With U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in “free fall“, President Obama has lost the right and the center and the left is fraying. But we never thought he’d lose Vox.It was formed by some of Obama’s most loyal press devotees. When the President needed to get his mojo back for his last two years, he turned to the website for a lavishly produced, not to say hagiographic, series of interviews. And now, Vox is explaining President Obama’s Middle East policy—and specifically, the collapse of Yemen—in a tone it usually reserves for filibustering GOP Senators:
And that led to the bizarre spectacle, last Wednesday, of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest flailing haplessly in response to questions about how Yemen could be considered a success. He lamely contended, “We have not seen that kind of — of — of progress in terms of strengthening the central government. I think you could make a pretty strong case that we’ve seen the opposite of that. But we do, you know, we do continue to enjoy the benefits of a sustained counterterrorism security relationship with the security infrastructure that remains in Yemen.”You know, I think you could make a pretty strong case that we’ve “seen the opposite of that,” considering that the central government has now for all intents and purposes ceased to exist.
Vox’s analysis of the strategic situation Middle Eastern has all the depth and detail the
“internet glossy” has become famous for. But even they can’t miss the overall situation:
The underlying problem is that Obama is so eager to avoid doing “stupid [stuff]” that he’s reluctant to even look at the big picture[…] The Obama administration may think it has a successful track record of identifying and averting specific threats to the interests of the US and its allies. But what it actually has is a track record of identifying and averting specific threats, but doing very little to address the root causes of those threats — and then being caught unawares when those root causes lead to catastrophic chaos. Which, in turn, proves to be far worse than the threats the administration was trying to address in the first place.One would have to grade on quite a curve to call that a success.
The President still has a few true-believers in the private sector backing him on the specific issue of the Iran deal. But when it comes to the larger question of general Middle East policy, the quip that his only supporters are those still drawing a paycheck from the Administration rings increasingly true.At some point, you’d have to think that this would have to get through to President Ahab and the remaining crew on the Pequod. With remonstrations now coming from even the friendliest quarters, will we start to change course?