Action, including inaction, has consequences. We have seen this in the failure of the US to respond to:
- Syria's effective genocide of its own people;
- Russia's unhindered aggression in the Ukraine, Crimea, Syria and in the oil-rich Arctic circle;
- China building military islands in the South China Sea in an apparent attempt to control international maritime routes
- ISIS's metastization into 18 countries in three years;
- Iran, now billions of dollars richer, stepping up its aggression into Yemen, continuing work on its offensive military program, and holding new Americans hostage for ransom;
- North Korea continuing to develop its nuclear weapons for both itself and Iran;
- Turkey now threatening adventures in both and Syria and Iraq, where it will probably be thwarted respectively by Russia and Iran.
Most recently, on October 9th, 12th and 15th, missiles were launched against US Navy ships off the coast of Yemen. They were launched by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and were deliberately fired at American warships.
These attacks followed one aimed at the HSV Swift on October 1. The missiles were all identified by the US Naval Institute as being Chinese-produced C-802 anti-ship missiles, sold to Iran, and now being fired at United States vessels by proxy fighters of Tehran.
Then, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to Iraqi demands that Turkey withdraw its troops from northern Iraq by telling Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi at the Eurasian Islamic Council meeting in Istanbul:
"It's not important at all how you shout from Iraq. You should know that we will do what we want to do. First, know your place. The army of the Republic of Turkey had not lost its standing so as to take orders from you!"
This is the direct consequence of a deal done between the US State Department and Erdogan whereby the US is allowed to use the Turkish airbase at Incirlik in return for Washington turning a blind eye to Turkish actions against the Kurds. Turkey has been allowed to trespass into Iraq and Syria by the US Administration, under the pretext of adding Istanbul to an Obama coalition of nations fighting ISIS. However, facts on the ground clearly show that Turkey has disproportionately been targeting Kurds rather than Islamic State. Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish fighters, who were fighting ISIS in northern Syria, on October 20.
Egypt and Russia held a week-long joint military exercise in Egypt at the end of October. That followed renewed Russian supplies of military equipment to Cairo after Obama's refusal to restock the government of Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with US-made weapons and equipment. The US had apparently been upset when in 2013 el-Sisi overthrew the Morsi-led government, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom the US would apparently and incomprehensibly like to be allied.
Philippines President Rodrigo Dutere announced his country's separation from the United States on October 20, by declaring that he has realigned it with China as the two nations agreed to resolved their South China Sea dispute. Dutere made his remarks in Beijing on an official visit to which he brought two hundred business people, saying in his address to China's leadership: "I announce my separation from the United States... I've realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world -- China, Philippines and Russia."
Statements that relations were "steady and trusted" by US Assistant Secretary of State David Russel did nothing to hide the fact that America's impotence is being felt in Asia.
Back to Iran, where a top admiral, Ali Fadavi, said that the US lacks the power to confront Iran militarily. He backed that up by having four Iranian naval speedboats harass US naval ships in the Persian Gulf.
Four armed speedboats of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps harass the US Navy destroyer USS Nitze, on August 24, 2016. (Image source: Fox News video screenshot)
Alon Ben David, chief military correspondent for Israeli TV Channel 10 News, wrote that American foreign policy is turning Iran into a world power by allowing it free range to act in Syria and Yemen, and even having the Obama Administration allow Iran to supply and support a Shi'ite militia taking part in the battle for Mosul.
The acts of global aggression are all the result of an American policy to do little or nothing to stop other actors from strutting the global stage in a dangerous and shifting world.
Many countries evidently believe that America's role in recent years has been one of damaging everything it touches -- or does not touch -- leaving them nervously sitting on the sidelines, criticizing what they perceive as the mistakes of others. The reality is that the actors who are replacing a once powerful and influential America are malevolently reshaping both the Middle East and Asia in their own image.
The result has not been a more peaceful world but one in which the vacuum left by America vacating strategically important areas is rapidly being filled by troublesome power-players that leave countries once dependent on US protection feeling increasingly vulnerable.
The consequences of inaction can only soon be damaging to US interests at home as well as abroad.
Barry Shaw is a Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.