Consider two democratic countries. In the first,  public opinion pieces urge the government to stand staunchly behind Israel. Standing up to historic leftist antipathy toward Israel, this country’s support means  “Israel is certainly a lot less isolated than a perfunctory reading” of press accounts suggest. In the second, crises take a familiar course, as exemplified by the civilian plane show down Ukraine:

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Iraq in the Brady Briefing room of the White House on June 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama spoke about the deteriorating situation as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants move toward Baghdad after taking control over northern Iraqi cities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) President Obama (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
  1. Tough talk [about] national security principals undercut by softer rhetoric from the president, and softer-still action from the administration as a whole;
  2. A cacophony of conflicting rhetoric from the Europeans;
  3. The drawing of a new line in the sand with the promise that if further provocative action is taken by [Vladimir] Putin and his proxies, then perhaps Europe will respond with tougher sanctions;
  4. New provocative action taken by Putin and his proxies;
  5. Repeat.

The first is India, the second is the United States. And this sums up the current state of U.S. foreign policy. Smaller democracies, especially Israel, step forward to show moral leadership. Israel wages war against Iran’s proxies. India — and very often Canada these days — in turn stand by Israel. Meanwhile, the United States throws darts (or a travel ban) at its ally and spends time trying to prove dastardly acts (the Russian separatists’ complicity, Syria’s use of chemical weapons) we know have occurred as a sort of time-filler and excuse for not acting. Instead of telling it like it is (the “peace process” is kaput because the Palestinian Authority won’t take risks for peace, Iran isn’t convinced it has to give up anything significant in nuclear negotiations) the administration is forever seeing “progress” and “narrowing of the gaps.” This disguises failure and again stalls calls for action.

Republicans and a few notable Democrats have tried to take up the slack in the House and Senate. Today, for example, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Edward Royce (R-Calif.) announced an oversight hearing for Tuesday on the Iran interim agreement. He issued a written statement: “I don’t see an extension of funding to Iran as progress.  It looks like the Iranians won extra time with a good cop-bad cop routine, backing off the Supreme Leader’s absurd claim for 190,000 centrifuges. This tells me Iran, with centrifuges spinning, thinks time is on its side. Increased economic pressure would strengthen our hand, but the Administration opposes it. It should welcome congressional efforts to ratchet up the economic pressure on Iran. Any deal should be graded on its technical merits, not in the hopes of a partnership with Iran on Iraq and other issues, as some have argued. Iran’s terrorist-backing activities, including illicitly shipping missiles to Hamas, demands even higher standards of verification for any deal.  Everything about Iran’s nuclear program signals ‘nuclear bomb,’ yesterday, today, and I worry tomorrow.”

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (with Wendy Sherman as a witness) is set for that day as well, but as long as Harry Reid is majority leader, little substantive can get done. The most senators can do is reveal the fecklessness and poor judgment of the administration. (Has Iran ever suggested it will dismantle anything? Have you given away the store on a sunset provision for sanctions? Has the Iranian economy recovered since December?)

We should be grateful Israel is fighting our common enemies, Japan is willing to take up more defense responsibilities and India and Canada provide support for Israel, but these are no substitutes for U.S. power and influence. It’s reassuring Congress understands the stakes in the Iranian nuclear negotiations and will endeavor to pin down top officials, but Congress is no substitute for resolute presidential leadership. Without it, the United States, the West and the world are in deep trouble.

The proof is in the wars raging in the Middle East, the loss of hard-earned gains in Iraq, the increased aggressiveness of China and Russia’s effort to resurrect its lost empire. Rather than “end” wars, this president is ending U.S. influence. The result is more wars, instability, mass murder, repression and heightened risk to our homeland.