WASHINGTON, D.C. — In June of 2013, when the Obama administration confirmed that the Syrian government was in possession of chemical weapons and was using them on civilians, many in Washington called for immediate military action regarding this human right’s violation. But, President Obama instead chose diplomacy.
For Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, threats of an American attack were enough to convince him into giving up his chemical weapons. Recently, the last of those weapons were loaded onto a Danish freight ship to be destroyed.
This marks a great victory for the Obama administration’s diplomacy over immediate military action.
If the Syrian chemical weapons were not removed so efficiently, the terrorist group ISIS could have taken advantage of the weapon supply when they overran Eastern Syria earlier this month.
Another major global crisis from this year was the Russian annexation of Crimea. In order to curb violence in Ukraine and convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from the country, the United States, along with major European nations, placed sanctions on Russia that negatively impacted the country’s economy.
Although Putin hinted at cooperation several times, so far he has taken no direct action. Most recently, the U.S. announced that they will impose restrictions on Russia’s top oil company and business firms, which will hit the struggling economy even harder.
European leaders have also agreed to increase sanctions on Russia. Obama’s stricter approach to the difficult situation received support from the Chamber of Commerce, as well as members of the Treasury.
President Putin meanwhile is encouraging the Ukrainian government to hold peace talks with the separatists and reach a truce.
Some Americans worry that these sanctions could impede Russia’s involvement with nuclear peace talks in Iran, which Secretary of State John Kerry is currently dealing with in Vienna.
These talks have achieved “real progress in several areas,” according to Obama, and the deadlines will most likely be extended so the two sides can reach a deal.
So far, Iran has turned over information about its nuclear program and accepted restrictions on its nuclear fuel production due to economic sanctions. The country was also promised that one day they could produce fuel without limitations.
Obama also announced U.S. support of Egyptian efforts to stop the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas, saying that although Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks, too many Palestinian civilians have been killed in the crossfire.
Despite the fact that President Obama’s approval ratings for foreign policy fell to their lowest ever, at 37 percent, Americans should note the administration’s successful policies towards conflicts from this past year.
– Taylor Lovett
Photo: CBS Las Vegas