President Obama told NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Monday that Governor Scott Walker’s comments regarding his intention to revoke any nuclear deal with Iran should he be elected President would be “foolish,” and that “perhaps Mr. Walker-after he’s taken some time to bone up on foreign policy-will feel the same way.”
The arrogance of such a statement would be disturbing in the best of times, however given the state of the world in the seventh year of his presidency, it speaks to his blindness to the immediate and future consequences of his own amateurish attempts at foreign policy.
If knowledge or experience alone was the measure of competence for one’s ability to successfully craft and execute foreign policy, then by any standards President Obama and his advisors, flush with ambassadorial experience and Ivy League degrees, should be reveling in a host of successes after six years.
Unfortunately the geopolitical reality points instead to a confused and often myopic attempt to exert influence towards a goal that neither our allies, our enemies, nor at times our own President seem to understand.
What President Obama has failed to recognize is that successes within the foreign policy domain will not be judged by individual actions at a given moment in any given country but a broader analysis of the consequences of those actions.
In recent years we have cast aside two of the most important aspects of any foreign or diplomatic policy — predictability and clarity. We have abandoned historical allies while emboldening our enemies in a series of actions that belie any real understanding.
In Libya we supported the removal of one dictator in in order to “stop a massacre” while continuing to ignore another in Syria that has already killed 100,000 of his own people in the last four years.
In Egypt President Obama hailed and at times funded the original movements that brought about the Arab Spring, yet is now reconciled to working with President al-Sisi who violently ousted the freely elected President Morsi.
In Iraq we conducted a mass withdrawal of the last stabilizing American forces, rejecting the advice of Gen. Lloyd Austin. When those actions led to an Iraq unable to resist the crushing momentum of the Islamic State and further destabilized the region, President Obama again rejected the advice by senior military leaders.
In Russia we have turned a blind eye to their continued breaches to the new START treaty by modernizing its nuclear arsenal, while we significantly reduce our own. Meanwhile, Russia has continued to support the brutal dictatorship of Syria’s Assad, expanded its borders into Crimea, and facilitated the violence in Ukraine. Our bungling “reset” strategy simply encouraged Putin while we in turn let down our NATO partners by halting the continued deployment of an Eastern European missile shield to guard against a resurgent, aggressive Russia.
Yemen was declared a success story. Nothing screams success like losing a rare ally in the region to an Iranian backed militia and pulling the last Special Operations troops out right before Saudi Arabia began its airstrikes. Given this president’s lack of interest in listening to experienced military advisors, surrounded by National Security Advisor Rice, Senior Advisor Jarrett, and Vice President Biden, none of which have ever spent a day in uniform, they could be forgiven for not being aware that one of the key capabilities of a Special Ops team is the precision targeting of airstrikes. Wouldn’t that have been a valuable asset to utilize before the inevitable deaths of at least 74 children since the sorties began which has assuredly only increased the sectarian anger?
In Syria, President Obama first stated that to defeat ISIS we must remove Assad, but now we have no plans to do so, a decision no doubt made in order to keep Iran at the nuclear negotiating table, once again abandoning the Kurds and turning our backs on a Syrian citizenry that fully expected our timely support and never received it.
With regard to Iran, we are working against them in Yemen and with them in Iraq, only emphasizing the narrative irrespective of the sectarian divide by fighting with Sunnis against Shia and with Shia against the Sunnis. President Obama has made it clear that we don’t trust their own regional ambitions, so why do we trust them to abide by a nuclear deal?
President Obama’s lack of political courage has betrayed the real courage the men and women who fought, bled and died on distant battlefields in order to give the peacemakers the chance to succeed and keep our own children from returning to the same battlefields in the years to come.
Russia, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Yemen, Iraq, ISIS…I respectfully suggest that before President Obama takes shots from the incredible seat of responsibility he currently inhabits that he looks at his own legacy, however he “boned up” to prepare for it.
In the end, history will determine whether President Obamas foreign policy legacy is categorized as either ignorant, incompetent, or both.