The editors of National Review explain that Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski’s assessment of American alliance as “worthless,” while true at the time he made the statement, has been disproved by our response to the Ukraine crisis.
It may be that the token shipment of troops and materiel to Poland has stemmed the full scope of Putin’s geopolitical scheming, or will even ultimately leave Russia in a weaker position. This would not necessarily negate Sikorski’s assertion. He could very well have meant that the United States is an unreliable ally, which is absolutely true.
Such is among the vagaries of democracy in a superpower. 318 million people, preyed upon by demagogues, are not going to commit to a coherent, consistent foreign policy. Compared to, say, the Soviets in the Second World War, or nearly every Third World country in the wake of decolonization, the American public has been relatively untouched by its own wars in the Middle East. And yet Barack Obama was elected largely on the premise that Bush’s military overreach had been catastrophic. Suddenly, the American people found themselves wedded to the fanciful policies of reset with Russia, an outstretched hand to Iran, and the interesting notion that the internal and external crises of the Muslim world could pretty much be pinned on Israeli intransigence and the person of George W. Bush.
The foreign policy of the GOP’s isolationist wing differs in style, but not in substance.
American foreign policy will always follow a pendulum motion, because the leaders who shape it are answerable to an easily persuaded, emotionally volatile public. Great Britain, the birthplace of modern democracy, earned the epithet “perfidious Albion” because it was considered untrustworthy in foreign relations. The difference in foreign policy between Disraeli and Gladstone was far more pronounced than between, say, Tsar Alexander II and his son Alexander III (expand at an average rate of one Belgium a year).
Therefore, I will have to disagree with the analysts, including the FSB operatives who likely leaked it, who find Sikorski’s revelation earth-shattering. He might as well have said that there are four seasons.