Failure – the one word description of Barack Obama’s foreign policy
Hat tip to Q and O reader Eric who sends along the link (in a comment) to the piece I’m referencing today. It is an extremely well written dissection of Barack Obamas dismal foreign policy record – a record that can only be described in one word – failure.
If I wanted to add an adjective to the description, I might choose “hideous”, since it is the worst foreign policy we’ve suffered under since King George. Kevin Ortin writes the piece and he uses an interview Obama did with Jeffrey Goldberg as the basis of his article.
Ortin points this out as the key graf in that interview:
[Obama] went on to say that the Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their Iranian foes. “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians—which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen—requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” he said. “An approach that said to our friends ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own or decisively win on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”
Some of us have long argued that, despite what the President says in public, his actual policy as executed is the pursuit of détente with the Islamic Republic of Iran, usingthe nuclear agreement as a facilitator. The President came in with one overwhelming goal: to draw down U.S. resources in the region. By deputizing Iran to protect core U.S. interests, such as this malign fantasy that the U.S. and Tehran share an interest in defeating the Islamic State (IS), while creating an “equilibrium” that protects Iranian “equities,” it would allow an order to take shape that did not require the U.S. to police it. By definition this meant empowering Iran against its neighbours, notably the Gulf States, since Iran had heretofore been contained. Here Obama confirms virtually every point of that argument.
One could hardly imagine a more naive and absurd policy if they tried. But Ortin is correct, that’s precisely what Obama imagined and tried to implement – mostly by himself. Empowering Iran with the belief that they would then be the “equalizer” and stabilize the Middle East is to ignore all of Iran’s actions and rhetoric to date. Iran has no interest whatsoever in stabilizing anything and has, for years, using the unrest in the region to further the theocracy’s goals.
That’s simply indisputable.
The vision fails because any notion of “balance” between the Iranian revolution and its neighbours is a mirage. The clerical regime does not intend to take the U.S. offer to “share” in bringing order to the region; Tehran intends to upend the entire U.S.-underwritten structure and replace it with Iranian hegemony—a project in which it is now receiving Russian help. Thus, “balance” is ceding the region to Iran under another name. On paper the Gulf States have military prowess that dwarfs Iran’s. In reality, Iran has asymmetric structures like the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps led by Qassem Suleimani, which the Gulf States do not, capable of terrorism and subversion in a way the Gulf States cannot match. Indeed both Obama and John Kerry have lamented that the Arabs do not have a Quds Force or a Suleimani, something and someone who can get things done.
This is perhaps the largest problem of all for Obama’s vision: Iran simply cannot do what he wants it to—namely bring order to the region. Iran does not want order, of course: the IS threat is very helpful in keeping Iran’s client governments in Baghdad and Damascus pliable and in inducing concessions from the Americans, plus IS’s caliphate covers areas in western Iraq and eastern Syria dominated by Sunni tribes that Iran knows it could not rule even if it wanted to. And if Iran tried to move into the Sunni Arab zones, as it has done in parts of Iraq, through its rabidly sectarian Shi’i jihadist militias, the result is terrible destruction, demographic engineering, and the setting of the stage for long-term instability.
Read the whole thing. As I mentioned, it is very well done and it is about as damning as anything I can imagine. There was an article somewhere this week in which the author claimed that Barack Obama was just too smart for us and we had no way to really appreciate what he’s done.
I’m sorry but a syphilitic idiot with no foreign policy experience could have done better than Mr. Obama. And that’s fairly evident to even the most uninformed among us. Obama has been a foreign policy disaster and that is taking understatement to its limit.
It seems that Obama has finally decided, with less than a year left in office left, to come clean and make the case for his legacy. The President has now laid out the parameters on which he wants to be judged; it would be churlish to refuse. The academic and media criticism might be the least of it, however. There are many predatory regimes watching and calibrating when to make their move.
His “legacy” is weakness, miscalculation, naiveté, indecision and blame shifting. Pretty much a description of all aspects of his presidency. But Ortin is right – the predators are licking their chops and only waiting to see which of the abysmal choices we have we’ll put in the Oval Office in January. Meanwhile, Obama’s Titanic of a foreign policy is actually aiming for the iceberg.