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Russian President Vladimir Putin is rapidly returning his nation to international prominence and easily upstaging the Obama administration in the Middle East. In a recent BBC column, diplomatic and defense editor Mark Urban reports that just one month into Russia’s Syria intervention, it has deployed a strike force of 34 combat jets and 21 helicopters that have conducted approximately 1,000 flying attack missions. He added that U.S.-led forces have averaged around six strikes per day during the last year.

Some may recall when Obama was caught on camera at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit shaking hands with Dmitry Medvedev, assuring the outgoing Russian president that he will have “more flexibility” to deal with issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election. While I viewed this as a ploy by President Obama to protect his re-election from what might be considered poor judgment, Russian leadership viewed it as weakness and an opportunity to restore Russian power.

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In an online U.S. Politics and Policy column in Financial Times by Demetri Sevastopulo, he reports that Russian warships and submarines are operating at levels not seen in two decades, according to the new head of the U.S. Navy. “Their submarine force and their navy are as active as they have been in a long time, 20 years or so,” Admiral John Richardson said in an interview. “How are we going to posture our forces to make sure that we maintain the appropriate balance and are suitably engaged?”

But being “suitably engaged” has never appealed to Barack Obama.

Just last week, despite vowing there would be “no boots on the ground” in Syria, White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the president’s decision to send 50 special forces troops to Syria in an “advisory” role to help rebel forces in the fight against ISIS.

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This feeble action of sending only 50 men into harm’s way sends a deafening message to our allies and enemies that Barack Obama isn’t taking the war on ISIS seriously. It’s simply a gratuitous attempt to appease critics and could pave the way for Russia to augment its influence and partnership in the region.

It’s been nearly a quarter century since the fall of the Kremlin. Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” policies are largely credited for precipitating the downfall of the Soviet empire. But the ebbing of our nation’s strength is creating a vacuum of power other nations desire to fill.

 Will America ever return to being a “shining city upon a hill,” as portrayed by John Winthrop? Well, if it’s to happen, it will require bold, inspiring, truthful leadership – and someone who values the virtues of Capitalism.

And this administration fails on all counts.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.