The standard critique of President Obama’s foreign policy is now generally well-known—mercurial, paradoxical, and passive. “Leading from behind” seems at odds with the traditional American commitment to ensure—preferably with allies or, if need be, alone—the continuance of the postwar global system of sovereign borders, free trade, safe commerce, and open communications.
Many of Obama’s recent foreign policy initiatives have resulted in a diminished United States and they have found little success. The reset with Russia earned us a strange sort of contempt from Vladimir Putin. Moscow almost gratuitously thwarts the U.S., gloating that we offer loud self-righteous sermons to others that are not backed by consequences.
n the immediate future, I do not think the United States will be intervening abroad on the ground — not in the Middle East or, for that matter, many places in other parts of the world. The reason is not just a new Republican isolationism, or the strange but growing alliance between left-wing pacifists and right-wing libertarians.
Some of the new reluctance to intervene abroad is due to disillusionment with Iraq and Afghanistan, at least in the sense that the means — a terrible cost of American blood and treasure — do not seem yet to be justified by the ends of the current Maliki and Karzai governments. Few Americans are patient enough to hear arguments that a residual force in Iraq would have preserved our victory there, or that Afghanistan need not revert to the Taliban next year. Their attitude to the Obama administration’s unfortunate abdication of both theaters is mostly, “I am unhappy that we look weak getting out, but nonetheless happier that we are getting out.” Continue reading “America Is Intervened Out”→
We are contemplating going to war in Syria to help the opposition a lot and to hurt Assad some, or to help the opposition some and hurt Assad a lot, or to hurt Assad some and help the opposition some, or to force Assad to stop or to leave, or to stop but stay, or to stop and leave; or to restore the word of the president, or the word of the United States, or the word of the international community by bombing, or by threatening to bomb but not bombing, or by neither threatening to bomb nor bombing; or to warn the Russians to stay out, or to welcome the Russians to come in, or to warn the Russians to stay out and welcome the Russians to come in. Message? We are planning to do all kinds of things by not doing anything. Continue reading “Syria in a Nutshell”→
Bring up Iraq — and expect to end up in an argument. Conservatives are no different from liberals in rehashing the unpopular war, which has become a sort of whipping boy for all our subsequent problems. Continue reading “Iraq a Convenient Scapegoat”→