Jonah Goldberg’s lede in his latest column nails what I’ve been thinking has to be the larger Obama Administration’s “doctrine” on foreign policy.
I think we all know what Barack Obama’s foreign-policy strategy coming into office was.
Step 1: Be Barack Obama (and not George W. Bush).
Step 2: ????
Step 3: World peace!
(With apologies to South Park.)
As a candidate, Obama held a huge campaign rally in, of all places, Berlin, touting his bona fides as a citizen of the world. The crowd went wild, as he talked at length about a world without walls (you had to be there). As president, in his first major speech abroad, Obama suggested to a Cairo audience that the fact America elected him was all the proof anyone should need that America had turned the page.
It all seems very strange now in retrospect, but in his defense, you can understand how seductive this notion must have been. The whole world — at least the parts of it that Obama listens to — was telling him that replacing George W. Bush with Barack Obama was just the ticket for what ailed the planet. The fervor was all so detached from facts on the ground that the Nobel Committee even gave Obama a Peace Prize for the stuff they were sure he was going to do, eventually. (One clue that Obama’s cult of personality didn’t actually translate into tangible results on the world stage should have been his failure to win the 2016 Olympics for his hometown of Chicago, despite being the first president to personally lobby for it.)
This explains a lot.
I mean, one of the most bullshit, puke-inducing lines from the sycophant-in-chief for Obama, Andrew Sullivan, during the 2008 election was that “All the world needs to know about Obama is that his middle name is Hussein.”
Really? That’s it. That alone is going to get nations to stop hating us? That by just pointing to the man’s middle name is enough to turn swords into plow shears?
Please. This entire presidency has been one long foreign policy failure after another. Iran? Hey, let’s talk to them, consider it a “Win” and then COMPLETELY IGNORE ACTUAL POPULAR UPRISING TO OVERTHROW THE MAD MULLAHS IN 2009 FOR TWO WEEKS AS THE RIOT COPS COME IN AND CRUSH SOME HEADS! Southeast Asia? So what if China looks like its acting like pre-World War II Japan and frightening every single one of its neighbors (and U.S. allies to boot).
Ukraine? Just tell me when it’s either one, two, or three countries — or do we just wait until the Russian flag flies over Kiev again?
Iraq? Well, the countries completely collapsed into a corruptocracy and treats women like brood mares, but hey, we got our troops out of there!
Afghanistan, land of “The Right War?” Well, the leader has pretty much handed the country over to warlords and past-Taliban types and we’ve all but pissed away a status-of-forces agreement with Karzi.
Do I even bother with things like Syria, Egypt and Libya?
Yeah, didn’t think so.
Part of the problem is that this White House thought “If we’re not there, there’s no problem,” failed to see how the world really acts. Much of the world operates under a schoolyard mentality. While liberals may like to see the United States as “the bully” in this scenario, the reality has long been we’ve been acting as “recess monitor” since the end of World War II whether we wanted to or not. It was the U.S. who has to act as “Global Cop” because no one else is able or even remotely capable of.
When we don’t, crap like the stuff happening now does. When you don’t act with a firm hand, the kids on the playground laugh at you behind your back and then go beat up the nerds when you aren’t looking.
It’s a cruel lot in life, but frankly, it’s the job of U.S. foreign policy to keep the world sane, not coddled and supplied with lollypops, warm hugs, and good feelings.