper, it will harm U.S. national security in the long run.
The publication's editorial board highlighted its concerns about the president's foreign policy approach in an op-ed this week under a blunt headline: 'President Obama's foreign policy is based on fantasy.'
It then painted a picture of President Obama's rose-colored pursuit of democratic engagement with the world where leaders like Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and Syria's Bashar al-Assad are busy blazing arms in a quest for more power in strategic parts of the world.
"For five years, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality," it began.
"It was a world in which 'the tide of war is receding' and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC's 'This Week' Sunday when he said, of Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine, 'It's a 19th century act in the 21st century,'" it noted.
"Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st century behavior. Neither has China's president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements," it continued.
"The United States can't pretend that the only game is in another arena altogether. Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not," said the paper. "While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that's harmful to U.S. national security too."
"As Mr. Putin ponders whether to advance further — into eastern Ukraine, say — he will measure the seriousness of U.S. and allied actions, not their statements. China, pondering its next steps in the East China Sea, will do the same. Sadly, that's the nature of the century we're living in," it ended.