Nero “fiddled,” so they say, while Rome burned. Today, this epigram all too accurately describes President Obama’s approach to U.S. national security. For five years, he has resolutely consigned foreign and defense issues to the bottom of his policy agenda, resulting in increasing disarray both domestically and abroad. The United States needs strategic thinking internationally, and we are getting the opposite.
Mr. Obama’s personal Rome, the Affordable Care Act, is indeed self-immolating, and he responds by giving speeches (his version of playing Nero’s cithara) rather than taking command to save his eponymous program before the administration itself is consumed. Domestic troubles, however, in no way justify indifference to foreign affairs. If anything, political weakness at home only exposes a president to greater risks internationally, as adversaries take advantage of U.S. inattention, indecision and unpreparedness.